Strictly speaking, Jesus belongs to the previous
chapter (on history). However, for Cayce, this is the history of an entirely
different order, owing to the intense spiritual meaning with which it is
charged. Cayce's elaborations on the New Testament accounts are no less
spiritually suggestive than his incorporation of those accounts. His
identification of Jesus' soul's earlier incarnations ties the Bible together
with other Cayce material in a manner illustrative of the workings of karma.
His descriptions of the Essenes of Mount Carmel hold that group up as an ideal
for others who would clear a path for Christ. His mention of Jesus's studies in
Egypt, Persia, and India suggests the essential compatibility of Eastern and
Western religions. Finally, his Christology makes the Christ spirit not only an
ideal toward which to aspire but a living presence that guides all those who
"name the name."
A. Jesus's past lives
According to Cayce, Jesus and Adam were different incarnations of the same soul, including Eve and the Virgin Mary (Jesus's twin soul). Thus was Jesus able to atone for the "sin of Adam."
Q. When did the knowledge come to Jesus that he was to be the Savior of the world?
A. When he fell in Eden. [2067-7]
Many other characters from the Old Testament were also incarnations of Jesus, to the extent that the entire Christian Bible becomes part of the story of his long struggle to attain Christhood:
Q. Please give the important re-incarnations of Adam in the world's history.
A. At the beginning as Amilius, as Adam, as Melchizedek, as Zend, as Ur. as Asaph, as Jesus--Joseph--Jesus. Then, like that coming into the world in the second coming .... [364-7]
The stories of the primordial redeemer figure Amilius and the biblical Adam are difficult to disentangle. Essentially, "Amilius" (also spelled "Amelius") is the name by which Cayce refers to the Jesusentitty before he adopts a physical body (corresponding to Genesis 1), whereas "Adam" refers to the same entity after he took on a material form (corresponding to Genesis 2). The first wave of souls (known as "the sons of men") became entrapped in the earth plane accidentally, through their misuse of free will. These events gave rise to legends of the fall of the angels. The second wave ("the sons of God") consisted of those souls led by Amilius-the Jesus-entity--who voluntarily became entrapped to assist the first wave. This they accomplished by steering the process of physical evolution to create more appropriate physical forms for these souls. Cayce places Amilius on Atlantis but says that he did not physically incarnate until the human physical form had been created. At this time, the Genesis accounts of Adam and Eve begin. The location of the Garden of Eden is variously given as the "Caucasian and Carpathian" (364-13), or "between the Euphrates, or...the Red Sea, the Dead Sea" (1179-2)-in any case, not Atlantis. Confusingly, Cayce sometimes uses the word "Adam" to refer to the entire group of souls that accompanied the Jesus-entity incarnation into the earth plane, who incarnated as the five races on five separate continents (e.g., 900-227). Eventually, like Adam, the Jesus-entity joined his twin soul in allowing himself to be seduced by materiality himself, as symbolized by his acceptance of the forbidden fruit. The other sons of God followed suit, and as a result, were moved to express their materiality by interbreeding with the "daughters of men" (cf. Genesis 6:2). In this light, humanity's banishment from the Garden of Eden was actually a great blessing since death, reincarnation, and karma are all designed to draw our attention away from materiality and toward our true nature. If the reader wonders where Cayce came up with the name "Amilius," or why a disembodied entity in Atlantis should have been given a Latinate name, it bears mentioning that history knows of one Amelius who was a minor neo-Platonist philosopher of the third century A.D. This Amelius was a pupil of Plotinus, a teacher of Porphyry, and the author of a long-lost forty-volume work against one Zostrianos the Gnostic. Ironically, given the Caycean Amelius's connection with Atlantis, his namesake interpreted Plato's Atlantis myth as astronomical symbolism rather than straight history. (310)
As with Adam and Eve, Cayce interprets the biblical references to Enoch (364-8) and Melchizedek literally as reliable accounts of historical figures. Interestingly, these two incarnations are also attributed to Jesus by "Visel, the Goddess of Wisdom. or the Holy Breath" as she commands Dowling to write the Aquarian Gospel:
Write full the story of The Christ who built upon the Solid Rock of yonder circle of the sun- the Christ who men have known as Enoch the Initiate... And you may write the story of Melchizedec, the Christ who lived when Abraham lived.... (311)
Melchizedek (the "king of Salem" and "priest of the highest God" who shares bread and wine with Abraham in Genesis 14: 18-20) is mentioned both in the Dead Sea Scrolls (I I Q Melch) and the Nag Hammadi codices (NEC IX 1), where he appears as a cosmic angelic figure. Possibly similar to the risen Christ. Hebrews 5:10 calls Jesus "a high priest after the order of Melchizedek," perhaps in an attempt to explain how Jesus could be a priestly messiah without being a Levite. According to Cayce, Melchizedek wrote the Book of Job, which contains many mysterious passages that Cayce liked. "For, as the sons of God came together to reason, as recorded by Job, "WHO recorded same? The Son of Man! Melchizedek wrote Job!" (262-55).
Enoch, too, has a distinguished literary history encompassing several pseudepigraphical works as well as some Kabbalistic writings, in addition to his brief mention in Genesis 5:18-24 (which concludes, "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not, for God took him"). These describe the fall of the angels into materiality, take the title character on several heavenly voyages, reveal to him the future up to the time of the messiah, and teach him about such traditional topics as angelology and the divine throne-chariot. Ethiopic Enoch introduces Enoch to a messianic figure referred to as "the Son of Man," The proto-Kabbalistic (Hebrew) Apocalypse of Enoch shows him transfigured into the angel Metatron. In the canonical New Testament, Enoch is mentioned in Hebrews 11:5 and Jude 14-15. The latter passage apparently quoting from the pseudepigraphical Enochian literature (thereby lending it a certain legitimacy in the eyes of someone like Cayce, who is committed to the reliability of the Christian Bible).
" Hermes" of the Cayce readings probably belongs in the same company as Melchizedek and Enoch, although he is not a biblical figure. In any case, Cayce never specifically names him as a previous incarnation of Jesus. (312) The readings have him design and build the Great Pyramid (5748-5) under the direction of Ra Ta. Apart from the Cayce readings, a connection between Hermes and Egypt is also found in the Hellenistic writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, which are of Egyptian provenance. In the first book, Hermes is referred to as Poimandres, the "shepherd of men." In another curious Christian parallel, he says, "the Word which came forth from the Light is the Son of God" (1,6). Here, Hermes teaches that human nature consists of such divine elements as Nature, Light, Mind, and Life: and that by recognizing them, we may return to the invisible, immaterial world of Truth. During the Renaissance, the newly-translated philosophy of the Hellenistic Hermetic literature mixed freely with astrology, alchemy, Kabbalah, and magic, so that "Hermeticism" eventually came to mean a kind of occult tore. In Freemasonry and Theosophy, this was combined with a revival of interest in ancient Egypt. For example, the 1607 Inigo Jones document traces Masonic tore to the children of the antediluvian patriarch Lamech by Hermes Trismegistus, who recorded the fraternity's wisdom on obelisks and pyramids for posterity.
"Ur" is elsewhere said to be "rather a land, a place, a city" that somehow guided or influenced Jesus, rather than an actual person (564-9). Outside of the Cayce readings, of course, "Ur of the Chaldees" is remembered primarily as the native city of Abraham (Genesis 11:31).
Perhaps the syllable sounded more mysterious as the result of its German meaning ("primordial").
Cayce identifies "Zend" (also spelled "Zen," "Zan," "Sen." or "San") as the father of Zoroaster (991-1) and as a source of inspiration for the Zend-Avesta (288-29). Actually, the word Zend in Zend-Avesta means "commentary "(313), and in any case, the work by that name is a relatively late Middle Persian commentary on the Avesta. Also, in reality, Zoroaster's father was Pourushaspa, of the clan Spitaman. (314) It would appear that despite the sleeping Cayce's fascination with ancient Iran, he did not actually know very much about that country but based his readings on a fantasized version of it inspired by the Book of Esther and Matthew's story of the Magi. Interestingly, in his gospel commentaries, Steiner makes one of the Jesus children (the "Solomon Jesus" from Matthew) an incarnation of Zarathustra. Anyway, according to the readings, Zend was the son of Uhjltd (a previous incarnation of Cayce) and Ilya (Gladys Davis), a Croesus niece. Together they had defied their Icing to found a Silk Route oasis called Toaz or Is-Shlan-doen (which he translates as "the City in the Hills and the Plains"),(315) just southwest of the present-day Shushtar in western Iran. Besides Zend, Uhjldt and Ilya also had a daughter named Uldha and a son named Ujndt.
Turning to the remaining biblical characters, the story of Joseph would have appealed to Cayce for its Egyptian location, its endorsement of dream guidance, and Joseph's escape from the pit (anticipating Jesus's resurrection). The appeal of Joshua (who is not listed in the passage above, cf. 5749-14) is more difficult to account for, given his notorious genocidal tendencies. (316) Cayce saw Joshua as a member of a family which had produced many adept spiritual counselors (1737); and also as a scribe for Moses, who psychically dictated much of the material from the books traditionally attributed to him (e.g., 5023-2). thus explaining how he could have managed to include such details as creating the universe and his own death. The readings give little information about Asaph, the music director, and seer who served under David and Solomon. Jeshua (an incarnation of Jesus not listed above), the high priest who helped organize the return from exile and the rebuilding of the temple (as recounted in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah) (317), is claimed by Cayce to have compiled and translated the books of the Bible (5023-2). If these characters (as Cayce describes them) have anything in common, it is their role as psychic revelators.
Note that "Joshua," "Jeshua," and "Jesus" are really the same name. The name "Jesus" is a Latinization of the Aramaic Jeshua or Yeshua, which is taken from the Hebrew Yehoshua, or Joshua. (Jesus was thus named after the Old Testament hero.) So Cayce has assigned the soul-entity Jesus the same name for three separate incarnations! Eddy had noted the connection between the names "Jesus" and "Joshua" in Science and Health; (318) Cayce elsewhere reports that his Essene school registered Jesus under the name of "Jeshua" (2067-7).
As for the Second Coming, Cayce sometimes interprets this as an internal, psychic event within the individual seeker (as in his commentary on the Book of Revelation) and sometimes as the actual return of Jesus Christ in particular. In discussing the massive geological changes predicted for this century, he adds that "these will begin in those periods from '58 to '98. when these will be proclaimed as the periods when His light will be seen in the clouds" (3976-15). While this passage might be interpreted psychologically, elsewhere, Cayce insists that Jesus will return in the flesh (5749-4). As it happens, early twentieth-century Kentucky was the scene of great premillennialist excitement (although the Disciples of Christ were largely postmillennialism), and several of the Cayce readings imply a premillennialist perspective. For example:
As given, for a thousand years, he will walk and talk with men of every clime. Then in groups, in masses, they shall reign of the first resurrection for a thousand years, for this will be when the changes materially come. [364-8]
Although Cayce gives the year date of the
"entrance of the Messiah into this period--1998" (5748-5), he also
admits that no one knows the exact time of the Second Coming, since it cannot
occur "until His enemies--and the earth-are wholly in subjection to His
will, His powers" (57491). Strictly speaking, this will not be a future
incarnation since Jesus has already transcended the necessity of reincarnating.
B. Jesus the Essene
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--Cayce's generation would have known about them from Josephus, Philo, and Pliny, the Elder. While the word "Essene" is never used in the Qumran texts (a.k.a. the Dead Sea Scrolls), most scholars accept that the Qumran sectarians were either identical or closely related Essenes of the classical authors. Nevertheless, the Dead Sea Scrolls were not discovered until 1947, so they could not have influenced Cayce. (319) According to the Cayce material, the Essenes were an esoterically-inclined religious community consisting of both Jews and Gentiles, men and women. whose purpose was to prepare for the coming of the messiah. The word "Essene," we are told, means "expectancy" (254-109). (Scholars have advanced several theories about the origins of the Essenes' name, though never this one.) Following Josephus' observation that the Essenes were known for fortune-telling, Cayce has them spending their time recording experiences of "the supernatural or out of the ordinary experiences; whether in dreams, visions, voices, or whatnot" (1472-1). The Essenes were "students of what ye would call astrology, numerology, phrenology, and those phases of the study of the return of individuals, or incarnation…." (5749-8).
Apart from the glaringly anachronistic reference to phrenology, how accurate is Cayce's description of the Essenes in light of the Qumran material? The scrolls give the impression of an authoritarian, highly regimented community intent on controlling every aspect of its members' lives. The Manual of Discipline specifies that members were to turn over all money and property to the community after a year's probation and lists a bewildering variety of offenses that merit lengthy punishment or expulsion. The Qumran sectarians were located at about a four-hour walk from the nearest town (Jericho), probably out of a desire to "be separated from all the men of error who walk in the ways of wickedness. (320) The sect's theology stressed the dichotomy of good and evil--in members' personal lives, in the half-mythical conflict between the "Teacher of Righteousness" and the "Wicked Priest," in the separation of the Qumran sect from the outside world, and an anticipated final war between the sons of light and the army of Belial (from the War Scroll). It may be that the members of the Qumran community were not typical of Essenes elsewhere and that more liberal Essene groups (it would certainly be hard to imagine more conservative ones) congregated in the towns and cities. As for the Jesus connection, James Charlesworth has edited a good introductory volume on the problem of Jesus' relationship to the Qumran sect. (321) In brief, the scholarly consensus seems to be that there are many intriguing points of similarity between Jesus and the Qumran community; the differences are just as profound. For example, the Qumran sectarians would certainly not have approved of Jesus' relatively relaxed moral standards (e.g., enjoying the company of prostitutes and tax collectors). However, similar groups elsewhere may have been more understanding. Also, an equally impressive roster of similarities could be mustered on behalf of competing interpretations making Jesus into a proto-Pharisee, Zealot, Cynic sage, folk magician, or a lapsed follower of John the Baptist.
The idea that Jesus was an Essene date back to the German enlightenment. and came from rationalists who sought to deny the authority of traditional Christian doctrine. As early as 1717, one Humphrey Prideaux mentions the idea in connection with the Deists. In 1800, there appeared a four-volume Jesus novel by Karl Heinrich Venturini, speculating that Joseph of Aramathea, Nicodemus, and Jesus were Essenes. Jesus's disciples, however, were not fully initiated and therefore misunderstand his message. Venturini's fictional plot was seriously advanced by Karl Friedrich Bahrdt (1741-1792), a professor of Halle, Prussia, who named the Masons as the Essenes' modern continuation. (322)
Several occult gospels confirmed that Jesus had been a member of the Essenes and the Great White Brotherhood. Typical themes include:
For example, there is The Crucifixion of Jesus, by an Eye-Witness, of unknown authorship (first published in 1849). This work was supposedly copied in translation from a Latin manuscript in a Greek monastery in Alexandria. Goodspeed traces it back to nineteenth-century German Masonic circles. (323) According to The Crucifixion of Jesus, John the Baptist was an Essene, and Jesus also joined that order. White-robed Essenes were mistaken for angels during the annunciation to Mary; made arrangements for the flight into Egypt (cf. Cayce reading 1010); and later supervised the resurrection, which was actually accomplished through the Essenes' advanced healing arts. Cayce largely adopts the perspective of the Aquarian Gospel and H. Spencer Lewis about the Essenes. The 4quarian Gospel portrays the Essenes as cosmopolitan types with contacts as far afield as Egypt, Greece, Persia, India, China, and Tibet. Cayce, like Dowling, identifies the Essenes with the Great White Brotherhood:
Q. Were the Essenes called at various times and places Nazarites, School of the Prophets, Hasidees, Therapeutae, Nazarenes, and a branch of the Great White Brotherhood, starting in Egypt and taking as members Gentiles and Jews alike?
A. In general, yes. Specifically, not altogether.
They were known at times as some of these, or the Nazarites were a branch or THOUGHT of same, see? Just as in the present, any denomination by name is a branch of the Christian- Protestant faith, see? ... The movement was NOT an Egyptian one, though ADOPTED by those in another period--or earlier, and made a part of the whole movement. They took Jews and Gentiles alike as members-yes. [254-109]
The question appears to have been inspired by Lewis's account, which discusses nearly all of the groups named. There the Essenes are described as a Palestinian branch of the Great White Brotherhood in Egypt. One branch was located at Ein Gedi, the other (like Cayce's Essenes) at Mount Carmel. Their purpose was to prepare for the coming of the messiah. (324) Meanwhile, like Cayce, the Aquarian Gospel asserts that "Joseph was an upright man, and a devoted Essenes" (1: 12). and that Jesus received his education and mission from this order. Lewis makes the same claims. Again like Cayce (but unlike Notovitch and the Enlightenment rationalists), Dowling affirms all of the traditional miracles, and then some-Mary was 'indeed a virgin; Jesus really did rise from the dead. Meanwhile, Lewis seems to affirm the Virgin Birth (which, like Cayce, he interprets in New Thought terms) and the miracles of Jesus but subscribes to the "swoon" theory in which he did not really die on the cross.
Cayce says that, due to her great virtue, Mary was chosen by the Essenes for intensive spiritual training in preparation for the conception of the messiah. Mary's election as the mother of the Messiah occurs during a special ceremony in the temple at Mount Carmel, in which an angel leads her by the hand to the altar:
Q. How long was the preparation in progress before Mary was chosen?
A. Three years.
Q. In what manner was she chosen?
A. As they walked up the steps! [5749-7]
Q. How old was Mary at the time she was chosen?
A. Four, and as ye would call, between twelve and thirteen when designated as the one chosen by the angel on the stair. [5749-8]
In the apocryphal Infancy Gospel of James, or
Protevangelion Jacob, Mary is presented to the Lord at the age
of three when her father Joachim "set her on the third step of the altar,
and the Lord God gave grace to her ... and she received food from the hand of
an angel."(325) Cayce (254-109) and the Protevangelion agree
that Joseph was chosen as her husband by lot. They also agree that Joseph was
much older than Mary. Cayce (5749-7) gives their ages at the time of their
marriage as thirty-six and sixteen, respectively. Meanwhile, the Prorevangelion states
that Joseph was a widower. Although different versions disagree as to Mary's
age. the most common figure is sixteen.(326) Finally. Cayce (587. 1152),
the Protevangelion. and the Aquarian Gospel (3:3)
agree that Jesus was born in a cave. Lewis affirms all of these details as
well, probably under the influence of Dowling.
C. Jesus's world tour
According to Cayce, at age sixteen, the young Jesus returned abroad ("returned" because Matthew's account of the flight into Egypt) to begin his education-first a brief trip back to Egypt, then three years in India, and finally a year in Persia. The idea of Jesus traveling to these exotic places obviously appeals to those steeped in Theosophical lore, who interpret his teachings along the lines of doctrines taken from Eastern religions.
Here, after the period again of presentation at the
temple, when there were those questionings among the groups of the leaders, the
entity then was sent first again--into Egypt for only a short period, and then
into India. and then into what is now Persia.
Hence in all the ways of the teachers, the entity was trained.
From Persia, he was called to Judea at the death of Joseph and then into Egypt to complete his preparation as a teacher.
He was with John, the Messenger, during the portion of
the training there in Egypt.
Then to Capernaum, Cana, and those periods of the first preparation in the land of the nativity.
According to Mark, John, Matthew, and Luke, these in their order record most of the material experiences of the Master. [5749-7]
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. According to that work, in 1887, Notovitch was supposedly told by the unnamed "chief lama" of Hemis monastery (located about 40 kilometers south of Leh, Ladakh) that their library contained records of a visit to Ladakh by Jesus in ancient times. Shortly after his departure, Notovitch fractured his knee in an equestrian accident, which he regarded as the perfect excuse to return to Hemis for an extended stay. There, the chief lama finally relented to his earnest requests to examine the manuscripts in question. These were two large bound volumes in Tibetan, which Notovitch duly copied down--in translation. through his interpreter--as The Life of Saint Issa: Best of the Sons of Men.
Purportedly the account of traders returning to Ladakh from Israel in the first century A.D. the text begins by summarizing the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, Israel's lapse into sin during the prophetic period, and the subsequent Roman occupation. But God has mercy on one poor couple (Mary and Joseph), whom he rewards by giving them a son, Issa (the Qu’anic name for Jesus). All is well until the boy turns thirteen and the parents arrange a marriage for him. Issa
... left the parental house in secret, departed from
Jerusalem, and with the merchants set
out towards Sind, with the object of perfecting himself in the divine word and studying the great Buddhas' laws. [IV. 12- 13] (327)
At fourteen, he traveled across northern Sind, the
Punjab, and Rajputana, where he encountered the "erring worshippers of
Jaine" (V. 2-3 ). Then he spent six years in Juggernaut, in Orissa, where
he studied the Vedas and learned the art of exorcism and intercessory prayer.
True to form, during his stay there, Issa rebuked Brahmin priests for upholding
the caste system;
violated custom by giving teachings to the lower castes (V. 6-11); rejected the authority of the Vedas and Puranas (V. 12); denied the Trimurti and the incarnation of Para-Brahma as Vishnu, Shiva, and other gods (V, 14); belittled idolatry (V, 20-21); and barely escaped with his life. In Nepal, he grew proficient in Pali and spent six years studying Buddhist sutras. After that, he returned to Rajputana and made his way westward, pausing along the way to condemn human and animal immolation (VII. 14), sun-worship (VIII, 9), the dualism of good and evil (VIII. 15), and the Zoroastrian priesthood (VIII, 20-22). The Zoroastrian priests responded by seizing him by night and abandoning him to the wilderness, hoping in vain that wild beasts would devour him.
Issa made his way back to Palestine at the age of twenty-nine, the point at which the gospel narratives resume. No miracles are reported--earlier (VII, 5). Issa had rebuked those who demanded miracles for failing to recognize that nature is full of such. The only really new element is his lengthy, spirited discourse on the dignity of woman, which begins: "Respect woman, for she is the mother of the universe, and the truth of all divine creation lies in her" (XII, 10). Issa appears critical of the temple priesthood but respectful of the Roman authorities. Curiously, Pilate is presented as the villain, whereas the Jewish priests and elders attempt to protect Issa. The priests and elders, not Pilate, wash their hands to demonstrate their nonresponsibility for his execution. (Notovitch was the son of a rabbi.) In this version, Issa does not rise from the dead. Rather, Pilate moves his body to forestall an insurrection, hence the empty tomb.
Shortly after the book's publication, several critical of Notovitch appeared in a journal called The Nineteenth Century. The first (published in October 1894) was authored by Friedrich Max Müller, who did not actually visit Hemis to investigate. The second (April 1896) was a report by one J. Archibald Douglass. a teacher in Agra who did make the trip to Ladakh. According to Douglass, the abbot of Hemis revealed in an interview that no one answering to Notovitch's description had been there (although evidence in favor of Notovitch later surfaced); that he knew nothing of the many esoteric subjects which his counterpart in Notovitch's book had expounded upon (and it must be admitted that Notovitch does have his chief lama say many things which seem quite out of character); and that in all his years as a monk, the abbot had never heard of any Tibetan work mentioning Jesus. When asked to comment on Notovitch's story, the abbot responded with the statement, "Sun, sun, sun, manna mi dug," which is allegedly Tibetan for "Lies, lies, lies. nothing but lies!" (In fact it is certainly not Tibetan and, as Kersten points out, it does not appear to represent any recognizable Asian language, although it is conceivable that Douglass simply wrote it down the way he thought he heard it.) A number of other travelers were later to claim first-hand knowledge of the Issa manuscripts, but their testimony has not been sufficient to dispel skepticism. In case anyone is still inclined to believe the Issa manuscript, I would point out that the supposed history of the text does not seem very well thought through (why would first-century traders from Israel include the bulk of the Old Testament as a part of their account of Issa's life?), and that its author makes a number of historical and cultural errors (the Jain religion is not named after a god called "Jaine"; Pali is not the language of Nepal) consistent with the suggestion that he is a nineteenth-century European.
The tale of Jesus's journey across Asia grew with successive retellings. For example, the Oahspe Gospel sends him on a camel-caravan to the Caucasus region but stops far short of India (Jesus travels to Britain instead). Cayce's account is much closer to that given in Aquarian Gospel, which is much more heavily dependent upon Notovitch. According to Dowling, Jesus' travels begin when Hillel, after their meeting in the temple, is so impressed that he recommends him to an Indian prince named Ravanna, who becomes his patron and accompanies him (with his parents permission) to Jagannath. Jesus' itinerary after that is much the same as in Notovitch but with a few added excursions-- Benares, "Kapivastu" (probably Kapilivastu), Lhasa (where he spends time in a Tibetan temple learning to read ancient manuscripts from the sage " Meng-ste, " whose name sounds like that of Meng-tse, a.k.a. Mencius), Leh, Kashmir, Lahore, Sind, Persepolis (where he visits the tombs of the Three Wise Men). Ur of Chaldea, Babylon, Nazareth, Athens, Delphi (where he pays his respects to the oracle), and Heliopolis (where he is given a series of initiations culminating in a degree called "THE CHRIST"). John the Baptist also gets initiated in Egypt, just as he does in the Cayce readings (5748-5). Lewis's account(328) reads like an abridged version of Dowling's.
Disregarding the inherently ridiculous parts of the
story, of which there are many, could Jesus really have visited India? Trade
did flourish along Jesus's route, as indicated by Cayce, Dowling, and
Notovitch. Although few travelers would go the entire distance, Jesus's
neo-contemporary Apollonius of Tyana is said to have journeyed to India, where
he studied the philosophy of the "gymnosophists." Even so, the fact
that the trip was theoretically possible for Jesus does not
mean that it actually happened; the crucial question is whether there is any
convincing evidence of his journey. Unfortunately, the earliest texts
containing the story are from the nineteenth century--far too late to be of any
practical value. An alternative approach is to demonstrate Indian influences on
early Christianity, using only those historical sources generally regarded as
admissible. Gruber and Kersten attempt this and propose quite a several
intriguing textual, philosophical, and iconographic parallels. (329) At the
same time, just India and later Palestine both gave rise to texts containing
some similar-sounding ideas, which does not mean that Jesus carried those ideas
from India to Palestine. Other possibilities include proverbs and stories
passing from person to person along the trade routes, Indian travelers spreading
their traditional lore in the Near East, or the great minds thinking
D. Cayce's Christology
Like the majority of the Metaphysical writers, Cayce makes a distinction between Jesus and Christ. In brief, Christhood is the goal that all of us should strive for; Jesus was simply the first person to achieve it, our "elder brother," as it were, and the pattern for our own spiritual growth. Mary Baker Eddy distinguishes between Jesus and Christ in Science and Health (330), although she does not urge us to seek Christhood for ourselves as practically all of the New Thought writers do. Syncretic teachers tended to accept this interpretation of Christhood, perhaps because it resonated well with the concept of Buddhahood and encouraged a mystical, inner-directed perspective. For example, in the following passage from The Aquarian Gospel,Jesus is addressing the Silent Brotherhood:
You know that all my life was one great drama for the
sons of men; a pattern for the sons of men. I lived to show the possibilities
What I have done all men can do, and what I am all men shall be. [178: 45, 46]
In the New Thought movement, Jesus is seen as a great exemplar who shows how we may become aware of universal laws to rise above the restrictions imposed by them and return to consciousness of our oneness with the infinite. divine mind. For example. Troward says that the Bible is
a teaching based upon Law, spiritual and mental, fully recognizing that no effect can be produced without the operation of an adequate cause, and Christ is set before us both as explaining the causes and exhibiting the full measure of the effects. (331)
Just as Christ fulfilled the Law, so can we-in fact, that is the whole point of Jesus' teaching. Similarly, Cayce has "this then being the law of God made manifest. (that] He becomes the Law by manifesting same before man; and thus-as man. even as ye-becomes one with the Father" (1158-12). Readings in this vein could easily be multiplied. As a result of Jesus' triumph over "flesh and temptation," Cayce's Jesus became the first of those that overcame death in the body, enabling Him to illuminate so, to revivify that body to take it up again, even when those fluids of the body had been drained away by the nail holes in His hands and by the spear piercing His side. [1152- 1]
Thus, even physical reality will yield before the spirit-but only when the conditions of the laws relating to these have been met.
Of those writers who accepted the principle that Jesus was the first person to achieve Christhood, only a few address the problem of just where this leaves other great founders of religions (such as the Buddha, who lived long before the historical Jesus). For example, Spalding:
The Masters accept that Buddha represents the Way to Enlightenment, but they clearly set forth that Christ IS Enlightenment, or a state of consciousness for which we are all seeking--the Christ light of every individual; therefore, the light of every child born into the world. (332)
Although Cayce's system is unapologetically Christocentric, non-Christian religions are nevertheless respected up to a point. For Cayce, the Christ spirit constitutes the impelling force and core of truth behind all religions that teach that "God is One":
Q. What part did Jesus play in any of His reincarnations in developing the basic teachings of the following religions and philosophies? First, Buddhism.
A. This is just one.
Q. Mohammedanism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Brahmanism, Platonism, Judaism.
A. As has been indicated, the entity--as an entity--influenced either directly or indirectly all those forms of philosophy or religious thought that taught God was One... In all of these, then, there is that same impelling spirit... whether this is directing one of the Confucius' thought, Brahman thought, Buddha thought, Mohammedan thought, these areas teachers or representatives.... [364-9]
As the passage may suggest, despite Cayce's lip service to non-Christian religions, there is no reason to think that he knew very much about them, apart from such snippets as he might have picked up from Theosophy or (in the case of Judaism) the Old Testament. In fact, the readings abound with such howlers as Cayce's naming of Cato II as the title of a book by Confucius (900-14). Also, Cayce's suggestion that the Christ spirit ties at the core of all religions is likely to be regarded by non-Christians as tasteless and naive, though surely well-intentioned.
In any case, the readings describe non-Christian religions as "stepping stones" to "knowledge of the Son":
Q. Is the faith of man in Buddha or Mohammed equal in the effect on his soul to the faith in Jesus Christ?
A. As He gave, he that receiveth a prophet in the NAME of a prophet RECEIVES the prophet's reward or that ABILITY that that individual spiritual force M.AY manifest in the individual's life... Hence, as we find, each in their respective spheres is but stepping-stones to that which may awaken in the individual the knowledge of the Son in their lives. [262-14]
Since the Christ spirit does not seem to be limited to the religion which bears its name, there is considerable ambiguity as to whether Cayce sees Christianity as an improvement upon other religions. Elsewhere we find him describing Christ "Not as ONLY one [path], but THE only one: For, as He gave, 'He that climbs up any other way is a thief and a robber'" (364-9). However, this too is ambiguous since it is unclear whether Cayce means for us to become followers of Christ in the narrow sense of identification with Christianity or merely in the larger sense of manifesting the Christ spirit (however understood) in our lives. As evidence for the more narrow interpretation, recall that Cayce warned many inquirers not to shirk their heritage as Christians by converting to Eastern religions or occult groups and remained an outspoken supporter of Christian missionary work overseas. In effect, the readings encourage religious conversions in one direction only.
Even this would be quite a liberal theory by turn-of-the-century Protestant standards, however, since the heathen not only escape damnation but are treated identically with Christians by the laws of karma. The key benefit provided by Christianity would appear to be its dissemination of the teachings of Jesus, which are helpful but not necessary to salvation. We may further surmise that although other religions possess authentic teachings of the Christ spirit, Christianity represents a purer distillation of this message. Otherwise, Cayce would have regarded all religions equally. In any case, Cayce's practice of affirming the centrality of Christ alongside the worth of all world religions is anticipated by Freemasonry as well as most New Thought denominations.
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.
Cayce's psychological or spiritual interpretation of the fourth dimension and the explanation was given, consistent with Ouspensky's explanation in Tertium Organum. 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, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 13.
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.
310. Pauly's Realencyclopaedie, entry for "Amelius."
311. Levi H. Dowling, Aquarian Gospel, p. 15.
312. 281-10 states that the Jesus-entity incarnated as a contemporary of Ra Ta. Since the readings' Hermes is by far the most interesting and mysterious figure from this period for whom no twentieth-century Incarnation was ever assigned, many Cayceans have concluded that Hermes was a previous Incarnation of Jesus.
313. Mary Boyce, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, p. 94.
314. Ibid., p. 17.
315. Genesis 19: 29 refers to the destruction of Sodom and "all the cities of the plain." Perhaps this (or Proust's appropriation) is the inspiration for Cayce's name for his Persian city.
316. Glenn Sandurfur (Lives of the Master, p. 110 ff) ventures the intriguing observation that the respective careers of Jesus and Joshua followed remarkably similar geographic paths. with memorable stops at Jericho/the Jordan. Hazor/Capernaum. and Aijalon/Emmaus. (However, Jesus, unlike Joshua, did not shy away from entering Jerusalem.) Sandurfur explains that Jesus met his previous karma by performing healings in those very places where Joshua had been killed. Such a link may have occurred to Cayce as well. However, in cold reality, such parallels might be better explained as the result of the gospel writers trying (consciously or otherwise) to fit Jesus into the patterns of previous culture-heroes.
317. In line with his speculations about Jesus' fulfillment of Joshua's karma. Glenn Sandurfur (Lives of the Master, p. 129) notes that whereas Jeshua made a point of rejecting Samaritan generosity (towards the rebuilding of the temple). Jesus centered a parable around it.
318. Mary Baker Eddy, Science, and Health,p. [t.k.]
319. Cayceans (e.g., Jeffrey Furst in Edgar Cayce's Story of Jesus, p. 30) often hall the readings' description of a community of Essenes near the Dead Sea (1391-1) as a successful prophecy. In fact. Cayce's wording is ambiguous, and in any case, the Dead Sea location is given by Pliny. Cayceans also point to the fact that the readings claim (correctly, in light of Qumran) that the Essenes admitted women, whereas the ancients say they did not. However, Josephus knew of a sect of marrying Essenes.
320. Manual of Discipline, in Willis Barnstone, The Other Bible, p. 214.
321. James Charlesworth, Jesus, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
322. Per Beskow, Strange Tales About Jesus: A Sunny of Unfamiliar Gospels, pp. 47-48).
323. Ibid., p. 49: also Edgar Goodspeed, Strange New Gospels, p. 21.
324. H. Spencer Lewis, Mystical Life of Jesus, pp. 25, 27, 41.
325. In Willis Barnstone, The Other Bible, pp. 385-92.
326. Ibid., p. 392 n. 1.
327. In Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Lost Years of Jesus, pp. 196-97.
328. H. Spencer Lewis, Mystical Life of Jesus, pp. 180-183.
329. Elmar Gruber and Holger Kersten, The Oriqinal Jesus: The Buddhist Sources of Christianity.
330. Mary Baker Eddy, Science, and Health, chapter 11, p. 33, statement XII.
331. Thomas Troward, The Edinburgh and Dore Lectures On Mental Science, p. 167.
332. Baird T. Spalding, Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East, vol. I. p. 7.