06 Sep “Chinese Box” Articles on Neville Goddard
I came across James O’Meara’s writings on Academia.edu and his essay Magick for Housewives: The Not-So-New, and Rather Traditional, Thought of Neville Goddard – just the footnotes alone are a delightful feast for any Neville scholar.
His book Mysticism After Modernism: Crowley, Evola, Neville, Watts, Colin Wilson & Other Populist Gurus examines from a wide variety of different perspectives well-known figures such as William Burroughs, Aleister Crowley, Colin Wilson, Alan Watts, Neville Goddard, and Julius Evola, as well as such fringe phenomena like Chaos Magick and even the origins of the Internet’s ‘meme magic.’
As a reviewer says “he
What is particularly invigorating is his “process” – fitting one theological system into another, without changing the positive assertions of either, he says:
“What two so apparently different figures should have any point in common is more than enough to get me going, using what I’ve called (after Dalí) the “paranoiac-critical method,” or what Alan Watts called the “Chinese box” method, “whereby we illumine one theological system . . . by looking at it and seeing what happens to it in the context of another.”
You can get a lot out of reading his articles – just the “rearrangement” and cultural comparisons bring Neville’s teachings home.
“Chinese Box” Articles and the “Neville Method”
In his illuminating essay, “Mirror Man: The Centrality of Neville Goddard,” printed here as a kind of Afterword, Mitch Horwitz compares a Neville lecture to a Grateful Dead concert. Not that you’d expect to hear “Casey Jones,” or have to endure extended guitar solos, but because Neville not only allowed, but encouraged and assisted in, the free, mass recording and subsequent distribution of tape recordings of his lectures…
Earlier, I noted Wilson’s second thoughts, 45 years later, about Religion and the Rebel as an “overstuffed pillow”; he specifically felt that the early biographical material on Rilke was “unnecessary.” But actually, it supplies us with a remarkable parallel to Neville’s method, as well as a hint of Wilson’s future development….
“Is ‘Short Time Preference’ Really Such a Problem?” by Eumaios, apart from its own considerable merits, was particularly interesting for me — and I suppose some of my Constant Readers — due to his reduplication of a number of the most characteristic formulations of the midcentury Barbadian mystic Neville. That this echoing was no doubt unintentional makes it even more striking….
I have, on occasion, discussed Crowley, but only in the context of his politics. However, a recent reading of Gary Lachman’s deeply researched and engagingly written book on the Beast suggests that there may still be more to say about Crowley; in fact, there may be some interesting points to bring out through a comparison with my own guru, Neville Goddard.
Earlier, I noted Wilson’s second thoughts, 45 years later, about Religion and the Rebel as an “overstuffed pillow”; he specifically felt that the early biographical material on Rilke was “unnecessary.” But actually, it supplies us with a remarkable parallel to Neville’s method, as well as a hint of Wilson’s future development.
On the other hand, it may not matter much, whether we insist on Neville and New Thought in general being colonial outbreaks of the Western (European) Tradition–in Spengler’s terms, a “second religiosity” characteristic of senescent cultures; or as the birth of the spirituality of a new cultural cycle in the New World. Surely what matters is: it works!
Just one modern idea has “suggested that we are not ‘merely players,’ but also possess a creative agency”: thoughts are causative. As Neville Goddard, whom Horowitz considers the greatest figure of this alternative school of thought, says: It is my belief that all men can change the course of their lives. By our imagination, by our affirmations, we can change our world, we can change our future. I have always preached that if we strive passionately to embody a new and higher concept of ourselves, then all things will be at our service. Most men are totally unaware of the creative power of imagination and invariably bow before the dictates of “facts” and accepts life on the basis of the world without. But when you discover this creative power within yourself, you will boldly assert the supremacy of imagination and put all things in subjection to it.
Excursus: Neville and Watts — The Same Man? “Alan Watts is the Norman Vincent Peale of Zen. Right about the time Watts was writing Behold the Spirit and serving as a “paradox priest,” as he titles the relevant chapter in his autobiography, Neville Goddard was in the initial stages of a very successful career as a “metaphysical lecturer,” author, and broadcaster.
As it happens, I was alerted to this historical oddity a while ago as a result of reading one of Neville’s lectures, “Seedtime and Harvest,” which articulates the principle that “there is no fiction.” What Neville’s talking about is an extension of the notion of magical combat into the realm of the involuntary or accidental — as if you gave a monkey a machine gun.
Now, this really caught my eye, because the sun ritual is where I’ve already seen Evola and Neville (he always went by Neville, like Madonna or Cher) linking up. First, let’s look at Evola’s sun ritual…Let’s compare this to Neville’s basic technique, his “simple method for changing the future.” Neville bases his method on sleep — a kind of “dream yoga.” (For him, prayer is only a waking mode of sleep.) Here is Neville detailing his method of invoking not the Sun but anything devotedly wished for…
All of this would give the reader reason enough to check out the film; Constant Readers may suspect that I have another reason to value this film, and they would be right. Galaxy Quest explores the phenomenon of fiction becoming fact, the main point of the teachings of the midcentury mystic, Neville Goddard, which I have explored here and elsewhere. That actors are the subject is no accident. Neville’s “simple method for changing the future,” which I’ve discussed here many a time, crucially combines both physical relaxation (the body) and visionary intensity (mind and will)
The link between New Thought and Tradition is clearest in my own personal favorite of the bunch, Neville Goddard. As Israel Regardie said back in 1946, “Of all the New Thought systems, Neville’s is the most magickal.” And for “magickal” I suggest you read “Traditional.” Who was Neville Goddard, and what was this system? I’ve devoted a longish essay to answering those questions, to appear in the next issue of Aristokratia, but for now, let’s say that Neville (he always went by his first name, like Cher or Madonna) was the Alan Watts of the midcentury; tall, handsome, and delivering his metaphysical lectures to vast crowds in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco in an irresistible British accent.
There’s a bit of blather there, but also some intriguing points For one thing, this calls to mind Neville Goddard’s proclamation in 1942. Public opinion will not long endure a theory which does not work in practice. Today, probably more than ever before, man demands proof of the truth of even his highest ideal. For ultimate satisfaction man must find a principle which is for him a way of life, a principle which he can experience as true.
Leaving aside the teaching itself, is any of this real? Mitch Horowitz has amassed considerable evidence from public records in an attempt to document the probable identity of “Abdullah,” the “black Ethiopian rabbi” with whom Neville claimed to have studied Hebrew, the Bible and the Qabalah. Horowitz has noticed that another immigrant New Thought teacher, Joseph Murphy, has recently described his own encounter with a “professor Abdullah, a Jewish man of black ancestry, a native of Israel, who knew, in every detail, all the symbolism of each of the verses of the Old and the New Testaments.”
A self-taught mystic whose charismatic, British-accented presence thrived on the then-cutting-edge audio-visual lecture circuit, the man calling himself “Neville” (like Cher or Madonna) lectured every week on either coast to overflow crowds and even had his own TV show. Neville was post-war America’s own Alan Watts, only better; he distilled from Tradition something he modestly called “a simple method for changing the future” and taught it to everyone for free.
Your life expresses one thing, and one thing only, your state of consciousness. Everything is dependent upon that. As you, through the medium of imagination, assume a state of consciousness, that state begins to clothe itself in form, It solidifies around you as the serpent’s skin ossifies around it. But you must be faithful to the state. You must not go from state to state, but, rather, wait patiently in the one invisible state until it takes on form and becomes an objective fact. Patience is necessary, but patience will be easy after your first success in shedding the old and growing the new, for we are able to wait according as we have been rewarded by understanding in the past.
The key to that idea was to see Peale’s ideas against the background of the more explicitly “magical” work of Neville Goddard. The relation between Peale and Neville, as far as I can tell, been never been determined or even studied at all….In any event, that brings us to the book at hand: this is Neville’s first attempt to present to the reading public his unique — yet entirely traditional — take on the power of imagination; what he ingenuously called “a simple method for changing the future,” a kind of dream yoga, as he explained in a later work…
Of course, here’s where the rub, as it were, comes in; not just with the need for what Hill would call a “chief definite aim,” but also that bit about “consciously aware.” Just as you need a controlled imagination to employ Neville’s method of “assuming the feeling of the wish fulfilled,” so you need to develop the ability to consciously redirect the sexual impulse. And make no mistake, it’s happening anyway. If you aren’t controlling your own imagination, or sexual impulse, someone else is. And that brings up another point.
I don’t think Neville ever used the term “hero,” but otherwise the parallel is pretty exact: You know, people are totally unaware of this fantastic power of the imagination, but when man begins to discover this power within him, he never plays the part that he formerly played. He doesn’t turn back and become just a reflector of life; from here on in he is the affector of life. The secret of it is to center your imagination in the feeling of the wish fulfilled and remain therein. For in our capacity to live IN the feeling of the wish fulfilled lies our capacity to live the more abundant life. Most of us are afraid to imagine ourselves as important and noble individuals secure in our contribution to the world just because, at the very moment that we start our assumption, reason and our senses deny the truth of our assumption. We seem to be in the grip of an unconscious urge which makes us cling desperately to the world of familiar things and resist all that threatens to tear us away from our familiar and seemingly safe moorings
The remark that “When Ethiopians read or hear the Bible, they do not need to imagine that the events are at all distant in time or space” is especially interesting, as Neville insisted over and over that:The Bible has no reference at all to any persons who ever existed or to any event that ever occurred upon earth. The ancient story tellers were not writing history but an allegorical picture lesson of certain basic principles which they clothed in the garb of history, and they adapted these stories to the limited capacity of a most uncritical and credulous people. Throughout the centuries we have mistakenly taken personifications for persons, allegory for history, the vehicle that conveyed the instruction for the instruction, and the gross first sense for the ultimate sense intended
More recently (post-WWII), Neville Goddard (d/b/a “Neville”), the Alan Watts of New Thought (with a bit of Criswell thrown in), also sounds the Durden note in a more positive, less “nihilistic” way If I can deny the limitations of my birth, my environment, and the belief that I am but an extension of my family tree [abandon all “core beliefs”] and feel within myself that I am Christ [the “Higher Being”], and sustain this assumption until it takes a central place and forms the habitual center of my energy [as we’ll see, Durden emphasized the need to enliven that center by concentrating our feelings on it], I will do the works attributed to Jesus [rebuild the world in accordance with new, or at least newly chosen, ideas]. Without thought or effort I will mold a world in harmony with that perfection which I have assumed and feel springing within me. Any enlargement of our concept of Self involves a somewhat painful parting with strongly rooted hereditary conceptions. The ligaments are strong that old us in the womb of conventional limitations. All that you formerly believed, you no longer believe. You know now that there is no power outside of your own consciousness.A transformation of consciousness will result in a change of environment and behavior. However, our ordinary alterations of consciousness, as we pass from one state to another, are not transformations, because each of them is so rapidly succeeded by another in the reverse direction; but whenever one state grows so stable as to definitely expel its rivals, then that central habitual state defines the character and is a true transformation.
Let’s confine ourselves for simplicity to experiments with remote viewing. These are very much like the imaginal processes Neville discusses and which give rise to our talk about being whatever room you are in. Discussing one experimenter’s experience, Prof. Jorjani says that one researcher [D]iscovered that although you “can actually access that person mentally” . . . this process requires the operative to “be feeling the target person’s feelings and actually thinking the target person’s thoughts” until his “way of thinking actually becomes your way of thinking,” so that even after the session is over, “you are left with some remnants of that target person’s emotions, thoughts, aspirations, attitudes and morals.” “Feeling” intensely enough to “be” or “become” something is indeed the key to what Neville describes modestly as “a simple method of changing the future.”
Neville can be seen as a kind of spiritualized objectivist. Or perhaps I could say that Ayn Rand. . . was a secularized Neville. Neville and Rand each believed, with uncompromising conviction, that the individual creates his own objective reality and circumstances. Rand saw this as a matter of personal will; Neville saw it as a matter of imagination. . . . Please realize that I am not writing about her ideas from a political perspective. Rather, I am trying to give a sense of the peak possibility from which you can experiment if you are willing to entertain the thesis of radical self-selectivity.”
Since all but the title essay — a synoptic look at the Hermetic tradition from Plotinus to Evola to Neville, demonstrating the author’s easy mastery of the field, which first appeared in Aristokratia IV — appeared in some form here on Counter-Currents, the high level of scholarship and presentation can be taken for granted. But what is the principle of selection for this motley crew, ranging from the infamous Crowley and the underground magic of Evola, to the misunderstood “popularizer” Alan Watts, then to modern chaos magic and Colin Wilson’s Outsider, finally back to the barely remembered midcentury phenomenon who called himself Neville?
James O’Meara examines these “populist gurus” from a wide variety of different perspectives, featuring substantial chapters on well-known figures such as William Burroughs, Aleister Crowley, Colin Wilson, Alan Watts, Neville Goddard, and Julius Evola, as well as such fringe phenomena as Chaos Magick and even the origins of the Internet’s ‘meme magic.’
If you are looking to read most/all Neville’s books and lectures and some interesting historical research as well..check out: