Among other things, Neville Goddard was a gifted writer and speaker who knew how to communicate his mystical experiences and put them in context. For someone who never advanced past the third grade in public schools, his reading was wide and deep, but more than that, his understanding of those texts brought deeper meaning that many readers might have otherwise missed. He usually spoke extemporaneously, without notes, which meant that he seamlessly wove quotes from works by other authors into his lectures. He also knew the Bible from cover to cover and peppered his lectures with whatever scriptural passages fit the theme at hand, and more often than not, he could accurately cite the book, chapter, and verse of those passages.
Unfortunately, for non-scriptural references, Neville was less consistent and reliable. Occasionally Neville would cite the sources of non-scriptural works from which he quoted, but more often than not, he didn’t. Given that he spoke extemporaneously, and that he cited inconsistently, I believe that Neville wasn’t being intellectually dishonest, nor do I believe he was attempting to pass others’ works or thinking off as his own. Rather, I believe that the works he read were so ingrained in him and resonated so deeply that when they popped into his head on the platform, he’d just recite them. If he remembered to cite them, he would, but more often than not, a citation during a lecture would break the flow, and so he usually didn’t.
Whatever the reason, as a reader studying Neville’s work, it can be frustrating to encounter a quote or a passage that clearly isn’t Neville’s, and try to find a source for it. Often the internet is of little help. Anyone who’s ever tried to find a source for quotes attributed to, say, John Lennon knows how frustrating and fruitless a search for a source can be. Many of the reposted quotes on the internet attributed to “John Lennon” are things that the artist never said or wrote or sang. Yet they appear repeatedly online, without citation.
This is, sadly, typical of nearly every widely reposted quote you might find online. The unattributed quotes have been so widely reposted that they clot and clog search results, making it nearly impossible to find the original source. But, I’m finding, with a little work and diligence, I can usually find a source.
I’m currently annotating several Neville lectures for a Neville-themed print journal which will begin publication this winter (click here for more information on that) and, since the point of an annotated lecture is to provide citations and sources for a work, I’ve had to track down sources for many unattributed quotes. Sometimes Neville indirectly did the work for me: I’d recognize an uncited quote from its appearance in a different lecture where Neville cited, and the mystery would be easily solved. In other instances, he might not cite a specific work, but he’d give an author name (“As Fawcett said,” “As Blake put it,” etc), which was enough of a lead to track down the quote.
Here are two examples of “uncited” or “partially cited” quotes from a Neville lecture I’m transcribing and annotating (1971’s “Facts Have Overflowed the World”). If you’ve read or listened to Neville’s lectures, you’ll probably recognize both of these quotes. Consistent with Neville’s inconsistency, one of the quotes was cited and one wasn’t.
“Man is not the creature of circumstances; circumstances are the creatures of men.”
Neville correctly cited Benjamin Disraeli as the source, but didn’t cite the source work– he may have found the quote in an article or another book– and to this day, the quote is frequently recycled, with those recyclings following that pattern: it’s almost always correctly attributed to Disraeli (and not, thankfully, Lennon), but seldom with the title of the source work.
The quote is from Disraeli’s 1826-27 novel Vivian Grey, specifically Book VI, chapter 7 (originally published in 1827). It appears in a dialogue between the title character and another character named Beckendorff, and, as I’ve also noticed with single-verse scripture quotes, the longer passage from which the shorter quote is pulled gives it context and also goes more deeply into its meaning.
In the dialogue, Grey states that he is “not the master of my own conduct,” and that “I recognize in every contingency the pre-ordination of my fate… With great deference to you, I imagine that you mistake the effect for the cause; for surely temper is not the origin, but the result of those circumstances of which we are all the creatures.”
Beckendorff replies: “Sir, I deny it. Man is not the creature of circumstances. Circumstances are the creatures of men. We are free agents, and man is more powerful than matter. I recognize no intervening influence between that of the established course of nature, and my own mind. Truth may be distorted– may be stifled– be suppressed. The invention of cunning deceits may, and in most cases does, prevent man from exercising his own powers. They have made him responsible to a realm of shadows, and a suitor in a court of shades. He is ever dreading authority which does not exist, and fearing the occurrence of penalties which there are none to enforce. But the mind that dares to extricate itself from these vulgar prejudices, that proves its loyalty to its Creator by devoting all its adoration to his glory– such a spirit as this becomes a master-mind, and that master-mind will invariably find that circumstances are its slaves.”
Vivian Grey was a controversial book when it was first published in five volumes in 1826-27. Disraeli revised later editions of the book, with some passages removed and others changed, but scans of the original edition are available free online, in five PDF volumes, from the Internet Archive:
Volume 1 – https://archive.org/details/viviangrey01disra
Volume 2 – https://archive.org/details/viviangrey02disra
Volume 3 – https://archive.org/details/viviangrey03disr
Volume 4 – https://archive.org/details/viviangrey04disr
Volume 5 – https://archive.org/details/viviangrey05disr
“Man is all imagination, and God is man, and exists in us, and we in him. The eternal body of man is the imagination, and that is God himself.”
This is another quote that Neville frequently incorporated into his lectures, usually without citing the author (William Blake) or the work from which it was taken. Sometimes Neville would attribute it to Blake; sometimes, when he didn’t, whomever transcribed the lectures added an attribution in brackets.
A cursory online search reveals the source as “Blake’s Annotations to Berkeley’s Siris,” but that’s only partially correct: these two sentences are actually taken from two different Blake works.
The first sentence, as the online citation states, is from notes that Blake wrote in his copy of the book Siris by Bishop George Berkeley. On page 219 of the book, Berkeley wrote:
“Whence, according to Thestimus… it may be inferred that all beings are in the soul. For, saith he, the forms are the beings. By the form every thing is what it is. And, he adds, it is the soul that imparteth form to matter.”
Blake’s handwritten note accompanying this passage was:
“This is my Opinion but Forms must be apprehended by Sense or the Eye of Imagination (.) Man is all imagination God is man & exists in us & we in him(.)”
As for the second sentence (“The eternal body of man is the imagination, and that is God Himself”), while several other of Blake’s Siris annotations contain variations on the second sentence , the exact quote as Neville presents it here is from Blake’s work The Laocoōn.
An online version of Blake’s Annotations to Berkeley’s Siris is available here: http://ramhornd.blogspot.com/2011/08/annotations-to-berkeleys-siris.html
My Neville Goddard-themed print journal (as of this writing untitled) will be available sometime in February 2023. It will contain annotated transcripts of “Facts Have Overflowed the World” and at least two other annotated lectures, plus other articles about Neville’s work. You can preorder a copy (which will be mailed upon publication) at this link: https://ko-fi.com/s/e49ab6aa01 .
I’ve published an annotated e-book edition of Neville’s lecture “Awake O Sleeper,” which is available as a PDF ebook here: https://ko-fi.com/s/59236fe832 .
If you liked this blog post and wish to support me, the author, you can do so with a donation at my Ko-fi page: https://ko-fi.com/maxshenkwrites .
2 thoughts on “Citing Neville”
Can’t thank you enough, beautiful being. I enjoyed what you wrote. Sometimes I wonder, since it seems to me that all mind is available to all with full access, can a thought be owned or as you are doing, simply attributed. I found you from your Justified States post. That lecture was/IS capital P, Powerful. I AM more about applying Neville’s teachings to my life in the most wonderful way I may on any given day (I think Dr. Suess would have loved that). Although, with the site I AM building, one page I AM building is a Neville A to Z. The way he defined words and concepts changed my misconceptions and bastardizations of said words and concepts. As I feel I already was a self-confessed ‘word nerd’ I imagine I AM not the only one who would benefit from such a resource. Okay, and full disclosure, it is somewhat self-serving, as I plan on using for my own self reference. I write as an open invitation, if you ever would like to ‘talk Neville’. Thank you, again. P.S. The bigBIG for me is an acronym for Better It Gets–Better It Gets, which I began on Jan. 1, 2023 and am treating like an experiment for 70X7 or ending May 4, 2024. I know Neville talks about imagining May 5, 2024 as a ‘Feel It Real’ session. For me, I hear Neville congratulate me for my life being a billion times better than when I began. As you probably know, that Neville heard it, he was great with selective hearing. So, my blog posts are an ersatz ‘dear diary’. My way of keeping the faith during the Sabbath.
You don’t, obviously, need to approve either of these quotes. In the above, I wrote what I did about my website and such, just so you wouldn’t think from my email address I was more about pimping my BIG agenda.
Also, I don’t know if you are aware of Brian Scott. He has a YouTube channel, Reality Revolution. That is how I was introduced to Neville at the end of 2020. Every Monday on his channel is Neville Monday. One of the first videos of this year: Justified States. I prefer to read the lectures, not just hear them. Your site was where I found a written version. Again, thank you. What I love and am thrilled to share with you is Neville’s definition of JUSTIFIED. Love it! What a gift to ingest, digest and metabolize. I also write about it in a couple of my blog posts because it put the intention of my BIG 70×7 experiment on pause. Once I got a hold of what was niggling about it…again, can’t thank you enough, beautiful being. Neville clarifies that ‘who I AM’ doesn’t ever actually get better. My experience of me may seem like I AM better because who I thought I AM and who I truly AM…well, I AM being more my TRUE I AM self.
The other reason I leave this second reply is that I come right out and say that my web presence is mostly for me and about me, although I do get that the more I show up as my glorified self, the more I glorify THE ONE and so, in many ways if someone else ever actually sees it or WHAT? reads it…that would be so nice. So, I thought with that you may appreciate an acknowledgement.
Thank you again for your contribution.