Eric Butterworth Unity Podcast #55
There’s a legend of an eastern monarch who plagued by worries and harassed at every turn called his counselors and wise men together. He asked them to formulate for him a motto, a few magic words that would help him in times of distress. It must be brief enough to be engraved on a signet ring so that he could always have it before his eyes. It must be appropriate for every situation because youth spent in prosperity is in adversity. It must be a motto wise and true and endlessly enduring. Words by which a person could be guided all his life. Who wouldn’t want such a talisman?
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I would like to invite you to join with me in contemplating a concept that is more meaningful to me than any other in my quest for truth. It’s the concept of the eternal flow of life. It’s very subtle. And if we can catch the implication of this subtlety, it can become a tremendous influence.
You’re walking the highway in truth. It’s not a new idea and I often say there’s nothing new in new thought. Truth is as old as the universe of law and as young as the spontaneity of a little child. The earliest articulation of this concept of the flow of life, at least that I’ve discovered is in the writings of Lao-tzu 600 BC, 2,600 years ago. He says, “The human spirit has its source in the divine fountain, which must be permitted to flow freely through man. Anyone who flows as life flows has solved the enigma of human existence, needs no other power. Anything is evil that blocks the flow of creative action and everything is healthy that flows with the universe.” Lao-tzu.
This is a great truth. A divine process that flows within us constantly. What Lao-tzu seems to be saying, that if you go with this flow, you would experience an effective life. All the limitations of our lives; physical, financial, or relational and in some way related to the frustration of this flow. It appears that Shakespeare had this in mind when in his Julius Caesar, Buddha says, “There’s a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood, leads onto fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and miseries.” In other words, when we are consciously in the flow things work right. The batter hits. The salesman sales. The striver wins.
One of my favorite cartoons from the New Yorker shows an affluent dowager standing, talking with a friend near a high ceilinged, palatial home beneath the life-size picture of her dour faced husband. She’s saying, “I told him to go with the flow and he went.”
There’s a legend of an eastern monarch who plagued by worries and harassed at every turn called his counselors and wise men together. He asked them to formulate for him a motto, a few magic words that would help him in times of distress. It must be brief enough to be engraved on a signet ring so that he could always have it before his eyes. It must be appropriate for every situation because youth spent in prosperity is in adversity. It must be a motto wise and true and endlessly enduring. Words by which a person could be guided all his life. Who wouldn’t want such a talisman? It seemed to call for an almost magic formula. How could these counselors and wise men fill such an order? And it was an order because when a monarch requests, he commands. So the counselors went off and debated and reasoned and probably prayed at length. They came back to the king with a secret talisman that was engraved on a signet ring and the king read the words, “This too shall pass. This too shall pass.”
Life is a flowing experience. It’s hard for us to get any sense of meaning out of life and the flow of events and circumstances in our personal experience, unless we catch this idea that life is a flowing experience, that the only certainty is change. Most of our difficulties in life come because we are holding onto things that should be let go. Something that should pass on with the flow of life that new blessings can come into our lives. And when the good life is equated with things or with relationships or with moments of fulfillment, often there’s a tendency to hold on in fear and worry when there’s a threat of their loss or some drastic change. More than ever, this is the time to take a loose hold on life. Be ready to let go and let it flow.
In the study of truth there’s a lot of emphasis on making demonstrations. For some this becomes the whole object of the study of truth. To demonstrate over this, and over that, and over the other thing. We have techniques and affirmations and treatments. There’s a tendency to think of making divine law work to help or heal or prosper or guide. But you cannot make law work, it’s an inexorable flow. You’re always in this flow as you’re always in the flow of gravity. You may get out of the awareness of the flow and do some unwise things that revert to you as problems. But if so, you simply need to stop doing what you’re doing, it may be frustrating the natural flow of good, and get back into the energy of the universal flow.
In other words, your demonstration or answered prayer if you will, it’s not something that you’ve done to God or that God has done especially for you. It is a change of your consciousness in which you’ve opened yourself to the ceaseless activity of divine love and healing light. You’re blocked by tension and strain. You need only to let go, let the divine fountain flow freely through you. It is important to keep your thoughts stayed on the secret talisman, “This too shall pass. This too shall pass.” The discovery of the universal flow of life is probably the greatest awakening in consciousness that you can ever achieve.
A little girl had a great fear of tunnels. When she was riding in a car she would always hide her face and bury her head in her mother’s lap. For instance, when they were going through the Lincoln tunnel. And one moment at the end of the tunnel as years past, she got a new insight into this. She saw it in a different way. She said, “I discovered that tunnels were not as fearsome as I had believed because tunnels have light at both ends.” It’s a great truth. You’re going through the dark tunnels of life, there’s light at both ends.
A psalmist has given that gives us an insight and it’s helpful along this line. And it’s the 23rd Psalm. Remember it says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” “Yea, though I walked through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” I’m going to give emphasis to the word through. I walked through the valley. In times when you may seem to be dwelling in the valley, in a static situation, you’re going to be discouraged, downcast. But the psalmist says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley, I will fear no evil.” The valley is open at both ends and life is a flowing experience. The dark shadow of the valley will eventually give way to the light of a new day and new experience.
Most of us can look back and see this has happened in the past, or we see it in the dark attitude of the terrible things that have happened to us. Important thing is, in those times when we’ve been in the valley of the shadow, difficult and dark as the experience has been, it’s important now to concentrate on the fact that it opened out into a light at the other end.
Physical handicaps have made cowards and weaklings of many persons. And great heartaches and misfortunes have caused many persons to give up. To make their bed in the valley of misfortune. To stake their claim there just to become bogged down in self-pity and bitterness. But there are others like Beethoven, Milton, Steinmetz, Helen Keller, who going through the dark tunnels of adversity, have been spurred on to new achievement. So the attitude in which the difficulty is met makes all the difference.
If you’re faced with a tunnel experience, it may be that you have one that’s very much yours. You may be very much involved in it. Don’t bury your head like the little girl. Life has not ended for you, life flows on. You might declare for yourself, I accept the reality of the situation, but not its permanence. That’s where we fail. You get so involved in the fact that this is my experience, as if it’s tattooed on me or as they say, it’s created in stone. There’s no point in hiding your head in the sand, the experiences is there to be met.
But you can determine that you will meet it on your terms. In other words, don’t let that happening squeeze you into its own mold, into its box. But open your mind to the flow of wisdom, of love and good judgment by which you can deal with masterfully with it. Stand steadfast in the confidence in the universal flow and declare this too shall pass. And if you don’t have the courage or the confidence or the faith to say anything more than that, you would be so disturbed about the place where you are, the condition you’re experiencing.
But if you can only say, “This too shall pass,” it won’t last forever. It’s moving onward because there’s a dynamic flow of life in which we live. No matter how real or frightening a situation may be, it is still a transitory thing. It’s revealing to look back in your life and recall the times when you’re frantic over some crisis. You can remember that time when you’re facing perhaps the, as a father facing the birth of a child and you’re pacing the floor. You’re on your first job assignment. Yeah, there’s great fear of whether you will be able to perform properly. Perhaps you’ve just received a pink slip saying that you’re not needed anymore and you’re going out into a experience of unemployment. And all these cases you may be experiencing, some of these very frightening. It’s transitory. Look back and see how this moved on into a new experience. Remember, where’s the challenge now? Not that it was so difficultly, so discouraging those months or years past. Where are the people that were standing in the way of your good? Where are those burdens that seemed beyond endurance?
Francois Villon sings, “où sont les neiges d’antan””, where are the snows of yesteryear? Obviously yesterday’s snows have became a part of the days trees and plants and rivers and oceans. Anytime of the year you can get into the consciousness of the universal flow. On such a simple thing as meditating on the changing of the seasons. On the infilling of Winter to the out forming of Spring. To the richness of Summer and the harvest of Fall. Nothing stays. All is change. It comes to pass. This time of year you may meditate on the Spring bulbs that you planted in the Fall, they’re there beneath the barren ground. Very soon you’ll see the bulbs blossoming forth because the Winter comes to pass. And as the Spring moves into the Summer, the bulbs will fade away because they too come to pass. But the Spring will open up roses and new flowers, new beauties, the greenery of the parks and foliage. It comes to pass.
Why does a child go to school? To be confronted with challenges. It will stimulate his growth as a person. Certainly he doesn’t come to school to fail, he comes to pass. If you look back to the early years of your life, you may recall experiences in the third grade or the sixth grade. You may remember the teachers, the associations. You may remember some of the experiences vividly. Perhaps the time you were called into the principal’s office for some infraction of the rule. Another time when some honor was bestowed upon you for something good that you did. These experiences were all real and vital and important to you at the time. All you can say about them now is they came to pass. Experiences today are simply grade levels in the ongoingness of life. We’re not here to fail, we’re here to pass. Remember that.
No matter how happy or fulfilling the present experience may be, you can’t keep it as it is any more than you can hold back the tides of the sea. Like the manna from heaven that the Israelites were blessed with in their wilderness experience. When they were told not to keep it over for one day, but use it all up in one day. It would become toxic if they kept it longer. Today’s good is for today. To be used and then loosed. It is what life is all about, and it’s eternal flow. Many times the hanging on of things, good things and bad things, comes from fear and insecurity. Afraid that tomorrow will bring only emptiness. We must remember that the tunnel has light at both ends.
You may say, “But what about my physical ailment?” It is important to realize that sickness is not the end of life, certainly not the will of God. Or is it the result of some intent of nature? Sickness is not some limitation of mind or body. Actually, it’s not a static thing at all. It’s a part of the universal flow. Something toxic or limiting in mind or body that’s working itself out. Working itself out. Like the best example of that is a pimple on the skin. After you’ve lived a while you become well aware of the fact that the pimple is not a terrible thing at all. It’s a symbol of the poisons of the system working their way to a point where they will ultimately flow out into nothingness from which they came. It’s good to see this as a symbol of the flow of life through all of us. The mental or physical causes of the illness may have been present for a long time, but now it’s come to pass. It’s on its way out.
So it’s important not to give too much thought or energy to the particular condition, the cold, the headache, the arthritis, and the ulcer. Even serious organic illnesses. There’s a fundamental principle involved though sometimes we are not able to see it and the exaggerated cases. Get yourself established in the thought that it is now in the process of passing out of your body, being dissipated into the nothing that it is. You may have to take this own faith, but do that. Get yourself into the flow of universal life. Of course, you must consciously let go. Since many illnesses are emotionally induced, there may be some subtle fulfillment in the experience. You’re holding onto the experience saying that they’ve taken something away from me, but let me have this one thing, this ill, this hurt, this ulcer. Because in evidence of the fact that I am me, and I have something to be sorry for, to feel guilty about it.
Self-honesty and determination are vital. I’ve often said, in an obvious oversimplification that is unsuitable for all conditions admittedly, “When you’re sick of being sick, you’ll get well.” When you’re sick of being sick, you’ll get well. As I say, that’s sort of an oversimplification. What this implies, that you may be frustrating the healing process by unwillingness to let the condition go. You may be talking about my arthritis, my condition, my weakness, my cross. We hold it to us for some unknown reason. There’s an unwillingness to let it go. You need to be willing in your meditation time, in your times of self imaging, get the sense of letting it go. It’s in the flow of life, it’s cleansing you and the sickness or the condition is on its way out. It may have been in your system, mind or body, for a long period of time.
When it comes to the point of the pimple on the skin, the organic ill in the physical system, you want to see it not as something that’s just taken hold of us, but something that’s on the way out. Get the consciousness of the flow of life. It is come to pass, not to stay. There’s another interesting application of the secret talisman, “This too shall pass.” I told this personal experience before, so those of you who have heard it, bear with me, I think it bears repeating. A few years ago, due to what I later discovered was a carburetor malfunction, I experienced an embarrassing stalling of my car in the midst of heavy traffic at the toll station at the Tappan Zee Bridge. On the weekend when the traffic was returning from a holiday weekend and traffic was overwhelmingly heavy. There I was right in the middle of the lane stopped dead. Horns were honking, tempers were flaring, people were hollering out their window things that I wouldn’t dare repeating at this time.
My starter was grinding. Finally it ground to a complete stop as the battery’s power was totally exhausted. It seemed that all hopes were over. What was I going to do? In such a time one easily forgets his spiritual ideas and runs the emotional gamut of frustration, anger, self-pity. What did I do to deserve this? How am I ever going to get out of this fix? You ever had that happen in your life when you’re in a situation it seems it’s impossible, you can never get out of it? What are you going to do? I recall that into my mind came the seemingly frivolous thought, tomorrow night at this time, I’ll be sitting at home relaxed and happy, and it’ll all be in the past.
I kind of chuckled to myself realizing that my sense of humor was still working. Then the full impact of that thought struck me. It was actually a revelation. It’s a thought that I had used in many different ways through my life without realizing it. I suddenly became aware of the fact. It’s this concept that this will pass. This condition is not here to stay. I’m not going to be immortalized here at this point with a monument in the middle of Tappan Zee Bridge. If I only opened my mind to it, realization that something, some way will happen, however it’ll happen. Maybe a tow truck will come along. Maybe somebody will come out and open my hood and fix a wire that’s out of place. This will pass. So I tuned in on the flow of this universal energy of life. Certainly it was not an intellectual analysis of the problem and how to fix it, but it was an assurance that this shall pass. It was a lifting of my consciousness from the limitation of being bogged down in this sense of static conditions to the flow, or what I could call the passingness of life.
What happened? The answer came so quickly that it seemed like a miracle. A skeptic might say that no change of attitude can have an affect on a faulty carburetor or a dead battery. Can faith and prayer have an effect on inanimate things? Actually, there’s been some interesting research that would give a resounding yes to the question. What happened to me, I don’t know. But I was suddenly led to try the starter again. The motor turned over once, the car was running, and in a moment I was speeding across the bridge. Next night I was sitting comfortably in my living room looking back on this experience with gratitude that my moment of crisis had truly come to pass.
I’ve never forgotten that. Even though it is naive to think that any great magic happened, perhaps the battery always has a little bit of juice left in it, even when it seems like it’s dead. All sorts of explanations. But the important thing is we were involved in a flowing of life. In the moment we can get into this consciousness of the flow. We get out of the limitation of being stuck in a dark tunnel or bogged down in a valley. The tunnel has light at both ends. The valley opens up onto new hills and a new valley. Even if it’s something like many persons have held the thought, six months from now, I won’t even remember this happened. We’ve all said that, it’s a part of the moving flow of life. But it’s so important to get into the flowingness or the passingness of life in the midst of such an experience.
Every experience in life comes to pass because life is change. This is true not only of unhappy experiences, tragedies, difficulties. It’s also true of happy experiences, the same principle is involved. Sometimes we have something wonderful happen. We think I’m going to hold onto this and never let it go because it’s so good. I’m going to save it forever. When you accomplish a fine thing, achieve some victory or a goal, it’s totally unwise to dwell too long on the success or to go on endlessly trying to derive pleasure from it. It too has come to pass. The achievement is a growth experience, it brings you that much closer to the greater unfoldment of your innate potential. The law of life is grow or go. Matter that after one performance you may have the world at your feet. This too shall pass. Tomorrow’s another day. It brings new opportunities and new demands. You can build on past successes, but you can’t rest on them.
Some persons might accept the thought that this too shall pass. It’s kind of a thought of discouragement. Or it might seem to say that the good things in life are fleeting, that we only appreciate them in retrospect. We forget the real thought of the flow of life. You realize that it means that it is in working toward achievement that we gain life satisfaction, not in savoring the achievement itself. How great is the delusion. We’ve all fallen victim to this at times. I’ll be happy when I get that raise in salary. I’ll be happy when I’m healed. I’ll be happy when my family is raised and out so I can have more freedom. But there’s no happiness in accomplishment other than the fleeting moment of exhilaration. But life is change. The sale is made and the commission is banked. The book is written. The ballgame is won. Tomorrow we still have to find the vision to meet a new day. There are other sales to make. Other books to write. Other games to play. Happiness comes when we know that we’re in the flow of life, in the flow of guidance to live it fully and well. Not in achieving some static condition. By being dynamically involved in the eternal flow of life.
So if you’re experiencing a physical challenge, you can take hope and strength in knowing that this too shall pass. When it does pass away and you come out of your dark tunnel into the light one thing is important, we don’t overlook it. You’ll never be the same again. Resist the temptation to get back to the way things were. Actually in the way things were, there was a subtle storm brewing within you that finally erupted in your illness or the conflict or the lack. It came out of your consciousness and when it came to the surface it was on its way out. So when the health is accomplished and your unemployment situation is relieved and the lack is squashed by a new flow of substance in your life, don’t look back. Look forward to a new experience. The desire to get back to normal. Is a very negative desire.
It’s very unrealistic because you can never go back home, it’s always going forward. The tests in the sixth grade may be harder than they should be. You do not gain anything by trying to get back to the third grade where the tests were easier. Actually they only seemed easier because you’re now seeing them from a sixth grade perspective. Each day of your life comes to pass. Each day is a continuing experience of growth. As Shakespeare put it, “Come what come may, time and the hour runs through the roughest day.” It may have been a perfectly miserable day, but it came to pass. This provided you with a challenge to reach for a higher level of consciousness. The sun sets eventually, brings on the releasing quiet piece of night, and tomorrow’s another day. Another opportunity. There’s no need to go back over this challenging day to rehearse its story and feel sorry for yourself over it. It came to pass, let it go.
Even if it were the best day you’ve ever had, give thanks for it and look forward to continued opportunities for growth. You can’t hold onto this great day anymore than you can stop the progress of the sun across the sky. You have to begin all over again everyday. This is the great leveler of life and evidence of a divine grace that is constantly involved in the affairs of people. You can’t go back, nor can you hold onto this moment today. Life is lived in a series of progressions. The good leading to the better, and the better leading to the best. And life flows forth always. It’s a good illustration that has always been meaningful to me, whenever you throw a log on the fire, the wood, as the acorn and the tree, must go to bring the heat and light of fire. You can’t have both. There’s a beautiful line of scripture, “God requires the past.” (Eccles. 3:15) God requires the past for today's joys and fulfillments to come. You must let the past be cast in the fire that it may be transcended, transmuted into energy and heat and light.
The wood has to lose its identity in the fire. If today is to be fired with enthusiasm with the light and heat of creative action, the past must be consumed. And so let go of the old. The unfolding now of tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow knowing that this too shall pass. Nothing that happens is final. Isn’t that a wonderful truth? Nothing that happens is final. It’s not the end. Even if it’s the moment of some great triumph, you’re not through yet. It’s only the beginning of your life. Your life begins every day. And especially if there’s some sadness or some failure, seeming failure, it’s only today’s report. Tomorrow’s a new day. You may say negatively, as you look at yourself objectively, “Well, I’ve been through many challenges and I’ve come to know limitations that I must allow for. I know myself pretty well after all these years.” Usually there’s a secret negative hiding in this somewhere. What you’re really saying is what I am is fixed and final, I might as well make the adjustment. That’s how I’ll always be. This is simply not true. It’s not true. Unless this is the level at which you want to continue to accept life and yourself. This is not the way you really are, it’s simply the way you think you are.
If you want to remain in the second grade all your life, it’s your choice. But you’ll have a hard time because eventually you’ll be bigger than the other children. Even your desk will no longer fit you. Yet many of us spend so many years of our lives trying to fit into the old desks of our childhood because we have allowed life to stop somewhere. We build our tent in the valley of the shadow of death. You may pause at the close of the day or on a New Year’s eve or a graduation or at the time of retirement. You may look back to view all that you’ve done. Accept what you see as the facts of your experience, but they’re not final unless you accept it on that level. They need not be final, you’re not done. You still have within you a dynamic potential for growth and it must come to pass. It’s so important for a person accepting retirement. When he often has, subconsciously, a feeling in his heart of being put out to pasture, that life is over. It is, if he accepts it on that level. But it’s only a new beginning. Step into the unfolding process of the eternal flow of life. This too shall pass. Passing on into a new experience, new joys, new opportunities, new growth.
Life may seek to label you and type you. A report card or a financial statement may seem to say this is what you are. There may be those who want to measure you by grades and merit badges and achievement certificates or job resumes. These say nothing of what you are anymore than your grades in school reveal what you are. These things usually indicate where you are in consciousness and unfoldment, but life has a flow. You’re still only part of the way along this great eternal life experience and you didn’t come into life to live in the valley. You have to walk through the valley and there’s light at both ends. So wherever you are, whatever may have been the challenges of the past, no matter how you may be experiencing things today, walk on. In the flow of life, there can be no hopeless situation. There can be no truly incurable illness. There can be no last straw. In the final analysis, it is only the intangible something we call God the good that remains unchanged and through all things. All else is transitory, changing, growing, progressing. All else comes to pass as we continue on the spiraling pathway toward the realization of our own god potential.
Let’s be still for just a moment. Turn your mind away from the perception of conditions of your life even for a moment, of your relationship here with others in this auditorium. Let your mind enter into a moment of imaging, even if it seems negative. Let yourself think of being in the midst of a dark tunnel. Feel the frustration of it for a moment. You had times like this in your life before so you can easily remember it. Or perhaps living in a valley, the storms, droughts, emptiness, frustration. And into this experience of seeming negativity, you see a new perception coming into mind, entering your consciousness. Suddenly you see with new sight. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. When you get that purity of awareness you see from the consciousness of God. You see through the end of this tunnel to the light at the other end. See the open way at the end of the valley leading up through a mountain pass and new wonderful experiences. New valleys to go through, new tunnels to traverse.
Let the thought die in your consciousness. Why, the tunnel has a light at both ends. The valley has an open end, a pass at the other end, as it is with life. So look on the signet ring, which we’ll say you have received from the counselors and the wise men as the monarch did. On this ring are the words, “This too shall pass.” See that motto? The secret talisman carried with you in a very special place in your heart. Be returned to the perception of that at any time that you find yourself discouraged or challenged by the seeming emptiness of experiences and the futility of going forward. This too shall pass.
And see yourself walking dynamically and dramatically and victoriously out of the tunnel, out of the valley into the sunset of a joyous day. That then leads into another dark period of the night to be awakened again in a new sense of a new sunrise and a new day. I bless you now that you may go forward to the new day, the new experience, the new opportunity, new joy, new faith, new perception. For life and any of its experiences, it doesn’t come to stay, it comes to pass. Be grateful for this consciousness. You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. So be it.