Edgar Cayce on Reincarnation
Reincarnation is the belief that each of us goes through a series of lifetimes for the purpose of spiritual growth and soul development.
For the 20 years following the first mention of reincarnation in Edgar Cayce’s readings in 1923, the subject of reincarnation appeared nearly 2,000 times. The readings Cayce gave that addressed the subject directly were called “Life readings.” In Life readings, Cayce was asked to look at the reading recipient’s current life and offer insights about its purpose, and this inevitably led to Cayce’s reading of their soul. A typical Life reading would start with something like: “Yes, we have the entity here, and those relations with the universe and universal forces, as are latent and exhibited in the present entity.”
The Cayce approach to reincarnation focused on practical ways of dealing with life in the here and now—by living, growing, and being of service in the present. As Cayce said, it isn’t nearly so important who we have been so much as it is how our past actions affect our present conditions and what opportunities and challenges we face because of it.
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 a 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!
—Edgar Cayce reading 5753-2
Reincarnation and Karma
Another key component from the readings is the idea of karma. The word karma is a Sanskrit term that means “work, deed, or act”; it has often been interpreted to mean “cause and effect.” The readings define the idea of karma as soul memory—a pool of information that the subconscious mind draws upon and can utilize in the present. (See also Edgar Cayce on the Akashic Records.) For example, an individual may meet a person and feel an instant liking or disliking for that person, for no apparent reason. A subconscious memory may be at the root cause of this initial reaction, but it’s also important to remember that we have control, through free will, of what we think and how we act on it.
The readings indicate that there really isn’t karma “between” people; instead, there is karma with one’s self. It is an interesting dynamic that we often meet ourselves through our relationships with others, and it is how we decide to “meet self” that will essentially determine our life’s experiences.
With free will, we can turn the challenges life presents to us into stepping-stones toward growth, or we can see them as obstacles and stumbling blocks. Either way, we reap what we have sown.
The good news is that Cayce says our talents and skills are never lost. If you have developed an ability in one life, you will still have it available to draw upon in the next. Our abilities are channeled in the directions that will best help us to fulfill our purpose for a particular lifetime.
Reincarnation and Life After Death
In Cayce’s explanation of reincarnation, when we die, the next life does not occur immediately, for our soul is given a chance to take stock of all it has come to know. Then, we decide for ourselves what lessons we need to learn next. If we are to return to the earthly plane, it is likely that our soul will choose to be among people we have known before--this is referred to as a soul group. We can choose to be born male or female in any given lifetime or, as Cayce often called it, “incarnation.” The choices made are such that our soul might best fulfill the specific purpose chosen for a particular lifetime. We select surroundings (parents and family, location, time period, etc.) that will best allow us to learn those lessons we need for completeness.
Reincarnation and Life’s Challenges
We may not always be able to understand why a certain situation was drawn to us, or perhaps we are disheartened by what we see as unfair suffering of others. The “whys” may never be known, and in fact, the “whys” may not be of primary importance. What is important is how we choose to respond. The way we respond to any given situation determines the next experience to be called into action.
Reincarnation is a concept found not only in Eastern thought but also all of the major religions of the world. It’s a concept that can allow us to have more compassion for one 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 reincarnation. 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 but that we might make better use of the present.