Tonight’s subject is “His Eternal Play.” I call it a play because the end is predetermined, like a play. Paul speaks of it as a race, a game. He’s concentrating on the second act. He said, “I fought the good fight, I have finished the race. The time for my departure has come. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 Tim.4:6). So he calls it a game; but a game has an uncertain end. Not a play—I call it a play only because the end is predetermined.
We start from innocence, we plod into experience, and we emerge as Imagination. These are the three stages. Blake placed them in his Songs of Innocence in this lovely dancing child on a cloud; then the Songs of Experience the child under the cloud; and then The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, where the child is above the cloud dancing in eternity. So he did synthesize these two states. But, we call it a play. I do not mean like an ordinary play where every word is committed and that you are fated. No, I do not mean it in that sense. We do not hide under the cloud of fate.
And so, evil which you and I encounter—I’m not denying that we do encounter evil—but evil is not a condition imposed upon man by some malevolent deity. Rather it is a state of experience through which the soul of man passes in order that knowing good and evil he might achieve a more noble state, a condition that we call Imagination or liberty. For he said, the whole vast creation groans, waiting for the liberation, or the unveiling, of the sons of God; that we were not eager to enter this arena.
For, “The creature was made subject unto futility, not willingly but by the will of him who subjected him in hope; that the creature may obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:20). So there’s a purpose behind it all; so we are inserted into it. Now the play is given to us in the Old Testament. From beginning to end, the thirty-nine books, that maps the play. The New Testament interprets the play for us. Without the New Testament it would have no meaning to the Old. But the Old is the play.
We open the book to read it, bear in mind that this is a vision, as we are told in the scripture. This is a vision when Elias speaks of the vision of Isaiah, Obadiah the vision of Obadiah, Nebo the vision of him. And when you don’t use the word vision, you use the word “the word of the Lord came unto” and then you name the prophet. Well, “the word of the Lord” is the same as vision. “For if there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision; I will speak with him in a dream” (Num. 12:6).
So the whole from beginning to end is the vision. But this is a vision unmodified by the conceptual mind. If you’ve ever had a vision, you know what I mean. You stand as a participant in the action. You may be the star in the drama when the vision begins within you, or you may be simply playing a minor role. But if you are playing a starring role, still the conceptual mind is suspended; it doesn’t interfere and ask questions, you ask no questions. The most impossible thing is taking place before you and it seems not only possible, the most natural thing in the world that this thing should be as it unfolds within you. So the vision, really, is truth and this truth is completely untouched by the conceptual mind. It’s completely set aside.
For this experience belongs to a region that is deeper and more vital than that which the intellect inhabits; and because of this it is also indestructible by intellectual arguments and criticisms. You could bring all the criticisms in the world to one who has had the experience and he remains unmoved. You can’t shake him, because he has had the experience. So the New Testament is beginning to experience that foretold in the Old, and this is the picture of the great drama. Now it doesn’t mean that you and I inserted against our will for this divine end, which is God, that we must one time play an evil part and another time play a good part. No, that is what we are inserted into…all these are eternal states.
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