Lester Levenson: The Self

Practising the deep practice of the perfection of wisdom, the Bodhisattva Noble Avalokiteśvara examined the five skandhas and saw them to be empty of self-nature. – Heart Sutra

If at this moment you identify with your Self, you are infinite. That part of you that really is, your Beingness, is eternal. It’s the “I” that you really are. – Lester Levenson

Talking Heads: “Once in a Lifetime”

Sept. 28, 1964

All right, now I’ll go back one step and talk about this so-called apparency called the world. The world is only an illusion that we created. Some day you’ll discover that you created this entire universe. The method of creating is by first creating what we call a mind. We create our mind, which is nothing but a composite of all our thoughts, and thoughts create the material world. Every little thing that happens to each and every one of us is created in our thinking. We set up a thing called time, which makes it even more difficult to see things, because we think now, and things might happen years later; but the only creator there is, is the mind—your mind. Is God a creator? Yes, because you are. Thou art That. You set up a mind, and a mind creates.

It is good to discover that everything happening is caused by our thinking; everything that happens to us is created in our own thought. It’s a stepping-stone toward realizing that we are the creators. First you discover that you created your trouble, then you discover that you can create good things, then you discover that you can create anything you desire.

After you’ve discovered that there’s nothing that you cannot create, you’re still unhappy, the reason being that you have separated yourself from the One. So then you try to control the mind. You have already gained control over matter. You control the mind in ways such as, if you have pain you don’t feel it; if it’s cold outside you feel warm; if it’s hot you feel comfortable. This can be done mentally. This is in the line of getting mental control. When the mind is really controlled, then you’ll eliminate the mind. When the mind is eliminated there’s nothing left over but the infinite Self that you are.

So we start by becoming masters over matter, then we become masters over mind, and then we become masters.

So, if there are any problems that remain, they only remain because you are holding onto them. The moment you let go of them they are gone! If you tell me that isn’t so for you, that isn’t true. The truth is you’re still holding on to the problem, telling me that it doesn’t work. Now, trying to get rid of a problem is holding on to it. Anything we try to get rid of we are holding in mind and therefore sustaining that problem. So the only way to correct a problem is to let go of it. See not the problem—see only what you want. If you would, from this moment on, see only what you want, that is all that you would get—what you want. But you hold in mind the things you do not want, very strongly. You struggle to eliminate the things you don’t want, thereby sustaining them. [Don’t see any event as a problem, but see it as a gift from God and be grateful for it. – Ed]

You should have only one desire: a desire for complete liberation, complete realization. Any other desire will keep you in trouble. We should try to let go of all desires; we should not try to fulfill any desires. Every time we fulfill a desire, we strengthen that desire rather than weaken it, which I believe is obvious to all of us—that we never satiate desires. The more we try to satisfy them, the more we want of them. So it’s better to not satisfy desires, and by doing so the mind gets quieter. When the mind is quieter, we have a better chance to see the truth. When we see the truth, we scorch the desire. And this is the better way, actually the only really effectual way of getting rid of desire. When you see the truth, desires are scorched. Because a desire is trying to be your own real Self through some indirect means—through some person, through some thing. When you see this, you let go of these silly desires, because why struggle through indirect means to be that which you are? The indirect means cannot make you what you are, so it’s fruitless and extremely frustrating. Therefore we have this frustrated world. They’re all trying to satisfy desires and it’s absolutely impossible to do it. And they go on and on, lifetime in, lifetime out, until we recognize that desires are our enemy.

Desire is an admission of lack. If I am the infinite One, I desire nothing—I am the All. We must get back to that state by behaving as one would in that state. The greatest behavior that we can perform is living as a fully realized being would live. Try to attain the state of desirelessness. Try to attain the state of dispassion—no attachments, no aversions. Try to attain the state of equanimity, the feeling of equal-mindedness toward everything, everyone. Acting this way will push us toward being that way. By eliminating the effects out there we help to eliminate the thought [i.e., the cause].

Lester Levenson – The Ultimate Goal part 2

This subject cannot be learned intellectually, it cannot be learned through the mind because it’s perceived just behind the mind. We can use the mind to gradually undo the limitations enough so that we can get behind the mind by getting it quieter. If it were possible to get this subject through the mind intellectually, all we would need to do is to read the books on it and we would have it. But it doesn’t work that way. We have to very concentratedly dwell upon our Self that is just behind the mind. Turn the mind back upon the mind to discover what the mind is, and then go beyond the mind to the Self. So to get this subject, each one must experience it, realize it, make it real by going to the place just behind the mind and perceiving it there.

Now the very highest state is simply Beingness, and if we could only be, just be, we could see our infinity. We would see that there are no limitations. We would see that we are the All. We would be in a perfectly satiated, permanent, changeless state. And it is not a nothingness, it is not a boredom, it is an all-ness, an everything-ness, a total satiation that is eternal. You will never, never lose your individuality. The word “I” as you use it to mean your individuality will never ever leave you—it expands. What happens as you remember what you are is that you’ll begin to see that others are you, that you are me, that you are now and always have been gloriously infinite. (Keys to the Ultimate Freedom, 1993)


The Self, which is only your real Self, is the real “I” of you: knowing this, you know all there is to know.

Knowing your Self is being your Self.

The ultimate goal of every being in the universe is total freedom, and that is when you are only your Self.

The only reason why you are not aware of your Self is simply because you want to be only a single body in the world.

Everyone will someday wake up to the fact that he is the Self.

To see your Self, you have to quiet the mind enough. When the mind is being stimulated by the thousands of thoughts in the subconscious, there’s little chance of seeing your Self. The thousands of thoughts culminate in tendencies. Drop a tendency and you eliminate the thousands of thoughts underlying it.

The only things preventing you from being your Self are your mental habits called tendencies or predispositions. Will them out!

If you discover that the source of the tendencies or predispositions is the ego, your ego, you drop them then and there.

When the mind gets free enough, then the Self of you takes over and you are from then on Self-propelled.

To be the ego requires much effort, and it is the effort we feel in life. It requires no effort to be your Self!

The effort that you think you exert to try to be your Self is actually the effort of trying to break free of the hold of the ego while still holding on to it.

Your effort to be the ego, and at the same time to not be the ego, doubles the effort.

All the effort you’re involved in is effort to be an ego and to break free of being an ego. Do you see what the problem is? It is your constant effort. You must become effortless.

The only reason why anyone isn’t aware of the Self is because he wants something less. If one wanted the Self instead of wanting the world, he would soon have it.

When you find more joy within yourself than in anything else, then you’re really moving in the right direction. If you find any joy in external things you’re in the wrong direction. Enjoying any thing is wrong; seek joy within. Be joy. You don’t need any thing to enjoy if you are all-joyous. If we are enjoying any thing we are in duality. If I enjoy this, there’s “I” and “this.” If there’s Self alone, and Self is all there is, there can’t be any “I” and “this.” The basic truth is that you are all joy. Enjoying something external will impose an extreme limitation upon your natural state of all-joy. To enjoy something external, you’re pretending that there is something other than you. So, I repeat, we should never enjoy any thing. Seek joy only within, and then the natural state of infinite joy is discovered.

There is really only one happiness; it is being our very own Self. The happier we are, the more we are dwelling in our Self.

Every time you’re high you’re only being your Self, and it feels terrific.

Living in your Self is living in ecstasies; worldly desires is living in miseries.

Everyone every moment is experiencing his Self and every moment saying otherwise.

It’s only without thought that you can be the Self.

Discovering and being your Self is either easy or impossible. Finding the Self is the easiest thing in the universe when you do it. When you don’t do it, when you continuously keep looking away from it, you can never see it. And then it is the most difficult thing in the universe.

31. Question: It said that the Great Way is very easy to find and easy to follow, yet no one in the world is capable of finding it and following it.
Answer: These words are true. Being above the world, unmoved, letting go, indifferent to it, not doing a single thing, is called following the Way. Not seeing a single thing is called seeing the Way. Not knowing a single thing is called cultivating the Way. Not practising a single thing is called practising the Way. Thus it is said to be easy to enter and easy to follow. (Bodhidharma’s Method for Quieting the Mind)

Being your Self is easy. Being an ego is difficult.

When you realize what you are, it’s the dropping of what you are not that is the growth. Each time you see what you are, you should drop that which you are not.

Everyone is seeking the Self, calling It by different names.

Anyone who is seeking happiness is seeking the Self. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who are consciously seeking God, happiness, the Self, and those who are unconsciously seeking them.

In the consciousness of materialism (mammon) there is no God (Self).

You cannot see God in the world until you see God in yourself.

God is all and God is perfect; therefore, anything that we see as imperfect is within us.

If you see separation, you see not the Self.

When the world is real it is heavy. When the Self is real the world is light.

When our false identity as a body-mind disappears, our real identity as Self appears.

We are the Self now. All that we have to do is to let go of the idea that we are not.

The Self is God. The ego is the devil.

God (your Self) is infinitely individual and individually infinite.

The most beautiful is God.

There is something far more beautiful than nature, it is the Source of nature, the ultimate beauty: God.

No matter how much trouble man can get himself into, God is more resourceful in getting him out of it.

When we behave like God we have God-like powers.

God (Self) can materialize anything instantly.

The All that is God is not every little thing; it is the singular same essence behind all the little things.

God and good are sometimes used synonymously. Because everyone wants good, they make God good. God is above good and bad. However, good leads us to God.

If God is all, that leaves no room for the devil.

In Reality there is only God (your Self).

It is better to think of Self rather than God because you generally think of God as other than you, and you generally think of Self as you.

There’s no such thing as an external called God. There is a God but it is the internal Beingness of everyone.

Everything that is, is the Self, has its is-ness, its beingness, in your Self, God.

God is this world, the way this world is, and not the appearances that we see.

God, truth, the Self, is changeless. If God knew change, it wouldn’t be changeless. There is no action in God. God knows nothing of this world as we see it. God is only the changeless Beingness behind the world.

Everyone experiences his Self every moment of his life.

My Self is the nearest of the near and the dearest of the dear.

Look to the Self for everything!

If you want to get more comforts, know your Self.

The only answer to all problems is knowing your Self.

We will never be completely satisfied until we are completely being the Self.

To discover your Self is the reason why you came into this world.

Everyone is seeking his Self in his every act.

The ultimate happiness is the Self. All other happiness is only a bit of the Self.

When you know that the only joy there is, is of the Self, you take it directly and in its fullness rather than meagerly, as you formerly took it.

The only one you need to help you know your Self is yourself.

This feeling of needing someone else in order to find your Self is ridiculous. It hinders you from being your Self.

Everyone is actually the Self expressing the Self as extreme limitation, identifying as a limited body-mind. When you say “I” and add nothing to it, that’s it.

When you are not identifying with the ego, you are the Self.

The only direct knowledge is of the Self. All other knowledge, needing something external to ourselves, is indirect.

If at this moment you identify with your Self, you are infinite.

That part of you that really is, your Beingness, is eternal. It’s the “I” that you really are.

The little self, the ego, is nothing but the innate infinite Self assuming that It is limited. There are no two selves, one higher, the other lower, no two “I’s”. There is only one Self. It is perfect and always will be perfect, even though you make the false assumption that It is imperfect and limited. You are now, always were, and always will be your Self.

Although one always experiences his Self, he usually needs to be directed to it before he becomes aware of it.

It is the Self that is the source of the ego, the source of everything.

You are every moment the unlimited Self, every moment saying “I am limited.” When you drop into the Self you stop saying “I am a limited body-mind.”

Look only at the Self; then the ego is eliminated.

When you dwell in your Self you have no desire to be liberated. It is only when you are in the ego that you desire liberation.

The Self is not aware of the ego and the ego is not aware of the Self.

When I, infinite Being, feel like a body, it is I, infinite Being, imagining I am feeling like a body.

When the Self is real, the body is not real, and vice versa.

Identify with your body and the extreme limitations of a body are yours. Identify with your Self and you are all things, all knowledge and power, with no limits.

There isn’t anyone who couldn’t materialize anything right now if he or she would just let go of identifying as the limited body.

If you will discover your Self you’ll see that the body and mind are your servants.

Obtain and maintain direct experience of the Self. It is easier to obtain than to maintain direct experience.

Every time you say “I” it’s everything, all the power in the universe. Every time you add something to “I” you pull “I” down into limitation.

When you see the perfection, you see the other one as the other one really is, which is the real thing, the perfect Self.

There’s not a higher Self and a lower Self. There’s only you, identifying with your limitless Beingness or identifying with your limited being.

You’re never satisfied until you go all the way.

There’s only one thing that satisfies fully and eternally and that’s total awareness of your Self.

Everyone is aware of a selfhood. It is the Self, being wrongly identified as only a body and mind.

If you would just be aware only, you would be your Self. If you would only just be, you would be your Self.

This infinite glorious Being that we are, being absolutely perfect, can never change. It’s always there.

The greatest of all teachers is your Self.

Look to your Self until you see It completely.

All Beingness is God, your Self.

In the Self there is no one who has, no having, no thing had. There is no doer, doing or deed. There’s no knower, knowing or thing known. There’s only Being, being all Beingness.

Act as though you are the Self: this will lead you to seeing It.

The reality of you is perfect, all joyous, all glorious, all happy.

The higher you go, the more you realize your Self and the more you treat others as your own Self.

Being the Self is being selfless. In that state you are interested only in serving others, serving them as your Self.

The Self is absolute, profound, indescribable peace.

The only requisite for the realization of the Self, your Self, is stillness.

When one realizes his Self, all his actions and possessions are not perceived as his. He has given up ‘me and mine’. Everything is the Self.

When you experience the Self, you can’t describe It. Anything you can say about it isn’t it. It is the state of only being. There’s no action there; there’s no form there. It’s is-ness, and that’s all that it is. You can’t use it, you can’t know it, you can only be it. When you’re there, there’s only one, you, and that’s all there is.

Anything but the Self is wholly imagination. The ego is only an apparent actor in the imaginary story script you wrote. Thou art That, here and now. Do not delude yourself. Drop your illusory limitation.

The Self is quiescence, perfect awareness with perfect stillness.
He who seeks God will not find God in duality.
There is no human, God being All.
There is no time, no becoming.
There is no creating in total perfection.
Only God beholds God, there being nothing else.
Only God loves God, God being all.
Be still and know that you are God!

There is only God, nothing else. If there is only God, then I am That. At the end of the road we discover that there is only “I,” all alone.

You are the Self saying otherwise, but that doesn’t make it so. No matter how much you say otherwise, you are that infinite Being right now.

You can’t become your Self, you are it!

Every time you say “I,” that’s the Self, if you would only stop there!

The word “I” with nothing added to it is your Self. When you just say “I,” that feeling of “I” is the Self. But when you say “I am something,” that isn’t It. But just pure “I” and only “I” is It. When that is all you see and all you know, that’s God, your Self. That’s why God is closer than flesh! Just hold on to the word “I” only “I, I, I, I.” Try it when you are alone. Just “I, I” and not “I am a body,” but “I, I, I, I” — that feeling of being. Hold That; experience It; be It! It is your Godhead, your Self!

When man seeks and discovers the seeker, he discovers that in the Self
God is not being something—God is beingness
God is not conscious of anything—God is consciousness
God does not enjoy anything—God is joy
God does not love anything or anyone—God is love

In man
His beingness is God
His consciousness is God
His joy is God
His love is God

(Session recorded in Los Angeles, August 31, 1969)

Levenson, Lester (1993). Keys to the Ultimate Freedom: Thoughts and Talks on Personal Transformation. Phoenix, Arizona: Sedona Institute. (http://www.freespiritualebooks.com/keys-to-the-ultimate-freedom.html)

Levenson, Lester (1998). The Ultimate Truth. Sherman Oaks, California: Lawrence Crane Enterprises, Inc.

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