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As with many familiar Cayce readings, this one—be content, not satisfied—contains more depth and may have far more significance for living the life of spirit than at first is apparent. One of the great and often overlooked values of the Cayce readings is their ability to trigger understanding and insights within our own experience. The readings themselves were very individualized and yet the concepts, repeated to many individuals in different circumstances, obviously have universal applications.

This article is not an explication of what Cayce had to say on the subject of “be content, not satisfied.” Rather it is about what that saying triggered in me, the insights it gave me in my own growth process. Cayce might not even agree with my conclusions, but the value of the readings is not as a fixed body of work, like a closed Bible, to be dogmatically followed. Rather, it is a living legacy, parts of which can serve as seeds to entirely new flowerings of thought and understanding.


To Struggle or Not to Struggle?

The question I was struggling with was Why am I struggling? It seemed to me that because I was so aware of my potential, because I had these pictures of my ideal self, my enlightened self, even my simply successful self, I was continually in a state of not being okay. Even though I had my successes and could see areas of growth in my life, the final goal seemed depressingly distant, the gap unbridgeable.

As usual I began to understand this dilemma by seeing the people around me—those pesky and persistent mirrors of my own thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and fears—struggling with the same thing. A good friend of mine was going through a mid-life crisis at age 32. He had succeeded in fulfilling an earlier goal by creating his own business. But now he had a new goal and was feeling like a failure. I realized that we can feel like failures most of our life if we continually look at what we haven’t yet accomplished. Our successes become only momentary oases on our way to some nebulous higher goal.

One of the reasons growth and change is such a struggle is that we approach it from the position of being “not okay,” from the position of failure. How can a not-okay person do something okay? How can a person who’s a failure, succeed? Thoughts are things. Mind is the builder. The mind builds an image, an identity, of someone who is basically flawed. Growth becomes a struggle because we’re telling a self we identify as a “loser” to go out and win

And we do “win” occasionally or even frequently, but if our self-image is fixed on “I’m not okay,” those wins will not change the basic negative perception. It is especially difficult for those who are aware of the spiritual dimension. Things like enlightenment, living in the light, or even the ideals from the Cayce readings, seem forever unattainable and the self we experience seems truly fallen and flawed.         

Being satisfied doesn’t seem to be a problem for the spiritually aware. I know of no one who does not feel the need for some change, growth, or healing. Being content, however, is a major life challenge for me, and, I suspect, for many others.


 The Seeds of Discontent

Why is contentment so difficult for us? Why do we see ourselves in such a bad light? If we look at the major influences in our culture—science, psychology, religion, and spiritual disciplines—we will see how pervasive the “You’re not okay” message is.

Science sees life on earth, including humans, as a big accident. There is no purpose in life save for survival, and certainly no meaning aside from what we are able to inject. We try to elevate ourselves by being the highest form of animal life, but we’re still “just” animals (a real insult to the animals, by the way) and we still live by tooth and claw. Improvement, such as there is, comes through the process of evolution. Evolution is an ugly and sordid affair where “natural selection” assures the survival and propagation of the strong, intelligent, aggressive, and cunning. Good guys, in the moral sense, do finish last.

Psychology isn’t much better. Although there have been many psychological theories and approaches since Freud’s ideas came on the scene, his basic concepts, which are in keeping with the scientific view of reality, also permeate our culture. Freud said that we’re ravenous beasts (the id), which must be controlled (by society and the Superego) if we’re to restrain ourselves from murdering, raping, and pillaging.

We need religions, governments, armies, and police forces to protect us from ourselves.