Session 1: The Basic Goal and Ways to Attainment
September 28, 1964
The thing that every one of us is looking for in this world is exactly the same thing. And what is it that we’re all looking for? Happiness with no sorrow. A continuous happiness with no taint whatsoever of sorrow. All right, this being the goal, why is this the goal? The reason why this is the goal is because unlimited happiness is our very basic nature. This is the real natural state before we encumber it with limitations.
Now why is it that most of us don’t have this continuous happiness with no sorrow? There’s only one reason: being this infinite being with infinite happiness, we do away with this joy, this happiness, by saying first, “I am an individual”; then, “I have a mind.” Then with this mind, which is nothing but thoughts, we start accumulating thoughts of limitation: “I have a limited mind, body, with all sorts of trouble.” In this manner we take our unlimited beingness and we limit it to the extreme.
Now, the only real purpose of being here on Earth is to learn, or to remember our original natural state of no limitation. Once we are led to seeing that this is our natural state, then we proceed to let go of all the limitations. The prime number-one limitation is: “I am an individual separate from the all.” Eliminate that and you eliminate all trouble, all limitation, all sickness, all poverty. Saying that on the opposite side is saying: “Let go and let God.” “It is not I but the Father who worketh through me.” We must let go of the ego-sense and just allow our natural Being just to be, and then everything falls perfectly into line.
Now, this is all very, very simple–if you want complexity you’ll never see simplicity. But this must first be accepted. Once this is accepted as the overall way, we do not find it easy to accomplish it. We don’t find it easy because of past habits that have been established over thousands and thousands of years. And for some silly reason we like these past habits of trouble, and so we continue them. We do it in a manner that we refuse to look at. We call it unconscious behavior—unconscious or subconscious. And we go on and on and on repeating all this behavior of limitation automatically, calling it unconscious. Now the unconscious mind is only that part of the mind that we refuse to look at. When our desire is strong enough we will dig up this unconscious habit and begin to let go of it.
There is no growing into the natural being that we are: that being is perfect here and now. There is only letting go of concepts to the contrary that we have troubles, we have limitations. Anyone who says, “I have trouble,” it’s just in their mind. that’s the only place where it is, because you can’t see anything anywhere else but in your mind. Whatever you look at, whatever you hear, whatever you sense is through your mind—that’s where everything is. Change your mind and everything out there changes. Change your thinking and you change the world for you.
So the way, the path, is simple. The method of undoing it is is not easy because of past habits. We need a very strong desire to begin to let go of these wrong habits from the past. Without the desire, there is no growth. This desire must be stronger than the desire to make this world real, rather than . . . it’s a fiction of our imagination. It really is a fiction when you see the truth. It turns out to be a dream that never was.* But first you’ll see it as a dream, then you’ll see that this dream never was. Exactly as happens in a night dream. While we’re in the night dream we have a body, there are other bodies, there’s action, interaction, there’s good and there’s bad. And so long as we remain in that night dream, everything there is real to us. When we awaken from the night dream we say, “My gosh it was just a dream; it never happened.” And exactly the same way, we awaken from this dream called the waking state, we see that it was only a fiction of our imagination, it was only a dream, and we let go of it, lock, stock and barrel. Then we call ourselves fully realized. Actually, we are fully realized all the time. We are fully realized beings saying that we are not. So all we do is let go of “we are not,” and what’s left over is the fully realized being that we are. Are there any questions about what I’ve said so far? Everyone understands it, at least intellectually.
[* There once was a poor scholar named Kantan who, while traveling to take the official examinations, dreamed that he passed them with flying colors and, after an illustrious government career, attained the post of prime minister. Then he woke up, realized that life is an empty dream, and went back home.]
All right, if you understand it intellectually and you are not able to use it, it’s because you’re not looking at your self honestly, truthfully, with deep desire to see your self. You have set up as the unconscious mind all the things you don’t want to look at. However, it’s not necessary to dig into this unconscious mind.* In fact it’s much better to try to quiet the mind. When we’re able to get the mind totally quiet, what’s left over is the infinite Self. Every thought is a thing of limitation. Therefore, when we quiet the mind, this infinite being that we are becomes self-obvious to us. We see it. We recognize that we never were that mind, that body, and from that moment on, the mind and body have no influence on us; it just goes its way. It just keeps floating through life in sort of a hazy dream that has no effect upon us.
[*Editor’s note: I would disregard the advice in this paragraph: it is indeed necessary to dig into the unconscious mind. This is what Lester did during his four years in psychotherapy, and what he did during the three months before his enlightenment. If digging into the unconscious mind was necessary for Lester, it is necessary for everyone.]
So, the very best method of all methods is to quiet the mind, to seek the being that you are, to pose the question: “Who am I?” And if other thoughts come in, ask, “Who is listening to these thoughts?” And the answer is, “I am.” “Well, who am I?” and you’re back on the track. “Who am I?” is the final question that everyone answers, so why not begin with the final question? All methods get to be the same as we move toward the top. We simply quiet the mind, eliminate thoughts, get the mind quieter, until the mind gets totally quiet. What’s left over is our glorious, infinite Self.
If you can, all good, all wonderful. But there are very few of us who are capable of using this method of just holding onto “Who am I?” and rejecting all other thoughts that come in. We have gotten ourselves so involved with thoughts that we cannot let go of them and therefore we need other methods, other aids. . . . So if we cannot use the self-inquiry, “Who am I?” we use the one that suits us best. The path that we like now is the very path that we have been on formerly in prior lives. The path that is best for you is the one that you like best. Now each path includes all the other paths—the only difference is the emphasis. Each path leads to the quieting of the mind so that we may see the infinite being that we are.
There are two ways of growing. One is eliminating the negative. Going into the mind, seeing the cause of the problem, which originates in a thought some time in the past, or many thoughts, and when we see this thought, when we bring it up into the consciousness, we naturally let go of it. We see how silly it is to hold it, and we correct that behavior. However, the better way is to quiet the mind and to see who and what you are: “I am what I am.” “I am He.”
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 only from this moment on see 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.
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).
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Mark 8:33 (USCCB)
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 re-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.
Look at your mind. That in itself is a good practice. It puts you apart from it. You are looking at it. Watch your thoughts. It’s a wonderful practice. If you examine thoroughly the mind, you will discover that it isn’t: it’s an illusion. Let it go it’s way, just watch the mind. The ultimate witness is the Self. It’s a tremendous thing to watch the mind. Not only does it quiet it, it makes the mind not you. If you trace the source of the mind, you find it is nothingness. This whole world is a dream, illusion, which means that it isn’t.
This Session was recorded in New York City on September 28, 1964.