We invite you to sample this article from the latest issue of Venture Inward, the magazine of the Association For Research and Enlightenment. "What is the Purpose of Reincarnation" by Lynn Sparrow Christy was taken from a talk given by Christy at the A.R.E. in August, 2007.
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"What is the Purpose of Reincarnation"
Lynn Sparrow Christy
When Kevin asked me to come speak to the staff, I was particularly glad that he wanted me to speak about the purpose for reincarnation. Because we could talk about reincarnation and karmic connections, and about soul groups and soul mates, and about past life memories; and although those topics might be interesting and helpful, we could speak of them all day long and never get at what I think is the most special contribution that the Cayce readings make to the public discourse on reincarnation - their take on the underlying purpose behind it all. But before we delve into that purpose, I want to point out that it's interesting that I can even speak of the "public discourse on reincarnation." I think it's hard for us, sitting here in 2007, to fully appreciate how ground-breaking Edgar Cayce's first information about reincarnation was when it started coming through about 84 years ago. A Harris poll just a few years back said 27% of us here in the U.S. believe in reincarnation; and if you want to look at the age group of 25-29, the fi gure is 40%. Now that's a far, far cry from the world Edgar Cayce was addressing when he made his fi rst halting references to reincarnation in his readings.
The world of 1923 was very different. It was pretty much white-bread America, and most people had a mainschool teacher and member of the church. But I don't think they - or even Edgar, for that matter - had any idea just how far afi eld the material in the readings would eventually go from what was the norm of Western beliefs at the time.
As many of you know, the reincarnation material fi rst began to emerge in the context of a series of readings that were requested by Arthur Lammers, a businessman from Dayton, Ohio. We are usually pointed to a reading in October of 1923 as the fi rst one where there is a reference to reincarnation. Lammers was a student of the occult. His belief system was not at all like the typical beliefs in America at that time. He had studied the esoteric religions. He had studied numerology and astrology - those types of things. So he had many questions along those lines. And in the context of giving Arthur Lammers a reading that described his birth chart, Edgar Cayce included the cryptic comment that Lammers was once a monk.
Now, going back, it turns out that in another reading for Lammers earlier that same year, there had been what was probably the fi rst actual hint of reincarnation. In this earlier reading, Edgar Cayce talked about the spirits of those who have passed on hovering around this plane until they move on or until they come back here for their development. How that reference to "coming back here for their development" just seemed to pass everybody by is kind of hard to understand as we look back on it. Those readings given for Lammers earlier in 1923 also included one with a reference to Edgar Cayce's own ability having come from a series of developments in prior lives. That reference is a little bit less overt, so it's easier to see why it might have been overlooked.
Over the next 21 years, as the line of questioning about reincarnation developed, about 2,500 so-called "life readings," where people's soul histories were given, became a part of Edgar Cayce's information. Some of the major interesting bodies of information we stream view of what religion was all about. There was a kind of mainstream understanding of what people here believed, and it had nothing to do with what those people in the Far East believed! Edgar Cayce had already fought a few personal battles in connection with his unorthodox career of giving psychic health readings, and he had already had to struggle with aspects of his own personal spirituality as well as his involvement in the Christian Church and his work there as a Sunday school teacher.
Now fortunately (and I doubt if this was left to chance, knowing what we now know about the laws of reincarnation) he happened to have been raised in a Christian denomination that did honor unity in diversity; a denomination that had been founded on the idea that it's up to the individual, according to his or her own conscience and a leading of the Spirit, to formulate the particulars of personal belief. Nonetheless, there was a crucial point after Cayce became well known for giving psychic readings, when the elders of his church had a meeting to decide whether his activity went beyond the pale. Fortunately, this group of elders was true to their denomination's commitment not to use human-made creeds and understandings as a litmus test of faith.
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