The system of metaphysical thought which emerges from the readings of Edgar Cayce is a Christianized version of the mystery religions of ancient Egypt, Chaldea, Persia, India, and Greece. It fits the figure of Christ into the tradition of one God for all people, and places Him in His proper place, at the apex of the philosophical structure; He is the capstone of the pyramid.
The complex symbology employed by the mystery religions has survived fragmentarily in Christianity, notably in church architecture and in the sacrifice of the Mass, with its sacramental cup. But the continuity of the tradition of the one God has been lost. Paganism is condemned alike by religious authorities, archaeologists, and historians as an idolatrous fancy devoted to the worship of false gods.
Such was not the understanding of early Christians. Certainly the Essenes, who prepared Mary, selected Joseph, and taught Jesus, were initiates of the mysteries. Jesus said He came to fulfill the law, and part of that law was the cabala, the secret doctrine of the Jews—their version of the mysteries. Such converts to Jesus’ teachings as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were undoubtedly learned in the cabala. So, no doubt, was Paul.
The mysteries were concerned with man’s problem of freeing his soul from the world. In the mystery symbologies the earth was always represented as the underworld, and the soul was lost in this underworld until freed from it by wisdom, faith, and understanding. Persephone, for instance, was abducted by Pluto, Lord of Hades. Persephone is the soul of man, whose true home is in the heavens.
The mystery religions were, then, a preparation for the coming of Jesus. He was the fruit of their efforts, and His message was a fuller revelation to the people at large of the mysteries themselves. In the scramble which Christianity made to establish itself as the dominant religion of the decaying Roman Empire, the mysteries were denied their proper place, since to grant that they had truth in them would justify their further existence.
“The early Christians used every means possible to conceal the pagan origin of their symbols, doctrines, and rituals,” Manly Hall says. “They either destroyed the sacred books of other peoples among whom they settled or made them inaccessible to students of comparative philosophy, apparently believing that in this way they could stamp out all record of the pre-Christian origin of their doctrines.”
It is interesting to speculate on the fact that Edgar Cayce was raised in strict nineteenth-century Bible tradition, and suffered the greatest mental and emotional shock of his life when he discovered that in his psychic readings he declared the truth of the mysteries and acclaimed Jesus as their crowning glory. Up to that time Mr. Cayce had never heard of the mystery religions. Yet his readings check with everything about them that is known to be authentic. Much that he has given is not found in surviving records. Whether it is new material or was known to initiates of the mysteries cannot be checked except by the readings themselves. They say that all initiates, from the beginning of time, have known the full truth.
To describe the system of the readings in full, with its comparisons and parallels with the mysteries, would require a book in itself. For readers of this volume the following outline, containing all the essential points and some of the details, has been prepared.
Man demands a beginning and a boundary, so in the beginning there was a sea of spirit, and it filled all space. It was static, content, aware of itself, a giant resting on the bosom of its thought, contemplating that which it was. Then it moved. It withdrew into itself, until all space was empty, and that which had filled it was shining from its center, a restless, seething mind. This was the individuality of the spirit; this was what it discovered itself to be when it awakened; this was God.
God desired to express Himself, and He desired companionship. Therefore, He projected from Himself the cosmos and souls. The cosmos was built with the tools which man calls music, arithmetic, and geometry: harmony, system, and balance. The building blocks were all of the same material, which man calls the life essence. It was a power sent out from God, a primary ray, as man thinks of it, which by changing the length of its wave and the rate of its vibration became a pattern of differing forms, substance, and movement. This created the law of diversity which supplied endless designs for the pattern. God played on this law of diversity as a person plays on a piano, producing melodies and arranging them in a symphony.
Each design carried within it, inherently, the plan of its evolution, which was to be accomplished by movement, growth, or, as man calls it, change. This corresponds to the sound of a note struck on a piano. The sounds of several notes unite to make a chord; chords in turn become phrases; phrases become melodies; melodies intermingle and move back and forth, across and between and around each other, to make a symphony. The music ends as it began, leaving emptiness, but between the beginning and the finish there has been glorious beauty and a great experience.
(The terms “light,” “heat,” and “electricity” with regard to the cosmos are of no use in this type of discussion, since they are effects observed sensorily, within the earth’s atmosphere. The human senses do not operate outside the earth’s atmosphere: the sun might be, to the surviving individuality, an idea, an influence, or an angel.)
Everything moved, changed, and assumed its design in various states of form and substance. Activity was begun and maintained by the law of attraction and repulsion: positive and negative, attracting each other and repelling themselves, maintained the form and action of all things. All this was a part of God, an expression of His thought. Mind was the force which propelled and perpetuated it: mind did everything God imagined; everything that came into being was an aspect, a posture, of mind.
Souls were created for companionship with God. The pattern used was that of God Himself: spirit, mind, individuality; cause, action, effect. First there had been spirit; then there had been the action which withdrew spirit into itself; then there had been the resulting individuality of God. In building the soul there was spirit, with its knowledge of identity with God; there was the active principle of mind; and there was the ability to experience the activity of mind separately from God.
Thus a new individual, issuing from and dependent upon God, but aware of an existence apart from Him, came into being. To the new individual there was given, necessarily, the power to choose and direct its own activity; without free will it would remain a part of the individuality of God. Mind, issuing as a force from God, would naturally fulfill His thoughts, unless directed otherwise. The power to do this—to direct otherwise the force of mind—is what man calls his free will. The record of this free will is the soul. The soul began with the first expression which free will made of its power, through the force of mind. The first thought which it generated of itself, the first diversion of mind force from its normal path, was the beginning of the soul.
The nucleus of the soul was in balance, positive and negative force in equal power, producing harmonious activity: the positive initiating, impregnating, thrusting forward; the negative receiving, nourishing, ejecting. The steps of this action were the stages of thought: perception, reflection, opinion.
Thus the soul consisted of two states of consciousness: that of the spirit, bearing a knowledge of its identity with God, and that of the new individual, bearing a knowledge of everything it experienced. The plan for the soul was a cycle of experience, unlimited in scope and duration, in which the new individual would come to know creation in all its aspects, at the discretion of will. The cycle would be completed when the desire of will was no longer different from the thought of God. The consciousness of the new individual would then merge with its spiritual consciousness of identity with God, and the soul would return to its source as the companion it was intended to be.
In this state the soul would retain its consciousness of a separate individuality and would be aware that of its own free will it now acted as a part of God, not diverting mind force because it was in agreement with the action toward which this force was directed. Until this state was reached the soul would not be a companion in the true sense of the word.
(The idea that a return to God means a loss of individuality is paradoxical, since God is aware of everything that happens and must therefore be aware of the consciousness of each individual. Thus the return of the soul is the return of the image to that which imagined it, and the consciousness of an individual—its record, written in mind—could not be destroyed without destroying part of God Himself. When a soul returns to God it becomes aware of itself not only as a part of God, but as a part of every other soul, and everything.
(What is lost is the ego—the desire to do other than the will of God. When the soul returns to God the ego is voluntarily relinquished; this is the symbology of the crucifixion.)
The plan for the soul included experience of all creation, but it did not necessarily mean identification with and participation in all forms and substance. Nor did it mean interference in creation by souls. It did not mean that they were to spin their own little worlds, twisting and bending laws to make images of their dreams.
But these things could happen. The soul was the greatest thing that was made; it had free will. Once free will was given, God did nothing to curb it; however it acted, it had to act within Him; by whatever route, it had to return to Him.
(The fact that man’s body is a speck of dust on a small planet leads to the illusion that man himself is a small creation. The measure of the soul is the limitless activity of mind and the grandeur of imagination.)
At first there was little difference between the consciousness of the new individual and its consciousness of identity with God. Free will merely watched the flow of mind, somewhat as man watches his fancy disport in daydreams, marveling at its power and versatility. Then it began to exercise itself, imitating and paralleling what mind was doing. Gradually it acquired experience, becoming a complementary rather than an imitative force. It helped to extend, modify, and regulate creation. It grew, as did Jesus, in “wisdom and beauty.”
Certain souls became bemused with their own power and began to experiment with it. They mingled with the dust of the stars and the winds of the spheres, feeling them, becoming part of them. One result of this was an unbalancing of the positive-negative force, by accentuating one or the other; to feel things demanded the negative force; to express through things, and direct and manage them, required the positive force. Another result was the gradual weakening of the link between the two states of consciousness—that of the spirit and that of the individual. The individual became more concerned with, and aware of, his own creations than God’s. This was the fall in spirit or the revolt of the angels.
To move into a portion of creation and become part of it, a soul had to assume a new or third aspect of consciousness—a method of experiencing that portion of creation and translating it into the basic substance of mind by means of thought. Man refers to this aspect of awareness as his “conscious mind.” It is the device by which he experiences earth: physical body, five senses, glandular and nervous systems. In other worlds, in other systems, the device differed. Only the range and variation of man’s own thoughts can give an idea of the number of these other worlds and systems and the aspects of divine mind which they represent.
When a soul took on the consciousness of a portion of creation it separated itself temporarily from the consciousness of its own individuality and became even further removed from the consciousness of its spirit. Thus, instead of helping to direct the flow of creation and contributing to it, it found itself in the stream, drifting along with it. The farther it went from shore, the more it succumbed to the pull of the current and the more difficult was the task of getting back to land.
Each of the systems of stars and planets represented, in this manner, a temptation to the souls. Each had its plan and moved toward it through the activity of a constant stream of mind. When a soul leaped into this stream (by immersing itself in the system through which the stream was flowing), it had the force of the current to contend with, and its free will was hampered. It was very easy, under these circumstances, to drift with the current.
(Each system also represented an opportunity for development, advancement, and growth toward the ideal of complete companionship with God—the position of co-creator in the vast system of universal mind.)
The solar system attracted souls, and since each system is a single expression, with its planets as integral parts, the earth came into the path of souls.
(The planets of the solar system represent the dimensions of consciousness of the system—its consciousness as a whole. There are eight dimensions to the consciousness of the system. The earth is the third dimension.)
[End of Part 1]
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.