Even though Cayce was reluctant to help them, he was persuaded to give the readings, which left him dissatisfied with himself and unsuccessful. A cotton merchant offered Cayce a hundred dollars a day for his readings about the daily outcomes in the cotton market. However, despite his poor finances, Cayce refused the merchant's offer. Others wanted to know where to hunt for treasures; some wanted to know the outcome of horse races. Several times he was persuaded to give the readings as an experiment. However he was not successful when he used his ability for such purposes, doing no better than chance alone would dictate. These experiments allegedly left him depleted of energy, distraught, and unsatisfied with himself. Finally, he claimed to have come to the conclusion that he would use his gift only to help the distressed and sick.
He was persuaded to give readings on philosophical subjects in 1923 by Arthur Lammers, a wealthy printer. While in his trance state, Cayce spoke unequivocally of past lives. Reincarnation was a popular subject of the day, but is not an accepted part of Christian doctrine. Cayce reported that his conscience bothered him severely over this conflict. Lammers reassured and argued with Cayce. His "trance voice," the "we" of the readings, also supposedly dialogued with Cayce and finally persuaded him to continue with these kinds of readings. In 1925 Cayce reported his "voice" had instructed him to move to Virginia Beach, Virginia.
The Virginia Beach period
(1925 to 1945)
Cayce's mature period, in which he created the several institutions which would survive him in some form, can be considered to have started in 1925. By this time he was a professional psychic with a small staff of employees and volunteers. The "readings" increasingly came to involve occultic or esoteric themes.
In 1929 the Cayce hospital was established in Virginia Beach sponsored by a wealthy recipient of the trance readings, Morton Blumenthal.
Cayce gained national prominence in 1943 through a high profile article in Coronet. Claiming that he couldn't refuse people who felt they needed his help, he increased the frequency of his readings to 8 per day to try and make an impression on the ever-growing pile of requests. He claimed this took a toll on his health, as he said that it was emotionally draining and often fatigued him. He even went so far as to claim that the readings themselves scolded him for attempting too much and that the reading had limited his workload to just 2 readings a day or they would kill him.
Edgar Cayce suffered a stroke on January 2nd, 1945. He died a day later on January 3rd.
Controversy and criticism
Skeptics of Cayce's purported powers point out that all of the evidence for Cayce comes in the form of anecdotes and testimonials from true believers, none of which is considered scientifically rigorous. They are also critical of Cayce's support for various forms of alternative medicine, which are now regarded by skeptics as quackery.
Michael Shermer writes in Why People Believe Weird Things, "Uneducated beyond the ninth grade, Cayce acquired his broad knowledge through voracious reading and from this he wove elaborate tales." Furthermore, "Cayce was fantasy-prone from his youth, often talking with angels and receiving visions of his dead grandfather."Shermer further cites James Randi as noting "Cayce was fond of expressions like 'I feel that' and 'perhaps' -- qualifying words used to avoid positive declarations." Shermer also explains that methods used at the institution operated by Cayce's followers show their ESP experiments have no statistical difference from chance.
Cayce's followers accept that he was sometimes inaccurate. Cayce's sons, Hugh Lynn Cayce and Edgar Evans Cayce, even co-authored a book called The Outer Limits of Edgar Cayce's Power detailing some of their father's mistakes. They theorize that Cayce's accuracy depended on many variables, such as the spiritual motivation of those seeking the reading. Skeptics identify these theories as excuses intended to prevent paranormal claims from ever being disproven.
Cayce's prophecies occupy somewhat shaky ground. Examples of erroneous Cayce prophecies include him stating that 1933 would be a "good year," when in fact it was one of the worst in the Great Depression. He also stated that US scientists would discover a "death ray" from Atlantis in 1958. Other predictions that have not as yet occurred include massive earth changes and that China would one day be "the cradle of Christianity as applied in the lives of men." Furthermore, many of the predictions claimed as successes are little more than vague statements that can be interpreted in a wide variety of ways, and hence can be upheld as "true" simply because of their inherent vagueness.
Some Christians regard Cayce as someone who was misled by demonic forces and who has led many astray from what they see as the true path.
Claimed psychic abilities
Edgar Cayce has variously been referred to as a "prophet" (cf. Jess Stearn's book, The Sleeping Prophet), a "mystic", a "seer", and a "clairvoyant". Cayce's business card described him as a "psychic diagnostician".
Cayce's methods involved lying down and entering into what appeared to be a trance or sleep state, usually at the request of a subject who was seeking help with health or other personal problems (subjects were not usually present). The subject's questions would then be given to Cayce, and Cayce would proceed with a reading. At first these readings dealt primarily with the physical health of the individual (physical readings); later readings on past lives, business advice, dream interpretation, and mental or spiritual health were also given.
Cayce gave an estimated 22,000 readings during a period of 43 years (1901 to 1944); however, until September 1923, they were not systematically preserved. Accordingly, only about 14,000 Cayce readings are currently available. When out of the trance he entered to perform a reading, Cayce claimed generally not to remember what he had said during the reading. The unconscious mind, according to Cayce, has access to information which the conscious mind does not; a common theory about hypnosis in Cayce's time. After Gladys Davis became Cayce's secretary on September 10, 1923, all readings were preserved and his wife Gertrude Evans Cayce generally conducted (guided) the readings.
Cayce said that his trance statements should be taken into account only to the extent that they led to a better life for the recipient: "Does it make one a better husband, a better businessman, a better neighbor, a better artist, a better churchman? If so, cleave to it; if not, reject it." Moreover, he invited his audience to test his suggestions rather than accept them on faith.
Other abilities that have been attributed to Cayce include astral projection, prophesying, mediumship (communication with the dead), viewing the Akashic Records or "Book of Life", and seeing auras. Cayce claimed to have become interested in learning more about these subjects after he was informed about the content of his readings, which he reported that he never actually heard himself.
The health readings are numerous and involve many alternative health concepts and practices. Although Cayce described his work in terms of Christian service, people with esoteric interests have focused on a somewhat different set of topics.
- Origin and destiny of humanity. "All souls were created in the beginning, and are finding their way back to whence they came." [Reading 3744-5] The Cayce readings suggest 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.
- Reincarnation. Cayce's work 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. Animals have undifferentiated, "group" souls rather than individuality and consciousness. Humans have never been incarnated as animals. He describes a very complex design arranged between souls and God to "meet the needs of existing conditions", which was a reference to the souls who became entrapped in the Earth's physical materiality which was not intended for a habitat of the soul. Spirit "thought-forms" stayed near and guided the anthropoid ape which was chosen to be the most ideal vehicle for the human physical race to be created from, and psychically guided their separate evolution into a Homo sapiens species. Cayce's view arguably incorporates Theosophical teachings on spiritual evolution.
- Astrology. Cayce accepts astrology on the basis that our souls spend time on other planets (or perhaps their spiritual counterparts) in between incarnations. The position of the planets at our birth records these influences.
- 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. Cayce said that when you view it from the highest dimension there is no time and no space, nor any future or past, and that it is all happening in one fascinating expression and time is an illusion that has purpose.
- Jesus and Christ. Following New Thought precedent, Cayce distinguishes between Jesus and Christhood. Briefly, Jesus was a soul like us, who reincarnated through many lifetimes (and made many mistakes). "Christhood" is something which he was the first in allowing to be "manifest" through his material life, and is something which we also ought to aspire towards. Cayce accordingly calls Jesus our "elder brother" and frequently makes reference to the way of the "lowly Nazarene."
- Unknown Life of Jesus. Cayce presented narratives of Jesus' previous incarnations, including a mysterious Atlantean figure called "Amilius" as well as the more familiar biblical figures of Adam, Enoch, Melchizedek, Joshua, Asaph, and Jeshua. Cayce describes Jesus as an Essene who traveled to India in his youth in order to study Eastern religions.
- Ideals. Cayce repeatedly stresses the choice of an ideal as the foundation of the spiritual path. "And O that all would realize... that what we are... is the result of what we have done about the ideals we have set" (1549-1). We may choose any ideal we feel drawn to. As we attempt to apply it in our lives, God will guide us further, perhaps inspiring us to revise our choice of ideal. The highest ideal, says Cayce, is Christ; however, the readings recognize "the Christ spirit" in some form as the basis for religions other than Christianity.
- Body, Mind, Spirit. Cayce often invokes these three terms, or their equivalents, to describe the human condition. "Spirit is the life. Mind is the builder. Physical is the result." (conflation of various readings). The concept has application not only to holistic health but also to the spiritual life.
- Meditation. While Cayce sometimes describes particular meditation techniques of sitting or chanting ("Arrr--eee-oommm" which is strikingly similar to popular Hindu mantra "Hari Om") the crucial element is that of opening up to divine influences. The Search For God books say that "Through prayer we speak to God. In meditation, God speaks to us." Cayce's concept of meditation has some aspects in common with Hinduism or Buddhism (the chakras, kundalini) but is most similar to Christian versions of New Thought. The symbolism of the Book of Revelation, he says, is based on meditative experiences.
- ESP. Cayce accepted psychic experiences and ESP as a natural by-product of soul growth. God may speak to us through dreams (many readings consist of dream interpretation), or through intuitions similar to the pangs of conscience. However, Cayce does not endorse Spiritualism or mediumship on the grounds that entities thus contacted are not necessarily particularly lofty. Instead, he encourages seekers to focus on Christ.
- Atlantis. The Cayce readings affirm the existence of Atlantis, a vast continent with an advanced technology whose refugees peopled ancient Egypt as well as pre-Columbian America. Cayce's description of Atlantis has much in common with that of Ignatius L. Donnelly. 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." Many people alive today are the reincarnations of Atlantean souls, who must now face similar temptations as before. In this regard Cayce also predicted the coming of a certain 'blue stone' of Atlantean origin, that was to be found on "an island in the Caribbean" and was to have the power to heal. In 1974 a Volcanic blue pectolite now known as the Larimar was found in the Dominican Republic. In occult circles this colored gemstone is said to have healing powers; as with most crystals and gemstones, however, there is no scientific evidence that it has any special properties. Atlantis suffered 3 major destructions one of which was the deluge. 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. The final destruction was the overcharging of the Crystal which caused a massive explosion.
- Egypt. Next to biblical times, the most significant era for the "life readings" was a pre-dynastic Egyptian civilization consisting of Atlantean refugees. Cayce purported to have been an Egyptian priest named "Ra Ta" who built a spiritually-based healing center (the "Temple of Sacrifice") and educational institution (the "Temple Beautiful"). His diagnostic readings and narratives about the past and future were supposed to be a continuation of his ancient work. This civilization also built monuments on the Giza plateau, including the Great Pyramid, and left records of Atlantis in a "hall of records" located somewhere beneath the Sphinx. These readings bear a close resemblance to books by AMORC founder H. Spencer Lewis.
- Earth changes. Some Cayce readings allude to massive earth changes—perhaps in conjunction with a pole shift—in the 1930s, 1960s, or 1990s. Cayce people have developed several creative ways of interpreting such passages, although some were disappointed with the failure of 1998 to bring either the rising of Atlantis, the sinking of California, or the Second Coming of Christ. Although he didn't actually state these would happen at this specific time, the period was referred to as a pivotal point that could see the beginning of many of these prophecies. Cayce however, stressed repeatedly that free will influenced all facets of what will become reality and even something predestined to happen can be postponed or altered.
- "Cayce cures." Cayce's medical readings typically prescribe poultices (often of castor oil), osteopathic adjustments, colonic irrigation, massage (often with peanut oil), prayer, folk remedies (e.g. charcoal tablets), various forms of electric medicine and patent medicines (such as Atomidine), and specific recommendations concerning diet and exercise. Cayce is often seen as a practitioner of holistic medicine, and has particularly strong philosophical ties with naturopathy.
- The "Cayce diet". Major dietary recommendations include the avoidance of red meat (esp. pork), alcohol (except red wine), white bread, and fried foods; a preference for fruits and (above-ground, leafy) vegetables over starches; and a high ratio (80:20%)of alkaline foods over acidic. One meal per day should consist entirely of raw vegetables. Under strict circumstances, Cayce advocated both coffee and pure tobacco cigarettes to be non-harmful to health. “Food Combining” was also a central idea in the Cayce diet. Several food combinations that are contraindicated are coffee with milk or sugar, citrus fruit with starchy foods and high protein foods with starches. Cayce followed very few of the dietary recommendations that were suggested by the readings.
Possible influence on Cayce's beliefs
Hopper's Bookstore in Hopkinsville where Cayce worked for many years as a young man specialized in occult and osteopathic works and he may have consciously or otherwise absorbed much of this material. However, knowledge of this material cannot account for most of Cayce's specific diagnoses, such as directing that osteopathic adjustments be given to a developmentally-delayed and seizure-ridden child named Aime Dietrich. She was restored to normal health by Cayce-directed treatments after conventional doctors had pronounced her case hopeless.
Books such as Frederick Oliver's Atlantean fantasy A Dweller on Two Planets and Marie Corelli's novels were probably accessible to Cayce at his bookstore. Corelli's writings in particular seek to reconcile mystical beliefs such as reincarnation with Christianity, and Cayce may have been subconsciously trying to accept this idea. Some books of this type refer to Jesus as "elder brother". However, Cayce's life readings show remarkable consistency over many years. In fact, it has not been demonstrated that Cayce ever was inconsistent in his chronology; e.g., telling a woman whose reading was done in the 1920s that in a lifetime in ancient Persia she was one of three sisters of a warrior, but then telling a man whose reading was done in the 1940s that he was that warrior and had only two sisters.
Gina Cerminara who published books such as Many Mansions, The World Within and Many Lives, Many Masters which provide compendious information about Cayce's works and supported his claimed abilities with real life examples.
One such example from Gina Cerminara's works:
"Cayce once gave a reading on a blind man, a musician by profession, who regained part ot his vision in one eye through following the physical suggestions given by Cayce. This man happened to have a passion for railroads and a tremendous interest in the Civil War. In the life reading which Cayce gave, he said that the man had been a soldier in the South, in the army of Lee, and that he had been a railroad man by profession in that incarnation. Then he proceeded to tell him that his name in that life was Barnett Seay, and that the records of Seay could still be found in the state of Virginia. The man took the trouble to hunt for the records -- and found them, in the state capitol at Richmond: that is to say he found the record of one Barnett Seay, standard-bearer in Lee's army who had entered and been discharged from the service in such and such a year."
Mention in The Law of One
The Law of One, Book 1, a collection of word-for-word question and answer sessions which purport to channel a "social memory complex" known to us as "Ra," the following exchange takes place:
QUESTIONER: Who spoke through Edgar Cayce?
RA: I am Ra. No entity spoke through Edgar Cayce.
QUESTIONER: Where did the information come from that Edgar Cayce channeled?
RA: I am Ra. We have explained before that the intelligent infinity is brought into intelligent energy from eighth density or octave. The one sound vibratory complex called Edgar used this gateway to view the present, which is not the continuum you experience but the potential social memory complex of this planetary sphere. The term your peoples have used for this is the "Akashic Record" or the "Hall of Records".
Edgar Cayce on Karma
According to Edgar Cayce, a 20th century American mystic, Karma is the meeting of oneself in the present through thoughts and deeds from the past. Karma is tied to the concept of reincarnation and balance.
Karma is neither a debt that must be paid according to some universal tally sheet, nor is it necessarily a set of specific circumstances that must be experienced because of deeds or misdeeds perpetrated in the past. Karma is simply a memory. It is a pool of information that the subconscious mind draws upon and can utilize in the present. It has elements that are positive as well as those which may seem negative.
Health, Relationships, Abilities, Genius, Free Will, Opportunities
Sickness or afflictions have been attributed to misdeeds that an individual has performed in the past, as well as merits and fortunes to meritorious works. Sin and suffering are related through a universal system of cause and effect, called Karma. Karma is said to affect the quality of our relationships. For example, people who either love or hate each other tend to attract each other.
Karma dictates that an individual is responsible for both his current and future situation. Current abilities, talents and inclinations can be attributed to past development of these talents or involvement with the same. In this context, DNA and genes only give an individual the body he needs to perform his task on Earth, and do not determine his or her talents and abilities. In other words you can develop more talents and abilities as you experience the life that you are currently living. Karma, however, is not a rigid iron-cast system. For instance, accidents can occur outside the workings of karma and free will is a powerful factor in determining the course of our life. Getting hit by a car may in reality be accidental and not related to karmic influences at all. A person must also exercise his free will to determine his destiny despite the karmic factors he may currently be experiencing.
Karma also dictates that opportunities are also increased, depending on how one utilises that talents and gifts he currently has. Therefore, if we take advantage of what is already available to us, more will be given. Although our subconscious has an effect and influence on how we think, react, what choices we make, and even how we look, the component of free will is ever within our grasp.
Attitudes and Consciousness
Karma pertains mostly to attitudes and consciousness. The Cayce readings did not indicate adverse karmic after-effects for policemen or soldiers who were compelled to maintain safety or were under orders, and had to execute people or employ violent methods in order to accomplish their goals. The readings, however, did indicate severe karmic penalties for jeering mobs during the Roman persecution of Christians, and in particular, a spectator who laughed when a lion ripped out the side of a Christian girl. Neither the spectator nor the mob did any actual physical harm, but it was the malicious intent that they were being held accountable for.
"It's My Karma"
One of the most distorted views of karma is the idea that nothing can be done about it, similar to the concept of destiny.
No matter how terrible the predicament, there is always something that can be done to resolve the situation, even if it's a patient smile and maintaining a positive attitude in the face of adversity.
Within adverse conditions often lie opportunity. The Chinese character for crisis, as pointed out by the late J.F. Kennedy, is a combination of the characters of danger and opportunity, which means danger is an opportunity in disguise. The readings recommend taking advantage of what is made available to an individual, dangerous or meager as it may be, and better opportunities will come along once the karmic influences have been redirected. Karma is an educational process. It is important, therefore, that an individual learn whatever lessons are presented to him at the earliest opportunity, or harsher conditions will continue to prevail until he does.
Abilities according to Cayce Readings
One of the interesting aspects about karma in reincarnation is that talents and skills are never lost when a person completes an incarnation, according to the Cayce files. Someone who has developed an ability in one life will still have it to draw it upon later through karma. One may be born, for example, as a genius or prodigy, in math for example, if he develops this skill or has been of service now or having done so to a prodigious degree in the past or present.
Karma also operates at a group level. Groups include families, nations, and even businesses. The Cayce readings attribute the Spanish Civil War to the Andean genocide committed by the Spanish conquistadors to Latin America. It was implied that the combatants were the same conquistadors. Again, it must be said that Karma's purpose is not simply to cause suffering, but to give the individual an opportunity to experience every aspect of life. For instance, if a person has wronged someone in a past life, he will be given the opportunity to experience being wronged.
A core element of Karma is spiritual evolution. It is often said that experience is the best teacher. Certain experiences help to ingrain certain types of behaviour and patterns, such as thinking twice before committing anything wrong by instinct. Many karmic experiences demand simply learning how to behave in a good and proper fashion.
If a group is meant to learn lesson, individuals, whether they consciously know it or not, are imposed with the mission of revealing the lesson to the rest of his group. One particular reading was given for a child who was said to be very down to earth and practical and was born into a family of impractical idealists. The other siblings grew up to be members and leaders of volunteer and socialist groups. This child, however, grew up to be an engineer. There was neither great affinity nor antagonizements between the other members, but the child's character and that of the family were significantly different. When the children grew up, the engineer, however, was more concerned with social issues which could be attributed to the general temperament of the family. Likewise his other brothers and sisters where more down to earth, a trait that could have 'rubbed off' from their brother, the engineer.
Religion and Karma
A certain reading implies that knowledge about Karma (actually about all Cayce readings) is not needed if a person is well grounded in one's faith: 'Does it make one a better husband, a better businessman, a better neighbour, a better artist, a better churchman, if so cleave to it, if not reject it.' Despite teachings of one's faith, people still engage in revenge, bitterness, violence, etc. Karmically, wonderful things can happen if one follows the teaching 'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.' The Inquisition, the Inca genocide, Ku Klux Klan activities, etc. were executed in the name of religion, but are incompatible with the concept of a God of infinite love or brotherhood and incur severe Karmic retributions. It is a sad fact that people sometimes tend to use religion for personal gain. An understanding of Karma at this point clarifies that 'God is not mocked.'