The Source of All Intelligence
After the three-month period, I attended a metaphysical group just two short blocks away—Dr. Schafer’s group (James B. Schafer, in an auditorium located at 217 W. 57th Street). And he would call the students up to the front and ask them to give a talk to the group. And when he— the first times he called me, I told him I didn’t want to go up. He sort of bypassed me. And then, after he stopped asking me, I realized, “This is silly.” The only reason why I wasn’t doing it was that the old tendencies remain, but the effectiveness of them is totally gone. The compulsiveness is done away with, even though the tendency remains. It’s like a burnt rope: it looks like a rope, it seems to be a rope, but it has no strength. If you go to pick up a burnt rope, it just falls apart. So seeing that, I volunteered to go up and give a talk. First time in my life. Here I am, up in front of a group of about sixty people, talking on frequencies and vibrations. And I got up there and I was so surprised. I wasn’t nervous. I was looking at them, they were looking at me, and as I was talking I had a second thing going on in the background—”Gee, this is easy! I never knew it was this easy!” And that was my first experience in my lifetime of getting up in front of a group and talking. And that was probably 1953.
“I realized that I was responsible for everything that was happening to me.”
From No Attachments, No Aversions:
I was beat up when I was a kid for being a Jew. In high school I was often ostracized and attacked. In college I joined a Jewish fraternity. The fellows I played touch football with in a non-Jewish fraternity across the street wouldn’t talk to me if they met me at a college dance.
While working for Kelvinator as an engineer in 1936, the senior engineer said to me one day, “You know, Lester, before I met you I thought all Jews and niggers were the same. But now I think the Jews are a little bit better.”
At the Maritime Commission in 1941 I was surprised to meet strong anti-Semitism amongst my fellow engineers. When I first walked into the the Commission, an elderly engineer said, “Come here.” I walked over to him. He asked me if I was a Jew. When I told him, he said, “Well, I hate all Jews.” When jobs were extremely scarce and I needed work, I was first accepted and then turned down by the Manhattan Project because I was a Jew. I never was sorry about that one.
I’d hear remarks all the time, everywhere, on the streets; I was never away from it. This went on all my life until I gained my freedom and realized that I was responsible for everything that was happening to me. Then it stopped. (pp. 47-49)
The supersensitivity drops away because your ego drops away, whereas before I was hearing them all the time. If I heard someone coming out with an anti-Semitic remark, or an anti-any-other remark, I had compassion for them. I saw them needing, so I just had a feeling of more love for them because they needed it. The only one they were hurting with their “anti” was themselves; they can’t hurt anyone else with it, unless the other one wants to feel hurt.
“The only real beauty is you yourself”
And once I was on Madison Avenue, or Fifth Avenue—I forget which—where the most beautiful and very best-dressed women of the world go shopping during the daytime. I looked at them looking in windows on those very expensive shops. And I looked at them, and I looked at the mannequin, and I looked at them again, and I looked at the mannequin again. I did it a third time, and I couldn’t see any difference! And I said, “Holy mackerel, and that’s what I thought was beautiful? They’re just mannequins! They’re interested only in the outer skin of their body—dressing it, pampering it, spending untold sums of money on it; and the only real beauty is they themselves, not the outer skin.” So what became beautiful to me was a person of high love, the soul of a person.
And I remember an incident where I was saying with two fellows about a girl I had known, “Gee, isn’t she beautiful!” I could tell there by their looking at me there was something wrong. And I said, “Well, isn’t she?” and they shook their head, “No.” And I looked again, and I says, “Oh, I see what you mean.” And she was, in their eyes, or in physical eyes, a homely girl; but she was quite spiritual. That isn’t the right word—she was high in her capacity to love. And basically that’s what is behind all beauty: love. Can you see it? So my concepts of beauty did a flip-flop. The ones I thought, “Oh, they’re the most; they’re the greatest” turned out to be like mannequins, and others whom I would have thought horribly homely turned out to be beautiful.
I was so at-home anywhere and everywhere, and Dr. Schafer’s classes where he taught—always the finest. Everyone was so well dressed and so neat and so proper, that I had the nerve to come in with a beard and my hair not combed and dirty slacks on. Of course everyone noticed it, but very properly, no one said a thing to me. And I sat there, one-hundred percent as ease, in spite of all of them looking kind of dagger-eyed at me. I did it on purpose to prove to me that I had no reaction, no ego left.
“I only know that which I can do”
I always held a maxim back in my mind that “I only know that which I can do,” which is an excellent check upon oneself. “I only know that which I can do.” And so I would do it, and test it out, and if I did find any reactivity, if I did find anything not up to perfection, I immediately went to work to correct it until it was the ultimate and that particular thing was achieved. I did everything to the extreme limit to be sure I had nothing left on it, no more hangups on any particular thing.
The trip to L.A. was for the purpose of proving what I had discovered and knew, and always with that maxim, “I only know that which I can do.” I believe I went step-by-step from smaller to bigger and bigger things; that’s what I was really doing. That was a big one, to walk out without any money and go to Los Angeles. And so I packed my bag, walked out of the apartment, with absolute full confidence that I was on my way to Los Angeles, with no doubt that it would not happen. And so it did. And it’s not a test, it’s a proving. Test implies doubt, and any doubt would stop it from working. I went out without money because I wanted to prove I could have anything I wanted without money. Well, you don’t need money to—when you demonstrate things you never think of money. You never should think of money, because instead of the thing, you will end up with money. But thinking you need money to do things is a doubt.
From a former student:
“The class was full, so I rented this room to just come here and release,” I said.
“What are you missing?” Lester said. “You got me here, you’re right above the conference room, and you have a room in the same hotel they were chasing other graduates away. Somebody up there likes you.”
“And I got it for a great price,” I bragged.
“You know you could have gotten it for free.”
“How’s that?” I asked.
“I used to do that all the time. There’s nothing out there but your thoughts. Your consciousness determines everything, so if you believe it is free, it will be.”
I remember one time when he came out to Los Angeles. He showed me his Southwest Airlines ticket—it had CANCEL written all over it, but he had just used it! He did things like that all the time. (Seretan, 2008)
Really, higher consciousness determines for lower consciousness; that’s why people serve me. Yet, it’s true for everyone. Whenever we think, every molecule in the universe moves to fulfill that thought. And I knew I was going into that movie. Most people think negatively and are creating that for themselves. Most people think with very much limitation and create that for themselves. But I was thinking—I was knowing I was going into that movie, I was so absolutely convinced that it had to happen. But there’s only one mind. There’s only one intelligence, and we are all in it. And so this man’s mind was turned and tuned in my direction.
If everyone were in harmony, there would be no waiting in line for tickets; there would be no one clamoring around a box office trying to get them. When everyone’s in harmony, there are enough seats for everyone, and everyone walks right in without needing a ticket. You don’t even have to pay for it. Nature provides in superabundance when we get in tune with it. There would never be such a thing as shortages. There is unlimited infinite energy available to us, as well as a superabundance of everything we would want to use. That’s when you’re in tune with nature. Really, no effort is needed when you’re in tune with nature. Effort is required when you’re working against nature, when you’re not in tune with it. This world was put here for our use and play. The idea of nature needing to be conquered is a very negative idea. What needs to be conquered is our negative ideas, and then only positive things happen.
Anyone who has the absolute conviction of anything causes that thing to come about. Anyone who has the absolute conviction that he can be a millionaire can be a millionaire. This requires there be no subconscious doubts, because the unconscious doubting would get in the way. When you’re up in tune with the universal mind, which everyone is in, your power of its use, your ability to use it, is greater, really, than others’, and it affects them that way in your direction. It’s a high state of love. You’re swimming in a high sea of giddiness in which everything—and you love everyone. You could even go up and hug and kiss a tree. And that goes over to other people and causes them to want to love you and do things for you.
Gaining and losing fortunes
I struggled to keep the businesses going, but inwardly I had lost interest. And I struggled because I knew that was the right thing to do—you don’t take a going business and walk away from it. I went into it to make money, so I kept struggling. But at the time I was not aware that, subconsciously, I had lost interest in it because I was not getting what I wanted. I was seeking happiness. And when I was terribly involved in building up the business, I was so busy, I didn’t have to bear with my own inner thoughts that I could not stand. When the business became successful, there was time on my hands; I wasn’t plagued by the problems of it like when I was building it up.
And there was always a relief when those businesses collapsed, I remember. There was always a relief. You see, at the time I wasn’t aware of it, of this happening. It was was only after realization that I became aware that I was the cause of it collapsing. At the time I thought, “They did it to me.” I blamed the loss of the Hitching Post (three restaurants serving French-dip sandwiches that he started in 1938) on the war and business having dropped off for a period of time. I blamed the loss of the lumber business (a large sawmill and planing mill in New Mexico) on the big operators dropping the price of lumber. But there are ways out of that and I didn’t take them. I wasn’t really wanting to; I wasn’t interested. But I wasn’t aware of the fact at the time.
“Human love is selfish; divine love is completely selfless”
Love is something we can’t turn on and off [for different people]—either we have it or we don’t. It’s impossible to love one person and hate another. We can only truly love people to the degree that we love our enemies—hatred for even one person limits our capacity to love others.
What we usually call love is simply need for that person. When we say, “I love this person but not the next,” we feel that we need this person, and therefore we’ll be nice to this person so we can get what we want. But that’s not love. Human love is selfish; divine love is completely selfless.
When I first knew Virginia (around 1934), she had gotten very sick. And I dutifully visited her and spent a lot of hours with her when she was in not too attractive a condition. And she had thrown up on a chair, and I sat down in it. And she was so horrified and apologetic about it, and I very gallantly said, “Oh, that’s nothing at all.” I said, “I don’t mind it one bit.” And I just wiped my pants off and sat down. That was being nice to her to win her over, and I knew it would, and it did. So I went back to this incident, and I saw that at the time I was really very annoyed and very uncomfortable, but I acted as though it were nothing only to win her. And when I saw this selfishness, I resolved, “Uh-uh. This I dump, this I let go of.” And I changed the feeling right there and then of wanting to do this just to get her my way, to one of just feeling love for her.
Each time I would see these incidents, I would first recognize that it wasn’t love, and then I would let go of that and I would feel love for the person, which is a nice feeling. You like and approve of that person the way they are; you accept them just as they are. Then I knew I had it. This was good news to me because, like in other things, I was able to carry it to the extreme. I could love people who were opposing me.
Changing a feeling I had in the past can help me now because when I review it and I see it was non-love, I feel love in that incident right now. So I’m converting what was non-love to love at this present moment. When I now review something that was not with a feeling of love, but right now I feel love, I am at this moment increasing my loving. I use those incidents again and again to turn on love and feel it and learn to love. In those former incidents I was trying to get love, and not feeling so good as I could feel right now when I feel love.
“The only limitations I have are the ones that I accept”
One can, if one wants to, become a millionaire. Every person could be a billionaire, or a trillionaire, or a quintillionaire, if that were his consciousness—that this truth that I speak of works. Your inner conviction does it. Your thinking does it. When your unconscious thinking that is negative on a thing is overwhelmed by the conscious thinking to the contrary that you can, then you can. Right now you’re unaware of what you had for breakfast yesterday. But when I mention it to you, you start thinking on it, you start looking for it, and those thoughts come up into consciousness. You remember: I had bacon and eggs, or a rasher of bacon. Before I asked you that question, you were not conscious of the fact that you had a rasher of bacon for breakfast the day before or a week before; but on my asking you that, you brought it from the unconscious into consciousness.
I always had the idea that a draft would give me a cold, and it used to actually give me colds. One day thinking on it while I was sitting in a breeze, enjoying it, I said, “Boy, this is the same thing that I call a draft that gives me colds, and here I’m enjoying the thing and not getting a cold. It was a cool breeze. And I said, “That’s silly, to hold on to that thought that a draft gives me a cold.” And after that, I never got a cold again from the draft. I changed that unconscious thought that drafts give me colds to one that a breeze, a cool breeze, is nice and does not give me a cold. That actually happened to me.
Thoughts are the only things that damn up the infinite being that we are. But they don’t necessarily have to: we can have large thoughts. For instance, “I’m a billionaire,” “I can be a billionaire,” or “I am a billionaire.” “I can fly like a bird.” “I can swim like a fish and run like a deer.” But we’re absolutely convinced in our thinking that we can’t run that fast. So, our thoughts are our limitations, and even a large thought is limited to the largeness of it—it’s still not infinite. You can always have more, can’t you? And more and more and more? And that’s what would happen in your thinking: you would always have more and more and more and more and more. First you won your $100,000, then you want a million. Then you want more millions. Then you want hundreds of millions. Then you want billions. And then hundreds of billions. And today, we have trillionaires. And the trillionaires won’t stop—they’ll try to become quadrillionaires. After they become quadrillionaires, they’ll want to be quintillionaires. After they become quintillionaires, they’ll want to be septillionaires, octillionaires. The thoughts determine the amount of the infinity that manifests for us; so, you drop thoughts of limitation and take on thoughts of less limitation.
28 Subhuti, suppose a Bodhisattva, in the practice of giving, filled as many world-systems with the Seven Precious Treasures as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River. If there is a man with the awareness that all things are empty of self, and if he accomplishes their complete extinction, then this is superior, and the merit accumulated by this Bodhisattva surpasses that of the former. The Diamond Sutra
I was so ill when I started; I had one foot in the grave. And when I saw that my thinking was the cause of what was happening to me, I immediately saw my body, from my chin down to my toes, as perfect. And instantly I knew it was perfect—I never even thought of the idea of checking it out. I knew the lesions and adhesions of my intestines due to perforated ulcers were undone. I knew everything within me was in perfect running order, and it was. And as I saw that the source of all intelligence was right behind my mind, that my mind was filtering through bits of it, I allowed more and more of it to come through. And digging for it is wanting to know, “What am I?” and seeing my Self revealed more and more with less and less limits on it. I wanted to go all the way on it. And I began to see that the only limitations I have are the ones that I accept.
So, looking for this unlimited being, that I already had an inkling that I was, I got insights of this tremendous unlimited being that I am. And I’m seeing that, and right there and then I realize, “Wow—I’m not this limited body that I thought I was. And I’m not this mind with its limitations that I thought I was.“ And I undid all body limitation, and almost all mind limitation, just by saying, “I am not it.” Finished, done, period, that’s it. It was obvious to me that I wasn’t that body and mind that I had thought I was. I just saw it, that’s all. And I let go of identifying with this body. And when I did that, I saw that my beingness was all beingness; that beingness is like one grand ocean. It’s not chopped up into parts called drops of bodies. It’s all one ocean. Which caused me to identify with every being, every person, and even every atom in this universe. And that’s an experience that’s so tremendous, it’s indescribable. First you see the universe is in you. Then you see the universe as you. Then you know the oneness of this universe. Then you are finished forever with separation and all the hellishness that’s caused only by separation. Then you can no more be fooled by the apparent limitations of the world. You see them as a dream, as an apparency, because you know that your very own beingness has no limits.
And should you choose to express your abilities, you can. However, you don’t, because of your compassion for others, and the fact that they cannot take it. You hold it in the background; you hold it away from them rather than impose upon them. That’s why masters rarely ever show their abilities: they want others to discover that they have all these abilities. Nothing is impossible when you get into that state.
“Who am I who has this body and mind?”
There’s only one mind, and if we’re in tune with it, everyone fits together perfectly; no one has to be told even what to do. When I saw that the mind was mine, that the body was mine, I began a question: “Who am I who has this body and mind?” And what I saw was that I was unlimited beingness; that this beingness was the cause of everything, and yet was not subject to whatever it caused or created. And this beingness being unlimited, the only limitation was created by the mind limiting itself, or by my limiting the action of my mind. Beingness is simply existence, is-ness, am-ness; it’s the I that I am. It’s the “I-ness” of me. And that part is without limitation.
When you discover this, the first thing you recognize is that there’s no need to be a victim of your environment, to be a victim of nature. That you can consciously create your circumstances to be the way you would like them to be. And from then on, your consciousness is one of, “I have everything I need. Everything is in perfect attunement. Everything is okay. Everything is good.” And because of that consciousness, that becomes your world.
Everyone makes his world by his mental conceptions. Everyone sees the world in accordance with his ideas and conceptions. If you don’t like the world out there, change your thinking, and your world will change. Now, of course, your thinking includes your subconscious thinking, the thoughts that are in your mind that you’re not looking at. Any thought that I’m not looking at at this moment is unconscious. The moment I look at it, we call it consciousness, or conscious. So, the unconscious thinking is the stored-up accumulation of all our past thinking that we’re holding in the background, and not looking at it for the moment because we don’t want that. It’s what looks to us like a tremendous piece of work to hold in consciousness everything from the past, and so we store it in the background and we call it unconscious.
The unconscious thoughts are effective whether we look at them or not at the moment. And the only way to handle them, change them, is to make them conscious; and then on a conscious plane we can change them. That’s what I was doing while I was making this tremendous growth. I was freeing myself from all the former concepts of limitation that I had accumulated, until I felt no more limitation; until I had no more, hardly any more thoughts of limitation—if you let go of all of them, you’d disappear, because the body is a limitation. The body would disappear—you wouldn’t disappear. The logs in the dam are the subconscious thoughts, which when they are pulled out, [allow] the infinity behind the dam to flow through you.
James Schafer Carnegie Hall notice and Schafer’s Peace Haven ballroom are from Holliday and Kretz (2010). Images of America: Oakdale. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing.