The following discussion of Edgar Cayce’s understanding of the soul and spirit comes from the great Cayce scholar, John Van Auken (www.johnvanauken.com). Van Auken is a former director of the Association of Research and Enlightenment, the Edgar Cayce research foundation. He is editor of Living in the Light and author of books, audio tapes, and videos. He’s an expert in Egyptian, Hebrew, and Christian mysticism, and is a skillful teacher of meditation from Kundalini to his unique passage in consciousness. He practices the techniques he teaches and has become a popular speaker, leading retreats, workshops, and tours, and writes regularly as a columnist.
John Van Auken is the author of many outstanding books on the Cayce readings including: Born Again & Again (1996), Spiritual Breakthrough: Handbook to God-Consciousness (1996), Ancient Egyptian Mysticism and Its Relevance Today (1999), Ancient South America (2002), Edgar Cayce’s Atlantis (2006), From Karma to Grace (2010), Edgar Cayce and the Kabbalah (2010), Toward a Deeper Meditation (2007), Edgar Cayce’s Tales of Egypt (2011), 2038: The Great Pyramid Timeline Prophecy (2012), Edgar Cayce on the Spiritual Forces Within You (2014), Edgar Cayce’s Amazing Interpretation of The Revelation (2015), Hidden Teachings of Jesus (2015), Reincarnation & Karma (2015), A Broader View of Jesus Christ (2015), Edgar Cayce on the Mysterious Essenes (2016), Passage in Consciousness (2016), Prophecies Converging in Our Times (2017), Ancient Egyptian Visions of Our Soul Life (2018), and Edgar Cayce and the Secret of the Golden Flower (2020).
Edgar Cayce Readings @ 1971, 1993-2017
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“… be best that these be classified, that these be not misunderstood in their relations one to another.” [Edgar Cayce reading 5756-4]
2. The spirit
According to Cayce, spirit is the life force, the vital spark that animates life. He said:
“Spirit is the spark, or portion of the Divine that is in every entity.” [Edgar Cayce reading 3744-5]
But spirit is not just a force. It is a consciousness with individualness, though not nearly as individual as we are in our physical condition. Jesus tells the woman at the well that:
“God is a spirit, and seeks same to worship Him.” (Jesus Christ, John 4:23)
[This is] a call for us to get into our spirit if we would really connect with God. According to Cayce, our spirit self is, has been, and always will be before the throne of God. It is perfect, unblemished, made in the image of Elohim, as recorded in Genesis 1. Cayce says that it is a thing apart from anything earthy, and does not descend into the realms of Earth unless we lift ourselves up to it and connect with it. Even then, it remains shielded from earthly influences.
That spark Cayce spoke of is the light and life of mind, or consciousness. Within the one, universal, collective mind of God are infinite points of consciousness, spirits like the Great Spirit. The consciousness of our spirit is the superconscious, a level of consciousness that is nearly indistinguishable from God’s consciousness. Psalm 82 expresses the situation in the spirit realm this way:
“God stands in the congregation of God; He judges among the gods; and later, You are gods, sons of the Most High.” (Psalms 82:1-6)
It’s important to realize that these sons are spirits, not bodies; male and female energies are combined. As Jesus explained:
“In heaven there is neither marriage nor giving in marriage.” (Jesus Christ, Matthew 22:30)
The phrase the congregation of God reflects how intimately connected the godlings are to their Creator. This collective nature of the Creator is also expressed in the use of the plural word Elohim for the name of God. The Creator includes all of life; nothing exists outside of the Whole. Fascinatingly, the author of Genesis changes the name of God in the second chapter to Yahweh Elohim, which most English Bibles translate as Lord God. It is this aspect of God that creates our soul self, different from the spirit self that Elohim made in Genesis 1:26. Yahweh Elohim forms us from the dust of the ground and breathes the breath of life into us, and we become living souls (Genesis 2:7).
3. The soul
Cayce sees soul as the developing portion of our whole nature. It is ever changing, growing, and learning, and uses free will to explore, create, test, discover, and more. Soul is the ultimate companion to the Creator; a true companion, because it has the free will to choose to be a companion or not. The soul is also uniquely able to bridge the gulf between the spirit realms and the physical realms, between our divine, godly self and our earthly self. The mind of the soul is the subconscious. It may operate independently of the Collective Consciousness of the Creator. (At least, it is allowed to think it does. After all, there is no way to actually be outside of the Whole.) Or, it may act in harmony and conscious at-onement with the Collective Consciousness.
Question: “Mr. Cayce, what is the soul of a body?” Cayce: “That which the Maker gave to every entity or individual in the beginning, and which is seeking the home again or place of the Maker.” [Edgar Cayce reading 3744-1]
Cayce: “All souls were created in the beginning, and are finding their way back to whence they came.” Question: “Where does the soul go when fully developed?” Cayce: “To its Maker.” [Edgar Cayce reading 3744-5]
From Cayce’s perspective:
“The study of subconscious, subliminal, psychic, soul forces, is and should be the great study for the human family. Through self, man will understand his Maker when he understands his relationship to his Maker. He will only understand that through himself. What one thinks continually, they become; what one cherishes in their heart and mind they make a part of the pulsation of their heart, through their own blood cells, and build in their own physical, that which his spirit and soul must feed upon.” [Edgar Cayce reading 3744-5]
I found Cayce’s comments on death and communicating with the dead to be helpful in understanding spirit and soul. For example, consider this reading:
“When the soul passes from the physical body, the subconscious mind, which never forgets, is then as the sensuous mind of the soul body; the spirit or superconscious mind becomes the subconscious of the soul. While incarnate, the sensuous mind is what we call the conscious mind. But after death or, for that matter, even during sleep (for Cayce says, sleep is a shadow of death), the active mind becomes the soul’s mind, the subconscious.” [Edgar Cayce reading 5756-4]
Question: “Is it possible for this body, Edgar Cayce, in this state to communicate with anyone who has passed into the spirit world?” Cayce: “The spirit of all that have passed from the physical realm remain about the realm until their development carries them onward or are returned [reincarnated] for their development here. When they are in the realm of communication or remain within this sphere, any may be communicated with. There are thousands about us here at present.” [Edgar Cayce reading 3744-1]
That’s an unsettling thought, isn’t it? But the key point here is the phases of development that may lead us back into incarnate life or on beyond this sphere altogether and out of the reach of communication. I remember a reading he gave to Mort Blumenthal in which Mort was regularly communicating with his deceased father through his dreams. On one occasion, Cayce informed Mort that his father had actually moved beyond this world, but Mort could still use the dream image of his father as a symbol for good advice. In another reading for Mort, Cayce explained that the waxen figures Mort had seen in one of his deeper dreams were the remnant casings left behind by entities that had moved beyond this world and the realms around it.
4. Experiencing soul
A few years ago I decided to follow Cayce’s example and try to get into a deep attunement to the Universal Consciousness to better understand the difference between my soul and me. Over a period of a month I came to feel (that’s the best word I can use to describe how the knowing or understanding came to me) what the difference was. It was paradoxically a significant difference, and yet these two aspects of myself were very, very close to one another. One morning as I was awaking from a dream, I experienced firsthand the difference between my outer self and my soul self. I’ve shared this many times, but it seems appropriate to repeat here.
I was dreaming a fascinating dream. As I came closer to waking consciousness, I realized how full my bladder was and decided to go empty it, then come back to bed and process the dream. Of course, when I returned to bed, the dream was gone. I had absolutely no recollection of its content. As I lay there, wondering how this could be possible, the dream content returned! At that very moment I knew I had slipped back into my soul-self, my subconscious, and there was the dream. So subtle was the veil between my inner and outer self that I did not notice when I moved from one to the other. Yet, so opaque was the veil that I could not see back through it to my dreaming soul-mind. That was a great breakthrough for me. From that day on I worked at developing my ability to distinguish when I was shifting from conscious self to subconscious self, from earthly person to soul. But I also wanted to know firsthand the difference between my soul self and my spirit.
5. Experiencing spirit
A Cayce reading explaining the Biblical Book of the Revelation helped me understand the nature of our spirit. In his explanation Cayce noted that twice in the revelation the disciple John saw an angel appear, whom he bowed down to worship. But the angel would have none of this, saying:
Cayce explained that the godly-looking being, that angel, was in fact the spirit-self of Peter, who had promised John that he would endeavor to contact him after his demise. If we could see one another in our true spirit-self, we would appear so godly that we would bow down and worship. Yet, our spirit-self would retain enough of its individualness to speak to and guide us, as Peter did to John. Amazing, isn’t it? Of course, it is just this kind of talk that gets the evangelical Christians upset with us. We are saying that some aspect of us is in the image and likeness of God and is a godling within the one Most High God. The subtle but key point here is that we are not saying that we are God. Rather, we are a portion of God, our Creator. Cayce put it this way for Mort:
“Know that not only God is God… but self is a part of that Oneness.” [Edgar Cayce reading 900-181]
In my effort to personally experience my spirit self, I used the methods and maps that Cayce gave for going from physical consciousness through dimensions of consciousness to spiritual consciousness. I published an article on this in Venture Inward several years ago, subsequently wrote a book about it (Spiritual Breakthrough), and later wrote an illustrated manual (Passage in Consciousness). By practicing these methods I did experience what I perceived to be superconsciousness, a level of consciousness in proximity to or in oneness with God’s Universal Consciousness. During these sessions, which can be compared to deep meditation, I at times retained a sense of individualness while in the collective, universal condition. But at other times, I lost all sense of individualness and only after attempting to regain a sense of myself did I realize that I had lost individual consciousness, which caused me some concern about this practice. However, Cayce reassuringly explained to the practitioners he guided that they would indeed lose consciousness at times but that if they kept practicing, they would ultimately maintain semi-consciousness or even full consciousness during the transitions into the higher states of consciousness.
For me, it was as if my consciousness turned off a gravitational force that somehow maintained selfness, allowing my mind to slip into an infinite vacuum much like the difference between a contained planetary atmosphere and infinite, airless outer space. I assume this is what the Eastern seekers mean by entering the Void.
Miraculously, I was somehow able to turn the gravitational force of self-consciousness back on and recompose myself in a relatively sane and Earth-relevant condition. But, as so many near-death experience people report, once having touched the dimensions beyond this world, you are never quite the same.
Some sessions contained imagery beautiful, ethereal imagery. But some sessions were simply a matter of feeling a shift from individual, finite perception to universal, infinite awareness. Some sessions were quite energizing, invigorating, and inspiring; while other sessions were as still, quiet, and lifeless as death. Coming out of one of these death-like sessions required long transition times before normal consciousness and physical activity could be regained. It could take me from twenty minutes to two days to get back to my normal self again, depending, I suppose, on many factors, including how much I really wanted or needed to get back to my normal self.
The effects of these practice sessions were profound. Though I still had my daily personal issues to deal with my weaknesses and strengths, and certainly my karma I always felt that I had seen the other side of the mountain. Therefore, nothing could keep me from knowing that all was going to work out well in the end, despite how hard or disappointing the journey might be now. Paradise did exist. I knew it firsthand.
Stuart Dean, the manager of A.R.E.’s Study Group department, had a similar experience. He explained that he simply wanted to attune to the Source, had about ten different ways to describe that, but decided to just ask God to do it for him. And He did. Dean described what happened:
“I immediately found myself in a beautiful place, right next to the Light and Presence of God, where we are all living traces of His movement, yet still Him in essence. We are ourselves, yet also Him. I could feel it! All unique, but still Him. We all were open both to God and to connecting with each other, and there was nothing else except this! This was prior to inner and outer worlds, prior to space and time, prior to existence itself! This is the place where there are no limits, where peace is not yet disturbed, where surrender is natural, and where our life is wholly our relatedness to each other and to God. Then it came to me that these are our spirits, as opposed to our souls, which grow and develop. As spirits, we are eternally young, perfect, innocent, and happy. We are completely light and completely love. I felt like the first generation of the Sons of God, and that we still are, at our core, these spirits around the Throne. Creative energies before creation; with feelings of perfect willingness to cooperate with every other spirit, knowing that we are all units of One Love. I have always felt fairly close to my soul, but I never thought I would actually connect with my spirit. Now that I have, I can hardly get over how childlike and unafraid my spirit is, and how perfectly open it is to other people, recognizing them as Pure Selves, like itself. This is like having a little piece of God with me all the time.” (Stuart Dean, the manager of A.R.E.’s Study Group department)
I think this is the distinctive difference between the spirit and the soul. The soul is on a journey with many twists and turns in the road of life. But the spirit is high above the road, overarching it from beginning to end, and knows the peace that passes understanding, the contentment that is never shaken, the Paradise that is ours to enjoy forever. The great thing about this is that we may experience the Paradise while still on the road! The flesh is heavy and weak, but the spirit is willing and waiting. With a few simple techniques, a longing heart, and trust in God’s promise to meet us if we seek Him/Her, we can take a break from the often lonesome road and enter into the congregation of God.
6. Understanding the mind
From his deep attunement to the Mind of God, that Universal Consciousness, Edgar Cayce stated that mind is the light, the builder, and the bridge to liberation and enlightenment. Here is his perspective on the mind:
“The Spirit moved … and there was Light – Mind. The Light became the light of men.” [Edgar Cayce reading 1947-3]
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth. How? The Mind of God moved, and matter, form, came into being. Mind, then, in God the Father, is the builder. How much more, then, would or should Mind be the builder in the experience of those that have put on Christ or God, in Him, in His coming into the Earth?” [Edgar Cayce reading 262-78]
“Each entity finds itself in a three-dimensional phase of existence or experience: the world without, the world within, and the mind that may span or bridge the two.” [Edgar Cayce reading 1100-26]
He explained that life, all life, begins in the spirit, which is the creative force that brings all into existence. Then mind takes this life essence, and builds with it. Finally, the physical is the result:
“Mind the builder, the spirit the creator, the material [is] that created. Great truth! Keep it before you.” [Edgar Cayce reading 900-374]
It certainly is a powerful concept to keep before us. All outer things have their origin in the unseen spiritual forces, then find expression in the mind, and ultimately appear out here in the physical. So often we physical beings think that the outer, physical forces are the more powerful. But Cayce frequently encouraged us to accept that:
“… the unseen forces are greater than the seen.” [Edgar Cayce reading 900-243]
If we want to change something, it must begin in the spirit and the mind.
“That you think, that you put your Mind to work upon, to live upon, to feed upon, to live with, to abide with, to associate with in the mind, that your soul-body becomes! That is the law. That is the destiny.” [Edgar Cayce reading 262-78]
He expands upon this:
“Mind [is] the builder, the appreciator, the paralleler, the drawer of conclusions, the chooser…” – Edgar Cayce
7. The ideal is the mind’s navigator
“As you contemplate, as you meditate, as you look upon the Mind, know the Mind has many windows. And as you look out of your inner self, know where you are looking, [where] you are seeking. What is your ideal? What would you have your mind-body to become?” [Edgar Cayce reading 262-78]
In a deep contemplation session on this teaching, my deeper mind saw the ancient boat of Pharaoh, with its twenty-four oarsmen and the navigator’s hut on the bow. As I sought to know the meaning of this imagery, Cayce’s teaching about the twelve nobles before the Throne of God in the Book of the Revelation came to mind. He said that they represent the twelve paired cranial nerves (24) in our own heads! As these nerves turn their attention away from worldly pursuits and toward heavenly ones, they bring a new heaven and a new Earth, meaning a new mind, a new body. As I reflected on this, I realized that the twenty-four oarsmen on Pharaoh’s boat represented these same nerves and their ability to bring us across the barrier that the Nile River represented, that barrier between what the Egyptians called the land of the living, which is the place of the physically incarnate, and the land of the dead, the realm of the spiritually living. I realized that the navigator was indeed the ideal held as we sought to cross the barrier between this world and the spiritual.
“That upon which it [the mind] feeds it becomes. The most important experience of this or any individual entity is to first know what is the ideal — spiritually. Who and what is your pattern?” [Edgar Cayce reading 357-13]
Cayce frequently said that Christ is the consciousness and Jesus is the pattern. Jesus, for Cayce, is the ideal pattern for humans to use to build their own mind — just as one would use a pattern to make clothes from new fabric. Jesus exemplified a human at-one-with God and making that oneness manifest in his life among others. Cayce often noted that Jesus simply went around doing good according to God’s inner guidance to Him. An ideal way for all of us to live.
We have covered the topic of ideals in detail in a previous issue, but for our purposes here, consider this from Cayce:
“What, then, is an ideal? As concerning your fellow man, He gave, ‘As you would that others do to you, do you even so to them’; take no thought, worry not, be not overanxious about the body. For He knows what you have need of. In the place you are, in the consciousness in which you find yourself, is that which is needed today, now, for your greater, your better, your more wonderful unfoldment. This is that attitude of mind that puts away hates, malice, anxiety, jealousy. And it creates in their stead the fruits of the spirit: love, patience, mercy, longsuffering, kindness, gentleness. Against these there is no law. They break down barriers; they bring peace and harmony; they bring the outlook upon life of not finding fault because someone forgot, someone’s judgment was bad, someone was selfish today. These you can over-look, for so did He.” [Edgar Cayce reading 357-13]
Such a state of attitude, of mind, toward life sets up a powerful map for navigating oneself through the day’s challenges and opportunities. This is an ideal, a navigational star by which to guide oneself each day. With this ideal, the mind approaches every obstacle, every crosscurrent, every undertow, and winds its way through them by holding to the ideal, the map set before us as the best way. This is the power of an ideal held by mind as we live life. Yet, as we grow and learn, we may see the need to adjust our ideal. Cayce encouraged us to write our ideals down, but to do so in pencil. As we gain a greater understanding we see over the next mountain, we gain an increasingly better perspective of the whole truth, the way, and we adjust our ideal accordingly.
8. Thoughts are things
Another fundamental Cayce teaching is:
“Thoughts are things, and as their currents run they become miracles or crimes in the experiences of individual life.” [Edgar Cayce reading 906-3]
For the deeply attuned Cayce, thoughts were as real as actions. In fact, during his readings from the Book of Life, he had to strain to determine whether the person he was reading for had actually done something or had just thought about doing it!
“Thoughts are things; just as the Mind is as concrete as a post or tree … and the Akashic Record, the Book of Life, records them as such.” [Edgar Cayce reading 1581-1]
This is a hard one to hear. The first time I read it, it pained me to think how many times my thoughts had done harm to another and placed a negative influence in the Collective Mind. Watching our thoughts is important.
9. Watch self pass by
Cayce was once asked: How may I learn to know self as I am known? He answered:
“Being able to literally stand aside and watch self pass by! Take the time to occasionally be sufficiently introspective of that, that may happen in self’s relation to others, to see the reactions of others as to that as was done by self; for no man lives to himself, no man dies to himself … Be able, then, to see self as others see you. Stand aside and watch self pass by!” [Edgar Cayce reading 262-9]
This is a powerful learning tool. For Cayce, this was not just good mental advice, it was good physical advice:
“If the body will watch self and the reactions of the various foods or preparations, and draw a comparison from what may be termed a combination of all the various authorities, then the body will find what is best for self. See?” [Edgar Cayce reading 278-2]
Want to know the best diet for yourself? Watch how the various foods and cooking methods affect you. This information will be better than anyone else can give you, because it is revealed in your own body.
10. The subliminal mind
Dreams and meditations are two of Cayce most recommended means for fully engaging the power of our minds. According to Cayce, our subliminal mind will engage with our outer mind to review and discuss all influences:
“In this there is seen both the action of the subconscious and subliminal mind and the physical mind, reasoning together, as it were, of the past, present, and future conditions as relating to the mental attitude of the entity; for, as is seen in the final analysis of the real Mind, the Builder, and as this is presented in the view of the dreams, the meditations of the entity in those days when the inner consciousness of the entity built in the mental forces those conditions as would bring the great joy, peace, and happiness to the entity, these, as we see, took on physical forms in the mental aspirations of the entity.” – Edgar Cayce
Seek within ourselves through dreams, meditations, and deep reflections, and our subliminal mind will convey the insights.
Even God will help, as seen in this Cayce reading:
“Thus the individual entity finds … that the first creation of God, the mind, is the way; or the way through which light may come to the entity from the Father. Even as He brought to remembrance the promise, for memory brought in the light of consciousness is the outpouring of spirit. (Memory is the mind of the soul.) Keep not only the body clean, the mind pure, but in the light of the spiritual forces as aid — keep in at-onement with same.” – Edgar Cayce (Note: The parenthetical statement about memory is Cayce’s.)
11. Subconscious: the police
“The only real guide that may be relied upon is that subconscious force that is as the police to the entity, both in the physical, material, and in the spiritual realms. And, as this [the subconscious] will guide and direct the entity, in that same way and manner as the police in their regular capacity … in the physical life.” [Edgar Cayce reading 900-243]
What a fascinating concept. Our subconscious is our conscience, our policing power.
“That is, the police, the subconscious mind, represent the law that guides, directs, and that way upon which the entity, which any entity, may rely for the enforcement of that which will keep in peace, in war, in any condition, that straight way for the best interest of each and every individual.” [Edgar Cayce reading 900-243]
However, even as physical police departments can become corrupt, so can our subconscious police become misdirected by powerful suggestions of self-doubt, self-condemnation.
“In the same way and manner as these (the police) may become subject to all of the vicissitudes that are ever present within the conditions in life, so may the subconscious forces, misdirected, misguided, or seeking to belittle the self … through its experience in the Earth’s realm.” [Edgar Cayce reading 900-243]
The only way to protect against this misdirection is to hold to a higher ideal that lifts us beyond our self-doubt, self-condemnation. God does not condemn us. God has erected no barrier. Self is the only obstacle to full enlightenment and reunion.
12. Levels of Consciousness
Cayce identifies three levels of consciousness or dimensions of mind: (1) conscious, (2) subconscious, and (3) superconscious.
Conscious mind is the level that we are most familiar with. It is the level within which our personality and three-dimensional self develops and has much of its activity.
The subconscious is that part of our minds that bridges the outer self with the spiritual self. According to Cayce, the subconscious is both in the body, through the autonomic system, and beyond the body, in the soul realms of telepathy, non-physical life, and timelessness. This mind is the mind of the soul, says Cayce. As the mind of our outer self is the conscious mind and that portion containing our personality, so the subconscious mind contains our developing individuality, which Cayce identifies as our true self.
The superconscious level is the portion made in the image of the Creator, as recorded in Genesis. It is that portion of us that is a god or godling, as the ancient Egyptians termed it. Cayce explained that the superconscious is a thing apart from anything earthly, and only makes its presence known or is knowable when the soul-self lifts itself and portions of the conscious mind up into the vast, expansive level that is the superconscious. This is the portion of our being that Cayce referred to when he said that:
“… not only God is God, but self is a part of that oneness.” [Edgar Cayce reading 900-181]
To know the superconscious, Cayce says one must learn to achieve deep levels of meditation. He said that if a dream feels more like a vision than a dream, then it most likely originated from this highest level of consciousness.
At death, the conscious mind is gradually absorbed into the subconscious (the mind of the surviving soul), and the subconscious becomes the operative mind, with the superconscious now in the position the subconscious held while we were incarnate. Later, upon reincarnation, the subconscious projects another portion of itself into the newly developing outer, three-dimensional mind. Intuitions, knowings, and psychic perceptions come from the projected subconscious. Cayce explains that not all of the subconscious is projected; some of it remains in very high levels of perception and activity. But the portion that is in the body maintains the autonomic systems of the body (respiration, circulation, digestion, etc.) and the seven spiritual centers or chakras, which correspond with the seven endocrine glands.
We may feel that we do not know our subconscious soul-self, but we do, and we are comfortable with it. For example, when we are waking with a dream, but notice that our bladder is full and go empty it, only to return to the bed with no recall of the dream, then we have just experienced our two selves. One is the dreaming mind, the subconscious soul-mind, and the other is in charge of the bladder and the central nervous system that moves the body to the bathroom (somatic system). Yet, notice how comfortable we were in the dream state. Notice how we felt that WE were dreaming. That is because this is the true self, and we know it well. Yet, there is a veil that drops when we move outward, a veil that is opaque. The outer self cannot see back through that veil, cannot recall the contents of the dream, because it never had the dream and was only awakened when the physical body needed to move. Now you can see how we can die to this body and this world, and still live, still be active. Sleep, the shadow of death, is that condition in miniature each night.
Mind is our true nature. It is that portion of us that lives forever. What would it be like to live our lives as minds in bodies, rather than bodies with minds? Surprisingly, Cayce considered the mind to be a savior, a redeemer. It is that portion of our being that can mend and restore us. Let’s engage our minds and fully awaken to our spiritual selves.