When I tell you the Bible is your biography, I am actually saying that you are God, and I mean it. We are told in the 82nd Psalm: “I say, ‘You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like men, and fall like any prince.’” So I mean exactly what the psalmist said: that you are gods. But man has such a strange concept of the word “God.”
This morning’s mail brought me a letter. I do not know the lady – she claims she is eighty-two. She said: “I am returning your latest book, The Law and the Promise.” She can’t be returning it to me because I did not sell [it to] her. She may have returned it to my publisher or to some store who sold her the book. She said: “I read the 156 pages, the forty stories told about the promise, and no credit was given to God; not one who received the answer to their prayers thanked God, and so it is a Godless book.” So she is returning it to someone. Do not criticize her. She is eighty-two and undoubtedly like my own mother and father, who had strange and wonderful concepts of God, but God on the outside of themselves. God was on the outside to whom they turned, and she undoubtedly turned to some external creative father and that is her God. If she feels that way about it you can’t blame her when she reads in this, as I have brought the two together and identify God with human imagination. By identifying the two and making them one, I rubbed out the vision that has plagued man. For we are told: “All things were made by him, and without him was not made anything that was made.” Then we discovered that we could imagine ourselves to be what we want to be and – remaining faithful, remaining loyal to that assumption – it became an external fact in our world. If “all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made,” and we did this as an experiment and it worked, well then – we discovered God! And he wasn’t some being in space who would return. We found him in ourselves as our wonderful human imagination. That we failed many times – certainly, we are still torn between the concept of God, the father of David, and what we ourselves discovered, so we are still under that influence of an ancient concept of God. So she is going to return the book…and let us all feel that tomorrow she will see who God really is, but don’t judge her – not harshly anyway. Leave her exactly as she is, because at least she believes in God, which is far greater than not to believe in some power that is creative in this world.
Now we turn to the Book of Books. You can’t read it by saying: well, I opened the book and read from Genesis to Revelation. There are sixty-six books in what we call the Bible. It’s a library. The Old Testament is something you almost can’t believe – certainly not with sense – without the key given us in the New. The New is completely hidden in the Old and the Old is made manifest in the New. So we turn to the first book, the book of beginning, the Book of Genesis and – listen carefully –we are dealing with a mystery. When I speak of a mystery I am not speaking of a matter that must be kept secret, but a truth that is mysterious in character. And the Book of Genesis has a strange reversal of order right through it: “The first shall be last and the last first.” This reversal of order begins right in the very beginning.
Let us see what is first stated in the book. “In the beginning God” – that is the beginning. The end of the book: “In a coffin in Egypt.” “In the beginning God – in a coffin in Egypt.” And the one placed in a coffin is man. Then [he] was called Joseph, and Joseph died. He was 110 years old and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt. So here we find the beginning and the end. “I am the beginning and the end. The alpha and omega, the first and the last.”
Let us see how the thing unfolds for us. In the first chapter, God’s purpose is stated: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish in the sea, the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps over the earth.” Let us give him dominion – that is God’s purpose, not his creative act as yet. His creative act comes in the second chapter, but that is God’s purpose, stated: he is going to make man in his own image and give him complete dominion over all things.
In the second chapter comes the creative act, and God from the very “dust of the ground made man and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Now jump from the second chapter, 7th verse, to the 21st verse: there you will find the creative act. He states this in the 7th verse and then completes the creative act from the 21st through the 24th verse. “And God caused a deep sleep to fall upon man and he slept,” and then comes the creative act of the division of man. Male-female he now makes it.
Man is not a male; man is not a female – man is the image of God, a being above the organization of sex. But he is destined to be that being, he is not yet completed. To arrive at that level where everything is subject to his creative power, he passes through this divided image of himself, called male-female. Then we are told: in the divided state he is led up into a world of experience. Here was a world of innocence, because here he is dead, so the dead could not in any way be tempted, the grave could not violate anything – it is dead. Yet he is made alive, he is made alive by the sinking of God in himself, for God – don’t forget the last verse: “In a coffin in Egypt”… But the story is, having made the image of himself, the image has no power in itself. It only becomes animate and alive and responsive if God sinks himself in his image. So God sinks himself in his image and in that state the image becomes divided, male-female, as we are. And then comes the most horrible story in the world: that God is in it, that image of himself, the very torment of eternity.
It is necessary to take the image that was dead and just made responsive, made alive – but only made alive (which is a responsive state) – and then to turn it into a life-giving being, just by God. So it took the entire story of 6,000 years (called “six days”) to complete the act of God. Here, you and I are the beings.
I am not speaking from theory tonight; I am speaking from experience. I tell you the story is true from beginning to end, and if I cannot stand here before you and demonstrate for your own satisfaction the might that is God, it is only because I am still wearing this garment of flesh. And so as long as I am wearing it, the glory of the heavenly inheritance cannot be actualized by me, or at least is not fully realized in me while I wear and continue to wear this garment of flesh. But everything said in the Bible I have experienced. I have experienced the depths of my soul and it is all true from beginning to end.
A few years ago William Blake – he died in 1827, and I met him in these heavenly spheres, the majestic patriarch, and he said to me: “Stand still. Now fall backwards and let yourself go – no restraint, just fall.” I obeyed him and I fell like some interstellar star falling through infinite space. When I came to, I looked and I saw this scintillating being, this heavenly creature, human and yet not human – human yes, but it was all light, all fire and the heart was like living ruby. As I looked at it, I was looking at myself. Here I was looking at my very being. I came closer to discover the whole vast world of man was encased within me. Humanity in its fullness was encased within that one being, and I am it. All the nations, all the races in the world were right in that body. As I looked at the bit of myself containing it all, I then felt myself crystallize, and here I am in this world of shadows once more. That story is true of every being in the world. And then Blake revealed to me what he meant when he said: “All that you behold, though it appears without it is within, in your imagination, of which this world of mortality is but a shadow.” I never fully understood those words before, but then with this vision I understood it. Then I understood more clearly than ever before his vision called the “Vision of the Last Judgment,” where all the characters of the Bible are not characters at all, but only states of consciousness.
When we speak of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all these characters – they aren’t persons as we are; they are states of consciousness, and the individuals are only representative or visions of these eternal states as they were revealed to mortal man (as we are) in the series of divine visions as they were recorded for us in our Bible. I have seen them in my vision and you and I can be in any one of these states any time – a certain pattern that we pass through. But we can be any state and to do it. Who does it? Don’t you say: God can do it? God can do anything? But I would change the word – if you would not be offended – and that means: what I formerly called “God,” (and still do, because I like the name) I call “divine imagining,” and divine imagining and human imagining are one, they aren’t two.
An imaginal act is an immediate objective fact. Functioning on low intensities as we are, an imaginal act is realized in a time process. And so every vision as it stands there I assume that I am; but at the moment reason denies and my senses deny, but I assume that I am. And if I assume it and it seems to me real and natural, when I break the spell I know I have planted it, and then it has its own appointed hour. Every vision has its own period of gestation, as we are told by the prophet: “It has its own appointed hour, it ripens, it will flower, if it seems slow then wait, it is sure, it will not be late.” If you see it clearly in your mind’s eye, if you were really in the image, it will become just as objective as this room is now – and again I am speaking from experience. Sitting in my chair at home or reclining on a couch or in my bed, suddenly – without my eyes being physically open – I see a world that I would not see if I know where I am physically, and I can’t deny it. It’s just as real as you are. It’s objective, it is seemingly solidly real, and consciousness follows vision and I step into the world that I am observing. And stepping into my image it closes around me, and this world which is seemingly the only world I should know is shut out, and I am part of the world I contemplated, I am in it. I explore that world and it is just as solidly real as this world, and I can’t find my way back to this world.
Then I discovered the way back, and the way was feeling. Standing in that world with no street leading to this world, I assumed my head was on a pillow on the bed in the room, in the house, in the city that I knew so well; and feeling it I suddenly found myself as though standing vertically. I felt myself in a horizontal position and I am back, but I am cataleptic – I can’t move the body. It is just as frozen as this little instrument here on the table, just as solid, just as stiff. Within say, a half minute, I could move my finger and then my elbow, and then after great effort I could move an eyelid and open my eyelid. As I opened the eyelid I looked at the familiar objects on the wall that I knew so well. I am back in this world and now this world has shut out that world. I tell you: there are worlds within worlds.
Here you can take an image – the image of your success if you want success, the image of your awakening if you want it – any image, and then you contemplate it. And maybe you will see it as I am seeing you now, and then consciousness may (and I hope it will) follow your vision, and you will walk right into that image and it will close around you, closing around you just as I did this. And you have planted it. You entered that age, as it were, and fertilized it; and bear in mind it is the image, and the vision has its own appointed hour. Don’t try to hasten it – it ripens, it will flower. But if for you – because you were impatient – it seems slow, then wait, it will not be late, not for itself nor to a world, unless they are the same species and would ripen in the same interval of time. A chicken hatches out in twenty-one days, some things come out in five months, some things come out in a year and some come out in two years. And so we plant things in this world and each has its own period of gestation. Don’t think for one moment in the world as we know it and as we are, that you are going to think it now and then force ripening as it were. Leave it – it will come as you wish in its own full time.
God is real. You may not question it – I don’t – but in 1963, the scientific world would question it. I don’t know all the uses of the word, “God,” but I like it. But if it will help you any, I use the word I use most: “imagination,” because to me when I think of God I mean the same as when I say “divine imagination.” When I speak of Christ I mean divine imagining, God in action. We are told: “God is Christ reconciling the world to himself.” Imagining is Christ, which is God in action. So imagination in Christ with his imagination, imagining, is reconciling the whole vast world to himself. But if it offends you, go back to the word, “God,” but don’t put God on the outside of something separated from you, because he is not.
God’s revealed name to this world is “I AM.” That is his great name. Can you say, “I am?” That is God. What am I doing? I am thinking you are no good – well, that is what you’re doing, that is God in action. And do you know: you will live to see the day you are right. So “I am” doing what? Anything in this world, all things are possible to God. When you say: “I don’t believe so and so.” Perfectly all right, that’s your privilege, but who is not believing it? “I am,” you say – well, that is God. Don’t believe it. “I am no good, I can’t make a living.” Well that is your privilege; believe it and may I tell you how true God is: he’ll prove it. Finally you are relieved and you will say to me: “I told you it’s no good.” Can’t you realize that you are setting it in motion and you were fertilizing it in your world, for God’s only revealed name is “I AM.” So, what are you imagining?
Today in the New York Times, Brook Atkinson has this article. He just returned from Leningrad. They were not concerned, when he started through, to examine his baggage concerning liquor or tobacco, which is the item they all look for, for it brings in revenue. They were only concerned about ideas. They said: “Do you have any magazines?” He said “No, none.” “Do you have the Bible?” He said, “No.” That is the only thing they questioned the second time. “Do you really mean that? Do you have a Bible?” It is the only thing they really wanted to prove beyond doubt he did not bring into Russia. And they could read – they know the Hebrew tongue, the Greek tongue; they have the different concordances. They could look back and find the true meaning of God and find it really means “imagination.” That is exactly what the word means. The word “potter” in Hebrew means imagination. And who makes anything? If God made me out of the clay, out of the dust, was he not a potter? And I – the made, and he – the maker. The maker was the imagination, and then imagination sunk himself in the thing made and then gave me himself.
Take that “book of falsehood” [across] “The Border,” that man may discover who God really is, that he does exist, and they will now – without the consent of Mr. Khrushchev – assume they have a different form of government, and no power in the world can stop it from externalizing itself in the world if they do it. So, not cigarettes, not liquor, not anything – furs, diamonds, bring them all in, they are all part of our way of living, but don’t bring in the Bible. In this country of ours we aren’t teaching the Bible. We’re teaching ritual and ceremony and it’s all vague, it hasn’t a thing to do with the Bible. The Bible is God’s revelation of himself to man. If you never saw the inside of a church it makes no difference. In fact we are told in the Bible not to build a church, but man insists on building churches. “Build no temple for me, I will build one for you.” This is what he builds, but don’t you build one for me. (Second Samuel 7) Do not build me any tabernacle in this world — I’ll build one for you, and some scribe to justify the building of tabernacles inserted the 13th verse, which all scholars agree is an insertion. It is not found in the ancient manuscript.
I tell you the drama begins in this manner: God made us and we are dead and there is no way to make us alive and creative as he is, unless he buries himself in us, and this is the mystery of life through death. John 12:24: “A grain of wheat unless it falls into the ground and dies it remains alone, but if it falls and dies it brings forth much.” So he plants himself in us and is crucified on us. Listen to the crucifixion. “The crucifixion is over.” (Romans 6:5) You aren’t going to be crucified again, you are already crucified. “If we have been united with Christ in a death like his we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” The resurrection is to be; it takes place individually. And may I tell you from experience: it is true. God’s mightiest act is the resurrection, and each individual will be resurrected, and the day that you are, you will be the most startled being in the world, because until that moment you had no idea that you were dead; you had no idea that you were entombed, it seemed so natural to walk this earth and play the part that you are playing and think you are alive. You move from the cradle to the grave thinking you are alive, and in this moment in time you are suddenly resurrected. At the moment of resurrection you become awake, aware of it in your being startled.
Joseph was 110 years old when he left. In Hebrew every letter, every number has a certain meaning. 100 is the letter with its symbolical value of the back of the skull, qoph [pron. “koof”]. Ten is the hand, the yod and the yod begins the name of God. If you could sever the hand from man, he would not be creative, just simply nothing. The hand fashions, the hand molds, it is a symbol of creativity – and so in the back of man’s skull a creative act is going on, as we are told in Philippians: “He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” He started it in you, he initiated it, he will complete it, and a work is going on in man of which man is totally unaware. He is being fashioned into the image of God. When that image is complete to the satisfaction of God – divine imagining – he awakens. He awakens him where he started the work: he started it in the back of his skull; he awakens in his skull to find he is entombed. There is one moment of panic and then you make an effort to get out of this fabulous sepulcher, and you come out of your skull like someone being born, and that is your spiritual self. You don’t know a thing about it; it is being done for you – forget it. You were born physically by the action of a power not your own. You will be born spiritually by the action of powers beyond your own.
Don’t try to be holy. God isn’t making good people, holy people. God is making creators, just like himself. If you think you are holy, that is not the key in to paradise. No matter how good you are, no matter how holy you think you are, holiness is not the key that allows you to enter that special grace, your creativity. God is doing it for you, working on you, bringing you to complete fruition and fulfillment. Try this principal of imagining, and if there is one thing I think man could do to aid – as something within a shell could aid the bird – the key is given to us in the Book of Job. He complained and complained of all the things that were happening to him, but his captivity was lifted when he prayed for his friends. If you would use your imagination lovingly on behalf of another and rejoice in his good fortune without any reward to you, you will see how this thing will begin to unfold within you.
So here is this book of ours, the beginning of all, truly. It is divine imagining and divine imagining buries itself in man, in a coffin in Egypt. The word “coffin” is the same as the word “ark.” The letter qoph is this, and you and I have no idea – I know I had none. I thought I was still alive. I thought everyone was alive or dying. They became either filled with dreams or visions, or unconsciousness, but when I awoke, then I was alive, awake. I didn’t realize it was a dream within a dream. Here we are dreaming the most fantastic nightmares in the world. The day will come you will awake and you will see, as Blake describes it: “I behold the Visions of my deadly Sleep of Six thousand Years Dazzling around thy skirts like a Serpent of precious stones and gold. I know it is my Self, O Divine Creator and Redeemer.” He had no idea that he had slept for 6,000 years in his strange dream. One day he was resurrected and he beheld this redeemer of his as a serpent of precious stones and gold and knew it was himself.
God has so transferred himself to the individual that he became the being who was taken out of the state of innocence into the world of experience, and now awoke in a world completely subject to the imaginative power. When I saw it I had no idea that I was it. I hadn’t the slightest idea that the spell truly brought me out of a state of innocence for his own purpose, and although he took me through these frightening nightmares of 6,000 years, he took me through as the only way he could awaken and bring me to the state where I was not only responsive, but I became a creator and prepared to live on a higher level, one with the gods. Everyone in the world will pass through the same state, for the Bible is your biography. The only subject in the Bible is about God, and because it is your biography it is all about you, and you are God. So stop looking for God on the outside. He sunk himself in you. Now test it. “Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (Second Corinthians 13:5)
I tell you that I know Blake hasn’t died, because I meet him. He died seemingly to the world, leaving behind him only the works he gave us in the printed form. I talked with him. It was he who actually told me what to do to see what he wrote in his “Jerusalem,” how to see one man containing the whole vast world. I had no idea when he told me, that when I came to a rest I would see myself as that man. I simply obeyed him and fell backwards and came hurtling through space like some meteor, and then when I came to a rest, here is this heavenly being, radiant being, that is all aflame, and I saw it was myself. As I approached it, it contained all the nations in the world – I actually see myself containing all the nations in the world – and then he explained to me: “All that you behold, though it appears without, it is within, in your imagination of which this world of mortality is but a shadow.” Take any image in the world and enter it, and the image becomes objectively real within your world. It is all contained within you. Take out poverty – it’s there; take out wealth – it’s there; take out recognition – it’s there, take out the unknown state – it’s there; everything is there and each state is personified. So you approach a state and the state is personified, and as you encounter the state you enter the state, and then you externalize it into your world. “You are living in a world of shadows,” says he, until that day when you are resurrected. You will continue your journey for a little while, telling the story as you encountered it to those who will listen, and then when you take off your garment this time, you take it off for the last time. You will never put it on again. There is no garment of flesh in the resurrection.
Now let us go into the silence.