Edgar Cayce was a mystic from the American South
who went into trances and gave out information that
came to him therein. Cayce was a Christian. Some information
Cayce gave was (I think) spiritually helpful. Other
information he gave was as, far as I am concerned, too
“far out.” That means way too far out for me. A book was written
about Cayce‘s life, “There is a River,” by Thomas Sugrue.
Cayce’s trance séances were written down and collected.
Cayce was active in a Presbyterian Church in Virginia. To be
a member of the Presbyterian churches requires a belief in Jesus
Christ as the Son of God who came to earth and was crucified
for mankind. To be a Presbyterian does not necessarily require
agreement with all the creeds and confessions the Presbyterians
historically in their various organizations have held to. On
those Cayce did not, but he believed enough to be in.
I find Cayce spiritually helpful or edifying in his
teaching on how to achieve loving someone by degrees
or steps. The Bible often commands, “Love” someone
or group as if to love someone were easy as piacular.
It always reminded me of those school teachers who
whined to their classes, “Change your attitude,”
as if you had a line up of attitudes, like coats, in the
closet and you just changed into another snap-bang.
For me love or changing attitudes is not that easy. How?
Well, Casey says, you have to work ‘little by
little,” in a set plan to change your views,
slowly and finally getting to “love” or “understanding,”
of another person.
For example, I have had some bad neighbors in this world.
I could say I “loved” them but I didn’t. I would be
telling an untruth. I don’t like to do that. The
Bible can tell me to “love “ them but I can’t. That
is short of some miracle of grace. My attitude may be bad, but
I can’t, and won’t say I do, since I can’t love them. I suggest
this is a dilemma many people are in.
Cayce s ideas help here. This is not deep but it works. It
is practical. Cayce was deep as well as practical: not wading, but
drown-in-the-river deep. I like his practical side more than
the deep side. This is a true illustration:
“Miss Mary,” of our congregation had style and character.
She noticed in gathering for service, if she sat in a pew near
a new young bride in the church, the young woman, “Anna” moved
immediately away from her.
After many Sundays of this, Miss Mary could contain herself
no longer. She approached the young bride and asked her if
she had done anything to offend her. She didn’t want bad
feelings in the church.
The bride, Anna, blushed. She said she was ashamed of
her behavior, but Miss Mary looked so much like her
mother-in-law whom she despised, that she could not
be seated near Miss Mary and remain receptive in worship
to God. Miss Mary laughed and laughed on hearing this.
In Sunday School there had been an Edgar Cayce discussion.
Miss Mary decided to use that method/strategy. She asked
the new bride to meet her for a cup of coffee for a few
minutes every Sunday in the Fellowship Hall where coffee
was served between Sunday School and the Worship Service.
Anna decided she could handle five minutes a week with
someone who looked like her mother-in-law, but not more.
The bride and ‘‘Miss Mary” met for coffee between
church and Sunday School for five minutes or so for
months. Gradually the bride realized that “Miss Mary”
might look like her mother-in-law in another state
but “Miss Mary” was entirely different in character
and outlook. Anna also realized she might possibly, just
possibly, be stereotyping her mother-in-law.
Over time the two became good friends. Anna’s attitude
about her mother-in-law oddly enough improved as she
got to know “Miss Mary.” Miss Mary changed her style
of hats so she didn’t look so obviously matronly. When
the new bride’s husband was transferred to another city,
Anna and “Miss Mary” had to daub at their eyes with tissues
over their parting. It was “a sweet sorrow,” because parting
caused them to realize how much they had meant to each other.
Separated in different cities, the two sent cards on holidays,
telephoned on birthdays, and always the two laughed over how
they had met. Anna became kinder to her mother-in-law.
Mary told me as she headed out the church door on Sunday, grace
and Cayce’s strategy of little by little, used in her had worked
some good. I smiled, but said nothing, as there was a long line
waiting behind her to shake hands and get to the parking lot.
* * *
This is not to say Casey is always spiritually helpful.
In reading him I find some obscure and other too neoteric ideas.
He is obsessed by Atlantis, a lost continent, a topic, after being
bored by it for some pages, I hoped remains lost forever.
Also Cayce is a believer in reincarnation. (I told you
he was far, far out.) I don’t. Cayce’s reincarnation is not
Hindu reincarnation which allows you to reincarnate as something
subhuman, like a fly, a roach or a lizard. Cayce sticks to a
Christian reincarnation within the range and application of
humanity. No lizards or subhumans. It is more appealing, but
I am not into reincarnation anyway. So what do I care?
Yet this must be said of Cayce. He is one with a
real spiritual blaze and interest in life affirmation.
I look upon Cayce as the equivalent of a Protestant
Apocrypha. That is those religious books left out of the Bible.
They are considered edifying at times, and included in the Roman
Catholic Bible, but not considered steadily of a high enough
level of inspiration and orthodoxy to be included in our Bible.
When a story is said to be “apocryphal,” that means
take it for what it is worth to you, it is questionable.
(To be fair that is what Cayce said about his Cayce
writings: take what you can use and leave the rest.)
But there is not the lack of spirituality in Cayce that is found
in liberal theologians busily diluting and de-spiritualizing
Christianity and orthodox religions. Liberals are the epigoni
of orthodox faiths, the undistinguished de-mythologizers of
faith, criticizing older customs of real faith while substituting
lesser faiths. My view is liberal faith is a brummagen faith,
inferior to orthodox faith, the tried and true. I do not see
any liberal “living Paul” (The spiritual blaze is not there, so
it cannot rise to the test of highest and best, the crème de
la crème rising to the surface. If you seek faith first, seek
the best. Liberalism is an aesthetic failure lacking the
spiritual blaze that signals God is alive in this faith. It
is as dead as a liberal’s God.)
I advise you read the Bible under the influence of the
Holy Spirit as the primary Book of faith and life. It
contains all the theoretical knowledge necessary for
salvation. It shows us true spiritual blazing. But also read
in other spiritual writings in which there may also be
gleaned significant secondarily spiritual insights. I mean
Confucius, Mohammed, Buddha and non-Christians. These are
non-Christians but those with spiritual light and fire.
We may learn from them.
A spiritual emphasis I am obligated to Buddha for is the
elimination of so modern materialistic wants. I am not against
all wants, because some wants should be attained to help moral,
mental and spiritual development. But one must draw the lines
on wants. Falsely created wants, such as so many in advertising,
should be eliminated. The Buddha made a valid point on
wasting our lives on wanting things that don’t add that much.
Our technological and industrial times are obsessed with
toy accumulations. Truly spiritual minds should see many
aren’t necessary to wise or deep persons. Our desire for toys
to create make believe images of ourselves, truly wasting our
lives as well as our honor on a world of illusions. It is here
I walk the first mile with Buddha on learning priorities beyond
foolish and immature wants and imagined needs created by modern
advertising. Believing images through buying things is worse. I
cannot understand buying images to impress others, but when you
begin to believe your own images, you are spiritually sick.
On the Moslems I think a great lesson I have learned is
that alms are given to others, not just to help others, but
in giving to help us in learning spiritual growth.
Great religions and spiritual persons from every great
religion should try to learn from each other’s religions
so they can walk in peace and benevolence. This is what
I am confident Jesus would want us to do.
While we learn from other religions we do not embrace,
we can also learn from Christian thinkers different
from our own. I refer to such as Edgar Cayce and Mary Baker
Eddy. Learning from them does not mean we have to agree with
them on everything. We may not agree always, but they
have knowledge worth respecting. No matter what major religion
or denomination, we are all children of God. We must remember
to behave as much as we can in that manner.
A real challenge of religion in today’s world is for
the spiritual persons of all religions and denominations to
come together in concern and caring. Religions should not live
in malevolent competition for intellectual agreement.
No, churches and faiths should try to excel each other in love.
This love should not be mawkish nor nocuous nor outré, but
be based on a need and desire to serve others, to share with
others. After all, are we not all the children of God?
But, oh, the logomachy that is this world, words and more
words over creeds, discussion instead of obviously desirable
actions immediately done. We talk while others suffer. We
discuss Jesus instead of doing the work of Jesus. Where are our
spiritual priorities? Where are out hearts? For that matter
where are our heads that we should be acting this way?
The need of the world is not for unanimity of intellectual
or religious agreement, but some unanimity in love.
If we could but put spiritual action first concerning a
a future for this world, we might help to deliver this world
from devastation while enhancing the quality of life of
those on it.
Well, you may say, that it is not very likely to get
everybody pulling together. Of course not. God’s
spirit has traditionally used minorities, a chosen, an elect,
or some creative minority. Jesus began with twelve apostles
and one of them a Judas. Could anyone start worse to raise
the spiritual consciousness of mankind?
But the Kingdom of God does not necessarily come with blowing
trumpets, big drums beating and bagpipes chilling and
shrilling. The Kingdom of God inches in, heart by heart, then
home by home through small actions at times planned ahead,
sometimes impulsively done.
As the old spiritual goes, Every time we feel the spirit
moving in our hearts, we should not only pray, but do, because
the exercise of religion is the application of religious action.
Even if we are wrong in our applications, we learn
as we make mistakes, grace and God willing.
Listen: the person who does not believe is like a bird who
does not fly. It will never get off the ground to see how things
look from above. What we need is to dare, to care, to go up to
God to see how wrong and warped our priorities and values
are. Then we know our first duty is to change them as much as
we possibly can.