Edgar Cayce Philosophy, Part 2

Edgar Cayce

This is part 2 of our excerpt from the Philosophy chapter of There Is a River, the biography of Edgar Cayce by Thomas Sugrue, originally published in 1943. For Part 1, view here.


The earth was an expression of divine mind with its own laws, its own plan, its own evolution. Souls, longing to feel the beauty of the seas, the winds, the forest, the flowers, mixed with them and expressed themselves through them. They also mingled with the animals and made, in imitation of them, thought forms: they played at creating; they imitated God. But it was a playing, an imitating, that interfered with what had already been set in motion, and thus the stream of mind carrying out the plan for earth gradually drew souls into its current. They had to go along with it in the bodies they had themselves created.

They were strange bodies: mixtures of animals, a patchwork of ideas about what it would be pleasant to enjoy in flesh. Down through the ages fables of centaurs, Cyclops, etc., have persisted as a relic of this beginning of the soul’s tenancy of earth. Sex already existed in the animal kingdom, but the souls, in their thought forms, were androgynous. To experience sex they created thought forms for companions, isolating the negative force in a separate structure, retaining the positive within themselves. This objectification is what man calls Lilith, the first woman.

This entanglement of souls in what man calls matter was a probability from the beginning, but God did not know when it would happen until the souls, of their own choice, had caused it to happen.

(Of the souls which God created—and He created all souls in the beginning; none has been made since—only a comparative few have come into the experience of the solar system, though many have gone through or are going through a similar entanglement in other systems.)

A way of escape for the souls which were entangled in matter was prepared. A form was chosen to be a vehicle for the soul on earth, and the way was made for souls to enter earth and experience it as part of their cycle. Of the forms already existing on earth one of the anthropoid apes most nearly approached the necessary pattern. Souls descended on these apes—hovering above and about them rather than inhabiting them—and influenced them to move toward a different goal from the simple one they had been pursuing. They came down out of the trees, built fires, made tools, lived in communities, and began to communicate with each other. Swiftly, even as man measures time, they lost their animal look, shed bodily hair, and took on refinements of manner and habit.

All this was done by the souls, working through glands, until the body of the ape was an objectification—in the third dimension of the solar system—of the soul that hovered above it. Then the soul descended into the body and earth had a new inhabitant: man.

He appeared as a consciousness within an animal, a consciousness which was felt on the earth in five different places at the same time, as the five races. The white race appeared in the Caucasus, the Carpathians, and Persia. The yellow race appeared in what is now the Gobi Desert. The black race appeared in the Sudan and upper west Africa; the red race appeared in Atlantis; the brown race appeared in the Andes.

(The Pacific coast of South America was then the western coast of Lemuria. The Atlantic seaboard of the United States comprised the lowlands of Atlantis. Persia and the Caucasus were rich lands—the Garden of Eden. The poles of the earth as we know them today were tropical and semitropical. The Nile emptied into the Atlantic Ocean. The Sahara was fertile and inhabited. The Mississippi basin was part of the ocean.)

The problem was to overcome the attractions of earth to the extent that the soul would be as free in the body as out of it. Only when the body was no longer a hindrance to the free expression of the soul would the cycle of earth be finished.

(In a smaller field this was the drama of free will and creation. In a still smaller field each atom of the physical body, being a world in itself, is a drama of free will and creation. The soul puts life into each atom, and each atom is a reflection in flesh of the soul’s pattern.)

There were males and females in these new, pure races, and both had complete souls. Eve replaced Lilith and became a complement to Adam—the ideal companion for the threefold life on earth: physical, mental, and spiritual.

In Eve the positive pole was suppressed and the negative pole expressed; in Adam the negative pole was suppressed, the positive expressed.

(Which a soul would become—male or female—was a matter of choice, unless the soul was already entangled and unbalanced. Eventually the positive and negative forces would have to be brought into balance, so there was not, basically, more advantage in one than in the other. For souls in balance it was a device to be employed for the duration of the earth cycle, and whichever sex would best suit the problems to be attacked was chosen. It was a voluntary assumption of an attitude, not a fall into error, and once a sex was assumed it was generally retained through the cycle of earth lives, though it could be changed from life to life, if the change were considered advantageous. Awareness of sex was retained between lives but could only be expressed on earth.)

Man became aware, with the advent of his consciousness, that sex meant something more to him than to the animals. It was the door by which new souls entered the earth, a door unnecessary elsewhere in the system. It was the only means the trapped souls had of getting out of their predicament—by being reborn through the bodies of souls which had entered the earth through choice. These bodies were not entangled with animals or thought forms. They represented the ideal vehicle for the soul on earth. Therefore sex was a creative power which could be used for good or evil. Used rightly, the race would be kept pure, the earth would be a paradise for souls in perfect bodies, the trapped souls could be freed of their cycle of rebirth in monstrous, half-animal forms and provided with perfect bodies.

(This is the story of Adam and Eve, the serpent, and the apple. The serpent, wisdom, offered the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eve, the negative, receptive force, took and fostered it. When Adam, the active force, partook of it, the peaceful animal life of man was ended.)

The plan for the earth cycle of souls was a series of incarnations, interlarded with periods of dwelling in other dimensions of consciousness in the system—the planets, until every thought and every action of the physical body, with its five senses and conscious mind, was in accord with the plan originally laid out for the soul. When the body was no longer a hindrance to the free expression of the soul—when the conscious mind had merged with the subconscious, and the atomic structure of the body could be controlled so that the soul was as free in it as out of it—the earth cycle was finished and the soul could go on to new adventures.

This conquest of the physical body could not be attained until there was perfection in the other dimensions of consciousness in the system, for these made up, with the earth, the total expression of the sun and its satellites.

Whichever state of consciousness the soul assumed became the focal point of activity. The other states of consciousness receded to the position of urges and influences.

The race of man was fostered by a soul which had completed its experience of creation and returned to God, becoming a companion to Him and a co-creator. This is the soul man knows as the Christ.

The Christ soul was interested in the plight of its brother souls trapped in earth, and after supervising the influx of the pure races, it took form itself, from time to time, to act as a leader for the people.

Though at first the souls but lightly inhabited bodies and remembered their identities, gradually, life after life, they descended into earthiness, into less mentality, less consciousness of the mind force. They remembered their true selves only in dreams, in stories and fables handed down from one generation to another. Religion came into being: a ritual of longing for lost memories. The arts were born: music, numbers, and geometry.

These were brought to earth by the incoming souls; gradually their heavenly source was forgotten, and they had to be written down, learned, and taught to each new generation. Finally man was left with a conscious mind definitely separated from his own individuality. (He now calls this individuality the subconscious mind; his awareness of earth is the conscious mind.) The subconscious mind influenced the conscious mind—gave it, in fact, its stature, breadth, and quality. It became the body under the suit of clothes. Only in sleep was it disrobed.

With his conscious mind man reasoned (for all mind, left to itself, will work out the plans of God). He built up theories for what he felt—but no longer knew—to be true. Philosophy and theology resulted. He began to look around him and discover, in the earth, secrets which he carried within himself but could no longer reach with his consciousness. The result was science. The plan of man went into action. Downward he went from heavenly knowledge to mystical dreams, revealed religions, philosophy and theology, until the bottom was reached and he only believed what he could see and feel and prove in terms of his conscious mind. Then he began to fight his way upward, using the only tools he had left: suffering, patience, faith, and the power of mind.

Atlantis and Lemuria sank; civilizations rose and fell; man was here a little better, there a little worse. He descended to the depths of earth consciousness, then slowly began to climb back.

In earthly seasons it was a long journey from the moment when the first soul, looking down through the trees, saw a violet and wanted to pluck it, to the instant when the last soul should leave its body forever.

The Christ soul helped man. As Enoch, as Melchizedek, it took on flesh, to teach and lead. (Since it was to be active it had to be male.) Enoch and Melchizedek were not born, did not die. The Christ soul realized after these assumptions of flesh that it was necessary to set a pattern for man, to show him the way back to himself. It assumed this task and was born of woman, beginning voluntarily a new individuality, a new soul record; though behind this new individuality shone the pure Christ soul. But on this the veil dropped, and the Son of God began His pilgrimage. He was born as Joseph, again as Joshua, again as Jeshua—the scribe of Enoch who rewrote the Bible—and finally as Jesus. He, Jesus, triumphant over death and the body, became the way, laying down the ego of the will, accepting the crucifixion, returning to God. He is the pattern we are to follow.

(At present man is in a state of great spiritual darkness—the darkness which precedes dawn. He has carried his skepticism to the point where it is forcing him to conclusions he knows intuitively are wrong. At the same time he has carried his investigation of natural phenomena to the point where it is disproving all it seemed to prove in the beginning. Free will is finding that all roads lead finally to the same destination. Science, theology, and philosophy, having no desire to join forces, are approaching a point of merger. Skepticism faces destruction by its own hand.)

Man is at all times the total of what he has been and done, what he has fought and defended, what he has hated and loved.

In the three-dimensional consciousness of earth every atom of his physical body is a reflection of his soul—a crystallization of his individuality. His emotional and nervous structures, his mental abilities, his aptitudes, his aversions and preferences, his fears, his follies, his ambitions, his character, are the sum of what he has done with his free will since it was given to him. So every personality—the earthly cloak of an individuality—is different from every other personality.

This has been true from the beginning. The first independent thought of each soul was a little different from the first independent thought of every other soul.

So people are different in their likes and dislikes, in their desires and dreams. The law of karma—cause and effect—likewise makes them different in their joys and sorrows, in their handicaps, their strengths, their weaknesses, their virtues and vices, their appreciation of beauty, and their comprehension of truth.

Debts incurred in the flesh must be met in the flesh: natural law, not man or God, demands an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

The same law applies to groups of people as they act together. There is karma for families, for tribes, for races, for nations. When the souls who committed a war return to a nation, a war will be committed upon that nation. Only when defeat is endured by a nation with humility and understanding, only when victory is dispensed by a nation with justice and mercy, will the karma of battle be lifted from them.

Every person’s life is shaped to some extent by karma: his own, that of his associates and loved ones, that of his nation and race, and that of the world itself. But these, singly or together, are not greater than free will. It is what the person does about these influences and urges, how he reacts to them, that makes a difference in his soul development. Because of karma some things are more probable than others, but so long as there is free will anything is possible.

Thus free will and predestination coexist in a person. His past experiences limit him in probability and incline him in certain directions, but free will can always draw the sword from the stone.

No soul takes on flesh without a general plan for the experience ahead. The personality expressed through the body is one of many which the individuality might have assumed. Its job is to work on one or several phases of the karma of the individuality.

No task is undertaken which is too much for the personality to which it is assigned—or which chooses it. (Some souls choose their own entrances and set their own tasks; others, having made too many mistakes and become dangerously subject to earthly appetites, are sent back by law at a time and under circumstances best suited to help them.) The task is seldom perfectly fulfilled, and sometimes it is badly neglected.

Choice of incarnation is usually made at conception, when the channel for expression is opened by the parents. A pattern is made by the mingling of the soul patterns of the parents. This sets up certain conditions of karma. A soul whose own karma approximates these conditions will be attracted by the opportunity presented. Since the pattern will not be exactly his own, he must consider taking on some of the karma of the parents—relatively—in order to use the channel. This concerns environment, companionship with the parents, and certain marks of physiognomy.

Things other than pattern concern the soul in its selection of a body: coming situations in history, former associations with the parents, the incarnation, at about the same time, of souls it wishes to be with and with whom it has problems to work out. In some cases the parents are the whole cause of a soul’s return—the child will be devoted to them and remain close to them until their death. In other cases the parents are used as a means to an end—the child will leave home early and be about its business.

The soul may occupy the body as early as six months before birth, or as late as a month after birth, though in the latter case it has been hovering over the body since birth, deciding whether or not to occupy it. Once the decision is made and the occupation completed, the veil drops between the new personality and the soul, and the earthly record of the child begins. (The fact that a baby is born dead does not mean that it was refused as a vehicle for a soul. Just the opposite is true: the channel is withdrawn from the soul; no occupation is possible.)

The body is formed in the womb according to the pattern made by the mingling of the life forces of the parents, each with its respective pattern. This is the metaphysical symbolism of the 47th problem of Euclid, the Pythagorean theorem: the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. As soon as occupation by a soul takes place, the pattern of the soul begins to work its way through the body, and the child’s personality begins.

The personality is a highlighted portion of the individuality, experiencing three-dimensional consciousness. The rest of the individuality remains in shadow, giving tone to the personality; urges, appreciation, tastes, avocations, and what is loosely termed “charm”—the background to which intuition responds.

The personality is shaped by three or four incarnations, the portions of the earthly experience on which the individuality wants to work. The emotions and talents of the person reflect these incarnations. The dreams, visions, meditations—the deep, closely guarded self-consciousness of the personality is the pattern of experience among the other states of consciousness of the solar system. The intellect is, roughly speaking, from the stars: it is the mind force of the soul, conditioned by its previous experience in creation outside the solar system, and dimmed or brightened by its recent experiences within the solar system.

Thus a personality is only an aspect of an individuality. A soul, deciding to experience earth again, might assume any of several personalities, each of which would express a portion of itself. As a soul approaches completion of the solar cycle, the personality becomes more many-sided, expressing greater portions of the individuality. This is because each incarnation has less adverse karma, requiring less attention. Finally the personality is a complete expression of the individuality, and the cycle is completed.

(As an individuality succumbs to earthiness, abandoning intellect for emotion and emotion for sensuality, it becomes more and more one-sided.)

The incarnations which influence the personality reflect their patterns in the person’s life. Sometimes they intermingle: a child’s parents may re-create the environment of one experience, while his playmates will re-create the environment of another. Sometimes the influences work in periods: home and childhood may re-create the conditions of one incarnation, school and college those of another, marriage those of a third, and a career those of a fourth. Usually the people and the problems of the incarnations have interlocking relationships, so that the pattern of the personality’s experience is a rational development, and the problems are presented to him as he is prepared to meet them. Because the incarnations only reflect their problems (their blessings as well as their handicaps), usually the karma of more than one can be undertaken in a single life; if the life is successful, considerable progress is made toward freedom from flesh.

When a life is finished the personality vanishes. Its pattern is absorbed into the individuality. Its record is retained, but it becomes a part of the individuality, which at all times is the sum total of what it has been: all it has thought; all it has experienced; all it has eaten, drunk, and felt through the ages.

(Here is an example of how extremes may meet. Both the atheist and the Christian seem to be right. The atheist says the personality does not survive after death; the Christian says the soul is judged after death and returns to its Creator. Substituting personality for soul, both are expressing a truth. The personality is judged, returns to its creator—the individuality—and is absorbed, giving up its own independent existence.)

The general plan for perfecting the individuality in its experience of the solar system then proceeds. Another state or consciousness is assumed, as a trial or as a means of reinforcing the character of a future personality.

So the problems of individualities, the problems of groups, the problems of races and nations, are worked upon time and again until, by free will, they are solved, and the souls go on to other worlds, other systems, other universes. The readings say:

“Know that thyself, in its physical state, is a part of the plan of salvation, of righteousness, of truth, of the Creative Forces, or God, in the earth. “Each person is a corpuscle in the body of that force called God.

“Each person is a manifestation of the Creative Forces in action in the earth. Each person finds himself with a body that seeks expression of itself, and a mind capable of becoming aware of what the body presents, what other men present, and what influences are acting upon the body and upon the mind itself.

“Each soul enters the material plane not by chance, but through the grace, the mercy, of a loving Father; that the soul may, through its own choice, work out those faults, those fancies, which prevent its communion and atonement with the Creative Forces.

“As to whether a soul is developed or retarded during a particular life depends on what the person holds as its ideal, and what it does in its mental and material relationships about that ideal.

“Life is a purposeful experience, and the place in which a person finds himself is one in which he may use his present abilities, faults, failures, virtues, in fulfilling the purpose for which the soul decided to manifest in the three-dimensional plane.

“Know in thyself that there are immutable laws, and the universe about thyself is directed by laws set in motion from the beginning.

“So, as ye condemn, so are ye condemned. As ye forgive, so may ye be forgiven. As ye do unto the least of thy brethren, so ye do it unto thy Maker. These are laws; these are truths; they are unfailing. And because He may often appear slow in meting out results does not alter or change the law. An error, a fault, a failure, must be met. Though the heavens, the earth, may pass away, His word will not pass away. His word is the way, the truth, the light.

Each soul must pay to the last jot or tittle.

“How can ye do His bidding?

“Not in mighty deeds of valor, not in exaltation of thy knowledge or power; but in the gentleness of the things of the spirit: love, kindness, long-suffering, patience; these thy Elder Brother, the Christ, has shown thee . . . that thou, applying them in thy associations with thy fellow man day by day, here a little, there a little, may become one with Him as He has destined that thou shouldst be! Wilt thou separate thyself? For there is nothing in earth, in heaven, in hell, that may separate thee from the love of thy God, of thy brother, save thyself.

“Then, be up and doing; knowing that as thou hast met in life those things that would exalt thy personal self—these ye must lose in gentleness, in patience. For in patience ye become aware of your soul; your individuality lost in Him; your personality shining as that which is motivated by the individuality of thy Lord and Master. Thus does your destiny lie within yourself, and the destiny of the world.

“Hold fast to that faith exemplified in thy meditation, in thy counsels, in thy giving out to thy fellow man. For he that hides himself in the service of his fellow man through the gifts, through the promises as are in Him, hides many of the faults that have made him afraid through his experience in the earth. For it is not what one counts as knowledge that is important, nor what one would attain in material realms, but what one does about that which is known as constructive forces and influences in the experience of thyself and thy fellow man. For, as He has given, ‘As ye do it unto others, ye do it unto Me.’ He is the way, the life, the light. He is the Creator; He is the giver of all good and perfect gifts. Man may sow, man may act in material manifestations, in matter, of spiritual forces . . . yet the returns, the increase, must come from and through Him who is the gift of life. It is not a consideration of where or even how the seed of truth in Him is sown; for He gives the increase if it is sown in humbleness of spirit, in sincerity of purpose, with an eye-single that He may be glorified in and among thy fellow man. This is the way, this is the manner that He would have thee follow.

“Let thyself, then, become more and more a channel through which His manifestations in the earth may arise, through thy efforts, in the hearts, the minds, of thy fellow man. For mind—in man, to man—is the builder, ever. That, then, must be directed, given, lost in singleness of purpose, that there may come the greater awakening within the consciousness of thy fellow man that he is in the earth; that His words are as lights to men in dark places, to those that are weak, to those who stumble. For He will give thy efforts that necessary force, that necessary power, to quicken even those that are asleep in their own selfishness, in their own self-indulgences, and bring to their awakening that which will make for glorious activities in the earth.

“Keep, then, the faith thou hast had in Him; for He is thy strength, He is thy bulwark; He is thy Elder Brother. In Him, ye may find that which will bring to thee, and others, joy, peace, happiness, and that which makes men not afraid. For He is peace; not as men count peace, not as men count happiness, but in that harmonious manner in which life, the expression of the Father in the earth, is one . . . even as He is one.

“Keep the faith.”


Thomas Sugrue

Thomas Sugrue (1907-1953) is the author of  There Is a River, the only biography of Edgar Cayce written during Cayce’s lifetime and the book that made the psychic a household name in 1943. Still available today, his biography of Cayce’s life has touched the hearts of hundreds of thousands.

This entry was posted in A.R.E. Press, Edgar Cayce Readings, Spiritual Guidance and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Edgar Cayce Philosophy, Part 2

  1. Karhleen Pearson says:

    I read this book when I first became interested in E.C. I don’t remember the part about the selection of the ape as a pattern for the physical body and then perfected until ready for the entrance into it by the souls waiting to inhabit it. I think I need to re-read this wonderful book! Thank you for this!

  2. This gives me goosebumps. When I was 9 years old, half a century ago, my late father read from “There Is a River” to my mother, brothers and I. It changed my life!

    Edgar Cayce’s work inspired me to write a book, “The Bible’s Hidden Wisdom” (still in progress).

    And I’ve written an article for the blog at EdgarCayce.org, based on the breakthrough research detailed in my book, “Astounding Biblical Breakthroughs Corroborate Cayce’s Work.”


  3. Ginger says:

    I’m trying to locate E.C.’s comments on animals, and what happens to them after death. My beloved dog I’ve had for over 15 years just passed away, and my
    surroundings seem so empty without him. I’ve never had a dog that was so sweet and full of love–we were always together though he was a big dog, a full-sized Australian Shepherd. He had learned English, and knew nearly everything anyone said to him. At times, we had to spell out words if they pertained to going somewhere, foods or meals, etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

AlphaOmega Captcha Classica  –  Enter Security Code