Cayce Material and Soul Development
(excerpt from Soul Development: Edgar Cayces Approach for a
Kevin J. Todeschi
development should take precedence over all things.
What if the purpose of life were not simply
to be born into a family, go to school, get a job, acquire material goods, create a family
of ones own, grow older, and then eventually die, leaving ones descendants and
family members to repeat the very same cycle? What if ones life experiences were not
simply random chance; instead, some kind of divine purposefulness stood behind the
possibilities of every single day for every single individual? What if we suddenly
discovered we were somehow actively responsible for cocreating the substance of our lives?
What if we came to realize that our perception of ourselves is extremely limited, for we
are, in truth, eternal beings possessing infinitely more than an average of seven to ten
decades of life? What if the answer to the question "Who am I?" were much more
than we had ever even dared to imagine?
Perhaps more than anything else, humankind is
in need of an entire worldview shift a change in our collective perception that
will enable all individuals to look at themselves and one another in a completely new
light. This change in perception needs to amount to nothing less than a quantum leap in
our understanding of what life is all about, for humanitys previous worldview has
been sorely inadequate. Life is not about acquisition. It is not about appeasing
ones desires and needs. It is not about lobbying to get ones way. It is not
about being victimized or bullying another. It is not about being afraid or causing fear.
It is not about seeking pleasure or inflicting pain. It is not about taking control of
another or being controlled oneself. It is not about proselytizing personal beliefs. It is
not about problems with race or sex or war or governments or culture or territorial
borders. Ultimately, it is not even about religion. Simply stated, life is a process of
personal growth and development. It is a required transformational process that has been
in effect since the dawn of time and will be underway until each soul has passed through
every portion of the curriculum.
This change in our collective worldview is
not only necessary it is also inevitable. The reason is because the truth about who we are
can no longer be contained within the confines of what we once thought about ourselves.
With greater and greater frequency, this single fact has repeatedly led individuals from
countless backgrounds, cultures, and faiths to sense and to predict "the end of the
world." Although it is true that the world as we know it is coming to a close, it is
not that the world is literally ending; rather, it is that our perception of the world and
ourselves is in the throes of a complete and radical transformation. When this shift has
arrived, we will no longer think ourselves to be what we never really were.
During this time of transition, we stand at a
crossroads, both individually and collectively. We can either fight against the
inevitable, becoming all the more focused on our limiting and erroneous beliefs, or we can
embrace the change and allow our perception of truth to expand along with us. When this
change is complete, we will look back on our previous worldview and see it simply as a
step in our collective learning process a stage that we passed through rather than
the reality where we ended up.
As it is now, our limited worldview suggests
one of two fundamental possibilities about the nature of humankind for much of the world.
The first is that life is accidental and random, implying that there is no God and that we
are nothing more than physical bodies. The second is that there is a God and He is
all-loving, but for reasons we may not understand, He is conditional in that love. He is
also all-forgiving, but only within a certain period of time. Nor does He play favorites,
unless one refuses to do things His way. Even now, certain logical assumptions suggest
that neither of these possibilities is justifiably defensible.
The structure and harmony of the universe,
the cyclic nature of all of life, and the universal laws we can perceive in action tend to
indicate that the cosmos follows design more so than accident. In our own lives, the fact
that we possess the capacity to dream, the ability to hope, and the capability to inspire
others to go beyond their perceived limitations suggests that there is much more to us
than a physical body.
In terms of the conflicting nature of God,
does it not seem problematic that, if the purpose of life is simply to receive the same
eternal reward or punishment, for some unknown reason the Creator has visited upon us very
different tests? For some, that test may be like an easy math problem that requires only
the ability to add and subtract, but for others that test is like a complex algebraic
equation that only the most gifted in mathematical theory and computation could even begin
to decipher. One persons life may be filled with minor struggles and pain, while
anothers seems fraught with tragedy, misfortune, and unspeakable horror. This
limited worldview would have us believe that a Creator who designed the intricacies of the
galaxies could send a child to a Mahatma Gandhi or a Reverend Billy Graham and hope for
the same level of success as a child He sent to a Joseph Stalin or a Reverend Jim Jones.
Does this really seem Godlike to anyone?
What if the apparent randomness of life
werent random at all, but instead were a purposeful unfolding of experiences,
thoughts, desires, and lessons that originated at the level of the soul? What if we were
active participants in the creation of every element of our lives rather than simply the
recipient of them? What if the Creator were at least as equitable and fair as a loving
parent who didnt play favorites with her or his children? What if God were truly
all-loving, ever-merciful, and eternally supportive, providing a firm foundation for each
of His children to live and grow and become all that they were meant to be?
These premises that we stand at the
brink of a new understanding of the nature of humankind and that there will be an
inevitable shift in our worldview are both explored in much of the Edgar Cayce
material. Rather than seeing life as simply a precursor to an inevitable reward or
punishment, the Cayce information saw every life experience as a potentially purposeful
and necessary stage of development leading to an almost unfathomable realization of
ones true connection to God. A reading told one twenty-six-year-old army sergeant:
"For you grow to heaven, you dont go to heaven. It is within thine own
conscience that ye grow there." (3409-1) With this as his undergirding perspective,
Cayce believed that it was through an individuals life experiences and relationships
accruing over a series of lifetimes that each person was destined to undergo
soul development; grow spiritually; overcome shortcomings, weaknesses, and flaws; and
eventually reawaken to the true self.
In the Cayce cosmology, the destiny of each
individual is nothing less than soul growth, transformation, and enlightenment.
Essentially, the primary function of the earth is as a testing arena that enables the soul
to exercise the dynamics of freedom of choice played out against the influences of cause
and effect, and to experience whatever understanding and development have already taken
place. Although Cayce definitely saw the prospect of soul retrogression (loss) in any
given life, generally each lifetime allows for the possibility of advancement in learning.
In fact, the readings contend that wherever a person finds him- or herself in the present,
that very situation has the potential to be a purposeful one; whether or not the person
decides to use the present as a positive learning experience, however, is always a matter
of free will.
Because the nature of the soul is spiritual,
not physical, it is erroneous to believe that the earth offers the only learning
curriculum undertaken by each soul. Instead, Cayces cosmology describes
"sojourns in consciousness" in which the soul chooses to experience focused
lessons in what might be called "awareness development." These lessons do not
take place in physicality but in other dimensions of consciousness. With this in mind,
Cayce informed a group of approximately thirty people who had gathered for a reading in
1933: "For the earth is only an atom in the universe of worlds!" (5749-3)
Echoing the New Testament (John 14:2), Cayce told another individual, "In my
Fathers house are many mansions--many consciousnesses, many stages of
enfoldment, of unfoldment, of blessings . . . " (2879-1)
Cayce advised others that it was also a
mistake to believe that our solar system is the only place in the cosmos in which souls
are undergoing a developmental process. However, once a soul enters the earth, there is
apparently a mandatory lesson that must be attained before the soul is free to continue
its curriculum elsewhere. Essentially, that lesson was described as being one of love and
service. On other occasions, the readings used biblical terminology to describe that
lesson: "For the whole law is to love the Lord with all thy heart and soul and body,
and thy neighbor as thyself!" (1603-1)
In Cayces worldview, the inevitable
destiny of every soul is to become cognizant of its true individuality while maintaining
an awareness of its oneness with God. For all of humankind, this state of enlightenment is
seemingly achievable in one of two ways: either by learning the lesson of love and then
moving on to other stages of consciousness development or by literally attaining
perfection in the earth. Of the thousands of individuals who received readings from Edgar
Cayce, fewer than twenty were told that they had so mastered the lesson of love that
another earthly incarnation would not be necessary unless they chose to return.
Apparently, there are "many mansions" in which they could continue their
individual growth process. In terms of manifesting perfection in the earth, the example
repeatedly cited by the readings was that of Jesus.
In 1944, a fifty-three-year-old housewife
named Agnes contacted Edgar Cayce and inquired as to why she had come into life with such
a broken physical body. For much of her life, she had suffered from heart, back, hearing,
and intestinal problems, often causing her severe pain. In spite of these problems, she
had managed to take care of a home and family and raise two sons. She obtained a life
reading and was told that her soul had made tremendous strides in spiritual development
for she had " . . . advanced from a low degree to that which may not even necessitate
a reincarnation in the earth." Not that she was perfect, for she wasnt, but
somehow she had learned how to love.
Her present difficulties were traced to a low
point in her earthly sojourns when she had been a companion of Nero and had taken part in
the physical persecution of individuals associated with the early Christian Church. From
that experience, Cayce advised her that she was now "meeting self" in terms of
her own pain and suffering. Aside from that one period of soul retrogression, however,
Agnes was told that throughout her earthly incarnations, she had generally been of service
to others in her attempts to be of service to God. As a result, in spite of her physical
pain, she had still managed to love, striving to hold to a high ideal and frequently
assisting others in doing the same. For that reason, when asked to comment on her
abilities, Cayce told her:
Who would tell the rose how to be beautiful;
who would give to the morning sun, glory; who would tell the stars how to be beautiful?
Keep that faith! which has prompted thee. Many will gain much from thy patience, thy
consistence, thy brotherly love. 5366-1
In spite of how Agness life and
physical circumstances might have appeared to others, the reading assured her that she had
Within the vast repository of the Cayce
material, those factors that lead to a persons soul growth or retrogression in any
given lifetime are indexed by case history for ease of reference. In addition to service
and love, qualities that prompt soul growth include consistent application, establishing
spiritual ideals, developing the will, positive human relationships, personal attunement,
selflessness, and cultivating virtuous traits such as patience, forgiveness,
understanding, and tolerance. The flaws and weakness pointed out as leading to soul
retrogression and failure include self-gratification; self-exaltation; selfishness;
intolerance and condemnation; indecision and laziness; creating contention, oppression,
and strife in the lives of others; holding grudges or seeking revenge; and being too
material minded. Negative traits also include such attitudes and emotions as spite,
stubbornness, self-pity, and resentment.
Rather than thinking that the soul is somehow
separated or disconnected by each of its earthly experiences, the Cayce readings emphasize
the ongoing process of life. Because the soul is eternal, life does not begin and end with
each physical incarnation. For ease of understanding, imagine for a moment that the soul
is like an individuals entire lifetime and that each period of that persons
life is like a different incarnation. There may be a period of childhood, of going to
school, of being a parent, of having a job or a series of jobs, etc. Although the core
individual does not radically change, outward identity frequently changes. It is not that
each life begins anew like a blank slate, but rather that the soul takes with it talents,
experiences, relationships, and weaknesses from one lifetime to the next. All weaknesses
need to be overcome or transformed, while all strengths need to be further cultivated and
expressed. This fact is repeatedly illustrated in the case histories of individuals who
One woman learned that she had lost spiritual
ground centuries ago during a lifetime in India because she had often forced others to
accept her personal beliefs and religious tenets. However, that same ability to persuade
and mold others had been transformed during a Colonial American incarnation in which she
had cultivated the talents of a teacher and instructor and had been instrumental in
directing the lives of young people (2910-1).
A very small, thin, frail-looking shoe
salesman who suffered from a number of physical problems, including anemia, learned that
he had abused his physical prowess, beauty, and strength during a Roman incarnation when
he had often subjugated others to his own will. Conversely, during that same incarnation,
he had often found favor with the opposite sex by his desire to be of service. For that
reason, in the present, women often found occasions to be kind to him. At the same time,
however, he frequently attempted to be too controlling with members of his own family,
including his wife (1629-1).
In another instance, a thirty-five-year-old
psychologist learned that his innate talents for counseling and diplomacy were the result
of a number of past-life experiences. In a lifetime after the American Revolution, he had
acted as a liaison between the United States and Britain. Although a soldier during the
Crusades in another lifetime, he had come to appreciate and admire many individuals of the
Moslem faith from whom he had learned brotherly love. His appreciation of various cultures
and ideologies was enriched during an earlier period in ancient Egypt, when he had made a
study of various teachings and tenets of the then-known world. At the same time, however,
this psychologist possessed a tendency toward self-indulgence and self-aggrandizement that
had arisen during a Persian incarnation, when he had been in a position of leadership.
That same tendency remained with him in the present and needed to be overcome. Years
later, his third ex-wife he would eventually have five filed a follow-up
report that confirmed his propensity for self-indulgence. By her account, during their ten
years together, he had repeatedly displayed an incredibly overdeveloped sex drive and a
very serious problem with alcohol (1135-1).
Cayce was adamant that the New Testament
declaration " . . . for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap"
(Galatians 6:7) was not simply a quaint saying but was, instead, a statement of fact and a
universal law regarding how the universe really works. For example, an unhappy
thirty-three-year-old actress inquired about why her life had been filled with a series of
broken romances, rejections, and the experience of having a broken heart. A reading
suggested that in her most recent incarnation she had been a saloon entertainer and had
found occasion to repeatedly toy with mens emotions, frequently making " . . .
for sorrow in the hearts and in the experience of many." (1300-1) Her present
difficulties were simply a learning experience in response to her having done the same
thing to others. As she learned to keep her heart, mind, and soul in alignment with
spiritual ideals, learning a lesson where she had once fallen short, Cayce promised her
"years of happiness and joy and peace."
In spite of the inevitability of having to
meet the consequences of our previous choices, in Cayces cosmology life is not fixed
or destined. Although we constantly draw individuals and circumstances to us as a result
of choices from the past, we continually cocreate the experience of our life (and our
perceptions) through how we choose to respond in the present. From the readings
perspective, karma is only soul memory; it is not destiny. The way we choose to respond to
that memory and our present-life experience actually determines the next probabilities and
potentials drawn to the souls learning agenda. In addition to the will being an
irrefutable factor in the process of soul development, Cayce emphasized the importance of
establishing spiritual ideals with which an individual could direct and evaluate the
course of a life.
In 1944, he told a fifty-one-year-old woman
that one of the first priorities she needed in her life was to set an ideal. Apparently
the woman had a propensity to gossip and to make slighting comments about others.
Obviously that tendency was causing a strain in her personal relationships.
During the course of her reading, Cayce
mentioned that the woman had exhibited this same frailty in a previous life, when her
motto seemed to be "Ill forgive you but I wont forget it," prompting
her to speak unkindly of those with whom she was having difficulties. He told her to
remember that any fault she observed in others was actually a reflection of the same
problem she possessed within herself otherwise, she would have been unable to
perceive it with such clarity in the first place. Instead, she needed to refocus her
perception, learning how to minimize the faults she saw in others while magnifying their
virtues. As she established an ideal against which she could measure her own actions, her
life would inevitably begin to change:
But if the entity will take self in hand and
just dont say, dont do anything about or to another that you would not like to
have others do about you, you will find there will be a change in the outlook, there will
come to thee opportunities, possibilities that have been denied. For the law of the Lord
is perfect and it converts the soul. And when the soul is converted the mind and body
changes and leads in the straight and narrow way. 5255-1
At the heart of this spiritual transformation
process is the necessity for personal application. Frequently, the readings admonished
people to simply begin doing what they knew to do or to apply guidance that had previously
been given. While reviewing the past lives of an architect, Cayce informed the individual
that he had once been a creator and a lover of all kinds of art and sculpture during a
Grecian incarnation. The man had gained in that experience for his efforts at presenting
ideals to others. His failure had come, however, by not applying those very ideals in his
own life (2108-1).
In another instance, a forty-nine-year-old
man inquiring about his health and asking how he might be of greater assistance to
humankind was told:
It is not how much one knows that
counts, but how well one applies that it knows; in just being, doing, thinking, that which
is pointed out to self through such constant, consistent, practical dependence upon the
Creative Forces that have promised ever to meet one--every one--when sought. And there
will come that which is for the greater development in the soul forces of such an one that
The Cayce information on soul development
maintains that one of the greatest lessons facing all of humankind is one the readings
identified as "cooperation." Amazingly, that lesson is not simply gaining an
understanding of how to agree or work with other people; instead, it is a state of being
that somehow sets aside personal agendas, beliefs, motives, and desires and enables an
individual to become an agent of spirituality in the lives of others. In other words, true
cooperation is learning to work with God so that the Creator can work through you.
This notion that the Creator desires to
become an active participant in each persons life was no more clearly described than
in the case of a small group of individuals from Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia, who
began receiving a series of readings from Edgar Cayce starting in 1931. Coming together as
a "study club" to explore psychic and personal development, the group was
promised by Cayce that they could become "light to a waiting world" (262-2) if
they simply worked at practically applying spiritual principles in everyday life. The
group met for years, receiving readings and discussing such topics as soul development,
meditation, prayer, and service. In the end, not only had the group members learned how to
cooperate with spirit in their everyday lives, but they also ended up compiling a series
of essays regarding the lessons they had explored and their personal experiences. That
compilation was published in 1942 as A Search for God and is still being studied by
small groups around the world, making Cayces prediction that they could become light
to the world both personally and globally significant.
Rather than implying that a close connection
to spirit is somehow dependent upon religion, dogma, or personal beliefs, the readings are
adamant in their stance that the Creators unconditional love is available to
everyone without exception. To be sure, even in Cayces cosmology, it is understood
that the more frequently an individual attunes to spirit, the more successfully that
person will be able to experience Gods presence, but achieving that level of
awareness exists in potential within each individual. In fact, the readings suggest that
every single soul will eventually complete the entire curriculum, achieving soul
development and obtaining personal enlightenment in the process. With this destiny in
mind, Cayce asked a thirty-five-year-old attorney, "Can the will of man continue to
defy its Maker?" (826-8) When one considers our inevitable destiny as children of a
loving God, it is sadly ironic that many religious movements preaching the existence of an
all-loving Creator continue to be adamantly opposed to the notion that everyone will
eventually make it.
Ultimately, only one thing stands between
each individual and a personal awakening: the human will. This thought becomes even more
sobering when it is taken into account that in Cayces cosmology, out of the entire
cosmos, humankind stands out for a reason. In exploring how the human creature has set
itself apart, the readings suggest that the acorn knows the purpose for which it was
created. The oak remembers the reason it has been given expression. The angels on high are
in tune with the rationale behind their existence. All the animals and plants of the earth
maintain an awareness of what they are to be about--except for one. Only humankind has
forgotten the purpose behind its creation. What was that purpose? It was simply to become
a companion and a cocreator with God.
Kevin J. Todeschi is the author
of twelve books, including Edgar Cayce on Soul Mates, Dream Interpretation (and More!)
Made Easy, and Edgar Cayce on the Akashic Records. A spokesperson for the Cayce
work, he currently manages A.R.E.s Conference and Educational Activities.
Kevin J. Todeschi Soul Development workbook