As you have heard, this morning’s subject is “Awakened Imagination”. It is my theme for the entire series of nineteen lectures. Everything is geared towards the awakening of the imagination. I doubt if there is any subject on which clear thinking is more rare than the imagination. The word itself is made to serve all kinds of ideas. many of them directly opposed to one another. But here this morning I hope to convince you that this is the redeeming power in man. This is the power spoken of in the Bible as the Second Man. “the Lord from Heaven”.
This is the same power personified for us as a man called Christ Jesus.
In the ancient text it was called Jacob, and there are numberless names in the Bible all leading up and culminating in the grand flower called Christ Jesus.
It may startle you to identify the central figure of the Gospels as human imagination, but I am quite sure before the series is over, you will be convinced that this what the ancients intended that we should know, but man has misread the Gospels as history and biography and cosmology, and so completely has gone asleep as to the power within himself.
Now this morning I have brought you the means by which this mighty power in us may be awakened. I call it the art of revision. I take my day and I review it in my mind’s eye. I start with the first incident in the morning. I go through the day; when I come to any scene in my unfolding day that displeased me, or if it didn’t displease me if it was not as perfect as I thought it could have been, I stop right there and I revise it. I re-write it, and after I have re-written it so that it conforms to the ideal I wished I had experienced, then I experience that in my imagination as though I had experienced it in the flesh. I do it over and over until it takes on the tone of reality, and experience convinces me that that moment that I have revised and relived will not recede into my past. It will advance into my future to confront me as I have revised it. If I do not revise it, these moments, because they never recede and they always advance, will advance to confront me perpetuating that strange, unlovely incident. But if I refuse to allow the sun to descend upon my wrath, so that at the end of a day I never accept as final the facts of the day, no matter how factual they are, I never accept them, and revising it I repeal the day and bring about corresponding changes in my outer world.
Now, not only will this art of revision accomplish my every objective, but as I begin to revise the day it fulfills its great purpose and its great purpose is to awaken in me the being that men call Christ Jesus, that I call my wonderful human imagination, and when it awakens it is the eye of God and it turns inward into the world of thought and there I see that what formerly I believed to exist on the outside really exists within myself. No matter what it is, I then discover that the whole of Creation is rooted in me and ends in me as I am rooted in and end in God. And from that moment on I find my real purpose in life and my real purpose is simply to do the will of Him that sent me, and the will of Him that sent me is this –that of all that he has given me I shall lose nothing but raise it up again.
And what did he give me? He gave me every experience in my life. He gave me you. Every man, woman and child that I meet is a gift to me from my Father, but they fell in me because of my attitude towards society, because of my attitude towards myself. When I begin to awaken and the eye opens and I see the whole is myself made visible, I then must fulfill my real purpose, which is the will of Him that sent me, and the Will is to raise up those that I allowed in my ignorance when I slept to descend within me.
Then starts the real art of revision; to be the man, regardless of your impressions of that man, regardless of the facts of the case that are all staring you in the face, it is your duty when you become awakened to lift him up within yourself and you will discover that he was never the cause of your displeasure. When you look at him and you are displeased, look within and you will find the source of the displeasure. It did not originate there.
Now let me give you a case history to illustrate this point. I know a few of you were at the banquet and maybe a few of you heard me last Thursday on T. V. but I doubt in this audience of say twenty-three or twenty-four hundred of us, that more than say a hundred and fifty heard it, and even if you heard it you can hear it time and time again for it is this, that if you hear it will cause you to act upon it because as I told you, and I think I did last Sunday, but if I didn’t let me tell you now; if you attended the entire nineteen and you became saturated with all that I have to tell you, so that you had all the knowledge you think it takes to achieve your objectives, and you did not apply what you received, it would avail you nothing; but a little knowledge which you carry out in action, you will find to be far more profitable than much knowledge which you neglect to carry out in action. So by repeating this case history this morning, though say a hundred or two hundred of you have heard it, it will help you to remember you must do something about it.
This past May in New York City, there sat a lady who had been coming for years and I made a simple observation that people must become doers of the word and not mere hearers only. For if a man only hears it and never applies what he hears he will never really prove or disprove what he has heard; and then I told the story of a lady who had only heard me three or four times and how she transformed the life of another, and this lady hearing what one who came only three times and this miracle took place in her life, she went home determined that she would really apply what she had heard over the years, and this is what she did.
Two years before, after a violent quarrel, she was ordered out of her son’s home by her daughter-in-law. Her son said “Mother, you need no proof from me that I love you: it’s obvious: I think I have proven that every day of my life, but if that is Mary’s decision, and I regret it, it must be my decision, for I love Mary and we live in the same house and it is our house: it is our little family, and I am sorry she feels this way about it, but you know these little things that culminate in an explosion as took place today. If that is her decision, it is mine”. That was two years ago. She went home and she realized that night after night for over two years she had allowed the sun to descend upon her wrath. She thought of this wonderful family that she loved and felt herself ostracized from it, expelled from the home of her son. She did nothing about revising it and yet I had been talking revision to my New York audience for the past year.
This is what she did now. She knew the morning’s mail brought nothing. This was a Wednesday night. There had been no correspondence in two years. She had sent her grandson at least a dozen gifts in the two years. Not one was ever acknowledged. She knew they had been received for she had insured many of them; so she sat down that night and mentally wrote herself two letters–one from her daughter-in-law, expressing a great kindness for her, saying that she had been missed in the home and asking her when she was coming to see them; then she wrote one from her grandson in which he said “Grandmother, I love you”. Then came a little expression of thanks for the last birthday present, which was in April, and then came a feeling of sadness rather because he hadn’t seen her and begging her to come and see him soon.
These two short notes she memorized and then, as she was about to sleep, she took her imaginary hands and held these letters and she read them mentally to herself until they woke in her the feeling of joy because she had heard from her family; that she was wanted once more. She read these letters over and over feeling the joy that was hers because she had received them and fell asleep in her project. For seven nights this lady read these two letters. On the morning of the eighth day she received the letter: on the inside there were two letters–one from her grandson and one from her daughter-in-law. These letters were identical with the letters she had mentally written to herself seven days before.
Where was the estrangement? Where was the conflict? Where was the source of the displeasure that was like a running sore over two years? When man’s eye is opened he realizes all that he beholds, though it appears without, it is within–within one’s own imagination, of which this world of mortality is but a shadow.
She gave me permission to tell that story. When I told it, and we came to the period of questions and answers, there was a strange reaction from that crowd. They wondered what joy life would hold for any of us if we had to write our own letters; if we had to do everything to ourselves that seemingly is done in joy; that seemingly is spontaneous coming from another; but I don’t want to write myself a love letter from my wife, or my sweetheart or my friend. I want that one to feel this way towards me and to express it unknown to me that I may receive a surprise in life.
Well, I am not denying that sleeping man firmly believes that is the way things happen. When a man awakes he realizes that everything he encounters is apart of himself, and what he does not now comprehend, he knows, because the eye is opened, that it is related by affinity to some as yet unrealized force in his own being; that he wrote it but he has forgotten it, that he slapped himself in the face but he has forgotten it; that within himself he started the entire unfolding drama, and he looks out upon a world, and it seems strange to him, because most of us in our sleep are totally unaware of what we are doing from within ourselves.
What that lady did, every man and woman in this audience today can do. It will not take you years to prove it; what I tell you now may startle you; it may seem to be bordering on insanity for the insane believe in the reality of subjective states and the sane man only believes in what the senses will allow, what they will dictate, and I’m going to tell you when you begin to awake, you assert the supremacy of imagination and you put all things in subjection to it. You never again bow before the dictates of facts and accept life on the basis of the world without.
To you Truth is not confined by facts but by the intensity of your imagination. So here we find the embodiment of Truth, which I say is human imagination, standing in the world drama before the embodiment of reason personified as Pontius Pilate. And he is given the authority to question truth and they ask him, “What is the truth?” and Truth remains silent. He refuses to justify any action of his; he refuses to justify anything that was done to him, for he knows no man cometh unto me save I call him: no man takes away my life, I lay it down myself.
You didn’t choose me, I have chosen you. For here is Truth seeing nothing hereafter in pure objectivity, but seeing everything subjectively related to himself and he the source of all the actions that take place within his world; so Truth remains absolutely silent and says nothing when reason questions him concerning the true definition of Truth. Because when the eye opens it knows that what is an idea to sleeping man is a fact to the awakened imagination, an objective fact, not an idea. I entertain the idea of a friend and I make some wonderful concept of him in my mind’s eye and when I sleep it seems to be a wish, it seems to be the longing of my heart, but purely subjective, just an idea. And the eye within me opens, and he stands before me embodying the quality that I desired in my sleep to see him express. So what is an idea to sleeping man, the unawakened imagination, is an objective reality to awakened imagination.
Now, this exercise calls for, I would say, the active, voluntary use of imagination as against the passive, involuntary acceptance of appearances. We never accept as true and as final anything unless it conforms to the ideal we desire to embody within our world, and we do exactly what the grandmother did. But now we start it and we do it daily. You may get your results tomorrow; it may come the day after; it may come in a week, but I assure you they will come.
You do not need some strange laboratory, like our scientists, to prove or disprove this theory. Here in 1905 a young man startled the scientific world with his equation that no one could even test. It is said not six men lived who could understand his equation. It was 14 years later before Lord Rutherford could devise the means to test that equation and he found that it was true, not 100%, because he did not have the means at his hand to really give it a complete test. It was another 14 years before further tests could be made. And you know the results of that equation that Einstein gave us in 1905. For today man, not knowing the power of his own imagination, stands startled at the results of that unlocking of energy. But he was the man who said, and I put it in the first page of my new book–“Imagination is more important than knowledge”
That was Albert Einstein. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For if man accepts as final the facts that evidence bears witness to, he will never exercise this God-given means of redemption, which is his imagination.
Now I’m going to ask you to test this: you will not take the three weeks that I am here to prove it or disprove it, but the knowledge of it cannot prove itself, only the application of that knowledge can prove it or disprove it. I know from experience you cannot disprove it. Take an objective, take a job, take some conversation with your boss, take an increase in salary. You say well, the job doesn’t allow it, or maybe the Union will not allow it. I don’t care what doesn’t allow it.
Yesterday morning’s mail brought me one, where, in San Francisco, this captain, a pilot, and he writes me that I saw him backstage after one of my meetings, and there he said, “But Neville, you are up against a stone wall. I am a trained pilot; I have gone all over the world, all over the seven seas; I’m a good pilot and I love the sea, not a thing in this world I want to do but go to sea; yet they restrict me to certain waters because of seniority. No matter what argument I give them the Union is adamant and they have closed the book on my request.” I said, “I don’t care what they have done, you are transferring the power that rightfully belongs to God, which is your own imagination, to the shadow you cast upon the screen of space.
“So here, we are in this room; need it remain a room? Can’t you use your imagination to call this abridge. This is now a bridge and I am a guest on the bridge of your ship, and you are not in waters restricted by the Union; you are in waters that you desire to sail your ship. Now close your eyes and feel the rhythm of the ocean and feel with me and commune with me and tell me of your joy in first proving this principle. and secondly in being at sea where you want to be. He is now in Vancouver on a ship bringing a load of lumber down to Panama. He has a complete list that will take him through the year what this man has to do. He is going into waters legitimately that the Union said he could not go. This doesn’t dispense with unions, but it does not put anyone in our place- -no one, kings, queens, presidents, generals, we take no one and enthrone him and put him beyond the power that rightfully belongs to God. So I will not violate the law but things will open that I will never devise.
I will sit in the silence and within myself I will revise the picture. I will hear the very man who told me “No, and that’s final” and hear him tell me yes, and a door opens. I don’t have to go and pull strings or pull any wires whatsoever. I call upon this wonderful power within myself, which man has forgotten completely because he personified it and called it another man, even though it is a glorious picture of a man but that is not the man: the real man is not in some other world. When religion speaks, if it’s a real religion, it speaks not of another world; it speaks of another man that is latent but unborn in every man that has attunement with another world of meaning, so that man sat and he tuned in with another world of meaning and brought into being a power that he allowed to go to sleep because he read the laws of man too well. He accepted as final the dictate of facts for they read him the by-laws, they read him the laws of the Union. And here today he is flying the ocean as he wants to do it. The grandmother is no longer locked out from the home she loved, but she is in communion, but she was locked out by herself for two years. And he was locked out by himself for well over 18 months, and burning up day after day allowing the sun to descend upon his wrath when he had the power within himself and the key to unlock every door in the world.
I say to each and everyone of you I wouldn’t take from you your outer comfort, your religion, for all these things are like toys for sleeping man, but I come to awaken within you that which when it awakes it sees an entirely different world. It sees a world that no man when he sleeps could ever see, and then he starts to raise within himself every being that God gave him; and may I tell you God gave you every man that walks the face of the earth. He also gave it for this purpose that nothing is to be discarded. Everyone in the world must be redeemed and your individual life is the process by which this redemption is brought to pass.
So we don’t discard because the thing is unpleasant, we revise it; revising it we repeal it, and as we repeal it it projects itself on the screen of space bearing witness to the power within us, which is our wonderful human imagination. And I say human advisedly–some would have me say the word divine. The very word itself means nothing to man. He has pushed it off from himself completely and divorced himself from the thing that he now bows before and calls by other names. I say human imagination. As Blake said “Rivers, mountains, cities, villages all are human”. When the eye opens you see them in your own bosom, in your own wonderful bosom they all exist, they are rooted there. Don’t let them fall and remain fallen; lift them up for the will of my Father is this, that of all that he has given me I should lose nothing but raise it up again, and I raise it up every time I revise my concept of another and make him conform to the ideal image I myself would like to express in this world. When I do unto him what I would love the world to do unto me, and see in me I am lifting him up.
And may I tell you what happens to that man when he does it? First of all, he is already turned around within himself. He no longer sees the world in pure objectivity, but the whole world subjectively related to himself, and hang it upon himself. As he lifts it up do you know he blooms within himself. When this eye of mine was first opened I beheld man as the prophet saw him. I saw him as a tree walking: some were only like little antlers of a stag, others were majestic in their foliage, and all that were really awake were in full bloom. These are the trees in the garden of God. As told us in the old ancient way of revision in the 61st chapter of the Book of Isaiah—“Go and give beauty for ashes, go and give joy for mourning, give the spirit of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they may become trees of righteousness, plantings to the glory of God.”
That is what every man must do, that’s revision. I see ash when the business is gone; you can’t redeem it, you can’t lift it up, conditions are bad and the thing has turned to ash. Put beauty in its place; see customers, healthy customers, healthy in finances, healthy in the attitude towards you, healthy in every sense of the word. See them loving to shop with you if you are a shopkeeper; if you are a factory worker, don’t see anything laying you off, lift it up, put beauty in the place of ash, for that would be ash if you were laid off with a family to feed. If someone is mourning, put joy in the place of mourning; if someone is heavy of spirit, put the spirit of praise in place of the spirit of heaviness, and as you do this and revise the day you turn around, and turning around you turn up, and all the energies that went down when you were sound asleep and really blind now turn up and you become a tree of righteousness, a planting to the glory of God. For I have seen them walking this wonderful earth, which is really the Garden; we have shut ourselves out by our concept of self and we have turned down.
As told us in the Book of Daniel, we were once this glorious tree and it was felled to the very base, and what formerly sheltered the nations and fed the nations and comforted the bird and gave some comfort to the animals from the sun of the day, of the heat of the day; and suddenly some voice said from within, “Let it lie, let it remain as it is, but do not disturb the roots; I will water it with the dew of heaven and as I water it with the dew of heaven it will once more grow again, but this time it will consciously grow, it will know what it really is and who it is. In its past it was majestic but it had no conscious knowledge of its majesty, and I felled it- -that was the descent of man. And now, he will once more spring from within himself and he will be a tree walking, a glorious, wonderful tree.
Now to those who are sound asleep this may seem to you too startling: this may be just as startling as Einstein’s equation was; that was startling too. But I tell you I’ve seen it and I see it–men are destined to be trees in the garden of God. They are planted on earth for a purpose and they don’t always remain men, they are transformed as they turn in and turn up. This is the true meaning of the transfiguration. There is a complete metamorphosis taking place like the grub into the butterfly. You don’t remain what you appear to be when man is asleep, and there is no more glorious picture in the world than to see this living animated human being, for every branch within him is represented by an extension of himself called another, and when he lifts the other up that branch not only comes into leafage but it blossoms and the living human blossoms that blossom upon the tree of man who awakens.
So that’s my message for you this year; I’ll give it to you to stir into being that which sleeps in you, for the son of God sleeps in man and the only purpose of being is to awaken him. So it is not to awaken this, nice as it appears to be, but this man of sense-is only a casing: it is called the first man, but the first shall be last and the last shall be first. So that which comes into being second, like Jacob coming second from his mother’s womb, he takes precedence over his brother Esau who came first. Esau was the one like this, he was made of skin and hair, and Jacob was made a smooth skinned lad, but that one that comes second suddenly becomes the lord of all the nations and that one sleeps in every man born of woman, and it is the duty of a teacher or a true religion to awaken that man, not to talk of another world, not to make promises to be fulfilled beyond the grave, but to tell him as he awakens now he is in heaven and the kingdom is come now, this day, on earth. For as he awakens he revises his day and he repeals his day and projects a more beautiful picture onto the screen of space.