The Law and the Promise
Four Mystical Experiences
In all I have related thus far — with the exception of G.B.'s Vision of the Child —imagination was consciously exercised. Men and women created stage plays in their imagination, plays implying the fulfillment of their desires. Then, by imagining themselves participating in these dramas, they created that which their imaginal acts implied.
This is the wise use of God's Law. But "No man is justified before God by the Law", Gal. 3:11.
Many people are interested in Imaginism as a way of life, but are not at all interested in its framework of faith, a faith leading to the fulfillment of God's promise.
"I will raise up your son after you, who shall come forth from your body... I will be his father, and he shall be My son." 2Sam. 7:12-14
The Promise that God will bring forth from our body a son who will be "born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" [John 1:13] does not concern them. They want to know God's Law, not His Promise. However, this miraculous birth has been stated clearly as a must for all mankind from the earliest days of the Christian fellowship.
"You must be born from above”, John. 3:7. My purpose here is to state it again and to state it in such language and with such reference to my own personal mystical experiences that the reader will see that this birth "from above" is far more than a part of a dispensable superstructure, that it is the sole purpose for God's creation.
Specifically, my purpose in recording these four mystical experiences is to show what "Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead" (Rev. 1:5) was trying to say about this birth from above. "How can men preach unless they are sent?" (Rom. 10:15).
Many years ago, I was taken in spirit into a Divine Society, a Society of men in whom God is awake. Though it may seem strange, the gods do truly meet. As I entered this society, the first to greet me was the embodiment of infinite Might. His was a power unknown to mortals. I was then taken to meet infinite Love. He asked me, "What is the greatest thing in the world?" I answered him in the words of Paul, "faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love" [1Cor. 13:13]. At that moment, he embraced me and our bodies fused and became one body. I was knit to him and loved him as my own soul. The words, "love of God" so often a mere phrase, were now a reality with a tremendous meaning. Nothing ever imagined by man could be compared with this love which man feels through his union with Love. The most intimate relationship on earth is like living in separate cells compared with this union.
While I was in this state of supreme delight, a voice from outer space shouted, "Down with the blue bloods!" At this blast, I found myself standing before the one who had first greeted me, he who embodied infinite Might. He looked into my eyes and without the use of words or mouth, I heard what he told me: "Time to act". I was suddenly whisked out of that Divine Society and returned to earth. I was tormented by my limitations of understanding but I knew that on that day the Divine Society had chosen me as a companion and sent me to preach Christ — God's promise to man.
My mystical experiences have brought me to accept literally, the saying that all the world's a stage. And to believe that God plays all the parts. The purpose of the play? To transform man, the created, into God, the creator. God loved man, his created, and became man in faith that this act of self-commission would transform man — the created, into God — the creator.
The play begins with the crucifixion of God on man — as man — and ends with the resurrection of man — as God. God becomes as we are, that we may be as He is. God becomes man that man may become, first — a living being, and secondly — a life-giving spirit.
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." — Gal. 2:20.
God took upon Himself the form of man and became obedient unto death — even death on the cross of man — and is crucified on Golgotha, the skull of man. God Himself enters death's door — the human skull — and lies down in the grave of man to make man a living being. God's mercy turned death into sleep. Then began the prodigious and unthinkable metamorphosis of man, the transformation of man into God.
No man, unaided by the crucifixion of God, could cross the threshold that admits to conscious life, but now we have union with God in His crucified Self. He lives in us as our wonderful human imagination. "Man is all imagination, and God is man, and exists in us and we in Him.
The eternal body of man is the imagination — that is, God, himself" [Blake].
When He rises in us, we will be like Him and He will be like us. Then all impossibilities will dissolve in us at that touch of exaltation which His rising in us will impart to our nature.
Here is the secret of the world: God died to give man life and to set man free, for however clearly God is aware of His creation, it does not follow that man, imaginatively created, is aware of God.
To work this miracle, God had to die, then rise again as man, and none has ever expressed it so clearly as William Blake. Blake says — or rather has Jesus say — "Unless I die, thou canst not live; but if I die I shall arise again and thou with Me.
Wouldest thou love one who never died for thee, or ever die for one who had not died for thee? And if God dieth not for man and giveth not Himself eternally for man, man could not exist.
" So God dies — that is to say — God has freely given Himself for man. Deliberately, He has become man and has forgotten that He is God, in the hope that man, thus created, will eventually rise as God.
God has so completely offered His own Self for man, that He cries out on the cross of man, "My God, My God; why hast Thou forsaken Me?" [Mat. 27:46; Psalm 21:1].
He has completely forgotten that He is God. But after God rises in one man, that man will say to his brothers, "Why stand we here, trembling around, calling on God for help, and not ourselves, in whom God dwells?" [Blake]
This first man that has been raised from the dead is known as Jesus Christ — the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep, the first-born of the dead. For man God died; now, by a man, has come also the resurrection of the dead. Jesus Christ resurrects his dead Father by becoming his father.
In Adam — the universal man — God sleeps. In Jesus Christ — the individualized God — God wakes. In waking, man, the created, has become God, the creator, and can truly say, "Before the world was, I am" [Adon Olam, Jewish dogmatics].
Just as God in His love for man so completely identified Himself with man that He forgot that He was God, so man in his love for God must so completely identify himself with God that he lives the life of God, that is, Imaginatively.
God's play which transforms man into God is revealed to us in the Bible.
It is completely consistent in imagery and symbolism. The New Testament is hid in the Old Testament, and the old is manifested in the new. The Bible is a vision of God's Law and His Promise.
It was never intended to teach history but rather to lead man in faith through the furnaces of affliction to the fulfillment of God's promise, to rouse man from this profound sleep and awaken him as God.
Its characters live not in the past but in an imaginative eternity.
They are personifications of the eternal spiritual states of the soul. They mark man's journey through eternal death and his awakening to eternal life.
The Old Testament tells us of God's promise. The New Testament tells us not how this promise was fulfilled, but how it is fulfilled.
The central theme of the Bible is the direct, individual, mystical experience of the birth of the child, that child of whom the prophet spoke "...to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder; and his name will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace, there will be no end..." Isaiah 9:6-7
When the child is revealed to us we see it, we experience it, and the response to this revelation can be stated in the words of Job, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees thee" [42:5].
The story of the incarnation is not fable, allegory or some carefully contrived fiction to enslave the minds of men, but mystical fact.
It is a personal mystical experience of the birth of oneself out of one's own skull, symbolized in the birth of a child, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying on the floor.
There is a distinction between hearing of this birth of a child from one's own skull — a birth which no scientist or historian could ever possibly explain — and actually experiencing the birth — holding in your own hands and seeing with your own eyes this miraculous child — a child born from above out of your own skull, a birth contrary to all the laws of nature.
The question as it is posed in the Old Testament, "Ask now, and see, can a male bear a child? Why then do I see every man with his hands delivering himself like a woman in labor? Why has every face turned pale?" Jer: 30:6.
The Hebrew word "chalats", mistranslated "loins", means: to draw out, to deliver, to withdraw self. The drawing of oneself out of one's own skull was exactly what the prophet foresaw as the necessary birth from above, a birth giving man entrance into the kingdom of God and reflective perception on the highest levels of Being. Throughout the ages, "Deep calls to deep" [Ps. 42:7]; "Rouse thyself! Why sleepest thou, O Lord? Awake!" [Ps. 44:23]
The event, as it is recorded in the Gospels, actually takes place in man. But of that day or that hour when the time will come for the individual to be delivered, no one knows but the Father. "Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born from above. The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit." John 3:7-8
This revelation in the Gospel of John is true. Here is my experience of this birth from above. Like Paul, I did not receive it from man — nor was I taught it. It came through the actual mystical experience of being born from above. None can speak truly of this mystical birth from above but one who has experienced it. I had no idea that this birth from above was literally true.
Who, before the experience, could believe that the child, the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace was inwoven in his own skull? Who, before the experience, would understand that his Maker is his Husband and the Lord of Hosts is His Name [Isaiah 54:5]? Who would believe that the creator went in unto His own creation, man, and knew it to be Himself and that this entrance into the skull of man — this union of God and man — resulted in the birth of a Son out of the skull of man; which birth gave to that man eternal life and union with his creator forever?
If I now tell what I experienced that night, I do so not to impose my ideas on others, but that I may give hope to those who, like Nicodemus, wonder "how can a man be born when he is old [John 3:4]?" How can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born? How can this be? This is how it happened to me. Therefore, I will now "write the vision"; and "make it plain upon tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its time; it hastens to the end — it will not lie. If it seem slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. Behold, he whose soul is not upright in him shall fail, but the righteous shall live by his faith." Hab. 2:2-4.
In the early hours of the morning on July 20, 1959, in the city of San Francisco, a heavenly dream in which the arts flourished was suddenly interrupted by the most intense vibration centered at the base of my skull. Then a drama, as real as those I experience when I am fully awake, began to unfold. I awoke from a dream to find myself completely entombed within my skull. I tried to force my way out through its base. Something gave way and I felt myself move head downward, through the base of my skull. I squeezed myself out, inch by inch. When I was almost out, I held what I took to be the foot of the bed and pulled the remaining portion of me out of my skull. There, on the floor, I lay for a few seconds.
Then I rose and looked at my body on the bed. It was pale of face lying on its back and tossing from side to side like one in recovery from a great ordeal. As I contemplated it, hoping that it would not fall off the bed, I became aware that the vibration which started the whole drama was not only in my head but now was also coming from the corner of the room. As I looked over to that corner, I wondered if that vibration could be caused by a very high wind, a wind strong enough to vibrate the window. I did not realize that the vibration which I still felt within my head was related to that which seemed to be coming from the corner of the room.
Looking back to the bed, I discovered that my body was gone but in its place sat my three older brothers. My oldest brother sat where the head was. My second and third brothers sat where the feet were. None seemed to be aware of me, although I was aware of them and could discern their thoughts. I suddenly became aware of the reality of my own invisibility. I noticed that they, too, were disturbed by the vibration coming from the corner of the room. My third brother was the most disturbed and went over to investigate the cause of the disturbance. His attention was attracted by something on the floor and looking down he announced, "It's Neville's baby". My other two brothers, in most incredulous voices, asked "How can Neville have a baby?"
My brother lifted the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid him on the bed. I, then, with my invisible hands lifted the babe and asked him "How is my sweetheart?" He looked into my eyes and smiled and I awoke in this world — to ponder this greatest of my many mystical experiences.
Tennyson has a description of Death as a warrior — a skeleton "high on a night-black horse", issuing forth at midnight. But when Gareth's sword cut through the skull, there was in it... "... the bright face of a blooming boy Fresh as a flower new-born." (Idylls of the King)
Two other visions I will tell because they bear out the truth of my assertion that the Bible is mystical fact, that everything written about the promised child in the law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be mystically experienced in the imagination of the individual.
The child's birth is a sign and a portent, signaling the resurrection of David, the Lord's anointed, of whom He said, "You are My Son, today I have begotten You", Psalms 2:7.
Five months after the birth of the child, on the morning of December 6, 1959, in the city of Los Angeles, a vibration similar to the one which preceded his birth started in my head. This time its intensity was centered at the top of my head. Then came a sudden explosion and I found myself in a modestly furnished room. There, leaning against the side of an open door was my son David of Biblical fame. He was a lad in his early teens. What struck me forcibly about him was the unusual beauty of his face and figure. He was — as he is described in the first book of Samuel — ruddy, with beautiful eyes and very handsome [16:12, 17:42].
Not for one moment did I feel myself to be anyone other than who I am now. Yet, I knew that this lad, David, was my son, and he knew that I was his father; for "the wisdom from above is without uncertainty" [But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy, James 3:17]. As I sat there contemplating the beauty of my son, the vision faded and I awoke.
"I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion", Is. 8:18. God gave me David as my very own son. "I will raise up your son after you, who shall come forth from your body... I will be his father, and he shall be my son", 2Sam. 7:12-14. God is known in no other way than through the Son.
"No one knows who the Son is, except the Father, or who the Father is, except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him", Luke. 10:22.
The experience of being David's Father is the end of man's pilgrimage on earth. The purpose of life is to find the Father of David, the Lord's anointed, the Christ.
'Abner, whose son is this youth?' And Abner said, 'As your soul lives, O king, I cannot tell.' And the king said, 'Inquire whose son the stripling is.' And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. And Saul said to him, 'Whose son are you, young man?' And David answered, 'I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite', 1Sam. 17:55-58.
Jesse is any form of the verb 'to be'.
In other words, I Am the Son of who I Am, I am self begotten, I Am the Son of God, the Father. I and My Father are one [John 10:30]. I am the image of the invisible God. He who has seen Me has seen the Father [John 14:9].
'Whose son...?' is not about David, but about David's Father, whom the king had promised (1Sam. 17:25) to make free in Israel. Note: in all these passages (1Sam. 17:55,56,58) the king's inquiry is not about David but about David's Father.
'I have found David, my servant... He shall cry to Me, "Thou art my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation. And I will make him the first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth", Psalm 89[:20;26-27].
The individual who is born from above will find David and know him to be his very own son. Then he will ask the Pharisees — who are always with us — "What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is He?" And when they say to him, "The son of David", he will say to them, "How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord... If David thus calls him Lord, how is he his son?" Matt: 22:41-45. Man's misconception of the role of the Son — which is only a sign and a portent — has made the Son an idol. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." 1John 5:21.
God awakes; and that man in whom he awakes becomes his own father's father. He who was David's Son, "Jesus Christ, the son of David" Matt. 1:1 has become David's Father.
No longer will I cry to "our father David, thy child", Acts. 4:25. "I have found David" [Psalm 89:20, Acts 13:22]. He has cried to me, "Thou art my Father", Ps. 89[:26]. Now I know myself to be one of the Elohim, the God who became man, that man may become God. "Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion", 1Tim. 3:16.
If the Bible were history, it would not be a mystery.
"Wait for the promise of the Father", Acts. 1:4, that is, for David — God's Son — who will reveal you as the Father. This promise, says Jesus, you heard from Me (Luke 24:44) and to its fulfillment at that moment in time when it pleases God to give you His Son — as "your offspring, which is Christ", Gal. 3:16.
A figure of speech is used for the purpose of calling attention to, emphasizing and intensifying the reality of the literal sense. The truth is literal; the words used are figurative.
"The curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom, and the earth shook and the rocks were split", Matt. 27:51.
On the morning of April 8, 1960 — four months after it was revealed to me that I am David's father — a bolt of lightning out of my skull split me in two from the top of my skull to the base of my spine. I was cleft as though I were a tree that had been struck by lightning. Then I felt and saw myself as a golden liquid light moving up my spine in a serpentine motion; as I entered my skull, it vibrated like an earthquake. "Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you, and you be found a liar" [Proverbs 30:5,6]. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up", John 3:14.
These mystical experiences will help to rescue the Bible from the externals of history, persons and events, and to restore it to its real significance in the life of man.
Scripture must be fulfilled "in" us. God's promise will be fulfilled. You will have these experiences: "And you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Sa-ma-ri-a and to the end of the earth", Acts 1:8.
The widening circle — Jerusalem... Judea... Samaria, the end of the earth — is God's plan.
The Promise is still maturing to its time, its appointed time, but how long, vast and severe the trials e're you find David, your son, who will reveal you as God, The Father, were long to tell; but it hastens to the end; it will not fail. So wait, for there will be no postponement.
"Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, in the spring, and Sarah shall have a son", Gen. 18:14.