Ajahn Sumedho: Letting go of Desire

The one who pleased God was loved; Living among sinners, he was transported, snatched away, lest wickedness pervert his mind
 or delusion beguile his soul;
 For the witchery of petty things obscures what is right
 and the whirl of desire transforms the innocent mind. (Wisdom of Solomon, Cp. 4 – On Early Death)

In this talk, Ajahn Sumedho helps us to understand desire (tanha) to better enable us to let go of it.

The first point he makes is that first there is desire, and then there is attachment. Desire is a feeling: it is either wanting to have something or wanting to avoid something—the desire to avoid is aversion. Frustrated desire, either not obtaining what we want or experiencing what we don’t want, gives rise to fear, anger and grief.

With desire arises attachment, which is a thought that we hold on to like an obsession. Because the thought is rooted in dissatisfaction, I try to push it away. But when I try to push it away, my attachment to it grows stronger; the harder I try, the stronger my attachment to it.

Another point Sumedho makes is that we experience feelings about a thing, and then we perceive it as “beautiful or ugly, pleasing or painful.” But our feelings cannot be trusted. Events have no inherent characteristics: our feelings about them are entirely subjective. We call it knowledge—“I just know it’s bad”—but what we mean is, “I feel that it’s bad.”
Now, our feelings about something can be based on experience or on what we have been told. A mystic named Amanda Freitas asked God for guidance on how to vote in the 2020 presidential election, and she had a vision that God favored President Trump. For the previous four years she had “felt” that Trump was bad because this is what the mass media said; but when she experienced her vision, her “knowledge” of Trump changed.

Steven Spielberg gave a great example of the untrustworthiness of our feelings about people in an interview about the making of “Schindler’s List” (1993):

Many of the German actors who [were] interviewed for Schindler’s List . . . apologized for the generation preceding theirs and talked about their guilt and talked about their feelings very openly. . . . When I got there and began to work on [the movie], once those same German actors put on the uniforms of the Waffen-SS, my attitude changed and I couldn’t talk to them. And between shots they would be schmoozing with me, trying to ask me questions about E.T. and Raiders of the Lost Ark [other films Spielberg had made] . . . and I didn’t really want to make small talk. I couldn’t get past the uniform. And then my prejudice began to come out and I began to look at it. I began to say, “My goodness, how can I be [laying] the sins of the fathers onto the sons and daughters? Why do I feel this way?” And yet I felt anger. When I saw the uniform, and I knew there was a German in that uniform, I felt anger. (https://youtu.be/Jf_ntUGfV1Q)

When we understand that our feelings about things are completely subjective and that they are entirely within us, it is easier to let go of them. Sumedho says, “Letting go means to be able to be with what is displeasing without dwelling in aversion.” This is only possible if I let go of the aversion. And the only way to let go of an aversion is to embrace the feeling—otherwise I am pushing it away. Another way of looking at it is that I must move my focus off of the source of my aversion and onto myself and my feeling. Because the reality is that events have absolutely no significance and no purpose except to cause my feelings to rise up so that I can release them.

“What is the truth concerning the things of this world except how they are experienced in our own consciousness?” – Deepak Chopra

The Buddha says there is a craving for becoming and a craving for not becoming—tanha vibhava. This is the craving to put an end to rebirth and gain liberation. Arvind Sharma (1996) explains that a human being has the ability to attain liberation by applying the principles contained in the scriptures, whereas an animal does not. This makes it imperative for a being to utilize the precious occasion of a human life to the fullest to reach the ultimate goal, and explains the desire for liberation from earthly existence. (Arvind Sharma)

This talk has been edited for brevity and clarity. A few Pali terms have been replaced with Sanskrit. To read the abbot’s talk as it was given, follow this link: https://www.wisdomlib.org/buddhism/essay/letting-go-of-desire. – The Editor

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Samudaya (origin): Now this, monks, is the Noble Truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving (tanha, “thirst”) which leads to re-becoming, accompanied by delight and covetousness, seeking delight here and there; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for becoming, craving for not becoming. – Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

The arising of dukkha, suffering, is due to the grasping for that which we desire. And the insight is that since the arising of suffering is caused by desire, we should therefore let go of desire. This is the Second Noble Truth; it is the insight knowledge of letting go.

Some people think that all I teach is: Whatever happens, let go. But the teaching involves a real investigation of suffering. Insight into letting go occurs through that understanding.

The vibhava tanha, or desire for liberation, is quite subtle. But wanting to get rid of our defilements [passions] is another kind of desire. Letting go is not a getting rid of or putting down of aversion. Letting go means to be able to be with what is displeasing without dwelling in aversion, because aversion is an attachment. If you have a lot of aversion, then you will still be attached. Fear, aversion—all this is grasping and clinging.

Dispassion is acceptance and awareness of things as they are, not wanting to change anything, letting go of the aversion to what is ugly or unpleasant. So letting go is not dismissing things, but it is a deep insight into the nature of things. Letting go therefore is being able to bear with something unpleasant without being caught up with anger and aversion.

Being an entity with sense organs which come into contact with objects, we experience feeling. Feeling (vedana) is the experiencing of things as pleasant, painful or neutral. This applies to all the senses: taste, touch, sight, hearing, smell and thought. Memories are thoughts, and are also experienced as pleasant or painful. So, vedana, I use that particular word as the concept for all that attraction/repulsion we experience through the senses. And if we are heedless and operate from ignorance, we react to things with desire. I want the beautiful, I want the pleasant, I want to be happy and successful, I want to be praised, I want to be appreciated, I want to be loved. I don’t want to be persecuted, unhappy, sick, looked down on or criticised. I don’t want ugly things around me. I don’t want to look at the ugly, to be around the unpleasant.

Consider the functions of our body. We all know that these functions are just part of nature, but we don’t want to think of them as being ours; we try to dismiss them. But rejecting some aspect of the body is still attachment to the body. Instead of liking this and disliking that, we should begin to pay attention and observe the way we react to the things that we experience in our life.

In mindfulness, then, we are opening our mind to this, to the whole of life, which includes the beautiful and the ugly, the pleasing and the painful. Thus, in our reflection on the paticcasam paticcasamuppada, we see it is connected to the Second Noble Truth. This is where the sequence tanha, upadana, bhava (desire, attachment, becoming) is most helpful as a means of investigating attachment.

We can hold on to or be attached to something we don’t want just as much as something we want. Any time we try to mentally push away or get rid of anything, we are holding on to it; it is still attachment. So attachment is both seeking after the thing we desire and trying to get away from the undesirable.

The more we contemplate and investigate attachment, the more insight we have into letting go of desire. In the Second Noble Truth it is explained that desire originates suffering and that it should be let go of. Then, through the practice of letting go, we have the third insight: desire has been let go of. And that is what practice is all about: realising those three. This applies to each of the Noble Truths. There is the statement of what is, what to do, and then the result of that. The First Noble Truth: “There is suffering; it should be understood; it has been understood.” The Second Noble Truth: “There is an origin of suffering, which is desire; it should be let go of; it has been let go of.” The Third Noble Truth: “There is cessation; it should be realised; it has been realised.” The Fourth Noble Truth: “There is the Eightfold Path; it should be fulfilled; it has been fulfilled.” This is the knowledge of insight.

Paticcasamuppada is a really close investigation of the whole process. Now, it is grasping on the part of the five skandhas that is the problem. The five skandhas are dharmas; they are to be studied and investigated. They are just the way things are. There is not a self, they are impermanent and to know the way it is, is to know the truth. And so the grasping of the conditioned world is based on delusion or ignorance, the delusion that the five skandhas are what I am. And because of that we live our lives based on ignorance.

We suffer from our attachment to the body and our fear of death. If there is no identification with this body then there is no suffering. There is no feeling that there is anything wrong with the body getting old. It is not me, it is not mine, and whatever happens to it doesn’t affect me. The thought, “I am getting old” is a conventional way of talking about the body. But if this is what I think I am, then everything is coming from that “I’m getting old”; “I want to be young”; “I want to live a long life.” Why? Because of my identification with the body.

And then, “I am going to die.” That’s a morbid thing; let’s not even talk about death! Of course we are all going to die but that’s far away. When you are young you think of death as so far away—let’s enjoy life. But when anyone we know dies, or we nearly die, then death can be very frightening. And all that is from the identification, “I am this body”.

Then of course there are all the views, feelings, biases and memories we have. Not only do we suffer from attachment to the body, but we suffer when we become attached to the beautiful and to feelings: I want only the beautiful; I want only the pleasant; I do not want to see the ugly. I want to have beautiful music and no ugly sounds, only fragrant smells. Moreover, we become attached to what the world should be like: opinions about everything going on out there. Attachments to all of these views and opinions and perceptions make up the vedana, samjna, vijnana sequence of the five skandhas. And we become attached to all that in terms of the self—it’s “my” view, what “I” think, and what I” want and don’t want, what “I” think should be and should not be. So we get grief, anguish, despair, depression, sorrow and regret from that illusion of the self.

The insight into the Second Noble Truth is that there is a cause of this suffering—it is not permanent, nor it is not something that absolutely always arises. The arising of suffering comes from our grasping for that which we desire.

You can see the desire that arises to seek the beautiful and pleasant on the sensual plane, through eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. Kama tanha is sensual desire. Sensual desire always wants some kind of pleasurable, or at least exciting, experience. Kama tanha: you can see it in the movement that we have of going towards and grasping the sensory pleasures.

Bhava tanha is the desire to become. This is to do with wanting to become something. As we do not yet know what we are, our desire is to attain and achieve and become something we are not. In this Holy Life the bhava tanha can be very strong. You feel that you are here to become enlightened and achieve and attain something. It all sounds very good. But even the desire to become enlightened can come from this ignorance, from this identification with a self—“I want to become enlightened”; “I’m fed up with this world”; “I don’t want to be reborn again”; “I don’t want to go through childhood again.” That desire to become something can be bhava tanha.

As you understand the peace of non-attachment, of letting go, the Second Noble Truth leads to the Third. The more you let go of desire, the more you become aware that you are not the self. Then the insight into the Third Noble Truth of cessation arises. There is cessation; this cessation should be realised.

So our practise leads to realising cessation. That is when we talk about emptiness: we realise the empty mind where there is no self. There is no sense of the mind being anybody. As soon as you think of this as “my mind,” if you grasp that thought then you are deluded again. But even if you have “my mind,” if you see it as that which arises and ceases and there is no grasping of it, then that is just a condition. There is no suffering from that; it is peaceful.

When there is no self, there is peace. When there is me and mine then there is no peace. Worry, anxiety what are they? They are all from me and mine. When you let go then there is cessation of me and mine. There is peace, calm, clarity, dispassion, emptiness.

I observe that when there is no self, no attachment, then the way of relating to others is through metta (kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (joy at others’ happiness), upekkha (serenity). These do not come from a sense of self; they arise from selflessness. As the illusions of self fall away, then this becomes the natural way of relating to others, but there really is no “self” which relates to “others.”

I am not a great blessing. All I can do in this conventional self is to let go of delusion. To be mindful and not become attached to things, to see clearly—that is what I can do. That is the practise of the Four Noble Truths and following the Eightfold Path. It amounts to that vigilant, mindful seeing of things clearly. Then what happens depends on other things. There is no need to go around trying to become Sumedho the Good Guy any more. Goodness can manifest through this form only if there is no delusion. And that is not a personal achievement or attainment at all, merely the way things are. The way it happens to be. It is Dharma.

Lester Levenson: Be Not the Doer

Lester began teaching about this practice by telling the group: “Whatever you want, get it by releasing only. No effort, no doing, just releasing.” But by the next day he realized his mistake, and he changed the practice to “Be not the doer.” What he is teaching here is called in Zen tso-ch’an (literally “sitting meditation”); it is also called mindfulness.

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“You are at peace when you are established in witness consciousness.” – Deepak Chopra

“Supernatural power and marvelous activity: Drawing water and carrying firewood.” – Layman P’ang

“When thus the Bodhisattva, discarding all effortful works (sarvdbhogavigata), attains to the effortless state of consciousness, he enters upon the eighth stage known as Acala, the Immovable.” – Suzuki (1929, p. 225)

“My son, be easy, it is nothing remarkable to be amazed about. The Almighty God is present everywhere with infinite strength and grace. We too are empowered by that same infinite power, but our addiction to sensory pleasures and material greed negates our entire strength and turns us into slaves of meanness. We never care about spiritual upliftment or try to achieve purity of heart. Otherwise man is also immensely powerful, as God Himself is the source of power of his creations. The man who know this truth and honors this power within can do anything easily without fail.” – Swami Trailanga

I took out of Ramana Maharshi something that I’ll give you now. “Work is no hindrance to realization. Doing things does not block you from realization. It is the sense of wrong identification that is the source of all your trouble. Get rid of the false identification.” And what’s the false identification? That you are the doer. And you have all experienced from releasing that when you’re released, it happens. You’re not the doer. Like when Yogananda was sitting in a bed, he was very high, and trying to get his balance he raised his hand, and it went up effortlessly. When you’re not the doer and you want your hand to go up, it just floats up with no effort. In everything you do the same thing happens. No energy, no effort is necessary. So, being in action is no hindrance; the hindrance is identifying as being the limited body-mind, is identifying with the ego.

If you tried to do no action, you wouldn’t succeed, because your karma is driving you now into action. So if you tried to do nothing, you wouldn’t succeed. Whatever your karma is, you would do. So, trying to do nothing doesn’t help. Only releasing helps. And only releasing will get you all the way—as fast as you will do it. So, the action, rather than being a hindrance, is really a help. Because as you’re in action, you’re being pushed by your feelings, which bring up more feelings while you’re in action for you to release all your feelings. So you must do it in the world; you must do it in action. You cannot do it isolating. When you isolate you’ll just escape.

Every man is where he is by the law of his being; [his] thoughts have brought him there, and in the arrangement of his life there is no element of chance, but all is the result of a law which cannot err. As a progressive and evolving being, man is where he is that he may learn that he may grow; and as he learns the spiritual lesson which any circumstance contains for him, it passes away and gives place to other circumstances. – James Allen (“As a Man Thinketh”; 1903)

So, the next major point to write down is “Whatever you do, do it to perfection.” That’s behaving like a master. Behaving like a master brings up the objections to it for your releasing. If you don’t do things to perfection, it’s because . . .  actually, your destructiveness, your non-constructiveness, causes you to not do it to perfection. But if you make it a point to do it to perfection, up will come these feelings of “I can’t” for your releasing. So, make it a point to do whatever you’re doing very successfully. That word “perfection” might not be understood—“success” might be better understood. Whatever you do, you should be successful in doing it.

Q: I still get confused about the action part of it. You’re saying it’s effortless. You still—the body acts to [accomplish] it, but it’s without . . .

Lester: Yes, it’s without effort. It’s like floating through the air, floating through the thing. As I explained, if you wanted to lift your arm up, it takes no effort: it just floats up. No energy is required. So, effortlessness is when I say, “I am not the doer” and I let it happen. Another way of expressing it is letting go and letting God. But your actual experience is [that there is] no effort.

Q: That makes it a lot clearer, because the body could go through all of the actions of the day, doing things, and yet be effortless if we stay released.

Lester: Right. That’s it. I think the last time I read something that Ramana Maharshi said: “Action doesn’t stop one from realization; identifying as the doer does.”

So, bottom line, it all adds up to “I am my beingness.” And when you come from your beingness, you’ll just watch the bodies float around, including your own, exactly as you would watch them on a movie screen. And when bodies on a movie screen start shooting bullets and wiping each other out, you know it for what it is—just an imagined thing. There’s no death. You can imagine a death, but actually there’s no thing as death. Get rid of the image, get rid of the mind. And, again, you’ll never stop struggling until you go all the way to freedom.

Maybe we ought to continue where we left off last night. It was, “Be not the doer.” Who wants to be a door? (Laughter) So I’ll say, “Be not the door.” (Laughter)

And in general there were a lot of questions on what it means to “Be not the doer.” So I think I started off by saying, well, I told you to release to get everything you want. When you are released, you have no sense of doership—everything falls into line. When you are released you experience the sense of being not the doer. So that ought to connect for every one of you. When you’re completely released, it just happens with no effort. And so you just sit back and watch it happen, is the experiencing you go through. That’s being not the doer.

Now, you cannot go into inaction because of your karma. But you should use the action to grow by, and one of the big things is “Be not the doer.” Watch it happen. When you are being not the doer your sense is [that] you’re sitting in a theater watching the show go on. Do you have any question on the sense of being in action and being not the doer?

Q: I got to the point where even my will seems senseless.

Lester: It is, if you can “Be not the doer.” But if you cannot “Be not the doer” then will is useable. Will is effort; it’s making an effort to undo the effort. But there’s a power in you, it’s a willpower, where you can decree if you will. So that now willing is good, because you could will out the whole thing if you so decided. I have yet to see the first one do it. Okay, so, what’s your question now?

Q: You just answered it. Thank you.

Lester: See, with Alan I was able to explain it relative to something that was going on. He wanted to make a preparation for somebody to do something that he would like them to do. And he asked me if I would call that [unintelligible] and I said, No. Well, in his idea you had to go “da, da, da, da” to get ready for it. My concept was, in a matter of thirty seconds I’ll have the whole thing completed when I see this person. Because I’m not the doer; it happens right away if I continue to be not the doer. If I am the doer then I gotta make preparations, I gotta do convincing, I gotta do asking—a lot of roundabout stuff. But when you’re not the doer, it’s the sense of letting go and letting God do it. You actually sit by and watch the body action go on, just as you would [watch] a moving picture of your body.

I think you have all experienced times when you were not the doer and you saw things happen, right? So you’ve all experienced it, and experience is the main thing that we need to use to learn. We cannot learn intellectually through the mind, through the head. The mind is the enemy; the mind is the obstacle. The only way we can learn is through experiencing. And each and every one of you has experienced being not the doer and watching the thing fall into line without effort. All right. Now, the thing to accomplish is to have that happen all the time. When it did happen, was it miserable? (Laughter) But every time you make an effort, you’re unhappy. You’re striving, you’re struggling. Every time you make an effort, you’re not happy. But the moment you let go of identifying yourself as being the body, things are effortless. I should say “body-mind.” They’re opposite sides of the same coin, the mind and the body. The mind says the body is there.

(8:00) So, experiencing, there’s something you should know: the difference between the intellect and experiencing. Everything you accumulate even now in the intellect, you’re going to have to drop [in order] to get that intellect, that mind, totally quiet. Everything you’ve learned in your lifetimes, you’re going to dump. Afterwards, you’re omniscient. Afterwards, you’re in touch with your beingness, which is omniscient. And what thinking would omniscience require? If everything is known, what is there to think about? So you shift from using your head, which is your block, to quieting that head, so only your beingness remains. And everything is effortless, everything falls perfectly into line, and you’re in the perfect happiness that there is, that’s really your basic nature.

You should be unattached in your works. But for an unpractised man it is an uncommon thing to reach the point where no crowd and no task hinders him. It calls for diligent application, so that God is ever present to him and shines before him completely unveiled at all times and in all company. Skilful diligence is required for this, and in particular two things. One is that a man has shut himself off well inwardly, so that his mind is on its guard against the images without, that they remain without and do not unfittingly keep company and walk with him, and that they find no resting-place in him. The second is that he should not let himself be caught up by his internal imagery, whether it be in the form of pictures or lofty thoughts or outward impressions or whatever is present to his mind; nor [should he let himself] be distracted nor dissipate himself in their multiplicity. A man should train and bend all his powers to this and keep his inner self present to him. – Meister Eckhart, The Talks of Instruction (Walshe)

(10:49) I remember in the early days they’d put a tape recorder on, and it meant to me, “Oh, I wish that were not on.”

Question: It would stop.

Lester: No, it would go, and when I’d replay it, it was blank. There’s nothing out there but your picture. And for some years, when anyone took a picture of me, I wasn’t in the picture. And if it was a crowd, everyone would come out but me. Until Neva Dell [phonetic] came to town and had a national conference here. She kind of put me up high, and “Oh, I must be in the picture.” So I said, “Oh, Lord, it had better come out this time.” And from that time on, my picture comes out now when people shoot it. But it’s just another example that there’s nothing out there but your consciousness. I know what did it: “Oh, I’m not that body. That body is just imagination.” And so it didn’t come out on the negative—nor on the positive.

Q: I have a question. How do I get myself into the place of being not the doer?

Lester: Practice. Of course, the very best way, as I said before, is releasing. When you’re released, you’re not the doer. And that bothers you sometimes!

Q: Well, it seems that things happen. You don’t really—

Lester: That’s it—things happen. You don’t have to do them. . . . But the sense is that released sense: you let go, and it happens, in the sense of letting go and letting God. You don’t have to do a thing. You just watch it happen. You’re not the doer. Does that answer your question? It’s experiential. You’re not going to get it in the head; you’re going to get it in the experience.

Saraswati, Paramanand (2013). Trailanga Swami and Shankari Mataji. Kolkata: Amar Nath Poddar.

Suzuki, D. T. (1998). Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. (originally published in 1929)

Lester Levenson: Purpose

See the real purpose of your life and make it your own

(1958) Peace, friends. Our next word is purpose. Now, purpose is that which one sets before himself as an object to be attained. It is the end or aim to be kept in view in any plan. It is resolution, determination.

Now, purpose is the word that gives us the power we need to propel ourselves to our destination. It is purpose that gives the impetus. It comes to us when we release our brakes, step on the accelerator, move out into greater and more expansive realms with a feeling of lightness, of gaity, of levitation. When we are levitating high above the usual levels of Earth we get a much different perspective. We get sort of a bird’s-eye view of this thing called life. We have moved ourselves way up above the noise and din of the narrow, petty and small living, into the higher and loftier places, into thoughts more about people—the people all about us and even the people all around us on other planets.

From this high vantage point we see that the purpose of life and living is to make us realize the real wondrous and unlimited being that we are. [We see] that we have turned away from this infinity, and that we must now return home to that abode that was always awaiting us, always beckoning us to come back home. We see that we have been prodigal sons and daughters, that we strayed from the rich and rightful mansion of the Lord, or Law, and that now we want to do a turn-about as quickly as we possibly can to reclaim the bountiful heritage that always was ours. We see the Lord, or Law, and know that by simply living in accord with this divine Law we acquire the fastest means of returning home to our godhood. Then we see it as it was seen in a story of one of the gods in which he made himself into a pig. He took for himself a pig’s body, and then [he took] a she-pig, and then had many, many little baby pigs. And he romped and he rooted and he wallowed in the mud with great delight. One day one of the other gods came and saw his plight.

They came to him and said, “Brother god, what are you doing in a pig’s body? What are you doing in a pig sty?”

He said, “Go away and do not bother me! I am very happy here with my she-pig and all the little pigs. And look at the wonderfully soft mud I have to roll in.”

When the brother gods saw they could not reason with him anymore, they decided to take a drastic step: they took a sharp knife and cut open his pig’s body. Out he jumped out and exclaimed, “What a nightmare! All that time I thought I was well-off and happy. Thank goodness you brought me to my senses!”

Friends, that is exactly what we are now doing. We have [made] little pig bodies and think ourselves to be pigs, limited to a world of sense-satisfaction that gives us only a tiny, tiny part of the unlimited joys that are ours for the mere seeing it and taking it. Think of it: we are giving up untold joys beyond joys only to partake of pathetically small, limited and non-satiable pleasures. Is there anyone here who can say that he has had pleasure to the point where he is now totally satiated, satisfied? I doubt it. You will never find the joy that satiates in your present attempts to find it in the sense-world. No. We must let go, rise above it, get our heads above the clouds to see the vast new horizons. And when we do, we see the purpose. We take off the blinds, we take off the closures on our minds, and we see the purpose. And from then on, friends, we are impatient to return to the unlimited expressions of joy, those that are rightly ours by our very nature, which is the godhood that we are seeking.

Now, the power behind the purpose is the wisdom that is expressed by the Law, and it is intensified by the responsibility and the freedom with which you use it. This means that we are as successful insofar as we live by the divine Law, receiving its wisdom and expressing it. And the more we take this responsibility, the more it works for us.

But we must put it into action. We must take on the purpose, the power, the responsibility. We must learn the Law, and we must use it and live by it. Every time we do not, every time we break the Law, we are rudely reminded of it by what we call a problem, a sickness, a difficulty. Any of these obstacles are merely blocks or bars that we put in our way. They should serve as reminders to us to wake up, to break the bar, to live in accord with the Law. In this way we get in tune with the divine, in time and in step with the Law. We get into what is called harmony, harmony of life. It is living in accord with the Law that gives us a harmonious life.

So, friends, release your breaks, accelerate, expand, levitate, and see your purpose, and propel yourself to the godhood that is yours.

I will close with a poem entitled “The Power and Purpose of God.”

The Power and Purpose of God

Choose this day whom ye will serve;
Cast out wrong thoughts that bind:
Feelings and thoughts that are unlike God;
Make a channel for God of your mind.

The capacity of the instrument
Through which the power must flow
Controls the amount of power received,
Intake and resultant outgo.

If a boiler built only to handle
A fifty-pound pressure-load
Were forced up to five hundred pounds,
It would probably explode.

So with humans, formed to be channels
For the power of God on Earth:
Those with channels corroded by hate and fear
Have always, indeed, a power dearth.

Only a trickle of life can flow
Through channels weakened by wrong,
But the power of God is mighty in those
Whom purity has made strong.

The power of God is mighty
And is the only reality;
Choose this day whom ye will serve,
Let the power of God set you free.

Peace, Friends.

Lester Levenson: The most effective way of releasing

Remember, if you seek anything [for yourself] you will never find God, for you are not seeking God alone. You are looking for something with God, treating God like a candle with which to look for something, and when you have found what you were looking for, you throw the candle away. That is what you are doing. Whatever you look for with God is nothing. All creatures are pure nothing. I do not say they are a trifle or they are anything: they are pure nothing. What has no being, is not. All creatures have no being, for their being consists in the presence of God. If God turned away for an instant from all creatures, they would perish. I have sometimes said, and it is true, that he who possessed the whole world with God would have no more than if he had God alone. All creatures have nothing more without God than a midge would have without God—just the same, neither more nor less. – Meister Eckhart, Sermon Forty (Walshe, Vol. I)

(4:31) The reason why you’re not going free quickly is you’re releasing to feel good. And that causes you to stop when the goal is accomplished, whereas if you were releasing to go free, you wouldn’t stop. You would bless every opportunity that came your way to gain an additional piece of freedom. Every down would be a wonderful opportunity to you. Every down is a marvelous opportunity to release and go up.

You’re not falling into the later steps of the six steps [see below] because you’re missing the number-one thing—wanting to go free—and replacing it with wanting to satisfy the ego, the “I” personality sense. Chasing after the high state externally in the world, where for each ounce of pleasure you take you get pounds and pounds and pounded with pain. This is so obvious if you just look at it. The things you thought were most pleasurable in life have given you the greatest agonies—basically, the opposite sex. As you move up, your sex desires should be released, and you reach a place where there is no sex, there is no male and female. You’ll look at souls without a tag, “male” or “female”.

(6:40) But every desire is an extreme bondage. Every desire is saying, “I lack that.” The All lacks nothing. The All is everything. The oneness includes every last atom. And so you pull yourself away into a new personality, and you are trying to keep that personality surviving. And that’s more important to you than taking this tremendous high state, which is yours by nature, which is inherent, which you cannot change. But you can look away from it and assume this little ego-body-mind.

You’re not looking to go free, and that’s why a whole gang of you are not all the way by now. You’re looking to satisfy this body-mind, thinking [that] therein lies your welfare. And every day it’s proven to you that your welfare does not lie there. You never win! For each ounce of happiness you take via the body-mind you get hit with so much pain!

(8:10) Every thought has a certain amount of pain to it. Why? It pulls your attention away from your beingness. When your mind is quiet, you’re in the most wonderful place there is. But every time you put a thought into it, it’s a disturbance of the inherent natural total peace, equanimity, tranquillity, that is natural. But again, the reason why you’re not establishing that tremendous state is you’re looking for it where it isn’t. You don’t want freedom, you want that terrible game of playing ego, and having moments of pleasure with long periods of pain. So I’m suggesting that you wake up to this fact. Release when you’re high. That ought to be put down in your notes with big capital letters: RELEASE WHEN HIGH. GO HIGH TO RELEASE.

(9:40) The mind is only creative. When you [have a will for] freedom, you’re going to get it quickly—and I say months—because it’ll be your number-one priority, and regardless of what’s going on in your life, you’ll keep releasing. All that suppressed energy is trying to push up now, and you’re trying to hold it down. Stop holding it down, and every bit of it would leak out. It would push right out. Holding it down is holding on to the ego programs. You’ve got to recognize that first you want to be a limited ego. Then you’ve got to accept that that isn’t it, just by looking at your life. It’s been miserable for millions of years. We all think we’re so smart, and boy, are we dumb. For an infinite being to live in the extreme limitations that we do—how smart is that? But that [intelligence] that we feel and think we are is subconsciously knowing our beingness, and the [stupidity] is forgetting that: [forgetting] that it is our beingness that is omniscient and [intelligent].

(11:38) So we must get to the place where we identify all the time with our beingness. And when you do that, you see the mind, body, world as an out-projection of your mind that you set up. “And, so what?” will be your attitude. And good and bad are exactly alike in that projected movie. It’s a projection! That’s the thing you’ve got to get to know. What’s the difference whether it’s black or white, good or bad, hot or cold? It is a projection out there, an imagination, an imaging in my mind, a thing that I set up. “I am not that; I am my beingness.” When you identify with your beingness, the mind matters not because you know it for what it is. When you identify with your beingness, the mind and all its garbage matters not because you know the mind for what it is.

(13:00) The sense of ego contains all likes, dislikes—all thoughts. You must get your attention off it and put it on your beingness, which is there all the time. Is there any time when you are not? No. This infinite beingness that you are is there all the time. Identify with It. Hold, “My mind is not It. My body is not It. My mind and body are out-projections from It.” Identify with your beingness.

(14:06) Release when you’re high. The higher we are, the closer we are to our beingness. Highness and quietness [are the same thing]. When you go high, you’ve got the energy up here. Here you have the least energy; in apathy [pessimism] you’ve thrown in the towel [given up]. Up here you’ve got the highest energy. So move up into this area, and then dig for the fear of dying. Down here you’re drowning in it, and you cannot let go. Up here you can confront the fear of dying. And when you get that out, most of it, you can clean out the remainder relatively easily. Aim to go up here to release from.

(15:25) If I had said these things to you some time ago it would have been meaningless, because you’re so drowning in your AGFLAP that you just can’t see straight. The only thing you see is the AGFLAP. But every one of us has moved up into this area, knows what it’s like, can put ourselves there and then dig down deep and confront the fear of dying, the insecurity, the fear of living. And by so doing you’ll get rid of all fear. Fear is not natural. What does an eternal being have to fear—about dying, especially? So, from here on, make it a point to get up here. Feel high, and then dig for the fear of dying and release it.

(16:50) Your point of focus shifts from body-mind just onto beingness only. You stop thinking about whether this chemical or that chemical is going to do this or that to me. You don’t think, “Am I going to get approval or control?” No matter what anyone says to us, it does not hurt us, because we are infinite beingness. How can what someone says interfere with that? They cannot. And so you move toward the imperturbable state. And I know of no better yardstick of checking where you are at now than by the degree to which you can be bothered. Move to that place where no one and no thing can bother you any more. And remember that the ego is the mind-body; and the mind has to be quieted, and then you identify only with your beingness, and that’s the ultimate state.

(18:26) And that’s what I wanted to say to you today. Get out of the pits, go up here, complete the job! It only takes months or less. If step one is in there—wanting freedom more than you want the ego nonsense—the other steps fall into line. And you get down to step six where it’s a delight all the time, because you just go higher and higher and higher and higher, until you can’t go higher anymore. There’s no place to go: you’re all over the universe. You’re infinite. And that’s simply, all the time, identifying with your beingness, “I-am-ness.” Then you’ll see the whole truth that there is. There’s nothing but I, my beingness. Everything else was an imagination, an illusion.

(19:47) So, I say, Go for it. Keep it in mind. Go high and release. Of course, if you’re down, release to go high so you can release more deeply. Don’t stay there; move on from there to higher. You’re right: most of us have been using it to escape the misery. I’m saying, don’t stop. Go higher until there’s nowhere to go anymore; you’re all over the universe. Use the highness to release. You have been using releasing to feel good, that’s it; and you stop. You’re ridding yourself of millions of years of accumulation, but it can be done in months. How do I know? I did it back in ‘fifty-two, not knowing what you know. Had I known the method, instead of taking three months I really believe it would have taken one month. Because for the first month I just released on approval, love. And then I was spending the second month releasing on wanting control, change. And then the last month I saw the fear of dying and I worked on that. So I was really going one at a time: approval, control, security.

(21:41) The aversions to the world are difficult to see. Your attachments are obvious, and you’re chasing them all the time, but the aversions you push out of the way. So when you go for a goal, up come the anti’s—“Oh, I’m afraid,” “I can’t,” and all that stuff. So, it’s a gimmick for [bringing] up the aversions to the world, getting them up into sight so you can let them go. If you don’t get a thing into consciousness, you cannot see it or handle it. So, achieving in the world is a way of bringing up the negative. The only reason why the world doesn’t serve you with affluence and abundance of everything is because you have thoughts to the contrary, and they’re suppressed. Moving to get things in the world, the contrary feelings come up, and you release them. Because if you cannot be successful, it’s because you’re holding on to programs that are holding you down, and you don’t see them.

(23:02) That which you don’t like, don’t want to see, don’t want to be, you want to avert it: that which you want to avert. And the opposite side is attachment: that which you want to hold on to. Those are two big words: attachments and aversions. They keep us bound. If you are the All, how can you have an attachment or an aversion? There’s nothing apart from you. And you end up with the feeling, “The universe is mine. From infinity to infinity, the universe is mine.” And it is!

Six Steps to Freedom

(This particular list is from https://youtu.be/jSO1IwMcMAY,  beginning at 18:05 minutes)

1. You must want your freedom more than you want the world.

     — Take all your joy from yourself by releasing

2. Make the decision to go free and then do it.

     — If you make the decision, you will go free.

3. Beneath the desire for approval and control is the fear of dying, so go directly to the fear of dying and release it.

4. Make releasing constant.

5. If you are stuck, let go of wishing you could get past being stuck.

6. From now on, get everything you want by releasing.

     — You will still engage in activity, but there is no effort in it.

     — Action doesn’t prevent Self-realization; identifying oneself as the doer does.

     — If you tried to do no action, you wouldn’t succeed because your karma is driving you into action. Whatever your karma is, you would do. So, trying to do nothing doesn’t help; only releasing helps, and only releasing will take you all the way.

Meister Eckhart: “Learn to acquire an inward desert”

From The Talks of Instruction

6. On Detachment and on Possessing God

I was asked, ‘Some people shun all company and always want to be alone; their peace depends on it, and on being in church. Was that the best thing?’ And I said, ‘No!’ Now see why. He who is in a right state is always in a right state wherever he is, and with everybody. But if a man is in a wrong state, he is so everywhere and with anybody. But if a man is in a right state, in truth he has God with him. Now if a man truly has God with him, God is with him everywhere, in the street or among people, just as much as in church or in the desert or in a cell. If he possesses God truly and solely, such a man cannot be disturbed by anybody. Why?

He has only God, thinks only of God, and all things are for him nothing but God. Such a man bears God in all his works and every­where, and all that man’s works are wrought purely by God—for he who causes the work is more genuinely and truly the owner of the work than he who performs it. If we then have none but God alone in mind, then He must really do our work, and God’s work can be hindered by none, nor by any company or place. Therefore no one can stop such a man, for he regards, seeks, and tastes nothing but God, for God is united with that man in all his aims. And just as no multiplicity can scatter God, so nothing can scatter or diversify that man, for he is one in the One, where all multiplicity is one and is nonmultiplicity.

Entering all kinds of situations, he is never affected by them. In the fraction of a moment he descends to the lowest realms. Meeting the Buddha, he talks with the Buddha; meeting patriarchs, he talks with patriarchs; meeting arhats, he talks with arhats; meeting hungry ghosts, he talks with hungry ghosts. He goes everywhere, roaming through the realms and talking with living beings, yet never strays for a single thought from his shining purity. Penetrating the ten directions, to him the ten thousand things are of one suchness. – Lin-chi

A man should receive God in all things and train his mind to keep God ever present in his mind, in his aims, and in his love. Note how you regard God: keep the same attitude that you have in church or in your cell and carry it with you in the crowd and in unrest and inequality. 7 And, as I have often said, when we speak of ‘equality’, this does not mean that one should regard all works as equal, or all places or people. That would be quite wrong, for praying is a better task than spinning, and the church is a nobler place than the street. But in your acts you should have an equal mind and equal faith and equal love for your God, and equal seriousness. Assuredly, if you were equal-minded in this way, then no man could keep you from having God ever present.

But if God is not thus truly in a man but has to be got from with­out, from this and that, if he seeks God in unequal fashion, whether in deeds or in people or in places, that man has not got God. And that man may easily be distracted, since he has not got God and does not seek God only, or love and strive for God only. Accordingly, not only is he put off by bad company, but even goodness is a hindrance to him. Not only the street, but even the church; and not only evil words and deeds, but even good words and deeds; for the blockage is within himself because in him God has not become all things. If this were so, then he would be happy and at ease everywhere and with everybody, for he would have God, whom none can take from him, nor could anyone hinder his work.

Wherein lies this true possession of God, this really having Him? This true possession of God depends on the mind, an inner mental turning and striving toward God—but not in a continuous and equal thinking of Him, for that would be impossible for nature to strive for, very difficult and not even the best thing. A man should not have, or be satisfied with, an imagined God, for then when the idea vanishes, God vanishes! Rather, one should have an essential God, who far transcends the thought of man and all creatures. Such a God never vanishes unless a man wilfully turns away from Him.

He who has God thus essentially takes Him divinely, and for him God shines forth in all things, for all things taste divinely to him and God’s image appears to him from out of all things. God flashes forth in him always. In him there is detachment and turning away, and he bears the imprint of his beloved, present God. It is just like a man who is terribly thirsty: he can do other things beside drinking and can even turn his mind to other thoughts, yet whatever he does and in whatever company he finds himself, whatever he intends, whatever he thinks or does, he never loses the thought of drinking as long as his thirst lasts; and the greater the thirst, the greater and deeper and more present and persistent will be the thought of a drink. Or if there is a man who is so passionately devoted to a thing that nothing else interests him or touches his heart, he is intent on that thing and nothing else. Quite certainly, wherever or with whomever that man is, and whatever he takes up or does, the image of what he loves never fades in him, and he finds its image in everything. And it is ever the more strongly present to him the more his love for it increases, and that man will not seek rest, for no unrest disturbs him.

That man finds greater praise before God, for he takes all things as divine, and as greater than they are in themselves. Indeed, this requires zeal and love and a clear perception of the interior life, and a watchful, true, wise, and real knowledge of what the mind is occupied with among things and people. This cannot be learned by running away, by fleeing into the desert away from outward things. A man must learn to acquire an inward desert, wherever and with whomever he is. He must learn to break through things and seize his God in them, and to make His image grow in himself in essential wise. It is just like learning to write: truly, if a man is to acquire this art, he must apply himself and practice hard, however heavy and bitter a task it seems to him, and however impossible. If he is prepared to practice diligently and often, he will learn and master the art. Of course, at first he has to remember every letter and fix it firmly in his mind. Later on, when he has acquired the art, he will be completely free of the image and will not have to stop and think, but will write fluently and freely. And the same with playing the fiddle or any other task that requires skill. All he needs to know is that he intends to exercise his skill, and even if he is not paying full attention, wherever his thoughts may stray, he will do the job because he has the skill. Thus a man should be pervaded with God’s presence, transformed with the form of his beloved God, and made essential by Him, so that God’s presence shines for him without any effort. Rather he will find emptiness in all things and be totally free of things. But first there must be thought and attentive study, just as with a pupil in any art.

* * *

7. Sermon 65, note 10:  The problem of translating glich becomes acute here. It means not only ‘like’ and ‘equal’, but it also involves Eckhart’s conception of justice outlined above. The ‘just’ man, as we have seen, does not choose and does not favour himself. Quint also notes the difficulty the Cologne censors, and even Eckhart himself, had in translating glich into Latin. [See the Glossary for the word, samata—sameness.]

M. O’C. Walshe (1987). Meister Eckhart: Sermons & Treatises Volume III. UK: Element Books Limited (p. 16).

Lester Levenson: Meditation with a quest

Session 11: Meditation with a Quest

The primary purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind. When we hold one thought with interest, as we hold it other thoughts keep dropping away. Thoughts of the day, what he did to me, what she did, what I should have done, etc.—all these thoughts are active on a subconscious level. As we hold to one thought, these subconscious thoughts become quiet; they become still. They drop into the background, and that quiets the mind.

Now, the most important thing in quieting the mind is interest. When you are very interested in something, you’ll override all other thoughts. Likewise, if with intense interest you want to know: What am I? What is this world? What is my relationship to it? —if there’s a real burning desire to get the answer, then all other thoughts drop away and the mind becomes extremely concentrated. Then the answer shows itself. It comes from within. The answer is there all the time! The quieting of the thoughts allows us to see it, to see the answer that was there all the time, there in the realm of knowingness, the Self.

The starting point should be a strong desire for the answer. When that desire is strong, we get the answer. That’s why man’s extremity is God’s opportunity: extreme adversity causes us to desire to get out of it with such intensity that we concentrate our mind and discover the answer.

When I started my quest I thought that thinking would give me the answers. I had a mind that was as active as any mind could be. But I was at the end of the line. I had had a second heart attack and they told me I was finished, that I had only a short time to live, and so I had to have the answers. And even though my mind was far more active than the great majority of minds, the intensity of the desire for the answers caused me to hold to one question at a time, obliterating all else. This concentration did it.

I started seeking with no knowledge of metaphysics, no knowledge of the way. In fact I was against all religion and all metaphysics. I thought it was nonsense for the weak-minded, for people who believed in fairy tales. But it was only because of the intensity of the desire to get the answers—I had to have the answers—that they began to come; and they came relatively quickly. Over a period of three months’ time I went from an extreme materialist to the opposite extreme: the material is emptiness and the spiritual is the All.

The wish to get the answer was so strong that in spite of my mind being one of the noisiest of minds, the answers began to come. I automatically fell into things (I knew no words for them) like samadhi. I would concentrate on a question with such intensity that I would lose awareness of this body, and then I would be aware of just a pure thought; the thought itself would be the only thing existing in this universe. That’s absorption, when the thinker and the thought become one. One loses consciousness of everything but that one thought. That’s a very concentrated state of mind and the answer is always discovered right there.

I started out with “What is happiness? What is life? What do I want? How do I get happiness?” I discovered that happiness depended upon my capacity to love. At first I thought it was being loved. I reviewed my life and saw that I was very much loved by my family and friends and yet I was not happy. I saw that was not it. Continuing, I realized that it was my capacity to love that gave me happiness.

The next question was, “What is intelligence?” I persisted until, Ah! I saw it! There is only one intelligence in the universe and we all have a direct line to it.

Then I worked on responsibility and discovered that I was responsible for everything that happens or had happened to me. Creation was something I created!

Finally, I held the question, “What am I?” until the answer presented itself.

And this went on, and in a matter of three months’ time I believe I saw the entire picture, went all the way, only because of the concentrated approach. I knew nothing about the subject; I knew nothing about the direction, the way, the path, but I wanted to know: What am I? What is this world? What’s my relationship to it?

You discover that the whole world is nothing but you, that there never was anything but you all along, because there’s only One and you are it! But that isn’t the final state. You come out of it and there’s still a certain amount of mind left. So you go back into the meditative quest until there is no more mind controlling you. When you’ve eliminated all the habits of thought, all the tendencies of mind, you are free. Then you can use your mind and you are the master and director of it. It no longer determines you—you determine it.

At present we are  controlled by the unconscious mind over ninety percent of the time. We really don’t want thoughts so we push them away into the background. We are happiest when there are no thoughts. Thoughts are the things that make us unhappy; even the happy thoughts make us unhappy because we know the pleasure is not going to last. Even thoughts of happiness are limited. The really happy state is the no-thought state; it’s the state of knowingness and is beyond thought.

We started with the subject of meditation. Meditation does seem to be a question in many people’s minds who have meditated for years and years. The best type of meditation is with a question. When you just drop into a nice quiet state without a question, you get a good feeling but no progress of getting the knowledge.

The only problem we have now is called ignorance. We’re ignorant of the fact that we are infinite. To get rid of ignorance we need the knowledge of our infinity. To get the knowledge we have to enquire. So when we go into a meditation and just get peacefully quiet, that’s good, but don’t stop there: then get the answers. It’s necessary to get quiet to get the answers. Only the answer to “What am I?” gets us to the top. So if we want to take the quickest way, we start with the question, “What am I?”

Here’s where the jnani (seekers of knowledge) have the advantage over the bhakta (those who practice devotion). Surrender and devotion throw us into nice feelings and they’re good, but a jnani goes further. He says, “All right, don’t stop there, get the answer.” It’s only when we fully know who and what we are that we’re at the end of the road. So the fastest and best way to meditate is to pose a question, get quiet, and stay quiet until the answer shows itself. Then go to the next one until all the answers are there.

Recorded on July 22, 1970, Los Angeles

Levenson, Lester (1993). Keys to the Ultimate Freedom: Thoughts and Talks on Personal Transformation. Phoenix, Arizona: Sedona Institute (p. 100). ISBN 0-915721-03-1. (http://www.freespiritualebooks.com/keys-to-the-ultimate-freedom.html) (download)

Meister Eckhart: Sermon Seven

SERMON SEVEN (Pf 7, Q 76, QT 35)



(1 John 3:1)

You must know that this is in reality one and the same thing — to know God and to be known by God, to see God and to be seen by God. In knowing and seeing God we know and see that He makes us know and see. And just as the luminous air is not different from the fact of illuminating, for it illumines because it is luminous, so do we know by being known, and because He makes us know. Therefore Christ said, “Again you will see me” (John 16:16). That is to say, by making you see, you know me; and then follows, “Your heart shall rejoice,” that is, in the vision and knowledge of me, “and your joy no man takes from you” (John 16:22).

St. John says, “See how great is the love that the Father has shown us, that we are called and are the children of God” (1 John 3: 1-2). He says not only “we are called” but “we are.” So I say that just as a man cannot be wise without wisdom, so he cannot be a son without the filial nature of God’s son, without having the same being as the Son of God has — just as being wise cannot be without wisdom. And so, if you are the son of God, you can only be so by having the same being of God that the Son has. But this is “now hidden from us.” And after that it is written, “Beloved, we are the children of God.” And what do we know? That is what he adds: “and we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). That is, [we shall be] the same as he is — the same being, experiencing and understanding, everything that he is, when we see him as God. So I say God could not make me the son of God if I had not the nature of God’s son, any more than God could make me wise if I had no wisdom. How are we God’s sons? We do not know yet: “It does not yet appear” to us; all we know is that he says we shall be like him. There are certain things that hide this knowledge in our souls and conceal it from us.

The soul has something in her, a spark of intellect, that never dies; and in this spark, as at the apex of the mind, we place the image of the soul. But there is also in our souls a knowing directed toward ex­ternals, the sensible and rational perception, which operates in images and words to obscure this [spark of intellect] from us. How then are we God’s sons? By sharing one nature with Him. But to have any realisation of thus being God’s Son, we need to distinguish between the outward and the inward understanding. The inward understanding is that which is based intellectually in the nature of our soul. Yet it is not the soul’s essence but is, rather, rooted there and is something of the life of the soul. In saying the understanding is the life of the soul we mean her intellectual life, and that is the life in which man is born as God’s son and to eternal life. This understanding is timeless, without place — without Here and Now. In this life all things are one and all things are common: all things are all in all and all in one.

I will give you an example. In the body, all members are united and one, such that eye belongs to foot and foot to eye. If the foot could speak, it would say that the eye which is in the head was more its own than if it were in the foot, and the eye would say the same in reverse. And so I think that all the grace which is in Mary is more and more truly an angel’s and more in him — that which is in Mary! — than if it were in him or in the saints. For whatever Mary has, a saint has: the grace in Mary is more his, and he enjoys it more, than if it were in him.

But this interpretation is too gross and carnal, for it depends on bodily imagery. So I will give you another sense, which is more subtle and spiritual. I say that in the heavenly realm all is in all, and all is one, and all ours. The grace of our Lady exists in me (if I am there), not as welling up and flowing out of Mary, but rather as in me and as my own, and not of foreign origin. And so I say that what one has there, another has, not as from the other or in the other, but in himself, so that the grace that is in one is entirely in another as his own grace. Thus it is that spirit is in spirit. That is why I say that I cannot be the son of God unless I have the very same nature the Son of God has; and having this same nature makes us like him, and we see him as he is God.

“But it is not yet revealed what we shall be.” And so I say that in this sense there is no likeness and no difference, but rather, wholly without distinction we shall be the same in essence, in substance and in nature as He is in Himself. But that is “not yet revealed”: it will be revealed “when we see him as he is” — God.

God causes us to know Him, and His being is His knowing, and His making me know is the same as my knowing. Therefore, His knowing is mine, just as what the master teaches is one and the same as what the pupil learns. And since His knowing is mine, and since His substance is His knowing, and His nature and His essence [as well], it follows that His essence and His substance and His nature are mine. And if His substance, His being and His nature are mine, then I am the son of God. “Behold, brethren, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called and should be the Son of God!”

Note how we are the Son of God — by having the same essence that the Son has.

But, ‘How can one be the Son of God, or how can one know it, since God is not like anybody?’

That is true, for Isaiah says, “To whom have you likened Him or what image will you give Him?” (Isa. 40:18). Since it is God’s nature not to be like anyone, we have to come to the state of being nothing in order to enter into the same nature that He is. So when I am able to establish myself in nothing and nothing in myself, uprooting and casting out what is in me, then I can pass into the naked being of God, which is the naked being of the spirit. All that smacks of likeness must be cast out that I may be transplanted into God and become one with Him: one substance, one being, one nature, and the Son of God. Once this happens, there is nothing hidden in God that is not revealed, that is not mine. Then I shall be wise and mighty and all else as He is, and one and the same with Him. Then Sion will become truly seeing and true Israel, a God-seeing man, from whom nothing in the Godhead is hidden. Then man is directed into God. But so that nothing may be hidden in God that is not revealed to me, there must appear to me nothing like; no image, for no image can reveal to us the Godhead or its essence. Should any image or any likeness remain in you, you would never be one with God. To be one with God there must be in you nothing imagined or imaged forth, so that nothing is covered up in you that is not discovered or cast out.1

Observe the nature of want: it comes from nothing.2 So what comes of nothing must be purged from the soul, for so long as there is such want in you, you are not God’s son. Man laments and is sorrowful solely on account of want. And so for man to become the Son of God, all that must be purged and cast out, so that there is no more sorrow and lamentation. A man is not stone or wood, for that is all want and nought. We shall not be like Him until this nothing is expelled, so that we are all in all as God is all in all.

Man has a twofold birth: one into the world, and one out of the world, which is spiritual and into God. Do you want to know if your child is born, and if he is naked — whether you have in fact become God’s son? If you grieve in your heart for anything, even on account of sin, your child is not yet born. If your heart is sore you are not yet a mother — but you are in labour and your time is near. So do not despair if you grieve for yourself or your friend — though it is not yet born, it is near to birth. But the child is fully born when a man’s heart grieves for nothing: then a man has the essence and the nature and the substance and the wisdom and the joy and all that God has. Then the very being of the Son of God is ours and in us and we attain to the very essence of God.

Christ says: “Whoever would follow me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24, Mark 8:34). That is, cast out all grief so that perpetual joy reigns in your heart — thus is the child born. And then if the child is born in me, the sight of my father and all my friends slain before my eyes would leave my heart untouched. For if my heart were moved thereby, the child would not have been born in me, though its birth might be near.

I declare that God and the angels take such keen delight in every act of a good man that there is no joy like it. And so I say, if this child is born in you, then you have such great joy in every good deed that is done in the world that this joy becomes permanent and never changes. Therefore he says, “Your joy no man takes from you” (John 16:22). If I am fully transported into the divine essence, then God and all that He has is mine. Therefore He says, “I am the Lord thy God” (Exod. 20:2). That is when I have true joy, when neither pain nor sorrow can take it from me, for then I am installed in the divine essence, where sorrow has no place. For we see that in God there is no anger or sadness, but only love and joy. Though He seems sometimes to be wrathful with sinners it is not really wrath, it is love, for it comes from the great divine love: those He loves He chastens, for He is love, which is the Holy Ghost. And so God’s anger springs from love, for His anger is without passion. And so, when you have reached the point where nothing is grievous or hard to you, and where pain is not pain to you, when everything is perfect joy to you, then your child has really been born.

Strive therefore to ensure that your child is not only being born, but is brought to birth, just as in God the Son is always being born and is brought to birth. And that this may be our lot, so help us God. Amen.


1. This presumably means that the entire contents of the unconscious must be cleared. (Walshe)
2. (Walshe) Middle High German niht (nicht) = ‘nothing’, intensified nihtes niht.
2. (Editor) Want or lack is “nothing”: could Eckhart mean that these are dharmas and therefore not real?

M. O’C Walshe (2009). The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart: Translated and Edited by Maurice O’C Walshe. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company.

1 John 2

28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone that does righteousness is born of him.

1 John 3

1 Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not.

2 Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

3 And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.

4 Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the Law: for sin is the transgression of the Law.

5 And you know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

6 Whosoever abides in him sins not: whosoever sins has not seen him, neither known him.

7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

8 He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

9 Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for His nature remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever does not righteousness is not of God; neither he that loves not his brother.

11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love our brethren. He that loves not his brother abides in death.  (King James 2000)

Lester Levenson: The Source of All Intelligence

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 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.

Schafer Carnegie HallIMG_2074

“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)

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Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer, head of the Manhattan Project, c. 1950

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.

Fifth Avenue 1952

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. It’s—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.

In this likeness or identity God takes such delight that he pours his whole nature and being into it. His pleasure is as great, to take a simile, as that of a horse, let loose to run over a green heath where the ground is level and smooth, to gallop as a horse will, as fast as he can over the greensward—for this is a horse’s pleasure and expresses his nature. It is so with God. It is his pleasure and rapture to discover identity, because he can always put his whole nature into it—for he is this identity itself. – Meister Eckhart (Blakney, “Distinctions are lost in God,” p. 203) (Walshe, Vol. II, Sermon Fifty Seven)

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.

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Exchange Buffet NYC 1920s

“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 dharmas are void 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 myself revealed to myself 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 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, the infinity behind the dam can flow through you.


Photo credits

James Schafer Carnegie Hall notice and Peace Haven ballroom are from Holliday and Kretz (2010). Images of America: Oakdale. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing.

Lester Levenson: Keys to growth

Five practices to achieve growth

1. You must want freedom more than you want the world.

2. Take all your joy from within by releasing.

3. Make the decision to go free, and then do it.

4. Release directly the fear of dying.

5. From now on, get everything you want by releasing. Be not the doer.

6. Make your behavior that of a master.




The best place to grow is right where you are. The best time is now.

The Self

Your effort should be for proper identity. Identify with your Self.

The ego

The whole object of the path is to let go of the ego. What remains is your Self.
Growth is transcending your false self, your ego, which is no more than an accumulation of habits.
Whenever there is an emotional reaction, there’s ego.
Whenever there is effort, there’s ego.
If you aren’t making progress it’s because you are holding on to ego. Return to releasing.
No matter how far we have advanced on the path, the ego is always a treacherous companion that can take us off the path.


Happiness is what tells us we are going in the right direction.
There is no happiness except that of experiencing your Self. When you see that, it makes the path very direct. You stop chasing the rainbow and you go for the happiness where you know it is, right within you.
The first teacher is misery; it is usually the first thing that causes us to seek the way out. We start on the path in order to escape misery, but then we experience the Self and we keep going because we have found pure happiness.
It’s actually a path of taking on more and more of your natural state of being infinite. You give up limitation, you give up misery, but you never give up anything worthwhile, you never give up anything good.


Everything that happens can teach us something. There is no event that we can’t learn from.
Adversity helps you grow more quickly, so welcome it.
Everyone can be our teacher. If we react to praise or approval, that is the ego. If we’re depressed by criticism or disapproval, that is ego. When we are our Self, there is no reaction.
Every experience that causes pain is a blessing in disguise. Change your wrong thinking and you will come out stronger.


It is necessary to do away with doubts. If any doubts arise, release them just as you release other feelings.
The moment we decide to be the Self—really decide—it is so!
We should expect to go all the way. Every one of us is born with the ability to do it in this lifetime.
Whatever your expectations are, raise them higher. Expect no less than infinity.
You will move as quickly as you expect to. To move more rapidly, expect it!
Every impossible, no matter how impossible, becomes immediately possible when we are completely released on it. And you know you are completely released when you just don’t give a damn.


Every gain is yours forever.
Every gain is an eternal gain. Every step forward you make now is forever.
We climb a ladder and each time we get up to another rung we forget about the rungs below. Then, when we get to the top, we kick the ladder away.

Focus only on yourself

Focus only on yourself, never on others.
You can’t help other people any more than you can help yourself; therefore, the best way to help others is to help yourself.
The moment we begin to concern ourselves with what others are doing, we turn away from what we are doing.
Giving advice is the ego playing God.


Knowledge has to be experienced.
It takes more than faith: it takes knowledge. You start with faith, but you must convert it to knowledge. You must experience it first-hand, and then you know it.
Studying the illusion helps make it real. If you want to know the truth, don’t study the opposite.
Don’t try to complicate it; it’s the simplest thing in the world.
It would be so fast if people would, with constant, intense effort ask: ‘What am I?’ When you get the answer to ‘What am I?’ then you have mastery over your body and mind.

You may see fully who you are and not be able to maintain it. What happens is that, being the infinite Self, we can get a glimpse of the infinite, hold it for a while, and then suddenly feel as though we’ve lost it. The reason for that is that the mind has not been eliminated. The subconscious thoughts of limitation are submerged for the moment. You may go completely into your Self and let go of the mind temporarily—you haven’t eliminated the mind, you just momentarily let go of it. So there you are, for the moment, totally the infinite Self. However, the mind that has been submerged reemerges, and then the ego takes over and you just can’t understand what happened to you, what brought you back into the heaviness of the world again. What is required is that we re-establish that state of the Self again and again until it becomes permanent. Each time we do it we scorch more of the mind until finally we have scorched the entire mind. Then we are permanently established in the Self. Then you sit back and the mind is out there and the body is out there and you are not the mind, you are not the body. As long as you know you are not the mind and the body, both of them can go on to their heart’s content, and you know that they cannot touch you.

* * *


Lester Levenson: The Ultimate Freedom

Why don’t we, who are all infinite beings, who have all the power there is in the universe behind us, know that we are that way? Why don’t you know that you’re infinite? You’ve heard it again and again and again. You’re inherently totally free, perfect, all-glorious, all-everything. You’ve heard it, some of you, for years. Why don’t you see it?

Isn’t it ridiculous? Isn’t it stupid? Why do infinite beings like you come to hear another being talk to you? Because in the first place you do not believe that you are; you will not accept that you are. You think, “Yes, it sounds nice, but . . .” There’s always a “but,” “but,” “but,” “but” going on, and this “but” is butting you down all the time. If you only wouldn’t “but” it, if you would only accept it, from that moment on you would put all your effort, all your energy, into seeing this terrific being that you are.

I say you don’t want it, you tell me you do. And this is the important point: you don’t want it. And until you face up to this, until you confront it, you can go on forever and ever and a year more saying, “Oh, this is what I want, I’m on the path, I’m seeking freedom.” And you can do this lifetime in and lifetime out forever, until you will actually accept the concept intellectually that, “I am infinite, and therefore it is ridiculous and stupid to live the way people live in this world.”

You happen to be in the most hellish hell there is in the universe, and fortunately so, at the same time. We are living in almost the most limited state possible unto beings anywhere in the universe. We could go down lower—we could become animals, and animals are beings who also eventually discover their limitlessness.

But isn’t it stupidly stupid to live a life with the extremest of limitations if you believe that your natural state is infinite? This is why I say you don’t really believe that there are no bounds on you, and you prefer to be an extremely limited physical body, to be cherished, to be . . . well, I don’t want to get you women angry with me, but I was going to tell you what you do. You know what you do all the time, and the men are not far behind you—they’re very vain. We put on nice clothes, and we dress ourselves, we scrub the body, and we paint it in the morning—men do these things too—and we put the less-liked part of it, and we take it off to work. Why? So you can maintain that extremely limited state of needing food and clothing in order to survive.

Working is only a concept of limitation—“I must work in order to live.” If we had the conviction that “I must sleep eight hours a day in order to live and survive,” that’s the way it would be. You would just sleep and everything would come your way. Because whether you like it or not, you’re unlimited beings; whatever the mind holds becomes so. The mind is only a creator. The only creator in the universe is you. You think, things happen. And you’re “happening” everything that you’re meeting with every day. You have established this extremely limited state of beingness called a physical body, and you’re holding on to it for dear life.

I’m trying to point out to you that you really don’t want to be this unlimited being. You really don’t want to be totally free. You want to have this limitation, and you want the limitation to be nice, delightful, entertaining. And it just can’t be. And you struggle your entire life trying to make it so, and then you die, and then you have a vacation on the other side, where you’re far better able to think and immediately have things happen. And then you come back into a physical body, and you keep working through this physical body until you are able to free yourself from the physical body while you are in the physical body. You can never get free of it anywhere else but from within it.

So the thing to do is to recognize how much you don’t want this state of freedom. It’s the first thing you must do—you’ve got to confront it. Because if you really wanted it, it would take you weeks, maybe months, to become totally free, to become omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. So, I’ve answered the question. The reason why you don’t get it is that you don’t want it. All right, now you’re going to say to me, “But I do want it.” And I’ll say, “Yes, you tell me that but you don’t show me that.” You say you want to be totally free; you don’t want to be this limited vehicle, and the next moment procede to be this limited vehicle—the next moment and every moment. It’s very rare that you don’t think, “I am this body.” And being this body confines you to it. Change the temperature 40 degrees, it dies. Give it a chemical called a poison, it dies. Don’t give it oxygen, it dies. Why do we want to be this terribly limited thing? You’ve gotta confront these things before you’ll ever let go of it.

Are there any questions on this point? I think it’s a very powerful point. If you will get to see what I’m presenting to you, it will only be a matter of weeks or months before you can, and will be, what you really are: totally free, limitless.

Question: Isn’t it fear, fear of the unknown that holds us? Or is it a feeling that we don’t deserve it? An old childish feeling that we don’t deserve this?

Okay, asking me, I would say it’s a conviction that I’m a body that does it. And therefore if I am a body, anything can hurt it, and therefore I am very fearful. Somebody might hit me with a car, or I might eat the wrong food, or a little cool breeze might come on me and do away with me. It’s the conviction that you’re the body that makes you fearful.

Now, Beingness has no form, no action. It’s static; it’s changeless. And yet this is the thing you’re holding on to when you say “survival”: it’s the “I” continuing. That Beingness is the infinity. But when it tries to be a limited vehicle, and keeps its attention on the limited vehicle, it thinks it’s that limited vehicle all the time. And this is what we’re doing. We’re looking at this body every moment, saying that this body is “I”. It’s very simple. And what I’m suggesting is, let it go and concentrate on discovering your Self. If you would put your attention only on your Self, you would very quickly discover it. Weeks, months, that’s all. Anyone can do it. And the reason why we don’t do it is because we don’t believe it, we don’t accept it; we hear it and we say, “Yeah, yeah,” and the next moment we go all-out in being a very limited vehicle called the body.

To help you not fear so much, I can tell you that you don’t lose the body after realization. Christ had a body—Jesus walked around. He had full realization—in fact he had it before he was born. When you get realization, you don’t lose the body. You lose your concepts of limitation of being only a body. In place of it you first see that you are every body, then you see that you are every thing, then every atom, and then in the ultimate you see that you are all Beingness, and that all energy and matter was an illusion, a fiction that you created and set up. And after that you look at your own body the same way you look at other bodies—objectively. And the body can never again disturb you. It can never again disturb the deep, wonderful, profound peace that you are

So you don’t disappear upon realizing who and what you are. You don’t lose a body; first you gain every body in the universe. So I’m trying to bait you now—since you love the body so much, be a million bodies. And when you are a million bodies you are close to seeing your ultimate state of pure Beingness. But I hope I’m leaving you with a provocation. I’m trying to provoke you into looking at yourself and recognizing that you really don’t want this infinite being that you are, that you really want to play as though you are a limited body. And therefore, you’re not quickly discovering who and what you are.

If there are any questions I’d be very happy to help you if I can.

Question: How did you arrive at the fact that we have to gain realization in the body? Why can’t we just die and be realized?

Because as long as you are a body, you have very strong convictions that you are a body, and you’re holding it in your mind, and you’ll always be a body again and again and again, until you let go of the desire to be a body. So, it’s while you are in the physical body that you have to let go of all desire to be a physical body. Now, that word “desire” is a very powerful word. The only reason why we have bodies is because we desire them. The only reason why we are limited in any way is because we desire limitations. Become desireless and you are unlimited.

Question: Is it all that we can conceive? Do we conceive we have to have a body because we always had one, and so it goes on and on?

It’s a matter of choice. Whether you face it or not, you’ve chosen to be a body. If you will dig within you, you will discover this.

The real culprit is the thing called the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is a storage closet of thoughts. We create thoughts, we put them back in the subconscious, and then we act as though they are not there. Every subconscious thought is just as active as any conscious thought is. But we have created this mechanism of subconscious thinking. And the subconscious thoughts are ony the conscious thoughts that we’re not looking at at this moment. And right now there are millions of thoughts going on in your mind. You bring to consciousness a few of them at a time, but all those millions back there are active. And this is the greatest difficulty. It was a very handy mechanism in the beginning—it was an automatic pilot. When we became more and more involved with thoughts, we put them on automatic an stopped looking at them. And we are now running on automatic, called the subconscious mind. And this is your greatest difficulty. If you could make the subconscious conscious right now, you would be realized, because you would see all this limitation that you set in motion in the past that is now continuing invisible to you all. And by making it visible, naturally you’re going to drop all the limitation.

Keep your attention focused on you. If you would do this only for weeks or months, you would get full realization. I say “only,” which means not stopping it and looking at, “I am a body with problems.” It would be very quick.

Question: Are there degrees of Self-realization?

No. There are degrees of letting go of self-imposed limitations. You see, you’re Self-realized here and now, holding on to concepts of “I am not realized.” So, there is no growth into the unlimited state: that is. here is an apparent growth of letting go of the self-imposed limitations.

You’ll never ever be satisfied living life in the world—or in any other world, or in the heavens. There are heavens on top of heavens on top of the heavens. We happen to be in the hell-realm of the heavens. And you’ll never ever be satisfied until you go to the ultimate. Until you recognize it.

Question: How can we know we’re realized when we are?

By being it you’ll know it. When you’re realized, you see no otherness: there is only “I all alone.” It’s a point of view that you will have that will be just that way, even though that apparency of a body will be moving around on an apparent earth, talking to apparent other bodies. But you’ll know it as an apparency, as an illusion. And you will see only oneness. But, again, it has to be experienced. You can experience Beingness.

Question: Doesn’t it get boring after awhile?

No, it’s what everyone wants more than anything else in the world. It is the most satisfying; it’s the greatest satiation possible. You’re looking for it all the time and you’re asking me, “Will it be boring”—you’re seeking it in everything you do. Your every act is seeking this. You’d be surprised how simple everything is that seems to be complicated, once you see the truth. If we wanted the ultimate truth as much as we want to be a body, we’d have it in a matter of days. That’s how simple it is.