Abdullah & How We Got Together
From the Q&A at one of Neville’s lectures
Who was the elusive Rabbi named Abdullah that Neville attributes all his knowledge to?
Now are there any questions, please?
Inaudible question, Abdullah’s name is heard and additional words about imagining and “demonstrating”, which was the word used for “manifesting” in the heyday of New Thought
Well, I’ll tell you in detail exactly how we got together.
It was 1933.
If you remember, there was a frightful Depression in our country. Millions were unemployed. In New York City, you would go through the tunnel into Gimbel’s [Department Store] from, say, the square [Herald Square], where Gimbel’s begin. It goes all the way through to the Holland Tunnel.
They were sleeping with the permission of the Mayor, three and four deep, as far as the eye could go. There was no place to go. In the park, in the summer months, they were allowed to sleep in the park, sleeping all over the place.
And the long lines for coffee and bread were there to give them. There were millions unemployed. We then had a population of not more than, say, a hundred thirty million, as against today’s a hundred ninety two million.
I was a dancer, and if you couldn’t eat, you couldn’t pay to watch a dancer, so there were no shows playing on Broadway. I think we had five Broadway shows, and they were running on paper, just [unintelligible sounds] passing out paper to go and see them, really, instead of the usual 50 to 60 shows that you usually get. Well, what I’m getting at is, I didn’t have a job, I had no money, and I was living in a basement on 75th Street and he [Abdullah] lived on 72nd Street, in a very lovely home that was owned by Morgenthau, whose son (Henry Morgenthau Jr) was then the treasury (sic) of our country, a cabinet member [US Secretary of the Treasury under President Franklin D. Roosevelt], but his father owned this house, but he didn’t live there, and he rented the first floor to my friend Abdullah.
I said to Abdullah, in the month of October, late October, “Ab, you know I’ve been gone from Barbados for almost twelve years. I came here in 1922. And it’s almost 12 years, and I’ve never had a desire to go back. But now I have a hungry desire, a haunting desire, to go to Barbados.
Not a thing stops me but a lack of money. I have no money.” He said to me, “You are in Barbados.” I said, “I am in Barbados?” He said, “Yes. You are now in Barbados. And so, you see Barbados, and you see America from Barbados, and you can smell the tropical land of Barbados, see only the little homes of Barbados, and that’s all you do.
You just simply sleep this night in Barbados.”
Well, I thought him insane, really, I mean, at the moment, it seemed so, stupid.
Because, 72nd Street, we still had 50- and 60-story buildings. And little Barbados with a little three-story building almost the tallest that you’d find. And narrow little streets and no sidewalks. And I’m walking on a sidewalk that is wider than the widest street in Barbados on 72nd Street.
Well, nevertheless, that night I slept in Barbados. I assumed that I’m in Barbados in my mother’s home, and that I saw America relative to Barbados, and it wasn’t under me that night.
It was north of me, about two thousand miles.
Well, the next day, I didn’t tell him anything, about a week later when nothing happened, I thought I would approach him. This time we’ve moved into November. I said, “You know, Ab, there’s no, well, not a thing has happened.”
He wouldn’t discuss it with me. He turned his back on me and went into his little library and slammed the door. About three times I tried to open up the discussion with my friend Ab between that moment when I first talked to him and the end. He would never discuss it, on the basis: “How could he discuss with me how I am going to Barbados when I am already in Barbados?”
That’s stupid to discuss how I’m going to go when I am in Barbados! And if I am faithful to my assumption, I can’t discuss the “how.” I’m already there! Well, this went on. On the morning of the fourth day of December, there’s no job, no place to go, and the last boat that will get me there by Christmas is going to sail on the sixth.
Under my door is a little letter from my brother Victor. And he said, “As a family we were never around the table at Christmas together. That Cecil”– he’s my oldest brother, he left home before the last was born, because we have a large family; there’s eight years between my sister Daphne, who was the eighth child, and then my brother Joe.
Well, in that interval, my brother Cecil went off to Demerara. So, never as a family were we ever together at Christmas. So in the letter, he justifies why he’s asked me to come. “I know you don’t have a job, and there’s no excuse for not coming. And so I’m enclosing a draft for fifty dollars, you may need a shirt, a pair of shoes, socks or something, and I’ve notified the Furness Withy Line that you’ll come for a ticket. So the ticket is waiting for you at the Furness Line.” Well, I was so excited, I rushed on down to the Furness Line and I gave them my letter.
They said, “Yes, we have a message here from your family in Barbados. We’ll give you a ticket, but we haven’t any First Class tickets left. You can go Third Class, and use the facilities of the First. But you have to sleep Third Class, until you hit the island of St. Thomas. When you hit St. Thomas, someone disembarks, then you may take a First Class bunk.” I said, “I’ll take it.” I rushed right up to Abdullah, and I said, “Ab, I got my ticket for Barbados, but I have to go Third Class.” I’m all elated and happy about it. He said, “Who told you that you are going to Barbados? And who told you that you went to Barbados Third Class? You went to Barbados, and you went First Class.” Would say no more.
He isn’t even happy that I’m going to Barbados now. So I went down on the morning of the sixth day of December, with my Third Class ticket. Went up to the desk as they’re checking in the passengers, and I put my ticket forward, and they said “I’ve got good news for you, Mr. Goddard. Someone has canceled, and you’re going First Class.” And I went First Class all the way down to Barbados.
Ten days down; ten days back, with three heavenly months in Barbados.
So all that I did, I tried to the best of my ability to with his almost insolence, he was rude, but he taught me by his rudeness that I cannot discuss how if I am doing what I’m supposed to do. He tells me right away, “You are in Barbados.” Like someone comes to you now, and you would apply this principle toward their request, and they say, “Oh, I would love to be happily married.” And you say to her, or him, “You are now happily married.” They look at you as though you’re insane. But that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. “You are now happily married.”
Well, if I am now happily married and I’m a lady, I would instantly begin to feel that ring there in my imagination. And I’d let others see that I have my ring, well, that would imply I’m happily married, a wedding ring and so if I don’t wear it from then on, I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do. So in my imagination, I have to go to bed wearing my ring, and actually do all that I would do in that state.
Oh, he said, “You’re in Barbados.” And I’m in New York City physically, but he put me in Barbados in my imagination. So I slept in Barbados to the best of my ability. But you know days go into weeks, and the weeks went into a month, and I’m trying my best to open the discussion with him, to get a little hope.
No, no hope! He wouldn’t give me any encouragement if I did what he told me to do.
Well, we all are human enough to want another little discussion, another little push. And so he taught me the lesson that there is no such thing as “a little pregnancy.” No such thing. If you did it, then you’re pregnant. Let the child grow.
And interference with it is going to be a miscarriage.
“You assume that you are in Barbados.” Now you are pregnant.
The idea is that you are going to give birth to a journey which will land you right in Barbados. So you’ve assumed it. That is conception. Now, don’t try to argue. You have conceived. And all you have to do is be a faithful mother, and bear that child, and don’t discuss it with me anymore. He never discussed it, after he told me I was in Barbados.
And I learned so many things from the old fellow. I came back, because I wasn’t drinking, I brought him two lovely old bottles of brandy. The best that we have on the island, two lovely bottles, and some rum. So I gave him my father’s rum, gave him the brandy. A week later, he said to me, “Say, how long do you expect those things to last?”
I learned my lesson. I thought he would sip those things for a year, oh, no! They were gone! And he wondered how long I supposed these things to last for him. And of course he really disillusioned me terribly on so many things because I would go and dine with him, and Abdullah, I was then a strict vegetarian
I was trying to overcome it, after I came back, gradually.
And of course he would sit down and he would have two or three big shots of rye, I mean, big shots of rye, and then he would wash down his meal with a lot of Porter, or, it wasn’t beer, it was ale, and then he would at the end, like Churchill, a huge big bowl of ice cream. I said, “Ab, how can you do that?” “Oh,” he said, “you couldn’t do it, it would poison you, because you have quibbles.”
“But you know that God made everything?
Everything is God.
You would assume that he made something and not the rest?
No, God made everything.”
And he’ll send me back to the Bible. “Go back to the Bible and read the book of Acts.” “
And Peter couldn’t eat the unclean thing. And then the Lord said, ‘Slay and eat, for that which I have cleansed, I have cleansed.’” Then a sheet came down filled with all manner of animals and food.
And the voice said to Peter, “Slay and eat, for that which I have cleansed, I have cleansed.”
So he said, “You have quibbles, Neville. With any of your quibbles, it’d poison you.”
But he would sit down and polish off this enormous meal, and wash it down with ale, preceded with three shots of rye. And here was a man truly of the spirit. But if I judge from appearances, I would say, “Well, he can’t be a holy man.” For which today I am most grateful that he wasn’t! Because he taught me real Christianity. And he was born in North Africa, of Jewish parents, and raised in a strict Orthodox Jewish home.
But he knew more Christianity than anyone I’ve ever met, because he spoke the Hebrew tongue perfectly. He spoke other tongues. And Rabbis would come to study with him. And he and I would discuss, day in and day out, for over five years, teaching me all that he could teach me that I could absorb concerning the Kabbalah, the great mystery of how this thing is put together in these simple little letters of Hebrew.
I know that in the, before the Civil Rights Bill, in New York City, no negro could go to the box office and buy a seat in the orchestra. You’d get a seat in the balcony. You think Abdullah would ever let me go and buy the seats?
Abdullah would go right straight down to the box office, and he was a negro, I tell you, and he’d go right down and say, “I want two in the center. I don’t want too far back. Not beyond the sixth row. Right in the center.”
Buy the two seats. For any show.
The first opera I saw, Abdullah took me to it. It was Parsifal. Five hours, and I’d never seen one before. It seemed it would never come to an end. Of all the operas to be introduced to opera, through Parsifal. Good Friday it was, too, you go on Good Friday in New York, he said, when you go to Parsifal, and you sit there, and think “My Lord, is it ever going to come to an end?”
And he is drinking it in, every little note, he understands every little point, and he’s so in love with it. And I’m sitting because I’m next to Ab, just waiting, hoping, but nothing happens, it goes on and on and on and it’s five hours later, and then, that’s it.