The Chits: Paper-Chasing the Divine Will

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by Meg Lundstrom

In a word, it’s all connected: our desires, our emotions, the evolving dilemma, the thought to ask the question, the asking of the question, and the falling of folded papers that answers the question — even the solution itself.

Chits are a little-known but highly useful form of inner guidance. They involve writing out all your options for solving a dilemma on small pieces of paper, and mixing them up. Then you connect deeply with the Divine, throw them, and pick up one — typically the one that lands closest to you or a sacred object. You unfold it and read it. You follow that counsel.

It is a version of the casting of lots, perhaps the most ancient form of divining. In theory, it works like the I Ching and the runes, which are also based on random throws of coins, sticks, or stones. Those systems are symbolic — you must interpret the answer through poetic imagery — but the chits give it to you straight with no wiggle room. That is their strength and gift, and perhaps the reason they haven’t spread in use.

Cut out these chits for Yes/No , or write your own chits. Step 1. Get Quiet and Connected Step 2. Write Out the Options Step 3. Pray or Meditate Step 4. Pose the Question Step 5. Receive the Answer Wait Yes Wrong Question No Do not choose this way

The chits’ greatest advantage is that heightened emotion — the kind we flop around in when we’re really in a fix —actually makes the chits more, not less, accurate. A highly engaged psyche seems to pull the answer in. This differs from muscle-testing and pendulum dousing, where emotions can contaminate the answer, and you may get only what you want to hear.

Advantages of the Chits This method of divining has some unique strengths. It is: • Clear as a bell. The answer cannot easily be misinterpreted. • Not skewed by our emotions. • Straightforward to execute, with few steps. • Somewhat of a ritual, which sets a sacred tone for important questions. • Not a skill that requires practice. • Easily verified.

Drawbacks of the Chits This method is: • Time-consuming (10-30 minutes). • Requires a private space. • Awkward to use in everyday situations. • Built on trust, which can take time to acquire. • More directive than participatory. • Not as easy to dialogue with as muscle-testing or pendulum dousing.

You have one more decision to make. The #1 chit — the one that shows you the best action to take — can either be the one that falls closest to the sacred object you’re using, such as a photo or candle, or the one that falls closest to you. The orientation is up to you; it’s whatever feels intuitively right and it may change over time. If you like, you can figure it out by making two chits — one blank, one with an X — and tossing them with the inner understanding that where the X lands will be the orientation.

Let’s say, for instance, you’ve met someone named Chris who makes your heart flutter, but you’re getting mixed messages and don’t know what to do next. The options might be:

Invite Chris to dinner. Call Chris to ask about a computer problem. Ask Lisa to invite Chris to her party. Let Chris make the next move. Do not pursue Chris. Forget about it!

My friends Gina and Michael use the Yes/No option, and it has kept their marriage going through some rocky phases. Once, after a serious argument, Michael packed up and left. Gina was torn between her anger and her love. She asked the chits, Should I go get him? The answer: Yes. She did, and it was a turning point for both. He has also been counseled at key times via the chits to stay with the marriage. Another time, he was giving scant thought to going to an expensive professional conference across the country that he wasn’t even sure he had the credentials to apply to. Gina urged him to try the chits, which said Yes, and the event led to sterling contacts, a shift in his research focus, and a job offer.

You can go back and forth between two factors. When I got an inheritance of $32,000 from my father, I made out two sets of chits. One had about a dozen possibilities: Invest in stock, Buy gold, Put it in savings, Donate it to charity, Loan it to someone in need, Buy a friend’s house, and, as an afterthought, since I was happy living in New York City, Buy a house in the Woodstock-Saugerties area, two hours north in the Catskills. The second set of chits consisted of numbers, from $1,000 to $32,000. My thought was that I would get an option from the first set, shake for the amount of money to put into that, then get a second option, shake for the money, and so on, until I had gone up to $32,000. . I also put in a chit with just Xs —XXXX—that meant stop! I meditated quite a while, as this was a very big deal, and then got Buy a house in the Woodstock-Saugerties area — a big shock to me, but one that filled me with delight. The amount: $10,000. And then — XXXX. So I stopped. It turned out that $10,000 covered the down payment and closing costs on my Saugerties house, and I spent the other $22,000 on necessary renovations.

Our receptivity invites these intuitive jumps, which often hit us with an “Uh-oh” and sense of inevitability. Once I had flown from the United States with friends to a breathtakingly beautiful mountain town in India. After five days, one of the men in our party became ill and decided to return to the States. I wrote out chits to see if I should accompany him to Mumbai, but got a horrifying flash to include the option of accompanying him all the way back to New York. Sure enough, that was the #1 chit, and I complied under fierce inner protest. His illness turned out to be altitude sickness, the trip turned out to be delightful, and it led ultimately to a sweet and significant relationship. Not only that — six months later, I was offered a spot on a free media tour of German herbal farms, and that, combined with frequent flyer mileage credits, got me back to India free of charge!

Remember also that chits are about actions, not predictions. If you ask what job to take, that is an action and you will get the answer you need. If you ask whether you will be offered a certain job, that’s a prediction, and because the future is in flux and veiled, you can’t count on an accurate reply. In my experience, the chits work great for action advisories, but fortune-telling is not their purpose or strength.

Getting Simpler You can, in fact, use the chits for quick decisions if you can easily access that deep space of connectedness. One technique is to use pre-made chits. If my Indian friend Suno is fixing dinner in her flat and the phone rings with a talkative friend on the other end, she uses a set of Yes/No chits that she keeps by the phone to see if she should pick it up. “Even if you have work to do and it’s a chatty friend, there are times it’s important to take the call,” she says. Another friend who lives in Iran carries paper and pencil with her when she shops and writes out quick chits as needed, shaking them in her hand, closing her eyes, and plucking one. My friend Tessa, who usually muscle-tests, recently used the chits to decide whether to clean her office, pack for a trip, or join a half-dozen friends at a restaurant where they were getting together with a friend who had moved away. She wrote out the options, prayed for a moment, then threw them in front of her altar. Cleaning her office came up, so without guilt she turned down the dinner invitation. The visiting friend dropped by her place afterward, where they had the kind of quiet, intense talk not possible at a crowded restaurant table.

I’ve found that more often than not, the chits line up in a way that supports the #1 chit: #2 will be conceptually the closest to it, #3 will be also close, and the last chit will be the furthest away from it conceptually. This gives me a reassuring sense of underlying order and harmony.

Other times, the way they fall together can be very helpful in deepening your understanding. A while ago, when I had a soft feeling in the heart for an engaging but emotionally remote man, I got two chits right together in front: Forget him —he’s not the one for you; and Use him to further your spiritual growth. This gave me the understanding to continue to play out that experience not with great hopes, but with the understanding that it was necessary for my learning. The very last one, Pursue him with ardor, was also helpful in knowing that was not the best path!

Because you are opening the door wide with the chits, the counsel you receive can be shocking. The big question, of course, is, do you always do what they say? I do about 95 percent of the time, because that’s how I set up this play of consciousness for myself. I take it seriously, and it takes me seriously, and its guidance has been spot-on for a very long time.

To this day, there is only one session out of more than a hundred involving work, spirituality, romance, friendships, and health that makes no sense to me. I was advised to help a friend write a beauty book proposal, which required returning mid-trip from India with my boyfriend, writing the proposal, then returning alone to India for a month. The literary agent dropped the ball and the book never sold, to my ultimate relief, since the topic left me lukewarm. Perhaps it was for the highest good of my boyfriend, who, home alone, had bouts of bliss emanating from his Indian experiences and produced some fine paintings, but I don’t really know. Yet!

Ultimately, the choice is always yours. If you feel intensely uncomfortable with what comes up, if it doesn’t leave you with an “aha” sense of intuitive correctness, or if you just plain don’t want to do it, it’s your decision and your life! But if you can find the courage in yourself to move forward on something difficult but deep-down right for you, you will be rewarded beyond all measure — guaranteed!

Author Meg Lundstrom has written for Redbook, BusinessWeek and Woman’s World on self-development, health, entrepreneurship, and the human search for meaning. Meg is the author of What to Do when You Can’t Decide: Useful Tools for Finding the Answers Within. [