Saturday, May 25, 2013

Scheduling cooperation

I have a half-dozen clocks spotted around the house. There’s always one in sight; they remind me that time does not stand still.

All the same, I push time to its limits. I rarely leave for an appointment at a leisurely pace. I wait ‘til the last moment to act. I can’t believe I have to stop what I’m doing now in order to meet my obligation. What I’m doing is important to me…

My ambivalence towards others’ time, and what’s important to them, is one of the more obvious challenges I have in practicing cooperation.

No less a challenge is making the effort and taking the risk of voicing my thoughts. What group, whether we’re a Study Group or a bunch of guys trying to solve a problem, profits by my silence?

I’m late. Again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cold Comfort

The most time-consuming part of translating a reading is comparing the King James Version of the verses listed in the reading's Index to the verses in other translations of the Bible on sites such as, but there’s always one wooly verse – at least -- in each reading that research makes sharp.

Take Isaiah 28:10, for instance:

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little

It’s cited in 262-2, 12A. A 50-year old married woman, an active member in ARE, asked Mr. Cayce,

12. (Q) [379]: Is there a message for me as to how I can best cooperate with this group?

To which EC replied:

(A) The answer to your question is there for you to discover, if you will make the effort. Act on what you grasp during each meeting and engagement, for it is line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little that your understanding builds, like the yeast that raises the whole loaf. In so doing may those blessings that may come to others through your actions be your best contribution in and with this group.

The reason EC included that citation seemed clear to me. When I looked into the parallel verses, I expected to find similar words of gentle encouragement. Instead I found:


10 For it is blah-blah upon blah-blah,
blah-blah upon blah-blah,
gah-gah upon gah-gah,
gah-gah upon gah-gah,
a little here, a little there.

-- Lexham English Bible

10 He speaks to us as though we were babies:
“Saw lasaw saw lasaw
Qaw laqaw qaw laqaw
Ze’er sham ze’er sham.”

 -- Easy-to-Read Version

Isaiah 28:10 In this context, the Hebrew expressions tsaw-tsaw and qaw-qaw are likely meant to sound like baby talk, but they could mean “command upon command” and “rule upon rule”]

9-10 “Is that so? And who do you think you are to teach us?
Who are you to lord it over us?
We’re not babies in diapers
to be talked down to by such as you—
‘Da, da, da, da,
blah, blah, blah, blah.
That’s a good little girl,
that’s a good little boy.’”

-- The Message

10 Here is how he teaches.
Do this and do that.
Do that and do this.
Obey this rule and obey that rule.
Obey that rule and obey this rule.
Learn a little here and learn a little there.”

-- New International Reader’s Version

10 He tells us everything over and over—
one line at a time,
one line at a time,
a little here,
and a little there!”

-- New Living Translation

10 You don’t even listen—
all you hear is senseless sound
after senseless sound.

-- Contemporary English Version

10 They speak utter nonsense.

-- God’s Word Translation

What?!!! I was flabbergasted! A little hurt, even. Who is speaking in this verse? I asked myself. What point of view is EC taking? In the context of the reading, what is EC’s view of his questioner, and of the group? Is he calling us stupid? I went to the Commentaries section of the website for relief.

Albert Barnes cleared up the meaning of the verse, anyway. He was a Yankee Presbyterian minister and Princeton graduate who died in 1870. Among other things, he said of Isaiah 28:10:

It may be observed here that God's method of imparting religious truth has often appeared to a scoffing world to be undignified and foolish. Sinners suppose that he does not sufficiently respect their understanding, and pay a tribute to the dignity of their nature. The truths of God, and his modes of inculcating them, are said to be adapted to the understandings of childhood and of age; to imbecility of years, or to times when the mind is enfeebled by disease.

-- Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Less clear to me is Cayce’s use of the verse. To give him full credit, I’ll say that he did mean to encourage Mrs. [379], and all in the group who took cooperation to heart. Knowing that, down the road, Mr. Cayce pulls no punches in admonishing un-cooperative members of the group, dubbing them “backward – even indolent,” I’ll go out on a limb and say that he knew that some in the group were trouble, and that he was signaling them to get straight, if they knew the Bible as well as he did; and who among them did? Deducing from later readings, the lesson went over their heads.

A Search For God is a very human document. And the Bible is a very human chronicle.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Real Talent

You could step into a gopher hole if you translate the readings without checking the scripture from the index against a dictionary, Biblical commentary -- or Wikipedia.  I did that, recently.  I presumed the meaning of the word talent, but discovering its real meaning and its significance in the parable, and to Christian belief, was a valuable lesson.

I had gotten to 262.13, 8A:

(Q): [2124] In what way may I best obtain my ideal?
(A) It’s well that you know that the reward of a materialistic ideal is satisfaction, while the reward of a spiritual ideal is contentment. Then be content with what you have, and employ it with honor so that you bring praise and glory to your ideal; more and more will be provided you as long as you make proper use of what you have, for as the Master said,
So far, so good, I thought.  This is a pretty universal precept.
The Kingdom is like a man who, preparing for a journey, called his servants. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one talent.   As they worked, they obtained not approval, but understanding. They were rewarded for the quality of their effort.
This was odd.  I understood the notion of learning from my mistakes, or that failing at something makes me more determined to succeed.  But why withhold approval?
I read the scripture, Matt 25:14-30:
14"The kingdom of heaven is like a man going on a trip. He called his servants and entrusted some money to them. 15He gave one man ten thousand dollars, another four thousand dollars, and another two thousand dollars. Each was given money based on his ability. Then the man went on his trip. 16"The one who received ten thousand dollars invested the money at once and doubled his money. 17The one who had four thousand dollars did the same and also doubled his money. 18But the one who received two thousand dollars went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master's money.

19"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The one who received ten thousand dollars brought the additional ten thousand. He said, 'Sir, you gave me ten thousand dollars. I've doubled the amount.' 21"His master replied, 'Good job! You're a good and faithful servant! You proved that you could be trusted with a small amount. I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and share your master's happiness.'

22"The one who received four thousand dollars came and said, 'Sir, you gave me four thousand dollars. I've doubled the amount.' 23"His master replied, 'Good job! You're a good and faithful servant! You proved that you could be trusted with a small amount. I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and share your master's happiness.'

24"Then the one who received two thousand dollars came and said, 'Sir, I knew that you are a hard person to please. You harvest where you haven't planted and gather where you haven't scattered any seeds. 25I was afraid. So I hid your two thousand dollars in the ground. Here's your money!'

26"His master responded, 'You evil and lazy servant! If you knew that I harvest where I haven't planted and gather where I haven't scattered, 27then you should have invested my money with the bankers. When I returned, I would have received my money back with interest. 28Take the two thousand dollars away from him! Give it to the one who has the ten thousand!

29To all who have, more will be given, and they will have more than enough. But everything will be taken away from those who don't have much. 30Throw this useless servant outside into the darkness. People will cry and be in extreme pain there.'  (God's Word Translation, 1995)

Wow!  That's a little extreme!, I thought.   Chucking a guy into the dark because he kept your money safe?  What's wrong with this picture?! 

Enter Wikepedia, and Parable of the talents or minas

The lesson for Christians, Wikipedia says, is to "use their God-given gifts in the service of God, and to take risks for the sake of the Kingdom of God. . . Failure to use one's gifts, the parable suggests, will result in judgement."

I understood, finally.  Harsh, I thought, but I get it.  Had I not done some checking, a little rudimenatary research, my translation would have been easier to read, but unhelpful.  So humbled, I could restate EC's last sentence of 8A,

obtaining your ideal is making spiritual use of your resources first. The lesson is: seek the Kingdom first, and your needs will be provided,
to read:
obtaining your translation is making use of primary sources, first.  The lesson is, don't assume, do a little research, and understanding will result.
I've come to respect the rod.

Sunday, 5.20.12. 1:55PM

Sunday, February 26, 2012

T and the other letters

T is for Text.  On the readings page available from you’ll notice links to Background, Report, and Index, in addition to Text, even if just Text is why you’re there.  I’d suggest you spend some time at these other letters, B, R, and I.

B is for Background.  Background can be the significance of the reading itself, if it’s one in a series, like the 262s; often the reading is given historical perspective.  Take a look at 262.13, and follow the 4191 series for a fascinating, novel look at the kidnapping of Charles Linbergh, Jr. from the point of view of Edgar Cayce and his circle of concerned friends.

R is for Report.  Usually a report of the outcome of advice EC gave a client.  If a health reading, the result of the client following EC’s protocol – or, in the case of EC himself, what happened when he didn’t.  In spiritual readings, the report may detail, as correspondence allowed, the course of a client’s life, or that of a family member.  A.R.E. followed newspaper articles on the Lindbergh kidnapping case all the way to 1993.

I is for Index.  In addition to being a subject and name index, this is also an index to the biblical scriptures quoted in the reading, and where they can be found.

What makes BRI most helpful is that the paragraph is cited in the reading where it occurs.  This makes cross-reference so much easier.  What time A.R.E. didn’t spend translating and paraphrasing Edgar Cayce’s readings, the researchers more than made up for by this research tool.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Translating Cayce into plain English is hard work, but I’ve found a diversion that offers the excitement of discovery: I use the numbers that stand for people to make lists that I cross reference. The process helps breathe life into the numbers in brackets; I begin to see how ordinary they are, and how little difference there is between their problems and ours.

The lists I cross reference are: Numbers cited; Attendee names; Other names cited; Reading number and subject; Subject and reading number; and Readings by year.

I have to look out, though.  Just compiling these lists is time consuming, and the practice is compelling.  It can become an end in itself and a convenient excuse for not doing the more relevant work of translating.

A language all its own

Metaphysics has a language all its own.  It has generated new words.  It has given new shadings to familiar words.  It is poetic.

In many passages in the Edgar Cayce readings, there are words that we’re sure have a meaning just beyond our grasp.  It’s at that point that I’m most likely to hack away verbiage and distill what I hope is Cayce’s intent. 

Whether or not we recognize it, that’s what we do when we read Cayce.  We have to.  We take the sentences apart, rearrange them and put them back in a way that makes grammatical sense.  It’s language; it’s the tool we have. 

I can’t imagine translating the readings verbatim into Spanish or German without first paraphrasing them, saying to ourselves, “in other words,” or “he means,” or “what he’s saying, is.”  For the most intuitive among us, the string of words has immediate meaning – but then tell someone else what you just read; you have to resort to subject, verb, and voice.


Getting it wrong

English is a difficult language to understand.  Sometimes I swear we do all we can to make understanding English even more difficult.  I’m thinking of contract legalese and Congressional obfuscation; of tax returns; of argot of all sorts.

I’ve dedicated a website to making at least one form of English, Caycian metaphysicalese, intelligible.

Do you want a translation?  I’ve dedicated my website to making the readings of the American medium, Edgar Cayce, easier to understand.  The website is, and with it I hope to make Cayce more accessible to New Age readers. 

Right now, the readings, all of them, are available on  The Association for Research and Enlightenment, or A.R.E., asks a very small membership fee for access to the readings, but once you get there, the world of Edgar Cayce opens up to you.

And that’s the problem: Cayce’s world is overwhelming.  In a fairly brief period, from about 1925 to 1945, when he died, Cayce laid down twice a day, put himself into a trance, and answered questions from whoever wanted to ask.  During World War II, he did four or more a day.  The number of subjects he replied to is enormous.  His stenographer had her hands full just translating her shorthand, verbatim, into English.  What no one has done in the intervening decades is to translate what he said into modern English.  Edgar Cayce was an American.  He spoke English.  Why do we know his words mostly through others’ explanations? 

On my website you’ll find, in the weeks ahead, guidelines I use in my translation of a very limited number of his 14,067 readings.  I’m most interested in the series of readings from which the book, A Search for God, Books I and II, were derived.  Some of the readings need only a general grammatical clean-up, while others need extensive work – in my opinion.  What I hope to do on my website is to help you get started translating in your area of interest, so that eventually there will be a network of us who are willing to present Edgar Cayce’s message to the world in plain English.

The risk to the readings is that we could get the meanings wrong.  That’s the nature of metaphysics.  The real travesty, in my opinion, is that the readings might remain untouched, read only in passages that are quoted in context, in companion books and readers, and in study groups, when in fact they deserve to be as widely read and appreciated as the quatrains of Nostradamus.   

Our translations are going to be flawed, colored by our understanding of Cayce and the language of metaphysics, and flavored by our word choice.  Consider them the start of future discussions, the initial commentaries on an important and original body of work.