Eric Butterworth Unity Podcast #72
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There’s an old hymn that I used to enjoy singing. It ended, ‘Not somewhere else, but where thou art.’ I’m sure that many of us would be shocked if we knew how much of our lives is actually lived in the past, when we’ve got a nostalgia, or on the other side of the fence where the grass is a little greener, or in the future in hopes and aspirations and fear and apprehension.
Somebody said that a picture is worth a thousand words. For instance, there’s story out of Zen tradition presents such a picture. It tells of a monk who is being chased by two tigers near the edge of a cliff and frantically let himself down by a vine that was hanging there. Having climbed down a while, he looked up above him and at the very top two mice were gnawing at the vine. Frantically looking down, and he saw two more tigers awaiting him at the bottom, pacing back and forth licking their chops.
Just then he saw a beautiful strawberry within his arm’s reach. He picked it, enjoyed the best strawberry he had ever tasted.
As typical Zen, it’s a parable of life. Wherever you are in time and space, be there. Live the moment and the experience completely. There may be regrets about the past, there may be apprehensions about the future. But what about today? What about the opportunity for joy and fulfillment in this moment just where you are. One of the great discoveries, which is somewhat puzzling to many persons, is the truth that now is all the time there is. Now is all the time there is, this moment.
You may have found the idea shocking because you may have looked at the now, the present moment, as the arena. You wish to give vent to feelings about what you have been through and make some kind of wise preparation for the days to come. Of course, that’s not bad in itself.
Unfortunately, the tendency to become preoccupied with anything and everything except the here and now can become obsessive. Many of us are obsessed in this very way and limit ourselves tremendously because it’s pitiful to see a person throw it away. He is always walking backwards through life. It’s unconscious, of course. If you could draw a picture of a character, of his life, you would see that he was walking backwards like the old days where you rode a observation car on a train. You see where you have been. You haven’t the slightest idea where you’re going.
You see, the person can only appreciate people and circumstances and conditions in retrospect. This kind of person resists change. Living in the past, he dwells in the memories of people he once knew, things he once enjoyed, experiences that are long since consummated. Such persons are chained emotionally to their regrets and remorse, feelings of guilt and the memory of all the injustices that were ever done to him.
It’s sad, too, to see how the future dominates our thoughts, not just in fear and dread of things to come, in subtle ways such as I call spiritual procrastination. All our hopes and dreams that we want to have fulfilled in our lives. We have prayers that we would like to have answers to. There’s a tendency, though, to think of them in terms of someday as some future time that will come. Or the classic word, too often is used, ‘In God’s good time’.
I have news for you. God’s good time is now. Then need is to accept it. Believe it. Let life happen to you. This moment where you are. Time is the great illusion of life. Time is not a passing thing at all. We think of time as something he goes on, tick, tock, tick of the clock, minutes by minutes, hours by hours, day by days. It’s not a passing thing. It’s the whole of life’s possibilities being progressively unfolded.
Every atom carries within it the whole of the universe. The concept that comes out of new science, it’s hard for some people to recognize. Every atom contains within it the whole of the universe. Every idea carries within it the whole of divine mind, all the divine mind, all the infant ideas of all time ever expressed and ever will express in the idea of your mind. “Every fleeting incident is but a small parenthesis in eternity,” as Thomas Brown says.
The poet Blake spoke of seeing a world in a grain of sand and eternity in an hour. This is the poet’s attempt to deal with truth of the present and eternity are the same. The present and eternity, they are the same, one and the same thing. And the present, when we become conscious of the present and live in it, it becomes the presence. You can’t really understand the presence of God unless you understand the now-ness of life.
If we think of time as being a reality and that in some future time, good things will happen. And in some time in the past, the great things that happened in my life, memories of the past are all that really counts. You lose site of the presence. You can’t practice the presence, you practice the absence of God. The presence and eternity are the same thing. To live really for the moment is to live in eternity. The fundamentalist Christian asked the question. Sometimes it’s depending on the signs that you find along the highway, or the mountain, where all and so forth, “Where will you spend eternity?”
Where will you spend eternity? You’re spending it right now. You’re in it. For subconsciously, we get caught up in time which needs to hurry and pressure and forget possessive anxiety. Like that character in Alice In Wonderland, “I’m late, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.”
We all know that feeling. To really live for the moment, we must realize that while we live in time, we’re not of it. We live in time, but we’re not of time. We’re spiritual beings, creatures of eternity and the kingdom of God, the realm of the timeless, is within us. We have to work to shed the shackles of time and live for the moment every day of our lives. There’s a sense that we’re always on the vine, with who knows what gnawing at the vine above, or what lies in wait for us at the bottom. The most important thing is the delicious strawberries, right where you are.
You might say, but that’s all well and good, but you have to face facts and be realistic. Life in our times is precarious at best and feudal at worst. This is not realism, this is defeatism, even if it is disguised under different names. A person who is caught up in the clutches of time, he never enjoys life’s possibilities because, for him, there’s no present. And there’s no presence. He’s aware only of the vine, the mice and the tigers. You can put your own identification to what those mice and tigers are, but we all have them.
To live in the present is to live in the presence. To live sanely and gratefully. In the presence, which is to live in the kingdom of God, you live in that quiet place within where security and wholeness, all of these mice and tigers of life don’t exist. Time becomes relative. It is possible, you see, to get out of time. Anytime you step off the whirlwind merry-go-round of time and pause quietly in eternity, in the now, in the presence, you’re free from concerns of the past and of the future. You’re free to unfold the aspects of life progressively in consciousness, outside of the limitations of passing time.
So you can live sanely and gratefully. To repeal the present is it live neurotically. Now is the time. There’s no better time. In all eternity, no more propitious time, no time in which we can live richer, more secure, more meaningful than this moment where you are right now. If you’ll take time now to analyze your thoughts and feelings, you would probably find, if you’re honest, much of your hopes for life are really to do with something that you hope will happen tomorrow, the next day, next week, when you grow up, when you get older, when you have your first car, when you get a job, when you get married, when you get divorced.
You look forward to how wonderful things would be when you have that sungalow in Florida, and you’re retired. Always looking ahead, pining for something to come. There’s no more propitious time. No more secure, more meaningful time than this very moment where you are. Right here. So live in this moment now. Be here. Whether you are nine or 90, an elementary or college postgraduate student, just entering the market place, or with 30 years of business experience, stop preparing for life. Then I would be happy, then it would be good when that’s done. It’s fine to plan for these things and prepare for them and work for them, but keep yourself consciously centered in the kingdom within, in the now-ness of life. Live now, live today.
Never let yourself come to a time when you look back and say, “Gee, I had it good then, if I could only appreciate it.” Live it now. Don’t look back on it. And the place is here. The time is now and the place is here. One of the great desires of the human heart is to find your right place. Many of us spend years of our life looking for that right place, that right job, the right relationship.
You want to be where you are, where you’re wanted and loved. You want to find continual work that’s fulfilling and prospering. You want to feel that, in this great universe, your life counts for something. We all hunger for that. Because we live so much of our lives at the circumference of being and long for a change, something better, an opportunity, the break, the good luck that may bring us the right job and put us in the right niche, we’re looking out there for something that must originate within ourselves. They can’t come anywhere else here. They can only come through you.
Often in desperation we ask, “What’s life all about, anyway?” Usually, the thing is, we ask that question, when life is at its lowest ebb, and we have some shock, some difficulty. “What’s it all about, anyway?”
If you really want to know, to deal with the realization that life is not just minding your own business, drifting along like a tumbling tumbleweed, moving along and make the best of things that happen, life is for living. If you’re going for unfolding a greater potential, and you live now, you can’t live tomorrow. You live now. Tomorrow is a fleeting fantasy. You can’t live yesterday, it’s gone. You live now. Now is the only time. The suggestion of the common feeling of futility and meaninglessness as so many of us persons have... In the play Mornings at Seven, a white-haired dentist, Carl, periodically suffers from what the family politely calls his spells. When his spells come on, he goes about frantically asking everyone, “Where am I? Where am I?”
He’s not referring to a geographical location. What troubles Carl was, “Where am I after 60 years of living? What have I accomplished? Where am I spiritually, mentally, emotionally, morally?” He was haunted by the feeling that he had been going nowhere through the years. You know, he owned his home, had a comfortable living. Where was he? I tell you, many persons feel this haunted feeling. Unfortunately, the hallmark of the modern way of life is the worship of material success, the easy road, peace of mind, early retirement.
Students of truth have also recreated spiritual growth, and the demonstration of things is a completely unrealistic attitude toward life. People spending years of their life, jumping from job to job, moving from place to place, running from one love relationship to another. Always looking for the right place, the right person, the right composition of life. Never finding it, of course, because you only find it in the now.
“If I can get away from this place, if I get the right person...” But now is the time. Right where you are. No matter where you are. You are still what you are. No matter where you are, you are still what you are. Running away will not change that. Emerson rightly says, “Running away is a fool’s paradise.” He says, “I packed my bags and set sail for a distant port, only to disembark and find the same story looking at me that I fled from.
You say, “But I can’t stand this place, this job, this relationship. If I could just get away from where I am, how different my life would be.” But no matter where you go, you’ll be there too.
E. Stanley Jones tells of wandering through the ruins of ancient Babylon, which is really what is now Iraq. He picked up a little flower, the only living thing that was in this vast wasteland. As he looked at this lovely delicacy, he said, “Why is it, little flower, that you, so frail that I could crush you between my fingers, have survived? This vast empire, founded on military might, has perished.” And the flower, he said, seemed to smile back at him and say, “I obeyed the laws of God written in myself, so I lived.”
Discover the laws of God written in yourself and live. You know, prosper and be happy and contented, but it will be right where you are. Not something that may happen around the bend of the road, up in the future. Not where the blues began and the happy hunting grounds, some future eternity. Right where you are.
Jesus said, “I, if I am lifted up, will draw all persons unto me.” I, if I be lifted up, will draw all persons unto me. This was not a statement of some special power of his. It’s a statement of divine law. If you are lifted up in consciousness, right where you are will automatically change. You’ll find the right consciousness of your oneness with God. You’re drawn to all the right combinations: friends, loved ones, opportunities, jobs, money, environment of peace.
Until you lift your thoughts to a higher realization and find this inner place in the kingdom within you, you seem to be running away from yourself. I greet you with a brass ring on a merry-go-round. If you catch the brass ring, you seem to get another ride. The thing goes on and on. They say often it’s not just getting there, it’s earning the right to be there. Not just getting there, but earning the right to be there.
You’re in that right and the attitudes you develop, right where you now are. Wherever you are now, no matter how challenging it is, can be an opportunity through which you can grow and go on to success if you meet it in the right manner. It is important to know that the reason you’re in that place, that job, that relationship, that condition is your attracted and experience of growth that is precisely that growth experience that you need at this time.
To run away from it is to miss life’s greatest opportunity for you. There’s no way to get away from it. It doesn’t mean that you must have problems, but it does mean that when confronted by a particular difficulty, you should admit to yourself and indicate the need for growth instead of complaining, “Why do I have to go through this?” Or even, “I refuse to go through this.” I need to ask, “But how can I grow through this?” That’s where life is found.
And as I say so often, looking at the passing of time on the eternal cycle, you would go through and go through and go through and go through a problem until eventually you grow through it. And that goes through and go through goes beyond the end of life into other lives, the kind you know you’ve experienced in eternity. You go through it and then you grow through it. So the best attitude is when you find yourself in the midst of some challenging thing that you would rather would like to drop like a hot potato and run off, stand still. Decide you’ll go through this, and then you’ll grow through it. When you grow through it, you’re done with it. And you ask, “How long do I have to keep picking myself up out of the gutter?”
In another context, Jesus said until 70 times seven. Life is a constant process of getting up. It’s what homo sapiens is all about. [inaudible] saying, it says, “It’s not just falling in the ditch, it’s lying there.” When a pilot looses his wings, it doesn’t graduate from flying. He now begins to fly all the time. That’s what his life was about.
You see the story of the Israelites and their 40 years searching the wilderness for their promised land, their rightful place. In a personally symbolic way, Moses is the coming of truth into our consciousness. When we got our first glimpse of truth, we followed the gleam toward our land of promise. It seemed to be a simple thing to change, I thought, from insufficiency to confidence. It would seem easy for the Israelites to cover the 200 miles to Palestine. Actually they did arrive at the Palestinian border after a short journey. Spies were sent out on a reconnaissance. They returned to report, “There are giants in the land, and we are in their sight, as in ours, grasshoppers.” When they had left their Egyptian bondage, they were still slaves at heart. It’s all there for the taking. They didn’t have the conscienceless to enter in and possess the land.
It’s not getting there, it’s earning the right to be there. This is a confusing point to many students. You may say, “Inspired by this new insight, I really work to change my way of life through the use of truth. Why am I not healed? Why do I not receive prosperity, a better job, a good relationship?”
The Israelites and their wilderness story provides the answer. It would appear that in their years of frustration, God was punishing them. God never punishes us for our mistakes. You punish yourself through the mistakes. Always. Actually, from the perspective of Jewish history, the 40 year period of wandering in the wilderness was the single most productive period in their history. They left Egypt with no skills, no meaningful religion, no national pride. Had to wander in their wilderness schoolroom until they became a community and developed their own culture. It was a long, hard way, but it was the only way for them. We need to know this about ourselves. If they’d gone right into the land, they would have been destroyed as a people. For them, the shortest distance between two points was not a straight line. They took the long way and along that way they dropped the dress of their consciousness and claimed their spiritual inheritance. But you see, they were children of God, even in slavery in Egypt, they just didn’t know it.
You’re a child of God in the midst of the greatest bondage of your life. You’re a child of God within sickness, within unemployment and chaos in your life. The difference is, you don’t know it. Jesus knew it. Anyone who has ever demonstrated that truth has known it, even if for just a moment. You need it to know that your desire to get there can only be fulfilled when you earned the right to be there in consciousness. There’s a friend of mine in a Christian tradition that has been greatly confused. The second coming of the Christ. Fundamentalist Christians talk about this often. Many folks that fantasize that they’ve seen Christ come the second time in their lives. It may be true. Christians have been told that they expect Jesus to come again in the flesh. Whether or not this happens is irrelevant. It’s to miss the whole idea of his mission.
In the first place, Jesus’ life was personally symbolic, as well as historical. Like Moses, Jesus represents the coming of truth to consciousness. As beautiful as it all may appear, there’s still something coming through you. Only that which comes through you can really change you. Life is normally a process of coming to you. Only what comes through you can change you.
Somewhere along the line there must be a personal revelation. This is the second coming. As simple as, “Aha! Now I see.” The first coming was when truth seemed like a good thing. It’s a great idea. You know, philosophy. You read the books, you filled your mind with all sorts of affirmations. You treated, you prayed. Sometimes after a week or a year or several years or lifetimes at work, suddenly, “Aha. Now I see.” That’s the second coming. How long will it take? Time is relative.
The important thing is, you came from where you are to where you want to be. The growth process is vital to your ongoing, no matter how long it takes. Not just so you can make the demonstration was the need for that growth that prompted your desire the demonstration in the first place. You become the effective person in the position that ultimately comes to you. Not in spite of the fact that you had to come the long way, but because of it. Because of it. The difficult thing that seemed so terrible to you, so tragic, so unbearable you have to get away from it. It’s the very place where your divine appointment has given you the opportunity to grow. Great growth is your conscious desire to experience right now, where you are. Your right place is the place where you are at this moment, whether it is pleasing or not. You’re always in your right place.
It may be hard to accept. You look at your life right now, see the difficulties, the confusions, the lovelessness, the insecurity, the financial difficulty, the unemployment, the sickness, the unfriendliness shown to you. Now is the place, now is the time. Because you’re always in the place, it corresponds to your mentality at that moment, the inner expressing the outer. The facing conscious indicating where you are right now. If you accept that, and if I’m in my right place now, it’s better admitting to yourself, you participate in this. There’s no unrelated experiences in life, unrelated to your consciousness. Not that you cause everything to happen, but you participate in everything that happens. You’re a part of it. You accept that, then you can get the idea, “I’m in my right place now.” The place to grow.
If I put my thoughts upon the future, upon the things that I want to happen, I can’t accept the present as anything but aberration blocking my way of getting the things I want. The things that are present in your life now are the stepping stones on which you can achieve the consciousness to enable you to get into the flow of the experiences that you hunger for.
I’m in my right place now. It can be a place of growth. Change your mentality, the outer conditions will change, too. It’s a fundamental truth. You don’t have to run away or frantically seek to escape. You make the interchanges, the problem will eventually disappear. Things which conspire to move you in an orderly way at the right and perfect time. When you’ve proven yourself, taking hold of your experience and beginning to change one step at a time. If you’re going to get the right attitude about the place where you are, as long as you resent a job or people or environment or the town in which you live, you have, in fact, bind yourself to that place, to that level of consciousness through those experiences from the standpoint that you keep running into these things time and time again, everywhere you go.
You run away from a job because you can’t say to the employer. You run away from a relationship because you can’t get along with the person. Unless you face up to the fact that you were brought into that experience by your consciousness, running away from it is simply to postpone it. Wherever you go, whatever the city, whatever the relationship, whatever the job or whatever the company you work for, whatever the friends invariably still find looming up before you a boss named Sam, who is just the same as the boss named Joe. Spouse named Mary or Frank, just the same as the spouse named Henry and Lyla. You meet these things over and over again. That’s consciousness.
Jacob said, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” Life says to you, you can never take the next logical step in your own format? Do you bless and loose everyone and everything in your present experience? It’s often true that you have not realized your inner potential. Because you’re not seeing rightly, you’re not seeing your true relationship to the world in which you live. Your job and relationships and environment seem to be all wrong. You long to find your right place. All you need to do is find yourself and begin to see things differently.
I invite you to be still for just a moment. I want you to take these words into our consciousness. And when you go from this place today, have you ever forgotten all the thoughts that were suggested? And we just remember not the words, but the energy, the flow, and this treatment. You are now established in the consciousness of the presence of God, which is present. God is where you are. Good is where you are. The perfect activity of God is where you are, activating the good in every circumstance. An activity of God acts creatively in every person, place and thing in all time and space. God’s creation is orderly. Everything and everyone is a right and perfect place. Everything and everyone moves in perfect precision in their rightful place, perfectly performing their rightful function. There is, therefore, a perfect place for you.
All the forces of the universe move to put you in that place. This right place is not a static condition. It’s a dynamic flow of experiences. So you do not resist change or fear that someone may take your place from you. You’re in your right place now. That place is not harmonious. And you now perceive the inner patterns that caused the in-harmony. You set about to alter those patterns. As light follows darkness, the problems of your present place disappear and you’re irresistibly drawn to better conditions. “In the Father’s house are many mansions,” said Jesus. There’s a right and perfect place for you in time and space. You accept it now.
You’re in your right place right here, this moment. You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. So be it.
I invite you to join us. As you know, for most of this year, and continuing through the year, we got involved in a project that we call the Circle of Light. It was born in a realization that all of us involved in the truth potentially have something very great to give to the world and we should be busy giving it. And as we get too involved in ourselves, we forget the light that is needed out there in the world must come through us. Not just to us. And we must be a part of it.
We’re taking a time every Sunday here to getting a sense of the circle of light. You have the lights around the perimeter here, the thing that’s going all around the room, almost like a tiara. This light is that which comes through enlightenment and knowledge of the truth through awareness to a feeling of oneness with the infinite process. As we unite in consciousness, we’re swarm- as the birds swarm, swarms of fish in the sea, swarming the divine intelligence, that leads us all into one unit, one God force, where this light shine. It goes out into the world to bless the world. “I am the light of the world. You are the light of the world. Let your light so shine.” Let’s get still in that consciousness.
To see, as I have seen, the vision here that Avery Fisher Hall is a radiance of light that goes out to the world. I envision this light reaching out to all the world to bring blessings to the hungry, insecure, war torn lands, places of insecurity and in-harmony, everywhere, and the needs in our country for prosperity, for security, raising the radiance of goodness and love.
We stand united here in this moment and light goes forth from here in all directions to bless all persons. We give way to this light, we give way freely and lovingly in our desire to be a part of the solution to the world’s problems, not just be a part of the problems. We let our light shine.
And the light set on a hill cannot be hidden. The light is experiencing the higher state of consciousness. It becomes a steady beacon, spreading the good news of truth everywhere. Let’s be aware of that during all the week. So be it.