Reflections with Hugh Lynn Cayce
Perhaps more than anyone, Hugh Lynn Cayce (1907-1982) was responsible for taking A.R.E.- the organization founded by his father, Edgar Cayce, in 1931 - from its humble beginnings and turning it into one of international renown.
Instrumental in developing widespread recognition and acceptance of subjects such as psychical research, dream analysis, meditation, and personal spiritual development, Hugh Lynn received critical praise for his first book, Venture Inward, after which our magazine is named.
Awarded the title of First Citizen of Virginia Beach in 1964, he was known for his commitment and enthusiasm for working with young people. A dynamic and popular speaker, in 1981 during A.R.E. 's 50th anniversary celebration, he gave what would be his last annual address to the A.R.E. membership, from which this interview is taken.
While Hugh Lynn Cayce reflected on his many years with A.R.E., Dr. Harmon Hartzell Bro (1919-1997) served as program moderator and host.
Harmon Bro: It's a wild event tonight. Trying to figure out how to draw out what's in Hugh Lynn Cayce is a little bit like being asked by friends to be sure and draw a sketch of the Grand Canyon when you fly over it- it's very deep, very wide, and very colorful. And I have a lovely and daunting challenge in trying to share with you some of the depth and wonder, and greatness and excitement of this man who has influenced me more than anybody else in this lifetime.
Hugh Lynn, I want to ask you, what do you see as the real treasure you have been trying to share with people all these years and all these ways, and all these places and all of us when we stare at you and wonder and listen or cheer? What is it that you have been trying to pull off and hand to us or pull out of us?
Hugh Lynn Cayce: Harmon, before I answer that question, there is a statement that should be made. There isn't anything that any person does without a great many people back of them. There isn't a thing that I could have done as an individual without the backing, without the help of literally thousands of people like you. But there are one or two people that should be mentioned- I am going to stick to the ones that are here now, not the ones who have departed, because that would get to be a long list. But there's a lady who was responsible for all of the stability, all of the balance, and perhaps more important, for my gradual ability to understand and work with individuals with love. That lady is my wife, of course, who's here tonight- Sally Taylor Cayce.
Now, there's another lady, of course, that has been a part of this work. A woman who I have known like a sister through the years, who was in our home from Dayton on, and who recorded by far the majority of the Edgar Cayce readings. Now without her, this work would certainly not have been what it is. That, of course, is Gladys Davis Turner. I could go down the list. And there are many, many people like them, and without everybody- all of you- this (Work] of course wouldn't have been possible, not a minute of it. The treasure, of course, is people.
HB: Most people would expect you to begin at once talking about the readings, and I felt since I first met you by correspondence that you knew about people, you knew about the depth and the mystery and the wonder of God that lives in us. And you were busy sharing that just as much as the readings. Is that true?
HLC: Well, it's worse than that. Actually, and l almost hate to admit this. I have admitted it at times but never in the presence of almost the full board of the Trustees. I don't work for A.R.E. l've never worked for A.R.E. First, I work for a man, and it isn't Edgar Cayce. This is a gentleman that I have come to know. He's alive, and I think He is closer, to the earth, perhaps, than He's been in a long time. I'm simply speaking, of course, of Jesus.
I have found in the A.R.E. the finest vehicle for serving and for loving that I know about, and that's what He said we should do. And I think sooner or later you'll all come to deal with this, and face this. Perhaps not in the terms of that name which is one name of a long mystical experience of this expression of God in the earth - the Christ Consciousness. But this is the name I use, and the name that perhaps the majority of you use. And A.R.E. has been a vehicle, has been a structure, has been a way to work with those principles. How can you love people - that's what He said do- how can you serve people? How can you go about to achieve and do this unless you begin to share the best that you know with each individual you meet, without exception.
Now, I've found in the readings of Edgar Cayce, and I found them in the life of the man that I knew as Edgar Cayce, a way to achieve and focus for thousands of people a very practical approach to this business of love and service.
HB: Hugh Lynn, say something about this - when you look at ordinary jokers, which is all of us, and you're cleareyed and you're deep- I've worked with you with some very troubled people. How do you keep telling yourself this is God's creation? What do you say inside your head when you look into a scowling face or blank eyes? What do you keep saying to Hugh Lynn that keeps you believing in this soul, this Christ Consciousness, and this beautiful destiny that I know you hang on to, and people even when they're very difficult or very much at odds with themselves? What do you do that keeps us alive for you?
HLC: I frequently answer the telephone, Harmon, as you know. And it's a person who is in trouble, all kinds of trouble. As you say, they get into my office. I've got a secretary now that tries to keep a lot of them out, and there's wrestling goes on in the outer office. But through the 50 years a great many have gotten in. Now, whether I am on the phone or sitting talking, and all of you-so many of you I've done this with- not because you were in trouble necessarily, but because I wanted to connect. I start praying, instantaneously, for you. I begin to try to work with energy and light around you whatever you're talking about, whatever you’re doing, whatever the voice is saying over the phone while I listen. And this helps me focus. It helps me listen. And when I am not on the defensive, and I'm not scared of what might happen to me, it's easy to connect because, I think in a way, when you begin to pray for and deal with a spiritual energy in a person and that's what you look for, your prayer stimulates spiritual life in other people. It is not just protective for you in any sense. It's a connection. And it's worked for me.
HB: I've heard you say that in all our relating to one another we are either building or destroying.
HLC: I'm certain of it, Harmon, absolutely certain of it. I don't think there is any middle ground. I've used illustrations. You know them. They're simple. When you catch ahold of some people, you are certain that you have grabbed, if you shut your eyes, you would have a fish, a dead fish. But there are others- that you are not shocked but there is a real balance, an energy, and it's a wonderful experience to deal with that communication that is going on there at a positive level. I think we do this, as you know, with what we call the aura, the energy, which is around us all the time. The body has a physical energy, but it also has emotional energy that it emits and it has mental energy and it has spiritual energy. And I think that slops over all the time. And A.R.E. is encouraging this sloppiness by all this hugging that is going on. [Laughter]
HB: This unselectivity, this taking us as we come, is in both the study groups and in that rather marvelous adventure called Project X that I watched you do that spawned the Camp and Atlantic University and a lot of doers, a lot of other nice things. Somewhere inside, you seemed to know early on that people should be put together and held there until they've dealt with each other. And it was an astonishing thing when you began to do it in the '50s in this fashion.
HLC: Sometimes it's rough, and many of you who are in study groups know that suggestion that you just take whoever shows up and deal with it is not always easy. People show up that you would not be caught anywhere else with. I think that all of you are going to have to come to the realization that as you begin to pray for people, as you begin to try to reach out and share what you have found to be good, more people are going to show up on your doorstep. More people are going to be in touch with you, and they are going to be in trouble. They have needs. And all of those needs you are not going to be prepared to handle, and you shouldn't try in many instances to handle them all in any sense. But you should be prepared to know how to be discerning enough to recognize what you can work with, what a group can work with and what should be sent to specialists that are past your point.
Now you fail, and you get discouraged. I have failed many, many, many times. I have failed more times on most of these procedures than there are people here. It's easy to fail when you're working like this. But the successes are so rich and so wonderful. They're so worthwhile. And you begin to recognize that you can be used by God wherever you are and whoever you are, and that the opportunities can be multiple, many, many-faceted. And you can do things far beyond your capacity because you're dealing, not with your energy, for none of us have any energy. Energy is God's.
We are the custodians of a little bit of it temporarily- the physical, the mental, even the spiritual in this sense. Custodians only, and we can channel it. We can let it flow through us to other people. That's got to be our principle, Harmon. When you begin to push people around, when you begin to counsel people and become a guru father, you really can get yourself, maybe not in trouble in this life as fast as you can in other lives. And it can be long-range trouble.
HB: That's a special problem for us who draw hope and help from someone who seemed to be giving information and counsel and guidance that we sometimes think, "Well, that's what I gotta do." And dump things on each other, perhaps not even understanding that the readings were shaped carefully to each one to pullout what was there and not simply dumped, as well.
HLC: And selective from an Olympian kind of viewpoint, and that's their focus and their beauty in this sense. As you've heard me say many times- the greatest psychic ability I know is to know when to keep your mouth shut, because many of us don't at the right time. And there's positive in every human being. Sometimes you have to look very hard to find it, but most of us don't see very well. It's not that it's not there. We just can't see it.
HB: Let me pull you to some practical expressions of this. When you dream about what we can build together, what kind of a world we can create, if this organization becomes a half-million members and does half the work it can. What education and medicine and maybe family life and other things could be like when you dream in these terms? What do you see that might be different?
HLC: Here, again, I would like to go back to the readings, because the Board of Trustees has been hearing me for some time on a theme that they sort of turned stony-eyed about, some of them more than others. I've been saying to them that if we can just begin to encourage for the preparation of souls into the earth- and there's a wealth of material on this in the education readings-if we can just find and bring together people who would begin to set ideals and purposes and goals and make possible the channels, become a channel for children into this earth, we can have among us in one, two, three, four people more energy and more guidance and more health than we can imagine.
There are a lot of souls that are trying to get back here, and they can't come back on certain levels. They can't come back on certain vibrations. And when conception is a result of intercourse that is thoughtless, when it is a result of just passion and no planning, no prayer, no meditation, no setting of ideals, no discussions that prepare the way and set the stage for what a soul can expect- if they have no prospect of guidance and training, we can continue to have chaos and we can go down. But it won't take but a few to heal this earth. It's never taken but a few.
And I think there is a real challenge for us here in that material, and I know that we've got young people, I know we have, that are working and thinking and planning and this is important. Not the mechanics. The mechanics are not enough. It's the ideals and the purposes and goals. And we need to draw those young people. This is why the Camp - the real reason in back of all the fun and games and playing. This is why the encouragement for the children's activities all over the place. This is why, because you begin to start early and begin to plan, and then when they begin to be channels for children, you can attract into this earth what it needs.
That's what's going to heal us. That's what's going to save us. That's what's going to prepare the way for the coming of the Master, and not just us. That's our real contribution. And this runs all through these readings. You've read it, Harmon, you've talked about it, you've lectured about it and others are beginning to do more and more of it. You all ought to look it up and get a hold of it. We're going to produce it, develop it and test it and work with it in this school [the experimental Greenwood School]. And then we're going to share it with the families, with the counselors and the teachers. We don't have to succeed but once for us to be very, very glad the day we touched this information.
HB: Hugh Lynn, can we work at this even in our study group settings? Is it fair and right not only to talk with one another but also take on each other's kids somewhat? Take them places, pray for them, back them, help them get God, and do some of that stuff?
HLC: Sure, sure, and we should! We should encourage each other and people, and make the material available. That's so important. We need to get this material out and in the form and in ways that will help people - young people - use it. And that's all of us who are older and past that point, we can help get it out. We can help make it possible for all these things to happen that are happening and will happen in A.R.E. around the country.
HB: That's part of your dream, isn't it-that there shall be this stimulus of efforts, projects, programs, families, groups that A.R.E. provokes or calls into life so that others can keep trying to do it both in A.R.E. and around it. This has been a part of what you've wanted to do all along, isn't it? To build these resource centers in some way that will foster more.
HLC: Sure! And the emphasis that's coming on the health facility that will be here, and there will be one here, a big one, should be, I think, the preventative, the whole business that will enable people to work now. Perhaps this comes out of my Chinese incarnation. You know, Chinese doctors are paid to keep you well. You don't pay them if you get sick; it's a much better approach to the whole business.
I think the preventative material in the Edgar Cayce readings is so exciting in terms of the diet, the exercise, the massage, the sweats, the packs, and the baths, all the things that go into it. I'm looking at wellness and improving it. I think we'll be moving in this direction, and I think it will make it possible for families and the groups to share very definitely in a whole preventative technique.
For example, any of you, and there are a flock of you here, who have tendencies toward arthritis. You have a terrific opportunity to look at the readings and become familiar with whole patterns of diet that will stop you hurting now and keep you from hurting for a long time. And then if you slap a little peanut oil on you in the right places it will keep you greased and oiled so that you wiggle right along in much better condition. And it won't be so painful! I'm using that only as an illustration, for there are diet patterns in the readings for every tendency.
Many years ago now, five maybe, I had a heart attack, a very small heart attack. I had it right here in this room. It started here and continued over, fortunately long enough for them to get it on an EEG so they knew what it looked like. And it didn't turn out to be very serious, but it put me in the hospital for a little while. And they were very careful and cautious about heart attacks, and I stayed there for a while, got all involved in the hospital activities.
After I came home, I realized that there were a lot of things in my life I needed to change. And one of them was my meditation and prayer time and my Bible reading and inspirational reading. So I doubled what I'd been doing and then I doubled that. And as usual - I think you'll find this to be true - when you push yourself in quietness and prayer, dreams become very interesting and I had a dream:
Morton and Edwin Blumenthal were there, and my father and my mother, a lot of people that had been with the early organization. And Morton was telling me, "Hugh Lynn, every thing's been straightened out over here. It's all right now. The A.R.E. is going to have energy that it never had before." He said, and he used this simile, "It's like money in the bank. You could write a check on it for any amount!"
And Dad was there, and he said, "Yeah, Hugh Lynn, anything you can dream of can come about now." If you knew those people, if you had known them, and some of you did, you'd know what I mean. Just the idea of that happening on that level, the possibility that this took place is a healing that can extend over to every one of our lives in a very rich and wonderful fashion.
HB: I see you remember to pick out things- you see someone's face in the audience - for example, and you pick out and make a comment. You build right there a constructive team, a pool of energy, a pool of purposes. You focus on what people have brought to the campfire, the brand they've put in the blaze. You keep trying to celebrate, and you do it more, I think, than any of us that I know in the whole Work. And I've seen you determined to do it, and I've heard you talk about it - making up your mind to keep celebrating what each one has to give and to weave it into whatever you're doing.
HLC: It's not always good to praise people to the person's face. It is so much better, frequently, to praise people to others, and it builds the thought forms for them and helps them and quickens the whole pattern. And where you are closely interrelated, as we are here, I think that most of you realize this.
HB: Part of the process then of working with our karma in ourselves and in one another, is selecting which karma we're going to pull on.
HLC: For me, karma is simply memory. Nothing else. You and I have no karma with each other. There's nothing between people. There is only memory in relationship to each other, which is quite different because it's buried in me, if I have memory. Or it's buried in them. So what you remember is what you have to deal with in terms of karma.
This is what Jesus was talking about when he talked about thought patterns and thoughts. He didn't call it patterns but he said you know you don't have to commit something for it to affect you. All you have to do is think of it. And he was very specific. He was talking to some men so he was naturally talking about women. And he said if you just lust after a woman, you have already committed the act. And you pay for that. Don't kid yourself. You don't have to do it. You don't have to fulfill it at a body level. All you have to do is think about it. So the beginning here is in the mind, the patterns are built there, and we store them.
You've got a beautiful setup in the readings for this. Look around you if you want to begin to deal with your karma as memory. Look around you. Pick out the best relationships of your life and deepen them, enrich them. But also, pick out the worst ones, the difficult ones. Deal with those - don't leave them hanging, don't let them go, don't pass them by because they grow. Things repeat themselves with karmic memories and have strong, deep emotion.
Now, sometimes you can't avoid that. I couldn't. I arrived in the earth, and by golly here were a couple of my memories holding me- my Poppa and my Momma. And I had a time. I had a rough time with Edgar Cayce. For me, he was far more than just a father (a very good one), far more than just a good Sunday school teacher, far more than the greatest psychic I've ever seen come down the tracks. (And I've looked at a lot of them.) He was many other things, too, that I had to face and deal with. And yet, fortunately, he was also the most loving person I've ever known. And it was beautiful to deal with my jealousy and my hate, which I had at that time, in the light of his love that he was able to transmit. It was a beautiful experience, and it worked out. I've cleaned up a lot of stuff.
HB: Something in your nature that I think is very special and that I've experienced, too - when there's a tangle, when there's a hurt, when there's a problem, when there's a wound, you confront it.
HLC: Dad didn't hold on to things like I did. I'd been holding on to things for 10,000 years! He turned them loose, turned them loose. He could get mad at me quicker than he could at anybody else but he'd get over it. It'd pass. He didn't hold these things in the thought patterns, and you and I have a tendency to hold on to them and keep reactivating.
I've used that crazy illustration I watched with a man in New York once. I was with him in the taxicab and he had this violent argument with the taxicab driver. It was over paying the fare, and he was blasting the man. They almost had a fight. And we came on in and went upstairs and there were a whole lot of people there, it was a nice meeting and everything was going fine, and all of a sudden I heard all this noise- there was a big group standing around. This man was reliving and saying what he had said to the taxicab driver all over again. He was red in the face, and he was saying a lot of things he hadn't said that he wished he had said. Craziest thing!
We catch ourselves if we watch ourselves going and reactivating. And Dad didn't do this. He would blow up, but turn loose of it very quickly.
HB: He did that with the hospital.
HLC: Oh, anything. Anything. He could walk out of something and turn- I've been trying to do that for years. You do it by quitting thinking about it. You take your mind off it.
HB: That's a little different from repressing, isn't it?
HLC: Oh, yeah, quite different. You just don't think about it. You don't deal with it. You don't feed these things, these negative karmic patterns, or they grow. They get so big they really swamp you- the stuff that spills out of the unconscious you can't handle. lt blasts you, and you slip. What breaks of course is the body, the flesh. And you begin to suffer. And then you wonder, what in the world is wrong with me? And you have set the pattern for this. You've torn yourself apart. You've made yourself sick emotionally, mentally. And then it reproduces itself in the flesh. All of psychosomatic medicine, of course, is telling us this.
I'm a great believer in confessional prayer. Now there are some things you can go out and talk to your best friend about. Some things you can sit down and share with your wife, husband, son or daughter, mother or father, somebody related. But there are other things that you need to work with, that you just deal with in your mind with God. And this is confessional prayer- that business of forgiving yourself, and then asking God's forgiveness. Now do this while you're looking at the face of the person you are having the difficulty with. And you hold this. And you can do this every day until it goes away. lt won't take you but about a week to get rid of something you've been carrying around this life. And 14 days will clean up several thousand years!
You forgive yourself of what you've done and said to this face that you're looking at. Then you ask God's forgiveness. Then you forgive the face, the person that it stands for. And then you bless, and put light around, and you love that face. You do this regularly for a while and relationships will clear, clean up. And you know what happens? It's wonderful! The other person seems to get a lot better. Actually, of course, we begin to change, too, within ourselves. We need to work diligently, persistently. There's a phrase for it in the readings: "Line upon line, here a little, there a little, precept upon precept." By continuously working at it you'll gradually get rid of it.
HB: I've seen you persisting with people you take on - even when things go bad and problems arise, you hang on - pray for them, talk to them, and won't let go. We can choose to do this, can't we? Those that we take into the bundle of our days, we can hang on to.
HLC: We have to. You know, we've got a wonderful example. God's been hanging on to us for long time. And if we don't act like Him, why we've got to be persistent. We've got to stay in there and keep working at it. This whole business gets to be so exciting.
HB: Part of the discipline that enables us to do this with our peers and our spouses and all the rest is taking on somebody less fortunate, somebody in trouble...
HLC: Dad has a beautiful phrase about that. He says, go out and get yourself somebody that's younger than you are, and spend energy and time- not somebody you're responsible for, not somebody you've got to do it for, not somebody you are already doing things for, but somebody that's outside of your little world and help them. Make their life richer; make their life fuller. Give them assistance, maybe just encouragement. It may be money, it may be whatever you've got- talent, suggestions, prayer. Thousands of things you can do with people, young people. Or, he says, if you don't want to work with a young person- then go get an old person who's not in your family and make their life richer.
Many people do this. They do it in hospitals; they do it in rest homes; they do it in all kinds of places. This is wonderful- not in the things that people see, but private things that you work out with individuals. And if you don't know any old people, I will be glad to volunteer.
HB: You also found, not only in the readings, but in the fact of the gift that your father had, something very special to share, didn't you? That this was more than just a wonder, a phenomenon -something was being transacted in the quiet of those readings that held promise for a lot of us- for all of us-that I felt was a part of the glory, part of the hope, part of the promise that you kept trying to tell us about- not just that Edgar Cayce did this and did that, but that God has business to do with us.
HLC: Edgar Cayce came, I think, to help prepare a way for this consciousness to develop in the earth. And I wanted to help, of course. But the thing that strikes you almost immediately (and I even mentioned it SO years ago), is that Edgar Cayce was saying and challenging from the very first readings that this was not unique, was not a phenomenon, was not different. It was simply possible for us all. We all had this quality, and it's the quality of a spiritual nature. It's the soul, and it's within us all.
The Edgar Cayce material has this focus and emphasis on the spiritual nature of us, and the tremendous capacity that we all have to reach far beyond ourselves. We all can heal, if we want to heal, if that's our purpose, if that's our goal, if we become channels for it. And so it's important to keep this in mind, back of all the principles of healing- it's not just a manipulation of a place in your spine. It's not just a rubbing and making you feel good. It's this whole business of the healing that is possible- not just the physical but the emotional, and the whole pattern that becomes involved in any type of manipulative therapy.
HB: Hugh Lynn, when you speak about our being custodians of the love and grace and helpfulness of God in our relationships with those to whom we bind ourselves, I wonder if you're not talking about something as potent, ultimately, as any kind of reading. Many people who are critics of A.R.E. say, "Well they just keep going around and around those readings. They're studying the works of someone who's dead." These critics are not looking and listening perhaps to the kind of thing you've just said, that every time we love and pray and reach and are reached, we enter into a transaction- potentially - as deep as those readings. Is that true in its essence?
HLC: I think, of course, we're taking God at the face value that He can work and does work through us and that He challenges every one of us. And 1 think He's constantly reaching for us. Constantly in touch and we don't know it. We've slowed down so that we really don't recognize the connection. We've lost it. We've lost touch. And I think as we begin to be more sensitive, it begins to flow, and we begin to understand that He is using us in a very direct way.
HB: Those last few sentences are as near to the core of you as anything I know- that you're always showing, saying, yelling, pushing, hoping that we'll catch on to this- that He's reaching for us and through us all the time. You really mean this, don't you?
HB: We have a treasure handed to us, given to us that we can work with. Part of your job was to get out there and yell a bit ahead of us, and I hear you saying that we've got to grab it and run with it, with all the energy we've got.
This interview was published in the March/April 2006 issue of Venture Inward in honor of the A.R.E.'s 75th Anniversary.