An interview with Neale Donald Walsch by Bernice Wilson and Libbie Kerr
Your books indicate that we live in a time of great diversity and rapid change. Could you expand on this?
When we begin to look at what is dysfunctional, we need to pay attention to our collective consciousness. In recent years we have had the deaths of Princess Di, Mother Teresa, and John Denver. I believe these three enormously popular people could go anywhere and be recognized. I think their work was to raise collective consciousness, which is happening with increasing speed. There is a confluence of events that directs human attention to our collective experience. In the last 15 years we have seen breathtaking breakthroughs in communication technologies. Fiber optics brings 163 channels into our homes instead of the 5 or 6 of a few years ago. You can see or listen to whatever you want. This is all just a part of the fiber optic revolution. In addition to fiber optics there is the computer and through it, the Internet. Now we have the shoemaker in Japan communicating directly with the guy who fixes refrigerators in Seattle. We have a level of awareness that has reached breakthrough proportions.
You mention collective consciousness. Do you mean, by this, the sort of chicken and egg thinking of which comes first? The individual consciousness or the collective?
Yes, yes. You see there is a thing at play here called the morphogenic field. The morphogenic field is, literally, the air around us. It is the milieu in which we live, in which we walk and have our being. The morphogenic field is constantly being shifted and created. It is from that morphogenic field that individual consciousness arises. It is much more difficult—not impossible, but much more difficult—for a person to experience enlightened states of consciousness if born and raised within a morphogenic field that does not support or open itself to higher levels of thought.
So what you are referring to I would call the morphogenic field, which tends to create and produce levels of consciousness. The morphogenic field loosely translated means "the stuff that is in space," the sum total of all that humankind now understands—which is a great deal more than even 10 years ago. Humankind is more willing to look at things now. That's why 15 years ago you found yourself in the cult section and now it is right out there in the front of the bookstore. It is what is happening and is what is going on.
And the fact that the books that you have written are on the Bestseller List?
Yes, and Conversations with God, Book One has been translated into 24 languages and was recently purchased by the People's Republic of China.
Can you tell us about that?
It is having a worldwide impact. The world has created that and the world is ready for that; people all over the world are now preparing for an enormous change. The co-creation of a new and a grander way to co-exist.
You speak of "co-exist" and "co-create." Can you expand on those ideas?
Let me explain. Barbara Hubbard postulates in her book Conscious Evolution that we have reached a stage in human experience that is not just evolving as we have been from the beginning. For the first time the process of evolution is no longer automatic. It is no longer like the process of coming out of the sea and turning into a one-celled organism, the one-celled into the four-celled, and so on until we became an animal, and one presumes evolved from the primate to the human. These stages of evolution have been largely involuntary, driven by instinct and survival of the fittest. Animals react largely instinctually. So our evolution has been largely instinctual until now.
But Barbara postulates that for the first time we have truly, truly become self-conscious. We are now aware that we are aware. We are now aware of the role that we are capable of playing in evolving our own evolution, participating actively in the co-creation of how we are going to evolve. So our evolution is not a passive pattern but an active pattern, for the first time in the human experience. In these most recent days and times, we see the way in which we are going to continue to evolve is no longer a matter of standing by and watching it happen. We have to decide how we are going to evolve. Not just how we are going to get through the next couple of years, the next decade or two, but how are we, as a race of beings, going to evolve into super beings? We have gotten to the level of Homo sapiens almost automatically, but where to from here?
We are now in the process of deciding what the next step is for Homo sapiens. Barbara postulates that we will create Homo universalis. That it will be a level of humankind that will be universal in its experience of itself. She goes into some detail as to what that will look like, and she says that the movement is now toward that kind of being. I agree with everything she says, which is why I am quoting to you so much from her book. She sees this whole next level as being this movement, and that is what you are talking about. So we are now evolving our evolution as opposed to watching it.
What changed in recent history to cause this dynamic?
For the first time in history the human race has gained the ability to disintegrate itself, to render itself extinct. We had not been able to claim that particular ability in previous times. Oh, we could destroy a certain amount of the population—a hundred thousand people perhaps—but not until the last 50 years have human beings actually had the ability to extinguish themselves, to disintegrate the whole of the human race. With that power to wipe itself out came a new level of responsibility, a new awareness. For the first time in our history, as beings which go back millions of years, for the first time in these millions of years, we are now able with the stroke of a pen or the push of a button to end the whole experience. That has forced us—and now we go back to the start of this question—that has forced us as thinking persons, and most of us are, to begin to consider our collective experience as we have never considered it before, because we have never seen it in this context before.
This seems to be a polarity idea. You have to have the opposite to push off in order to see the creative. It echoes the concept of being able to look beyond self-interest and self-gain to see what is good for the whole. It sounds hopeful, and unselfish.
It is not about moving beyond your self-interests. It is about recognizing that your self-interests are larger than you thought. It is about redefining what self-interest actually is, and when I hold that you and I are actually one, then my self—interest is recontextualized. I make that semantic difference because most people don't want to step aside and give up what they call their "self-interest" in order to look at what we might call "the broader picture," but they are very open to the understanding that as self-interest expands, danger to the self is reduced.
What is the difference between feeling and emotion?
Feelings are the language of the soul. Emotions are not. Emotions are lies of our being. Emotions are make-believe feelings. Emotions are what you decide to do with feelings, and when you decide to do something you are making it all up. The moment we decide to do anything it is part of our make-believe imagination, because it invalidates the experience. Even if it is totally good, it is a part of fiction because we are making it all up.
Feelings, on the other hand, are not made up. Feelings are true and very real responses to a thing. So when we feel something, we are talking to ourselves. Our soul is talking to the rest of us saying, "This is what is true." When we are having an emotional response, we are turning our feelings into an outward display which may or may not be in concordance with those feelings themselves. So I ask people to think deeply about the difference between their feelings and their emotions.
A good example is when a person feels one thing and their emotional response is exactly the opposite. I know when I had people, in my youth, show me a truth that my stomach knew was right, my feeling said, "They are absolutely right." That was my feeling. But my emotion said, "Get out of my face." So the emotion is exactly the opposite of what the feeling is really saying. That is an example of what I mean when I say that sometimes emotions are exactly the opposite of what we are feeling. So we would do well to think deeply about the difference between our feelings and emotions and learn to pay attention to our feelings and ignore our emotions.
What is your method for getting an answer when you have a question to pose? Your books follow a dialogue of question and answer.
I am not sure I have a method. I think there is a process which occurs, but it is not a method which is consciously and consistently imposed; it is, rather, a thing that just happens. When it does, I accept it; when it doesn't, it doesn't. Like rain. It is like asking the method of how rain falls. Rain is just a process that occurs when certain elements are present. That's how I experience this encounter that I have had.
It is a process that occurs when certain elements are present: peacefulness, quietness, aloneness, isolation, no distractions and no chance or a hope for distractions for a long time. In other words, days and days. If I walk in the desert or if I go into the redwoods, which I do occasionally, I can almost depend on this process starting to occur. It will not occur in Times Square nor in Columbus, Ohio, where I am expected to give lectures in a brief period of time. So I see it more as a process that takes place than a method which I create. The process itself is one of feeling a need to get quickly to a yellow note pad. I feel a welling up of thoughts and truth and I need to get to a yellow legal pad as quickly as possible. The process rarely begins as a question, but almost always appears as an answer. Something that is trying to come through.
About four months ago, this occurred in the redwoods and I suddenly had a thought on capital punishment. I was walking in the redwoods and was very much in peace and I really had nothing to do for four days—no telephones, no appointments, no one to see me and no one to do anything. So I had that time to myself, and suddenly, out of nowhere, came welling up within me a whole pile of thoughts on capital punishment. I don't know where they came from. I don't know why I had them. I had no papers to read, and I wasn't watching television. I don't know why that subject even came to my mind. I found all this just totally off the wall. Yet the subject was there, all of a sudden, and my mind was filled with these thoughts and I had to "get me to a legal pad." I found a pen and I began to write the plots out that were coming as philosophical statements. One sentence after the other on capital punishment. After about 14 or 15 statements (of course I was reading as I was writing), I began to have some questions about this and thought, "Okay, but what about so and so?" I began to have the questions, and that began the dialogue.
This will no doubt become a part of Conversations with God, Book Three. Part of the next book will be a dialogue on societies of the universe and how they deal with the whole process of behaviors that are not in harmony with the group. So the whole question of "societal punishment structures," to coin a phrase, was in my consciousness. How do the most advanced civilizations of the world deal with the behavior of a particular member of that civilization which is discordant and out of harmony with the wishes of the rest? How do they deal with it? How do they punish that person? Do they cut off an arm? Do they kill them? What, in fact, do they do? How do they punish? Because it wasn't just a look at capital punishment; that was just the beginning of what that question was; it got very, very big very fast.
So that is how the process takes place. It is a process; not a method. A method is how you cook lasagna, or how you cook spaghetti. It is not a method that you can just pick out of a recipe book and say, "Okay, now sit quietly for ten minutes, breathe deeply a few times and think of the sun. Hold your pen up a little bit and wait for the answer," or whatever the method is; that's not what it is. It is a process more like breathing.
In light of what you described as the redwoods, an isolated place, free of interruptions, no phones, no needing to do anything, you are describing an impossible place for the average life of the average person in a city.
Well, actually, if one lives one's life mindfully, you really could be in the middle of Times Square. So in truth in the end it really doesn't matter where you are. But, as we live our lives, you are right, given the context within which we create our lives, cities do not create a great deal conducive to that.
And you mentioned the redwoods. Something that has struck me recently is the number of people talking about there being a place to go to in order to find themselves. I am wondering if there is not an urge to get to something similar to what you just described.
Yes, but regrettably the misunderstanding is that people think that the place they are to go to is a place that is exterior to themselves and exists in the physical world. The place that they are trying to develop actually exists within and, when they find that place within, they no longer have to move their physical body anywhere. That is the teaching of every great spiritual tradition on this planet. It almost doesn't matter what spiritual tradition it is, that truth is common to all spiritual traditions. And, interestingly enough, as part of the most commonly held belief, it is also the single most commonly ignored, with enormous negative results.
See, that was religion's function. Religion was humankind's attempt to create a context in which this approach of self by the self would be possible. That was the purpose of organized religion. Religion is just a movable retreat. It is just, you know, the idea that there be a retreat in every corner. The whole reason religion got started was to give us a physical and psychological space where we could retreat from the world and have the self examine the self. It hasn't worked, however.
How does one bridge the gap between an idea and the actual application of that idea? We seem to fall short time and again.
The first thing we do is decide what idea we are trying to apply. The book contains a hundred ideas. But there are some large ones that are immediately applicable without doing a whole lot. So, the first step is, we have to decide which idea we are seeking to apply. When we identify what we want to apply, we can get a better sense of how we are going to apply it. The largest idea, of course, from Conversations with God is that we can have a conversation with God. That, in and of itself, is a new idea because most people do not conceive of themselves as being able to have that experience.
So if that is the idea we are trying to apply, then there is a very simple formula. We can have—are capable of having—this conversation with God. The way to apply that idea would be first to accept that as a possibility. Willingness would be the next step in being able to apply that particular idea. The third step, after willingness, would be an agreement to co-participate or co-create the experience. Recognize that. I know that nothing is going to happen to me without me. So I need to agree to co-create and co-produce this experience of having a conversation with God. The fourth step, the last step, is to suspend disbelief: to do as we do when we watch any good movie—suspend disbelief. Allow ourselves, if only for a moment, to believe that not only was this possible to have happened, not only was I willing for it to happen, not only was I responsible for co-creating this to happen, but, in fact, it happened. In fact I had a conversation with God, and it happened yesterday and it was in the barber shop, or whatever. We have to suspend disbelief so that we can move into knowingness, knowingness that we actually had that conversation, that we actually had that experience, and then knowing what that conversation brought to us. That is how I would apply that particular idea.
You are very, very welcome.
This interview was first published in Volume XVII, Number 3, 2000 of Seeds of Unfolding, which at that time was a print-only publication.