—Still in Pursuit of Answers to Unasked/Unanswered Questions
By Margaret Van Every
A carrot and stick motivated Jim Spivey to fulfill his potential against seemingly impossible odds. The stick was having been born into grinding poverty; the carrot an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Add to these the synchronicity that put him in the right place at the right time to provide the education and connections to launch an impressive career.
In 1943, a struggling Milledgeville sharecropper was caught by the Feds moon-shining, so naturally he jumped bail and hightailed it with family to Tennessee, where he had kin. While there, Jim Spivey was born and after a year the family returned to Milledgeville. Jim’s dad was a misfit with a 4th-grade education, an alcoholic who had trouble keeping steady employment. Milledgeville, Georgia in the 40’s was a rural farming community where hunting and fishing and dependency on the land were ingrained in the culture and picking cotton for three dollars per 100 pounds is part of his legacy.
Childhood poverty gave Jim a lifelong struggle with low self-esteem, but it goaded him to try harder to succeed. He often had to go to grade school shoeless through the slippery, red Georgia clay. Winters it was painful to walk on when it froze. Undisciplined and impatient with formal learning, he graduated nonetheless from the public high school. The Milledgeville high school had good teachers, some with PhDs, and Jim had taken college-bound courses. With his probing mind and penchant for math and abstract thinking, he gravitated to the sciences.
After graduation Jim immediately had to find a job—no possibility of university—and he was admitted to a prestigious apprenticeship program at nearby Warner Robbins AFB. From 2000 applicants, he was one of 20 selected for an 18- month pilot co-op program of intensive training in electronics of airborne radar on B-52s. The Vietnam War was underway and to avoid being drafted into the Army he joined the Air Force. They trained him to be a Nuclear Weapons Specialist and assigned him to a Canadian AFB in Germany for three years to secure, maintain, and supply US nuclear weapons to the Canadian Air Force. Though he had ethical conflicts about how these weapons would be used, he says that indoctrination during training quelled humanitarian doubts. He was 22 at the time.
On returning from Germany, he found a job at the State Mental Hospital in Milledgeville, working nights and attending college during the day, majoring in Psychology but not finishing his studies. About this time his sister put him onto Edgar Cayce’s The Sleeping Prophet, which spoke to his early (age 11) interest in hypnosis and parapsychology. At 15, he had studied the world’s great religions, trying to understand who he was, where he came from, what he was doing here. Now in his 20’s, upon reading a book about Cayce’s life, There Is a River, his own life took a new direction. One morning at 4 a.m. he awoke laughing and filled with happiness. He’d just dreamt that his path to fulfillment led to Virginia Beach, home of the Cayce Institute and Library.
He enrolled in Cayce Foundation advanced courses in hypnosis and past life regression, and held meetings at his house applying what he’d learned. The purpose of this was to find information people could use to improve their current lives, but he knew this wasn’t the whole story. What he wanted, which became a lifelong obsession, was to bring metaphysics and science together.
His next job was with GE Medical Systems as an engineer for medical imaging equipment, but the most significant achievement of his career came after he was hired by Daughters of Charity Hospital in Norfolk to be the engineer for radiology. With a team of radiologists from Johns Hopkins, they developed a system to isolate pulmonary nodules and diagnose without surgery whether they were malignant. The team won the top prize in radiology research that year at the Radiological Society of North America convention in Chicago. This technology is now used in all diagnostic imaging.
After retirement, around 2000, he volunteered to run and improve the Audio Visual Department for the Cayce Research Institute and indulged in long-postponed thrills flying ultra-lights and airplanes, riding motorcycles and scuba diving. He’d heard Lake Chapala was paradise, which was exactly what he wanted—a temperate climate where he could pick fruit off the trees. He came to Mexico with one suitcase and made up his mind to stay, leaving behind a warehouse of books, photo albums, and personal possessions. Far beyond the climate, he discovered a community he thought approximated Cayce’s “spiritual city.”
Jim immediately became involved with Open Circle, which had already evolved into today’s format and was meeting at LCS. First he served on a steering committee and gradually assumed most of the administrative responsibilities himself, which he continued to do for 12 years until leaving it to others in June 2015. He describes his major contributions to the organization as stopping commercial activities, improving the sound equipment, upgrading the quality and variety of presentations, and growing the audience.
Another notable contribution Lakeside was the Edge of Consciousness courses he gave at LCS for over two years, comprising subjects like hypnosis, genetic engineering, and how organic, reproducible organisms evolved from inanimate components. He did figure out a valid “Framework of Reference” that explains the evolution of religious beliefs and scientific method.
Now he focuses on gathering books and documentaries addressing answers to universal enigmas that have dogged him all his life, including the mysterious connection between science and the metaphysical.