John Van Auken's Journey with this Work
Today, I paused to reflect on how my journey began with this wonderful organization and how I’ve benefited from its life-enhancing content—just like you have. I remember it as if it were yesterday, but in fact it was 54 years ago!
During my journey, the A.R.E. has changed in many ways, but its mission has remained the same: helping people change their lives for the better—physically, mentally, and spiritually—using information found in the Edgar Cayce readings.
And because of this, each year, I renew my financial commitment to the A.R.E. I want the A.R.E. and this Work to be around for the next 85 years. So, I ask you to join me in making a financial commitment to the organization that nourishes you in mind, body, and spirit.
You can do this by becoming a member of the Good Karma Club, our monthly giving club, where giving a little each month means a whole lot. Giving $20 dollars a month may be less than you spend on coffee. And just imagine how many souls you’ll be helping. You aren’t just limited to the $20 per month level; you can give $50 or $100 a month if you’re moved to do so. You choose the amount that feels the best to you.
I have been so very privileged to meet so many of you over the years and hear the stories that you’ve shared with me. Now, I would like to share my own journey with you . . .
It was 1962, I was 16 years old, just got my driver’s license, and was reading a life-changing book titled There Is a River—you may have heard about it (I’m smiling). How I came across this wonderful book is lost in the fog of time, but it touched me deeply and set my life on a happy path. Now this is not to say that I was without spiritual guidance, for my mother was quite a spiritual mystic herself (she just passed on at 97) and my father taught me how God could be found in Nature. (Dad is 96 and lives a few blocks down the street from me; he plays golf twice a week!)
I did not immediately join the Cayce organization, because I had to finish high school and then go off to military service. It was the era of Vietnam and the draft. Fortunately I had some good karma when it came to war. When I came out of Boot Camp for the Naval Air, I saw two buses waiting for us. One was a bright, silver Trailways and the other was a grey Navy bus that was carrying those of us who were going to Vietnam. I looked at my orders and saw the name Pensacola and naively thought it was some place in Vietnam. I was heading toward the grey bus when the Boatswain (the boss) asked me where I was going. I said Pensacola in Vietnam. He laughed and said, "Van Auken, get on the silver bus, you’re going to Florida!" Out of 32 young men, only two of us got on that silver bus.
My good karma extended further when I got to Pensacola Naval Air Station. There was a big, bad Marine Sergeant handing out the job assignments, and they were mostly bad jobs. When it came my turn, an elderly lady came into the room and said, "OK, Mike, you can take your break." She then called me forward and asked, "Where do you want to work, honey?" I was amazed but didn’t skip a beat, replying, "The airport and air operations!" That was where the action was. And she stamped my orders to air operations. I was thrilled.
It did not stop there. Only two years into my required duty, the Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, offered to let certain active duty personnel go to college if we agreed to be in the Reserves for four years so that he could call us back to active duty anytime he needed us. I chose that offer even though it forced me to extend my obligation to the Navy. Some four years later, there was an envelope in my mailbox from the Department of the Navy. It was my honorable discharge! I was surprised, because I had forgotten that I was still in the Navy!
I was attending the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, when I reread There Is a River, and subsequently read The Sleeping Prophet, Many Mansions, Dreams: Your Magic Mirror, Meditation: Gateway to Light, and every other Cayce book I could find.
The only Cayce "A Search for God" Study Group was in Newport News, Va., about 20 miles from my campus. It was Edgar Ball’s group that had been meeting for years. When I walked in the door, I saw a room filled with grey-haired old people (like me now)! I hesitated, but I could see in their eyes what I was seeking, so I began attending weekly and meditating with them. Back on campus, I was meditating most every afternoon after classes to achieve "deep meditation," which Cayce described as a conscious awareness of the presence of God and the Creative Forces—the consciousness that Jesus Christ had and that Cayce called Christ-Consciousness.
After many months of trying, I experienced the breakthrough. One afternoon, I was sitting in a semi-lotus position with my back against the wall, going through the meditation steps carefully and expectantly, when it happened.
My body, mind, and soul were enlivened with the Life Force and an awareness of the infinite, eternal Spirit of God. When the meditation ended, I sat for probably another hour in the afterglow of that life-changing meditation. Then, I reached for my meager checkbook and wrote a $1,000 check to the A.R.E. That was a lot of money for a student getting through college on the G.I. Bill! When my then-girlfriend learned of this, she suspected my priorities were not hers and stopped seeing me. But I was so happy, that didn’t bother me.
On weekends, I would ride my motorcycle (it was all I could afford) to the A.R.E. headquarters in Virginia Beach, about 60 miles from my campus, for more study and training. It was a time when Hugh Lynn Cayce, the eldest son of Edgar, wanted to meet with young people to help them with their dreams and meditations. It was at one of these meetings that he read one of my dreams and decided to hire me! Here is that dream:
I woke in a huge orchard where Hugh Lynn was leading me through the orchard. The trees in this orchard had the most beautiful fruit I had ever seen but, the trees themselves were gnarled and ugly. Hugh Lynn said to me, "Our job here is to change the trees without damaging the fruit." I turned to him in shock and said, "That’s impossible." He smiled and replied, "That is our job here." I turned back to the trees and then began reflecting on how we might do that seemingly impossible assignment.
When Hugh Lynn finished reading this dream, he told me to go to the Human Resources Department and tell them that he said to hire me. Well, you can imagine how that went over with the manager of Human Resources. Despite his initial dismay, he hired me, and I have been working here ever since. I was 24 years old. My first job was sorting zip codes in the mail department for $2.20/hour. My dad was initially upset with me, but when I told him that I was very happy, he supported me. It wasn’t long before I became a printer for A.R.E. and began printing every book the A.R.E. Press published (and reading them as they were coming off my printing press).
After some time, I became manager of the A.R.E. Press and a member of the A.R.E. Publishing Committee. Eventually, I became a director and continue in that role today.
Initially, Hugh Lynn was my boss and, after him, Charles Thomas Cayce became the president of the organization. When I first came to the A.R.E., Charles Thomas and I were both in our mid-twenties. We both enjoyed spending summers at A.R.E. Camp in a lovely valley in those magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. At Camp, we were out in the fresh air of the beautiful wilderness. The nighttime stars were a hundred times brighter than back in the city. We loved all the activities of camping in the mountains with like-minded souls—dreaming, meditating, hiking, and playing.
One day, a lovely young lady from California with the old-fashioned name of Doris came to Camp for an Atlantic University session. She and I met a few times, meditated together, and then when I returned to my job at headquarters, I found out that she worked in the A.R.E. Library as a research librarian. Well, as you can imagine, one thing led to another, and we grew to love one another, and in our early thirties we were moved to marry and grow a family.
Throughout our marriage, we used the wisdom in the Cayce readings for everything from how to ideally conceive and raise children to how best to cook vegetables! Remember Patapar paper? It was Cayce’s way to retain the valuable vitamins, minerals, and natural juices in vegetables.
We had three children. There were many family chats about the purpose for life’s journey and the importance of soul growth. We talked about how we could be better people, spouses, parents, coworkers, and friends. We prayed and meditated together and attended many of the programs put on by the Association. We took our children to family sessions at A.R.E. Camp. All of this helped each of us grow as souls as well as stewards of this rare and important organization. Our eldest son, James, is now the director of Atlantic University!
If there was one key obligation we each felt personally, it was our role as stewards of the Cayce organization and its mission. We worked diligently to keep the Association fiscally sound and a source of help to souls seeking guidance physically, mentally, and spiritually. Doris was an accomplished pianist and played at a fundraiser for the organization. In my role as director, I also sought to raise contributions to support this work, this light on the hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, once home to ancient Atlantis. I remember how we used to talk about past lives in Atlantis and Egypt and other important time periods in humanity’s soul growth. And we were all so thankful that the A.R.E. was here today for us as our resource and sustenance for soul growth.
I know the information and inspiration in the Edgar Cayce readings has touched your life too, as it has mine and my family’s. I hope you will join me in making a donation today to keep this light on for other souls seeking a better life physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Yours in keeping the light on for others,
John Van Auken, Director
A.R.E. and Edgar Cayce Foundation
P.S. Please join the Good Karma Club today with a donation of $20 or more per month to ensure the A.R.E. is here to help folks for the next 85 years.