Association for Research and Enlightenment
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The Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.), also known as Edgar Cayce's A.R.E., was founded by Edgar Cayce (1877–1945) in 1931 to research and explore subjects such as holistic health, ancient mysteries, personal spirituality, dreams and dream interpretation, intuition, philosophy and reincarnation. A.R.E.'s stated mission is to help people change their lives for the better through the ideas and information found in the Edgar Cayce readings.
Its international headquarters are in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with a regional office in Houston, Texas. It claims to have Edgar Cayce Centers in 37 countries, and individual members in more than 70 countries.
A.R.E. runs conferences, retreats and other educational activities, and publishes books relating to Edgar Cayce and his teachings under the imprints of A.R.E. Press and 4th Dimension Press. The A.R.E. also publishes a quarterly member magazine Venture Inward.
It maintains an affiliation with Atlantic University, and runs a Health Center & Day Spa at its Virginia Beach headquarters along with the Cayce/Reilly School of Massage.
A.R.E. claims to be the heir to a previous Cayce-related organization, the Association of National Investigators (A.N.I.). Dependent on the financial support of a few major donors, the ANI emphasized major institution-building projects such as the original Atlantic University and the Cayce Hospital for Research and Enlightenment, a hospital staffed with medical personnel willing to apply Cayce-recommended treatments. The name of the hospital would later inspire the name of the ARE. The ANI and its various projects folded with the onset of the Great Depression.
In 1931, Cayce called a meeting of his supporters in Virginia Beach, asking them directly whether they felt that "the work" ought to continue. The result was the creation of the A.R.E. as a successor organization to the A.N.I. This was also the beginning of a tradition of annual meetings (the A.R.E. refers to as "Congress") at its Virginia Beach headquarters and featuring talks on spiritual subjects.
Prior to Cayce's death in 1945, people seeking a reading from Cayce were asked to join the A.R.E. This helped insulate Cayce from charges of fortune-telling, which was illegal in some U.S. states, as he was not directly charging a "fee" for his services but receiving a salary from the member-supported A.R.E. Apart from supporting Cayce and his staff, a major emphasis of the early A.R.E. was the encouragement of small groups devoted to spiritual study, prayer, and meditation.
When Cayce died he left many requests for readings unanswered. His son, Hugh Lynn Cayce, returned from the Army later that year and took charge of the A.R.E. Under Hugh Lynn Cayce's leadership, the A.R.E. arrived at the basic cluster of activities and interests which it follows today. A major boost came with the rise of the 1960s counterculture and then the New Age Movement, which coincided with a plethora of popular books on Cayce.
After Hugh Lynn's death in 1982 the A.R.E. was led by his son, Charles Thomas Cayce (interspersed with some periods of shared control). Charles Thomas retired in 2006. The A.R.E.'s current CEO and executive director is Kevin J. Todeschi, previously the editor of the A.R.E. membership magazine Venture Inward, and a long-time staffer at the A.R.E.
During the last few decades, the A.R.E. has focused its efforts on globalizing its activities and on attracting attention from mass media, typically cable programs from the "unsolved mysteries" genre.
Major activities of the A.R.E. include:
- Nonprofit association membership with benefits such as a quarterly magazine (Venture Inward) and newsletter (Cayce Quarterly)
- Lectures and tours at A.R.E. headquarters in Virginia Beach, Va., and around the U.S.; library facilities; bookstore; meditation garden
- A.R.E. Health Center & Spa focuses on holistic treatments at Virginia Beach campus
- Housing and distributing the Edgar Cayce readings (14,306 documented readings on file)
- Encouraging research into various aspects of the Cayce material
- Publishing books, DVDs, and CDs through A.R.E. Press
- International tours to sacred sites around the world
- Cayce/Reilly School of Massage (holistic massage based on the Cayce readings)
- Atlantic University (nonprofit higher education online university with masters in transpersonal studies and mindful leadership)
- A summer camp for children, teens, families, and adults
The A.R.E. is led by a self-perpetuating board of trustees. The same board also heads a sister organization, the Edgar Cayce Foundation, which claims to hold the copyright to the Cayce readings and related material. (Critics point out that Cayce himself freely distributed the same material without copyright.) Books using Cayce quotes are thus expected to pay royalties.
ARE membership is conceived as a kind of subscription arrangement, in which the "member" receives a packet of goods (publications, mainly) and services (e.g., access to Cayce readings online) in exchange for an annual fee. These fees can be waived altogether for people who cannot afford the full fee. Life memberships are also available.
Within the United States and Canada, A.R.E. activities are divided into 11 multi-state / multi-provincial regions and 3 major metropolitan areas. Their relationship with Virginia Beach is basically that of a branch office to headquarters. Overseas, there are presently 29 "Edgar Cayce Centers" in 25 countries, and another 37 countries with a lesser degree of ARE representation.
Study groups and the Glad Helpers group are organizationally independent of A.R.E. headquarters (and in fact pre-date that organization). They do however cooperate to some degree. For example, A.R.E. headquarters refers inquirers to study groups, while study groups may donate money or encourage their participants to join the A.R.E.
In the past, Cayce study groups tended to meet weekly in members' homes. This occurred frequently when no central place of gathering was available, such as in the ARE of NYC before they found space in 241 West 30th Street. Traditional Cayce groups include The Dream Group, The Prayers for Healing Group, and Search for God. About half of the Prayers for Healing & Search for God meetings are generally devoted to the study of some appropriate Cayce text, traditionally the two volumes of A Search For God. These consist of lessons which Study Group #1 put together with guidance from the sleeping Cayce (who refused to allow them to continue until he felt that they were successfully living the spiritual lessons already given). Often, study group members will attempt to apply the lessons in their lives, just as the first group did.
Usually, the other half of the Prayers for Healing meetings will be given over to meditation and recitation of names of those who wished for healing. Several prayers are often recited, including the Lord's Prayer and the Twenty-Third Psalm ("The Lord is my shepherd..."). The mediation during the second half can also apply to the Search for God group. Despite the prevalence of Christian traditions, a significant number of "Cayce people" are Jews or other non-Christians.
The Dream Group attempts to apply the Cayce philosophy to the interpretation of dreams. The group will take turns sharing their dreams and, based on the methods outlined in his texts, attempt to interpret their own. Later, the group will share ideas and feedback about whether the symbols and patterns were accurately interpreted. These groups are no charge, but donations are appreciated.
The original A.R.E. symbol consisted of a white cross and dove on a blue background. In 2007, this was changed to a dove and globe.
- A. Robert Smith, About My Father's Business
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