This part of our investigation covers Cayce's distinctive descriptions of the universe and human nature, especially those concerning the hidden depths which underlie them both.
The akashic: plane
In his well-researched Ph.D. dissertation, Julian Strube traces the roots of the use of Akasha (akasa) to Eliphas Levi who referred to it as the 'astral light' or 'lumière astrale' including 'ether' whereby Strube adds that the concept as such can even be traced back to Agrippa von Nettesheim, Paracelsus and even to Marcello Ficino (Strube, p. 535).
Similarly, in older classical Indian metaphysical systems, akasha was conceived as a kind of "ether" or substance and listed as a fifth element along with fire, earth, air, and water. References to the infinite and primordial nature of akasha in the Brihadaranyaca Upanishad (5, 1, 1) and elsewhere inspired much elaboration in the pages of The Secret Doctrine, where Madame Blavatsky views it as both the "noumenon of Ether," which serves as a medium for vibrations of various sorts (similar to the supposed role of phlogiston—viz. heat energy is an vacuous space, so material particles become mere impunities within the pure, infinite void.(251) The Masters, in their letters(252), treat the "akashic records" as a sort of spiritual realm where all our thoughts and actions leave indelible impressions, which can then be read by sensitives-precisely the concept found in the Cayce readings. After Blavatsky's death, other Theosophists paid more attention to the akashic plane. For example, Leadbeater tapped into the akashic plane to research the past lives of other Theosophists for his Lives of Alcyone (Alcyone being the esoteric name of young Krishnamurti, around whom everyone else's past lives inevitably revolved). Steiner also claimed to receive information from the akashic records, whose operations he describes in some detail. (253)
At least some New Thought writers (e.g., Ernest Holmes) (254) picked up the idea of akasha through the intermediary of Theosophy. The Aquarian Gospel claims to have been transcribed from the akashic plane, which is described as follows:
This Akashic, or primary substance, is of exquisite fineness and is so sensitive that the slightest vibrations of an ether any place in the universe registers an indelible impression upon it.
This primal substance is not relegated to any particular part of the universe but is everywhere present. It is, in fact, the very "Universal Mind" of which our metaphysicians speak.
When man's mind is in exact accord with the Universal Mind, a man enters into a conscious recognition of these Akashic impressions. He may collect and translate them into any language of the earth with which he is familiar. (255)
Like the Cayce readings (e.g., 523- 1), The Aquarian Gospel (7:25-26) likens the akashic records to the Book of Life. (256)
The idea of tapping into information from the distant past calls to mind Baird T. Spalding's claim that past events are "...all in a certain band of frequency. Everything that you say, your voice and words, goes right into a band of vibratory frequency and it goes on and on." (257) Spalding claims to have used this principle to build a camera that could photograph historical events. His first subjects were George Washington's inaugural address and the Sermon on the Mount. During his travels in India, Jesus showed him a similar device, but with moving pictures that could be directed by thought. (258)
The primacy of ideals
The term "idealism" has been associated with a venerable but diverse collection of philosophers beginning with Plato and his followers. It originally referred to Plato's theory of Ideas (from the Greek idea) or Forms (from eidos). Just as we perceive a mental image of horseness separate from any actual horses--an image which, unlike actual horses. is flawless and unchanging-so (says Plato) do similar templates exist for other things in the universe. Our true home lies in the world of the Forms, not this world, which is only a dim reflection of it. Although Plato never formulates a principle for deciding which things or qualities correspond to Forms and which do not (and admits as much in the Parmenides), values such as Justice or Beauty are clearly meant to be included- Christian neo-Platonists found it natural to identify the Forms with traditional divine attributes, which God possesses fully. At the same time, his creatures only manifest them imperfectly. Cayce's concept of ideals as intermediate points of contact between human souls and God clearly reflects this basic Platonic structure.
Outside of Plato and his followers, the term "idealism" came to encompass other philosophers who resembled Plato in viewing the mental or spiritual world as somehow dominant over the physical world. For example, Berkeley's subjective version of idealism argues for a mind-centered world-view in which seemingly physical events (e.g., the tree falling in the forest) have no reality apart from their being perceived (at least by God, if not always by humans, to account for the regularity and continuity of the physical world). The nineteenth-century Metaphysical movement continued Berkeley's distinctive theoretical perspective, if not his intellectual rigor. Kant, Hegel, and other German idealists followed Plato in attempting to create grand metaphysical systems emphasizing the mental side of the physical/mental divide. Since Kant doubted that certain knowledge could ever be obtained for nonpsychic events, this had the effect of internalizing the concept of Ideas. so that the word "Idea" took on its present popular meaning. Emerson was a prominent nineteenth-century idealist in the Platonic tradition, and his exuberance and natural optimism gave the word "idealism" many of 'its modem popular connotations.
With the New Thought movement, "ideas" or "Ideals" (the terms are not consistently distinguished) took on the meaning which we find in Cayce, as aspects of the divine mind within us which we may focus on as a part of the spiritual path.(259) Spalding holds a view of ideals that is quite consistent with New Thought, as well as with Cayce:
10. Our everyday life is a concrete application of this fact in that our statements conform to the One Principle of One Mind. We vision or project an ideal. Let us say that the ideal is for perfection. We immediately come into direct accord with the One Mind control or Principle. We project an ideal for ourselves to accomplish. If it is a high ideal that Power immediately becomes active and brings that idea into existence. The moment that ideal is projected and the force back of it becomes active through it, that ideal is complete .... (260)
Like Cayce, Spalding teaches that ideas are a source of spiritual energy, a point of connection between humans and the divine, and the central concern of spiritual activity. Also, Spalding's explanation of the mechanics of idealism-in which acting upon ideals affects similar to completing an electrical circuit--is also found in Cayce (e.g., 5091-3). Cayce's instructions for meditation have the meditator focus on an idea. This is anticipated in Leadbeater, who gives as the purposes of meditation,
1. To ensure that, however deeply we may be immersed in the affairs of the world, we shall devote at least some time each day to the thought of an idea.
2. To draw us nearer to the Master and the Logos, so that from Them strength may be poured upon us and through us to benefit the world.
3.To train our higher bodies to have constant practice in responding to the highest vibrations. (261)
In fact, nothing in this passage sounds out of place
concerning the Cayce readings. provided we acknowledge that Leadbeater and
Cayce mean very different things by "the Master."
The body/mind/spirit trichotomy
Although Cayce's division of human nature and the universe into three levels seems natural, it represents a departure from most other Western esoteric traditions and comes closest to that of Rudolf Steiner. Spiritualists tended to assume a dualistic worldview consisting of matter and spirit, whereas Theosophists followed Blavatsky in dividing everything into seven levels. While there is certainly no dearth of trinitarian theories, these generally teach different trinities than Cayce did. For example, Plato and his followers propose several tripartite theories of human nature, but none of the various models that I have discovered specifically name body, mind. and spirit (or their close equivalents) as the three parts. Similarly, a number of Christian writers (e.g., Steiner) follow Saint Paul in viewing human nature in terms of "spirit and soul [psyche] and body" (I Thessalonians 5:23), a trinity which was widespread during the ancient and medieval periods.
Speculative Freemasonry incorporates numerous trinitarian schemes from Christianity and neo-Platonism, some of which resemble Cayce's division. We have already alluded to Manly Palmer Hall's body/mind/heart-or-soul division(262) as well as to his citation of spirit. "soul or mind" and body (263). However, besides Steiner where the threefold idea appears most frequently, this is only one of many different models which Hall discusses. Cayce's division may also be found in the New Thought movement, although it is one of many other models in common use. For example, Holmes's dictionary contains entries for "One Body, One Spirit, One Mind" as well as for "Physical body," Psychic body." and "Spiritual body." Also, his entry for "Holy Trinity" reads, "Spirit as Absolute Intelligence/ Mind as Law / Form as Manifestation." Cayce, too, links the trinity in man with the Trinity in God (e.g., 1747-5). Another possible source is Andrew Jackson Davis, who divides the universe into levels of matter, mind, and spirit. (264) Yet another is Andrew Taylor Still, the founder of osteopathy. who writes that "man is triune when complete." i.e., "First the material body, second the spiritual being, third a being of mind which is far superior to all vital motions and material forms……"(265)
Spalding accepts the body/mind/spirit trichotomy as the basic structure of his metaphysical system:
If, in thinking of man as a trinity of spirit. mind, and body, we consider him principally from the standpoint of mind, or soul, we shall see that he occupies a position between two great extremes of mental activity, the lower of which is the body, and the higher, the Spirit.(266)
Like Cayce, Spalding draws a connection between the trinity in man and the Trinity in God. Spirit corresponds to the Holy Spirit (naturally enough); mind to the Christ (since it is here that the decision is made to "crucify" the self on the ideal, or not); and the physical body to the Father (who created the universe).
Cayce also links the body/mind/spirit trichotomy with the conscious, subconscious. and superconscious minds, respectively, although his proposed link is rather tenuous. For example, where one would assume the conscious mind to fall under the category of mind, Cayce mysteriously corresponds to the body (e.g., 900-31). Our suspicion is that Cayce's system represents an adaptation of Hudson's distinction between objective and subjective minds. (This distinction was taken up by the New Thought lecturer Thomas Troward; Holmes's dictionary contains entries for these terms as well). The objective mind corresponds very well to ordinary consciousness or "mind,"; whereas the subjective mind possesses many of the traditional attributes of "spirit." Cayce's difficulty appears to arise from his attempt to substitute the trinitarian scheme of conscious, subconscious, and superconscious levels of mind for the dual system of Hudson- Interestingly, Charles Fillmore distinguishes between conscious, subconscious, and superconscious levels of mind (267) as do several other Metaphysical writers.
Cayce identifies many more trinitarian sets, notably
spirit, mind, and will, as three aspects of the human soul. Unlike the
physical/mental/spiritual grouping, this triad may be horizontal rather than
vertical. It designates all present attributes within the soul (as opposed to
the mind or the body). The idea is similar to Andrew Jackson Davis's naming of
wisdom, love, and well as three aspects of the soul. (268) The fact that these are
also traditional divine attributes is no coincidence. Davis goes so far as to
write that "a trinity is now discovered in every department of
Nature," including man. (269)
The subtle body
The idea of resorting to maps of esoteric human anatomy for medical and spiritual purposes is common to Indian, Chinese, and Tibetan thought. with the Indian systems having had the most influence on Western esoteric traditions. The concepts of chakras (which Cayce usually calls "spiritual centers") and kundalini (sometimes referred to as "kundalini" forces in the readings) in particular have traveled widely. They are featured prominently in Cayce's system. Chakra is Sanskrit for "wheel," and here refers to certain lotus-shaped structures said by a number of Indian traditions to exist within the human body. These are typically associated with particular Sanskrit letters and deities and boast varying numbers of petals. Many tantric practices are devoted to awakening some or all of the chakras by arousing the kundalini forces, called chandali in Buddhist texts. Kundalini (from kundala, meaning "serpent," plus a feminine ending) is conceived as a manifestation of shakti (the primordial feminine source of divine power) and symbolized as a coiled serpent lying at the base of the spine. Through concentration, the kundalini can be encouraged to rise up through the nadis or esoteric channels located along the spine, resulting in psychic powers and/or spiritual attainments. Hindu and Buddhist lore is full of warnings to the effect that this is potentially a highly dangerous affair that should only be undertaken under the direction of a qualified guru.
The concepts of the chakras and kundalini were introduced to a popular Western readership through several Theosophical works by Leadbeater, especially The Chakras (1927). Among Leadbeater's innovations-which he made based on his own psychic observations of the subtle body--were his abandonment of the traditional depiction of chakras as stylized lotuses in favor of colorful circular patterns with varying numbers of spokes (instead of petals) and his conflation into the Indian system of foreign notions of "rays" and "auras." Leadbeater's depiction of the chakras themselves and their arrangement through the body became widespread. If history had been a little different, then occultists might have seized on a different map featuring four, six, or nine chakras, or (if the Chinese systems are considered) three dan tian ("cinnebar fields") which is a clear reference to Cinnabar and covered in "The Secret of the Golden Flower" a famous book by Carl Jung. The thirteenth-century Iranian Sufi Semnani proposes seven latifa as an Islamicized functional equivalent, and this may well be the source for Theosophy's septenary model. Within Kabbalistic circles, the idea of mapping the ten sephirot onto the human body is a traditional one. However, none of the various versions of this (for example, sometimes Malkuth is linked with the feet, sometimes with the knees, sometimes with the foreskin) precisely matches the familiar map of the chakras as given by Leadbeater. (270) Also, as in the Cayce readings, Kabbalistic traditions are linking the various sephirot with different colors or with the different levels of consciousness at which particular sacred texts were written. Cayce gives the idea of the chakras his characteristic Christian twist. For example, the readings interpret the entire Book of Revelation as symbolic of the kundalini experience (281-5 1). This idea is found in Leadbeater, who joins Cayce in explaining the "four and twenty elders" before the throne (Revelation 4) as rays from the crown chakra which appear in an enlightened being who is in communion with God.(271)
Cayce's linking of the seven chakras with the seven ductless glands has several precedents. Descartes famously names the pineal gland as the point of connection between mind and body. Swedenborg, defending Descartes' more general theory under the name of "spiritual influx," elaborately describes the currents of spirit as it enters into the physical body through the ductless glands (e.g., in Regnum Animale or Kingdom of the Soul; Intercourse of the Mind and Body),thereby enshrining medieval physiology in Western esoteric lore. Leadbeater mentions the pituitary and pineal glands as the physical counterparts of the sixth and seventh chakras: (272), and Spalding discusses the effects of pranha yoga exercises on the thyroid parathyroid. adrenal, and pituitary glands. The entire endocrine system, he says, is controlled by the pineal gland. (273) Hall gives Cayce's list of seven ductless glands, linking them with the chakras and kundalini,and also follows Cayce in emphasizing the esoteric importance of achieving a balance between the sympathetic and cerebrospinal nervous systems. (274)
Today, New Agers often assume that the subtle body is composed of some sort of "energy," without always realizing that this is a twentieth-century interpretation rather than traditional teaching from any of the Asian systems, which rather tend to see the subtle body as a kind of wind or breath. The sleeping Cayce believes that the soul is "electro-spiritual" in nature: "Know then that the force in nature that is called electrical or electricity is that same force ye worship as Creative or God in action" (1299-1). "Not that God is an electric light or an electric machine, but that vibration that is creative is of the same energy as life Itself" (2828-4). Cayce's idea has a number of precedents, especially in the area of alternative medicine. For example, Andrew Taylor Still taught that "electricity" is "the highest known order of force. which submits to the voluntary and involuntary commands of life and mind, by which worlds are driven, and beings move." (275). Another possible source is Marie Corelli, a turn-of-the-century Irish writer of quirky Christian novels. The Cayce readings mention A Romance of Two Worlds (440-7), which contains something called "The Electric Creed." God, we are told. is "a shape of pure Electric Radiance" who created within us
His 'likeness' in the form of an electric flame or germ of spiritual existence with its companion working force of Will-power... Like all flames, this electric spark can either be fanned into a flame, or it can be allowed to escape in the air--it can never be destroyed. (276)
This kind of electricity, she says, is also capable of explaining Jesus' miracles: "It can be proved from the statements of the New Testament that Christ was an embodied Electric Spirit. From first to last His career was attended by electric phenomena…."(277) Whereas today, electricity strikes us as quite mundane, it would appear that at the turn of the century it was more than a little mysterious, and was glossed by occultists in much the same way that their New Age successors have glossed quantum mechanics and so on.
If the subtle body is composed of the energy of some sort, then why can't we detect it using scientific instruments? One possibility is that its frequency lies outside the range of conventional instruments; another is that the voltage is too low to be detected. However, this type of language is practically never used in esoteric circles--perhaps out of a suspicion that even very sensitive instruments would fail to detect anything like the subtle body or out of discomfort with the notion that a saint could be distinguished from a sinner using a voltmeter or whatnot. Cayce follows Theosophy in speaking of higher and lower "vibrations," a term that is never satisfactorily defined. Before Blavatsky, the Kashmir Shaiva schools of Hindu tantra taught that the absolute consciousness emits "vibrations" (spanda), which set the myriad events of the phenomenal world into motion. Here, however, the "vibrations" are as much psychological as physical. Ironically, in light of the usual tendencies of occultists, Cayce and Theosophy find themselves insisting on a literal, physical interpretation of the chakras and kundalini. A more mechanistic precursor to the Theosophical model would be Swedenborg, who (in On Tremulation, or, the Anatomy of Our First Nature) likens the soul's animation of the physical body using its vital fluids to "tremulations" or vibrations in a stretched membrane.
Reincarnation and karmic astrology
Reincarnation and karma ("action") are ancient beliefs that are attested all over the world. However, Cayce's version of these ideas differs in important respects from any of the various Indian, Greek, Jewish, or Middle Eastern systems whose teachings would have been available to him. For example, following Theosophical teaching, he denies that humans and animals can incarnate. In Blavatsky's system, spiritual evolution occurs at the species' level (although these will inevitably include members who are more or less advanced than the majority of the species). While less advanced species are slowly evolving into more advanced ones, species at widely different evolutionary levels to incarnate would serve no good purpose. Besant agrees that "the human ego does not reincarnate in an animal." However, it may be associated with an animal form which it does not control as a type of penal servitude. (278) For many Theosophists, human-animal incarnation represented a debased superstition for which Theosophical teaching provided the underlying core of truth. This denial was later adopted or implicitly assumed by several post-Theosophical teachers, including several New Thought writers and all of the syncretic figures mentioned here. Spalding, for example, says that the cycle of birth and death will continue "until the lesson is learned." He continues:
To such a race [of believers], death does not exist nor can it again exist; therefore, Karma does not exist. Karma is but retribution for bringing into manifestation, discord, and inharmony. Substitute renunciation for retribution, and you correct the cause for Karma, as it exists only in the thoughts of those determined to manifest Karma. Remove the cause or substitute it with a higher condition, and the lower condition is erased. You have elevated the vibrations of your body above those which allowed Karma to exist.(279)
Cayce interprets several ideas from traditional Christian theology in light of reincarnation. For example, the distinction between the law and grace (respectively identified with the Old and New Testaments) was one of the topics that inspired the proto-Disciples of Christ to depart from the Baptist fold. In the Cayce readings, karma is likened to justice instead of mercy and the law instead of grace (5224-1, 5209- 1). Whether we are judged according to karma or grace depends on how we judge others. For Cayce, karma is not a blind, impersonal law like gravity but a loving, intelligent force that acts purposefully. Karma is lawful, yes--but when its lessons have been learned, then the purpose of the law is fulfilled, and the law no longer applies. The purpose of karma is to lead us to unity with God. Thus, Cayce disagrees with Buddhist teaching. He denies the possibility of karma ever working against one's spiritual progress (as would happen in the case of rebirth as an animal).
Cayce's claim that Christhood is the goal of reincarnation is anticipated in Rudolf Steiner-in fact; this point was one of the factors that led to the latter's break with Theosophy. Steiner taught that the example of Christ inaugurated a new era in human spiritual evolution (for which reincarnation is the mechanism) and that the efforts of the world's mystery schools had accordingly been focused on making preparations for his coming. This spiritual evolution is guided by the archangel Michael, whom Cayce channeled on several occasions. Note. However, that Cayce usually sees Christhood as an inner, individual event rather than a sea change in humanity as a whole, as in Steiner. This reflects an important shift of emphasis from Theosophy's evolutionary speculation to the more psychological orientation of the New Thought movement.
Cayce's system of karmic astrology represents an adaptation of the Theosophical including Steiner’s system. According to Blavatsky, our spiritual evolution does not take place only on the earth but may also be traced to other spheres before creating the earth and after its dissolution. Her account calls to mind the Kabbalistic notion of the successive creation and destruction of four worlds or universes (olamot) before this one. Blavatsky's "chains of worlds" also exist synchronically and "correspond to that which we call 'the Principles in Man.'" (280). That is to say, worlds--like humans-have seven levels. When we look at Venus or Mars, we see only the physical worlds. Yet, there are other levels as well, corresponding to the astral plane. Spirit, and so on. Her system confusingly incorporates two different spectra, so to speak: the different "bodies" (physical, astral. etc.) of a single planet and the different qualities of the various physical planets. Blavatsky attempts to solve this problem by shuffling planets around so that evolution carries us from sphere to sphere. Accordingly, the earth is said to have once been sun-like and the moon earth-like.
Steiner elaborates on Blavatsky's system so that human souls are said to travel these other planetary spheres between incarnations. As in Renaissance Hermeticism, Steiner holds that macrocosm and microcosm mirror each other so that the arrangement of the planets corresponds to features of the soul, hence the efficacy of astrology. (Although Anthroposophists have developed something called "astrosophy", relatively little of this system was originated with Steiner himself.) Steiner writes. "One part of his [man's] soul-substance is striving toward Mercury, another part towards Jupiter, and so forth." We visit these planets during sleep and thereby "bring our karma down to earth. "(281). While the respective dates for Steiner's English translations and the Cayce readings discourage the idea that Cayce copied from Steiner, the two systems are clearly closely related, with the turn-of-the-century British Theosophical astrologers as possible common ancestors.
Cayce refers to "planetary sojourns" in which human souls spend time on other planets between lives. He writes:
In giving that which may be helpful to this entity in the present experience, respecting the sojourns in the earth, it is well that the planetary or astrological aspects also be given.
Then, it should be understood that the sojourning of the soul in that environment, rather than the position, makes for the greater influence in the experience of an entity or body in any given plane. This is not belittling that which has been the study of the ancients, but rather it is giving the UNDERSTANDING of same. [630-2]
Each planet has a different effect on the consciousness of the reincarnating soul:
Thus, as the soul passes from the aspects of the material environs, or the earth, we find that the astrological aspects are represented as stages of consciousness, given names representing planets or centers or crystallized activity.
Not that flesh and blood, as known in the earth. dwells therein, but in the consciousness, with the form and manner as befits the environ. [1650-1]
As with Blavatsky, Cayce does not mean to say that there is life on Mars--our existence there is spiritual. not physical. There is no life on any other physical planet (3744-3). Cayce's system has several advantages over the more traditional sort of astrology. First. it is much harder to disprove since it purports to read one's karma rather than observable tendencies and fortunes. Second, it explains how the earth's population can fluctuate if there is reincarnation.
Cayce's interpretations of the various planets are mostly traditional, with some dating at least to the Italian Renaissance if not to the ancient Mediterranean:
As In Mercury pertaining of Mind.
In Mars of Madness.
In Earth as of Flesh.
In Venus as Love.
In Jupiter as Strength.
In Saturn, as the beginning of earthly woes, all insufficient matter is cast for the beginning.
In that of Uranus as of the Psychic.
In that of Neptune as of Mystic.
In Septimus as of Consciousness.
In Arcturus as of the developing. [900-10]
One exception is the earth, whose position in the sky cannot be charted on a horoscope (because we are standing on it). Another is "Septimus," whose intended reference is unknown, although some Cayceans identify it with Pluto. Finally. Arcturus is not usually included in a horoscope, since as a fixed star, it will always be in the same constellation- Cayce, however, is far more interested in the geometrical relationships among the various planets (especially transits) than the location of those planets concerning zodiacal signs or houses, perhaps owing to controversy within astrological circles over whether to compensate for the precession of the equinoxes. Remember, however, that Cayce is here attempting to describe the soul's progress between lives, not a new system of fortune-telling. In this case, the significance of Arcturus is that it is the to center from which there may be the entrance into other realms of consciousness" (2823-1) after one has left the earth's solar system. Cayce himself spent time on Arcturus before his incarnation as Cayce (5749-14).
The fourth dimension
For those whose understanding of mathematical dimensionality has been warped (so to speak) by science-fiction and occult appropriations of the word "dimension," a point has no dimensions; a line, one dimension (length); squares and circles, two dimensions (length plus width); and solids such as cubes and spheres. three dimensions (length, width, and height/depth). Theoretically, it should be possible to extend this progression to include fourth-dimensional shapes such as tesseracts and hyperspheres, fifth-dimensional ones. and so on up to an infinite number of dimensions. Although human beings only have immediate experience of three spatial dimensions, this does not rule out other, higher-numbered ones. For example, Edwin A. Abbot's Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884) tells the story of the inhabitants of a two-dimensional universe who have trouble conceiving a third dimension. When three-dimensional objects pass through their universe, the Flatlanders only see a series of cross-sections, which mysteriously appear as if out of nowhere and change their shape in unpredictable ways. Similarly, we three-dimensional creatures might remain equally oblivious to a fourth or higher dimension. (In fact, modem physics gives us good reasons to believe that such higher dimensions do exist.) The now-familiar identification of time as a fourth "dimension" was formulated by Einstein in 1905 as a sideline to special relativity and popularized by Minkowski.
The idea that we are merely living on the surface of some larger universe has obvious appeal to occult enthusiasts and calls to mind Piotr Demianovitch Ouspensky's early writings (1878-1947). Ouspensky's Tertium Organum deals with the evolution of humanity through the consciousness of an increasingly higher number of dimensions. His notion of the fourth dimension appears to have been inspired not only by higher mathematics (especially Charles H. Hinton's The Fourth Dimension) but also by Kant and Theosophy. Just as the inhabitants of Flatland would perceive three-dimensional objects passing through their universe as a two-dimensional object which changes shape over time, so might four-dimensional objects account for our perception of three-dimensional reality. Kant, says Ouspensky (with Henri Bergson), was wrong to see space and time as obstacles to certain knowledge of the external world when they are potential instruments through which such knowledge could be sought. For Ouspensky, the fourth and higher dimensions lie within the realm of psychology and the spirit since these deeper levels of the universe are actually deeper levels of the human soul. His reading of Theosophical literature convinces him that the human species is evolving toward a consciousness of progressively higher dimensions. Cayce recommended Tertium Organum by name while asleep (137-88), and Morton Blumenthal used it as a text for a Cayce study group.
Cayce often uses "dimensional" language, though seemingly with little appreciation of its mathematical basis. For example, we learn that "the three dimensions in mind maybe seven. and in spirit eleven and twelve and twenty-two" (5149-1). (282) Elsewhere, we are told that this solar system includes eight "dimensions" (5755-2), of which earth incorporates three: Venus, four; Jupiter, five; and Uranus, seven (3006-1). Cayce explains:
For, as the earth is a three-dimensional awareness or consciousness,--indicated by body, mind, soul--so is the universal consciousness manifested or expressed in the three-dimensional as Father, Son, Holy Spirit; In contrast, it might be manifested or indicated in many more in Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, or Uranus. [3037-1]
As with the astrological readings, Cayce appears to confuse the levels of body, mind, and spirit on one world (such as the earth) with the levels represented by the different planetary spheres.
That these dimensions are not limited to spatial ones is indicated by Cayce's description of fourth-dimensional consciousness as "that condition as is reached wherein physical objects are spiritually understood" (900-66) and vice-versa, or as "the privilege of seeing all in one" (900-113). He writes:
The best definition that may ever be given of the fourth dimension is an idea! Where will it project? Anywhere! Where does it arise from? Who knows? Where will it end? Who can tell? It is all-inclusive! It has both length, breadth, height, and depth--it is without beginning and is without end. [364-10]
Cayce's psychological or spiritual interpretation of the fourth dimension and the explanation was given, consistent with Ouspensky's explanation in Tertium Organum.
Following is the overview of the other parts in this major case study whereby underneath you will see the footnotes in reference to the above section:
Cayce's ability (whatever its nature) to effortlessly absorb books' contents makes it seem inevitable that Cayce would have attempted to acquire religious knowledge in this way. The day after he arrived in Hopkinsville, Cayce searched for a town-based job and found one with E.H. Hopper & Son Bookstore, which from 1874 to 1913 also housed Hopkinsville's collection of public library books. There "seemed to be something appealing" about the bookstore, and Cayce recalls that "the several years I remained there seemed to be the stepping stones: yea. even the door to life itself." without explaining why, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 1.
Robert Smith claimed that if Cayce did meet President Wilson, however, he was never told of this and suggested that he had confused Wilson with a cousin of the president's for whom Cayce did, in fact, give readings. Also, several of Cayce's partners and associates in the several oil ventures were clearly promoters of dubious character. The question must be asked whether Cayce himself should be considered one as well rather than simply as an innocent pawn of others, as ARE literature suggests. That Cayce no less than Kahn was an active participant in what came to be known simply as "the proposition" is illustrated by his travels to "New Orleans, Jackson, Memphis, Denver, all over Texas, St. Louis, Chicago. Indianapolis, Cincinnati- Washington, New York, Philadelphia, Florida.," as well as Columbus. Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and New York City. In any case, what began as a search for oil and then for oil investors around 1922 blurred into a direct search for hospital donors. Allies in Birmingham, New York, and Chicago all indicated a willingness to raise money for the venture, provided it would be located in their respective cities. The readings, however, indicated the Norfolk area, apparently for spiritual and karmic reasons, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 2.
Attempts to pinpoint Cayce's religious heritage are inevitably contentious given the strong feelings of so many people who seek to claim (or reject) him as a representative of their own beliefs. Christian-oriented Cayceans such as Bro stress the Christian basis of his teachings while asleep and active church life while awake over the objections of Christian opponents of Cayce, who emphasize his many departures from mainstream Christian doctrine. New Agers note Cayce's use of language and ideas consistent with various Western esoteric traditions; simultaneously, Christian-oriented Cayceans point to his efforts to distance himself from Spiritualism and occultism. There is something to be said in favor of all of these perspectives. I propose to call Cayce a syncretizer since this brings out the diversity of his sources and suggests fruitful link's with other turn-of-the-century syncretizers.- In 1906, a test was arranged for Cayce in which he would give a reading for a patient chosen for him before a large audience of visiting physicians. However, when the reading proved accurate, members of the audience stormed up to him while he still lay in a trance and began conducting impromptu tests to see if he really was under hypnosis. One doctor peeled back one of his fingernails, while another stuck a hatpin through his face-common stunts in stage hypnosis at the time. Cayce did not flinch but later awoke in great pain. As a result of this experience, he resolved to stop trying to convince skeptics and give readings only for those who genuinely wanted his help. To Cayceans, the incident illustrates the limitations of a formal scientific or scholarly approach to the readings, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 3.
The usual approach to the readings also ignores the passage of time. Readings from different decades are quoted alongside one another typically (due to the nature of the ARE's citation style for readings extracts) with no indication of when they were delivered. Yet, a certain evolution can be observed in the content and tone of the readings over the five decades of Cayce's psychic career, which becomes lost whenever readings from different periods are lumped together the indiscriminately.-The chronic problem is that those aspects of Cayce which manage to find their way into popular publication are those which match the needs and mores of the Cayce movement. These are often arbitrarily or ideologically chosen, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 4.
In the course of surveying the history and teachings of the Cayce movement, it is easy to lose sight of the experience of its participants. After all, Cayceans are typically less interested in studying the origins of their institutions than in contemplating the possibility of deeper levels to the universe and themselves or in changing their lives to reflect more of spiritual orientation. How these aspirations are expressed are numerous, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 5.
Today, the ARE's request that study groups collect contributions seems to be practiced regularly when not disregarded altogether. Of the groups I have attended, only the one at ARE headquarters solicited donations each week, with one dollar appearing to be the standard per capita contribution.- A democratic ARE (to the extent that such a thing is even conceivable) might easily prove even more anti-intellectual and personality-driven than its present incarnation. At the same time, the example of the Swedenborg Foundation demonstrates that it is possible to combine academic respectability (recent monographs have dealt with D.T. Suzuki. Henri Corbin and Kant) with at least nominal democratic safeguards (e.g., proxy voting). A key difference is that the various Swedenborgian churches are institutionally separate from the Swedenborg Foundation- whereas the ARE combines both of these functions and many more, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 6.
Some leave when they do not find their vision reflected, complaining about the politics of Virginia Beach. Others accommodate themselves to a framework with which they are not entirely comfortable or become outspoken in their attempts to change the organization. The ARE leadership presently incorporates several distinct visions--some complementary, some not. The organization is sufficiently decentralized to keep these visions in a sort of equilibrium based partially on inertia (once a given program is started, it will probably be continued) and partially because most Cayceans have multiple interests concerning the readings. However, skeptical or scholarly approaches are definitely a minority interest within the ARE. They are almost wholly unrepresented within those functions that have the greatest capacity for influencing the Caycean masses (e.g., study groups, publishing, or conferences). -An object of ARE charity really a public relations activity, a disguised form of product development, or an expression of a liberal theological identity (against those Southern Protestant denominations that are perceived as anti-scientific). Inquiries into the source question have lacked the necessary connections for the first category, are not particularly well-suited to the second or third, and work at cross-purposes to the fourth by giving comfort to the ARE's enemies. The result is that Cayce's research has proceeded for half a century now without much appreciation of the Cayce movement's forebears, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 7.
Edgar Cayce's readings are full of Masonic allusions- Cayce refers to Jesus's initiation through a series of degrees in Egypt. Besides the obviously Masonic concepts of initiation and degrees, turn-of-the-century Freemasonry often wrapped biblical themes in ancient Egyptian motifs, following the pattern set by Cagliostro. In addition, Cayce sees geometry as containing deep spiritual insights, a quintessentially Masonic notion. The letter "G" in the Masonic symbol is sometimes said to stand for "geometry," although American Masons usually interpret it as standing for "God." The Royal Arch degree, known as the "Knight of East and West," even uses the symbolism of the Book of Revelation in an initiatory context, as does Cayce, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 8.
During his lifetime, Cayce was widely assumed to have some connection with Spiritualism, as illustrated by this 1930 headline from the Baltimore Sun: "Spiritualist Research Aim of Atlantic University." (177) Observers of Cayce had good reason to associate him with Spiritualism, since Cayce's practice of medical clairvoyance was known from the Spiritualist movement (Edgar Cayce would also subsequently claim to have become a reader of the “Akashic Records"), continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 9.
Like Blavatsky, Cayce, too would report being visited by a being wearing white robes and a turban. Several of Cayce's friends had an interest in Theosophy, including Arthur Lammers and Morton Blumenthal, and while awake, Cayce spoke before at least one Theosophical Society meeting (in Birmingham, Alabama), continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 10.
The Cayce readings refer to New Thought denominations from time to time; 3063-1 recommends "Divine Science, Unity, or Christian Science; provided they do not require that the body be kept from making those administrations for the physical and mental self." Except for Christian Science, Cayce appears to regard these movements favorably, without any of the qualifications which inevitably accompany his praise of other religious movements such as Spiritualism or Theosophy. Today, ARE functions bear more than a passing resemblance to New Thought services, and many ARE conferences and retreats are held in Unity churches and the like. A retreat jointly sponsored by Unity and ARE was held at Unity Village in 1996 after several previous ARE events. (Charles Thomas Cayce met his eventual wife, Leslie Goodman Cayce, at just such an occasion.) The ARE Library has acquired the Metaphysical Society of San Francisco, established by Homes of Truth founder Annie Rix Militz, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 11.
The outlines of the "proto-New Age" should be clear enough now. Around the turn of the century, several spiritual leaders and movements whose teachings mixed themes from Spiritualism, Theosophy. New Thought, and alternative health. They emphasized reincarnation, astrology, and psychic phenomena and spoke of Atlantis, ancient Egypt, the Essenes- and Jesus's Journey to India. They endorsed alternative health practices (often naturopathic ones). They accepted a view of human anatomy which merged the chakras and nadis of Indian lore with the glandular and nervous systems of the Western fore. Many (though by no means all) 'incorporated racist or anti-Semitic beliefs into their spiritual systems. It is here that we should take for Cayce's closest theological relatives.-Despite Cayce's reluctance to endorse it, the teachings of The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 12.
Apart from pulp fiction which, as we described, also led to Scientology, there is an earlier precursor that also might have inspired the ancient astronaut theory first popularized by the "Occult Science" of H.P. Blavatsky, who wrote in her widely sold book "The Secret Doctrine" (which claimed to reveal "the origin and evolution of the universe and humanity itself") that already during the time of "Atlantis" there were flying machines and that knowledge of such machines "was passed on" to later generations in India. Similarly, the founder of today's top-rated Waldorf schools Rudolf Steiner, also claimed that the Atlanteans had aircraft that had steering mechanisms by which they could rise above mountain ranges.
In the perpetual motion milieu, frauds who have appealed to occultist thinking have abounded. For example, from 1873 until he died in 1898, John E. W. Keely of Philadelphia promoted a mysterious motor that ran on "etheric force" derived from the "disintegration of water." He raised millions from financiers and the public for his company on the strength of his demonstrations of such phenomena as musical notes causing weights to rise and fall. Of these performances, which had a kinship to séances, he remarked, "I am always a good deal disturbed when I begin one of these exhibitions, for sometimes if an unsympathetic person is present, the machines will not work." Theosophists of the age admired him for combining "the intuitions of the seer with the practical knowledge of mechanics."
Rudolf Steiner firmly believed in and confirmed his own so-called clairvoyance the reality of the Keely phenomena to next claim to e able to duplicate Keely through his own Clairvoyantly as described in the article "From the Keely engine to the Strader machine. Except as Wouter Haanegraaf clearly demonstrated, Steiner's clairvoyance was based on 'imaginative fantasy.' Continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 14.
The readings claim that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were affiliated with an Essene community based on Mount Carmel, which was a continuation of a "school of the prophets" begun by Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, and ultimately Melchizedek (254-109). The Essenes are not mentioned in the Bible. Yet Several occult gospels confirmed that Jesus had been a member of the Essenes and the Great White Brotherhood.
The notion that Jesus had spent his "lost years" wandering Asia by no means originated with Cayce. Its first proponent seems to have been the Russian war correspondent Nicholas Notovitch (1858-c. 1916), who describes his travels in British India in work entitled La Vie Inconnue de Jesus-Christ (The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ), published in 1894. But as we pointed out early on is seen to be a fraud. Continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 15.
251. H.P.Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, vol I., pp. 534, 615.
252. e.g. A.T. Barker (transcriber), The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnet, p. 324.
253. e.g. Rudolf Steiner, The Gospel of St. John and Its Relation To the Other Gospels, p. 21 ff.
254. Ernest Holmes, A Dictionary of New Thought Terms, entry for "akasha."
255. Levi H. Dowling, Aquarian Gospel,p. 16.
256. The Book of Life is mentioned in Philippians 4:3 as well as Revelation 3:5, 3:18, 17:8, 20:12, and 21:27.
257. Baird T. Spalding, Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East, vol V., p. 23.
258. Ibid.. vol. II. pp. 61-63.
259. Ernest Holmes, A Dictionary of New Thought Terms, entries for "Ideas" and "Ideals."
260. Baird T. Spalding, Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East, vol IV, pp. 22-23.
261. C.W. Leadbeater, The Inner Life, p. 141.
262. Manly Palmer Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, pp. Ixxiv, cIxxv.
263. Manly Palmer Hall, Man, the Grand Symbol of the Mysteries, p. 47.
264. Andrew Jackson Davis, The Principles of Nature.... p.50, par. 17.
265. In J. Gall Cayce, Osteopathy: Comparative Concepts, p. 2.
266. Baird T. Spalding, Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East, vol. II, p. 70.
267. Martin A. Larson, New Thought Religion,p. 349.
268. Andrew Jackson Davis, The Principles of Natur....., p. 622, par. 183.
269. Ibid., p. 601, par. 174).
270. There are several possible ways of harmonizing the seven chakras with the ten sephirot. One would be to accept the traditional division between the higher three sephirot and the lower seven. and make the latter correspond to the chakras. Unfortunately, I know of no textual support for this scheme. Another route would be to accept the human body map in which Maltkuth corresponds to the foreskin (and the first three sephirot lie on top of the head and beside each ear, respectively). By merging the three pairs of sephirot for which there are two on the same level, we are left with seven levels of sephirot which correspond approximately (though not exactly) with the levels as given on the chart of seven chakras.
271. C.W. Leadbeater, The Chakras,p. 16.
272. Ibid.. p. 73.
273. Baird T. Spalding, Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East, vol. V, pp. 94-97.
274. Manly Palmer Hall, Man, the Grand Symbol of the Mysteries, chs. 14, 17.
275. In J. Gall Cayce, Osteopathy: Comparative Concepts, p. 9.
276. Marie Corelli, ARomance of Two Worlds, pp. 237-238.
277. Ibid., p. 243.
278. In C.W. Leadbeater, The Inner Life, p. 235.
279. Baird T. Spalding, Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East, vol. III, p. 155.
280. H.P. Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, vol. I, p. 7 1.
281. Rudolf Steiner, Man's Being, His Destiny, and World Evolution, pp. 52, 40, 33.
282. Why twenty-two? Cayce does not say, but it may be relevent that twenty-two is the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Elsewhere Cayce indicates that this number represents "the infinite" (1152-14).