Anne Archer Butcher, best-selling author of Inner Guidance: Our Divine Birthright, is an international speaker, writer, award-winning producer, and a member of the Eckankar clergy. She has spoken about near-death, out-of-body, spiritual experiences, and the unique spiritual toolkit of the Eckankar teachings at events throughout the United States and in Europe, Africa, Asia, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
She will be in the Twin Cities to take part of the Temple of ECK Open House from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26. The Temple of ECK is the worldwide center for the Eckankar teachings. At 2 p.m., she will present an Inner Guidance workshop for those who want to find out more about inner guidance, how to get answers to their questions, and also to hear about their own spiritual experiences. A book signing will follow.
Anne also will take part in the 50th Anniversary of Eckankar, which is being celebrated this year, and the 25th Anniversary of the Temple of ECK in Chanhassen, as well. These events will be celebrated at the 2015 ECK Worldwide Seminar on October 23-25 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The seminar will include workshops, roundtables, spiritual discussions, and a keynote talk on Saturday evening by the spiritual leader of Eckankar, Sri Harold Klemp.
Anne also will present a free two-hour Inner Guidance workshop — from 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7 in the Morgan Room at Earle Brown Heritage Center — as part of Edge Life’s Minneapolis Holistic Expo on November 7-8 in Brooklyn Center.
She spoke to us about inner guidance and about Eckankar’s role in her life.
How would you define inner guidance?
Anne Archer Butcher: Inner guidance is like having a wise person over our shoulder speaking in our ear at any moment. It has the wisdom to help us make decisions, to protect us, to warn us, and to show us alternatives we might not have considered. Some people hear it as a voice. Some people experience it as a sense of intuition or an inner nudge. Others experience a profound awareness in a dream. Inner guidance can come to people in many ways.
Can inner guidance help people with problems in their daily life?
AAB: Absolutely! Inner guidance can really help us in every moment, day to day. If we can learn how to begin to listen and we can practice listening all the time, then the inner guidance is there for the big things. It is like preparing for the Olympics. You wouldn’t just show up and say “I’m a good athlete. I can do this.” It’s really important to practice being aware of the inner guidance. Begin by getting a sense of those nudges when they come, how to test them, and how to know when they are real and true. Then when the big things happen, we are prepared. The guidance and protection that we get can do anything from saving our lives to helping us make a better decision at work.
Would you say everybody has inner guidance?
AAB: Absolutely. It doesn’t mean we are always aware and listening. But we all have it. As the title of my book implies, it is our divine birthright to access that knowledge, to rely on it to help us make decisions in life and to reach our highest potential in every moment.
How about knowing the future? Do you think inner guidance can help a person know the future?
AAB: Yes — and sometimes we don’t want to know the future. Our inner guidance can begin to prepare us, though, and show us what’s ahead. By truly being prepared, our inner guidance can keep us from collapsing in a difficult situation. Or help us really rise to the occasion and handle things with grace.
Can you tell us about how relying on your inner guidance saved your life?
AAB: One event that happened to me began a whole series of powerful experiences. I was questioning what I believed in and what truth was. I posed these questions to God one day as I went swimming in the ocean. The water was cold on Christmas Day. I wanted to go into the water anyway because it was hot outside. I’m a strong swimmer, but I got caught in a riptide and was pulled out.
Out there in the depths of the ocean, I knew how to get out of a riptide, but I wasn’t quite sure which way I wanted to go with the current. As I looked to my left I saw a shark coming right at me. By nature I wanted to figure out how to fight that shark. Do I hit him in the eye? Does it have a soft underbelly? But I received clear inner guidance that said “Lie down flat, stretched out long and lean with my face in the water.” I made myself into a platform. I could feel a sense of inner peace and calm, although I wasn’t sure this would necessarily save me from the shark.
What happened was I became a platform for dolphins! One of them hit me underneath really hard and just when I thought I would be thrashed around and pulled into the ocean by the shark, I was lifted up in the air. The dolphins actually lifted me up and carried me to shore! Had I not listened to that inner guidance, I would have been flailing and looking at that shark. Instead, I was perfectly moved away from the danger and my life was saved.
That experience completely changed me. As I left the ocean, I was amazed at what happened. The inner connectedness of all life was very clear to me. I began to pose more questions to God and the universe to find out what was really happening. I felt there was much, much more going on than the teachings of my childhood faith had prepared me for.
In your book, you mention Eckankar and the spiritual exercises of ECK. Do these teachings help you understand your inner guidance?
AAB: To me, the teachings of Eckankar came along at a very important time in my life. It was while I was teaching high school. I was questioning what I believed and what spiritual direction I wanted to go in life. Then I had an amazing experience in the classroom. A substitute teacher visited my class and saw all these quotes written and posted on the walls of my classroom that had come to me inwardly. He left a book behind called, “Eckankar — The Key to Secret Worlds.” That book contained so much wisdom and so many wonderful exercises. It gave me such a terrific spiritual direction that I began to really study these teachings.
I found that Eckankar offers tools, techniques, and exercises to help anyone access inner guidance in their lives and to have a transformative experience. You can become more aware and in tune with the guidance from Divine Spirit from these exercises. I learned by practicing the spiritual exercises, they can help us develop our inner guidance. We can pose our questions and we can get answers.
Eckankar also teaches dream study. This allows us to delve more deeply into an aspect of our lives that most people really don’t have much time for. Eckankar’s dream teachings help us understand how to interpret our dreams and find guidance in our dreams, so we can live a fuller, more rich, and aware life.
It really doesn’t matter what path you are on, what religion you follow, or what your beliefs may be or not be. These tools, techniques, and exercises can enhance the life of anyone. It can enhance them right where they are on their own spiritual path.
Do you have a technique you would like to share?
AAB: Yes. One of the techniques that I like to share is to simply chant an ancient name for God. Eckankar teaches this, although the name isn’t specific to Eckankar. It has been used for eons by people all over the world. It’s a secret name for God. When we chant it, we fill ourselves with love and peace and calm that comes with that. This ancient name is HU, (pronounced “hue.”) I like to think of it as the HU in human. It reminds us of the divine essence that each of us truly is. We are Soul. We don’t have a Soul, we really are Soul. The HU reminds us of that. It helps us reconnect with the core of that divine love that is our true essence.
You can simply chant or sing this word, silently or aloud, for a few minutes, or 20 minutes a day. It is an exercise to help you gain more wisdom and insight. It helps you achieve a sense of peace, calm, and clarity in your life beyond anything you might have imagined.
When I share this exercise with people, many respond saying they could not believe the insights they received during that exercise. Others say, “That was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced, period.”
For me, the HU not only transformed my life and enhanced it in every way, it has saved me in times of deep trouble. It has uplifted me. It has helped me to gain a sense of divine purpose and confidence in life that otherwise I would never have achieved.
Is HU a form of meditation?
AAB: The way I look at it, there is prayer, meditation, and then contemplation. Contemplation is a more creative and active process as a spiritual exercise than meditation where you are simply quieting the mind. The word HU comes from a high spiritual place where you can move beyond worlds of dual reality, beyond good/bad, dark/light and you can experience that pure, positive love flow within you by chanting this word. In contemplation, by singing HU you can experience these higher spiritual worlds.
How does the HU really work? How did it help you achieve all those benefits?”
AAB: This is my understanding: Our vibrations attract to us the experiences we have in life. We learn about our vibrations in 11th grade physics. Everything is molecules in motion. Everything is vibrating at varying frequencies. For example, we know how wonderful we feel when we listen to a beautiful piece of music. Our vibrations are uplifted in an instant.
When we sing HU, it helps to raise the vibrations to a very, very, high level. The negative things just blow away from our being. That’s what can be so transformative. When you practice it on a day-to-day basis, you begin to change on a permanent level. Life can change for people who practice singing the HU on a daily basis. It truly is for anyone from any religion or background. It is available to each of us if we want to take advantage of that beautiful opportunity.
What are some of the ways that people can enhance their inner guidance?
AAB: There are five things I would like to share that have really helped me enhance my inner guidance:
- Do whatever you can to enhance your consciousness on a daily basis. Practice and discipline can make all the difference in the world.
- Listen and acknowledge the guidance that you have. We all have guidance and it really helps to put attention on it. Be grateful for the guidance that we are receiving moment to moment even if it’s a simple thing like “Turn left instead of right” and suddenly you realize you’ve just missed a car wreck.
- Ask inwardly for guidance. Then surrender with love to whatever answers come through.
- Practice gratitude and love on a daily basis. Just being a more loving and spiritual person can help you be more in accord with your guidance so that this inner presence becomes stronger.
- Find a way to be of service to all life, however you can and in whatever way that works for you. It helps to open the heart and that helps to truly enhance your life.
How did inner guidance lead you to believe that there is no death?
AAB: One of the things that I learned in one of the spiritual experiences I had was a profound life-changer. It’s the concept that there is no death. I learned this through an inner experience where I was taken into a world of absolute love, beauty, and light. I wanted to stay there forever. Instead, I was told that there was much to be done and I had to return. I was given instructions before I left.
The very first thing I was told was to remember is that there is no death. That changed everything for me. I suddenly knew that I would live life far more enthusiastically and boldly than I ever had before, just knowing that. I knew it in the very core of my being. It was a magnificent experience.
In your book, you wrote about the ECK Masters and how they helped you. Can you share something about that?
AAB: One of the things I found after I discovered the Eckankar teachings was that there is an entire hierarchy of Masters watching over, guarding, guiding, and protecting us, even when we’re not aware of it. Certainly we’ve heard of angels and guardians but I had never heard of these ECK Masters, from a long lineage called the Vairagi Order.
I wanted to know if they were real. I wanted to know the truth. Someone shared an exercise with me and I’ve been sharing it with people all over the world who have practiced it themselves and have had great results. I’ll share it with you now.
I took a picture of the ECK Masters and put them by my bed. Some of them are ancient Masters. I asked any of them to come and guide me and show me they are real. It didn’t take long for me to experience a dream where two Masters came to me. I was certain they were completely different than anyone I had ever met before. They were bathed in light. They sparkled with love and a brilliance like nothing I had ever seen.
What was amazing was, they walked up to me and one of them asked, “What is it that you wish?” This wasn’t like a genie in a bottle asking me “what did I want in life?” He was probing deeply into my heart. I realized he knew me better than I knew myself. He was encouraging me to my highest and greatest potential. I was amazed at this experience. For me the “proof is always in the pudding.”
After the dream my whole life began to change. It changed for the better. It changed in magnificent ways. So I invite anyone to try this for themselves.
If anyone wants to see the pictures of the Masters, they can simply go to spiritualexperiences.org and request a free copy of the book. It has the pictures of the Masters in it, a CD, and more information about the HU and other spiritual exercises.
For more information on Anne Archer Butcher’s book, Inner Guidance: Our Divine Birthright, visit www.InnerGuidanceBook.org. For more information on Eckankar, visit: www.Eckankar.org, www.TempleofECK.org and www.facebook.com/Eckankar.