– By Robert L. Ferro
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE HUMAN?” This question is probably the most asked questions of philosophers, religious scholars and writers of all ages. Plato, Aristotle and others of that time eagerly reflected on this question from the philosophical point of view. Years later, St Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas and other religious scholars asked the same question from the theological point of view. To them it was a question of “salvation” “Should the human pursuit be one of reason or one of faith in God?” Later, writers like Charles Dickens, being influenced by the terrible social conditions of his time embodied the agony of the suppressed in the novel “Oliver Twist.” In this narrative, the question of humanity climaxed when Oliver Twist steps forward and dares to say “Please Sir, I want some more” and satirically reminded us that we are our brother’s keeper.
Now, we are in the twenty-first century and we are looking at humanity from the perspective of “Cosmic Humanism” trying to explain life with the sophisticated science of quantum physics. Of special interest, is the finding of the “Higgs Boson” – dubbed by the media as the God particle – which is theorized to prove how everything in the tangible world comes into existence.
In the face of all this, life still holds many challenges for us. Edgar Cayce, probably the best psychic of the present, was one of these challenges. Cayce had little education, yet he was able to diagnose ailments in individuals who were – in some cases – thousands of miles away. He also contributed information on specific technical and spiritual information which astonished all that researched him, and continues to do so to this day.
Most of us, of course, are not philosophers or physicists, so we look for more practical ways to understand who we are. Educators, seek answers by investigating humanity’s primitive existence, cultures, linguistics, and social customs, believing that through critical analysis they will reveal the significance of our existence. A study conducted by the United States Rockefeller Commission sought a simpler answer and summarized its findings in the publication “Humanities in American Life”.
“Through the humanities we reflect on the fundamental question: “What does it mean to be human? The humanities offer clues but never a complete answer. They reveal how people have tried to make moral, spiritual, and intellectual sense of a world where irrationality, despair, loneliness, and death are as conspicuous as birth, friendship, hope, and reason.”
Ambiguous to say the least, but this statement does lure us toward an individual thinking based on some system of logic and value, which eventually, drive us to investigate other worldviews.
One such view is expressed by Secular Humanism, which asserts that; “Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change.” [Author emphasis] and that, “Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience.” (Humanist Manifesto III, 1933) Their belief rests on the concept that humans are the result of coincidental molecular combinations; therefore God is just a figment of our imagination.
An opposite point of view is expressed by Biblical Humanism, which affirms that there is a universal God, the originator of all that exists, and by faith and good works we can earn the basic heritage of humanity. This belief has an assortment of followers, including some fringe groups such as “Natural Theology” or “Intelligent Design” advocates who strive to prove humanism through reasoning and observation and not by faith.
Embracing these opposites presents a challenge for educators like Mark Bauerlein. (Professor of English at Emory University) In his article “Essay Critiques the Role of Theory in the Humanities) (13 November 2014) he emphasizes that a lack of meaningful and candid debate is lacking in our educational system. Professors in the humanities have increasingly abandoned proven methods of epistemology – the validity of human knowledge – in favor of indoctrination. The result is that professors and their students adhere rigidly to a limited set of viewpoints, and have little interest in, or understanding of, opposing viewpoints. Once they obtain this intellectual self-satisfaction, persistent decline in learning, research, and evaluation is common.
Similar remarks were also expressed by Dr. David Truman, Columbia University Provost during the 1968 unrest. Upon reflecting on his experience with the student uprising he concluded “The primary cause of humanity’s problems is not greed, or insensibility, or dogmatism – it’s that we don’t understand WHO we are. And consequently, we don’t LIVE as we are”
It would have been a valuable source of information if someone had asked Edgar Cayce to give a specific reading on humanism. But, this was not the case. However, as one studies his readings it becomes evident that an abundance of humanitarian advice was given to individuals, and clearly pointed out that humanity must be understood with practical and personal terms. Only then, the readings claim, do we begin to understand “Who we are?” and “Why we are here on this earth?”
“What is life? It is a manifestation of a soul. Remember that the self is made up of body, mind and soul. And the soul would know, does know these are all the gift of the Creator and Maker. The purpose in life, then, is not the gratifying of the appetite or of any selfish desire, but it is that the entity, the soul, may make the earth, where the entity finds its consciousness, a better place in which to live.” (4052-1)
“In reaching this understanding and state of consciousness it is well to remember that, through self, man will understand his Maker, when he understands his relation to his maker – each and every person getting that understanding have their individual niche, place, and work to perform. The understanding for the individual entity, viewed from its own standpoint, with its knowledge, is obtained and made ready by itself, to be manifested through itself, toward its own development, and in that development, the creation of the world.” (3744-4)
A Cayce reading for a 34 year old female (2650-1) explained that she was very aware of her physical and mental “gift” for spiritual growth. But the reading also included a warning, “If ye will take Him as thy guide.” And added; “… in the material world, one may never stand still, that life IS action, and that we continuously grow or we just whittle away.” Then she was reminded that to hear of God is not to know God, “To apply and live is to know God.” Likewise, a 48 year old accountant seeking guidance for his future was told that he should focus on seeing the God in all those he disliked. This “positive” attitude will make his future life a heaven, but if he did not adhere to this, his life will be a hell. “For then the God-Forces that are creative energies of the soul-mind will become the ruling forces in the life. …constant, consistent, PRACTICAL dependence upon the Creative Forces that have promised ever to meet one – every one – when sought. And there will come that which is for the greater development in the soul forces of such a one that seeks.”(270-33) Then he was advised to willingly magnify the gifts of all souls for the edifying and blessing of the human family.
Clearly the Cayce readings reflect a more holistic view of life, and portray our earthly experience as an evolution in the school of prudent learning.
“Evolution, as commonly understood by the human family, … means rather resurrection of those forces that have gradually brought man to understand the law of self from within, and by understanding such law has brought the better force in man to bring about the gradual change that has come to man, known to all the ages. … evolution has only been that of the gradual growth upward to the mind of the Maker.” (3744-5)
Surely one can easily argue that the world is full of wrongs, hence, Secular Humanists propose that science should rectified these wrongs by studying and understanding humanity’s necessities. Yes, science has provided much for humanity! But science in itself has limitations. It is subject to the understanding and interpretation of the imperfect and possible biased observer. Science is also vulnerable in that it unfairly accepts only the logic and conclusions of its own findings and too easily rejects abstract sciences such as metaphysics. This rejection in itself is unscientific. As a case and point, Edgar Cayce gave us undisputable information that could not have been obtained intellectually or from scientific sources, so science in general refused to investigate such occurrences in the name of scientism ‒ an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of their methods.
This debate of science verses God has been with us for years on end. But, sooner or later, we must engage in a pragmatic and candid dialog that will bring us to a better understanding of the two worlds. According to the Cayce readings, this was accomplished in Atlantis when Amilius (A previous incarnation of the Christ Consciousness) was on this earth. Amilius understood and applied the laws of both worlds, and consequently guided the Atlanteans to such a high level of living that the readings labeled that period “The first Garden of Eden.”
“In the MANNER of living, [in Atlantis] in the manner of the moral, of the social, of the religious life of these peoples: There, classes existed much in the same order as existing among others; yet the like of the WARLIKE INFLUENCE did NOT exist in the peoples” (354-3)
“The study from the human standpoint, of subconscious, subliminal, psychic, soul forces, is and should be the greater study for the human family, for through self, man will understand its Maker when it understands its relation to its Maker, and it will only understand that through itself, … Each and every person getting that understanding has its individual force toward the great creation, and its individual niche, place or unit to perform. … In this manner, and in this form, and in this way, will the development come.” (3744-5) Our spiritual earthly quest then, must not be one of amassing knowledge of the past, nor of complete reliance on science – even though these have their place in our lives ‒ but rather the pursuit of soul evolution based on a balanced and harmonious existence. This, the Cayce readings state, is the pattern that will build a better world for the human family.
“Listen to the birds. Watch the blush of the rose. Listen to the life rising in the tree. These serve their Maker. Through what? That psychic force, that IS LIFE itself … Learn, O Man, from that about thee.” (364-10)
And, just as the rose blooms in due season, likewise will the soul of humanity understand the full power of its potential, when we understand who we are.