Skip to main content

On The Air By Eric Butterworth

Talk 4 — Your Divine Potential

"Your Divine Potential"

Eric Butterworth On The Air Your Divine Potential


Download Icon   Download this talk (right click and "save link as")
Download audio of Lecture Four



004 Your Divine Potential

So much is said about the world today that is negative and gloomy. We talk and act as if men were simply a victim of the circumstances of the times rather than the creator of circumstances. Today, the word "crisis" is the "in" word. Oh, how we love to talk about the crisis of confidence, the identity crisis, the energy crisis, etc. But the saddest crisis of all is the frustration of potentiality. William James says great crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed. I'm convinced that we will go through all these crises and all these challenges as man has always done. We'll solve the energy crisis. We'll somehow bridge the gaps of our crises of confidence, but what counts is that we will grow through them, that we uncover new depths in ourselves.

In the closing lines of my book, Discover the Power Within You, I say, "No matter where you are on the ladder of life, no matter what you may be experiencing, no matter how many heartaches you have had or how many conflicts you have right now, there is more in you, there is a divinity in you, the Kingdom of God is within you." I think this should be our greatest concern today. Instead of overly commiserating about the general immorality or the lack of quality performance of workers, or leaders, or politicians, we need to be taking a hard look at the need for education in human and divine potential and how it can be effectively released. It is a fact that not one person in a million is living up to the best within him.

The great wisdom of the ages still lies locked in the depths of man's inner life, and the keys to solving all the world's problems still lie within man's undiscovered potential. Oliver Wendell Holmes obviously had this in mind when he wrote, "A few can touch the magic string, and noisy Fame is proud to win them: Alas for those that never sing, but die with all their music in them!" Of course, there is hope in the performance of the few, that occasional one, like a Churchill, who comes along and, as Herman Melville's Moby Dick says, "against the proud gods and commodores of this earth, ever stands forth his own inexorable self." We're all illumined, and uplifted, and guided, and blessed by those that stand head and shoulders above the crowd, but the important thing is that the person who achieves the great things ennobles man, because he helps us to know a depth within us.

I like to turn occasionally to the great soliloquy of the shepherd psalmist in the eighth psalm. "When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and stars, which Thou hast ordained, what is man that Thou art mindful of him? And the son of man that Thou visitest him? For Thou hast made him but little lower than God, and crownest him with glory and honor. Thou makest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet." "Thou makest him to have dominion," and that means you. You have dominion. You too have an inexorable self. Now, obviously, this relates to a much bigger, better self than most of us have been identifying with much of the time.

Lou Austin, in a little work that is not only for children, but also for adults, refers to this as the Little Me and the Great Me. In other words, first the me that lives in the world, that has its ups and downs, its highs and lows, that comes to the end of the rope and occasionally finds a new length to go on, and secondly, the me that transcends all this. The me that nobody knows, that even I don't know very well. The me that is the whole of me, that is occasionally only expressing in part the divine of me, the divine in me, the divine me. Though it may not be seen fully, this Great Me is always present in the Little Me. This Great Me is the presence of God expressing as me. It's a power. It's a guidance. It's a potentiality.

This word, "potential," is an interesting word. It is related to words like "potent" and "omnipotent." "Potent" comes from the Latin root [Latin 00:04:53], to be able. [Latin 00:04:55], I am able. Even further in antiquity, the word is related to the Sanskrit [Sanskrit 00:05:00], a master or lord, from which we get the word "potentate." Potential thus refers to a latency of power or ability and of self-mastery, so when we realize that "omnipotent" means all power everywhere evenly present, then we can see that Jesus refers to the divine potential in man when He says, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and on earth."

He's making this claim not denotatively, to mean a special dispensation in the universe for Him alone, but connotatively, referring to that which is present in all persons. It is vital that we catch this implication. This is the missing link in the whole Christian traditional religion. When do you ever hear Jesus' words, "All these things that I do, you can do, and greater things than these shall you do"? Why don't we hear them? Because this is the focus of Jesus' teaching. He discovered the divinity of man, the depth of all persons, and we can do what He did when we understand ourselves in the way He understood Himself.

In the talk about human potential or even divine potential, there is often the suggestion of putting something into us, of conditioning the subconscious mind with new power and new ability. My friends, God can never be more than God, nor less than God, and man, created in God's image, likeness, can never be more than that God pattern within him, nor less than that. This gives rise to another series of statements that, as we say today, are absolutely mind-boggling. We can receive only what we already have. We can become only what we already are. We can learn only what we already know. It's a matter of realizing potentialities, not adding to, but drawing forth. Not pasting on, not building into, but releasing or evolving that which is involved, or as Browning says, "opening out a way whence the imprisoned splendor may escape."

At the heart of your being, and mine, at our God level, there is that which innately knows I am able. Not "I will be able," "I hope can be able," "Maybe someday, if I find the right teacher or the right course I will be able," but, "I am able." That which is creative, all-loving, all-conquering, equal to every challenge of change is the reality of me and of you, and so the study of human potential is misleading if it assumes that you can in any way change or alter what you are. The need is to change or alter what you think you are, and human potential is not to be indicated in terms of IQ or any other device to rate you with others. We may have made life a competitive struggle, but actually competition is between ourselves and our potentiality, and developing potential is not a matter of achieving superiority to other persons, but of superiority to our previous self.

In other words, your potentiality is not just a possible achievement. It's a reality, even before you begin to work for it. It is the whole of you that you are expressing in part. It's a level of you that is not only real, it is more real than the character and consciousness that you're now revealing. This outer person, this façade, this personality may change, probably will do so, certainly needs to do so, but your divine potential, the whole of you, the Christ of you, is a changeless reality. It is that of you that can say with the psalmist, "Though the earth do change, I shall not be moved." Now, when we talk about human potential or divine potential, we might ask, "Potential for what?" We're not referring to vague and abstract things, because man is certainly not a vague and abstract creature. We are mental and physical. We love. We have feelings. Our lives are set in the framework of human relationships. We have experiences of creating and building, and of loss and tragedy.

Life is real and earnest, as Longfellow says, and the grave is not its goal. So we're involved in a life of continuity, and we contain the ability to make it vital and vibrant and meaningful. Everyone has the desire for greater health. Everyone. Everyone has the desire for greater love, the desire for greater creativity, the desire for greater wisdom, for a greater realization of what Jesus calls abundant living. The beautiful thing is that this desire is an intuitive foreshadowing of the reality of our own innateness. We could not desire it or reach for it unless it were an innate reality. Goethe suggests that we would not be able to see the sun if the eye were not of a sunny nature. How could the godlike delight us, he asks, if the power of God did not already exist? If we do not have the potential within us, how could we have a yearning to be more, to do more, to have more? Our desires prove our abilities. It's always we desire for things. Our desire is a prophetic knowing of the ultimate potentiality.

We had a cliché that we've used for years to rationalize our seeming weaknesses and inabilities. We talked about reaching for the moon. Reaching for the moon? And yet all the while we were reaching for the moon, the moon was reachable. The moon was a potential achievement. Today, we've reached the moon and have come back, but we've simply demonstrated that all the while we talked about reaching for the moon, we were implying in consciousness the awareness that we can reach it. So many things in our life we reach for, we hunger for, we yearn for, and we think of them in terms of self-limitation. If you can desire a thing, if you can hope for it, if you can yearn for it, this is proof positive of your ability to achieve it.

It's a rather interesting thing that as we look back in the history of literature, especially in such things as science fiction, the science fiction writers, seemingly, have been the prophets, because everything that they fantasized about comes into manifestation in today. Why? Because they were good guessers? Because they had looked into crystal balls? No. Because man lives in the sea or in the field of infinite mind, and infinite mind contains all that ever has been known, all that ever will be known, and we live in it, move in it, and have our being in it. The same mind that was in Christ Jesus is in us, says Paul, and we are in that field, and we think out of that field, and it's our total frame of reference, so in our wildest flights of imagination, we cannot conceive of anything that someday will not be a manifestation, that is not already a reality in terms of the potentiality of mankind.

It's an interesting thought. It's a mind-boggling thought, but it's an important thought to realize, because all that we desire is already ours. We all have a desire for health. Everyone is innately whole. Our desire for health is an intimation that health is a reality within us. It's the one true reality of our being, and what we call sickness is not, as we have supposed, a thing in itself that is in opposition to life or health. Sickness is, as someone calls it, struggling health, life incompletely expressed, momentarily concealed, but health is always the supreme reality, and our lives are always biased on the side of health, not sickness. Ongoing life, and not death. Spiritual healing is simply the releasement of the potential of the whole into the frustration of the part, and therefore there is no limit, only the limit of our attitudes and our fears. Everyone desires love and loving relationships. The desire for love is the evidence of an intuitive awareness of the constancy of the infinite flow of love in and through us.

As us, we need to realize that love is not just an emotion that we feel or a commodity we give or receive to or from another person. It is the activity of divine law, the flow of spiritual energy that flows forth through us and as us. We need to know that no one can give us love, and yet anyone may provide us with an atmosphere conducive to the releasement of our own love potential. No matter how devoid our lives may seem to be of love, it is fruitless to blame others for withholding it. Everyone has within him access to all the love there is, because we live in the field of universality in which love is a reality everywhere present. We are always in love, and therefore love is a flow that knows no limit. The need is simply to get in and keep in the flow. Everyone has the desire for success and for some special kind of creativity. There is a creative potential in every person, and ours is the privilege of discovering and giving birth to it.

Unfortunately, our ignorance concerning the potential of man has led to an awful lot of confusion in education. We've made a lot of progress in this area, but we still tend to follow the rote learning and memory development process with a system that tends to stifle individual creativity, so children tend to sacrifice their creativity in conforming to a system. They've got to do certain things in order to get acceptance and get the grades, and some never again show the creativity they evidence in the third grade. They may choose the path of delinquency, of mental illness, or at least a life of mediocrity and unrealized potentialities because we haven't acknowledged that everyone is a creative creature, and we haven't provided the incentives, and the challenges, and the freedom to unfold that creativity.

There are a lot of definitions of success. Unfortunately, most definitions that are relevant today deal with competition orientation, material orientation. They think in terms of success as climbing over the backs of others, climbing to the pinnacle, climbing to the peak of the corporation jungle, success in terms of how much money you have or perhaps how many taxes you pay or maybe don't pay. I think success is simply the fulfillment of one's own uniqueness, the discovery and the releasement of his own creativity. You can be successful because you are a creative creature, and when you discover and release your own creativity, then you'll go on your way to a success that will mean fulfillment. It will mean the total releasement of your God-Potential, and it will mean the all things added too. That's why Jesus would say, "Seek first the kingdom, and all these things shall be added unto you."

Everyone has a ceaseless hunger to know, to experience a flow of wisdom, and the reason is, we're one with the mind of the universe. We live in this sea of infinite intelligence. Emerson says man is an inlet and may become an outlet to all there is in God. Guidance that is unerring can be yours and mine at any time if we stop trying to make decisions and lie low in the divine circuits and let decisions make us. Let ideas flow through us. Let the creative process of wisdom be experienced as us. Everyone has a desire for abundant life, a vital, vibrant life-affirming existence, and this means living, not just existing. It means living abundantly, not just growing old gracefully. Jesus said, "I came that you might have life and might have it abundantly." In other words, He discovered that every person has that divine potential within him and every person can give releasement to it.

Now, how do you realize these potentialities? First of all, we must realize that they're not only possibilities, but the potentiality is the one certain reality of life, leading the need to declare, "I am able," not, "I can be," "I hope I will be," "Someday I will be," but, "I am able." We're dealing not with something to put into the mind, but something to draw forth. The health you want is now yours. The love you yearn for is within you now. The creativity and success is yours now. You are one with the wisdom of the infinite. Now, you are now the ever-living, ever-unfolding expression of abundant life.

"Oh," you say, "That sounds like a marvelous treatment, a series of wonderful affirmations. All right," but renounce forever the thought that an affirmation of truth should be or can be a means of creating something, of waving a magic wand, of bringing it out of the ether, something that is going to be put into you because of some treatment process. God can never be more than God or less than God, and you can never be more than your God-Potential or less than that. All that you desire you now are, and the reality of you, and the God-Potential of you. The key word is "now." There's no time involved. You are now what you desire and pray for. That's why Jesus would say, "All these things that you pray and ask for, believe you receive them, and you will have them." Believe that you now have them. Believe that they're now a reality, and all the problems of life and the personal weaknesses of individual experience are simply the frustration of potentiality. The key to strength is the reactivation of the process of growth.

Unfortunately, we have been influenced by two major fictions. First of all, that you can't change human nature. It's just the way things are. I suspect that was a cliché that was first voiced by one cannibal to another cannibal when it was suggested that they stop eating human flesh. "You can't change human nature." The second great fiction, we're involved in such a complexity of obligations and experiences that we have little freedom of choice, and so there is nothing we can do about it. Well, the truth is, we don't have to change human nature, because the human is simply the incomplete expression of the divine. We simply need to get on with the process of growth. How we sell ourselves short. We're so prejudiced against ourselves. We say, "That's just the way I am. I know I can't do it. I tried it once. I've tried it several times, and I always fail, so therefore I am what I am, and that's all I am," as old papa used to say. That's about as self-limiting and self-prejudiced of you as we can have.

What you are is the shell that encompasses the seed of what you can be. What you are is the shell that encompasses the seed of what you can be. If the acorn were to say, "I am what I am, and that's all I am," he would say, "I'm an acorn, and I might as well accept the fact," but he's not only an acorn. He's an acorn, but he's also an oak tree, and within that acorn is the oak tree, and within the little sapling is the oak tree, and every stage along the way of the process from the acorn to the full-grown oak, there is an oak tree involved, and it's the reality.

A man came home after being away many weeks on a business trip, and as he walked up the front yard, he noticed the youngster in the house next door playing, and he went up to him and said, "Say, Johnny, you have really grown." Little Johnny looked at him kind of disgustedly and then, raising himself to his full height, he said, "I'm bigger than this." You know what he meant? All children intuitively know this, that, "I'm not done yet. Don't limit me by the size you see now. I got a lot more growing to do. I'm bigger than this." He is bigger than this, and no matter where you are, or what you've done, or what experiences you have, you're bigger than that.

Whenever you face up to some challenge and you're inclined to size yourself up and your possibilities in terms of your past and your prejudices about yourself, and to say, "I guess I really cannot deal with this thing," like little Johnny, stand tall and look into the mirror of truth and see yourself not as you now are, but as you can be in terms of your God-Potential, and say, "I'm bigger than this. I'm bigger than this problem. I'm bigger than this situation, and I can do all things through the power of God, who strengthens me, through the power of the reality of my potential, which is in me, and which is me." No matter what comes into your life, or no matter what you come into, what counts is what you come up to. That's the important thing. It's not just a matter of going through life's experiences, but growing through them. If you grow through the experiences, then you stand forth just a little more of what Melville refers to as your inexorable self.

Keep on. Keep on, and keep on, and keep on keeping on, and life will become one continuous happening, one joyous experience in the process of growth, and you will face up to this challenge, that need, that difficulty, and in every case, you will stand tall, and you will say, "I'm bigger than this. I'm more than this. I'm more than I now think I am." The truth is that man's not what he thinks he is, but what he thinks he is. As Elbert Hubbard used to say, that I'm more than this, and I'm equal to this, and I am the master of my fate and circumstance, or I can be, because of that God-Potential which is within me.

If I keep on, and keep on keeping on dealing with life's experiences, not sitting down and saying, "Hey, we got this crisis and that crisis," but insisting, as William James says, that the crises show us how much greater our vital resources are than we had supposed, so we face the crisis in the context of the Chinese meaning of the word, danger plus opportunity. We see the danger in it, the need for growth in it, but we also see the opportunity, and we relate to the potential, the reality of the potential, the realization that there is a hole in us, even if we are experiencing in part, even if we're floundering in part that I'm bigger than this, and therefore we stand tall, and we know the truth.

But our knowing the truth is not a matter of trying to condition our mind with new ideas or paste over our intellect a new façade, a new self-image that lets the world know that we're the successful hail-fellow well-met sort of a personality, but that identifies with ourself as the root and knowing that we are what God has created us to be, and that's a whole creature. In that wholeness, there is a potential which is real, the Christ of us, the infinite mind in us, and that our life comes replete with the potentiality to release the allness of mind, to be the inlet and the outlet of all there is in God, and so we stand tall in the face of our work, in the face of personality differences, in the face of the crises that the world present us. We stand tall, and we say, "I'm bigger than this. I'm equal. I'm the master. I can deal with these things. God has put all things under my feet, and God has made me to have dominion."

We stand tall and seek to relate to life and to experiences from the greatness in us, from the Great Me, the big me, the Christ-Self, the God-Self, the presence of God expressing as us, which is always a guiding directing influence in our lives, if we'll stop and listen and relate to it and be guided by it. Keep on, and keep on keeping on, and life will become one continuous happening. It's interesting that the word "happening" has given rise to the word "happiness." Happiness is the continuity of happenings that are not resistant. Stop resisting things. Stop trying to unhappen them, and you will always know happiness, as we realize the reality of our potential, as we realize the wholeness that is within us, the allness that is within us, as we realize our own God-Self. The reality of your potential is the one great certainty of life. Other things will change. Consciousness will change. Ideals will grow. Our vision about life will alter, but that one thing will change the reality of our potential, you are what you want to be. You are what you can be.

This is the only definition for life. What is man? Man is what he can be. Man is the Christ innate within him, and it's a reality. It's a truth. It's an ultimate, and it is very real. Let's be still for just a moment and realize the truth about ourselves, our oneness, our wholeness, and give thanks for the reality of our potential. Father God, we acknowledge this truth, and we're grateful. Amen.

Copyright 1981 Unity®
Unity Village, MO 64065