Story by Joseph Ford CottoJoseph Ford Cotto: In contemporary society, what is the most important way that Cayce's legacy lives on?
He was called "the sleeping prophet," and even the man's critics must admit that this was for good reason.
His name was Edgar Cayce. He was a humble, unassuming man who came from a region many would deride as "nowhere"; the coalfields of eastern Kentucky. His mission in life, though, was grand as can be encompassed: to improve the human condition by elevating it to a point of comprehensive understanding about health, history, and spirituality.
Cayce was, beyond anything else, a man of purpose. His search for answers to complex questions helped others find their place in a world where many are taught to shy away from difficult queries -- if for no other reason than to maintain social cohesion. Cayce was all about the individual and helping him or her become the best he or she could be.
Cayce's work was done through meditation, during which time he appeared to be asleep. When he woke, he would share information with those around him, and his words often proved clairvoyant. Those who placed their trust in Cayce frequently found his predictions to be word-for-word in alignment with what wound up taking place.
Of course, his track record was not perfect, and it declined in accordance with his physical health. Nonetheless, even for the devoutly skeptical fellow such as myself, his work is too substantive to dismiss as sheer coincidence.
Doing so, in and of itself, is a leap of faith.
Alison Ray is the head of public information at Edgar Cayce's Association for Research and Enlightenment. She spoke to me about Cayce's life and legacy. Some of our conversation is included below.
Alison Ray: To me, it is the information found in the readings which are made available thru the organization founded by Edgar Cayce in 1931. Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. (Association for Research and Enlightenment, Inc.) continues the original mission of “helping people transform their lives for the better, through research, education, and application of core concepts found in the Edgar Cayce readings and kindred materials that seek to manifest the love of God and all people and promote the purposefulness of life, the oneness of God, the spiritual nature of humankind, and the connection of body, mind, and spirit.”
This includes the information on health, a free online meditation course, Search for God Study groups, Glad Helpers healing prayer group, and so much more—all to promote the spiritual nature of humankind and the oneness of all people.
Cotto: One key element of Cayce's work pertained to reincarnation. Has science, generally speaking, borne out the most essential of his views on this matter?
Ray: Reincarnation is the belief that each of us goes through a series of lifetimes for the purpose of spiritual growth and soul development. The past provided a framework of potentials and probabilities and an individual’s choices, actions, and free will in the present determines the actual experience lived. Rather than being a fatalistic approach to life, it is much more one of nearly limitless opportunities. Within this framework of lessons that need to be learned as the soul strives to meet itself is the central idea that the soul is constantly experiencing the consequences of its previous choices.
The concept of reincarnation shocked and challenged Edgar Cayce and his family. They were deeply religious people, doing this work to help others because that's what their Christian faith taught. Reincarnation was not part of their reality. Individuals continued to find healing from the information in the readings, so the Cayce family continued with the physical readings, and cautiously reflected on the strange philosophical material. Ultimately, the Cayces began to accept the ideas. Rather than calling it reincarnation, Edgar Cayce preferred to call it, "The Continuity of Life." He believed that the Bible, which he read every year, did contain evidence that life, the true life in the Spirit, is continual.
With so many document near death experiences, even by professionals, there is scientific evidence for the continuity of life. Reincarnation can be more difficult to prove, but there are a number of recognized cases that have explored past lives that individuals claim to have remembered. There are also cases of individuals in trance being able to speak other languages.
Cotto: Cayce spent a great deal of his life meditating. In his view, was there a universal key to productive meditation, or should this be more considered an individualized undertaking?
Ray: In order to become more attuned to our spiritual source, for decades the Cayce readings emphasized the importance of meditation. In simplest terms, meditation is the practice of quieting our physical bodies and our minds, and focusing our attention inward instead of upon the world around us. The readings recommended daily practice of meditation, at the same time of day if possible, even if just for 15 minutes. With practice, it becomes easier and individuals often develop an inner sense of peace.
Meditation promotes coordination at three levels: physically, we begin to relax; mentally, our busied thoughts become quiet and focused; and spiritually, we get re-energized and are able to deal more lovingly and effectively with the people and events around us. Although some schools of thought suggest that the mind should be blank when you are meditating, Cayce's material suggests that focus on an affirmation may be helpful. Meditation aids such as music, incense, chants, personal rituals, inspirational reading, and the prayer of protection may help. Prayer was also important, and the readings suggested send out light and healing energies to the people on your personal prayer list at the end of the meditation period.