Lester Levenson: Realization through dropping the unconscious

Question: What does it feel like to be infinite?
Lester: Absolutely no limitation in any direction whatsoever. No limitations, total freedom from everything. Needing no food, no oxygen, no job. Instantly materializing anything you want. Being anywhere in the universe. Being as tall as you want or the size of an atom. Being at perfect peace and contentment. Being in the most delightful state possible. (1993, “Thou Art That.”)

Realization through dropping the unconscious

Our subject is called many things by many schools. I like to call it happiness, and that which gives you the ultimate in happiness is the discovery of the truth of you. When you come to completely know you, you reach this ultimate joy, and with it the peace of satiation. You discover that you are all, and that your former worldly search was you trying to find your real self. But you never could discover the real you, and because of that you were never satisfied.

You are the totality of this universe in your beingness. – Lester Levenson

I have said it repeatedly: you are this thing called happiness. Your basic nature is infinite joy, far beyond anything your mind could comprehend. That is why we are all seeking happiness—we are all trying to return to that wonderful inherent state. However, we do not find it because we are looking away from, rather than toward it. To find it, we must look within. There we find that we are infinite being. We have no limitation. We have all knowledge. We have all power. And we are omnipresent right here and now. There is no one who does not possess these three things.

The difficulty in discovering our purpose and goal in life lies in the fact that because we are infinite, we can make ourselves infinitely small, and this is exactly what we have tried to do. We could not be much more limited than we are right now. In this universe, which is infinite in size, we are at the extremity of limitation. We have imagined ourselves and frozen ourselves into physical bodies, and because of so many millennia of looking at ourselves as bodies, we have become convinced that we are these physical bodies.

Beings are capable of seeing all realms that are denser than their own. In the subtlest realm, the causal world, beings can perceive the denser astral and physical realms. In the astral world, beings can perceive the denser physical world. And because we in the physical realm cannot see a denser realm, we are in the densest, most limited realm possible. The physical body being the extreme end of limitation possible to us, we feel cramped, we hurt, we reach out. We try to express our freedom in the physical world. We try to eliminate time and space, to go faster and farther.

I am pointing out how far we have gone in accepting limitation since we came into a physical body, and that this is the reason why it is so difficult for most of us to discover the truth of ourselves, which is that we have no limits. However, there is an advantage to being in this very limited state. Because we are so cramped, we have more of a desire to get out of it than we would if we were living in a harmonious heaven where everything was easy and immediately available, where life did not prod us into trying to get liberation. We have a very distinct advantage in being here: we are forced to seek a way out.

If the soul were able to know God wholly as the angels do, she would never have entered the body. If she could know God without the world, the world would not have been made for her sake. The world was created on her account, for training. – Meister Eckhart (Walshe, Sermon Fifty-Two)

We are trying in many ways and with many methods to get free. No matter what the methods are, they all must end up doing the very same thing: freeing us of our concepts of limitation. The methodology must quiet our mind, must do away with thoughts. Every thought is a concept of limitation. When thoughts are undone, what’s left over is the infinite being that we are. Unfortunately, we set into motion an automatic way of thinking called the subconscious mind. There, we relegate thoughts to the background and let them operate without needing to pay any attention to them, and we have lost sight of them.

The subconscious mind is the real difficulty when we try to let go of thoughts. It’s difficult because we are in the habit of not looking at it. Not looking at it, we don’t see it. Since we don’t see it, it goes on and on, lifetime in and lifetime out. We are so married to our thoughts that we never even think of divorcing them. And until we do, we will continue, blindly attached to physical bodies and, in the overall, having a miserable life. For every ounce of pleasure we take we get pounds of pain. And it must be that way, because the pleasure we are trying to get is by seeking our very own self externally, in the world and through the body, and it just isn’t there.

The methods, to be effective, must be in a direction of first quieting our thoughts, and then actually getting rid of our thoughts. Make a conscious effort to bring up subconscious thoughts, and when they are brought to the conscious plane, drop them. When they do come up, you want to drop them and you do, because they are very limiting and very negative as a whole.

After you have dropped an appreciable number of thoughts, then you can drop them in large amounts. To drop thoughts in large amounts requires dropping the tendency or predisposition that has evolved from the accumulated thoughts on that one particular thing. Dropping the tendency or predisposition, one drops all the thoughts that caused that tendency or predisposition. In this way you may, at one time, drop a large accumulation of thoughts. For instance, if one has a tendency to like sweets, one could bring up from the subconscious one thought at a time and continue letting go of them until there are no more. This takes much time! However, if one drops the tendency itself, then all the subconscious thoughts that made up that tendency are dropped, and one is totally free from desiring sweets.

“Monks, with the abandoning and destruction of the seven tendencies, the holy life is fulfilled. Which seven? The tendency of craving for the sensual, the tendency of aversion, the tendency of views, the tendency of self-doubt, the tendency of conceit, the tendency of craving for becoming, the tendency of ignorance.” (Letting go of the mind)

Later you reach a point where you can drop all the remaining thoughts at once, because, having infinite power, you will have reached the point where you can see that you have this infinite power, and you then can use it to wipe out the rest of the mind. That is why it is sometimes said that realization is instantaneous. When you get that far that you can see that the power is yours, you wipe out all the remaining thoughts at once. Then you are totally free; you’ve gone all the way.

When this happens, you don’t become a zombie and you don’t disappear or go up in a flash of light. What you do is let the body go through that which you pre-set (programmed) for it. And when you reach the end of the line of the action for the body, you will leave it with joy. You will leave it just the way you leave and let go of an old worn-out overcoat.

You will never die. People around you might say so, but to yourself, you don’t die. You consciously drop the body the way you would drop an old, worn-out overcoat. But, again, you will not do this until you run the course that you pre-set for it. Now, I tell you this so you will not be fearful of dying if you get self-realization.

So, attaining the ultimate state is not disappearing into a nothingness: it’s a moving out into your omnipresence and letting go of confinement to only a physical body. But to do this, you must have a strong desire to do it. The only thing that keeps you from being the infinite being that you are is your desire to be a limited physical body. When your desire shifts into wanting to get free of the extreme limitation, it’s a start, but to go all the way you must have a desire to be totally free that is more intense than your desire to be a physical body.

The reason why so few of us do make it is that most of us have a stronger subconscious desire to be a physical body than we have a conscious desire to be free, unlimited being. Until you confront this and see what your desire really is, it is impossible to achieve total freedom, total realization. You should dig into the subconscious to bring up your desires, because unless you see them, you can’t let go of them. The only reason why you are limited to the physical body is that subconsciously you have a strong desire to be this limited physical body. When your conscious desire to be free becomes stronger than your subconscious desire to be a physical body, then you’ll quickly achieve your freedom, and therein lies your ultimate happiness. I think that is an overall presentation of the subject. Now, if you have any questions, I’d be very happy to do what I can to answer your specific questions.

Q: How do you dig into your subconscious?

Lester: Good question. You do it by first, wanting to do it. It’s very difficult when you begin, but as you do it, the more you do it the easier it becomes. You can actually reach a place where it becomes easy. Practice will do it. By practicing bringing up subconscious thoughts, the more you do it, the more you’re able to do it. There are many aids to doing it. In the little booklet, “The Eternal Verities,” (The Ultimate Truth) there are ways and aids like: “Get to the place where no one and no thing can disturb you.” When someone disturbs you and you don’t know why, the thought is subconscious. Bring up the thought. By constant trying, you will develop the habit of actually getting it up. You’ll see that there’s a limiting thought, an ego or selfish motivation behind it, and you’ll drop it.

I say then: when outward ills befall the good and just man, if he remains in equanimity with the peace of his heart unmoved, then it is true, as I have said, that nothing that happens to the just man can disturb him. – Meister Eckhart (Walshe, “The Book of Divine Comfort”)

Q: Is just seeing the subconscious thought or motivation enough?

Lester: Just looking at it is not enough. You must consciously drop the thought or consciously cast out the tendency or motivation. I’m assuming you’ll want to let go of these thoughts because they’re all limiting and negative. One reason why we don’t like to dig them up is that we don’t like to see how awful we are. But there’s nothing good or bad: there’s just moving in the right direction or the wrong direction. When we move in the wrong direction, we move toward more limitation and that’s what is called bad. But everything is experiencing, and when we don’t judge ourselves we move much faster.

Q: When we don’t judge ourselves?

Lester: Right. When we don’t judge ourselves. Whatever comes up, say “So what?” To get this far in your limitations, you have done the whole range of everything bad. It’ll come up, but it’s from past experiencing. Also, when you wake up, you’ll discover that you never ever were apart from your real self, which is whole, perfect, complete, unlimited; that all these experiences were images in your mind, just like a night dream. You imagine everything that’s going on. But while you’re in a night dream, it’s real to you. If someone is trying to kill you in a night dream, it’s real; you’re struggling for your life. But when you wake up from that dream, what do you say? “It was just a dream; it was my imagination.” This waking state is exactly as real as a night dream. We’re all dreaming we are physical bodies. We’re dreaming the whole thing. However, in order to reach this awakened state, it is first necessary to drop a major part of your subconscious thinking.

It is like a man who, in a dream finding himself in a great river, attempts to get to the other side. He musters all his energy and strives hard with every possible means. And because of this effort and contrivance, he awakens from the dream, and thus awakened, all his strivings cease.

In like manner the Bodhisattva sees all beings drowning in the four streams, and in his attempt to save them he exerts himself vigorously, unflinchingly. And because of his vigorous and unflinching exertion he attains the stage of immovability. Once in this stage, all his strivings are dropped. He is relieved of all activity that issues from the notion of duality or from an attachment to appearance. (Dasabhumika Sutra)

Q: What did you mean by “After you’re realized, you live your life out as you pre-set it?”

Lester: We pre-set (program) the behavior of this physical body before we enter it in order to put us through experiences that we hope to learn from.

Q: Knowing that you would attain realization this time?

Lester: No. In past lives you subjected yourself to the law of action and reaction, cause and effect, karma—they’re all the same thing—and you want to continue that game. You did certain things when you were in a physical body before, so [the] next time you want to set up similar things in a hope of undoing some of the things you don’t like and instigating the things you do like. But you cannot change anything that the body was pre-set by you to do. You’re going to do exactly what you pre-set for that body before you came into it: there is no free will in worldly living. However, there is a free will. The free will we have is to identify with the real being that we are or to identify with the body. If you identify with the body, you’re in trouble. So the free will is one of identity. Knowing this makes life much easier. You don’t fight it. Rather, you aim for proper identity.

Levenson, Lester (1993). Keys to the Ultimate Freedom: Thoughts and Talks on Personal Transformation. Phoenix, Arizona: Sedona Institute. ISBN 0-915721-03-1 (pp. 313-316) (download pdf)

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