Edgar Cayce On Mastering Your Spiritual Growth
The universality of the Christ Self is explored in the work of Edgar Cayce (1877-1945), twentieth-century mystic and clairvoyant. Although Cayce himself was a Christian, his life’s work is deeply ecumenical. From Cayce’s perspective, regardless of an individual’s religious or personal beliefs, the Christ pattern exists in potential upon the very fiber of her or his being. It is that part of each of us that is in perfect accord with the Creator and is simply waiting to find expression in our lives through the use of the will. This Christ pattern was further described as “…the awareness within each soul, imprinted in pattern on the mind and waiting to be awakened by the will, of the soul’s oneness with God”; its manifestation is the eventual destiny of each and every soul. With this in mind, Cayce presented Jesus as humankind’s “elder brother,” a soul who came to show each one of us the way back to our spiritual Source by perfectly manifesting the laws of the Creator in the earth.
While exploring the philosophical meaning of life, many individuals have incorrectly assumed that the goal of being in the earth is simply to reach heaven, find enlightenment, or somehow “get out of the earth.” This is a perspective quite different from that contained in the Cayce material, however. In part, Cayce believed that, as children of God, our mission is to somehow bring spirit into the earth, experiencing soul growth and personal development in the process.
Throughout his adult life, Edgar Cayce gave intuitive consultations, called “readings,” to individuals from all segments of society and various religious backgrounds. In addition to his work with hundreds of topics, including health and personal counsel, in nearly 2,000 “life readings” Cayce explored for individuals their soul history and their corresponding development through a series of lifetimes. From a source of information he called the “akashic records,” Cayce could view an individual’s soul development and describe how past-life influences and choices played out over time. Rather than being simply a philosophical discussion of possible past lives and corresponding strengths and weaknesses, the readings detail practical advice regarding what an individual might accomplish in the present, based upon the experiences and influences affecting her or him from the past.
The readings on reincarnation were given to individuals to help them understand soul strengths and weaknesses, as well as their own potentials and challenges. Often, when viewing an individual’s soul history, Cayce commented on how the person had both “gained” and “lost” in terms of soul development in any given lifetime. For example, a fifty-three-year-old housewife was told that, in the present, she possessed innate talents as a teacher and a guide to others. Apparently because of past-life experiences, she had developed the ability to attune herself to the Divine, and she could share that same ability with others for their own personal development. Cayce perceived how some of her strengths and weaknesses had been acquired during an incarnation in Greece when she had lived at the time of Xenophon, the Athenian general.
While Xenophon was away on one of his military campaigns, the woman had found herself in a position that enabled her to provide encouragement and assistance to others. In fact, the Grecian life had been a period when she had truly learned to be of service. At the same time, however, after Xenophon’s return and his elevating her to a position of responsibility, the woman apparently misused her newly acquired power for personal aggrandizement and the pursuit of selfishness. In summarizing her lifetime in Greece, Cayce stated: “Gaining and losing through the experience. Gaining for the faith and service rendered many during the trails of that waiting. Losing in mis-application of the power gained by being put in an exalted position.” In the present, the woman was encouraged to set aside her selfish motives and to focus instead upon cultivating her connection to the Divine and continuing to be of service to others.
The Cayce information stresses the continuity of the soul regardless of an individual’s bodily identity in any given lifetime. All experiences, inclinations, desires, abilities, and shortcomings from the past become a part of the soul’s memory in the present. As to whether a soul is developed or impaired in any given incarnation depends upon an individual’s application and the use of his or her free will. Because past-life influences can be both negative and positive, Cayce repeatedly emphasized the important role played by the human will in each soul’s personal development. As a case in point, in 1929, Cayce told a fifty-one-year-old osteopath that the will plays a greater role in a person’s development than either heredity or environment. It is essentially the will that determines whether a person evolves, grows, and overcomes life’s challenges or regresses, fails, and is overcome by them.
Just as in the parable of the poor son, Cayce believed that, because of our focus on the material things in life, much of humankind has forgotten its true birthright as a child of a loving God. From this perspective, the material world is simply a faint reflection of a much greater spiritual reality. In fact, the material world might be likened to a purposeful dream that enables each individual to evolve into an awareness of one’s true self through lifetimes of experiences, choices, and interactions with others. Cayce told one person:
“For, will is the factor that makes for growth in the soul’s sleep through the earth’s experience. For, with the birth of a physical body the soul slumbers; and its dreams are the deeds by which the soul is judged in its associations with its fellow man.”
The Cayce information insists that we are not simply physical bodies; instead, we are spiritual beings who are having a physical experience. Essentially, we are all seekers, seeking our true identity and our relationship to the Whole. From this premise, life is an ongoing adventure of purposeful experiences and relationships, enabling each individual to find the true self.
All too often, we have sought meaning in our lives through all manner of escape, acquisition, addiction, and confusion. The time must come in the history of the world when we finally realize that, throughout our sojourns through space and time, we have simply been seeking our connection to spirit, our connection to the Creative Forces, our connection to God.
Over a period of forty-three years, Cayce gave intuitive readings to people from every religious background and all segments of society. During the course of those consultations, he was able to perceive how individuals literally create the structure of their lives through their thoughts, their deeds, and their interactions with others. Cayce called this storehouse of data that he was able to see “the akashic records”; others have referred to the same information as “the Book of Life” or “God’s Book Remembrance.” It was this information that enabled Cayce to describe to individuals how their soul had gained, lost, or – often – experienced elements of both during the course of a series of physical sojourns in the earth.
Rather than seeing life as simply a precursor to an inevitable reward or punishment, the Cayce information saw every life experience as a potentially purposeful and necessary stage of development leading to an almost unfathomable realization of one’s true connection to God. A reading told one twenty-six-year-old army sergeant: “For you grow to heaven, you don’t go to heaven. It is within thine own conscience that ye grow there.” With this as his undergirding perspective, Cayce believed that it was through an individual’s life experiences and relationships – accruing over a series of life-times – that each person was destined to undergo soul development; grow spiritually; overcome shortcomings, weaknesses, and flaws; and eventually reawaken to the true self.
In the Cayce cosmology, the destiny of each individual is nothing less than soul growth, transformation, and enlightenment. Essentially, the primary function of the earth is as a testing arena that enables the soul to exercise the dynamics of freedom of choice played out against the influences of cause and effect, and to experience whatever understanding and development have already taken place. Although Cayce definitely saw the prospect of soul retrogression (loss) in any given life, generally each lifetime allows for the possibility of advancement in learning. In fact, the readings contend that wherever a person finds him – or herself in the present, that very situation has the potential to be a purposeful one; whether or not the person decides to use the present as a positive learning experience, however, is always a matter of free will.
Because the nature of the soul is spiritual, not physical, it is erroneous to believe that the earth offers the only learning curriculum undertaken by each soul. Instead, Cayce’s cosmology describes “sojourns in consciousness” in which the soul chooses to experience focused lessons in what might be called “awareness development.” These lessons do not take place in physicality but in other dimensions of consciousness. With this in mind, Cayce informed a group of approximately thirty people who had gathered for a reading in 1933: “For the earth is only an atom in the universe of worlds!” Echoing the New Testament (John 14:2), Cayce told another individual, “‘In my Father’s house are many mansions’ – many consciousnesses, many stages of enfoldment, of unfoldment, of blessings…”
Cayce advised others that it was also a mistake to believe that our solar system is the only place in the cosmos in which souls are undergoing a developmental process. However, once a soul enters the earth, there is apparently a mandatory lesson that must be attained before the soul is free to continue its curriculum elsewhere. Essentially, that lesson was described as being one of love and service.
In Cayce’s worldview, the inevitable destiny of every soul is to become cognizant of its true individuality while maintaining an awareness of its oneness with God. For all of humankind, this state of enlightenment is seemingly achievable in one of two ways: either by learning the lesson of love and then moving on to other stages of consciousness development or by literally attaining perfection in the earth. Of the thousands of individuals who received readings from Edgar Cayce, fewer than twenty were told that they had so mastered the lesson of love that another earthly incarnation would not be necessary unless they chose to return. Apparently, there are “many mansions” in which they could continue their individual growth process. In terms of manifesting perfection in the earth, the example repeatedly cited by the readings was that of Jesus.
In 1944, a fifty-three-year-old housewife named Agnes contacted Edgar Cayce and inquired as to why she had come into life with such a broken physical body. For much of her life, she had suffered from heart, back, hearing, and intestinal problems, often causing her severe pain. In spite of these problems, she had managed to take care of a home and family and raise two sons. She obtained a life reading and was told that her soul had made tremendous strides in spiritual development for she had “…advanced from a low degree to that which may not even necessitate a reincarnation in the earth.” Not that she was perfect, for she wasn’t, but somehow she had learned how to love.
Her present difficulties were traced to a low point in her earthly sojourns when she had been a companion of Nero and had taken part in the physical persecution of individuals associated with the early Christian Church. From that experience, Cayce advised her that she was now “meeting self” in terms of her own pain and suffering. Aside from that one period of soul retrogression, however, Agnes was told that throughout her earthly incarnations, she had generally been of service to others in her attempts to be of service to God. As a result, in spite of her physical pain, she had still managed to love, striving to hold to a high ideal and frequently assisting others in doing the same. For that reason, when asked to comment on her abilities, Cayce told her:
“Who would tell the rose how to be beautiful; who would give to the morning sun, glory; who would tell the stars how to be beautiful? Keep that faith! which has prompted thee. Many will gain much from they patience, thy consistence, thy brotherly love.”
In spite of how Agnes’s life and physical circumstances might have appeared to others, the reading assured her that she had accomplished much.
Within the vast repository of the Cayce material, those factors that lead to a person’s soul growth or retrogression in any given lifetime are indexed by case history for ease of reference. In addition to service and love, qualities that prompt soul growth include consistent application, establishing spiritual ideals, developing the will, positive human relationships, personal attunement, selflessness, and cultivating virtuous traits such as patience, forgiveness, understanding, and tolerance. The flaws and weakness pointed out as leading soul retrogression and failure include self-gratification; self-exaltation; selfishness; intolerance and condemnation; indecision and laziness; creating contention, oppression, and strife in the lives of others; holding grudges or seeking revenge; and being too material minded. Negative traits also include such attitudes and emotions as spite, stubbornness, self-pity, and resentment.
Rather than thinking that the soul is somehow separated or disconnected by each of its earthly experiences, the Cayce readings emphasize the ongoing process of life. Because the soul is eternal, life does not begin and end with each physical incarnation. For ease of understanding, imagine for a moment that the soul is like an individual’s entire lifetime and that each period of that person’s life is like a different incarnation. There may be a period of childhood, of going to school, of being a parent, of having a job or a series of jobs, etc. Although the core individual does not radically change, outward identity frequently changes. It is not that each life begins anew like a blank slate, but rather that the soul takes with it talents, experiences, relationships, and weaknesses from one lifetime to the next. All weaknesses need to be overcome or transformed, while all strengths need to be further cultivated and expressed. This fact is repeatedly illustrated in the case histories of individuals who received readings.
One woman learned that she had lost spiritual ground centuries ago during a lifetime in India because she had often forced others to accept her personal beliefs and religious tenets. However, that same ability to persuade and mold others had been transformed during a Colonial American incarnation in which she had cultivated the talents of a teacher and instructor and had been instrumental in directing lives of young people.
A very small, thin, frail-looking shoe salesman who suffered from a number of physical problems, including anemia, learned that he had abused his physical prowess, beauty, and strength during a Roman incarnation when he had often subjugated others to his own will. Conversely, during that same incarnation, he had often found favor with the opposite sex by his desire to be of service. For that reason, in the present, women often found occasions to be kind to him. At the same time, however, he frequently attempted to be too controlling with members of his own family, including his wife.
In another instance, a thirty-five-year-old psychologist learned that his innate talents for counseling and diplomacy were the result of a number of past-life experiences. In a lifetime after the American Revolution, he had acted as a liaison between the United States and Britain. Although a soldier during the Crusades in another lifetime, he had come to appreciate and admire many individuals of the Moslem faith from whom he had learned brotherly love. His appreciation of various cultures and ideologies was enriched during an earlier period in ancient Egypt, when he had made a study of various teachings and tenets of the then-known world. At the same time, however, this psychologist possessed a tendency toward self-indulgence and self-aggrandizement that had arisen during a Persian incarnation, when he had been in a position of leadership. That same tendency remained with him in the present and needed to be overcome. Years later, his third ex-wife – he would eventually have five – filed a follow-up report that confirmed his propensity for self-indulgence. By her account during their ten years together, he had repeatedly displayed an incredibly overdeveloped sex drive and a very serious problem with alcohol.
Cayce was adamant that the New Testament declaration “…for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7) was not simply a quaint saying but was, instead, a statement of fact and a universal law regarding how the universe really works. For example, an unhappy thirty-three-year-old actress inquired about why her life had been filled with a series of broken romances, rejections, and the experience of having a broken heart. A reading suggested that in her most recent incarnation she had been a saloon entertainer and had found occasion to repeatedly toy with men’s emotions, frequently making”…for sorrow in the hearts and in the experience of many.” Her present difficulties were simply a learning experience in response to her having done the same thing to others. As she learned to keep her heart, mind, and soul in alignment with spiritual ideals, learning a lesson where she had once fallen short, Cayce promised her “years of happiness and joy and peace.”
In spite of the inevitability of having to meet the consequences of our previous choices, in Cayce’s cosmology life is not fixed or destined. Although we constantly draw individuals and circumstances to us as a result of choices from the past, we continually co-create the experience of our life (and our perceptions) through how we choose to respond in the present. From the readings’ perspective, karma is only soul memory; it is not destiny. The way we choose to respond to that memory and our present-life experience actually determines the next probabilities and potentials drawn to the soul’s learning agenda.
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