Beyond Karma: Touching Grace

By Peter Woodbury

Let us begin with three cases of blindness. A couple had twin sons and one was born blind and the other was not. The couple inquired with Mr. Cayce for a reading. While in trance, Mr. Cayce referred to a past life the two boys had together, also as brothers. They had both been charged with the job of blinding individuals as punishment for their crime. One brother apparently grew to enjoy inflicting the painful punishment while the other did it merely as a job. The brother who enjoyed the suffering of others was born blind and was told that this was an opportunity to grow in compassion. The reading referred to the Grace of God, in that this man had enjoyed the suffering of hundreds and was only born blind, not as punishment, but as a means for soul growth.
This is a very straightforward example of the law of karma as “reaping what you have sown.” It has been referred to as “an eye for an eye”—literally, in this case.

In a second example, a couple had a daughter born blind and they asked Mr. Cayce for a reading. Again under trance, he gave a different answer to the cause of the blindness. He said that negligence by the doctor had caused the blindness. He said that the blindness had been an accident and not a karmic issue, but that the karma would follow the doctor and would need to be met. It is very interesting that Cayce referred to this case as an “accident.” When asked further about the matter, Cayce explained that accidents happen throughout creation. It reminds me of Charles Darwin’s notion of how mutations or genetic accidents steer evolution. Mr. Cayce went on to tell the parents to not let the child feel sorry for herself, but also see this as an opportunity for soul growth.

This example flies in the face of the New Age affirmation that there are no accidents. Many of us admire the work of Edgar Cayce as it is quite deep and not easily translatable into a bumper-sticker format. What Cayce is showing here, is that while there are accidents, there is always the opportunity to make meaning out of what happens to us; and that most of what happens to us is brought on by us more than any other cause. We are constantly meeting self, as Cayce so aptly expressed.

In this third example, I would like to look at the case of Jesus and the blind man (John 9:1-3) and what lessons there are to glean. Upon encountering a blind man, the disciples ask Jesus about the cause of the man’s blindness, not unlike the parents I wrote of earlier who asked Mr. Cayce for the cause of their child’s blindness. The disciples though, ask if the man’s blindness is caused by the man’s sin or by his parents’ sin. It is interesting to note that this is a question about karma. Jesus must have been teaching them about karma for them to have asked this question. But in this example, Jesus moves beyond karma in his answer. He tells the disciples that neither the man nor his parents sinned. He is blind that the works of God may be glorified; and He proceeds to heal the man of his blindness.

Jesus’ answer is quite unusual. What might He be teaching here? The first clue is in Jesus’ saying that the man is here to glorify God. How does the man glorify God? Let’s look at some basic Cayce concepts. There is a beautiful reading in which he teaches us that when we grow to “heaven, it will be as if it were leaning on the arm of someone ye have tried to help. For as ye do it unto thy brother, ye do it unto thy Maker.” (5177-1) So in the physical world, when we help someone, they benefit. If we lend them money or help them with chores, they benefit from our assistance. But on the spiritual level, we also benefit from helping another. Those who allow us to help them, are actually helping us. When I lecture around the country, I usually pause here and ask the audience how many find it easier to help others than to be helped? Most say that they find it easier to help others than be helped. I then pretend to be chiding them, and say, “You’re being selfish! You’re hogging up all the soul growth!” While I am using humor to make a point, I hope the point is well taken. I, too, used to find it much easier to help than be helped. This reading helped me understand that I need to accept help and let the givers grow spiritually as well. We all know too well what happens to a child or spouse who has another always serving and helping them. They become very dependent and immature.

In addition, Cayce also tells us that we often “entertain angels unawares.” Angels don’t show up asking, “Who wants to be a millionaire?” Have you seen the reality shows of how those instant millionaires end up? It is not pretty, and it seems more like a curse than a blessing. Instead, angels may appear as those needing assistance, giving us the opportunity to help them and hence grow spiritually. I believe this is what Jesus was referring to in the instance of this blind man. The disciples were missing the point entirely and not seeing that this man was a sort of angel offering others the opportunity to grow.

Many people know this truth with their supposed “handicapped” child or sibling who is actually a high spiritual being in a handicapped body showing others how to be joyous no matter what, while also needing help their entire lives, affording the opportunity for spiritual growth to many. Here is an example from a Cayce reading:

“In giving the interpretation of the disturbing forces with this body, we find that it would be well to admonish the body-mind not to become hard or resentful because of circumstances that have arisen in the experience, of any of the natures physical or mental; but rather using same as a means, a channel through which ye may come to know the greater manifestations of the love of the heavenly Father and of His care, His thought, His purpose with thee. “The physical handicap as we find may be materially aided, if these considerations as indicated are held first and foremost.” (1893-1)

I would like to explore one final example of what I believe is also beyond karma. A woman came to see me several years ago. She had suffered a very severe and painful trauma. She was on a work trip and on a free evening, decided to go out to a nearby arcade that she had enjoyed on other visits. While there she had a conversation with a man who thought he knew her from work. She went to the rest room and when she returned, he had a beer for her. She thought nothing of it, but later found out the beer was drugged and the man raped her that night. She awoke the next day in a hallway somewhere, barely clothed, and had to make her way back to her hotel and to the airport to return home.

As is oftentimes the case in situations like this, the victim feels terribly guilty and responsible. She was ashamed and felt she had been so stupid in accepting the beer. She also had not been able to tell her husband. I was very glad that she had decided to seek therapy. Now, with a simple view of karma, you might think that perhaps she had been a rapist in a past life and that she was meeting this in some way. But as I got to know this woman, I slowly came to realize a different explanation.

She was an especially loving and kind person. She and her husband had adopted four Down syndrome siblings from a South American family. She and her husband knew they had Down syndrome and they knew these children would be dependent their entire lives. I reflected on this. Who does that? Who adopts one handicapped child, let alone four? She also told me about her very special relationship she has always had with Jesus. She had been given a cross on a necklace as a special birthday gift by her mother and she cherished that cross. Then some years later she was given a saint medallion that she also put on the necklace. Then one day she was invited to a religious retreat with a friend. When she was washing her face, she took off the chain and the saint medallion went down the drain! Then she said she heard the voice of Jesus in her head saying, “Now I have your full attention!”

As I continued working with my client and reflected upon her stories, how it felt to be with her, what a good and spiritual person she was and then on how she had suffered such a painful and traumatic experience, it tossed about unsettlingly in my head. I know that bad things happen to good people. But I was seeking a deeper understanding. How could this be possible? How can this make sense? As I prayed for her healing and for understanding, it came to me finally like a lightning bolt. That night that man was going to rape someone. And on some deep unseen soul level, she said, “I’ll take it.” She volunteered to be that man’s victim and protect another woman from that fate. Somehow she knew she could survive it. Somehow she showed that man love.

As I have told this story around the country, tears stream down people’s faces, as they are mine as I write this and perhaps yours as you read it. The tears come from many because we acknowledge this as truth. Many have come as the older siblings who take the abuse from the parents and protect the younger siblings. How many mentally ill and abusive parents are there that one would think that no child would ever choose to be born into such certain pain and suffering? And yet a child, a soul, comes in to these parents. Perhaps some are karmically tied, but many are highly evolved souls that come because no one else would. They truly come in God’s name, to glorify God, as Jesus pointed out.

There is certainly some bad news in the newspaper. But if we look with a different perspective, we realize that there are many unseen and unacknowledged spiritual lights among us, leading the way. And perhaps you are one of them.