Eric Butterworth Speaks: Essays on Abundant Living #32
Delivered by Eric Butterworth on May 31, 1975
Every person yearns to express himself, and he insists on expressing himself in various ways, from the low forms of strutting and posing to the high forms of uttering great truths in science, art and philosophy.
As I say “self-expression”, you probably are thinking of public speaking or writing or the expression of personality—and all of this is included—but yet there is so much more in the field of self-expression. Everything that comes into our lives through what we are is self-expression, and that includes health, financial status, and success or failure in human relationships.
There are all sorts of courses offering a sure cure for self-consciousness and fear, and they promise that you will be able to speak with poise and confidence and write like Shakespeare. Help may be received in this way, but only if the real key is discovered along the way. Our trouble lies in the fact that we are preoccupied with things and conditions “out there”, and thus we devote our time in trying to improve the expression of personality. This is futile.
The great William Butler Yeats once said, “We lose our freedom more and more as we get away from ourselves, and not merely because our minds are overthrown by abstract phrases and generalizations, reflections in a mirror that seem living, but because we have turned the table of value upside-down, and believe that the root of reality is not in the center but somewhere in the whirling circumference.”
The whirling circumference refers to the material world of man’s creature comforts. No one disputes the importance and utility of things designed to make our material life more comfortable. The problem is that we have become so penned in, bound, and distorted by the very instruments that have been designed for our freedom.
We are told that self-confidence is the key to self-expression. But what is self-confidence? If it is simply a confidence in the human self, then it is a form of egotism. If it is a confidence in the greater self, it is a reverence for the Divine.
As the medieval mystic, Kabir, said, “God is too polite to occupy the seat within our hearts until we have removed ourselves from the seat and offer Him the vacant place. So the way to realize Him is to remove our little selfish selves as rapidly as possible, and make complete surrender to Him.”
And the English poet, William Cowper, so sensitively wrote, “Acquaint thyself with God if thou wouldst taste His works. Admitted once to His embrace, thou shalt perceive that thou was blind before: thine eye shall be instructed and thine heart made pure shall relish with divine delight till then unfold, what divine hands have wrought.”
We do not love God until we love our neighbor, and we can’t love our neighbor until we love ourselves. Does that bring us right back to egotism? Not at all! The distinction is between self-satisfaction and self-reverence. If we are satisfied with ourselves, we delude ourselves in thinking that we have arrived. When we have self-reverence, we know that we are children of God, in a constant state of becoming.
Self-reverence helps you to know that you are a child of God, never just a non-entity in a mass. You are an important part of the whole, a unique individualization with something to give, some role to play that no one else can do in the same way.
Someone recently said, “Everything is getting bigger and bigger today except the individual, and he is getting smaller and more insignificant and dependent on large social units.” I don’t fully agree with this, and I challenge the cynical comment that “our society has become so impersonal that people really need their initials on personal belongings to remind them who they are.”
Our problem is simply that we have followed the easy way of letting our environment mold us. We follow styles and trends and do not develop those of our own. We only become part of the mob because that is what we choose to do.
Thus, the danger today is not that the world will force you to conform, but that you will want to conform—that you will prefer not to be the master of your fate and the captain of your soul.
We have become a race of individuals who live vicariously. We are mere spectators to the good music, art, drama, and sports in the public arenas. Hal Boyle points to the better human focus: “It is better to write one poor poem than to memorize Shakespeare. It is better to play a musical saw yourself than merely to be able to identify every melody in Beethoven. To own the smallest talent is greater than to be a cultural hanger-on.”
Each of us is on a journey of self-discovery. Throughout the ages, the Infinite Intelligence has sought constantly higher expression. Both philosophers and scientists are now coming to agreement that this is the only rational explanation of creation. God evidently intended the creation to be His organ of expression.
It would be incorrect to say that God has changed His plan from time to time, being disappointed and finding one new form after another until He hit upon the idea of man. On the contrary, the end was clearly involved in the beginning. Evolution results from involution.
Infinite Intelligence never rushes things. Man is impatient; he wants perfection now. He wants all the sorrows of mankind to be dissolved now. He sometimes wonders why God doesn’t interfere to stop wars and other horrors; indeed, he wonders if God even cares.
Because of the nature of creation, God cannot stop those things which man keeps starting. Because man is an identity in God, endowed with creative abilities which can be used for good or ill, God can only do for man what He does through man. Man is God’s medium, and He can only express at the level of the medium.
Man is the highest of God’s creations, through which may come the fullest out-ouring of all Divine ideas. What man calls his own thought is still the thought of the Infinite. Having evolved this complex thinking structure, God stands aside to allow man to discover himself and his limitless potentialities. God will not pull aside the curtains of mystery; this is man’s job. Man is perfectly capable of learning anything he wishes to know, but the answers must be found along a pathway of self-discovery. We have all the necessary equipment built in; some daring souls are using this equipment with gratifying results in mind, body, and affairs.
When we have a true reverence for the self which is God’s creation, which is unique and important, and when we seek persistently to know ourselves as channels for the life, substance, and intelligence of God, then we never fail and falter in expression. Health springs forth speedily. Substance and supply abounds in our affairs. Confidence in our God-self and in our divine resources enables us to speak and write and do all those things which previously self-consciousness kept us from doing.
We need to remind ourselves that, at all times, “There is One Life, that life is my life now. There is One Mind, and that Mind thinks for me. There is One Spirit governing and directing all things. There is One Presence and One Power controlling everything. I am one with God, the Infinite.”
We need to develop the confidence and faith which the scientist has in the principles and laws which he uses in his work. This is normal and natural on the part of the scientist for he has come to understand that the laws of nature work with invariable certainty.
Tennyson says, “Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control, these three alone lead life to sovereign power.” With the first two we cannot forget self-control. This is the realization that “I am the master. I am not my mind, my body, or my emotions...I have a mind, a body and emotions.” I must know myself at the level of the I AM. To the degree that I know that I AM, I can easily evolve the power to be the supreme ruler and master over my mind and body.
This is the path to the fullest possible self-expression...the interesting thing is that it works!
© 1975, by Eric Butterworth