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EBUP56: A Plan for Your Entirement

Eric Butterworth Unity Podcast #56

Eric Butterworth Sunday Services — A Plan for Your Entirement

Because retirement is normally a compromise, a partial experience in life. Most often, something very vital is left out, leaving only frustration and hopelessness. Unless it deals with the whole person, retirement becomes a negative experience.

So we’re suggesting a creative alternative. The word is “entirement”, entirement. It deals with the whole self, living and alive, in a whole universe. It is turning from the partial experience to the whole of life. So instead of going into retirement, go into entirement, into the next step of growth, which will have meaning and fulfillment.


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It is interesting to note the important part that words play in our lives. We are creatures of words. We live in a society in which words are constantly communicating all levels of understanding. For instance, consider the word “whole.” We use this word quite often. Have you ever stopped to think what it really means to be whole? As Paul says, “We see in part.” We sense certain fragments as sections of life. In our self-image we tend to fragment such things as time of living, such as young, middle aged, and old.

But no matter what the years say, you’re never old, you’re never young, you’re simply you. We think of these things as specific times, specific areas. You move from one into another. That isn’t the way it works. You’re a person experiencing life at many different levels. These are simply descriptions.

Think of the word “work” and “retirement.” We think of these as specific times. We have work, and then we quit work, and we go into retirement. So we think of these as two special areas of life, but life experience in very different levels. We think of retirement out of the context of life, instead of an experience in life.

For instance, when a worker enters the job market, one of the first things he does right out of school is to get involved, with society’s encouragement, in a plan for retirement. Through the years the plan becomes almost an obsession. He lives in the future. He thinks about this time and this place, a place to retire to and the financial means to make it possible.

But rarely does the plan include anything relative to how he’s going to live, and how he lives at the moment. So when retirement comes, the world seems to close in upon him. As one doctor says, “Retirement is the greatest shock the system can sustain.” As a matter of fact, most folks prove that they’re unable to sustain it. They’re unable to live with it.

This is because retirement is normally a compromise, a partial experience in life. Most often, something very vital is left out, leaving only frustration and hopelessness. Unless it deals with the whole person, retirement becomes a negative experience.

So we’re suggesting a creative alternative. The word is “entirement”, entirement. It deals with the whole self, living and alive, in a whole universe. It is turning from the partial experience to the whole of life. So instead of going into retirement, go into entirement, into the next step of growth, which will have meaning and fulfillment.

This is a new word. You probably never heard it before. I’m sure you didn’t. It’s a word that came to Olga. She’s always coining words like this, and I steal it from her. It deals with an important activity of consciousness, and I would like us to think a little bit about it today, and I hope it’ll have meaning to you before we’re through.

Goethe, at age 30, had a grave crisis in his life. He says, “He resolved to work out life no longer by halves, but in all its beauty and totality.” We’re never told the nature of that crisis in his life, but we can witness the results of a life turned around. We could say that he went into entirement, and he went on in the next 53 years to become one of the greatest philosophers and writers and poets of all time. Obviously it had everything to do with this commitment of his “to work out life no longer by halves, but in all its beauty and totality.”

But let’s be clear on this. Entirement is not just for the retired. Goethe went into entirement when he was 30. It is totally relevant and appropriate, perhaps needful, for a person coming right out of school, and planning to commence a career. It is the commitment to live life as a whole creature, a whole person, in a whole universe. To always be what Rollo May calls a fully-functioning person.

We tend to overlook this. We tend to let our lives move from place to place, sometimes running down, sometimes picking up, but we do not live as a whole person. It is sad in the age of enlightenment that there are still far too persons who realize that life is lived from within out. That no matter what one’s present experience may be, he can be more. He can do more. He can have more. We’ve been conditioned to believe that the pattern of experience is all set. So we say, “That’s just the way I am.” And then we go through the years simply growing a little older. In this fragmented approach to life, we become encouraged to settle for the lesser, simply because we’re not often challenged to pursue the greater.

It is a scientific fact that every person under average conditions of work and life uses but a very small part of his mental equipment. If we were able to challenge ourselves to work at even half our mental capacity, according to Russian psychologist Vasily Davydov, all of us could learn 40 languages, memorize the largest encyclopedia from cover to cover and complete the required courses of dozens of colleges. That’s the potential if we use half of our potential.

So to every young person starting out in life, needs to be challenged, as we’re saying, to go into entirement. “To resolve to work out life no longer by halves, but in all it’s beauty and totality.” So we should say to the young person often, “Don’t be satisfied with half a life. Go for it all. Always press past those experiences of limitation or difficulty. And keep the commitment, as Browning tells us, “to release our own present surrender.” And let this be a lifetime commitment.

Goethe referred to the person as a “spiritual being.” Do you know what this means, that you’re a spiritual being? It means that you’re a whole creature. It means that the whole of God, the whole of divine mind, the whole of life, the whole of infinite love... or if you want to, the whole of the universe, is present in its entirety in you at all times. Marvelous realization, but most of us are not aware of it much of the time.

A little child was watering the lawn with a soft plastic hose, and the water was coming out only in a trickle. And the child cried out, “Daddy! This old sprinkler doesn’t work anymore.” And the father said, “There’s nothing wrong with the sprinkler, dear. The problem is, you’re standing on the hose.” So much of the time in our lives, without our ever being aware of it, we’re standing on our own hose, restricting our own divine flow. We blame other persons, we blame life, we blame conditions and circumstances. We say, “It’s the way life is. That’s the way I am.” But it’s not the way you are. It’s the very level that you’ve accepted in life.

To go into entirement is to change your attitudes and expectations of yourself. It is to begin dealing with yourself as if you are ever on the urge, or the verge, of great good. On the threshold of a tremendous experience of life. It is to get the feeling that the whole universe is breaking through to you, and unborn creative ideas are always awaiting birth in your mind. You are on the verge of great good. It’s your future. It’s now.

It is good occasionally for us all to go over the things we do, all the way from shaving to cooking, from selling to managing... listening for new ideas, new directions, new methods. We tend to live too much at the surface of life, moving through life like water striders skittering along on the surface of a pool. Living fully, living in entirement, is to get in tune with inner rhythms, each to our own inner guidance.

I love the wisdom of the French philosopher Montaigne. He’s one of my favorites. He says, “Put your ear close by yourself and hold your breath and listen.” To me, this conjures up the vision of a child at the seashore picking up a shell and holding it up to his ear and listening to the sounds. Montaigne says, “Put your ear close by yourself and hold your breath and listen.” This is to expect a new experience, guidance, ideas, rhythms, beauty flowing out of your inmost self.

So to live a life of entirement, we need to cultivate our inner connection. It is often said of a bright young person, referring to his possibilities in the business world, “He’ll do well because he has good connections.” This usually refers to a relationship with important people who can provide the proper introductions and open the right doors. But this often tends to make the ladder of success a matter of political maneuvering, and what is often called “career strategies.” But with misplaced priorities, the worker often gives more energy to his quest for connections than to doing a job of excellence in the work at hand. He probably will defend himself. He’ll say, “Well, I do all I’m expected to do.” But the question is, does he always expect enough of himself? Is he always willing to put his whole self and his whole being into what he does? To live in entirement? To be wholly involved? This is entirement.

And if one is to succeed in living in entirement, he should know that success is not a matter of finding the person that can give you the right direction, and make the right contact, but being the right person. It’s not making right contacts out there, but it’s establishing the right connection with inner flow. This is entirement.

One of the most universal tendencies of people, is the tendency to downgrade themselves. “Oh, well. I’m just poor me” we say. Certainly outstanding people come forth and reveal great inner powers. They win the races and scale the mountains and compose the music and build the cathedrals and invent the sewing machines. But we have downgraded ourselves by thinking that the Lincolns, the Ghandis, the Einsteins, are people quite different from the rest of us. But the truth is, these people and others like them, did great things not because of some special connection with the source, but rather by specializing the connection with the creative mind potential that is within everyone of us. The need is to specialize this activity.

This is not to say that anyone can become Michelangelo or Shakespeare or Schweitzer. We wouldn’t want to, or we shouldn’t. It is much better to be a first-rate you than a second rate Picasso or Pavarotti. The need is to make and keep the inner connection and then to fulfill our uniqueness to be what we are and to be it more than ever before.

To live a life of entirement, a person needs to have a good perspective of what we call “aging” in terms of the ongoing-ness of life. There’s a lot of confusion here about this. The generally accepted concept of aging arises from identifying ourselves as a physical body. It’s birth, it’s growth, it’s maturity, it’s aging, and it’s eventual and inevitable decay and death. And the crusher is, “Oh, well. We all go sometime.” And I would ask, “Go where?”

The kingdom of life is growth. It might be better to say, “We all grow sometime.” Why postpone it for some future eternity? Why not get on with it now? The truth is, you don’t grow old, ever. When you stop growing, you are old. And it’s an important realization.

Somehow, in America, we’ve developed a very perverted attitude toward aging and the aged. For this reason we have a tremendous fear of growing old. More of us have it than are aware of it. Much of the things we do evidences fear of age. The fear of being cast aside is unimportant. It is almost something to be ashamed of. To admit that you have been retired, or to admit that you are a senior citizen. Age is not something that happens to you. It is something that you are doing. It is an attitude that suggests a fragmentation of the whole person.

So the need is to stop aging. Actually stop aging and start youthing. We’re talking about attitudes, about what you do to yourself, your consciousness. It suggests a fragmentation of the whole person. Youthing refers to a way of thinking and living. It doesn’t imply remaining immature or a frantic effort to recapture the years of your youth. There’s no need to do this! Because you’re where you are, and this is good. What we need to realize is that many who try so hard to keep up with the changing fads and youthful physiques of young people are actually preoccupied with a morbid fear of age. It’s very subtle and very powerful. So the person is aging in consciousness, even though he’s trying to be young. He’s aging because he’s thinking old, trying to cover it up with a mask.

So we need often to make a re-commitment to entirement, to recapture the enthusiasm and the curiosity and the zest for life of youth, which is to let the creative flow unfold in you regardless of years. And this is youthing. The youthing process, you see, has very little to do with appearances. It has much more to do with open-mindedness and the spirit to consider everything, a sense of humor, a feeling of playfulness. They’re all qualities that we’re designed to develop, rather than to outgrow. Quite often we dismiss these traits when we see them in people, and we say, “Don’t be childish.”

Actually, Montagu, Princeton sociologist, says instead we should say, “Don’t be adultish.” Because he talks about the fact that adulthood, to most of us, is a role we play. It’s something we put on. We say, “Why don’t you grow up?” So we tend to grow up and outgrow and let go of some of the vital characteristics that are so much a part of life. He says most of us have been victims of a conspiracy against learning not only how to grow older, but how to grow up. He says, then, that most older people play the role of being old. “I’m so many years old, so this is the role I must play. “Act your age,” we say. One of the most fierce diseases of modern times is what Dr. Montagu calls “psychosclerosis.” Which he says is “hardening of the mind.”

So people need to listen to what I call the “Promethean voice” which is the upward call of the divine within us, which is “Come up higher! Come on!” Don’t grow old, but grow onward. Continue in the life of experience. So while the aging process says, “Why don’t you grow up?” The youthing process says, “Grow onward, the best is yet to be. This is life.”

Growing old takes no effort. It’s easy. It’s usually accomplished by the attitude that life just happens, there’s nothing you can do about it, so you just sit back and let it happen. You expect it. And you’re aging in your consciousness. But growing onward takes a lot of effort. It takes discipline to keep interested and interesting, enthusiastic and involved. As André Maurois says, “Aging is no more than a bad habit which a busy person has no time to acquire.”

Wherever you are on the human scale of measuring life by years, you’re alive. You are alive. And that’s your full-fledged member of a dynamic universe. It is true that society may sometimes may mandate retirement from a particular job, but no one can force your abdication as an integral part of the universe. You can’t be fired from the universe. You can’t be laid off from the universe. You can’t be retired from the universe. So it’s important to make a new commitment to go into entirement, to remember that you’re a whole person, and that wholeness is not fragmented by retirement except in our own attitudes. The problem is with ourselves, not with society.

So the problem with retirement is not that employers turn people out of jobs, or that benefits do not sometimes keep pace with inflation, important as these matters are. But the major tragedy of retirement is the perception of being supported to go off and do nothing. To go and sit in that little bungalow in Florida, and sit on the porch and rock, watch people go by. This attitude is extremely aging.

It was an exhausting sociological study made of centenarians, which are people who have reached 100. Turned up the interesting fact that keeping busy was the one thing that they all had in common. And it was found, startlingly, that not one single retired-to-do-nothing person had ever lived to be 100. Isn’t that interesting? Most of them continued to work, or continued somehow to do some sort of productive activity to keep themselves very much involved.

So in the plan for your entirement, there must be a commitment never to retire. Never to retire. In the sense of resignation from the life of creativity and usefulness. We’re not saying a person should not retire from a job, but he should not retire to do nothing. He should move from one experience to another, and he should always have another experience, another activity, another creative project involved to keep him much involved in life.

So I say, never get boxed into a position where you’re out of it. Some of the plans for retirement don’t acknowledge this. Never be out of it. The sense of remaining in can be acquired in many ways. It takes planning, it takes thoughtfulness. You may not be able to find gainful employment, which usually puts emphasis on a place where I can make money, but there’s much to be gained in willingly doing useful, helpful things. If you make the commitment to be involved in life, life will always be involved in you.

Gerald Heard says, “Retirement should be a time when the person can devote himself to the full reaping of his potentialities.” And unless we get seriously involved in the full reaping of our potentialities, the word retirement may and often does become a stigma. There’s a life change involved, and we need to be sure that we get a positive attitude towards the change. But there’s never a reason, never an excuse where one should fritter away valuable years on bingo games and shuffle board. This is sad. It’s tragic. How much better to continue the process of growth through education or travel or some kind of service involvement?

I play golf with a friend. He’s a very young man, although yesterday he told me his birthday was yesterday and he was 75 years old. You’d never know it. He shoots a good game of golf. He gives me a real hard time. He’s retired, has been for years, but you’d never know it, simply because he keeps himself very much involved. He’s always enrolled in college courses. He goes to college. He goes three or four times a week. He takes courses that are exciting to him, things that he’s always been curious about. He studies economics, he studies art, he studies history. He studies all the fabulous things that are done on college campuses today. He’s exciting and excited, enthusiastic about life. He’s always involved.

Reminds me of the story I saw in the newspaper one day, of a man who was over 90 years old who bought a set of Encyclopedia Britannica. A new set. And he said, “There’s so much in the world that I want to know about. I hope I live long enough to read everything in the encyclopedia.” The fact is, if he keeps that sense of excitement about life, interested in new things, he will live long, probably longer than the people who wrote the encyclopedia. But without some activity, without some challenge, some interest, a person will experience very quickly fatigue and apathy. There’s always something that one can do to get involved in life.

A well to-do society matron had a deep-seated tiredness which made her very bones ache. Her doctor told her, frankly, she should get a job of some kind. She was shocked. She said, “Why, doctor, I’m so utterly tired all the time I can hardly get through the day.” He said, “Madam, what you need is something to be tired from, not tired of.” But it is this boredom that tends... it causes life to lose its meaning, and the psychological stage is set for all sorts of organic and debilitating diseases, and they come fast and furious when a person is out of it. When he has allowed himself to check out of life in its vital sense.

And, of course, having employment does not of itself give you the sense of meaning in life. Quite often I hear a person say, “I wish I had a job with meaning.” If a person has a job that has no sense of meaning in it, this is extremely aging. But how can they get a job that has meaning? Fact is, no job has meaning. There’s not a job in the world that has meaning. Jobs don’t have meaning. People have meaning. And people who have meaning and have a sense of meaning in life do their work meaningfully. They invest meaning into the job, and it becomes exciting because they’re excited. This is entirement.

As Emerson says, “Let your work be organic. Let it be in your bones.” In other words, live wholly. And as Goethe says, “Work out your life no longer by halves, but in all its beauty and totality.” So if you think you’re working in a job that is without meaning, without purpose, then you better do something about it because it’s tearing you apart. But it’s not the job that does it. It’s the fact that you’re not wholly involved in what you do in life. You can change. Change your attitude. Put meaning into your job. Become interested in it. Find new ways to do it. They say, “But I do what I’m paid for.” But are you doing what you could do, what you can do? Are you releasing your own potential in what you do? If you’re not, then you’re aging in... drying up on the vine, as they so often say.

One of the common problems in the feeling of emptiness and the lack of meaning in work is the perception of making a living instead of making a life. This is a vitally important realization. The idea that working for pay is the sole meaning of life. Your work is an opportunity to give expression to your creative ability. So when you get involved in what we’re calling entirement, you have the feeling of giving yourself away. That doesn’t mean that you work for nothing. But it means you work in the consciousness that your work is not to make money but to make life, to make yourself, to fulfill your potential. And this feeling of giving not only brings a sense of meaning, but incidentally it is also the key to receiving the rewards and successes of the world too. Anytime you find a really successful person, you find a person that gives himself enthusiastically to what he does. And he’s not thinking about how much money he’s making, because if he’s making money, I say he’s either a counterfeiter or he works for the federal mint.

One of the greatest reasons for so much unhappiness and frustration among people in the modern world is that through mass media entertainment, of which we have so much, people don’t get involved enough in individual creative effort. We have our creative experience for the most part vicariously, and this is not really enough. The athletically inclined people watch sports instead of participating in some other athletic activity. The musically inclined listen to great music, but never make any effort to play or sing themselves. We read but we do not write. We appreciate art, but we don’t paint. We watch great building projects as sidewalk superintendents, but we don’t build homes or rooms or even footstools for ourselves.

People often tell me that they plan someday to write a book, and I shock them a little bit when I say, “The difference between a writer and a would-be writer is procrastination.” Begin doing it. Someone asked me just last week, “I want to start writing a book. How do I start?” And I say, “Start.” Start writing. Writing doesn’t come naturally. It comes with effort, with practice. Someone once said, “When you’ve written a million words, you’ll be a writer.” So start writing a diary. Start writing things on paper. Write! And as you write, you gradually unfold the things to say, and you develop the means by which to say them according to you. But start!

Get the sense of entirement, that you’re a whole expression of the whole universe. Know that the whole of God is present in you as your potential for a full, meaningful, creative, and fully functioning life. We’ve erroneously thought that a waning interest in goals and in new things, resistance to change and so forth...that these are symptoms of age. “Oh, well. That’s just a sign that I’m not as young as I used to be.” Actually, they’re not symptoms of age, they’re causes of aging. The person who keeps himself alive in mind and heart keeps himself alive in body despite the passing of years.

See, you show me a person who has experienced apathy and depression in retirement, and I’ll show you many persons who have retained security and serenity, cheerfulness, optimism, and enthusiasm for life. Such persons may have gone into retirement in their later years, but it is obvious that they went into entirement earlier along in life. So they prepared themselves with diverse, broad goals and interests. They were not solely limited to their gainful employment to give their life meaning. While they live, they’re alive. That’s the important thing. As a Scotsman used to say, “Stay alive as long as you live.” Life flows in such persons unchecked, unhampered, unrestricted, and they’re as vigorous and as expanding, as full of interior growth in the years of their maturity, as most people are in their adolescence.

Retirement has always seemed to imply the beginning of the end. We want to get the idea that it is just the end of the beginning. As Browning says, “The last of life for which the first was made.” So Christopher Wren, who has become famous for the building the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, actually did this work in post-retirement, a post-retirement career. Many folks are not aware of the fact that he was a professor of astronomy at Gresham College of Oxford University. And it was after retirement that he became an architect. And in the next 40 years, this amazing man executed 53 churches and cathedrals, most of which still stand today as monuments to his greatness. It is obvious that he went into entirement early along in life. So he has prepared for retirement as a simple transition to a continuing experience of full and creative living. He had the will to live, the desire to continue on. And when you have that will and that desire, the possibilities open up, and the flow expands through you, and you find yourself doing more and more greater things, and releasing the full potential of your life.

So no matter where you are in life on the scale of years, no matter whether you’re 20 years old or 90 years old, make a decision, and often, to go into entirement. To get the sense of wholeness of life, and resolve to keep open in mind and spirit to the upward progressive sweep of abundant life. Keep the capacity for wonder. Keep putting yourself in touch with new things. As a student of truth, I suggest that we think about becoming a researcher, to dig into things to find new insights, different wrinkles, even create some personal files if you will. Make a career out of it. It’s what you get involved in. You don’t just let it pass around you and read things, pick them up and lay them down. Get involved in the process.

One of the things you can do is do this for someone else if you don’t feel excited about yourself. I’m delighted that so many folks consider themselves, as I have suggested so often whimsically, my creative research assistants... who find things, interesting articles and stories, and they pass them along to me.

I’ve told often of a woman in Detroit... I tell this so often because it’s an amazing thing that becomes more amazing as the years go by. When I left Detroit, about 24 years ago, a woman came up to me and she said, “I’ve been one of your friends for a long time.” She’d never talked to me before. She was one that just came and went, very shyly. She said, “Is there something I can do for you?” Jokingly, I said, “Yeah, I’m going to miss reading the columns of Sydney Harris in the local newspaper. They’re not in the paper in New York City. You can send those to me.” I was joking. She was serious. Twenty-four years have gone by. During these whole 24 years, she has daily cut out these whole things out of the paper. Every month, I get a little brown envelope. Olga can attest to this. For 24 years, they continue to come. I received one just the other day. Wonderful commitment of a woman who went into entirement, to keep her life whole. She’s a woman who is probably close to 90 now. But she’s alive and vital and active. She’s enthusiastic because she’s found this one little interest, and if she’s found this one, she’s probably found dozens of others, the capacity for wonder and excitement.

Keep challenging yourself with change. This is true for all persons who are young and for persons who are, as we call, old. Try new things. Challenge yourself with less familiar places and faces. If you say, “Oh, I always eat, or I always read, or I always do...” Stop and ask yourself, “Why?” Don’t let yourself always do anything. It’s a dread condition. It leads to ruts, and ruts are dangerous because they so very easily become graves. Life is dynamic, not static. People who cannot change, cannot grow. We’ve been conditioned to believe that following rituals is a sign of aging. We should know that it is more a cause of aging. The person who rejects following set patterns and rituals is a person who rejects the consciousness of aging.

Become creative in the matter of giving. Many persons make careful provision for giving in their wills. This is good. But I want you to consider the idea of giving while you’re living, so that you can have the experience of joy and fulfillment today. Not save it for some future time when you’ll be not around to enjoy it. And remember, money-giving is no substitute for giving yourself. Get involved in some form of service for which you will receive no pay. Let your whole life become a giving process.

Most important, when you’re in entirement, and it’s not a question of age, life is an experience of growth, a process of development, an unfoldment. So that at 40, a person should be twice as well-equipped to receive and use the best things of life as at 20. Ever thought of that? At 60, he should be three times as equipped. At 80, he should be four times as equipped. At 100, five times as equipped. When you know this and really know it, keep consciously alive to this awareness. This will not only add years to your life, but it will add life to your years. And in entirement, you’ll never really retire in the sense of retreating from life. You will always be a vital part of a creative universe, alive and healthy and healthfully living in it, and lavishly supported by it. Again, as Goethe says, “You will always work out life, not by halves, but in all its beauty and totality.” Let’s just be still for a moment and reflect upon this.

I want to invite you, each and every one, to consider right now, in a commitment, to go into entirement. It has nothing to do with changing careers right now, nothing to do with any outward world changes. It has everything to do with change of attitudes. You’re a whole creature. Life is not like an hourglass with time running out. Life is an eternal experience, and you’re involved in it. The whole of the universe is involved in you, the whole of God-Mind. The whole of all that’s good. You’re a creative expression of a dynamic universe. So make the commitment now that you’re going to live wholly, fully, completely, totally, in all it’s beauty and totality. Keep the sense of oneness with life. You’re living, and you’re whole, and you’ll always be whole. Be alive as long as you live.

Feel a sense of gratitude for your relationship with infinite mind. It never runs out. It never depletes itself. You’re always involved in the whole of life, and the whole of God is involved in you. Become conscious of this. Commit yourself to keeping this consciousness, so that you can live an attitude of youthing rather than aging. And your life can be productive and active and whole. That you can be enthusiastic and excited and meaningfully involved in a life of productivity. Praise God for this consciousness. Praise God for the commitment in which we can hold to this realization, make it a part of our experience. Praise God for the truth that makes us free. And so be it.