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 Interviews with People Who Make a Difference : The Evolving Cayce Legacy 
 
Interview with Charles Thomas Cayce
   as interviewed by Daniel Redwood DC

Dr. Charles Thomas Cayce, a soft-spoken, sensitive, and thoughtful man in his early fifties, is keeping alive a family legacy spanning back three generations to his grandfather, Edgar Cayce (1877-1945), the best-known and most widely-respected psychic of modern times.

A child psychologist who has done extensive work with psychic young people, Cayce is the President of the Edgar Cayce Foundation, and serves on the executive board of the Association for Research and Enlightenment. Both organizations are headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Both in Virginia Beach and in outreach programs throughout the United States and much of the western world, the A.R.E. sponsors programs in such areas as holistic health, meditation, dreams, reincarnation, and spiritual healing. Central to its mission is the dissemination of the material in the more than 14,000 psychic readings given by Edgar Cayce. The A.R.E. Library, where the readings are preserved and catalogued, contains what is reputed to be the largest collection of metaphysical and holistic health works in existence.

In this interview with Dr. Daniel Redwood, Dr. Cayce speaks with characteristic presence of mind and absence of pretension. In addition to answering questions about his grandfather's work, he tells the touching, personal story of his first experience with meditation, as a young child cradled in his father's arms in the wee hours of the night. His comments on the Edgar Cayce predictions of earth changes are also of exceptional interest.


DR:
For you, what is the central message in Edgar Cayce's work?

CHARLES THOMAS CAYCE: For most people who come in contact with the work of my grandfather, the central message is that there is more to us than the physical body. Edgar Cayce for the most part gave individual readings for people with specific problems. He was not so much responding to general questions with discourses on how to treat this physical illness or that kind of interpersonal relationship, but responding to specific individual questions.

To a large extent, the people who came to him with those questions were wrestling with that basic issue. Their physical body was hurting, or they had just had a death in the immediate family, or a divorce, or some other of the sorts of crises that are age-old, and typical in our culture. The message in the Cayce readings is: "There is more than this." More than your heart problem (that is, your physical heart problem), more than this or that. He talked about this in many different ways, and made suggestions about how to better come to know the "more," call it spirit or soul or whatever.

DR: Thousands of the Cayce readings dealt with information intended to aid in healing the sick. The holistic emphasis on body, mind, and spirit as an indivisible unity was highly unusual for its time, and set the stage for so much that came later. When the AMA Journal had an editorial on holistic health several years ago, it dated the movement's inception to the early years of Edgar Cayce. How is the A.R.E. preserving and developing this healing legacy today, particularly through the A.R.E. Clinic in Arizona, and the Reilly School of Massotherapy in Virginia Beach?

CHARLES THOMAS CAYCE: The clinic in Phoenix was established by two medical doctors, a husband and wife, Gladys and Bill McGarey. They had gotten very interested in trying to apply some of the treatments and suggestions from the Cayce readings in their medical practice. They had six children and an ongoing practice in Phoenix, and weren't ready to move to Virginia Beach, so they worked with my father, Hugh Lynn Cayce, to set up a clinic in Arizona to work with and test the ideas in the Cayce readings. That has now been going for about 20 years, and has grown from a staff of two to a staff of seventy, with all sorts of health care professionals involved now: massotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, and biofeedback technicians, nurses, medical doctors, and many others. They have broadened their area of interest beyond the Cayce readings, to acupuncture and the whole field of holistic medicine.

In fact, the A.R.E. Clinic and the health care professionals who were connected with the clinic, either through conferences held by the clinic or as members of the staff, to a large extent were responsible for helping to establish the American Holistic Medical Association. A more recent focus in working with the health information in the readings, is the establishment of the school of massotherapy here in Virginia Beach, which has a 600-hour curriculum. In addition to learning massage, there are courses on nutrition, meditation, dreams, and of course anatomy, physiology, and so forth. There is a wide spectrum covered. I often think of the school of massotherapy as a school of healing, or a school around which a philosophy of healing is built and taught. The Cayce readings are a central part of that.

DR: Edgar Cayce's most famous readings are probably those dealing with holistic health, reincarnation, and earth changes. Many of the conferences in Virginia Beach focus on these topics. The ongoing A.R.E. study groups, on the other hand, seem to deal more with the moral and spiritual dimensions of day-to-day living. How important are these study groups to the A.R.E.?

CHARLES THOMAS CAYCE: They are at the heart of what the A.R.E. is about. The study groups started in the early 1930s, when a group of people who were working with Edgar Cayce, living nearby and meeting with him pretty much every day as he was giving readings, decided as a group to get some readings and try to work together on their psychic development. Out of this came the Search For God study groups.

The readings that Edgar Cayce gave on this subject of psychic development had as a focus the idea that psychic development needs to come as a kind of side effect of spiritual growth. The focus should not be so much on learning how to see auras, or learning this or that psychic ability, but on the spiritual. As that happens, the psychic sensitivity will be enhanced. Two books, A Search For God, Volumes One and Two, each containing twelve chapters, form a sequence of steps for discussion and application for spiritual growth. The first chapter in the first book is not "How To See Auras." Instead, it's "Meditation."

There are a couple of thousand study groups meeting weekly around the country. It's not a class with a teacher or a leader. It's more a discussion group format, with everyone providing input based on their personal experiences.

A major important element in the Search For God groups, is the decision by group members to work with a particular tool or idea in the upcoming week, and to come back the following week and talk about how we did. That moves the group from a discussion group to one of application. There is a continual testing and applying of the ideas that are being discussed. The most exciting discussions I've had with people about what they have found to be helpful in the Cayce readings, have come with people who are plugged into these regular Search For God meetings.

DR: Many people have understood the Cayce readings to predict some fairly apocalyptic earth changes in the relatively near future, including the destruction of much of California and the submerging of many coastal lands, where so much of the world's population is centered. How accurate have the Cayce readings been thus far with regard to earth changes, and how seriously should people take these warnings? Is any of it inevitable?

CHARLES THOMAS CAYCE: The Cayce readings were, with a few exceptions, not very specific in terms of dates for earth changes. There were certainly some specific geographic areas talked about -p; Japan and Southern California among them. The dates were not given in a very specific way, although there was a period between 1958 and 1998 talked about often, as a time of accelerated change, a time when there would be changes in many aspects of our culture. Many people have interpreted the Cayce readings to suggest that these earth changes would occur between '58 and '98, particularly in the latter half of the 40-year period.

One specific date and location that's often quoted is the prediction that evidence of Atlantis would be discovered as a result of land rising off the coast of Florida, near Bimini, around '68 or '69. This reading was given in the '30s or early '40s. Many people interpreted this to mean that land would arise and the lost continent and civilization of Atlantis would be discovered, that it would pop up from the ocean at that time. That really didn't happen, as far as anyone can tell, unless it popped up and then popped back down.

So either that was a mistake, an inaccuracy with regard to earth changes in the Cayce readings, or there is some other interpretation of "land rising." In any event, every time earth changes were spoken about in the Cayce readings, it was almost like an Old Testament prophecy, in the sense of admonishing us that our thoughts can and do influence physical matter. It makes a difference what we think and how we act. It makes a difference not only in the mental realm, but in the physical realm.

The readings were saying, way back in the '20s and '30s, that if we don't get our act together, the influence can be such as to even produce earth changes. The readings would go on to say that just as our thoughts can produce changes in physical matter, they can also prevent those things from happening. So the Cayce readings clearly do not suggest a kind of fatalistic approach to earth changes. They suggest that with a more constructive attitude toward our planet and toward each other with our thoughts, earth changes will not be necessary.

With regard to the '58 to '98 period, there is another part of the Cayce readings that suggests the Second Coming at the end of this age. There are references in the Cayce readings to a "New Age" beginning around this time, and of course that term is being tossed around lots these days.

So there are two scenarios in the Cayce readings; one an apocalyptic scenario of major destruction as a result of earth changes or perhaps misuse of technology, and the other a New Age in the most positive and perhaps esoteric sense -p; a Second Coming of the Christ or some other blossoming of spiritual reawakening that will manifest in a very profound way.

The Cayce readings address both of these possibilities, stating essentially that it can go either way. But the constant in the answers to both those sorts of questions is that for you or for me, and I guess this can be misinterpreted, for you and me it doesn't really matter. Whatever the future may bring, our job is to become more spiritually attuned, so that we can hear spirit speak clearly to us as to what we should be doing, regardless of what happens. We are called upon to get our act together as individuals with regard to how we are going to help our fellow man. Those two basic steps, of attunement and service, are crucial.

DR: I have seen certain individuals whose psychic abilities were remarkable. I have seen others who present themselves as psychics and have been unimpressive. How does one distinguish a truly gifted psychic from a charlatan, or someone who is sincere but deluding himself?

CHARLES THOMAS CAYCE: There are several helpful measuring sticks, which need to be used in combination. We should take an approach similar to what we might do when deciding to visit a chiropractor, a dentist, or some other health care professional. We get recommendations from people we trust. I don't think it's usually the best strategy to simply flip open the Yellow Pages and throw a dart at the thing, you know? Or to go by who happens to be most available, or in closest proximity. We need to get positive recommendations from people we are on the path with.

We also need to evaluate whether the person who is professing to have psychic abilities is following their own advice. If they are talking about changes in diet, and meditating regularly, and they are not doing that in their own life, then a major question mark is raised, at least for me.

It is also important that the information the person is purportedly giving, must point beyond itself. At a gut level, it needs to awaken something inside us that points to something higher. What chakra feels stimulated when we are with the person, or when we hear them speak? If it's not one of the higher centers, then I think questions should be raised. Not that people with psychic ability are going to score 100% on all of these criteria, but these are the sorts of questions we need to ask ourselves when trying to evaluate people with psychic ability.

DR: Speaking as psychologist and as a Cayce, how healthy would you say it is to base one's actions entirely on the advice of a psychic?

CHARLES THOMAS CAYCE: I would never do that. The Cayce readings are really clear about this. There is great emphasis placed on our responsibility for what I call "doing our homework." The readings that Edgar Cayce gave rarely, if ever, made decisions for people. People tried to ask for decisions: "Should I get a divorce?" or "Should I change to this job?" But virtually never did the Cayce readings make those decisions for people.

The readings suggested that our purpose on the earth is to learn to make our will one with God's will. This is a simple little phrase, but very complex when we try to apply it. I think if we forego the opportunity to make decisions, and try to get psychics to do that for us, then we are foregoing opportunities to grow spiritually on the earth, forgoing our major purpose for being in the earth.

So I would see using sources of psychic information, whether it's our own, in terms of dreams or insights as a result of meditation, or whether it's from someone else, as an adjunct to our own mental faculties and our own choice-making faculties.

DR: How can we best nurture the intuitive capacities in ourselves and our children?

CHARLES THOMAS CAYCE: Each of your questions is worthy of a day-long answer. I hope I'm picking the high points when I address them. With regard to children, that question was asked over and over in the Cayce readings. There were parents whose children may have been having psychic experiences, or who themselves had been helped by the readings and were interested in sharing those sorts of concepts with their children. They would ask, "How should we do this?"

The most frequent answer was, to paraphrase it in more contemporary language, "Don't lay a heavy trip on the children. Teach by example rather than precept." I remember growing up in a family where this kind of thing was talked about all the time. I assumed that everyone talked this way. We would talk about dreams at the breakfast table. There was a meditation time every day. People would always be visiting our home, talking about reincarnation and psychic experiences. I heard my father talk about meditation from the time I remember my parents talking about anything. I came to lectures at the A.R.E. as a child of 6, 7, or 8, about meditation and similar subjects. I don't even remember my parents pushing me about starting to meditate myself, or putting me in classes to learn to meditate, or anything like that.

My father was meditating at 2 in the morning for an extended period when I was a child. We had just moved to a different house. I guess I was 7 or 8 years old. He would get up and come by the kids' rooms, down the hall from their bedroom, and use this unfinished bathroom that was like a closet. He would close the door, and use that area to meditate. Sometimes I would wake up when he would come down the hall and I would go to the door and listen. Several times I would call to him and ask what he was doing. He would say something about meditation, but I couldn't understand what he was saying.

One day, one morning, I woke up and he was in the room meditating. I stood by the door, and I was fascinated. I couldn't hear anything in the room, and I kept wondering what he was doing, why he would do that every day. Anyway, on that particular morning I sat down outside the door to wait, and I fell asleep. He finished meditating, and opened the door, and I kind of fell over into the room. He picked me up and carried me out into the hall. He sat down on the floor, and it was dark. It was a linoleum floor, and I remember it feeling cold on my feet. He sat cross-legged against the wall, and kind of tucked me into his lap, and said something like, "Well, let's just sit here a minute and see what this meditation thing is about."

The next thing I remember is that I saw light. My chin was against my chest, and rather than raise my head, I just rolled my eyes up to look at the ceiling lights, to see if the lights were on. I was kind of half asleep and didn't feel like raising my head. I looked up, and the lights were not on. I felt very warm and tucked in, and that's the last thing I remember before waking up in bed the next morning. I remember lying there in bed that morning thinking that I now knew what meditation was.

I later asked my father how he did that. I wanted him to do it again! [Laughter]. He said he didn't do anything special. He said that what I needed to remember, as a possible future parent, was that parents must be sensitive to times when children are particularly open to an experience. It may be in the middle of the night when their brother or sister is sick, or at some other very inopportune time for the parent.

There is no question that it would have been easier for my father to go back to bed, to pick me up and put me to bed when I rolled in the room. He had to go to work the next day. But he sensed that here was a chance to be with me and experience meditation. And that meant so much more than all the words he had tried to say to me about meditation. I think that if they had pushed with any of this stuff as I was growing up  I ran from it for a long time, and I think I would still be running if they had pushed. Parents need to be very careful. Many of us, whether we're parents or whatever role we're playing, as we get involved with these sorts of ideas, often we get very excited and enthusiastic and we tend to want to beat other people over the head, sort of force-feed them, proselytizing. That doesn't work, and it especially doesn't work for children.

To preach at them and push, especially if we are not practicing these things ourselves, just causes more problems.

DR: I have heard that you and your family live on a farm with sheep and no television. Does city life leave something to be desired?

CHARLES THOMAS CAYCE: The short answer is yes. In my opinion, city life does leave something to be desired. The no-TV is primarily the work, the instigation, of my wife. I don't want to knock TV, but we are concerned about both the content of the programs and the energy involved in children planting themselves in front of a television for inordinate amounts of time.

We both work. My wife works part-time as a social worker at a hospital in Norfolk, and we don't have a lot of time together as a family. To use up that time with any of us, or all of us, sitting in front of this little box looking at pictures rather than having other experiences that are for us more filled with life and love, is kind of a waste.

With the farm, for me it is a great counterbalance to spending lots of time with people. To be able to dig in the dirt, or milk a cow as I used to. We have a real menagerie with all sorts of animals and birds. To interact with them provides a balance. I think a farm is also a wonderful place for children to grow up and experience all of the major cycles of life -p; birth and death and the bonding between mothers and infants. It's a great environment for children to get a healthy taste of life and death.

We are really committed to growing our own food, trying to work with our diet in that way. The farm environment fulfills many needs for us. I feel really lucky to be able to be in that situation.

DR: What is your fondest dream?

CHARLES THOMAS CAYCE: Let me relate that to the A.R.E., my fondest dream for the A.R.E. That would be for the A.R.E. to go out of business. I really mean that. That has problems connected with it, because I certainly feel a responsibility for the people who are working here and all of that. But I think the role of the A.R.E., through my grandfather's readings, is to help people awaken to their spiritual nature, to help people see ways to manifest that spiritual nature in this physical world. I think there are lots of structures around that are trying to help us do that. Certainly that's a mission of the church. It would just be wonderful if that were to happen more and more, to the point where those structures weren't necessary, including the A.R.E. So it's certainly idealistic, but that would be very exciting.

DR: To have succeeded to the point where the institution was no longer necessary.

CHARLES THOMAS CAYCE: Yes.

DR: I have one more question. What major new endeavors is the A.R.E. involved with at this time?

CHARLES THOMAS CAYCE: One is a Master's Degree in Transpersonal Studies, which was just certified by the State of Virginia. We are now offering this degree under the auspices of Atlantic University, which started here as a full-time university back in the early '30s and now exists as simply this one master's level program. I am particularly excited about it because I think it will afford more of an opportunity for both faculty and students to do research on ideas in the Cayce readings, particularly from a comparative perspective. Then we can make that research available, through articles in our magazine or in other journals. The master's theses that will be done, the preparation by the faculty for the courses they'll be teaching, will provide a major additional angle of research on the ideas in the Cayce readings.

I am also, from a research standpoint, excited about the process of putting the readings and all of the corollary information on computer. The software allows for things like key-word searches, so that you in a matter of seconds can have the computer scan the entire body of 14,000 reading for the information you're seeking. This is fantastic for health care professionals, other researchers, and interested A.R.E. members.

Daniel Redwood is a chiropractor and writer who lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He is the author of A Time to Heal: How to Reap the Benefits of Holistic Health (A.R.E. Press), and is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. He can be reached by e-mail at Redwoods@infi.net.

©1990, 1995 Daniel Redwood

   
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 About The Author
Daniel Redwood, DC, is a Professor at Cleveland Chiropractic College - Kansas City. He is editor-in-chief of Health Insights Today (www.healthinsightstoday.com) and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of the......moreDaniel Redwood DC
 
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