Eric Butterworth Unity Podcast #17
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I would like to invite you to join me in thinking about love. Perhaps to unlearn some errors about love to get a greater sense of the focus of the love. There is nothing unusual about a minister talking about love. It's probably the most common religious theme, unless we insist that the most common theme is sin; however, I'm going to say some things about love that may be most uncommon.
Einstein was once asked, “Is it possible to express everything scientifically?” He replied, “Of course, but it would make no sense. It'd be like describing a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.” Correct, of course, but the symphony to be really appreciated must be experienced, felt. So we could be on a discourse on love with all sorts of explanations and definitions, medically, psychologically, sociologically, theologically, even metaphysically and still make little sense in terms of any relevance to life.
You could settle on a slick definition. Love is da-da-da-da. In rote process, we could repeat together, “Love is da-da-da. Love is da-da-da-da.” We could sing, “Da-da-da-da makes the world go round.” What the world needs now is da-da-da-da.” But obviously as a word, love solves nothing.
Much that is written and taught about love consists of a plethora of cliches. You're methodically paroted whenever a discussion of love is held. One person might rightfully say “Yes, yes, I've heard all that before.” This reminds me of a favorite golf story, perhaps only appreciated by the golfer. A golf pro was approached by two women. He said, “I guess you'd like to learn to play golf.” One of the ladies said, “Not me, it's my friend who wants to learn. I learned yesterday.” I say only a golfer can truly appreciate that.
So it is with love. You may have read all the books and treatises about love. Probably you could give a good account of yourself if asked to give a lecture on the subject. You can say da-da-da-da with variations on the theme because you learned yesterday that Jesus said, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
There's so much confusion about this thing called love. If I tell you, “I don't like you one little bit.” At least you know where I stand. I'm being honest, and you can deal with me accordingly. But if I tell you, “I love you” knowledge of love being what it is, you might be suspicious or puzzled. You might not really know what I mean. You're tempted to look on love like the weather as something you can do little about. Love either happens, or it doesn't. You fall in love as if by accident. At best love is unpredictable or uncertain. It has been believed that love is a commodity that is given and received. I give you my love; you give me your love. Now we each have love because you've given it to us.
You may feel that in your formative years you were short changed. You feel insufficient, inadequate today, lonely, bereft of love because you were not loved when you were a child because of parental indifference or abuse or abandonment. For this reason, you may feel that you live in a love starved darkness, searching everywhere for love, which is really the search for the objects of love. Waiting for people to turn you on with love. Blaming people and conditions for turning you off or making you angry. Usually it's a hopeless quest. You're the only degraded owner that's in despair.
For many years I've been on a personal crusade. Challenging the belief that love is a commodity, something you find and something you make, something you give and receive, again leading into the delusion that you would be living an empty and love starved life, primarily because you were deprived of love and affection as a child. I have challenged the action in psychology that the greatest of all human needs is to be loved. It is suggested that one who is bereft of affection early in life, will grow up to be one who's not very affectionate as an adult, but again, this implies that love is a quantity to receive and to be stored up. It implies that the most happy and secure people are those who have the greatest accumulation of love; and the friendless, lonely person is one who has a scant supply of love in store. This is what we've been taught and what we believed.
But in my thesis and because God is love and each of us is created in the image and likeness of this love, each and every person is created in and of love. Love is the ever present reality of our nature, and we were told “Behold, I have loved you with an everlasting love.” The entire love potential of God is within you all the time. You can never have any more; you can never have any less. You're always loved from within. What you need is to give it expression, by loving. So the great need is not to be loved but to love. The lonely loveless person is one who has become an artist and blocking and frustrating the divine flow of love.
Retold by the child psychologist, the little child has a great need to be picked up, cuddled, kissed and fondled, so that he may feel the security of our love. But it is my contention, this secure feeling of love provides a needed environment, which the child feels the freedom to express the flow of inner love. The only source of love is from within. I think this is borne out by the fact that early along the child looks for dolls or real or stuffed animals to cuddle to show love and affection to. In other words it's not primarily that he needs someone to love him, certainly he needs an environment of loving that's around him, which enabled him to give expression to his own love potential. Again, the only source of love is from within. I cannot give you love. You cannot give me love. I can be loving. You can be loving. We can create for each one an environment in which we feel the freedom to express this love potential from within us.
One may wonder, why all this fuss over loving or being loved? The reason is as fundamental as the whole new unsighted truth. On the one hand you're at the mercy of the love or affection of others. On the other hand you have total control and anytime you can let go of loneliness and lovelessness and stir up the gift of God within you. It's always sad to me to see a person going along through his life feeling bitter toward his parents because he feels they did not give him love. All the while he's refusing to let the love flow that is always built up within him, let it be released and expressed.
One of the sad influences of the adult society is that any display of affection, especially in men as a sign of weakness. You recall a few years ago how a presidential candidate, was drummed out of politics because he was so weak as to be moved to tears over the vicious attacks on his wife. To me this is sad because that man's sensitive response actually indicated a leadership quantity much needed in our politicians today. One who is caring and sensitive and thoughtful, loving.
Early along in life, a little girl has told to, “Be a big girl dear and don't cry.” But the boys, not so subtle. “Boys don't cry.” Such restraints are not only untrue; they're detriments to the development of a healthy mind of an adult. Any person, and especially a man who respects his own need to keep open to his inner flow of love, realizes that it is important to his physical and mental health. Who allows himself to touch, to hug, to kiss more than socialist customs dictate. Such persons are inevitably stronger than the rigid followers of the macho image in the sense that they're more secure, more even tempered, less irritable, less inclined to get rattled about little things or to come apart at the seams in a time of crisis.
The person who systematically denies his need to be affectionate alienates himself from those he loves, whether he knows it or not and he is isolated in his world. As much as he may tell himself or others, “Of course, I love my wife. I support her don't I?” A marriage counselor once said, “It's not enough for a husband to bring home the bacon. At times, he needs to bring home the applesauce too.” Which is to say that it needs to bring home a sense of loving-ness and caring-ness and sharing-ness. A father said, “My son knows I love him without my going around hugging him all the time.” But the problem is, he's not only failing to provide his loved ones within an environment suitable for their own releasement of the love potential, even more, he's allowing the emotional conduit through which the divine love, flow of love expresses to atrophy. He loses his interconnection. He is to become cold and hard and terribly unhappy.
One person may object to my insistence that you, we have control over our own lives, that no relationship or the lack of one can have the power to give or withhold love from you, but love is not a commodity to receive, but an energy to mobilize an expression within. You may say, “But how can I love when I have no special person in my life to love or be loved by?” You may frequent all the places where you can be socially involved, yet Mr. Right and Ms. Right does not appear. What is there to do? The first thing is to get yourself grounded in oneness with your own source, rightly connected to your inner flow. More important than finding that right person, is being the right person. Centered in your own love flow, you'll become more friendly to people. More open in your interest in them as persons. More rated in the communication of love, and by the law of consciousness, and this law is infallible, you will tend to be drawn toward and will attract to you, a very special one with whom you can share a fulfilling communion of love. But it begins with you. Within you. And flows through you.
You see, until we become aware that love is not an object to possess, we find ourselves forever searching for a lover or partner out there. In this consciousness, love is a quest, the pursuit, a capture and a possession.
Olga and I witnessed the sad story of a woman who flipped over a handsome man. She wanted him desperately, and she said so. What happened was this woman was into mind control. She used all the techniques, as well as her feminine wiles. He was the classic naive man. As he says, she chased him till he caught her. To a friend she boasted, “He never had a chance.” But as it turned out, neither did love have a chance. The relationships soon broke up, short of marriage. This same woman later complained that she had simply falling in love with the wrong person. She insisted self pity to me that it was unfair, that the universe was picking on her.
This person demonstrated a lack of understanding of the meaning of life. Life is not just a matter of clutching for the brass ring. I mean you get it. You go on and live happily ever after. Unfortunately many persons approach courtship and marriage in this way. As I say so often, “Life is for growing.” and Goethe says, “Marriage is an opportunity to grow.” I love the vignette of Socrates being asked by a young man, you should get married. The wise man said, “Go ahead and marry son. If you get a good wife, you'd be happy and if you get a bad one, you become a philosopher and that's good for any man.” Unless we be accused of male chauvinism, we should note that the same is true in reverse. If you get a good husband you'd be happy, and if you get a bad one you become a philosopher and that's good for any women. Had to add that because sometimes I'm accused of being too chauvinist.
It's a common and quite erroneous belief that loneliness, insecurity, and inadequacy would all be resolved in the union of two lovers, rather than the discovery of the whole self. This is the common fantasy that in marriage or in love relationships, all the problems of one's own personality will be solved, so the relation becomes the purgatory of all sorts of false expectations. Where both partners expecting to be loved, defined and supported, abdicate responsibility for themselves, and then often accuse the other of taking away their freedom. One may long for love and for a love relationship, but the love he hungers for is actually within himself.
Some folks go on through life and never understand that. At first, he is lonely because he's frustrating, the one source of love within. He's hopelessly looking for love from other people, yet without accepting and keeping open to his own inner flow, he's totally unable to accept it from others even when it is sincerely preferred. People around him may be loving, somehow he's so blocked, he refuses to let the love flow from within him, so he can never feel love.
He may protest that you cannot love a particular person because you don't feel love for him. Again, love is not something you give him. It's not a commodity. It is the receptivity to inner flow. So your protest of not having love to give in this particular case, means that you're holding some kind of enmity or prejudice in this case, which is bottling up the flow that is ever present.
Often people in love have a tendency to focus on similarities and their interests and ways of thinking to avoid evidence of any differences. They often say, “We have so much in common.” Which has given us proof that they're meant for one another. Usually the commonalities are very superficial and rationalistic. An attempt to vindicate a decision they've already arrived at. The assumption is the differences might disqualify them. So typically they idealize each other and impute attitudes that they may not even exist. A time of disillusionment and sets in. The problem was each one was unrealistically thinking that a good love relationship must be based on finding and being the perfect mate. But I say people, perfect, people don't get married. Perfect people have no need of mates. To be perfect is to be totally self-fulfilled. The ideal love relationship is the coming together of two imperfect people. Each one has the resources and the commitment to become a blessing of growth. If you don't understand that we're going to arrive a lot of confusion, so the differences between people, maybe more of a reason for a good relationship and evidence of unfitness.
I love the thought given by a marriage counselor. He says, “Where there are no differences, it must be a lot of indifference.” The key is not in having no differences, but having a love of transcendent enough to adjust to all differences. There's a Spanish saying, “You could never love anyone unless you also love his faults.” That's kind of shocking. This is not to condone his shortcomings, unless you indicate that if you love, you love the whole person. Even as you hope to be loved as you are. True love is essentially a prophetic vision. It sees beyond faults. It is not the will to set them right, but the commitment to see them rightly and the consciousness that tenderly encourages growth and change. Charles Fillmore used to say, “Love is not the play thing of human volition but the action of divine law.”
Someone says, “As long as you're mine, I love you. If you leave me, I hate you with a passion.” Shakespeare senses this. Articulates beautifully in one of his sonnets. He says, “Love is not love, which alters when it alteration finds.” If you feel that everything is lost between you because of what a person does, then you never really loved him in the first place.
Possessiveness is not just between lovers. Note how the parent justifies his selfish hold on a child by saying, “But I'm responsible for him.” This is true, but the truly responsible parent will always carefully and persistently make himself progressively unnecessary. This takes conscious effort. Otherwise, they will be a progressive intrusion on the growing life and another person on the way to adulthood. Again there's a subtle rationalization that it is a parent's responsibility to tell the child what he should do and what he should become, and what he should not do and become. A parent says, “I only want what is best for the child” is usually what he thinks is best, more often motivated by his ego and a need to be proud of the child. That he will be able to say, “My son, the doctor, my daughter the research scientist.” This is not love.
Love for a person often brings tears of sympathy at his hurts, and sorrowful grief over his passing. Do you cry out of self pity because someone has met a tragedy? If you cry because you've been bereft of one and whom you've invested a lot of love and affection, then it was not really love at all. Quite often a parent says, “After all the love I have given him, this is the thanks I get.” If you're expecting thanks for what you gave, then you never loved, you're simply bartering. For sorrow and love can't go together, even if Christian tradition is an idealized reef, put it on the cross and worship it, for true love is not holding on and is letting go.
When a person has passed, it knows that love is not ended in death, but simply moving onward to the next stage of growth. Joyful because of the privilege of sharing these fleeting moments of eternity, walking the pathway of life together.
Dependence is not love, because love is the constant effort to keep spaces in your togetherness. Jealousy is not love, because it is the fear that something or someone can intrude upon your relationship. An insecurity, born out of a lack of love. Possessiveness is not love, for it is an evidence of an ego needed to dominate the life of another person. If you feel the duty to love, you try to be loving, then there's no love. For to try to love is not to love. Love is not trying. It is being. You want me to begin to try to love him. You're resenting him. You're holding onto something less than good in him. You're frustrating the flow of love. If when you're judging your relationship, if you can let go of all these, really let them go, even as you let go of darkness and you turn on the light, you may open the flow of love from within and feel it's supportive and fulfilling energy.
If you do not have this character of love, then it follows. You need look no farther for the cause. Most of the ills of mind, body and affairs, without this constant flow of love from within, your daily life has no meaning, but the greatest of all insights revealed by the truth, is that you don't need specific persons to be in love with in order to have fulfillment and love. Of course it helps to have that special someone, that need not come first. Love as a cosmic flow to release. The transcendence, to celebrate.
A spiritually mature person comes to the realization that the degree to which he keeps himself in the flow, in the flow of love marks the role that he is playing and what it's called, the planetary consciousness, whether he's an asset or liability in building and maintaining world peace is not enough to point to dictators and terrorists and hostile ideologies as the problem. Whether you like it or not, you make the difference, and you can do so.
Pitirim Sorokin, long time distinguished professor of sociology at Harvard University says, “If every one of us would decrease in his personal life, a portion of hateful emotions and actions of enmity, it would increase emotions and actions of unselfish love to all human beings, by this change of our mind and behavior, we would improve the moral and spiritual climate of mankind and could contribute to a lasting peace much more than by all the operations of power politics and government races.” The time has come when the intensive cultivation of creative love has become everybody's business.
A true peacemaker will take frequent meditation times to get centered and the realization, I have loved you with an everlasting love. You get the feeling of this divine celebration, rushing, streaming, pouring into you from all sides, and then to make the commitment, to make your day and every relation in it your very personal celebration of love. Those are the words which we could say are the da-da-da-da of love for today.
Let's get still and have an imaging realization, we experience something beyond that. I want you to relax and be receptive. At your mind, reach inward in the depth of you, to a point within you where you become the activity of the infinite expressing as you. Beyond the ego, beyond the human self, to the point of you which is truly God in you.
I want you to let yourself think for a moment on the idea, as the scriptures put it, “Behold, I have loved you with an everlasting love.” I want you to think of letting yourself experience this flow of love from within. Not something you can accumulate but something you can experience and be blessed by.
Think of a circle. When we're told, “God is a circle is the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere.” You're at the center of the circle. Think of Plotinus' beautiful thoughts. That the love of God is rushing, streaming, pouring into you from all sides. Pouring into you. Welling up and overflowing. All the love of the universe is poured out upon you and has given birth within you. All the love. There's always enough love to go around, in relationships and your experience in the world.
As you sit in this auditorium, there may be a kind of sense of psychological separation between persons around you that you're not acquainted with. When you get centered in this inner love flow, suddenly you see things that are in perspective and there's no separation. We all stand looking out the same window together and experience a great sense of love. Feel that love flowing forth from you to all the persons around you in this auditorium. You're in love together; you're all in love with each other. And if we could know there's no place, no time, in all of our lives, in all eternity and you can be closer to the allness of love, then right now is already together, would take on new significance. The allness of love flows forth within you now. See all your fears and inadequacies, loneliness, sense of hopelessness, of lack of love dissolve and fade away to nothingness, once and for all, for all time. Remember that you're loved constantly, fulfillingly.
You can never know lack of love. There'll be many opportunities for the expression of this love and expressing it, you experience it. You become a blessing to those around you. Now for just a moment, as one body, one body of love and lovingness, let's visualize the radiance of this love in this auditorium going forth into the world and Sorokin says, “Intensive cultivation of creative love is everybody's business and we make it our business now.” Light of love rushes and streams and pours through us out into the world. Blessing the people in our neighborhood, people in our city, businessman, politicians, teachers, parents, love for it, streaming for it into the world.
And this place here today begins a dynamic activity. I wish the world would never be quite the same again. You and I are a part of this. It's one of the Valentine's Day to come, which is often an excuse for sentimentality, sometimes superficiality, let's make a commitment to see this as a very special love day not where we get involved in emotional sensual love, when we think in terms of becoming a channel for the expression that is infinite love. That way we become an influence in our home, in our office and all who we touch, wherever we go, influence for the expression in the infinite love of God. You're a channel for the expression of the infinite love of God. Whisper that to yourself, “I am a channel for the expression of the infinite love of God and goes forth endlessly, blessing, healing, establishing peace.” Let's just feel grateful. And usually I know the truth and the truth shall make you free. So be it.