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EBUP14: The All or None Law

Eric Butterworth Unity Podcast #14

Eric Butterworth Sunday Services — The All or None Law


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A new insight in truth that we deal with here on Sunday mornings is essentially an outline of fundamental spiritual laws, permeating the techniques for individual application. If the outline is effectively articulated, the techniques are amazingly simple. Those of you who have worked with it for a while, agree with me that the application is not all that easy. It’s simple but it’s not easy.

The difficulty of truth is that we’re dealing with law, not caprice. You do not affect the demonstration of this truth by mouthing a few statements, affirmations and treatments. In Psalm 37, the psalmist sings, “Commit thy way unto the Lord. Trust in him and he should bring it to pass.” Commit thy way unto the Lord, and the Lord means law. The law of being, the law of mind action. It’s the law both of your divine potential and the law of the mind action that controls its expressions.

The key word here is the word commit. Commitment is an old fashioned value that has almost lost its meaning in our time. Serious question is, you’ve made a commitment to the Lord of your being, the to truth, to the idea or right or righteous thinking or living. Or is the truth simply something you read or hear about and conveniently lay it aside like a book?

A commitment is a determination to take a particular course of action and to go all the way. The old hymn sings I’ll go with him all the way. All the way in the demonstration of the law. In Plutarch’s lives, we find the origin of the classic expression, “Crossing the Rubicon.” It’s in the story of Julius Caesar, in 49 BC. He paused with his military forces at the Rubicon, the small stream that was the boundary line between Italy and Gaul. At the moment he crossed the stream with his forces, it was a declaration of war, which should be irreversible without victory or defeat.

It says, “He communed with himself for a long time in silence. He uttered the phrase, let the die be cast, and then the troops followed in confidence.” He committed himself, his legions, his whole life cause to this act. This is commitment. There’s a fundamental law that it’s basically science, psychology and spiritual truth, that often which we’ve borrowed our title today, the all or none law. The all or none law.

It says simply that you cannot do two things or think of two things at the same time. In its simplest application, you cannot sit down or stand up at the same time. That’s obvious isn’t it? You can’t go forward and backward at the same time, though we do try it much of the time. You can’t be honest or dishonest at the same time. You cannot really believe and have unbelief at the same time. It is all or none.

Now knowing this, we often attempt some project in the half-hearted way. It would be as if Julius Caesar moved into Gaul, warily and timidly, acting as if the decision was still pending, hoping that events would indicate whether he should or shouldn’t have gone on the attack. Without an all out commitment, Caesar would have been destroyed. Whatever the project that you may be up to, certainly pray for guidance, contemplating all the factors involved in the highest point of view. If your heart leads you forward, and your spirit just says seize this very minute. Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

In all the bible there’s no character no colorful than Paul. He’s a real favorite of mine. I love him even though I debate his ideas and object to some of them. Talk back to him and tell him, he’s complete wrong. We have a great time. Paul’s missionary zeal is the energy that enabled the Christian movement to go forward. As a convert to the way of Jesus, Paul is one with whom we can identify. Extremely human, moody, impetuous, opinionated, but unquestionably sincere.

He traveled the known world over, carrying the message of truth, getting supporters and enemies at the same time. There’s one occasion that I would like to refer to, when Paul had been imprisoned. He’s being held for trial before Caesar. Agrippa asked to hear Paul’s testimony. Hearing the persuasive testimony of Paul, he said, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Almost thou persuaded me to be a Christian. Paul replied, “I would to God that not only thou but also they that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.”

The word “almost” is very significant. A man with an epileptic son came to Jesus for help saying, “If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us.” Jesus replied rather sternly, “If thou canst? All things are possible to them that believeth.” In the classic lines, the father cried out, “I believe. Help thou my unbelief.”

The truth becomes very quickly the realization that faith is the key to overcoming, the demonstration. All too often when facing a crisis, like the Father, we want to believe. We really want to believe. More than that, we try to believe. It might shock you when I say, to try to believe is not to believe. Believing isn’t trying. It’s a commitment.

We’re really saying, when we say I believe, we’re saying I believe in believing. I believe that a condition can be helped. The body can be healed. We don’t actually believe that it will be. So despite our prayers and the positive affirmations of truth, and our confessions of belief, we haven’t crossed the Rubicon. We harbor secret reservations and doubts and fears that really make up the essence of our mental attitude. So often we think we’re believing with all our heart in something, and working on that belief. We have unbelief. As the all or none law says, it’s all or none. You either believe or you don’t.

To believe is a complete commitment. If you don’t believe, you’re almost there. But to almost turn the light on is to be in the darkness. To be almost healed is to be sick. Jesus says you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. If you almost know the truth, you’re in bondage. All or none.

This is a very important factor of truth that is so often missed. In every strong, enthusiastic to the idea that there’s always an allness in every illness. It is a phrase that I love to say. There’s an allness in every illness. For the illness merely obscures the ever present allness. You may be excited by the idea that your healing potential is always present merely because God is always present. There’s a presence.

It makes so much sense, we say. It means we accept it with the intellect. We’re lacking the all out commitment to cross our own inner Rubicon. At the root of our full consciousness, it may be like a King Agrippa. Almost thou persuadest me. I almost know the truth about this thing, which means I’m still plagued with indecision.

As good students of truth, we often acquire the vocabulary of metaphysics. Quick with the phrases and affirmations. We read in Jehovah, in Genesis 18:14, is anything too hard for Jehovah it says? We answer decisively, “No. Nothing is too hard.” Yet when it comes to a particular problem or circumstance or physical condition, we may often do qualify our answer, by saying, but you see this is different. You don’t understand. This is different. The preacher of Ecclesiastes said, “God made man straightforward but man invents endless subtleties of his own.”

One of the most insidious of those subtleties, on that wreaks havoc with our spiritual fulfillment, is the three letter word, “but.” Of course I know in truth that there’s nothing to worry about, but. Thus we effectively neutralize our faith. It’s as if Caesar had said as he led his forces forward into Gaul, this body should be easy. It’s a snap, but the legions are not as young as they used to be. Not a thing to worry about in this, but the weather’s bad, the terrain is rough and the supply lines may be overextended. That would make the battle half-hearted. There would always be a secret reservation. How many of us have those secret reservations in the back of our consciousness, in the back of our drawers at home?

There a phrase, burning one’s bridges behind them. You’ve heard the phrase often. To burn his bridges behind him. It’s become an enduring figure of speech in our language. It paints an unforgettable picture. It originated in the early times, perhaps even before Caesar, when the commander of an invading army made a great decision to attach. To make absolutely sure that there would be no indecision or hesitancy on the part of any of the commanders, any temptation to fall back if the going gets rough, he gets all his troops across a big bridge, and burns any bridges of escape behind them. So the soldiers would see their attack as all or none. They’re fighting for their very life. There was no way out, no escape. Only one way to go forward.

This is the commitment that involves irreversible decision. It’s that kind of a commitment that we want to contemplate, especially in our search for truth. We have a great need in our lives for that kind of commitment, in love, in faith, in service. All too often, there’s an unburned bridge somewhere, by which we cop out, to use a contemporary term. It’s a secret avenue of escape from our high resolves, the secret reservations to our emphasis on [inaudible 00:12:47] declarations of truth.

A good example of the unburned bridge which may come too close to home to be fair, is the person who’s made the commitment to work through a particular diet to lose some excess weight. He knows it’s going to require a lot of discipline. Let’s say he goes about his home disposing of the candies and the assorted other delicacies that could be a temptation. He knows that it’s going to have to be all or none. There can be no success if he’s almost persuaded. He finally gets to the refrigerator. He cleans out all the special delicacies that he feels he’d have to renounce during this time. He comes to a small cream pie in the freezer.

He’s about to throw it away, and then he thought, maybe I’ll just keep this one thing in case. In case I have a counterattack one night. So he buries it deep down under all the frozen items, so no one would see it. This is the seed of his downfall. The pie is the boat tied to the dock, the avenue of escape, the secret reservation.

You can translate or interpolate that into any experience that is right for you because I’m sure you can find many of them. A house divided against itself shall not stand, we’re told. Man simply did not cross the Rubicon. If you can recall the story of Angela Boullion, the great religious leader in France. As a youngster she was being forced into an unwelcome marriage by her parents. So she decided to run away and go into a religious order. She left this early morning. She took with her one penny for her lunch for the day.

She’s about to leave and she hears a voice as from within her saying, “Where’s your faith? In a penny?” She replied emphatically, “No, Lord my faith is in thee and thee alone.” She left the penny on the table at home, stepping out completely on the promises. That’s faith.

William James, commenting on this said, “The penny was a small financial safeguard, but an effective spiritual obstacle.” Many of the things that we have as safeguards become spiritual obstacles because we put too much emphasis upon them. When you think, for instance, of all your possessions and securities and your secure job. These things, in a certain context can become effective spiritual obstacles because they tend often to keep us in the almost consciousness when we set our attention upon them.

Of course I have faith because I have a check book with a bank account that has plenty of money in it. Of course I have faith. Because I have an automobile to take me where I want to go. We almost believe the limitlessness of the universe apply, flowing to us, sustaining us in prosperity and success. This is not to say, and I don’t want you to misunderstand me, we should renounce our possessions or our financial means. Not at all.

But it does mean that we must cross the Rubicon in consciousness. Get our priorities right, as we say so often. To get our focus on that which is real. Renounce the possessions as your financial source. Give the affirmation which is easy to say but not so easy to get into our consciousness. “I give thanks to God as the source of my supply, and I bless my job and my savings and my investments as channels through which my true supply flows to me.” It’s so important that we get that awareness.

Otherwise, the things, the possessions, the resources, basically are looked upon as a convenient bridge, a secret reservation. It’s like a person going out with a certain amount of money in his pocket. He knows that if he runs out of money, he can always call the bank or stop at the special place where you get money from the street because his credit is good. He has a good bank account, so he has faith, he thinks.

One person was in deep financial trouble because of the purchase of a household of new furniture. The creditors were threatening to repossess everything because she couldn’t pay for it. She was asked why she had purchased all this furniture when it was obviously so far above her means and her level of consciousness. She said, but I had faith that God was going to also place a supply. I was stepping out on the promises.

Again, she believed in belief. She had faith in faith, but she didn’t have faith itself. She stepped out on what she thought was faith. Emmet Fox used to say, “You step out on Wanamaker’s, step out on Macy’s, step out on your charge account.” She almost believed in universal supply. She found her financial safeguard in easy credit at the department store. But her credit card was an effective spiritual obstacle. She was believing in God as her supply, but she retreated across the unburned bridge.

This is not to say, that we should burn all our credit cards. Surely they’re a great convenience. We must admit that they’re the source of an awful lot of trouble if they’re used as a substitute for all or none faith. They can be downright dangerous and are for many persons. The credit card should be used only within the parameters of your consciousness. In a strict sense, the card should be used only if you really don’t need it. I’ll say it again. Use your card only if you don’t need it.

If you need it, then you should at least seriously question the wisdom of using it. That doesn’t make sense does it? Perhaps it goes too far. But it’s something to think about. As one credit card company says, don’t leave home without it. Sometimes you’re better not to leave home with it. To me, it always is to work for an expanded faith in the universe, as the source of your supply, and cross the Rubicon in a disciplined commitment of faith. I’m sure a lot of us have much to work out in this respect, and it’s something we need to work on. Look on the law as all or none.

Jesus said, no one having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God refers to the divine possibility, the kingdom of fulfillment. No one is fit for the fulfilling of his desires and ideals if he sets out on faith, carries with him the secret reservation, and then retreats back across the bridge in security, when he needs to.

You may remember the bible story of Lot. He was urged by the Spirit to gather his family and flee from the city of Sodom which was to be destroyed. They were cautioned not to look back, but as they were fleeing, Lot’s wife did look back. She became a pillar of salt. This is symbolic and it’s important to see in it that the meaning was clear. It was all or none. They had to completely cut all their ties with any negation. But Lot’s wife couldn’t do so. It was a secret reservation in her consciousness.

In the words, as the song says, she left her heart in San Francisco, she left her heart in Sodom. She left her heart back where all her possessions were, where her family and her relationships were. Where she felt secure. So she went over the unburned bridge. She was half-hearted in what she was doing. It’s an interesting sideline, in the clarification through a modern translation of this little idiom of speech. George Lamsa, the modern Syrian scholar explains, the pillar of salt means that she became petrified with fear and died. Many persons have great tragedies in their lives because they can’t go all the way. They retreat. They look back. They fail to keep their perception upon the goal and upon the consciousness of faith with which it can be accomplished.

In my book I tell the story of a young man on the island of Java who spied a beautiful girl on the high road and followed her for a mile. Finally she turned to the man and said, “Why do you dog my footsteps?” He declared feverishly, “Because you’re the loveliest creature I’ve ever seen and I’ve fallen madly in love with you at first sight. I want you to be mine.” The girl replied, “But you’ve merely to look behind you to see my young sister who is ten times more beautiful than I am.” The gallant swain wheeled about and his gaze feel on the homeliest creature he’d ever seen. “What mockery is this?” he demanded of the girl. “You lied to me.” “So did you,” she said. “For if you were madly in love with me, why did you turn around?”

He was attracted to the girl, but there was no commitment which real love builds upon. So much self-delusion in this. Many relationships break down because of the same lack of commitment. I might say to a spouse or partner or friend, “I loved you with all my heart, but after what you’ve done to me, I hate you with a passion.” There was I love you, but I hold carefully to an unburned bridge.

Shakespeare talks about this. He says, “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.” Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds. In other words, if you’re capable of hating someone with a passion, then you never really loved the person at all. We can do a lot of checking up on ourselves if we look for signs such as this. We find ourselves being hateful and spiteful, angry to the point of breaking off a relationship because of what a person has done. It’s self-delusive to tell ourselves that he spoiled it all because I loved him so much, but he did these things, and so I hate him terribly.

We’re all involved in some kind of relationship, be it only a next door neighbor or an office coworker. We need to understand the meaning and the work of love and commit ourselves to becoming channels for its expression. For love essentially is a kind of perception that sees the potential within another person. If that love is based only on a reciprocal agreement to be nice to one another, it’s not love, not really. Eric Fromme says it’s a symbiotic attachment.

If there’s someone in your life for whom you have a deep affection, you must commit yourself to treat that person as if he really were what your love perception perceived him as being. Quite often we love someone and the person does something and we say, you let me down. He didn’t let you down. You held a certain image of him, and he wasn’t able at this point to live up to that image, but the image was in your mind. The expectation was something that was yielded by spirit.

The person who can sustain the perfection that is revealed in his better moments is not too easily to be found, because most of us are totally unable to live up to an idea of perfection that someone holds upon us through love. But if you really love, you don’t turn away at every opposition. You hold to the perception of the good. If you become influenced in the life of that loved one, which is what relationships is really all about and why it came about. It’s interesting how many persons think that if a relationship or a job or a place to live is right for you, it should literally work itself out.

People that have been married for a while quite often tell a marriage counselor or a minister, we used to love each other so much, but he does this or she does that and it doesn’t live up to our love. So if we have these differences, it must mean that we’re not intended for each other. We’re not meant for each other. In other words, there should be no differences between people, no difficulties in your work. I love when a person says of a job, I really love this job but there’s so many problems, so many difficulties, I’m sure it’s not right for me.

You can’t measure whether a job is right for you because of the hard work that’s required of you, because all of us are required to give hard work. It’s important to our growth. The important thing is the perception of the job in terms of what it can be and what you can make it. It should rise to a regular commitment.

People who feel that because there are differences between them in marriage, that there must be something wrong, it’s a sign that they’re too permissive with themselves. All work should be a growth experience, and it was Goethe who said that marriage is an opportunity to grow. People get married because they have a need to grow. Perfect people don’t get married. Have you discovered that?

Marriage is the coming together of two imperfect persons who have a quality of love which is a spiritual perception that enables them to see something in each other that is more than that which is not manifest. The purpose of the marriage is to help that something to come forth. Again as Goethe says, marriage is an opportunity to grow.

Everything you want to take to do and every relationship you’re determined to go with, will come up against many cross currents of race consciousness, in you and in the world around you. They said a marriage is made in heaven, but it must go through the labor pains of being out-formed in human experience. You can think your job came about by divine appointment. But you always the responsibility of outperforming the potential good by hard work and commitment to a realized goal.

In every experience, there may be an urge to drop out. As the marriage counselor says, where there are no differences in a relationship, there must be a lot of indifference. If a person says, I only see the good in you and I never see anything less than good in you at any time and I love you with an abiding passion, the person probably is not really realistic. He’s not telling the truth. He’s not recognizing that he probably runs into crosscurrents in the relationship, not often but occasionally because then it’s human and they’re both human.

But his love enables him to rise above that, and be a part of the outworking of the greater good in the life of the other person. When two persons are committed to mutually work out their problems in this sense, then there’s a great experience of love. Any runner knows that you must press past the point of fatigue or fear or discouragement. Nothing to be ashamed of to have an urge to give up. I’ve often said that I resign from my position in Unity at least once a week.

It often begins with the preparation of a talk, and it isn’t working right. I give up. I can’t do it. That point of giving up is always a blessing to him because I feel that if I give up, I get rid of the human in me and I let the divine express. I myself can do nothing but through Christ who strengthens me, I can do all things. There’s nothing wrong with the urge to give up. Even Jesus wanted to drop out. When he says in the garden, let this cup pass from me, some people don’t want to look at that. They say, well he was God. He couldn’t possibly have a moment of discouragement. But he said, let this cup pass from me. Why should I go through this experience? Why can’t I go off and live a normal life?

Nevertheless he said, not my will but thine be done. This was the great commitment, to go all the way. In other words, he turned from the human inclination to get fully all together in tune with the divine flow. If there hadn’t been that commitment, there would have been no overcoming, the resurrection.

We all have our Gethsemane experiences in life, big ones and little ones. But in every case, we face the question of almost, or altogether. It’s easy to say, well after all, I do pretty well for a person of my age. In other words, you’re saying I’m only human so almost should be good enough. You should make allowances for the fact that I’ve lived so many years. I’ve been so many years on this job, but the call of Spirit within can never be satisfied with good enough, never.

The need is for an increased discipline, renewed commitment to the great idea of truth, to the deeper possibilities of your nature, or the positive responses to all life situations. You may have some resistance at this point. You may feel that I am saying that the all or none law indicates that you have to go all the way to perfection in order to be helped or healed under divine law. We’re not saying that at all. It’s a simple matter of directions.

If you want to go to Los Angeles, you just begin to move in that direction. You may say, I almost traveled west, but you wound up in Seattle. There’s no way you can get to Los Angeles traveling in the direction you were going. Jesus says, “Ye shall know the truth and it shall make you free.” We can say again, almost know the truth, you’ll be almost free. Almost free is in bondage. Almost free is hungry. Almost free is unemployment. Almost free is sickness.

The need is to become a disciple of truth and to be altogether imbued with a commitment to self-discipline. Many of us grew up in the old idea that you joined a church and you were saved. There was a beautiful finality about it. It’s all over. I’m saved. Are you saved, brother? Of course this is totally misleading. Salvation is an everyday experience. I may be saved for this moment, but what about the next moment? What about tomorrow? What about next week? There’s no way to have a claim, stake a claim on a place in heaven because you’ve gone through a special emotional salvation experience.

It takes more than joining a club or reading a magazine to make a good golfer, to get it back into the context of my interests. It takes a continuous discipline of practice. Otherwise, I will almost hit the ball. Or almost hit it straight. How many hours a day do you have to practice to be a good golfer or to be a good musician or a good truth student? With golf and music, you will have to set a goal and practice while you can and you’ll go about as far as your practice will prepare you for, but with truth it’s entirely different.

How much time should you practice the truth? How much time should you practice the presence of God? How much time should you work with divine law? All the time. All the time. That’s why I mean go all the way. Go all the way in a continuous practice. If I don’t practice the law of gravity, I’ll step off this platform and fall flat on my face. The law is not there to hurt me. It’s there to help me. It holds me down. It holds you in your seat. It enables us to do the kind of things that we do. We have to practice the law of gravity all the time. If you forget for one minute, if your subconscious habit patterns cause you to do something that are against the law, you’ll stub your toe or fall flat on your face.

But with truth, you see it’s different than the human experience. You have to practice the presence all the time. Practice the truth you knew every moment of your life, every breathing moment. There’s no king’s X. It’s all or none. Again, you cannot almost insulate a wire or you’ll have a short circuit. You cannot almost have a positive consciousness. You’ll reap the word of the negative. The more you can get along in the study of truth, the more you’ll become aware of the great responsibilities of living up to the spiritual truth, the laws, right thought, positive relationships with people and reactions to the things in the world. We have to practice all the time.

It may seem to be a very hard, difficult order. That’s what truth is all about. You want the greater life? You want the greater success, the greater peace of mind, the happiness that you can have all the time? You have to work for it. Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.

The study of truth is a full-time job, but if you accept the discipline involved, you’ll come to experience progressively all things working together for your good. Most important, you begin to really, really live. Let’s be still for a moment. Let’s see our life today in the context of the military commander, when he knows that if he crosses a particular boundary, in Caesar’s case, the Rubicon, it will be a total commitment.

Let us determine if we’ve never done it before, today we make a commitment. A commitment to go all the way with truth, realizing that this is not saying we have to be perfect, that we have to have a deep discipline and awareness of the work involved and a willingness to keep ourself in perfect peace and keep our mind stayed on God. You have the capacity to cross the Rubicon of your mind or you wouldn’t be here. The next step is up to you. You’ve come this far. The great potentials of your life and the possibilities of your experience are all here before you, and you’re here because you have a desire to experience that.

As the song says, “I’ll go with him all the way.” I’ll cross the Rubicon. In the area of my own spiritual growth, there are many challenges to my faith, many difficulties along the way because that’s life. Life is a growth experience. We make the commitment, burn the bridge behind us, and work on the application of truth principles in our everyday life, in our work and our relationships with people. We progressively begin to experience a kind of life that we never before dreamed of.

Honor yourself. Praise yourself and the fact that you have within you the potential to go forward and not look backward. Within you is the fulfillment of life, and yours is the potential of giving birth to it in your life right now. Praise God for the truth, the whole truth, the discipline of truth, to be able to live with the truth and live within it, and live by it. And then the promise is, the truth shall make you free. So be it.