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EBUP3: Alive, Awake, Enthusiastic

Eric Butterworth Unity Podcast #3

Eric Butterworth Sunday Services — Alive, Awake, Enthusiastic


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This morning we’re going to think a little bit about enthusiasm. I hope that I can approach the subject enthusiastically because, actually, enthusiasm is truly contagious, as I think most of us know. I would like to infect you, every one of you, with this germ of fire and life so that you may go forth from here today with a little more of the fire of your own inner spirit expressing. It’s so very important. Each of us has this fire within us. It’s an eternal flame that never goes out, but which, quite often, burns down to little more than a pilot light, but it’s ever there. It’s what the poet calls that little celestial spark of fire, which one may desecrate, but never quite lose.

It’s always the root of our being. It’s always the one thing that defines us. This fire within is one of the great mysteries of life, which has taxed the reasoning minds of poets and philosophers throughout all times. Essentially, it is very closely akin to your spark of creativity. In the composer, it may flame up as a great symphony. In the poet, it may manifest in terms of a beautiful, rhythmic poetic expression. In an artist, it may be a classic painting of some kind, but in you and me it may simply express in terms of the energy to live our lives with zest, and interest, with enthusiasm. In ancient Greece, Democritus once said, “Whatever a poet writes with enthusiasm and divine inspiration is very fine indeed.”

This is the earliest reference that was made to what has often been called the madness of poets. You ever thought of a poet as mad? It’s interesting that enthusiasm has classically been equated with madness, and fanaticism. It’s interesting also that the very word fanatic, if we look at its root etymological meaning, it comes from the root meaning inspired by divinity. We’ve often shunned fanatics and fanaticism, but maybe this is what the world needs a little more of, those who are inspired by divinity, those who turn up their inner flame a little more. The word enthusiasm is derived from the root words that can mean either or both on fire or in God. In other words, it’s the root entheos, theos meaning either fire or God.

Of course, in the early days in the early Greek times, God was always considered as a fire, as a flame, as that eternal flame that burns, perhaps on the altar outwards or to some more transcendent philosophers that which burns within. So, in a sense, the meaning of entheos, enthusiasm, is on fire with God. It’s important that we catch this insight because each of us is born with this celestial fire at the heart and root of our being. It’s the one thing, as we’ve said, that truly defines us. It can be turned up into a living flame whenever we care to do so. When we turn it up, we are in tune with this tremendous creative flow. It’s not that it does things out here, but it releases things from within us.

There is a continuous need to fire up this flame within us. We need to do it every morning of our lives. No one’s going to turn on your enthusiasm for you. You may say, “Oh, well. It’s nice to be enthusiastic if we have things happen to us,” but this isn’t what it’s all about. It’s important that each of us turn up this living flame every morning of our lives because without this fire we will look upon the day as just another day; dealing with things in despair and boredom, and apathy, and ennui. Thoreau once said that, “We ought to pray every day of our lives, thanking God for the privilege of having been born,” and he speculated on the unique question of how terrible it might have been never to have been born. Now that’s a ridiculous thing, but just stop and think about it. It’s curious. Isn’t it?

Suppose that you had never been born. Think what you would have missed. You wouldn’t have to wait in gas lines. You wouldn’t have to worry about politics, a lot of things you might have missed, but when we stop and think of actually missing this tremendous show in the arena of human experience, and life certainly is pretty exciting after all. Isn’t it? We complain about it. We worry over it. We become resistant to so much of it, but isn’t it exciting to realize that we were born, and we’re alive, but you know there’s something worse than never to have been born at all, and that is to be simply half alive, to be half living. I wonder how many people exist in dullness with no eagerness for life. How many persons are really only half awake, half alive most of the days of their lives?

Another interesting thought, isn’t it? I love those lines of Marcus Aurelius who says, “Think not so much of what you have as what you have not.” Let’s say that again. “Think not so much of you hast not as to what you have.” Getting caught up in the hast and the have nots, and the haves, and so forth. Let’s start again. “Think not so much of what thou hast not as of what thou hast, but of the things which thou hast, select the best and reflect how eagerly they would have been sought if thou hast them not.” It makes a little more sense that way. Doesn’t it? In other words, we take so much for granted in the basic things of life, and we tend to dwell despondently on our misfortunes.

We think of the things we don’t have and the things we’d like to have, and we’re not focusing in on the nowness of experience to realize that life is. Just think of all the many blessings of your life today, simple little fundamental things and, yet, not so simple. Think of your ears and the ability of hearing, your senses and the ability of tasting, and smelling, and becoming aware of life around you sensually. Think of your eyes. In other words, think what it might be not to have eyes, not just in blindness, but as a creature who just doesn’t have eyes and can’t relate to life through the visual aspect. I’m reminded of Russell Criddle’s story Love Is Not Blind; a very amazing piece of work. He tells what it means for a blind person to experience the night of blindness, and then to recover sight.

He had one of those miraculous operations himself, performed by modern surgery. This is how he describes what it meant to suddenly see again. You’ve got to put yourself into this frame of reference, the fact that here was a man for a long period of time totally blind, and then suddenly opening up the windows to sense and to see the beauties of life around him. He says, “Everything looked beautiful. Nothing looked ugly. The wad of paper in the gutter.” He says, “The words alone convey an idea of filth,” but he says, “I saw white and black, and straight lines, and color, and symmetry unbelievably different from any other wad of paper in any other gutter in the world, beautiful.”

He says, “But after all, there was the beauty of people. Some children were playing in the driveway, and an elderly lady walked toward us, and passed on by, and I felt no great thrill that I was no longer blind, only the awful sense of beauty thrilled me to the limit of endurance, and I hurried into the house to my room, and buried my head in the pillow; not because I was no longer blind, not because I could see, but because I just didn’t have the capacity to digest such grandeur, and I wept.” Do you imagine that? Can you think of that sense of suddenly opening up a dimension of life to experience something that we all experience every day, and take so much for granted? The sounds we hear, the things we see, the colors, the tastes, all of these things, so much of life. This is undoubtedly what Paul has in mind when he says, “Stir up the gift of God that is within you.”

It’s already within you. Stir it up. Turn it on. Wake up to it. Release it, the gift of appreciation, the gift of perception, the gift of childlike wonder, of spontaneous enthusiasm for life. Now, you may have some reservations at this point. You may say, “Well, that’s all well and good to talk about being enthusiastic when you have a lot of wonderful things in your life, but with my problems how can I be enthusiastic? How can I be enthusiastic with the way I’m being treated in my own or my office? How can I be enthusiastic with the problems I have with my family? How can I be enthusiastic with my financial condition or my physical problems? Yes. Enthusiasm is a nice thing to talk about, but it’s kind of pollyanna when you’re down in the dumps.”

But you see, this is one of the fallacies of human thinking. It’s important that we look at it, that we see it, that we understand it in terms of our own human experience because we’ve tended to believe, and our whole society I think has conditioned us toward this belief that things such as joy, and love, and zest for life are the effects or results of a happy life. Just walk into your office someday smiling and bubbling over with happiness, and somebody will probably say, “What do you have to be so happy about?” Why do you have to have something to be happy about? Why can’t you be happy because you want to be happy? Because you’ve decided to turn up the flame, you see? In other words, this is a total error that happiness, and love, and enthusiasm are simply the result of something that happens.

The truth is, as Jesus so beautifully puts it, “Give thanks first, and then the blessings will manifest. Love and then you will be loved.” Stir up the power of enthusiasm, and then you will find yourself in tune with the creative flow by which you will achieve the things that would justify your enthusiasm, which has, after all, come first. The enthusiastic salesman turns in signed orders. The enthusiastic inventor builds a new energy efficient engine. The enthusiastic lover of flowers produces a new and beautiful specimen, and the enthusiastic person expresses an enthusiastic successful, beautiful, fulfilling life. But you see, the enthusiasm comes first, entheos, in God. It’s not something you put there, but something you awaken that you turn on. Certainly, it’s easy to be enthusiastic about things after they’ve worked out successfully, but you see, this is not really enthusiasm.

This is not really the entheos. This is simply an emotional response to life, but enthusiasm is not a response. It is a cause. The enthusiastic person doesn’t actually in that way because things are going well for him. Things tend to go well for the person because he is enthusiastic. It comes first because something of that spark has been turned on and released. I think you can best understand what enthusiasm is all about if you look at a little child. Just think for a moment looking back into your own childhood or looking into the children around you in your homes or just imagine children as you see them on the street. Children are almost disturbingly enthusiastic, and disturbingly so, especially if you made up your mind you’re going to dwell in self pity for a while. If you’ve got problems you want to stew and fret on, it’s terrible to have a child bubbling enthusiastic.

In other words, we tend to say, “What are you so excited about? Why can’t you be mature and be morose, and somber like I am?” We say to the child so often, “Why don’t you grow up?” You know what we mean by that? “Why don’t you stop living fully and start half living like the rest of us? This is your mature responsibility.” So as a child grows older under this influence of the adult society that is being imposed upon him, he tends so often and, sadly, to allow his inner fire to go out through neglect, and so this most powerful talent, the very fire of God, is so often allowed to atrophy for disuse, and it’s a sad loss indeed.

F. Scott Fitzgerald sounds the limiting view of the adult who sees the process of growing old as the gradual thinning down of the light, and as he puts it in his unique style he says, “30, the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning briefcase of enthusiasm, thinning hair.” Well, maybe we can’t stop the process of thinning hair, though it’s surprising to think of it as coming along at age 30 and, certainly, those of us who understand the truth realize that our thoughts may well have a profound influence on such things, but we can and we should reverse the trend of what he calls the thinning briefcase of enthusiasm. There’s no reason to give into this subconscious tendency. As Aldous Huxley says, “The essence of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age.”

“The genius is to maintain the enthusiasm that you were born with to make very sure that you do not let the adult world around you to dampen your spirit, to allow this life, this vital spark, which is truly the creative flow to be limited, to be repressed. This is your divine endowment,” and the important thing is he says, “Is to carry this spirit into old age. This is the genius.” I wonder how many of you have ever heard such a thing, and I’m sure I wouldn’t even embarrass you by asking you if you’ve ever expressed such a thing that I heard from a man some time ago. I thought it was sad, and I remember this more or less, now, as a symbol rather than in terms of the person who expressed it because this man himself changed his views as time went on, but he came into my office and his head was bowed, and his shoulders were slumped, and he fell into the chair, literally fell into the chair with an, “Oh, my! Oh, me!”

I said, “What on earth’s the matter with you?” “The matter? I’m on my last stretch. You know how the pace of deterioration steps up after 60?” So he was saying, “Life was over.” He had his 60th birthday the night before, and he was now on the total downhill side of life. Oh, many of us think of that in terms of 50. I once had a youngster tell me the same thing when he turned 30. He thought, “Oh, my God! I’m 30. I’m no longer young anymore. Now, it’s old age on the way.” One of the things that we understand from this insight of truth is that the flow of life is constant, and as one self styled, homespun philosopher used to put it, “Oh Lord, keep me alive as long as I live. Let me be alive.”

In Korea, they have a saying that a person that’s 60 has a new birth, and starts to live all over again. In the old China, and I suppose some of this carries over into modern China, a youngster was never accepted in adult society until age 40. He was a youth. He was immature. He wasn’t certainly eligible to sit with the wiser people, the adult society around him, until he became 40, and then he had his life before him. The important thing is you can be the victim of advancing years, and so many persons are, and this causes the apathy, and the boredom, and the resistance toward life, and the half alive consciousness that is so prevailing. You can be the victim of these years or you can be their master. It’s your choice. Everywhere we see people who have made the choice dynamically and positively to keep the flame turned on.

Vitality and vigor, and life depend on what you do with yourself, on how you think, how you live, how you identify yourself in terms of the constant eternal flow of life. One who keeps the inner flame turned up need never deteriorate. Now, some would question that, but I think it’s an important thing to realize that the time is coming, fast approaching, when we understand the processes of aging. There may be a lot of things that we still have to understand in terms of the eternal flow of life, and in turn moving from segments of life from this life into another, beyond the plain we call death into a new experience, perhaps made free by reincarnation, and all of these things are possibilities, but one of the things we’re understanding I think more and more that there is no real reason for senility, for debility, for the depreciation and deterioration of the human flesh.

That a person can be alive, alive, as long as he lived. A statement we use so often is: I’m alive, alert, awake, joyous, and enthusiastic about life. These words actually were prompted by Charles Fillmore, who lived into his 94th year, and right up until the very last has this tremendous joy and zest for life. He said, “Every morning I spring forth with a vital faith to do the things that should be done by me.” How wonderful it is to keep that sense of the aliveness of life; not to give in psychological and emotionally to the thought that, “After all, I have to act my age. I’m not as young as I used to be.” This is because we have allowed ourselves to decide that mature, responsible acceptance of life means half living. Most of us got that early along when someone said to us, “Act your age.”

That means, “Tone it down. Let the lamp flame go dim. Realize that after all as a mature person you should be bowed down a little bit. You should be subdued. You should be quiet. You should sit in the rocking chair, and just rock.” Fortunately, many of us are rejecting that. Fortunately, many of us are coming to realize that enthusiasm, and life, and full living is our inheritance. This is the way life should be. One of my favorite statements of the Bible is this one: They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint. They that wait upon the Lord. This word wait is a very interesting word because we do a lot of waiting in life.

We wait for a break in the weather. We wait for one another to get ready. We wait behind a monumental traffic jam caused by demonstrating taxis. We wait for subways and trains. We wait for the TV repairman. We wait for the delivery of some furniture that we may have ordered six months before. We wait for our children to grow up and to go to college, and to be out on their own. We wait for a job and promotion. We wait for a financial windfall. We wait for retirement and then, unfortunately, when we get into this tendency of waiting then we sit around and wait for the end. Life is a constant process of waiting. We tend to live in the anti-room of life, and we never get in the main room. We’re always outside waiting for it to come. This is sad because what happens? These periods of waiting tend to cause us to lose our spark of enthusiasm.

We tend to become resistant, and a little bit resentful, and impatient, and we invest power in things that were never meant to have power over us, making tyrants of the telephone, and the calendar, and the clock. Wait upon the Lord. We wait on almost anything, except the Lord. We may well become reduced to the dull, half alive almost fatalistic state of mind that is implied in Dickens, Wilkins, Micawber who sits around waiting for something to turn up. Wait upon the Lord. The key to the alive, awake, enthusiastic life is wait in the fullest sense of this meaning. Wait upon the Lord because this doesn’t mean to sit with folded hands. Remember John Burrows poem? Serene, I fold my hands and wait for I know my own shall come to me. It’s a beautiful thought, but it’s certainly a pitfall in terms of personal philosophy because you don’t sit around with folded hands waiting for things to turn up.

This is not waiting upon the Lord. It’s not saying, “Well, in God’s good time it will happen.” God’s good time, my friend, is this time, now. There’s no other time. There’s no tomorrow in God. There’s no yesterday in God. Now is the time. This is it. God’s good time is today’s good time. This moment’s good time. So to wait on the Lord doesn’t mean to wait for something to happen. It doesn’t mean to wait in terms of sitting about hoping that somehow God will get around to giving us more or that things will change for us. To wait upon the Lord comes from the Hebrew word qavah, Q-A-V-A-H, which literally means to bind together. Now, how we’ve ever translated that symbolically into the meaning of sitting back and waiting for God to come down out of the heavens and do something for us, the Lord only knows, but that’s the way words have evolved.

The word means to bind together. It means to get in tune. It means to get yourself plugged in as the contemporaries will say, “To get turned on and tuned up,” not through drugs, of course, but through releasing your own inner potential, getting yourself awakened. You’re only half awake, so open your eyes, and see, and experience. Relate to life from a higher and higher level. So this wait on the Lord is a very positive things. It’s not inaction. It’s not passive. It’s dynamic. It’s active. Getting the feeling that the whole universe is rushing, streaming, pouring into you from all sides, accept it. Give thanks for it. Flow with it. Feel yourself charged and recharged by this inner flow.

Wait, I say. Wait upon the Lord, and then not in a pollyanna affirmation, but actually as we often say, “Saying what you’re listening to. Listen within yourself in this waiting consciousness, and then express the words I am alive, alert, awake, joyous, and enthusiastic about life.” I am alive, alert, awake, joyous, and enthusiastic about life and, again, I say not expressing these words as sort of an affirmation that maybe if you say them enough, it’ll put something into you because you can’t put anything into you that is dynamic and full. You can only release it. You are this. This is the living flame that has been yours from the very beginning of time. If your life has come up with problems, it’s because somehow the flame has been turned down. You need to turn it up. Tune it in. Get the consciousness of this divine flame.

I am alive, alert, awake, joyous, and enthusiastic about life. Maybe you’d like to express that with me, now. I dare you to get the sense that this is not trying to make something happen to you, but it’s just like throwing on the light switch. Be joyous about it. Give thanks for it. Open the circuit. Let it flow. I am alive, alert, awake, joyous, and enthusiastic about life. Shall we say that together? I am alive, alert, awake, joyous, and enthusiastic about life. That was good for a starter. Now, let’s raise the roof. Let’s create a symphony here that will drown out all the symphonies that have ever played here in terms of a music of the spheres that is the very action of God that is expressing here now. I am. Let’s say it together again. I am alive, alert, awake, joyous, and enthusiastic about life.

Now, remember. You are saying something that is part of the dynamic flow within you. You’re not trying to make this happen. This is the living flame that has been yours from the very beginning of time. You’re trying to turn it on. Awaken to it, and it’s a creativity. It’s a flow of energy. It’s life. It’s joy. It’s love. It’s the key by which you can suddenly experience things, and sense things, and feel things that have always been there but, suddenly, you’re alive to them. You see, the promises waiting on the Lord, waiting on the Lord are plugged into the divine flow. You will renew your strength. You will mount up with wings as eagles. You will run and not be weary, and you will walk and not faint, and that covers a lot of activities. It covers/preps every human need we can think of.

Now, I know that some of you might be saying, and certainly one of the concepts that are very vital to any kind of selling and, certainly, I’m a salesman as much as anything else, is to forestall the opposition. There may be some of you right now that have a little opposition. In other words, you may be saying, “Well, that’s well and good, and I believe enthusiasm is important,” but you see? My trouble is I’m already too enthusiastic and I’m forever getting into trouble through my overzealousness, and I’ll grant that this is a problem with some persons, but you’re wrong. This is not a problem in terms of overenthusiasm. What you’re experiencing is impatience and impetuousness. For they that wait upon the Lord means those who take the time to get the balance of wisdom and good judgment, to get themselves tuned into the divine flow of judgment, and of life, and decision making.

Someone has said, “The world belongs to the enthusiast who keeps cool, who keeps it in harness. Enthusiasm is power, but you see, power can very easily be dissipated if it is not harnessed and channeled. The overzealous person, the impetuous person lets his enthusiasm lead him impatiently, and imprudently, and unwisely into every passing possibility, so he spills this energy in all directions. Like they say of the person who gets on his horse and rides off in all directions at the same time, we tend often to do this out of our impatient releasement of this great energy, but energy has to be directed, focused.

To wait upon the Lord means to get plugged in, plugged into a dynamic realization that has focus, that has direction, and then give it that direction, and take the time to be still and to listen to the inner direction, and to get the joyous appreciation for life, the eagerness to launch forward into that which comes next, and that which is right for you to do next in your own unfoldment, and that’s a part of divine guidance, which is the continuation of the divine effort that made you in the first place, but remember you were born with enthusiasm. You may feel, “Oh, it would be wonderful to have the joy and élan vital, and enthusiasm, and zest that this person and that person has.” This is fundamentally your life. You may have allowed yourself to live under the damper of human consciousness, but this is vital.

It’s in you. It’s the dynamic self of you that’s always there. You can never lose it. You were born with it. It’s God’s gift to you of his continued presence and power. If you think you lack this spark of fire, you’re like a house divided against itself. You may wish you could do one thing. You may will to do something else, and you may actually do something entirely different. This is what happens when we get all confused with this frustration of potentiality. To wait on the Lord means to get plugged in, to get ourselves identified consciously with this dynamic of spirit that is rushing, flowing, pouring into us from all sides, supporting us, welling up within us, this God fire, which is the very flame of spiritual awareness.

Suddenly, you find yourself filled with directions, and with the energy to move toward those goals, and you find yourself filled with a life, and a vitality, and a zest for living that enables you to move easily and effortlessly, and creatively toward the good that you seek, and you find suddenly that you are so keenly intent on the thing to be done that your wishes, your will, your ability, your love, your faith, and your interest all unite in focus to do them, and you will do it with joy, and zest, and with great fulfillment. So we say to you again this morning, stir up the gift of enthusiasm. Stir up this zest for life. It’s already there. You don’t have to put it into you. You right now are fundamentally as enthusiastic a person basically as anyone the world has ever known, and anyone that you now know. Can you believe that?

You are now that simply because you are, not wish you could be. Dear Lord, make me be, but you are a spiritual being, right now. Take time then to be still and I’m going to ask you in a moment to be still, and to get that sense, that awareness of the living flame within you. I dare you to get into this inner flow, to think about it, to release it, to let it manifest as the new creative flow of your life. So let’s get still. I want us to use this little object lesson realizing that this is simply a way of seeing the reality within you. I want you to look within yourself as if you were looking into a great cathedral, which is dark, except for the dim light flowing in through the stained windows, but on the altar at the center of this cathedral there’s a flame, an eternal fire. There are many cathedrals of the world, many shrines that have this kind of an eternal flame, but remember.

You’re told, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of the Living God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you?” So you’re looking into the center of your own self, the cathedral of your inmost being, and there is at the center of your being this living flame. It’s a very small fire, but it’s always there, and this is what Paul had in mind when he says, “Christ in you, your hope of glory.” This living flame, which you may desecrate, but never quite lose. Now remember this flame is yours, and has been yours from the beginning of the time, but even more it is you. It is more you than the human consciousness that looks upon it. This is the true divine self of you. “Let your light shine,” Jesus said. “Let your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and glorify your father who art in Heaven.”

So looking upon this quiet flame that flickers in the darkness of your inner self, and it’s in your imagination now, and you can do in your imaging power whatever you will. So I would like you to just see now, see this flame being turned up, and you’re turning it up. It’s getting brighter, and brighter, and brighter, and brighter, and brighter. The fire expressing through you coming out through your eyes, expressing in your words, tingling in your fingertips in terms of a creative desire to do all sorts of wonderful things; a fire that you can feel in your footsteps leading you in the direction you should go; a fire expressing in the love that enables you to be a loving, harmonious person to those around you; fire that is experience in your eyes that which you see from and that which you see; that you experience in your ears that you hear, and that which radiates in your hearing sense.

A living flame, see this now. Sense yourself to be a part of this living flame, and just imagine yourself now standing back and looking at yourself, and see this flame just glowing, glowing, glowing until the very room right out here, this hall is alive and aglow with light, living light, dynamic light, radiant light, light coming out of the very depths of us, and then we can give thanks for it. Just feel good about it. The wonderful realization that comes when perhaps for a long time you thought, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a happy, joyous enthusiastic person?” Now, you know this is what you really are, so feel good about it, and then because of this sense of awareness, not to make it true, but because you know it’s true, and you rejoice, and give thanks for its truth then I would like you, first of all, to just kind of whisper together.

“I’m alive, alert, awake, joyous, and enthusiastic about life.” Let’s whisper that together. I am alive, alert, awake, joyous, and enthusiastic about life, and then as if we mean it, and with all of the power and vitality of our consciousness let’s say it again. I am alive, alert, awake, joyous, and enthusiastic about life. Can you hear the echo of it? It’s a wonderful thing. Like the pebble thrown into the pond, and the rippling waves going out, and out, and out, this consciousness goes out, and out, and out from here as a vibration, of creativity, and of love, and of the fullness of life, and may this day, as you leave this place, wherever you go, whatever you touch, something will be contagiously going out from you.

You will infect every person, every situation with the flame of life, with enthusiasm, with vitality, and you will become a light unto your world but, most of all, you will retain the consciousness and the confidence of this flame of life within you, and the realization that every morning of your life you can, and you should, certainly you need desperately to turn up the flame. Get yourself on fire with God, entheos, and praise God for this consciousness for the truth that makes us free. Amen. (singing)