Why are we here on Earth? The question vexes. We look for answers. Where do valid answers come from? The Bible? The Koran? The Edgar Cayce readings? None seems fully to satisfy.
Esotericism teaches that we are down here on Earth, created as self-developing organisms, to work on the dark sides of ourselves. Each of us is born as essence. But within a short time we become surrounded by an encrustation of personality. A "healthy personality" is necessary for getting along in life. But at the same time, it is largely a mixture of primitive and conditioned responses that distorts and impedes our progress and understanding.
Later in life, after we have met life's requirements and are able to make our way without being a burden to others, we must begin efforts to weaken personality. Otherwise, we become members of the "walking dead." "Let the dead bury the dead," Christ said. Personality must be weakened so that essence can emerge and grow. We have a need to strengthen essence so that we may begin to hear the messages unceasingly being beamed to us from our own higher centers, and from the conscious circle of humanity that lies above us. This higher knowledge is sufficient to enlighten and guide us.
There is a confounding factor in any efforts that we might make to find knowledge that can help us weaken personality. All truth wears out. Yesterday's truth is not tomorrow's truth. Esoteric teaching, which changes to fit the times but is always about the "Kingdom of God," must reach essence for essence to grow. If one constantly expects some marvelous mystical experience to transform one, he or she is working from the wrong love. The right love involves thinking in a new way or, in Christ's words, to have metanoia, or the ability to think in a new way. If we cannot think in a new way, nothing can happen to our essence. "Mind is the builder," say the Cayce readings. And to begin to think from the teachings of esotericism is to begin to think in a new way.
In esotericism, or real psychology, a person is not one, but many. A person is a crowd of different-thinking, different-acting people marching along in disorder. This crowd is composed of various kinds of sick and healthy, polite and rude, informed and uninformed, pleasant and unpleasant people. Various voices can be heard talking within one at any time if one observes oneself. When we identify with them nothing can change within us. Christ spoke of Legion, who had a thousand voices within him. And Robert Ornstein has written Multimind (Doubleday), a book that details the many small minds that compose our mental operating system.
If one is not to serve life only, one must eventually come to the realization that this group of inner 'I's is leading one's life for one. One must then move away from those activities that keep us identified with the many unfavorable and unreliable 'I's that keep us asleep. This is done by a process of learning about them. It is possible only by a long period of uncritical self-observation. The work of esotericism is not about outer but about inner things in oneself. Change, therefore, begins with uncritical self-observation of the I's within one. As one does this, he/she may become ready for a teacher, and work in an esoteric group.
When it comes to thinking about Earth changes we have to realize that, as presented in Hutton's commentaries so far, we have been talking about events that take place only in the outer, material sense. But there are other levels to consider. Here we are talking of levels in a Universe constructed from meaning. The process of considering levels of meaning can have the effect of rendering physically-based Earth-change speculations rather trivial in terms of where one ought to be expending effort. Indeed, although responding to warnings of impending Earth changes is exemplary, being overly concerned about the possibility of physical Earth changes occurring in one's life is almost an indulgence, compared to the important work of helping one's essence grow. The relationship of certain Earth-change pronouncements in the Cayce readings to higher (inner) meaning will be addressed in later reflections in this series.
A great effort must be made to feel the work of esotericism. Anyone who has been in a Search For God study group knows this. Seek the work first, fight to keep it alive, and all the rest follows. We see people in life, some even religious people, who do not work in a practical way on themselves each day. Esotericism says that this leads them to accumulate a substance that cannot lead to unity. Such people may criticize one another, talk scandal in private, and secretly hate others - making all kinds of internal accounts against each other. This substance accumulates in life and makes all right relationships impossible.
We turn now to the subject of Earth changes and compliance with divine laws. A Cayce reading states when the "breaking up" by Earth changes begins, it will occur in many lands that border the sea. Then, there will eventually be
....those in every land that shall say that this or that shows the hand of divine interference, or that it is nature taking a hand, or that it is the natural consequence of good judgments .(3976-26, 04/28/41)
The lands mentioned for breaking-up were those where strifes were predicted to occur: Libya, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, unspecified nations bordering the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, and lands "through the straits about those areas above Australia" (that is, Indonesia and New Guinea). An earlier (1935) reading gives us a basis for understanding when, and just why , these Earth changes would occur.
Q). Regarding the general world conditions, is it likely that changes in the Earth's surface in the Mediterranean area will stop Italy's campaign against Ethiopia?
A). Not at this particular period. This may eventually be a portion of the experience, but not just yet.
Q). When is this likely to occur?
A). As to times and places and seasons, as it has indeed been indicated in the greater relationships that have been established by the prophets and sages of old -- and especially as given by Him, "As to the day and the hour, who knoweth? No one, save the Creative Forces."
Tendencies in the hearts and souls of men are such that these may be brought about. For, as indicated through these channels oft, it is not the world, the Earth, the environs about it nor the planetary influences, not the associations of activities that rule man. Rather does man -- by his compliance with divine law -- bring order out of chaos; or, by his disregard of the associations and laws of divine influence, bring chaos and destructive forces into his experience .(416-7, 10/13/35)
So here we have it. Disregard the laws of divine influence and expect chaos and destructive forces -- perhaps even Earth changes -- in our lives. Conversely, joyously comply with divine law and help bring order out of the chaos around us. But -- and here lies the rub -- just how do we attain the ability to comply with divine law? It is said that there are 77 ways of spiritual attainment open to souls on Earth. One of the beauties of the Cayce readings on personal soul growth was their ability to provide to each individual, guidance according to his or her level of understanding. But the source of information that was available then, through Cayce, is not available today.
We await, therefore, with great expectation the return of the High Souls and their associates mentioned in chapter 10 of Coming Earth Changes (A.R.E. Press). For it is possible for one to attain only under the guidance of a soul that has already successfully trod the path. Reading 3976-15 speaks of the "spirits of light that come into the earth for this [Aquarian Age] awakening; that have been and are being called by those of the sons of men [us!] into the service of the living God." The best we can do at present seems to be "to prepare to prepare" for meaningful study in the New Age.
And where does this realization lead us? Many places, including of course to the A.R.E. Search For God study groups. But for a moment, take a brief journey along a path mentioned positively in the early Cayce readings, a path that produced considerable understanding of humankind's situation on Earth and then all but expired about the time Cayce died. The relevance of this path to the subject of Earth changes is this. Familiarity with its contents may help us to understand and deal with the inner states that such material changes may bring in our lives.
In 1925, a Hebrew stock broker asked Edgar Cayce for help with his study of P. D. Ouspensky's book, Tertium Organum.1 At the end of the reading came this gratuitous comment:
...Ouspensky....was the sage of the mountain in the third generation of the peoples of the Mahabbs in Tibet -- 1777 -- seventh month -- seventh day -- seventh hour -- Mahaba Tarhl and the keeper of the records in the mount.(900-88, 7/2/25)
In his most recent incarnation, Ouspensky (died 1947) was trained as a scientist in Russia, but became disenchanted with science's limitations. He then plunged into metaphysical studies and made journeys to locate present exemplars of the world's most important mystical teachings. This led him to enroll as a student of G. I Gurdjieff, "a man of Armenian-Greek ancestry, with a background of travel, mysticism, and esotericism, [who had] arrived back in Russia bringing a mystic teaching."2 Ouspensky eventually wrote several important books on what became known as the Gurdjieff-Ouspensky, or "G-O" philosophical system. The teaching was conducted for many years in several European cities and New York.
It was to this stream of eastern metaphysics that the Cayce source of information directed four people between 1925 and 1932. A man seeking guidance to prepare himself to become an A.R.E. study-group leader received this response through Cayce:
Q). Outline or suggest material for study and reading, names of books, subjects, etc.
A). With the study first, to be sure, of HIS words -- as He gave, as is recorded, those philosophical experiences of the writers -- as James, as Ouspensky, as those who have followed in the lines of their studies -- as Swedenborg, or the like: but weigh these all well with thine own, for -- as HE has promised -- "I will be your God, will ye [if ye will] be my people...."(256-4, 08/19/32)
Another person (307-4) involved with A.R.E. study groups was also told to study Ouspensky. And yet another Hebrew stockbroker (137-88), wondering how to understand his relationship to time and space, was told to study Tertium Organum to help gain the consciousness thereof. The G-O system deals with conscious human development. (See box).
There are scattered references in the G-O system that suggest Sufi sources for its essential content, and Lefort's book2 about a man's search for Gurdjieff's teachers removes all doubt about such a connection. It's not clear why further direction to Ouspensky's work was no longer given in Cayce's readings after 1932. Possibly it is because, by then, a new Sufi exemplar had emerged to carry on openly what had formerly been the submerged stream of Sufi work. This person, Idries Shah, was born in Simla, India, in 1926. The best known and most influential Afghan writer and thinker of modern times, Shah authored more than 35 books, including 20 bestselling titles on Sufism (which have so far sold over 15 million copies in 12 languages). Shah's landmark book, The Sufis, was published in 1964, well after Cayce's death. It pronounced the Sufi tradition to be alive and well, and more or less invited readers to approach its ideas and test them out. The common sense that most readers found in Shah's works made it clear that here was a sane authoritative voice far above the base-level of mish-mash mysticism of the sixties. The books that followed established a broad historical and cultural context for Sufi thought and action.
By 1974, university and college courses throughout the world were employing Shah's books, or works based on them, in a wide variety of disciplines including sociology, psychology, and literature. Idries Shah, the father of a son and two daughters, died in London in 1996. He was, it is said, the Sufi Teacher of the Age. For today's seeker attempting to broaden his or her base of spiritual understanding beyond that found in the readings, Shah's books are far more relevant to today's world than are Gurdjieff's or Ouspensky's. After reading The Sufis, try Learning How To Learn (Octagon, London, 1987) and Knowing How To Know (Octagon, 1998).
Gurdjieff (died 1949) and Ouspensky (died 1947) numbered among their many adherents Dr. Maurice Nicoll, who had studied under Jung. Ouspensky broke with Gurdjieff in 1924, and Nicoll joined later with Ouspensky. Ultimately, Dr. Nicoll became the only person authorized by Ouspensky to teach the G-O system. He updated Ouspensky's work on gaining consciousness of space and time in his classic book, Living Time - and the Integration of the Life (1952, Vincent Stuart, London).Among Nicoll's other published works is the five-volume set entitled, Psychological Commentaries On The Teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff and P. D. Ouspensky (various publishers, 1955-1970). His truly remarkable work, The Mark (1954, Vincent Stuart, London), was Nicoll's last book before he died in 1953. In it, he rendered, often in passages of great beauty, a key for those who long for greater understanding of Christ's teaching, and the meaning of our existence on Earth.
Nicoll explains that humanity on this planet is in a strange situation. Looking at history, man has not really developed. Yet people are prone to imagine that passing time means progress, and that any contradictions to this perception are exceptional. People usually regard war as exceptional, but most of history deals with war. Indeed, history repeats itself because groups of individuals attract again and again the same circumstances, feel the same things, say the same things, and so on. But almost nothing actually changes because people's beings have not changed. We need to realize that each of us is at a different level of being. However, a higher level of being lies immediately above each of us at this very moment, now. It does not lie in the future of time. All work on oneself deals with stopping negative emotions, not being identified with one's personal troubles, with not keeping accounts, and with self observation; that is, with actions that can take place now.
If man becomes more conscious and remembers what it is that he is trying to do -- that is, if he tries to transform his mechanical reaction to circumstances that surround him at each given moment, "he may find to his astonishment that quite suddenly everything is changed, and he finds himself in a new atmosphere from which he wonders how he could have been in his former state." Cayce reading 416-7 quoted at the beginning of this section goes even further, implying that groups of people may attain to collective levels of being that will permit them to "bring order out of chaos," and perhaps, even, to mitigate Earth changes.
Nicoll reminds us that external events are influences that are changing at every moment in their varying combinations and that all must be taken consciously -- by seeing oneself experiencing them -- even the good ones. Thus, one's life is to be thought of as one's inner states, and a true history of one's life, would be a history of one's inner states. To live only haphazardly in oneself -- without conducting uncritical self-observation3 of one's thoughts and actions -- is, according to Nicoll, the worst crime one can commit. It follows, therefore, that individuals and societies that are too identified with external events -- the outer world -- are too misdirected to pay attention to their inner states. And eventually, they will reap the whirlwind. Or as reading 3653-1 reminds of those days prior to the Deluge, this was a period "when man had so belittled himself with the cares of the world...as to require that there be a return to his dependence wholly -- physically and mentally -- upon the Creative Forces."
In other words, the state of humanity in the period before the Deluge was very much like the present period, before the Earth changes begin. Only this time, with the imminent return of the Messiah, the meek and righteous will inherit the post-Earth-change world. And they can look forward to a world in which
.....He will not tarry, for having overcome He shall appear even AS the Lord AND Master. Not as one born, but as one that returneth to His own, for He will walk and talk with men of every clime, and those that are faithful and just in their reckoning shall be caught up with Him to rule and to do JUDGMENT for a thousand years!.(364-7, 4/5/32)
There is no single, easy explanation as to why an individual might find himself in the midst of an Earth change. It could be due to a level of one's being which requires him to be subject to the prevailing laws of accident on this planet. Or it could be that one was warned of geophysical catastrophes but chose to ignore such warnings.
It would seem that certain portions of humanity may engender the destructive forces of Earth changes in their experience by their disregard of the laws of divine influence. Just what such groups of people may have done in this or earlier lives to disregard divine laws is impossible for us to discern. But non-compliance with divine laws does not necessarily mean that God will directly punish those involved, only that they maysuffer the consequences of disobeying certain higher laws already functioning in this Earthly realm. Thus, one's current or former level of being -- as determined by non-compliance with divine laws -- may attract one to an Earth-change environment.
Recall too, that certain of the predicted Earth changes are destined to occur in the natural evolution of the Earth-humanity system, as in: "These changes in the Earth will come to pass, for the time and times and half times are at an end, and there begin those periods for the readjustments " (294-185). Regardless whether or not we have been attracted to an area of the globe slated for coming Earth changes, it would seem that -- as a minimum -- sincere efforts at spiritual growth can help us transform any personal experiences of Earth-change adversity to the benefit of our inner understanding and associated soul growth.