By Leonard E. Read
Note – Frequent readers of BANKNOTES are aware of my relationship with Leonard E. Read and my admiration for his works during his lifetime. In the following issues I will be sharing his book, VISION, one chapter per month. It was written in 1978. What a privilege it was for me to know this great man! – R. Nelson Nash
God dwells not in temples made by human hands; his abiding place is the humble and contrite heart. —THE HOLY BIBLE
If Infinite Consciousness [God]—Wisdom and Righteousness—does not originate in you or me or any individual, why then do so many of us pretend and behave otherwise, that is, in fits of egomania? It seems worthwhile to reflect on this problem.
Egomania is “abnormally, excessive egotism.” And egotism? It “…is constant, excessive reference to oneself in speaking and or writing.” Briefly, an egomaniac is an individual who regards himself as a source of wisdom; whatever he speaks or writes or conceives is original; there is nothing above his finite mind!
Persons afflicted with the notion that they are the originators of wise thoughts and ideas are prone to regard any repetition of them by others as plagiarism. Goethe—one of the great thinkers of modern times—voiced a profound but neglected truth: “All truly wise ideas have been thought already thousands of times.” Any person who claims to originate a truly wise idea might just as well regard himself as the source of Creation! Those of us who regard ourselves as source are victims of an all-too-common affliction—egomania.
The reason for this may well be that the self-assumed originator had not previously seen the idea in print. Now, no person has ever read more than a tiny fraction of all that has been printed. And, assuredly, most of the truly wise ideas during the past several thousand years may have been neither written nor even voiced. All of us have ideas that might remain silently in the mind, while nevertheless guiding our actions.
Everything—no exception—is mysterious. No one knows why grass is green, for instance, or what electricity is. And of all the mysteries, Infinite Wisdom or Consciousness how Creation works its wonders—is infinitely beyond finite man’s comprehension. A few—past and present—have freed themselves from egomania. How? By becoming aware that Creation is the Source, not they themselves.
The few who have been or are aware that they are not the Source quite properly ascribe the reception of truly wise ideas to Creation. Numerous are the ways these few describe such heavenly phenomena. To me, Emerson’s is among the brilliant acknowledgments:
We lie in the lap of immense intelligence [Creation], which makes us receivers of its truth and organs of its activities. When we discern justice, when we discern truth, we do nothing of ourselves, but allow a passage of its beams.
A passage of its beams suggests that the immense intelligence is an omnipresent radiation. Required of us mortals is to see how much of it we can intercept or tune in—make of ourselves as much of a receiving set as possible.
For evidence that this is a radiation, observe tune-ins occurring to persons unknown to each other—simultaneously! One among countless examples: penicillin was discovered by an American medical student and by another in a foreign country—at the same time! This phenomenon is often referred to as “coincidental thinking.” A more accurate term would be “coincidental reception.” Dr. Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist, wrote a book confirming these miracles.1
What we must keep in mind is the infinite nature of this radiation. We can assume that it contains all there is in the Cosmic Design, now and forever, man having perceived but an infinitesimal fraction of it. Further, one’s reception, such as it is, depends on his potentialities and uniqueness. Briefly, one’s emergence depends on the few beams he is capable of intercepting.
Is any of us able to assess the enormity of these beams? In my judgment, it would be easier to count the components of the solar system’s atmosphere in which we earthlings live and breathe or all the components in the atmospheres of an ever-expanding universe. Why? We possess but finite consciousness. At best, ours are but infinitesimal glimmers of Infinite Consciousness [God]. We should recognize that it is impossible for anyone to comprehend Infinite Consciousness or infinite space or infinite time.
However, an awareness of infinity is possible. How? There are numerous ways. For my explanation of an easy way, see chapter 10, page 56.
History affords an excellent example of this phenomenon. According to the anthropologists, there existed about 35,000 years ago a level of humanity referred to as Cro-Magnon man. No question about it, there are millions in today’s world who have intercepted ever so many more of these heavenly beams than did those beings centuries ago. In this progression we witness man’s earthly purpose—growing, emerging, evolving, bit by bit in consciousness. It is only consciousness that is immortalized, our earthly moments being but your and my beginnings.
It seems plain to me that Infinite Consciousness Wisdom and Righteousness— “dwells not in temples made by human hands.” Those who believe that they are sources or originators suffer from egomania.
It also seems evident that “his abiding place is the humble and contrite heart.” Only in those who know that they know not can the beams of immense intelligence find an abiding place. The ever-seeking eye is to be found among those who are humble. Their eyes are cast toward the Infinite Unknown.
The blessings of humility were recognized long before the Holy Bible was written. Samplings:
Humility is the foundation of all virtues. —Confucius
Whoever humbleth himself shall be exalted. —Lao-tse
Socrates revealed his humility:
That man thinks he knows everything whereas he knows nothing. I know nothing, but I know that I know nothing.
Centuries later, St. Augustine made many contributions to the wisdom of having a humble heart. Here are two:
It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.
The sufficiency of my merit is to know that my merit is not sufficient.
Wrote St. Bernard:
It is no great thing to be humble when you are brought low; but to be humble when you are praised is a great and rare attainment.
Now to modern times:
True humility The highest virtue, mother of them all. —Tennyson
Humility, like darkness, reveals the heavenly lights. —Thoreau
No one knows very much. —Kettering
No one knows more than one-millionth of one per cent of anything. —Edison
The above are but a few well-known testimonials to the “humble and contrite heart.” As with all truly wise ideas, “They have already been thought thousands of times” perhaps millions of times!
Goethe used the terms Nature and God as virtually interchangeable. He referred to Nature as the Divinity. Johann Peter Eckermann, his devoted associate, kept an almost daily record of his visits with Goethe during the last nine years of the great man’s life. The result is Conversations with Goethe, a book filled with wisdom.2 On February 13, 1829, Eckermann wrote in his journal, “Dined with Goethe alone.” He then reported the wisdom that flowed from this scholar’s mind, including one ofmy favorite gems:
Nature understands no jesting; she is always true, always serious, always severe; she is always right, and the errors and faults are always those of man. The man incapable of appreciating her she despises and only to the apt, the pure, and the true, does she resign herself and reveal her secrets.
The errors and faults are always those of man, egomania being among the enfeebling faults. However, when man accords to God, to Nature, to Divinity the source of Wisdom and Righteousness, humility rules the soul.
When the great I-Am gives way to I-know-not, the mind opens to Infinite Consciousness. A yearning for learning becomes life’s highest goal— “she resigns herself and re veals her secrets.”
The freedom to act creatively as anyone pleases is among the secrets revealed. Hail to humility!
1 Synchronicity by Dr. Carl Jung (Princeton University Press, 1973).
2 New York: E.P. Dutton & Company, 1935.