08 Aug American Mystic A. Ramana’s Meeting with Neville Goddard
American Mystic is dedicated to all those seeking true and lasting happiness. Ramana’s story is gripping, frankly told, providing a fascinating glimpse into American culture and history beginning in the Great Depression and ending in the new millennium. His struggles, adventures and inner search, culminated on June 4, 1973 in his having a homecoming, an Awakening with a capital A. How many people can actually say that they have “awakened” or “found happiness?” Ramana did – and in these memoirs, he shares his journey and his thoughts about how this can happen for all of us. American Mystic is in the tradition of great spiritual memoirs, such as “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda or “Meetings with Remarkable Men” by Gurdjieff, giving us an inside and intimate view of the spiritual journey.
American Mystic: Memoirs of a Happy Man
The World Is Not the Cause of Happiness
I was selling furniture to support myself and Virginia, though I really didn’t enjoy what I was doing. I was doing it just for the money. My own quest was expanding during that period and I found the job to be very limiting.
Many opportunities came up to meet someone or go to a lecture that interested me, and one occasion came up that I was really looking forward to. There was an ad in the Los Angeles Times for a job as a trainer to teach Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. I had already taken off from work as much time as I could and I couldn’t get off to go for the interview. So I just resigned, without another job to go to.
Allan, a business man living in Arizona, ran the ad. He and a group of chiropractors had put up money and purchased the Los Angeles County franchise for the Napoleon Hill Academy and they were going to open eight sub-franchises in the area. They were looking for someone to be the training coordinator. The job paid a stipend but the main money would be from commissions. The person hired would be working with Allan in developing the other eight sub-franchises, giving training and teaching sales representatives to sell the Napoleon Hill Science of Personal Achievement Philosophy as a course.
There were 250 people who had applied for the job and they had narrowed it down to about fifty, then to fifteen. I was one of the fifteen who were to take a seminar for the final selection, and I’m the one that got the job!
In bringing this up, I don’t want to give the wrong impression that I’m trying to enhance my ego or any sense of ego, but it just so happened to me a number of times in my life that I was interviewed for a position in a highly competitive process with many applicants – a relatively significant job, not just a fly-by-night, but one that offered great benefits – and I was the one that got the job.
I was able to operate with a high degree of efficiency. For example, in the insurance company as a claims adjustor I would actually complete my entire work schedule quickly allowing me three to four days of free time. I didn’t always tell my employers I had completed my workload in such a short interval, because they would have given me that much more work to do above and beyond the load of other fellow employees. I just didn’t see any reason to spend time doing more work when I wasn’t being compensated accordingly. Practically, in every case, I was either the top salesman or in the top five percent or ten percent of the sales force, as I always directed consciousness to a successful conclusion once it was determined what it was that I wished to achieve.
Allan and the conglomerate of people who had put up the money for the franchise had talked Napoleon Hill (1883 to 1970) into the deal. The course manuals they printed were very poor in quality, they didn’t proofread them properly and they were in plastic binders though the material was very significant. It was really an edited version of an original work called Laws of Success that Dr. Hill had written in 1928 under the tutelage of Andrew Carnegie. Then in 1937, he published the book Think and Grow Rich. I heard him tell it from his own mouth that Think and Grow Rich was so popular that it sold second only to the Bible and it had been translated into something like ten languages at that time. I’m telling you, he was very famous in those days; people knew about him by reading his books.
I got the opportunity to meet Dr. Hill. He was paid to come and do a seminar for the investors in the franchise. He gave a lecture at the Grand Ballroom of the Biltmore Hotel and, bless his heart, he was a tremendous speaker.
During that time I also met Neville Goddard (1905 to 1972). He was giving lectures at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre out on Wilshire Boulevard and a friend of mine had invited me along to hear him. Well, all of the time in Unity I’d been looking for someone who had had a spiritual awakening and, lo and behold, here was someone who obviously had.
After his lecture, I went up to talk to Neville and he was very gracious, very open. I told him about my involvement in Unity and he invited me to come back again. He was doing talks on a weekly basis, but occasionally he would do it more than once a week. I started reading his books and listening to him.
Neville was occasionally interviewed on television, and the TV talk show called The Joe Pyne Show (which ran from 1965 to 1967), had Neville on quite often. Joe Pyne would put people on the “hot seat,” but he didn’t do that with Neville, because Neville had proven his knowledge and his understanding about the Bible, and Joe Pyne would have Neville on to see if someone knew what they were talking about with the Bible. On one show, I watched Neville with three fundamentalist Christians who all had their Bibles out. Neville was without a Bible, but he had it in his head. As they debated, they would open their bible and start reading from it. Neville would say, “Oh that’s the King James, that’s the Revised Standard or that‘s the New English, whatever it happened to be. He knew the Bible like no one I have ever met before or since.
Neville would explain the nuances of differences between the various translations of the Bible. You would ask, which translation is correct? How do you know that this one is not the way it should be? Neville was not arrogant, though he knew not only the nuances of the Bible, but the actual Greek words in the New Testament and the Hebrew words used in many of the most famous biblical verses of the Old Testament.
I didn’t get to know Neville intimately, but I was able to go with him a time or two with a group out in Los Angeles.
One of Neville’s students owned a piece of business property and wanted to put a building up on it, but didn’t have the funds to do it. He wanted Neville to see this property and to be with him, to do whatever he could do to lend consciousness and energy to his being able to build on this property, because Neville had this ability, a real knack for awakening the feeling that something would be yours, whatever it was you wanted to have, do or be. It was already a fact – a manifested fact.
So he invited Neville and asked him to come out and look. It was not easily accessible. It was inconveniently located and that was one of the reasons he was having difficulty finding people to go along with him. He wanted to borrow the money from the bank, but it was not being supportive.
I was invited to go along and two carloads of us went to see the property. We pulled up, got out of the car, Neville walked out and we all went with him into the middle. There was all kinds of trash – paper, rusty beer cans, bottles and broken glass – and it wasn’t very appealing to the sight, it was just a vacant lot, but Neville stood there looking around and said to the guy who owned it: “I can remember when this was a vacant lot. Well, this is certainly a nice building you’ve built here. Can’t you remember when that was a vacant lot? I can remember it.”
It was to get everybody into a false feeling of what it would be like for there to already be a building standing. Within a month, they were breaking land on that property and started building.
Neville’s depth and insight and the quality or feeling of his consciousness was so direct and immediate. He was the first being that I ever met who I knew and could feel was coming from awakened awareness, from a quality or state of consciousness that was higher than my own state of consciousness at that time. That was very significant to me then.
Santa Monica was one of the areas where there was going to be a Napoleon Hill Academy sub-franchise and I was very much interested in it myself, but I didn’t have any money. Marty Schwartz, who was a great guy, a Jewish fellow, put up the money, and he and I bought the sub-franchise. Our agreement was more just a handshake based upon principles of integrity, as we both trusted one another. The deal was I would give the teaching and he and I both would develop the sales and establish the sub-franchise. I also continued to work for Allan in the overview of the other schools.
The main franchise’s offices were in an impressive space with an amphitheater for the talks I gave. In my view it was not the best way to teach it, but that’s the way Allan envisioned it and what he had put his money into. In the courses, I would incorporate a lot of spirituality, with Unity-like teachings that were not in the course itself. Most people really liked the spiritual part of it – except for two or three fundamentalists.
However, the sub-franchise in Santa Monica didn’t really last very long as we were having to pay a huge amount of royalties. The whole thing was out of balance. It was all money oriented and there was greed, you couldn’t make anything off of it. The people that you were trying to sell to couldn’t afford the course and the ones who could afford it felt they didn’t need it and were not interested. It was a losing proposition to begin with. I was in it for quite a while but I never did do anything really big. I was just holding my head above water.
The eight sub-franchise academies didn’t come to fruition. Dr. Hill was really being used for his name. I don’t think he made that much out of it.
One of the things that I learned through all of these occurrences is that there is nothing that is dependable in this world and certainly there is no happiness from the world itself. Freedom and joy are all qualities of the higher nature of the Self. Dr. Hill had separated and divorced twice; his second wife had gotten all the royalties – and, bless his heart, the end of his life was really unfortunate. He died broke and an unhappy man, despite all that he had experienced and all the people that he had known who were wealthy and famous. This was the case of most of the one hundred men that he had interviewed when he wrote the Laws of Success and the book Think and Grow Rich. Most had died unhappy proving that wealth and success in the world were not the cause of happi- ness, were not the location of happiness. I began to see this during that period of time.
I was still looking to reawaken to the experience of awakening that I had had as a child. I had glimpses from time to time, a feeling that would come upon me. I was using marijuana fairly often. It gave me a quality of something like transcendental awareness, a higher state of openness.
I had also occasionally tried forms of prescriptions. Benzedrine, an ‘upper’, is one that I had used. I had even used Peyote and LSD. LSD gave me an experience very similar to the experiences that I had had earlier in my childhood – it was very close to it. You could get high, but you couldn’t be high, and I was still interested in trying to be high rather than simply get high.
The morning talks were growing; more people were attending, giving me more income. All of this was happening in parallel with my spiritual quest. I had not become ultra-rich, though I had become affluent enough to recognize that no matter how much money I made, that was not going to be it. I knew many people who had already made large amounts of money, and still had a compulsion to try to make more – and who were not capable of seeing that making more was not going to bring about true and lasting happiness or contentment. The mind will always be there with the desire for more, better and different situations, circumstances and experiences.
With more income, you have the ability to do more things, to have more things, to experience more things, but now I had started looking at WHY; why all of this, what is this doing? Where is this going to end up? Just MORE, more stuff! A larger place to live…, if I got a larger place to live, that was going to require more responsibility, more expense, more people to have to come in, to pay – a maid, more assistance… Did I really need that? Was that going to make me feel any better?
It came to me one morning out of the blue, I thought, “Why not apply the same principles that I’ve been using for financial or worldly achievement to awakening?” It had not dawned on me before to use the same processes that I had already learned and taught others for my spiritual quest.
I thought about, “How can this work?” It was Neville Goddard who gave me the way and the means to have this happen. He was the first person that I had met that I recognized was coming from a much higher state of consciousness than me. I considered him to be an awakened being and he was far more significant in my life than anyone else had been up to that point. I knew from Neville that all one had to do was awaken the feeling within one- self of what it would feel like to already have, do or be whatever it was that you wanted. When you awakened it in consciousness, and held on to that feeling, it would naturally manifest in the world.
My relationship with Jesus was then predominant and primary in my life. Neville’s books had made Jesus come alive even more for me. In particular Your Faith is Your Fortune, The Power of Awareness, Seedtime and Harvest and, The Law and the Promise were absolutely captivating. In the Bible, Jesus’s words are: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9, New Revised Standard Version); and, “The Father and I are one.” (John 10:30). Would I be able to be in the state of consciousness that Jesus must have been in all the time? So I started to go to sleep every night asking myself “How would it be to feel as Jesus felt knowing – not believing – that I am the son of God and I and the father are one?” I would ask that question and enter into the sleep state.
Dialogue on Awakening 1
Our Higher Nature
Saroja: Jesus has always been present in your life – especially after your initial awakening when you were a child. How did you relate to Jesus after your second awakening?
Ramana: Prior to the awakening that occurred in June of 1973, I was, of course, a devotee of Jesus, and I had not, as far as I knew, ever known about Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. I’d seen photographs of different awakened eastern gurus, so there was the possibility that I may have at one time seen his picture; if I had, I didn’t remember it and I had not considered any eastern guru in my own spiritual quest.
I was really involved just with Jesus, and even with my disappointment at not finishing Unity Ministerial School, I still went to Unity Church and I was grateful for Unity’s teaching.
I had met Neville Goddard, who in fact was as Jesus oriented as I was, and reading his books made Jesus come alive even more for me. Neville was very much a factor in my own awakening. His writings confirmed what I intuitively knew to be true from the awakening experience that happened when I was a child – and that I was trying to rekindle.
After the awakening on June 4, 1973, there was direct understanding, a direct knowing of what I had intuitively already known. I had no doubt about it before, and when I had the awakening, I then knew for myself what Jesus had felt. He was living in a body but awakened to being one with God, to being the Son of God. It was not his being the Son of God that was unique about him; rather, what was unique was that he was awake and aware that he was the Son of God. That’s what I now knew for sure in myself. I had intuitively known this before, and I knew it directly now after the awakening.