Practical MysticismHumanitys Next Step
An Interview with Walter Starcke
By Kathy Juline
Walter Starcke is a person of extraordinary accomplishments. Beginning his
many-faceted career as an actor and Broadway producer, notably of I Am a
Camera, later made into the film and musical Cabaret, he has devoted
his life to the study and practice of universal truth principles.
Currently a business entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and Closing the Gap
workshop teacher, he is also the author of a number of books, including This
Double Thread (1976), Homesick for Heaven (1988), Its
All God (1998), The Third Appearance (2004), and his most recent,
Joel Goldsmith and I (2006). One of todays most inspired New
Thought writers, he lives the life of a practical mystic.
SOM: Your new book Joel Goldsmith and I tells of your eighteen-year
spiritual mentoring relationship with Joel Goldsmith. How did you come to be
WS: I was an officer in the Navy in World War II and when I got out I went
to New York. (I was in pretty bad shape and desperately needed tracks to run
on when I had a kind of epitheny experience and was told that I would be led
to a teacher. Son after,) I auditioned for and was given a part in a play by
John Van Druten.
One day he and I (somehow got to talking) about religion, and he offered to
let me read some letters he had received from a Christian Science practitioner,
who happened to be Joel Goldsmith. I took them home, read them, and bells went
off in my head. It was the first time I had run into something that said God
is within you. So that put my foot on the path. Then John said that I should
correspond with Joel, who was in California, and I did.
That play came and went, and I got in another play with the English actress
Dame May Whitty, who (also turned out to be)was also a student of Joel. I thought
this was beyond accident. So as soon as I could I flew out to California and
met him. (That was the year Joel left Christian Science and as I had no metaphysical
background I was perhaps his first Infinite Way student.)I had no metaphysical
background at all, so that was the beginning of a whole new understanding for
SOM: You have said about your relationship with Joel that he instigated a spiritual
metamorphosis in you. What happened?
WS: It was a gradual thing, and it changed my life in incredible ways. For
example, I began to get into meditation, which became very important to me.
Id have to get up early in the morning to meditate before going out to
look for jobs. So I lost all the friends I had, because they were theater people
who stayed up until three or four in the morning, and I couldnt do that.
Before too long, I had new, different friends. Another gradual change was that
I began to listen to my intuitionthat still, small voice within. We all
do this all the time but we dont consciously realize it. Well, I began
to (recognize rather than realize) realize it. Nowadays when I say to people
that my guidance tells me something, they ask what I mean by that.
I say its like any other thought, but it comes from a different place
inside of me.
Its not a thought I think; its a thought I hear. By listening in
this way, I began to live more and more by my intuition and I went on to have
some remarkable successes, such as being the youngest producer on Broadway (at
that time) to win the Drama Critics Circle. The intuition is infallible, and
learning to pay attention to it has changed my life.
SOM: Is this why you speak of being both a spiritual and a human self?
WS: Yes. From the beginning I intuitively knew not to reject the human as being
less important than the spiritual. To me one did not exclude the other. I was
uncomfortable around people who did not recognize the spirit within them and
also (uncomfortable) around those who were denying their humanityand just
trying to be holy. Im happier today than I have ever been,
because there are so many of us now who are consciously expressing (their divinity
without rejecting their humanity) both our humanity and our divinity.
SOM: Do you view these two aspects as a unity?
WS: Yes. (The goal of most teachings is to eliminate duality; however by saying
God is omnipresent but not over there or that we are made in the image of God
but not him, we create the very duality we say does not exist.). When we deny
our humanity, were saying that there is another place than our divinity.
To me we are facing today very clearly something that has never been done before.
Most of the worlds major religions say there is an omnipotent God, a
supreme being, Allah, Brahmin, that is all-powerful and everywhere present.
Then they turn around and create a duality, because they say you have to get
rid of your humanity in order to understand or experience God. They say to put
your humanity in a cave, lock it into a theology, or imprison it in a morality,
instead of asking what its here for. (If God is the only power whats
SOM: So moving from a material to a spiritual consciousness involves the integration
of the human and the divine?
WS: Absolutely. But Ill tell you what the difference is. Its a
matter of priority. Seek ye first the kingdom of God means to seek
first the subjective aspect (or reality)of life, and then the objective (appearance).
Unfortunately our society todayand that includes corporations, governments,
churchesis built on a different priority: the bottom line. (Getting results
is more important than how you go about getting them). So we do have both the
material and the spiritualand we do have to have both of them.
We cant have just one; life is not just all material or all spiritual.
We have to join the two together. In the two commandments, Jesus says, Love
God and love your neighbor, and if you do those perfectly, they are like
unto each other. The point is, we (should) start with the subjective (value),
and then we materialize it (objectively).
We dont start with the material and then spiritualize it. That shift
took place in me, and I think many of the successes I had were possible because
I (first) turned within for intuitive guidance. Thats what I mean by starting
from the subjective and then the objective follows.
SOM: Youre saying that your intuitive guidance would lead you to take
a certain action?
SW: Yes. The spiritual life works in this way because we are multidimensional
beings. Were not operating from just one level. Were operating from
a number of levels simultaneously. We get to the point where we can realize
which level were coming from at that time. If were at a purely objective
level, we can take some time to meditate in order to move into the subjective
level of consciousness.
I believe we can (all) do something today that wasnt possible just fifty
years ago (except for a few), because we understanding more now about the inner
mind and nonmaterial reality. We can be aware of our level of consciousness,
and we can think several different things at the same time without losing sight
of the spiritual or material nature of each of those things. (I call it double
Ultimately all is spirit, but there is a human reality in which we live and
express. Together, they comprise a unity of subjective and objective. Knowing
this, we can let the objective flow from our subjective consciousness.
SOM: What is the central idea of Joel Goldsmiths teachings?
WS: Joels work is alive today because of his mysticism, not primarily
because of his metaphysics. You have to have both, but Joels strong point
was his mysticism. I feel that Ernest Holmes was a (cut much) better metaphysician
than Joel was, since Joel chose to focus exclusively on mysticism; whereas Holmeswho
was himself a mysticfelt that teaching metaphysics was also important.
When I wrote Homesick for Heaven a copy of the manuscript was sent
to Rev. Peggy Bassett when she was president of United Church of Religious Science.
She read it and called me on the phone. I kicked that book off at her church
in Huntington Beach, California.
At that time I reread Holmes book The Science of Mind and was
blown away by it. (He had it all, Jesus, mysticism, the works, but) His strong
point is in the use of the mind, and he does this so well. (On the other hand)
Joels strong pointand really the (main rather than entire) focus
of his teachingis the mystical experience.
SOM: Would you clarify what you mean by mysticism and metaphysics?
WS: Metaphysics deals mainly with the programming of our mind, putting the
right thoughts there, having a definite and specific intention. (It is like
programming the computer) Mysticism, on the other hand, is not about thought.
(Its about turning the computer on.) It is an experience. It has to do
with consciously and personally experiencing yourself as the presence of God.
I tell people that its no good to say, I and my Father are one
or God is within me if we dont experience it. But if we dont
have the knowledge of that principle, which is where metaphysics comes in, then
theres nothing to experience. To further clarify, Joel, as a mystic, taught
that the mind is an instrument of spiritual awareness; whereas metaphysics views
the mind as the means by which we direct thought in order to attract material
things or heal an imperfect condition.
SOM: So metaphysics applies to the practical needs of living?
WS: Both uses of the mind are needed. Michelangelo couldnt scratch the
Pieta out of a piece of marble with his fingernails. He had to have a chisel,
and he had to keep that chisel sharp and know how to use it. If you were a fly
on the wall and you saw all those chips flying, youd say, Oh, what
a wonderful statue that chisel is creating. Well, youd be wrong.
Its the consciousness of Michelangelo using the chisel. Now the chisel
is equally important, because if you dont have the mind programmed right,
you cant create the beautiful statue.
SOM: How is the consciousness of Michelangelo achieved?
WS: Thats the mystery! In the 1950s when people were using machines to
change and measure their alpha waves and other dimensions of thought vibration,
I was chagrined at first to realize that I had put so much time and attention
to learn the practice of meditation and now they are saying that you can just
turn on a machine and achieve a deep meditative state of consciousness. Well,
You can get a hint of it that way but eventually you have to do it the only
way there is, and that is to spend time each day going within. I find that for
me the best time of the day to meditate is when I first wake up in the morning.
(Its like taking a psychic bath. Ive taken on a degree of personal
sense in the previous day, and) My consciousness has been off guard during sleep,
so my morning meditation is the time when I let go of the personal sense, get
rid of it all, and open myself to the experience of the presence. This is when
I am most likely to experience that inner click of realization.
As we know, mystics talk much about going into the silence. But its not
a silence of sound. Its a silence of mind. And as long as the monkey chatter
is going on, theres no silence. Meditation is a way to quiet the monkey
chatter and to cleanse the mind so we can hear our intuition. I expect that
Michelangelo was able to access his intuition on a very deep level, and Joel
Goldsmiths absolute approach to spiritual realization teaches us to do
SOM: What do you mean by his absolute approach?
WS: I mean that Joel, in teaching his students to cultivate a conscious union
with the inner presence, recognized the Kingdom or the Father within as being
the only actor and the only activity. Joel taught that the allness of God lies
within (or as) us and it is this inner Source that supplies our every need,
even without our needing to ask or affirm anything.
He always told his students to take no thought for their life or their supply;
going to God with a request or desire isnt necessary, because God is infinite,
active being, so all that God has is flowing constantly into manifestation and
SOM: Youve said that the value of metaphysics is its practical use in
demonstrating things or experiences. Are you saying now that mysticism also
has a practical usefulness?
WS: Yes. They work together. (Its a co-creation.) Lets think about
the contribution of quantum mechanics. It tells us exactly what Mary Baker Eddy
said at the turn of the 20th century in her formulation of Christian Sciencethat
everything is consciousness manifesting in form. If we want to change the form,
then we change the consciousness by establishing in our mind (Kathy,
Joel would not say to have a definite idea...he would say to establish the
principle we want to manifest) a definite idea of the form we want to
manifest. However, thinking goes only so farit only provides an outline.
If we dont have the energy of conscious creation, the form does not come
to life. So both the metaphysical work and the mystical consciousness are equally
important. Human beings have the power of energization. Our mind
is working from the time we wake up in the morning until we go to bed at night.
Theres no God sitting on a cloud out there running our lives.
Self-fulfilling prophecy is creating our life for us. Thats why I believe
that mystics, who say to forget everything in the world and just experience
the presence, are leaving out a vital part of spiritual living. We may be attuned
to the presence but if we allow our thoughts to go random, what we create in
our life is going to reflect confusion. When were clear in our thoughts
and motives, and we remain attuned to the infinite presence, then the idea (idea
is good here) that we want to manifest is energized into experience. (Kathy,
SOM: So Joel Goldsmiths mysticism and Ernest Holmes metaphysics
need to be combined?
WS: I think its a must. Discovering the part played by the mind was a
great contribution, because it taught us that we have to have a chisel. But
there is this universal higher consciousness thats in every single one
of us, and it is always open to us. One of the main reasons Ive
written Joel Goldsmith and I is that the time has come to close the
gap (between the human and the divine.).
Holmes taught spiritual mind treatment; while Joel said just to experience
the presence because God knows your need. They were saying the same thing! But
Holmes didnt go along with Goldsmiths absolutism, because he believed
in the need to program the computer. Joel saw this as being too mental.
SOM: But if they were both alive today, they would agree?
WS: Yes, I believe so. You see, weve come to the point where we recognize
that its all Godboth the work you put into it as well as the result.
Joel summed up his teaching by quoting the Gospel of John: In the beginning
was the Word and the Word was made flesh and dwells among us. Then Joel
would add, But being flesh it is still the word, meaning that everything
around us is consciousness manifesting in form. I sometimes say (I dont
Well, of course, I see them. What I mean is that I see consciousness manifesting
as a form. The point Im trying to make is that were here for one
reasonto become conscious beings. That means that we dont identify
ourselves as form only.
SOM: What is the impact on New Thought today of the kinds of ideas that Joel
Goldsmith brought forth?
WS: I believe that the metaphysical movement is at a very crucial turning point
today. Over the past hundred-plus years it has given us an invaluable understanding
of how mind works. But if it doesnt move now from the mind into the experience,
from the thought to the mysticism, its not going to continue to expand.
Thats where we are now. Unity, Religious Science, New Thought must direct
their focus to spiritual experience, which is mysticism. We have to make that
shift; otherwise, these movements will not be able to move us forward.
SOM: To many people, mysticism suggests a withdrawal from the outer world.
Is mysticism relevant to the world today, with the problems of hunger, poverty,
homelessness, and war?
Starcke: Mysticism means that you can go within and contact or realize universal
truth, the spirit. If we want to be creative in the outer world, we have to
go within and realize that connection, that oneness. (Then we must go out and
do) It is the only way we can be truly creative. Thats why I say this
is a new day.
We have to close the gap (that) we have believed exists between the human and
the divineand were going to do it, because science has proved to
us that if we dont do it were going to destroy the planet. The way
to turn this around is to individually experience ourselves as the divine presence.
Thats mysticism. It means to experience the presence and then go out
and be that presence. Were seeing this happening. For example, people
are taking responsibility for the environment because theyre concerned
about the welfare of the planet. This is their way of being the presence.
SOM: What is our next step?
Starcke: Our next step is to reverse the priority. By that I mean we need to
(primarily) approach life subjectively rather than objectively. In
other words if we want peace, then we think how to get itfor example,
by building hospitals and schoolsinstead of thinking that we (can) get
it by dropping bombs.
The latter approach is taking the objective way, and weve seen that it
doesnt work. I think its a most exciting time now. Theres
a shift going on in all of humanity. Were ending thousands of years of
the human (objective) approach to life. The metaphysical movement is so important,
because it has the seeds of how we can make this transformationthrough
the use of the mind and the spirit.
*Reprinted by Permission from Science of Mind magazine.