The Spiritual Practice of Welcoming the Stranger
by Dr. Pam Bro, Ph.D.
In these days of so much hostility to the "other," the stranger, the immigrant, LGBT people, etc., and in these days of incivility in much of our public life, I’m highly recommending we intentionally practice the spiritual dictum of "welcoming the stranger.” In my Judeo-Christian tradition, this is a commandment (Exodus 22:21): "Do not mistreat or oppress a stranger, for remember, you were once a stranger in the land of Egypt.”
I am currently a stranger in a strange land—strange to me that is: Utah. Its mountains are breathtaking in scope and beauty; the Alpine lakes beckon one to relax and restore one’s self. I know two people here—my daughter and her husband—and their hospitality couldn’t be more loving. I am so grateful. It’s a safe place to start slowly but surely to build the spiritual community I so deeply valued back in my old beloved home, Virginia Beach, Va.
It occurred to me recently that there are three times during the year when Americans open their doors willingly to strangers. One is Halloween, when we not only open our doors but we offer sweet treats as well! I’ve always preached that this should be a Holy Day for Christians, because opening our doors to neighbors and strangers alike, and especially children, should be a Christian trademark.
The second instance is garage sales and estate sales. Having just held an estate sale myself, as folks traipsed through my whole home, asking prices and making offers, some of us actually began to feel like a party was afoot! In fact, at one point I quipped, "Gee, I’ve met more neighbors here today than in the 10 years I’ve lived here. I should have held the estate sale when I first arrived!” Garage sales are usually friendly events, as well. I’ve been to several in Park City, Utah, and they have exhibited some of the old-fashioned small talk and bantering that I miss and still crave among neighbors.
Last, but not least, I recently attended a new church in this area. Though there were only about 30 older adults, and the pastor had asked newcomers to raise a hand to identify themselves (I did and was the only one), not one person came up after the service to welcome me. I was quite disappointed, and even a bit shocked. How I missed my beloved community, Living Waters Sanctuary, at that point! Whenever a stranger wandered into our midst, several members would immediately go up and introduce themselves and start a conversation with that person. What a wonderful practice, and we did it for 10 years, and it made God smile! For our Creator is the ultimate host, always inviting us to the table to sup with Him/Her in our hearts on Love and S/He invites us to do the same with our fellow humans.
So, friends, I know many of you are already practicing this "extravagant welcome" (a phrase coined by Rev. John Thomas, former president of the United Church of Christ). Let’s keep it up. Let’s teach our children how to do it. Let’s open our hearts and our doors whenever possible, so that the stranger—and the more diverse from us, the better—becomes an ally, and the ally becomes a friend. We have nothing to lose and a world of neighbors to gain.
Dr. Pam Bro is a former spiritual counselor for the A.R.E. Health Center & Spa, and founder and newly retired pastor of Living Waters Sanctuary in Virginia Beach, Va. A former Associate Pastor at Yale University, she is a dynamic motivational speaker and workshop leader. She holds her doctorate in theology and anthropology from the Chicago Theological Seminary, her Masters in Divinity from Union Seminary in NYC, and her Masters in Theatre from Schiller College, Berlin, Germany. She has enriched her field of spiritual counseling through her work with the Lakota Indians, Mindfulness Training with Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh, and has more than 40 years of working with and lecturing on the Edgar Cayce readings. Her grandmother, Margueritte Bro, and her parents, Harmon and June Bro, knew Mr. Cayce in 1943. In April 2016, she received the Human Rights Award from the Human Rights Commission in Virginia Beach, Va. Open to many paths of spirituality, she draws upon diverse traditions and practices. She is the author of the book SoulQuest: A Trail Guide to Life. To learn more, visit PamBro.com.
Demonic Possession in the News,
What Did Cayce Say?
by Sidney D. Kirkpatrick
On July 1, 2016, I was surprised to find an article in the Washington Post on the topic of
demonic possession. What’s remarkable about this article, written by Dr. Richard Gallagher, is
that a major U.S. newspaper had the courage to print it. Editors didn’t dismiss his story as a
hoax, misunderstanding, or Hollywood hype; his first-person account of paranormal activity was
feature news. The ostensible reason is the author’s credentials. Dr. Gallagher is a board-certified
psychiatrist and a professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College and holds
degrees from Princeton, Yale, and Columbia. The credentials most relevant to readers, however,
are his deep-seated Catholicism and extracurricular work for the church, which is the stimulus
for the article’s provocative title: "As a psychiatrist, I diagnose mental illness. Also, I help spot
Readers will note that many of Dr. Gallagher’s concepts support basic principles put forth in the
Edgar Cayce readings. Among them is the reality of spirit possession. As Cayce tells us in
reading 5753-1, "Discarnate entities… may influence the thought of an entity." Cayce goes
further in 5221-1, by identifying "discarnate entities" as the root cause of a woman’s physical
illness. At the onset of 638-1, given for an elderly patient suffering insanity, Cayce overtly
declares: "We have possession."
The challenge that Dr. Gallagher highlights is the difficulty differentiating possession from
mental illness. Cayce presents a broader range of options, and goes further by identifying causes
for conditions that can give rise to both mental illness and possession. For instance, Cayce
identifies spinal injury as the root cause for a loving husband who, seemingly possessed, starts
beating his wife and children (1513-1), and for an artist whose sudden and inexplicable self-
destructive behavior requires that she be tied to a hospital gurney (1789-1). Add stress-related
psychosis into the mix (3315-1), blood deficiency-inducing nightmares (4519-1), and cancer-
created delirium (1004-1), and proper assessment requires help from the Akashic records. The
problem is compounded because trauma and poor health lead to insanity, and insanity can lead to
possession. This is the message in 281-24, conducted for the "Glad Helpers" healing group.
The most striking difference between what Dr. Gallagher reports and what appears in the Cayce
readings may be the point of view. Using the standard protocols required by the Catholic Church,
only one individual profiled in the entire body of Cayce readings exhibits the severity of
behavior that might qualify for exorcism. He is the alcoholic husband of 1183, a man who
undergoes a chilling Jekyll and Hyde transformation when he becomes intoxicated and,
according to Cayce, a malevolent spirit takes control of his body.
Church doctrine presents other limitations on our understanding of the spirit world as well. For
instance, as the readings make clear, not all spirit communications are diabolic, and not all
discarnates have demonic motives. This is conveyed in 5756-13, in which departed loved ones
provide comfort to the living. Reading 5756-14 contains a message from a deceased father to his
daughter telling her that love knows no boundaries. Furthermore, possession may have a karmic
component that is not recognized by the church. In 436-2, for example, there’s a warning for an
elevator operator susceptible to the influence of a spirit identified as "Big Rock, Black Rock,"
with whom he had been entangled in a previous incarnation. Reading 693-3 chronicles the
haunting of a child who, as an adult two centuries earlier, persecuted witches in Salem.
Given the complexity of these cases and what psychiatrists (and priests, too) encounter in the
field, Dr. Gallagher should be applauded for giving voice to a subject dismissed by his medical
colleagues as mere superstition. But where the American Psychiatric Association maintains no
official opinion that might help possessed individuals, and Dr. Gallagher advises psychiatric
counsel and Vatican-certified exorcism, Cayce’s recommendations may prove to be the most
effective. His preventative advice includes massage and osteopathy, use of low-voltage
impedance devices such as the Radiac, positive and uplifting prayer and meditation, and in cases
featuring karma, forgiveness for oneself and others. By filling one’s mind with the holy, Cayce
says, there is no room for the demonic.
Radiac - Cayce Readings Remedy
One can take an even more proactive approach as described in a reading conducted for a woman
battling discarnates (422-1). Similar to a priest’s marching orders at an exorcism, Cayce instructs
her to demand that the intrusive spirits acknowledge the supremacy of Christ. Should the spirits
fail to comply, the woman must order their expulsion: "Get thee behind me," and "I will have no
part with thee," she is to proclaim. "Through His name only will I… ACCEPT direction."
Sidney D. Kirkpatrick, is author of Edgar Cayce: An American Prophet, which is widely considered the definitive biography of the seer from Virginia Beach. His most recent book, co-authored with this wife, Nancy Kirkpatrick, is published by A.R.E. Press, and titled, True Tales from the Cayce Archives: Lives Touched and Lessons Learned from the Sleeping Prophet..
Big News at Atlantic University
For the past 30 years, the Master of Arts (MA) in Transpersonal Studies has been the hallmark degree of Atlantic University. Founded upon Transpersonal Psychology, the MA in Transpersonal Studies has served as a method of delivering a master’s degree in a field related to the Edgar Cayce philosophy—a holistic approach to understanding the human experience with an emphasis on human transformation, self-expansive states, exceptional human experiences, and interconnectedness. This degree program has served many students and graduates, providing them with a launching pad for their pursuits of gaining knowledge and wisdom on the spiritual path with an outcome of producing something of value—many students used their gained knowledge and expertise to write books, enhance their careers or start new ones, or to synthesize their beliefs with their actions, living their path.
At Atlantic University, we have seen the tremendous benefits of this program on our students and graduates for it truly is a life-changing experience. At the same time, we have strived to properly express these benefits to the public at large. However, the MA in Transpersonal Studies has not provided as tangible of a degree outcome as other programs offer in more mainstream academic studies. With this in mind, we have changed the name of the degree program to a Master of Arts in Transpersonal Psychology, fulfilling the original intention of this tremendously valuable program while better articulating the degree itself and its outcome for our graduates.
Only minimal changes have been made to the curriculum since the courses already teach numerous elements of transpersonal psychology, although a brand new course will be offered starting in 2017, titled “Foundations of Transpersonal Psychology,” which will serve to educate students on the evolution of transpersonal psychology from humanistic psychology as well as to provide a solid overview of transpersonal psychology itself. We are very pleased to be offering this life-changing degree to the public and hope you will take some time to explore it for yourself.
Rev. Dr. June Bro
|Dr. Eben Alexander
I have never doubted the authenticity of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). Decades ago I was moved by the experiences of Dr. George Ritchie and Raymond Moody. When I recently heard the neurosurgeon, Dr. Eben Alexander, talk about his NDE and read his book (Proof of Heaven, which I highly recommend), I was assured again of heaven’s accessibility for each and every one of us.
I had been taught in Sunday School about heaven as an end time, but now I was beginning to think of it as a present reality, as close to me as my breathing.
How could I doubt the truth of heaven as a present reality? At age 23 I sat in a room with Edgar Cayce as he gave a reading. Hearing that quiet voice so in tune with some beautiful far-away source (I thought then), and listening to that message of hope and healing, I said to myself, Oh, dear God, I must be in heaven! The atmosphere here is so breathtakingly holy, God must be in this room!
Then I remembered another moment of God’s heavenly presence. I recalled the charged atmosphere I felt as I walked into the vault for the first time to file correspondence or a typed-up reading. As I entered that long dimly lit room in the addition built onto Edgar’s and Gertrude’s home on Arctic Circle and 14th Street, where Harmon and I worked with the Cayces and Gladys, I felt as though I was entering a cathedral. How many healings in those files? How many lives changed? How much hope given to people with none? How much love given by Edgar as he lay still on that couch? How much compassion as Gertrude stayed composed and focused, giving the instructions Edgar needed? How much earnest concern did Gladys show with her stenographic skills and her daily loving presence?
Then I remembered something else. When Harmon and I came to Virginia Beach in 1943, I had a full scholarship at the Chicago Musical College, studying with the most coveted piano teacher in the area and I had expected to teach in one of the best music schools in the country or become a concert pianist. I never dreamed that Edgar’s reading for me would say anything different. But it did. He said, "Do make the home the career for this is the greatest career there is in the earth, and those who shun same will have much yet to answer for. Then make thy home as a shadow of the heavenly home." (5070-1)
I yearned for the time when our home would be filled with a heavenly fragrance, but we moved every few years and there were always boxes to unpack, new schools to attend, new friends to be made, and much anxiety over being unsettled and often broke. It was hard to create a peaceful, heavenly environment amidst that turmoil. Edgar’s beautiful picture of the soul and its journey kept me sane and plugging on.
The prophet Isaiah’s image of the "peaceable Kingdom" was a picture of heaven on Earth. He said in essence that a time would come when the inhabitants of Earth "would not hurt or destroy on all God’s holy mountain, and the earth would be as full of the Lord as the waters covering the sea."
Eben is a scientist who believed before his NDE that consciousness came entirely from the brain. After a short time of being seriously ill with a rare strain of meningitis, he was pronounced brain-dead for seven days, but his journey past death taught him that consciousness does not come from the human brain. Cayce said, "Thy brain is not thy mind, it is that which is used by thy mind!" (826-11)
After our nine months with the Cayces was done, Harmon and I felt that to sing with the world-famous St. Olaf College choir would be the only way to fully absorb that special experience. The founder of the choir, F. Melius Christensen, had once listened to a top his children were spinning and heard the loveliest sound he had ever heard—a beautiful, clear, balanced chord. He had decided then and there that he would direct a choir some day that would sing that chord perfectly in unison. It meant that his group of singers would have to become one with him and the other choir members. It was an ideal of oneness which matched the oneness with God that Cayce had talked about.
We don’t have to be struck down by a terrible accident or illness to experience the equivalent of a near-death experience. We can become still, and remember the heavenly bliss that exists inside of us and all around us.
Excerpt from June Bro's "The Art of Living" from the Apr-Jun 2013 issue of Venture Inward magazine available to A.R.E. members at Edgarcayce.org/members.
Dr. June Avis Bro found her life deeply affected by working daily with Edgar Cayce when she and her husband, Harmon, came to Virginia Beach in 1943. She set about sharing her interests with others as a pastoral counselor and minister, as well as by using her skills in the performing arts. She has a graduate ministerial degree from Andover-Newton Theological School, near Boston, and a doctorate from Chicago Theological Seminary. In addition to teaching on six campuses while raising five children, she has been a research assistant at Harvard, lectured and held workshops in many cities, led overseas tours to the Near East and China, and served as pastor. A concert pianist, she has served on the music staff in churches of most of the major Protestant denominations and draws on her background in the arts to illuminate myths, symbols, and dreams. At age ninety, she released her first piano CD called "Soul Soundings," which is being sold in the A.R.E. Bookstore. Her column for A.R.E.’s Venture Inward Magazine, "The Art of Living" is based on her life reading given by Mr. Cayce in 1944. She wrote the forward to the re-released book A Seer Out of Season written by Harmon Bro.
Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. blog offers opinion pieces from contributors with a wide variety of backgrounds. These opinions are valued and create points of discussion. Opinions expressed in our blog may not necessarily represent the opinion of A.R.E.