Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
reviewed by: Lynard Barnes 5/25/2005
Summary: Read it if you have questions about Cayce, the “American Seer”.
This reviewer was introduced to Edgar Cayce by Thomas Sugrue’s 1943 biography, THERE IS A RIVER. Having read it in the late 1960s, it remained the definitive work about “the sleeping prophet” until this book. EDGAR CAYCE – MY LIFE AS A SEER:THE LOST MEMOIRS answers the one question none of the others were able to address.
It is a given that Cayce, while in a state of sleep or unconsciousness, was able to diagnose and recommend treatment for people suffering various illnesses. The testimonials regarding his effectiveness in this are substantial. A scientific explanation for the ability does not exist. Speculation, some of which verges on “scientific speculation” suggests that people are endowed with the capability to communicate through the mind along-psychically. To explain the cures Cayce was able to effect, scientific speculation has long recognized the effect mind has over the body. So, as difficult as it is to believe, Cayce’s remote diagnosis of “clients” has a rational, though unexplainable, basis in reality. Bu the “seer” or prophet tag usually found after or before his name has always been somewhat of a mystery. Coupled with the extensive number of works on his “past life” readings (and the Atlantis connection) and prophecies for the 21st century, Edgar Cayce is more easily dismissed than read. EDGAR CAYCE – MY LIFE AS A SEER drops Cayce from the rarified atmosphere of hype to where he started and left off with THERE IS A RIVER.
The memoirs, as explained by editor A. Robert Smith, are not a contiguous autobiography Cayce wrote for publication. It is a compilation of autobiographical material Cayce wrote at various times for various audiences. His style, especially in discussing early events in his life, can be verbose and convoluted. The famous incident in which he lost his voice and went into a trance to prescribe a remedy is recounted. The incident happened more than once. He also recounts an incident in which he was mistakenly assumed to be dead. Before reviving, he was administered some rather brutal life-saving procedures which left him with a chipped tooth.
Cayce covers many incidents in his life, some in detail. Perhaps the most detailed is the partnership he had to drill oil in the southwest, followed by the rocky road that lead to the eventual establishment of the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E). But of most interest are his attitudes toward the “readings” he gave while in a trance state.
It comes across very clearly that for a long time he doubted the benefit of the remote diagnosis he provided. His only reference for understanding what was going on was the old and new testaments of the bible. By the time he was introduced to mysticism, the biblical foundation for explaining his ability was firmly rooted. He did not deviate from that foundation and in so doing may have truly gone back to the roots of Christianity. Not only is there only one God, the expression of God is within all things. People have only to open themselves up and allow that expression for it to become manifest in everyday affairs. Thus, remote diagnosis of illnesses, illnesses which Cayce says comes about as a result of “sin”, is simply a manifestation of God’s presence in the lives of he who diagnose and patient. Both must be in tune with this commonality of God in life. It is a simple, uncomplicated, inoffensive philosophy based upon faith. It can not be argued with.
But we come to the central question of understanding and accepting Edgar Cayce as a somewhat out of the ordinary individual. It is the one issue none of the second-hand books could effectively address. Cayce did make predictions about the future in the twenty-first century. And of course, there were all those “life readings” he did for people describing their past lives. How much credence are we to put into these aspects of Cayce’s “life work”. If we accept that his remote diagnosis of illnesses was accurate and beneficial for those receiving them, what are we to make of the predictions and past life readings. Not a totally legitimate question but one we can raise is whether Cayce was infallible.
Actually, fallibility is not an issue-or perhaps is an issue only to those seeking absolutes in life. When it comes to words coming out of the mouth of any person, the only real issue is credibility. In reading EDGAR CAYCE – MY LIFE AS A SEER, the strong point is credibility. In his own mind, Cayce apparently resolved that the juncture between his “life’s work” and infallibility was one of faith. Consequently, when we arrive at the “life readings” and predictions of the future, there is no reason to place any more credence in his words than the words of anyone else. So it should come as no surprise that as a seer in the traditional sense of the word, he was more wrong than right.
The past life readings are likewise regulated to the realm of faith. In an excellent study conducted by J. Gordon Melton in the 1994 edition of SYZYGY: JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE RELIGION AND CULTURE, he demonstrates rather convincingly that the past life readings were symbolic or allegories for the person for whom the reading was given. It is an excellent study. Does this mean that there is no such thing as reincarnation? Not at all. What it does suggest however is that, like the remote diagnosis of illnesses, past life reader and the person for whom the past life is read enter into a commonality of perspective that allows for a mutual construct of reality. Again, faith rules reality.
EDGAR CAYCE – MY LIFE AS A SEER is a book which should be read by anyone who has an uneasy feeling about America’s “Greatest Prophet”. It can be tough reading, but is well worth the journey.