Impersonalization of Good and Evil in Human Consciousness
1959 New York Private Class For “25”
Joel S. Goldsmith
Let us understand this very clearly. Men resorted to prayer, back in pagan days, whenever they ran into conditions on earth over which they had no control; and they invented a God to pray to, a power that could do for them what we couldn’t do for ourselves. They found, however, that the God they prayed to couldn’t do all the things that they wanted or needed, so they invented another God, and another one, and another one, until some countries had almost as many Gods as it had ruling families. And, of course, from India came this idea of monotheism, of only one God, that spread to Egypt; and it was tried there and not liked. And then, we’re told that Father Abraham fled from Egypt into Chaldees and here he founded a new religion, which would pray to only one God. But, they prayed to that one God for the same things that they formerly prayed to ten Gods. And, it didn’t work too well, because the Hebrews were continuously deflecting and going back to Baal and to the numerous Gods, then being whipped into line by another leader and back to the one God, and then off again into the many Gods; so that, as they came up to the time of the Master, they were very well established in the one God.
But actually, remember, the God they were praying to wasn’t God. It represented a tribal concept of God. The fact that it wasn’t God is very evident by the fact that to win this God’s favor they had to pay tithes. They had to buy doves. They had to give the first fruits of their flocks. They had to indulge in ceremonies, rites, rituals. From Friday night to Saturday night was so holy, probably breathing was the only thing that was legal, that and sitting in a temple. All this, remember, to gain God’s favor, which made God what they called him—“Father,” a sort of a super-human being but one not only that could whack you with a ruler or a shaving strap, but this one had such powers of punishment that you really had to fear this God. And they did. They feared the wrath of God and the vengeance of God.
So you know by that, that it wasn’t God they were worshiping at all. You only have to read the Old Testament to see these continuous prayers to “wipe out mine enemies.” It would have been right had they said, “Wipe out the enemies of my own household, of my own consciousness, wipe out these false appetites, these false desires that lead us on to greed, anger, lust, malice.” They would have come nearer a correct understanding of God than always having the other fellow be the enemy. Of course, we were never the enemy. We were always righteous. It was the people in the next town, or the next village, or the next tribe who were the enemies. We do that same thing today.
Now, the power of prayer was always called upon to overcome the discords of earth, not realizing that the discords came out of human consciousness. Now hear that well. Every discord on earth comes out of human consciousness, and, therefore, you cannot ever remove the evils of the earth, except you change human consciousness. There would be no use of dividing up all of the money that is in the United States, whether it’s in treasuries, or whether it’s in the Rockefeller vaults, or the Ford’s. There’d be no use of dividing it up, because the same condition of consciousness that has made some people poor today would make them poor tomorrow. The same state of mind that has made some people dishonest today would make them dishonest tomorrow. And so, you would go on a period of years and find that we’re right back where we are now. You cannot by changing an external condition, even if God could do it. Let us put it this way. If God could all of a sudden remove all our enemies from the earth by swallowing them up in a flood, like in Noah’s day, don’t you know that the qualities of thought, of consciousness, that we entertain would raise us up more enemies tomorrow? Don’t you know that if I, in my present state of mind, have the capacity to have an enemy today, it must be because of some erroneous trait in me? And don’t you know that if you remove that enemy, that I would soon turn some good friend into an enemy with that same erroneous trait?
In other words, human consciousness contains the source and action of all of the discords on the face of the globe. And, if there were such a thing as a God that could remove or correct them, the same state of consciousness would bring up more enemies tomorrow. Oh, we could go into a long, long history of how many times the Hebrews were freed of their enemies and how quickly another race of enemies sprung up. We could go into our modern days when the Kaiser was overcome—the last mortal enemy on earth, the only person to be overcome—and then, democracy, freedom, justice, and Christianity will reign. This monster, the Kaiser. This anti-Christ. Let’s get him out of the way and peace will reign. And, in his place, we had the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Instead of one man, it was four. Well, one by one they have fallen by the wayside, until none of them are left. But, over on the horizon, there comes this little figure, K. Ah, maybe there’s just one more. And, while we are planning what to do about it, right across the South Atlantic comes Mr. C. We have to meet that, too, someday. Do you not see that the error is in our consciousness, not theirs? We are raising them up. I don’t mean you or I collectively, or the United States as a government, or Britain as a government. I don’t mean that. Human consciousness has within itself the qualities which breed anger, jealousy, lust, malice, greed, mad ambition, so forth and so on.
Praying to God to remove our enemies was not the way with the Hebrews, certainly was not the way with the early Christians, most evidently wasn’t the way with the mystics of the 12th to 17th century, all of whom were driven from the earth either by imprisonment or death or life imprisonment ending in death. No, no, prayer to the unknown God whom you ignorantly worship availeth nothing. Then, some forms of these evils, which our fellow citizens of the world felt couldn’t be handled by prayer, have been handled by force, so that we have had police, national guards, armies, navies, air corps; and the history of five thousand, seven thousand years shows that force hasn’t overcome the enemy. And, each time an enemy has been overcome, it did not take long for a new one to appear. And again I give it to you that the fault was not in the enemy. It was in human consciousness, which has to breed its own image and likeness. Therefore, prayer has not saved the world, or Christianized it, or made it democratic, not even safe for the Democrats. Neither has force done anything for this world.
And so, as you look at this picture from a human standpoint, you have one of utter hopelessness. If all of the prayers of the Hebrews, the Christians, the Muslims, the Hindus haven’t availed, if all of the force from bows and arrows, atomics bombs haven’t brought peace or destroyed the enemy, then there must be no hope. That isn’t true. That isn’t true, because we know now that the fault is not with other people, other nations, other religions, other creeds. The fault is human consciousness itself, material sense itself, an impersonal evil, not a personal one.