When Edgar Cayce had a lot to say about a particular subject, he would oftentimes respond with “many a book can be written on the subject.”  He said that regularly about the topic of karma. Karma is the law of cause and effect and much, much more.  I would like to explore the issue of karma and look at what perhaps might go beyond karma and into soul choice or soul volunteerism.

Let us begin with three cases of blindness.  A couple had twin sons and one was born blind and the other was not.  The couple inquired with Mr. Cayce for a reading.  While in trance, Mr. Cayce referred to a past life the two boys had together, also as brothers. They had both been charged with the job of blinding individuals as punishment for their crime.  One brother apparently grew to enjoy inflicting the painful punishment while the other did it merely as a job.  The brother who enjoyed the suffering of others was born blind and was told that this was an opportunity to grow in compassion.  The reading referred to the Grace of God, in that this man had enjoyed the suffering of hundreds and was only born blind, not as punishment, but as a means for soul growth.  This is a very straight forward example of the law of karma as retribution, or “reaping what you have sown.”  An eye for an eye, so to speak.

In a second example, a couple had a daughter born blind, and they asked Mr. Cayce for a reading.  Again under trance, he gave a different answer to the cause of the blindness.  He said that negligence by the doctor had caused the blindness.  He said that the blindness had been an accident and not a karmic issue, but that the karma would follow the doctor and would need to be met.  It is very interesting that Cayce referred to this case as an “accident.”  When asked further about the matter, Cayce explained that accidents happen throughout creation.  It reminds me of Charles Darwin’s notion of how mutations or genetic accidents steer evolution.  Mr. Cayce went on to tell the parents to not let the child feel sorry for herself, but also see this as an opportunity for soul growth.

This example flies in the face of the New Age affirmation that “there are no accidents.”  Many of us admire the work of Edgar Cayce as it is quite deep and not easily translatable into a bumper sticker format.  What Cayce is showing here is that while there are accidents, there is always the opportunity to make meaning out of what happens to us and that most of what happens to us is happening from us more than any other cause.  “We are constantly meeting self” as Cayce so aptly expressed.

In this third example, I would like to look at the case of Jesus and the blind man (John 9-3) and what lessons there are to glean. Upon encountering a blind man, the disciples asked Jesus about the cause of the man’s blindness, not unlike the parents I wrote of earlier who asked Cayce for the cause of their child’s blindness.  The disciples though, asked if the man’s blindness was caused by the man’s sin or by his parent’s sin. Jesus must have been teaching them about karma for them to have asked this question, but in this example, Jesus moves beyond karma with his answer.  He tells the disciples, “Neither the man nor his parent’s sinned. He is blind to glorify God,” and he proceeds to heal the man of his blindness. Had the man, at that moment, fulfilled the purpose of his blindness to glorify God?

Jesus’ answer is quite unusual. What might He be teaching here? How else might the man’s blindness be glorifying God?  Let’s look at some basic Cayce concepts. There is a beautiful reading where Cayce teaches us that “we grow to Heaven leaning on the arms of those we have helped.”  So in the physical world, when we help someone, they benefit. But on a spiritual level, we benefit from helping another.  Those who allow us to help them, are actually helping us. When I lecture around the country, I usually pause here and ask the audience how many find it easier to help others than to be helped?  Most say that they find it easier to help others. I then chidingly say, “You’re being selfish!  You’re hogging up all the soul growth!” While I am using humor to make a point, I hope that the point is well taken.  I, too, used to find it much easier to help than be helped. This reading gave me a new understanding that I need to accept help and let others grow spiritually as well.

Many people know this truth with their physically or mentally challenged loved ones who are actually highly developed spiritual beings showing others how to be joyous no matter what, while also needing help their entire lives, affording many the opportunity for spiritual growth.

I would like to explore one final example of what I believe is also beyond karma. A woman came to see me several years ago.  She had suffered a very severe and painful trauma.  She was on a work trip and on a free evening decided to go out to a nearby arcade that she had enjoyed on other visits. While there she had a conversation with a man that thought he knew her from work.  She went to the rest room and when she returned, he had a beer for her.  She thought nothing of it but later found out the beer was drugged and the man raped her that night. She awoke the next day in a hallway somewhere, barely clothed, and had to make her way back to her hotel and to the airport to return home.

As is oftentimes the case in situations like this, the victim feels terribly guilty and responsible.  She was ashamed and felt she had been so stupid in accepting the beer. She also had not been able to tell her husband. I was very glad that she had decided to seek therapy.  Now, with a simple view of karma, you might think that perhaps she had been a rapist in a past life and that she was meeting her karma in this way.

As I got to know this woman, I began to slowly develop a different idea. She was an especially loving and kind person.  She and her husband had adopted four Down’s Syndrome siblings from a South American family, knowing that these children would be dependent upon them their entire lives.  I reflected on this. What kind of person does that? She also told me about her very special relationship she has always had with Jesus.  She had been given a cross on a necklace as a special birthday gift by her mother, and she cherished that cross.  Then some years later she was given a saint medallion that she also put on the necklace.  Then one day she was invited to a religious retreat with a friend.  When she was washing her face, she took off the chain and the saint medallion went down the drain!  Then she said she heard the voice of Jesus in her head saying, “Now I have your full attention!”

As I continued working with this woman and reflected upon her stories, how it felt to be with her, what a good and spiritual person she was and then upon how she had suffered such a painful and traumatic experience, it tossed about unsettlingly in my head.  I know that bad things happen to good people. But I was seeking a deeper understanding.  How could this be possible?  How can this make sense?  As I prayed for her healing and for understanding, it came to me finally like a lightning bolt.  That night that man was going to rape someone. And on some deep unseen soul level, she said, “I’ll take it.” She volunteered to be that man’s victim and protect another woman from that fate. Somehow she knew she could survive it.

As I have told this story around the country, tears stream down people’s faces, as they are mine as I write this, and perhaps yours as you read it. The tears come because we acknowledge this as truth. How many have come as the older sibling who takes the abuse from the parents to protect the younger siblings? How many sick parents are there that no child would ever chose to be born into such certain pain and suffering?  And yet a child, a soul, comes into these parents.  Perhaps some are karmically tied, but many are highly evolved souls that come because no one else would.  They truly come in God’s name, to glorify God, as Jesus said.

There is so much bad news when you read the newspaper, but “truly I tell you” there are many unseen and unacknowledged spiritual lights among us leading the way.  And perhaps one of them is you.