Ecce Homo: The Apotheosis of Neville GoddardJames J. O'Meara
Neville Goddard’s Final Lectures, edited and introduced by Mitch Horowitz
New York: G&D Media, 2022
Carter phoned Neville the next morning and said, “Neville you are Judas.” The teacher immediately agreed. “Judas,” he replied, “betrayed the Messianic secrets.”
“I, an immortal god, no longer a mortal, go about among you all, honoured as is fitting, crowned with fillets and flowery garlands.” — Empedocles, Fragment 112
The year of Our Lord 1972 saw the deaths of two men whom I had never met, but whose written and especially oral legacy would have a profound influence on your humble author: Alan Wilson Watts (b. 1915) and Neville Lancelot Goddard (b. 1905).
While the epochal significance of my connection to both men is something for future historians to determine, there are several interesting connections or synchronicities between the two.
Both were British immigrants to the United States — Watts from a middle-class family in England, Neville from a white commercial family in Barbados; Watts an only child, Neville with seven brothers and a sister.
Both were tall, lean, handsome men, veritable Aryan archetypes; Watts was compared to “a mixture of King George VI and Rex Harrison” and Neville, during his career as a featured dancer on Broadway, was “said to resemble Rudolph Valentino.”
More importantly, both used their stage charisma to carve out careers as public speakers; Neville as a “metaphysical lecturer” and Watts as a self-described “philosophical entertainer.”
Both published books — Watts with major publishers, Neville preferring to self-publish small books without copyright — but both really took great advantage of the new methods of recording and distribution. Neville recorded one LP, while Watts made several.
More important were their lectures. After his early books attracted attention, Watts would spend most of the rest of his life lecturing around the world and holding seminars on his houseboat in Sausalito, most of which were taped. He frequently spoke on KPFA, a Berkeley outpost of the “listener sponsored” (i.e., hippie) Pacifica radio network, but due to the Federal Communications Commission’s requirement of some element of “religious programming,” all these recordings were used by “experimental” (i.e., hippie) FM stations to fulfill said requirement, usually on Sunday mornings; this is how my young mind was blown.
Unlike Watts, who wasted decades of what turned out to be a rather short life trying to “fit in” to various institutions, Neville from the start made his way as an independent “metaphysical lecturer” in much the same territory: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco. Uniquely, and far-sightedly, he allowed his lectures to be freely taped: Rows of recorders were lined up on the stage, and a techie would turn them on before Neville stepped out. Such lectures would be handed around on tapes or transcribed by listeners.
Neville scholar Mitch Horowitz has compared this to the Grateful Dead, but I would go further and compare it to Mystery Science Theater, which, in the early days of cable, when all people did not yet have access to the same channels, fans would record the broadcasts and the folks at Best Brains in Minneapolis would not only look the other way, but encourage them to “Keep Circulating the Tapes” at the end of each show’s credits; in this way, a huge fan base was created. With Neville, it has allowed his ipsissima verba to not only survive but transition to a second life on the Internet, with YouTube channels and Kindle transcriptions proliferating at a mad pace.
In addition to his own work — on Neville, New Thought, or Positive Thinking in general, as well as modern iterations of other ancient mystical traditions — Horowitz has produced several carefully curated collections of Neville’s lectures, such as Infinite Potential: The Greatest Works of Neville Goddard (reviewed here); or Neville’s legendary “master class,” the Five Lessons of 1948 (reviewed here). The book now under review collects the lectures from Neville’s final year, 1972.
One valuable find here is that after over 30 years of delivering hundreds of lectures, without notes, and writing ten short books, Neville gives us a wonderfully short precis of his characteristic Method — “a short portion of the Law” — and well worth quoting in extenso:
Tonight, if you are here for the first time and you expected something entirely different, then let me give you a short portion of the Law. You are living in a world that really is a psychological world. All things take place in the imagination of man — all things. And so, because they do take place there, let them take place there first before you expect to see them on the outside. So, assume that you are the man that you would like to be, believe that you are, try to catch all the feelings that would be yours if they were true. Give it all the tones and the feeling of reality. And then sleep. Go sound asleep in that assumption that you are already the one that you want to be. Try that, and I assure you from my own experience, what you have assumed that you are, you’ll become. You have already become what you are because you want to assume that you are it. Everything in the world is just like that. It’s all imagination and all that you behold, although it appears without, really is within, in your own wonderful human imagination of which this world of mortality is but a shadow.
The focus here, however, is not on The Law but on The Promise: After a series of mystical visions — frankly, rather bizarre and disturbing — beginning in July 1959, in which “the teacher underwent a mystical rebirth, or resurrection, emerging from the womb of his own skull,” Neville shifted his focus to outlining “a process of self-realization that awaits all individuals as they come to understand, fully and experientially, that they are Christ clothed in the flesh”:
And when man is turned around by a complete splitting of the temple, for the curtain of the temple is torn in two from top to bottom, and at the base of your spine, you’re going to see a golden, pulsing liquid light. And as you see it, you’re going to know that you are it. You’re actually looking at yourself and yet it is formless and you fuse with it, and then you become that fiery serpent, and up you go into the rain and it vibrates like thunder. Then you are completely turned around. The energies that went down into generation are now turned up into regeneration.
As Horowitz observes, “None of these experiences can, of course, be fully understood using our traditional points of reference. They are neither strictly ordinary nor strictly belonging to some ethereal or spirit realm.” I would suggest that in Traditionalist terms, we might say that this involves what Evola might call a “rupture of levels,” a movement from a horizontal vector — in which energy is spent dealing with earthly achievements — to concentrating the now perfected energies on a vertical ascent:
It has been fulfilled in me. All that is said in the Scripture, I have actually experienced it . . . in a spiritual sense, but when it came to me, it was just like this room, just as real. It was a cubic reality.
In that Union I felt infinite love without loss of my identity. I was still individualized, but I have never known such intensity of love.
It took thirty years for the graft to take. Then the gift of God began to move downward from that which was collective to me the individual.
Although he “neither renounced nor neglected any of the practical principles he developed earlier in his career [and] made no revision of his teaching about ‘the Law’ or the mind’s reality-shaping powers — including in areas of traditional attainment and success,” for many in his audiences “the more radically mystical nature of Neville’s latter-day teachings proved too great a stretch.” Some things never change. As the crowds dwindled, his manager became greatly concerned:
“Neville, you’ve got to stop telling that story or you’ll have no audience at all.” He said, “Then I’ll tell it to the bare walls.” And Neville would have. That’s the beauty of it, and he almost did.
In addition to editing and theorizing, Horowitz has done yeoman’s work in running down and confirming the details of Neville’s various stories, such as how he persuaded the Army to give him an honorable discharge (with US citizenship to boot) during the Second World War, or trying to determine the identity of Abdullah, the “black Ethiopian rabbi” who supposedly taught Neville his “simple method for changing the future.” Here, he explores the mysterious details of Neville’s final hours.
Although the Los Angeles Times reported that Neville had died at his West Hollywood home of “an apparent heart attack,” the coroner’s death certificate gives the cause of death as a “rupture of the esophageal varices — i.e., swollen or enlarged veins — leading from the throat to the stomach, with subsequent hemorrhaging”; the likely cause, cirrhosis of the liver.
This coincides with the observations of his driver and friend, Frank Carter, who was called to identify the body. Neville’s face was covered with a napkin, and when removed by the coroner, “Carter witnessed a massive amount of blood . . . and a contorted expression on [Neville’s] face, as though he had choked and bled out.”
This reminded Carter of the death of Judas, whose “bowels gushed out,” according to the King James Version, and indeed, he had told Neville of having dreamed of Judas and that he, Neville, was Judas himself; Neville agreed, saying that like Judas, he had “betrayed the Messianic secrets.”
What were those? Presumably, the Promise. But let’s also look at what Horowitz calls “a peculiar element of Carter’s telling,” the napkin. Indeed, in a lecture in this very collection, Neville riffs on what was discovered in Jesus’ tomb:
So, when they came into the tomb and found it empty, they found the linen clothes, then they found the napkin removed from the linen clothes. The napkin that had covered his head. And here it was removed from the linen clothes. The linen symbolizes the body. This is the linen clothes. Removed from the body, but it was covering his head, is a napkin. Well, the ancient word napkin, which we translate napkin, meant more than simply what you and I use today, where you speak of a napkin, a dinner napkin, a cocktail napkin, or a cemetery napkin. That seems the limit of a napkin in this twentieth century or when our Bible was translated. But in the ancient days, it meant more than that. The napkin was simply that which is the afterbirth. An afterbirth, if you see the afterbirth, then something was born. So, he tells you something was born by removing the napkin from the linen clothes. As in birth, you always remove the afterbirth. And that was what they found. That’s all symbolism proving that something was born — and what was born? God was born.
Horowitz brings in a summary of the relation between The Law and The Promise to understand what’s happening here:
The self-revelation of your mind’s creative power, and the worldly attainments resulting from it [The Law], are mere markers and steppingstones, pieces of evidentiary proof, in the progress toward realization of your greater nature [The Promise]. Discovery of your true spiritual self, of your identity as the Creator, Neville taught, is the pyramidical capstone of life, of which mentally out-pictured experiences and fulfillments form a catalogue of evidence culminating in the mystical realization of the Promise.
Hence, discovering yourself as the creative force called God is, in Neville’s philosophy, the ultimate purpose of existence.
Horowitz then brings in Neville’s rather peculiar doctrine of reincarnation, that “the unrealized individual is reborn . . . in young adult form, possessed of peak physical vigor and vitality,” and “destined to reexperience life in the same world, with the opportunity to settle struggles left unresolved from the previous incarnation.” In a rare misstep, Horowitz calls this “eternal recurrence” but assures us that “this is no cause for existential dread over Groundhog Day-like repetitions.” Rather, instead of Nietzsche’s “eternal recurrence of the same,” it is exactly like Groundhog Day, although I thank him for leading me to see this for the first time. 
Groundhog Day reminds us that Bill Murray was a pioneer in the “Slobs vs. Snobs” genre of eighties comedy, including the iconic Caddyshack. Neville sounds like the sort of swell that Judge Smayles would love to golf with, by Horowtiz’ description:
He also spoke with a beautiful, clipped British-American accent. It’s sometimes called a mid-Atlantic accent. It used to be more common; you don’t hear it much anymore. Some people consider it affected. I do not. I think it’s a beautiful way of speaking. You heard it in the actors Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and Sidney Poitier, and in the writers Norman Mailer, Irving Howe, and William F. Buckley Jr. I once conversed with the American opera singer Jessye Norman, and she spoke in that way. It was lovely.
It may be hard to imagine the mellifluous Neville playing the role of Al Czervik, but that’s exactly how the limeys hanging out in Los Angeles regarded him; they wanted no part of this colonial upstart, as he discovered when he met Allan Watts’ pal Aldous Huxley and dared to try to discuss his favorite mystic, Blake:
In a certain social world, if you pronounce a certain word differently you are cataloged as one who is not “in,” as it were, and Huxley would not listen to my visions because I did not speak as he thought everyone should . . . Had Aldous only listened to my message, rather than my English, I could have told him things beyond the wildest dreams of D. H. Lawrence. But I am a Colonial in his eyes and, like all Englishmen; the Colonials are looked down upon. If you don’t speak with the Oxford or Cambridge accent, you are a Colonial in their eyes and not one of the boys.
In his last year, Neville returns to an even earlier incident, as a struggling immigrant attending some show business-related school. Remember, this is a man who would become a Broadway star and a successful “metaphysical lecturer”:
My own disappointments in my world led up to whatever I am doing today. When the teacher in my school, I could ill afford the $500 that my father gave me to go to this small school in New York City, and she made me the goat. She called me out before an audience of about forty students. And she said, “Now listen to him speak. He will never earn a living using his voice.” She should not have done that, but she did it — but she didn’t know the kind of person that she was talking about. Instead of going down into the grave and burying my head in shame, I was determined that I would actually disprove her. It did something to me when she said to me, “you will never earn” — to the class, using me as the guinea pig to show them what not to do — and so, she said, I spoke with a guttural voice and I spoke with this very heavy accent, and I will never use my voice to earn a living.
We all went to this school and this teacher simply singled me out to make some little, well, exhibition of what I should not be doing in class. But I went home and I was so annoyed that I had lost my father’s $500 or $600 that he gave me for the six-months course, but I was determined that she was false, that she was wrong. So, I went to the end. I went to the end and actually felt that I was facing an audience and unembarrassed that I could talk and talk and talk forever without notes, no notes.
I assure you from my own experience, what you have assumed that you are, you’ll become.
All things work together for the good of those who love God, and we can be grateful this tin-eared teacher spurred Neville to become what he was. Ecce Homo!
* * *
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 I shall follow Neville’s custom of referring to him by first name alone.
 “I was amused today when I looked at my baptismal certificate. My father’s occupation was listed as a meat vendor. He had a butcher shop.” Infinite Potential: The Greatest Works of Neville Goddard; introduced and edited by Mitch Horowitz (New York: St. Martin’s, 2019). Using the same powers of imagination that Neville later taught, his father and brother expanded that butcher shop into Goddard Enterprises, still today the largest conglomerate based in the Caribbean. Some butcher shop.
 When the impecunious Neville wanted to return home for Christmas and first made use of the Method taught to him by Abdullah, the upshot was that his brother was “suddenly” inspired to send him a ticket, having the idea to set up a family reunion for Christmas: Since the space between youngest and oldest was so great, the family had never lived together in the same house. Both men were married twice (I don’t count Watts’ second marriage, which was to give a Jewish refugee a green card), and here things were balanced out: Watts had a total of about 16 children, Neville one child from each marriage.
 Well, at least according to Watts’ recollection; see In My Own Way: An Autobiography, 1915–1965 (New York: Pantheon, 1972), p. 14.
 “A profile in The New Yorker of September 11, 1943 described the handsome speaker back at the lectern before swooning (and often female) New York audiences.” — Mitch Horowitz: “A Cosmic Philosopher.”
 Neville later said that after being drafted in November 1942, he used his Method to obtain an honorable discharge within six months. According to the New Yorker profile cited above, he was already drawing crowds by September 1943. Horowitz made inquiries and found that Neville was, according to the Army, “discharged from service to accept employment in an essential wartime industry.” Horowitz then asked, “This man was a metaphysical lecturer — how is that a vital civilian occupation?” The response was that “Unfortunately, Mr. Goddard’s records were destroyed in the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center”; i.e., just a few months after his death. We’ll look at some odd details concerning his death later. See Horowitz, The Miracle Club: How Thoughts Become Reality (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2018) and my review here.
 “Sometimes, half in jest, I call myself a ‘philosophical entertainer,’ because I have some difficulty taking myself and my work seriously — or perhaps the right word is ‘pompously.’” In My Own Way, p. 207.
 On red vinyl, for some reason, and with a most amusing cover; I think he’s supposed to be “materializing” to have tea as the lady wishes, and in its mid-century middle American way it’s as psychedelic as any cover Watts ever had.
 Most notably, This Is It. The plethora of Watts LPs are on display here.
 I’ve discussed this here, which was also reprinted in Mysticism after Modernism: Crowley, Evola, Neville, Watts, Colin Wilson, & Other Populist Gurus (Colac, Victoria, Australia: Manticore Press, 2020).
 I can find no evidence that either knew or mentioned the other.
 For some odd reason there’s no video of Neville; even the 26 episodes of his TV show went unrecorded. In Infinite Potential, Horowitz provides a transcript of the surviving audio of one episode; it’s interesting to hear Neville suavely moving in and out of commercials.
 This “psychological universe” bears comparison with the “everything is psychic” metaphysics implied in the work of Carl Jung: “The collective unconscious — whose innate templates of behavior, or archetypes, organize both the individual psyche and the physical world — explains the nature of the physical world: both our material bodies and the inanimate universe as a whole are the outer appearance of experiential inner life . . . [This] allows us to explain the inanimate matter in the universe as the outer appearance of experiential but unconscious inner life.” Bernardo Kastrup, Decoding Jung’s Metaphysics: The Archetypal Semantics of an Experiential Universe (John Hunt Publishing, 2021), pp. 116-117.
 For Evola, consider: “For Crowley, the sexual act had the meaning of a sacrament, of a sacred and magical operation; in intercourse, one aimed, at the limit, to a type of ‘rupture of level’ through which one finds himself ‘face to face with the gods,’ that is, it ensures an opening to the supersensible.” Julius Evola, “Aleister Crowley.”
 “Tonight, we will take both the Law and the Promise. Just a little while on the Promise, that you may not be concerned.”
 In another parallel with Watts, both were rather heavy drinkers. A student noted that when first introduced to Neville as a girl, she noted a pleasant smell of gin about him; vodka, however, was Watts’ preferred tipple, perhaps because it could be concealed in a carafe onstage. Although both Neville and Horowitz recommend the hypnagogic moments before and after sleep as the best time to practice The Method, Neville often practiced his when napping in the afternoon after an alcohol-fueled lunch. In a lecture here, he observes “I’m very fond of wine. I love it. I had my full bottle of wine today with some cheese for my lunch, and thoroughly enjoyed a bit of wine and, oh, a section of Edam.”
 In yet another parallel, not more than a couple of weeks ago I learned of something called Abdominal Aorta Aneurysm (AAA), a “bulge or swelling of the main blood vessel that runs from the heart down through the abdomen.” Apparently, anyone who ever smoked a single cigarette needs to be screened for this now. Perhaps just another way to milk Medicare, but still . . .
 Neville’s attitude to the disposal of his earthly remains recalls Baron Evola; in another lecture here Neville says, “Put you in so-called holy ground? No, forget all that nonsense. Cremating the body is only simply quickening the pace that’s going to take place if you put yourself into the ground, for there you slowly decay, while the furnace will make it a quick process, but it’s the same dust.”
 This contrasts with the Christian apocalyptic/ascetic mentality of someone like Brother Stair, for whom all worldly success — family, job, possessions, etc. — are to be renounced in order to become perfect in service to the Lord. He reserved special contempt for the “name it and claim it” preachers of the Neville-like “prosperity gospel.” One might also relate it to the idea, from Plato to Schopenhauer, that worldly items can be justified as providing, if rightly viewed, glimpses of the transcendent; and does not Neville’s method of “manifestation” provide empirical proof of the existence of God . . . who is, after all, you. The materialist, as Schopenhauer pointed out, is in the laughable position of a man who counts but neglects to count . . . himself.
 For more on Groundhog Day, see my multi-part review “Thanks for Watching: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, and Manhunter,” reprinted in Passing the Buck: Coleman Francis & Other Cinematic Metaphysicians (Colac, Victoria, Australia: Manticore Press, 2021).
 Magician of the Beautiful, pp. 14-15.
 “Neville spoke without hesitation, at considerable length, and without notes. His voice flowed with mellifluous perfection. He had a masterful power of recall, so that he could refer to or recite Scriptural passages right out of the ether.” Horowitz, Magician of the Beautiful: An Introduction to Neville Goddard (New York: G&L Media, 2019), p. 18
 “Only self-knowledge can unlock our power of will; only when we really know who we are, can we accomplish what we want and actually become who we are. It is a process; not a destination. In the second part of Ecce Homo, Nietzsche claims that ‘my formula for the greatness of a human being is amor fati’ — love of fate is the love of life. Every negative or painful experience is an opportunity to learn, to gain an insight into the human condition; a way to repeatedly come into existence and to affirm that existence. Perhaps simply understanding ourselves, the origin of our drives and desires, as well as our reactions to them, is enough to create positive change and growth.” See Kat Sark, “Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thoughts on Becoming Who We Are.”
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Guenon’s work would illuminate Neville’s experience (even translated through Neville’s personal mythological language. There is a Self that is already in unity with the All and a self that is not directly aware of this unity. The gnostic dance of the Atman and the Brahman.
Neville describes the ‘oceanic experience’ common to mystical moments recorded down through time. The moment of gnosis when the Self reveals itself to the self.
In ceremonial (high) magic you have Abramelin and the ‘Knowledge and Conversation of the Guardian Angel’ to bring one to something like Neville’s experience, but in a controlled, deliberate manner.
A ‘dark’ version of the oceanic experience might be Crowley’s ‘crossing the Abyss’ but, as with many things involve Crowley, it’s not entirely clear what he means by ‘Abyss’. Crowley seems to delight scaring the crap out of the people who follow his path by describing relatively benign phenomena using dark and foreboding terminology.
Everything in the world is just like that. It’s all imagination and all that you behold, although it appears without, really is within.
The natural metaphysical complement of such a view is some variant of subjective idealism: all that actually exists is Mind (initial cap “M”) and its modifications. Even “outer space” is really just a projection of your own unbounded awareness. Unfortunately, Neville doesn’t seem to have had much interest in philosophy; whereas Alan Watts was well-versed in all intellectual pursuits.
Here’s a nice quote from Watts that would have resonated with Neville: “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
Indeed, the Analytic Idealism currently taking the academic world by storm provides the correct intellectual foundation for Neville’s experiences, as I hope to show in a future essay.
I would love to read it.
If only we could use his methods to make an ethnostate?
As Neville always said, “Go home and try it!”
I’m giving it the ol’ college try which is what Clifton Webb did in that Mr Belvedere sequel.
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