A Spiritual Hunt For Answers
Psychic Edgar Cayce's Teachings Unite Members From All Congregations
The Day Publishing Company
By ANNE REARDON
Published on 5/9/2003
There are questions that many consider universal: Who am I? What is my purpose in life? How does God fit into my life?
Some people spend their lives searching for answers to these kinds of questions.
At the Waterford Public Library each week, a small group of seekers meets faithfully to contemplate these profound spiritual questions and continue on their quest for answers.
This study group has been meeting since 1998. Together, members of the group follow a guide to spiritual development based on the teachings of the psychic Edgar Cayce.
Cindy Clark of New London, was one of the founders of the group.
It is a very vital part of my life because it helps me with my personal growth and spiritual development, Clark says. Instrumental in holding the group together as an administrator and leader, Clark was raised in the Congregational Church and still attends on occasion.
Clark, formerly an owner of Randall's Ordinary who now works as an office manager, feels the fellowship of the group and its emphasis on meditation helps her to put balance and perspective into her hectic life.
What is unusual about this group is that, while members are searching for answers to what are unquestionably spiritual issues, it is entirely non-denominational. Participants come from various spiritual traditions, including Catholic and Congregationalist. Some members continue to be active in their local congregations, but others never have been.
Edgar Cayce was born in 1877 in Kentucky. A mild-mannered photographer with the demeanor of a quiet Southern preacher, Cayce became famous when he learned he had the ability to go into a trance and diagnose medical conditions and prescribe treatments that were wholly revolutionary at the time. Nowadays, many of these treatments are common: a wholesome diet based on fresh vegetables and whole grains with minimal meat; exercise; therapeutic massage; and nutritional supplements. His success record was phenomenal.
Cayce discovered that while he was in these trances, he could describe the past lives of his patients and prescribe healing procedures based on illnesses inherited from past lives. He elaborated on each person's karma, and described the ways in which each soul could improve. Cayce later reluctantly accepted the ideas and concepts contained in his readings and then organized them to allow for their study in order to aid as many people as possible.
In the 1930s, Cayce founded the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E). A.R.E., headquartered in Virginia Beach, Va., is a combination research library and university. It is headed by the grandson of Edgar Cayce, Charles Thomas Cayce, who is a psychologist. The A.R.E. campus houses the texts and files of Edgar Cayce's readings.
A.R.E. offers seminars and lectures, and contains the Cayce/Reilly School of Massotherapy, and Atlantic University, which offers master's degrees in such areas as Adventures in the Paranormal, Creativity, Art, and the Transpersonal, Studies in Transpersonal Psychology, and The Feminine and the Transpersonal.
A.R.E. also serves as a foundation for Cayce study groups all over the country.
The Search for God books consist of a series of lesson plans spelled out chapter by chapter, intended for discussion by a group, with homework. Most of the chapters give exercises that are not dissimilar to the types of activities many churches plan for annual retreats. They involve working through personal questions of self-discovery, group prayers and meditations.
Working through these types of soul-baring activities week after week is arduous. Says Janice Janostak, of New London, who has been attending the group for about a year, The study group helps because it involves discipline, and that makes all the difference.
Janostak, who was brought up in the Catholic Church, learned about the study group when she attended a women's spiritual retreat with Cindy Clark. The group attracted her because it took an active, hands-on approach to spiritual development, but was at the same time less formal than the conventional church service.
At each meeting we discuss a reading from the book, and ask, How can I make this apply to my life?' Then we each go home, and at the next meeting we review the insights we have each come up with. I find that working together we gain broader and more in-depth viewpoints than we would alone, says Janostak.
Janostak feels that one component of the meetings that is important to her is the group meditation. Something about meditating with other people helps to magnify the energy, she says.
Meditation is teaching me to be still within myself, and this means a great deal to me. If I wasn't in the group every week, I am not sure that I would continue my own meditation at home so diligently, Janostak says.
Some of the answers to such life questions that individual group members will contemplate may be out of the range of the philosophies of traditional Christian denominations. For example, the content of Edgar Cayce's readings includes reincarnation. The implication is that spiritual development takes places over many lifetimes, and is a more subtle, and yet a more comprehensive process than the model that most Christian churches currently espouse.
The individuals in this study group may (or may not) be interested in psychic development, holistic medicine and lifestyle choices, the study of ancient civilizations and the mystery of Atlantis. While not all members of the group are interested in every topic, they all feel comfortable discussing these topics with each other.
The unique content of the Cayce readings and its exploration inspires lifelong commitments.
Peggy Day, of Noank, a study group member since it began, initially read about Edgar Cayce in the 1970s and has been involved with the A.R.E. and other Search for God groups since the early 1980s.
In 1972, she was browsing at a bookstore in Groton when she picked up a copy of There is a River, the biography of Edgar Cayce, written by Thomas Sugrue. The book captured her imagination because Mr. Cayce was such a humble man, and so devoted to God, that he was reluctant to use his psychic gift for fear of offending God. He only agreed later on to do readings when he saw how he could use his gift to help people.
Fascinated, she read the book over and over. She eventually became a member of A.R.E. Through A.R.E., Day learned in the early 1980s that Nancy Oates, of Gales Ferry, was starting up a Search for God study group.
Day participated in several different study groups during the '80s. In 1990, she was at a family reunion in Virginia Beach, Va., when she went to the bookstore at A.R.E. headquarters. She started up a conversation with a woman in the children's book section, Ellen Selover, the manager of the Family Life department at A.R.E. Day was invited to help put together a book about parenting based on Cayce's readings. At the same time she enrolled in the masters' program for Transpersonal Psychology at Atlantic University.
She worked on several research projects with various faculty members during her tenure at the school, at times commuting weekly to Virginia Beach. At one point, she assisted Charles Thomas Cayce, the grandson of Edgar, with a study involving difficult children.
During the 1990s, Day participated in many A.R.E.-organized outreach activities. She traveled to Egypt on a study trip, attended conferences all over the Northeast, and was a part of the management group for the A.R.E. study groups Connecticut-wide. She is helping to set up a program in Cherry Valley, Mass., called A Place of Light, a community center exploring creativity and intuition in children.
Cindy Clark thinks that her interest in parapsychology may have been sparked many years ago when she and her then-husband, who were refinishing an old house, discovered that they were living with a resident ghost.
Years later, after having experienced a few psychic readings she found to be uncanny, Clark joined A.R.E. She discovered that she enjoyed reading about Cayce. One book in particular that caught her attention was Many Lives, Many Masters, by Brian Weiss, which explored reincarnation.
Clark credits this material as being a great consolation to her when she has
felt sad or troubled, particularly after she was divorced. I find a lot
of comfort in the concept of reincarnation. I feel I was born into this life
with a purpose. I feel that each of us incarnates into the earth plane with
a mission, she says.