We must acknowledge that if our souls existed prior to this incarnation, and they did, then there are many dimensions to ourselves that are beyond our current personalities. And if there are more characters in us, and there are, then there once was our original, first self!
In ancient temple trainings, which many of us likely experienced, there was much effort devoted to "Knowing Oneself," one’s TRUE, original self. Add to this fascinating idea that Edgar Cayce often stated that each of us is known in heaven, and suggested that it would be good to "come to ourselves as we are known"! I never liked this—it’s not right for heavenly beings to know me, my true self, when I, my personality self, doesn’t know how I’m known in heaven! Fortunately, there was one group of classic seekers who devoted themselves to knowing our original selves, they were among the Taoist of ancient and classical China.
Let’s get to know our original selves using some of Taoism’s profound concepts found in The Secret of the Golden Flower: A Chinese Book of Life, translated by Richard Wilhelm with commentary by depth psychologist Carl Jung, along with some of Edgar Cayce’s insights.
Taoist master Lu Tzu taught: "Whoever is seeking eternal life must search for the place from whence Essence and Life originally sprang." Cayce agrees: “For in the beginning, God said, ‘Let there be light.’ YOU are one of those sparks of light, with all the ability of Creation, with all the knowledge of God.” (5367-1) And Jesus indicates our preexistence when he prays to God: “And now, glorify Thou me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory that I had with Thee before the world was.” (John 17:5) This statement: "Before the world was,” indicates that our souls were alive before the world was. We need to learn about this and what happened and who we are as heaven knows us!
In our pursuit to learn this, Lu Tzu also taught: "Not with one leap can a person suddenly get there." Similarly, Cayce also taught this:
For remember, ever, that Mind in its entirety is ever the Builder. For it is step by step, line by line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little, that the attaining is accomplished in the mental, the spiritual, the material applications of an entity in this material world.
-- Edgar Cayce reading 914-1
As we can see, the way to this illumination may be simple and easy, but there are so many transforming and changing conditions connected with such a goal that no one could leap directly to full comprehension. We are presently individuals with physical lives and relationships, so we cannot suddenly become infinite minds reaching back into eternity to find our original self. Fortunately, there are blessed moments of spontaneous insight that give us increasing awareness, even if it is only a whispered knowing within us. Also, it is important to keep in mind that our circumstances do NOT limit our illumination. No matter how earthy or lost or unhealthy we may feel or how bad our situation, enlightenment can and does come to us – for from ugly swamps come some of the most beautiful lilies! And Jesus promised without qualification: "If you seek, you will find!" (Matthew 7:7) The journey is gradual, step-by-step, but also has spontaneous moments of illumination along the way—thank Goodness!
Our Original Self
Cayce gives us several peeks into our souls’ origin before this incarnation:
The entity was in the beginning, when the Sons/Daughters of God came together to announce to Matter [the physical dimension] a way being opened for the souls of God’s creation.
-- Edgar Cayce reading 2156-2
And here’s another:
In the beginning ... when the Morning Stars sang together [Job 38:7], and the whispering winds brought the news of the coming of humanity’s indwelling ... and man became the living soul — this entity came into being with that multitude. (This was a reading for Edgar Cayce the man, #294-8.)
There is so much more to us than this little life that we are living. Consider this teaching:
Master Lu Tzu said: "In comparison with Heaven and Earth an individual is like a mayfly. But compared to the Great Meaning, Heaven and Earth too are like a bubble and a shadow. Only the Spirit and the True Essence that have existed since the beginning overcome the illusion."
Jesus said it this way: "Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." (Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 16:17) Think about this statement: "Heaven and Earth will pass away!" Can we even comprehend such an event? Where would we be if and when such an event occurs? Jesus answers that question too: We would be in the “kingdom of God.” And where is that kingdom? "The kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21)
Master Lu Tzu agrees, and therefore the Taoist master teaches: "Nothing is possible without reflection." If the kingdom is within us, then nothing is possible without inner reflection. And Lu Tzu teaches: "Reflection is not thoughts. Reflection is centering on the origin of the Light and Life." And then later he develops this teaching, saying and asking: "What has to be changed by reflection is the self-conscious heart. If today people sit and meditate looking only at their own egos, and call it reflection, how can anything come of it?" He goes on: "To get beyond thinking with thinking cannot be done. We want to bring the thoughts together in rest, in stillness."
Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, adds to this line of thinking: "If a person can let his/her heart be still, then the True Self is discovered!" And Lu Tzu adds to this teaching, explaining: "To still the heart does not mean to let it dry and wither away, but it means that the heart is undivided and gathered in the center in the midst of conditions." Jesus adds to this by teaching that: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:21)
Siddhartha taught: "When you fix your heart on one point, then nothing is impossible for you." Lu Tzu adds: "The heart easily runs away, so it is necessary to gather it in the center of the midst of conditions." (See illustration.)
This is the key concept: gathering the feelings and emotions of the heart into a centered, still place naturally reveals the True Self, the Original Self. This has been of profound help to me in my search. And the concept of a "Center in the Midst of Conditions" has helped me discover a true sanctuary within me, no matter what is going on in my life and even when nothing is going on or going right! Budgeting time for centering, for stilling my heart in the midst of all my conditions, ultimately made me a better person, made my body healthier, and my life more content, more rewarded by the little goodnesses in a day.
The following is a Taoist teaching by master Lu Tzu that compares how a mother hen brings life out of her eggs with how we may bring life out of the "eggs" in the wombs of our hearts and minds.
"Here’s a magic spell. The hen can hatch her eggs because her heart is always listening. Therefore with her heart she conducts this power inward. In this way she concentrates her whole heart. When the heart penetrates, the power penetrates, and the chick receives the power of the mother and begins to live. A hen, even when she has left the eggs, always has the attitude of listening. Thus the concentration of spirit is not interrupted. Since there is no interruption of concentration the spirit awakes to life!"
When we go through a day always listening with our heart, we bring forth the life-giving power within us. When we do this over a period of time, then the uninterrupted concentration awakens the spirit and soul within us. In this way we discover the inner True Self, the Original Self that God conceived and loves.
Remember what Lu Tzu taught: "To find our SPIRIT we must search for the place from whence our Essence and Life originally sprang." He adds: "The mind must be still. But stillness without the Light is not illumination. Stillness with the Light is illumination." I believe this is why Cayce’s teachings encouraged us to begin with prayer, raising the love and light of God in our hearts and minds before we enter meditation, which Lu Tzu calls, "reflection." In addition to Cayce’s raising the light of God through prayer, Lu Tzu adds that once in reflection there is Light in the center in the midst of conditions, and it is the greater Light of our oneness with the Source of Light.
Lu Tzu warns us, if we cannot still our thoughts or emotional feelings, then we should stop: "When the flight of thoughts keeps extending farther, one should stop and begin again. The thoughts must come to rest. Then the center is revealed and the Light appears." Cayce agrees, warning us: Do not meditate if you cannot get beyond self, with all its self-centered emotions and concerns. Cayce explains that meditation (reflection) is a place of creation. Whatever we take into that place or bring up while in that place gains strength! And we don’t want to add strength to our worries, weaknesses, and emotions. First still oneself through genuine prayer and surrender to God’s way and will, then center the heart and mind in stillness—this naturally awakens the true self, the original self.