(Although I haven't studied Cayce in depth, I was surprised to find so much commonality with my own belief system..)
Edgar Cayce (March 18, 1877 January 3, 1945), (the surname pronounced "Casey") is generally remembered as an American psychic who gave trance discourses on subjects like astrology, reincarnation, and Atlantis. Although Cayce lived before the emergence of the New Age movement, he remains a major influence on its teachings.
This popular image overlooks what, to him, were the more important strains within his work such as healing (the vast majority of his "readings" were given for people who were sick) or Christian theology (Cayce being a lifelong, devout member of the Disciples of Christ).
Major Themes of Readings:
Origin and destiny of humanity - "All souls were created in the beginning, and are finding their way back to whence they came." Cayce believes that human souls were created with a consciousness of their oneness with God. Some "fell" from this state; others - led by the Jesus soul - volunteered to save them. The Earth, with all its limitations, was created as a suitable arena for spiritual growth.
Duality - According to Cayce, Atlantean society was divided into two long-lived political factions - a "good" faction called the "Sons of the Law of One," and an "evil" faction called the "Sons of Belial." According to the readings, a major source of turmoil was the Sons of Belial's desire to exploit the Things, sub-humans with animal appendages and low intelligence, and the movements to protect and evolve them by the Sons of the Law of One.
Universal laws - Souls incarnated on the earth are subject to certain spiritual laws such as, "As ye sow, so shall ye reap" (karma) or "As ye judge (others), so shall ye be judged." Properly regarded, such laws represent an aspect of God's mercy whereby no matter what our circumstances, he has promised to guide us in our spiritual path.
Jesus and Christ Consciousness -
From Cayce's perspective, we are not simply physical bodies, instead we are spiritual beings who are having a physical experience entailing personal growth and development. Many individuals have incorrectly assumed that the goal of being in the earth is to simply reach heaven, find enlightenment, or somehow "get out of the earth." And yet, this is a perspective quite different from that contained in the Cayce material. Instead, Cayce believed that as children of God, our mission was to somehow bring spirit into the earth.
The dynamics of our deep and literal connection to God can be found throughout scripture, beginning with Genesis when we are told that God made humankind in the Creator's image. But our relationship with God as our Parent is perhaps no more clearly illustrated than in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-24). This parable describes the journey of the soul: we were with God in the beginning, through the power of our free will we were able to make choices that were not necessarily in perfect accord with the Creator. And, at some point, we will "arise" and decide to return to God, regaining our inheritance and experiencing our true relationship with Him.
One of the readings beautifully describes the spiritual nature of humankind in this way:
"For ye are a corpuscle in the body of God; thus a co-creator with Him, in what ye think, in what ye do." - Edgar Cayce reading #2794-3
The readings state that God desires to be expressed in the world through us. The example set by Jesus is apparently a "pattern" of wholeness for each and every soul.Regardless of an individual's religious or personal beliefs, this Christ pattern exists in potential upon the very fiber of their 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.
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" (5749-14), and its manifestation is the eventual destiny of each and every soul. With this in mind, the readings present Jesus as our "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.
Just as an older sibling can sometimes provide insight and counsel into some of life's difficulties (because he or she went through them first) Jesus as Elder brother can assist us in facing life's challenges. What may surprise individuals is that this fact has nothing to do with religion, it has to do with spirituality and discovering our true relationship with God - a relationship we share with Jesus. The readings not only affirm that Jesus was the Son of God, but they also state the same thing about each and everyone of us. In other words: Jesus was like each one of us and, ultimately, each one of us is destined to be like Him.
Q. What is the main purpose of Jesus' incarnation?
EC: To glorify the Christ Consciousness in the Earth . in the lives of those with whom ye come in contact, and to live the same thyself. - Reading 2441-4
Q. What is the meaning and significance of the words Jesus and Christ...?
EC: Just as indicated. Jesus is the man, the activity, the mind, the relationships that He bore to others. Yea, He was mindful of friends, He was sociable. He was loving. He was kind. He was gentle. He grew faint, He grew weak and yet gained that strength that He has promised, in becoming the Christ, by fulfilling and overcoming the world! Ye are made strong in body, in mind, in soul and purpose by that power in Christ. The power, then, is in the Christ. The pattern is in Jesus. - Reading 2533-7
This transformative power of the Christ Consciousness is awakened as individuals act in accord with the pattern set by the example of Jesus' life. In fact, this awakening is the essential purpose for which each soul enters into life.
From Cayce's perspective, Jesus is the Elder brother for all of humankind, deeply committed to assisting all souls in reawakening to the awareness of their oneness with God. This Jesus is not interested in religious conversion, denominationalism, or even mighty personal accomplishments. Instead, He is simply interested in how we treat one another. With this in mind, even in the midst of our diversity as a human family, we share a common spiritual heritage. We are all Children of the same God. We are all part of the one spiritual Source. And, we are all destined to return to our Creator, our Mother/Father, our God.
Reincarnation Past Lives -
Edgar Cayce found that the concept of reincarnation was not incompatible with any religion, and actually merged perfectly with his own beliefs of what it meant to be a Christian. Eventually the subject of reincarnation was examined in extensive detail in over 1,900 Life Readings.
Reincarnation is the belief that each of us goes through a series of lifetimes for the purpose of spiritual growth and soul development. Cayce's approach does not include the concept of transmigration, which states that it is possible for human beings to be born again as animals. From the standpoint of the Cayce material, souls only occupy human bodies through their spiritual growth and developmental process.
In essence, the Cayce approach to reincarnation provides a philosophical setting to the past focusing on practical ways of dealing with this life: living, growing, and being of service to one another in the present.
For him it wasn¹t nearly as important to who individuals had once been, or even what they had been doing, as it was paramount that they focus on the present and the opportunities and challenges that faced them in this time, in this place, right now.
From Cayce's perspective, the reason for believing in reincarnation is not so that we can dwell upon the past or brag about the possibility of once having been someone famous, instead it is to enable a soul to understand the consequences of previous choices and to know that each individual is ultimately responsible for shaping and creating his or her life in the present. From the Cayce readings¹ perspective, the past merely provided a framework of potentials and probabilities. An individual¹s choices, actions, and free will in the present would determine the actual experience lived this time around. Rather than being a fatalistic approach to life, it is much more one of nearly limitless opportunities.
Cayce teaches the reality of reincarnation and karma, but as instruments of a loving God rather than blind natural laws. Its purpose is to teach us certain spiritual lessons. Cayce's view arguably incorporates Theosophical teachings on spiritual evolution. Each person, in his view, existed in a self-conscious form before birth and would exist again after death.
From Cayce's perspective, we are not simply physical bodies or even physical bodies with souls, but are instead spiritual beings who are currently having a material experience. As souls, we have manifested in the earth in order to learn lessons that will enable us to return to our former state of spiritual awareness. At the same time, one purpose we all have in common is to bring the spirituality of the Creator into the earth.
A soul can choose to be born into either a male or a female body in any given lifetime or, as Cayce called it, an incarnation. A soul selects that environment (parents and family, location, personal obstacles, etc.) which will best allow for the learning of lessons it needs for completeness. (Knowing this enabled me to forgive everyone in my past because it was my Soul's choice!) The goal is to fully express love in all the challenges which physical life offers.
One's experiences are subject to the choices made with free will. As one grows, he or she learns-or rather remembers-his or her true relationship with God and one's heritage as a spiritual being. With free will, we can turn the challenges life presents to us into stepping-stones toward growth, or we can see them as obstacles and stumbling blocks. Either way, we reap what we have sown. We constantly meet the consequences of previous deeds and attitudes.
One frequently misunderstood concept regarding reincarnation has to do with karma. From the standpoint of the Cayce material, karma is not destiny; it is only memory. These memories are generally unconscious and influence our abilities, our faults, even our relationships with others, but with free will we can meet this memory as a positive or a negative experience. Karma provides us with the potential to learn a lesson we need in order to grow at a soul level, and free will determines whether or not we choose to learn it at this time. The choices we make determine the next set of potential experiences we encounter.
Much more than simply a concept that applies to a limited segment of the world, reincarnation is a philosophy that has-at one time or another-been embraced by all the major religions of the world. It's a concept that can allow us to have compassion for one another because ultimately we are all equal-there is only one God, and we are all His children.
From Cayce's viewpoint, it doesn't really matter if an individual believes in reincarnation or not. For some it can be a helpful concept, for others confusing. The main purpose is to allow individuals to become aware of their true spiritual nature and their ultimate relationship with one another. In fact, if we can think for a moment about the one person in our life whom we love most of all. then we will get an inkling of the goal of reincarnation: to be able to love every single soul, even ourselves, with the very same love.