The Reading's Approach to Philosophy and Reincarnation
In 1901, at the age of twenty-four, Edgar Cayce gave one of his first readings on himself, diagnosing a health condition. But it wouldn’t be until 1923 that the subject of reincarnation would be explored in a reading given to a printer from Ohio. It was during a set of philosophical questions that Cayce first began to talk about reincarnation. Eventually, this lead to an entirely new way of using Cayce's abilities that came to be known as Life Readings. The subject was examined in extensive detail and would become the second major topic examined by the sleeping Cayce. Interestingly enough, while the concept was mentioned in a prior reading given as early as 1911, but no one among Cayce’s associates was familiar with the idea and the reference wasn’t recognized as such for decades..
The concept of reincarnation shocked and challenged Edgar Cayce and his family. They were deeply religious people, doing this work to help others because that's what their Christian faith taught. Reincarnation was not part of their reality.Yet, the healings and help continued to come. So, the Cayce family continued with the physical material, but cautiously reflected on the strange philosophical material. Ultimately, the Cayce's began to accept the ideas, though not as "reincarnation." Edgar Cayce preferred to call it, "The Continuity of Life." As a child, he began to read the Bible from front to back, and did so for every year of his life. He felt that it did contain much evidence that life, the true life in the Spirit, is continual.
Reincarnation is the belief that each of us goes through a series of lifetimes for the purpose of spiritual growth and soul development. The past merely provided a framework of potentials and probabilities and an individual’s choices, actions, and free will in the present determines the actual experience lived this time around. Rather than being a fatalistic approach to life, it is much more one of nearly limitless opportunities.Within this framework of lessons that need to be learned as the soul strives to meet itself is the central idea that the soul is constantly experiencing the consequences of its previous choices. This concept is expressed in Biblical terminology as, “What you sow, you must reap” and is generally labeled “like attracts like” by students of reincarnation.
Another key idea from the readings is the idea of Karma. The word karma is a Sanskrit term that means “work, deed, or act”; it has also been interpreted to mean “cause and effect.” Although the readings definitely agree with this concept, perhaps one of their most intriguing and unique philosophical contributions is the idea that karma can simply be defined as memory. It is a pool of information that the subconscious mind draws upon and can utilize in the present. It has elements that are positive as well as those which seem negative. For example, an immediate affinity toward an individual is as likely to be “karmic” as is an immediate animosity toward someone else. To be sure, this subconscious memory has an effect and influence on how we think, how we react, what we choose, and even how we look! But the component of free will is ever within our grasp.
Reincarnation is a concept that encompasses not only Eastern thought but also all of the major religions of the world. It’s a concept that can allow us to have more compassion, one for another. It’s a way we can begin to look at all facets of life purposefully. However, it doesn’t really matter if another individual believes or doubts the theory of rebirth. For some it can be a helpful concept; for others, confusing. The reason for believing in reincarnation is not so that we can dwell upon the past or brag about the possibility of having been someone famous in the past. The wisest student of reincarnation knows that we have all had incarnations in lowly and lofty circumstances. Instead, the purpose is summed up in one of the Cayce readings:
“In the studies, then, know where ye are going ... to find that ye only lived, died and were buried under the cherry tree in Grandmother’s garden does not make thee one whit better neighbor, citizen, mother or father! But to know that ye spoke unkindly and suffered for it and in the present may correct it by being righteous – that is worthwhile!” 5753-2