The world seen through the eyes of a master

I see the lilies in the field, their brightness, their colour and all their leaves. But I do not see their fragrance. Why? Because the fragrance is within me. But what I say is within me and I speak it forth from me. All created things are savoured by my outer man as creations, like wine and bread and meat. But my inner man savours things not as creations but as God’s gift; and my inmost man savours them not as God’s gift, but as eternity. – Meister Eckhart (Sermon Fifty Six, Walshe, Vol. II, p. 81)

The divine eye is center everywhere, circumference nowhere. . . . If “escapism” be a need of man, cramped in his narrow personality, can any escape compare with the majesty of omnipresence? – Yogananda

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 allness, an everythingness, 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. – Lester Levenson, “The Basic Goal”

 

Session 26: “Worldliness and Spirituality”

What is the difference between the divine and the worldly, the spiritual and the material? Is there a difference? Is there a difference between being spiritual and being in the world? There is a tendency for us to separate the two: that is a gross error. There is no difference between the spiritual and the material when we look at it from the viewpoint of truth.

The difference is in our outlook, in the way we see the world. It’s the way you look at it, that’s all. You may look at it from the ego point of view, or you may look at it from the Self. A realized person sees the world only as an out-projection of himself; therefore, it really is his creation. And as an out-projection, it’s like a cinema screen out there with this whole universe projected on it and which, at will, could be changed or withdrawn.

I alone bring all creatures out of their reason into my reason, so that they are one with me. – Meister Eckhart (Walshe Vol. II, Sermon Fifty Six, p. 81)

To the one who doesn’t see the truth, this cinema, this moving picture, seems not self-created and as such, one makes himself subject to it and becomes a slave to it.

A master is very much in the world. A master has his feet firmly planted on the earth, but he sees the basic substance just behind the apparent world as his very own Self. And when he does that, everything is in harmony, everything is perfect. It is not a matter of separating one from the other or having one or the other: it’s merely seeing the truth of the world. When one does, one is Self-realized; when one doesn’t, one is forever shadowboxing with his self-created world of opposition. Both see the world. The master sees the truth just behind it, and there’s nothing but harmony. The unrealized one sees separation and opposition and there’s much disharmony. The unrealized person sees it as a thing running him; the realized person sees it as his own projection, and therefore he can run it and it cannot run him. Being a master over it, he resides, ever the same, in peace and tranquility, and lives in complete ease all the time.

We must, in our everyday lives, be in that state of tranquility, and until we can be in that state while [involved] in the details of daily living we haven’t reached the top. So there are no two categories, the world and spirit: it’s all one and the same. It’s just a matter of the way we look at it. We should strive to get to the place where no one and no thing can perturb us. When you get to that state, you are at the top. You are in the world and nothing and no one can disturb you in the slightest. Develop this. Make this a practice. Make this your way of life. Do not react to people; do not become angry, [envious], hateful and so forth. Remain ever the same, ever the same. No matter what happens, no matter what goes on, you really are ever the same, serene and poised.

Q: But Lester, when I look at the world I see differentiation.

Lester: Any time we see any difference, or a difference between the spiritual and the worldly, it’s because we don’t have enough understanding of the spiritual as yet. We are separating. The highest state is when we are in the world and in spirit at one and the same time, and there is no difference. When we’re there, we don’t see it as world and spirit: we see it as one and the same thing. We see a oneness; we see it all as our very own Self. Or, if we want, we see the whole world as being within us, as a dream is within us in sleep. No matter what happens in the dream, we remain the same. We see absolutely no difference in anything. There’s a singular oneness throughout everything. Nothing changes. Ever-the-same is our feeling.

This can be used as a yardstick to know how far we are on the path. Is everything ever the same? Do things really not change? It is a little shocking when we start examining it from this point of view. How far am I on the path toward seeing the sameness, the oneness, the no-otherness, the nothing-but-God, God in all, the God in everyone? When you accomplish that non-duality, you lose the feeling of separation, of “I”. If you want to recognize the apparent others, you use the word “we”. But more than that, you would rather talk about yourself in third person—that is the feeling a master has, and he talks that way. Certain masters will not speak of themselves by name; they’ll speak of themselves in the third person as their disciples do. For instance, if everyone called me what Ken jokingly calls me, I would talk about Father Divine. Instead of saying “I”, “me” or “Lester” I would talk about him (pointing to himself), Father Divine. That’s just the way you feel when you’re in the state when all is one and all is the same. You don’t identify yourself with just your body. I’ve been emphasizing this point because quite a few were asking questions and talking about the two, the world and spirit, not knowing that in truth they are one.

Q: There is no difference?

Lester: Right. It’s one and the same, when you see it aright. If you see it through illusion, if you see it wrongly. You’ll see separation, you’ll see the differentiation, that this is spiritual and that is worldly, that this is divine and that is mundane.

The “we” is a condescension on the part of a master in order to communicate with the apparent egos. A master sees nothing but masters, specks of infinite light, all looking alike; blazing effervescent radiant beings, points of beingness all being one. This is the way a master really sees everyone. He doesn’t see people the way ordinary people see them.

Q: Does he see them as different shades, or all one shade?

Lester: Identical points of light, of one ocean of light, brilliant effervescent, emanating, with center everywhere and circumference nowhere. Are you trying to imagine what it is like?

Q: Well, I had an experience of seeing something like that and it’s a light like a bright sun.

Lester: Yes, a bright blazing sun. Masters can see nothing but a master in others, and at the same time they can go through the pretense of seeing it otherwise by saying, “Harry, yes, you do have problems,” or “Harry, you do have a body and you do live in a house.” But as they say it, to them, it’s like a dream-voice talking, or apparently talking, and it’s all an apparency. It’s a pretense. They’re actually pretending, because their view of the omnipresent, infinite One never changes.

Q: They are pretending a duality, then, where we’re more or less living it?

Lester: Yes. However, you’re pretending it too, but you don’t know that you’re pretending it. A master pretends it and he knows that he’s pretending it.

Q: In that way he’s coming down to our level?

Lester: Yes. And he does it only to help.

Q: Why can’t God say, “I will play the game of being Bob?” and then subject himself to the limitations of Bob as God defines it, just as when I play baseball I subject myself to the rules of baseball. Why can’t God, to entertain himself, be a Bob and be limited?

Lester: God can, and does, but never forgets he is God. Do you never forget?

Q: Therefore, I am God who is playing Bob and for the moment I forgot?

Lester: You only are if you know that, not if you state it. Stating it doesn’t equate with knowing that.

Q: I agree absolutely.

Lester: So, theoretically you are right. Now, the important thing is to carry it out practically—to know your beingness in God while you are playing the game, to know that you are God and that you are pretending to be limited as a body and so forth.

Q: And any time I don’t want to, I don’t have to play, and I don’t have to take that particular step of being limited because I am the creator of the game. I make the rules, and I don’t have to play any more than I have to play a baseball game. I can quit just like that.

Lester: That’s the way it is. All right now, when you don’t really know that you are God, you can discover it by tracing the source of “I”. If we trace the source of the ego, “I”, we’ll discover it is the infinite Being. If you’ll trace the source of the mind you’ll discover the same thing. The infinite Being is putting this pretense of limitation, ego and mind, over itself so that we don’t see this statement of truth: that this world is only God playing a game of apparent limitation. The way to discover it is to seek the source of the ego, “I”, and if we stay with it we’ll discover that it is really the infinite “I” that I am.

Q: Well according to your book, and let me use Bob’s words, if I play the game of ball looking up to God, then I don’t have [that realization]. If I do anything at all looking out from God, then I know who I am. But if I play the game looking up to God, from the outside, then I don’t know.

Lester: You are very right, Frank. Translating that into Christ, if I look up to Christ, or believe in Christ, that isn’t it. I have to look out through the eyes of a Christ. I have to believe as Christ believed. I have to be as a Christ. I’m just taking what Frank said and putting it in a biblical way.

Q: It’s in your book. I read it in the Gita this morning and also in your book, so you get your stuff from a good source.

Lester: In the beginning of the book there is a disclaimer stating that the knowledge is not mine. It is truth. I can’t make it, I can’t unmake it. I can recognize it or not recognize it. That’s the choice that we have—to recognize the truth or not to. We can’t make it, we can’t do anything to it, but we recognize it.

Q: All the books that I read say the same thing; Patanjali says it, Yogananda says it, the Gita says it and the Vedas say it. They all say it.

Lester: And they said it a thousand years ago, a million years ago, a billion years ago, a billion, billion years ago, and in the future they’ll say the same thing. Because truth is that which never changes. It is changeless. The basic truth will never change in all eternity, and you can know this for the entire universe. If somebody comes from a planet billions and billions of light-years away and tells you otherwise, no matter how high he looks, acts and talks, if it doesn’t fit in with what you know of the changeless truth, you can be sure he’s wrong, even though he’s acting and looking like a god.

Do you know what I’m saying? Even if an angel tells you something, if it’s not in accordance with truth, reject it, because there are so many high-appearing beings that look like gods that you can be very easily fooled until you know the truth. Truth is the same throughout from infinity to infinity.

Q: We’re trying to get ahead as quickly as we can and we listen and read and we think the right thing to do is to be on the path; but I go to church and I see a priest, a monk, up there, and he’s been struggling on the path for twenty years. How can I make it quickly when I see in front of me someone who has been on the path much longer, and he’s struggling?

Lester: All right, look at it this way: if you want to go from Los Angeles to New York City and the direct route is not known to you, you start probing. You might go up to Washington State first, then cut eastward, then come down to Nevada, then go up to Montana. However, if you know the direct route, you take the direct way and get there much sooner. Probing may take you a whole lifetime; going directly you could do it in three or four days’ time.

Q: Don’t say another word to me, because I got the answer.

Lester: All right. Now the priest or monk doesn’t see the direct route and he’s probing and he’s learning bit by bit. He’ll get to New York eventually if he keeps trying and
wandering all over the United States.

Q: But doesn’t each of us have different abilities? One person gets over something very easily, very quickly, and someone else has a problem that’s deep-seated and it’s been with him a long while, which takes a very active struggle to get over.

Lester: Yes. However, quickness of realization is determined by the intensity of the desire for it. How far have we gone in our desire for it? If we’ve gone very far, the realizations come fast and easily.

Q: And we stick by them then?
Lester: Yes. Really, they stick with you. I say to you, I’m not teaching you: you’re getting something you’ve known. You are doing it. You’re just remembering things you’ve always known. I can’t give you this knowledge; no one can. I just suggest and you open yourself up to that which you already know, have always known, and always will know subconsciously.

Q: In other words, you just read a page of your true Self.

Q: Well, it’s Self-realization, actually.

Lester: Yes, and this is also true: if you haven’t grown much, or as much as someone else, you can go way beyond that one if you have a very strong desire for it. Only a very strong desire for full realization will give it to you this lifetime. Anyone who has only a desire for truth will get full realization quickly. You can override your past conditioning when you want to. How long should it take an infinite, omniscient being to know that he is
omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent? How long should it take him to do that?

Q: One realization.

Lester: When man so wills, he’s immediately set free—totally! So, really what this growing turns out to be is that we play with the path as we’re doing now, getting more and more realizations, and then one day we say, “Oh, my gosh, look at this tremendous thing I have always been! What silly playing around I’ve been doing! The heck with
it!” And boom! It’s finished!

Q: And at that moment your looking out from God!

Lester: Yes, you’re looking out from God and seeing the whole thing, seeing the silly dream you have been going through of playing the game of limitation, and you just
drop it, lock, stock and barrel.

This Session was recorded in Los Angeles, January 27, 1966.

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

* * *

Meister Eckhart:

Dear children, I beg you to note one thing: I ask you for God’s sake, I beg you to do this for my sake and carefully mark my words. Regarding those who are thus in the unity as I have described it, you must not suppose that because a master is free from “forms” it would be better for his students if he were to depart from the unity and remain among them. For him to depart from the unity for the sake of his students would be wrong and might even be called heresy; for you should know that there, in the unity, there is neither Conrad nor Henry. I will tell you how I think of people: I try to forget myself and everyone and merge myself, for their sake, in the unity. May we abide in unity, so help us God. Amen. (Sermon Seventy Eight)

M. O’C. Walshe (1987). Meister Eckhart: Sermons and Treatises Vol. I & II. UK: Element Books Limited.

 * * *

 

Saṃyutta Nikaya 1

If a monk is an arahant,
Consummate, with taints destroyed,1
One who bears his final body,
Would he still say, “I speak”,
And would he say, “They speak to me”?

If a monk is an arahant,
Consummate, with taints destroyed,
One who bears his final body,
He might still say, “I speak”,
And he might say, “They speak to me”.
Skilful, knowing the world’s parlance,
He uses such terms as mere expressions.

When a monk is an arahant,
Consummate, with taints destroyed,
One who bears his final body,
Is it because he has come upon conceit
 that he would say, “I speak”,
That he would say, “They speak to me”?

No fetters exist for one with conceit abandoned;2
For him all fetters of conceit are consumed.
Though the wise one has transcended the conceived,
He still might say, “I speak”;
He might say too, “They speak to me”.
Skilful, knowing the world’s parlance,
He uses such terms as mere expressions.

  1. Taints, impurities, sin: mala, pl. malam.
  2. Fetter: samyojana; conceit is one of seven-to-ten fetters identified by Buddhist masters.

Source: https://suttacentral.net/sn1.25/en/bodhi

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