I have had the honor to speak on behalf of Edgar Cayce and the A.R.E. for about 15 years now. As I travel about the country, I oftentimes open a talk with a discussion of “Who I am and why am I here?” Occasionally, I’ll have time to explain my view on why the audience is present, and why the New Age movement has become an international sensation. Basically, why you are here. That conversation goes a bit like this:
I moved to Virginia Beach almost 20 years ago to become part of “the work”. I had felt that calling grow in my 15 years in Boston as part of Elena Allen’s long-standing Search for God group. When I first arrived at the ARE, I was offered the job of conference facilitator. It wasn’t the type of work I had in mind, but I came with the intention, “send me, use me”. That was where I was needed. I served in that position for four years. I call that time my metaphysical Ph.D. I attended every conference, indeed every lecture, given in those 4 years! At about 2 per month, that was almost 100 conferences! While the room was always packed for Carolyn Myss or Gregg Braden, I got to hear the lesser known authors, the up and coming, or just those with a powerful message that weren’t quite yet in the mainstream. Oftentimes, those speakers left a deeper impact than the headliners.
On one such afternoon, Mark Thurston was speaking to a good-sized audience on his take on the Cayce message. Mark commonly starts a lecture with a sort of “teaching story” which is one of my favorite ways to learn. He related this experience that he had as a director at the ARE. Some years prior, he said, representatives from a conservative religious group approached the ARE about making a documentary film about different religious and spiritual groups and wanted to include the ARE. This group had historically been very derisive of the ARE. Charles Thomas Cayce was the CEO at that time and was cautiously open to a dialogue with these representatives. Charles Thomas invited the directors of the ARE to be present in these conversations. Mark described how the exchanges were cordial, but eventually hit a snag. The matter at hand was regarding the final say over how the ARE would be portrayed in the film. Charles Thomas wanted the ARE to have that final say, and the filmmakers balked at that proposition. After a few more meetings, it became clear that this matter had become an impasse and a deal breaker.
Mark described how once it had become clear that this would be the final meeting, the cordial tone changed and the representatives, “let down their hair”, so to speak. In a darkened tone, they rhetorically asked, “Do you know why we do not like you people?” Mark described how the tension was now palpable, as was his nervous curiosity at this question. “We all knew they hated us, but now the hatred would be revealed! Was it because we are “soft” on sin?”, he continued, “Was it because of the reincarnation perspective we all held? Did Cayce not always literally interpret the Bible? We would all soon know definitively.” Then the answer came that surprised Mark. “We don’t like you people because you dare to teach that ALL PEOPLE HAVE ACCESS TO GOD! How dare you!” They then stood up and left.”
This story has lingered with me ever since. As I have reflected on the story, I have come to realize that if you want to hate Edgar Cayce and the New Age, this is the perfect reason. Edgar Cayce spoke of a God that was accessible to all people. We all have access to God, all the time, directly through our inner temple. God is no respecter of religions. Early on in the work, Cayce and his friends became confused at this broad view of the readings and asked, “Well then, what is the best religion?” The answer came back, “The one that you will actually practice!” It is like we are all the blind touching the elephant and describing God from our limited perspective. “The elephant is like a rope…no! The elephant is like a tree…no! It is like a hose!” The truth is the holistic view: God is inclusive of all these perspectives. The religions are attempts to describe and access the Infinite, but they are each limited. The New Age has caught on like wildfire because on the deepest levels of our souls, we are sick and tired of “God, Inc.” so to speak, that “my God can beat up your God!” or you can’t get to heaven without a “ticket” from our religion. We are all ready for the deeper, holistic and truer interpretation of God.
Edgar Cayce is renowned as the “father of holistic medicine”, but I see him also as a forerunner of holistic theology, which I believe is at the core of the New Age movement and its resonance with the masses. Cayce, the man, was devoutly Christian, but his Source and his readings were largely inclusive of world religions. His readings spoke highly of Jesus, but spoke of his reincarnations! Buddha. Lau Tzu. Mohammed, Confucius, Zoraster, Egyptian mysticism, among many others, were also referenced in the readings. He described the Christ Consciousness as a consciousness of Oneness available to all. He never connected that consciousness to anyone’s name! That divisive passage of scripture, where Jesus says “No one gets to the Father but through me!”, the Cayce’s source reference that “mind” that was in Jesus, that Jesus was in the Christ Consciousness, The Oneness consciousness – basically telling us, “No one gets to God except through thinking and acting from that place of Oneness”. This becomes a much more inclusive view and is defining, I believe, of the New Age movement.
Cayce’s Source spoke of reincarnation, karma, meditation, kundalini, Akasha, among other concepts that are core to Eastern religious thought. Cayce, the man, struggled with this. He had said early on about this reading business that if he ever gave a reading that hurt anyone of that went against his Christian values, that he would stop giving readings. One of those moments occurred when reincarnation was first introduced as a concept in his readings. Cayce took pause at that juncture as he had no understanding of this view from his traditional Christian upbringing. Eventually he did come to terms with reincarnation, and became a sort of New Age Christian. Cayce introduced the west to these Eastern concepts, a sort of uniting of the Ying and Yang. The westerners are the talkers of the world, more comfortable with prayer, while the east is more representative of receptivity, at least spiritually, which aligns with meditation. Cayce’s Source unifies in statements such as, “In prayer we speak with God, in meditation, we listen”. Here he completes the circle, uniting prayer and meditation into a whole.
Before I knew of Cayce, I had learned meditation. As I got deeper into meditation, and began to go to ashrams for silent retreats, it seemed to me that the goal of meditation was to “lose the ego”. I struggled with that because the folks I met at ashrams seemed to have this bland sort of emptiness that seemed contrived. I had worked hard to become this zany person that I am! The thought of losing ego/personality into the blandness was not appealing. When I moved to ARE, and eventually married, my then wife was Japanese. A clash occurred between the western concept of “know thyself” and the eastern concept of “the whole is greater than the individual”, basically a sort of “lose thyself”! We struggled with this core difference and all the implications it has for communication. I eventually found in the readings Cayce’s description of the Christ/Oneness Consciousness in action: “To know thyself, to be thyself and to also be one with God or Creative Forces”. Here again, Cayce’s Source unites. The either/or of the ego is answered with the “YES!” of the Soul. So it isn’t about knowing thyself separate from the Creator, or about losing your personal identity. We are encouraged to do both, “Know theyself” (as a soul manifesting through an ego in the world) but also to “lose thyself” into the whole, the oneness. It becomes a type of double identity. The New Age aphorism being that “you are a spiritual being having a physical experience” or as Jesus said, “remember you are in the world, but not of it”.
Cayce described Jesus as being the epitome of this consciousness. He was a jovial, funny, charming man (His personality), but also at one with God (His Individuality). Jesus was the man, Christ is the consciousness. He knew Himself to be Himself and yet he was also One with God. This is symbolized by the eclipse that is recounted in Luke’s gospel at the time of the cruxifiction. In a sacred geometric view, we have the alignment of the Trinity: Earth, moon and sun are perfectly aligned as Jesus came to show the alignment of body (earth), Mind/Emotions (Moon) and God/Spirit (Sun). The New Age perspective is that we are all seeking to align our will, our choices, our actions, with our higher God self. Religions are merely attempts to help guide us towards that realignment. Cayce himself hoped that the ARE would serve to deepen a person’s faith in God and then deepen their faith in whatever religion they belonged.
In summation, I believe that is why we are all here in the New Age movement. We are tired of the fractionalization of God, the use of religion and God as business and a cause for division. We are all coming in at this time to “set God free” so to speak and have a united, inclusive view of our Creator. Indeed, God is the God of all people, no exceptions. We all have access to God. We are all Children of the Most High. We are all loved. We all matter. The fulfilment of the New Age, epitomized by the hope for the coming “1000 years of Peace”, prophesied in the Book of Revelation, is built on the abandonment of the divisive view of God and embracing the inclusive view. All is One. God is One. Peace shall reign when we all act from the awakened Oneness consciousness, truly as brothers and sisters, loving one another as we have been loved.