On The Air By Eric Butterworth
Talk 6 — Consciousness
Download this talk (right click and "save link as")
Download audio of Lecture Six
Mark Twain, who was something of an iconoclast, was once accosted by an evangelist who asked him "Mr. Twain, aren't you troubled by all the things of the gospel that you don't know?" And he said "Well, actually, I'm mostly troubled by the things I do know."
There are a lot of things that we do know about the gospels, and about the teachings of Jesus that may well be very troublesome. One of them is a statement to him that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he has.
Now on first reading, this would appear to be good reason for the statement "There's no justice." What kind of justice is there in an attitude that says that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? The people who have good health are gonna get more health, and people who are sick are gonna get sicker.
This is what appears to be the message, and in part, it is the message, but there's so much more involved than that. Actually, this is the highest kind of justice, but it leads to a matter that is only explained by the word that we wanna deal with this morning. Consciousness. This is a word that in our metaphysical studies is so often used ambiguously. The word cannot really be defined, and yet without some kind of a definition for consciousness, nothing can adequately be defined. How can we understand life without it? It's a key to knowing ourselves. It's a key to knowing life. In a way, it is the self, and as Emmet Fox says, "Life is consciousness."
Men have struggled for thousands of years in the quest for insight into what the universe is, what life is. In trying to understand the great paradox, the great distinction between an obviously orderly universe that can be seen out in space, and can be seen in the intricate detail of a flower. All of this on the one hand, and the fact of human suffering on the other hand. This has led to the rationalization that there must be a will of God that brings certain things to people, or perhaps the stroke of fortune, the que sera, sera, what will be will be.
But out of this all, in trying to come to grips with this great paradox, the great inequality as it were, the great distinction between the order on one hand and the confusion on the other, has come concepts such as heaven of an afterlife, the alesion feels, the place beyond the blue, an experience, and a time where we can get into this orderly universe that is so much around us.
But I don't know. As for me, I find it very difficult to conceive that a world in which we live is created by a God in which we have to suffer part of the time in order that we shall not have to suffer the rest of the time. This doesn't make sense. I prefer to believe that the only reason that we suffer, no matter what it is or where it is, is that as yet, we do not know how not to suffer, and that suffering is not the result of chance or the result of some divine whim, but the result of a lack of awareness of ourself and how we deal with His orderly universe.
So, the problems of life then, as I see it, are certainly not God ordained, but rather the result of God exclusion, the result of the limitations of our consciousness. This is suggested in a statement that I think is very profound, and has great applications in all aspects of life. A statement by one of those great, early teachers of metaphysics, Ralph Waldo Trine. He says "Within each of us lies the cause of whatever comes to us. No disease can enter into or take hold of our bodies unless it finds therein something corresponding to itself that makes it possible. Nothing ever just happens. Things do not come into our experience unless there is something within us in the patterns of our mind, in our level of consciousness, that attracts it, and makes it possible."
Now, this is a fundamental thing in our study of truth, and it's something that we tend to acknowledge intellectually when times are good, and we kinda resist and resent and call for injustice when we're in trouble. Maybe this is best exemplified by a simple story that has been oft told of a European woman who wanted to immigrate to America, and finally, after much involvement, she finally worked it out through the Government, and she saved her money over several years. She was a very poor woman, and finally, she had all that she had scraped together to buy a ticket, but there was nothing left over. She came purely on faith that somehow things would work out all right.
On the day of departure, she boarded the boat, and she carried a little basket of bread and fruit, and she remained in her stateroom throughout the whole voyage, and subsisted on a kind of starvation diet. But she was satisfied with the feeling of fulfillment that she was accomplishing her great desire.
When she arrived in New York, she was weak and hungry, but even more, she became terribly chagrined when she learned that her ticket had included full fare in the dining room, and she could have lived like a queen during this voyage, but she had the sense of lack in her consciousness, and so she went hungry.
This is a parable of life that could be extended into many areas. It says a great deal about the human mind. It says a great deal about how we tend to screen out and block out the divine processes, because of our own limitations of consciousness. We're told "Come ye blessed, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." The inheritance is ours, but we do not have the awareness, the consciousness, the faith, the vision to accept it.
So, let's take a look at this thing called consciousness, which is so very much evident, you see, in the story of the woman. Rallo May says "Consciousness is the intervening variable between nature and being. Between the animal part and the divine part of us. It is the eye of us that maybe modified in many ways; as aggressive or cruel, or as inspired or saintly. The intervening variable between nature and being."
Quite often it is said that man is essentially a cruel and viscous creature. He's a beast at heart, and so therefore, there will always be wars and inhumanity to man. This is an extremely prejudicial view, and as long as man holds this view and expects this kind of behavior in a self-fulfilling prophecy, he will experience it, but man is not just human. Certainly, he can be human, and can be very abase, and very viscous, but man is also divine. He can be either, and many shades in between, and how he expresses will always depend upon the level of his consciousness, upon what he sees himself as being. The level of his awareness of life, the gravitational pull in his human consciousness, which causes him to deal with life on one level, and another moment, to deal with life on another.
To understand this, if we could just imagine a series of horizontal gridlines, sort of like the kind of lines on which you'd find the graph showing the stock market fluctuation, which is a painful thing to behold these days, but just imagine the gridlines without the the fluctuation needle evident. And on this horizontal series of gridlines, you have states or levels of awareness all the way from the very lowest and the very basis, the very most inadequate, all the way up to a very high awareness, a high level, or as sometimes in the vernacular, we would call top-drawer experiences. We have all of these variations in between, and the point is as moods change, our states of awareness change, our consciousness level changes, and thus, because life is consciousness, life changes.
So, wherever we are on this series of horizontal gridlines, we can tell very certainly that that is the kind of experiences we're gonna have. In other words, it's what one psychologist refers to above a certain point is a wellness sustaining level, and a deterioration level, that when we cross a certain point, we begin to get healthier, and when we get below a certain point, we begin to deteriorate all according to the level of consciousness.
Now this is something that people within and without this general metaphysical field are giving a great deal of consideration to. Now we tend to take our consciousness for granted. Sometimes we do almost everything except to think of the level of our consciousness. We may work to change conditions, we may say well, it's the climate, or it's the way my boss treats me, or it's because I have had a lot of injustices in my life, but the point is, we must begin to acknowledge not what is wrong out there, but where am I in my level of consciousness to know that our consciousness not only makes our life what it is, but this level of consciousness can be changed, and that's one of the greatest discoveries that's been made in modern times.
It's a discovery that for the satisfaction of one field was made by William James. It's a discovery that was made by a lot of other people in that which led up to this metaphysical movement. In other words, changes actually take place in life as the level of consciousness changes. Not only the perception of life out there, but the experience of life in here. The problem is we tend to get all hung up on certain levels. We see ourself as a certain kind of person, which becomes sorta the center of gravity of our experience at that time. We say "Oh, I know me. I know all about me."
Oh, we don't really know ourselves. All we know is that at much of the times in our life we have acted and reacted in a certain way. So, we become typed or self-typed like an actor, like the great Boris Karloff, one of the fine actors of recent years, who was typed in the role of Frankenstein, and therefore, could never be excepted as anything but a monster, and thus, because of this kind of typing, the world lost a great actor. We never really got to see the tremendous contribution the man could make. So, in our experience, we become self-typed. We see ourself at a certain level, and we get all hung up on that level. We think of ourselves as sickly, or as weak, or as inadequate because of certain experiences in life. And then we continually reproduce those experiences. The world around us and people around us continually justify that kind of a self-evaluation, because the truth is the world will always take us. Life will take us. Experiences will take us at the level of our self-evaluation. That's consciousness.
Uspensky tells us that it is necessary that the center of gravity of everything shall lie for man in his inner world, and not in the outer world at all, and again, we take this series of horizOntal gridlines if you will, and make them concentric circles coming out of a pinpoint in the middle so that the high becomes the inner, you see. So, he's talking about the idea that the level of consciousness or the center of gravity must be in the higher level, or the inner level of our awareness. Otherwise, we're going to always have difficulties and confusion and upheaval in our lives.
So, leaning toward sensuality, toward materiality, toward the circumference of life, or toward the lower level of these gridlines, and the tendency of getting hung up in a self-image on that low level, as the Indian puts it, leads us to bondage to Maya, to sense awareness, and along comes the passion to possess the acquisitive instinct, all sorts of emotional fluctuations, sense desires, but with nothing central to steady them. Because the center of gravity is in that low level of awareness so that the fluctuation of our life tends to be within that awareness of a bondage to sensuality and materiality.
So, we need to work for a change of this center of gravity. This is what the study of truth is all about, and it's important to see it in this way. It's not a matter of just getting a lot of new ideas in your mind, and subscribing to a new teaching, but actually to work for a change of the level on which we live and move and have our being, to change consciousness, and to being to deal with ourselves and life at a higher and higher and higher level.
Again, quoting Uspensky. He says "The first aim an individual can have as regards to his development is to create in himself a permanent eye to protect himself from continual strivings, moods, and desires which sway him." Well, actually translated into the Christian idiom, this would refer to building a consciousness of the indwelling Christ. The awareness that the high level, the divine level of you, is the true eye of you, and to know that wherever you are and whatever you're doing, you can always be still and become aware of that Christ in yourself, the God level of you, by which you can lift yourself and lift your experiences into higher levels.
There's a great deal of interest in the field of Psychology today, as well as a religion, in what is called altered states of consciousness, and this is good, it's marvelous. We've had all sorts of marvelous techniques and instrumentation. The biofeedback process has demonstrated some tremendous things, but I think it's important to know that the great need is not to achieve an occasional high in consciousness, even though it may well be a beautiful experience of euphoria. The need is to actually change the center of gravity. One can have a moment when he just blasts off almost through the roof and has a tremendous high. People today talked about a mind-blowing experience. Oh, what a high state of consciousness I was in for a moment, and it's like waking up out of a dream, and then "Boom!" You're right back down again where you were, and then there's a thought "Oh, if I could just get that high again." People are going around everywhere looking for highs, and it becomes almost an addiction. You say, "I want a high consciousness."
This is to the goal, or should not be the goal in this direction of altered states of consciousness. We want an altered state, not a momentary experience. We want an altered level so that we can actually come to live and move and have our being at a higher level of awareness. This is not gonna be done in just a momentary experience. It cannot be done through just one fluctuation and one elevation where suddenly I feel "oh, it's beautiful!" Important thing; this cannot be done without great discipline and over a long period of time. I suppose most folks are impatient. They wanna get it all overnight. Make one big decision, make one subscription, and boom, you've got it. There you are, and it's all over with.
In the study and practice of this insight and truth, I think we need to get fixed in our mind that the goal is to change the level of our consciousness, the center of our spiritual gravity, and not a matter of looking for shortcuts. Sometimes in metaphysical studies, the emphasis is placed upon getting rich quick. Boom! Speak the word. Manifest great riches, and suddenly your life is all better. In the same way, through some momentary emotional or spiritual high, you get a marvelous physical healing. But this, you see, and be very self-diluting. It's not that you cannot achieve these goals instantaneously, but consciousness being what it is, we're gonna be, if we wanna use a negative word, we're gonna be stuck with our level of consciousness. And the level of consciousness is not necessarily and is seldom actually altered by a momentary experience. A miracle healing, or a momentary fluctuation that leads to some demonstration.
The point is the person who is working for a miracle and who expects a miracle happening, may well be subconsciously trying to bypass consciousness, trying to get it quick without having to pay for it. There are no experiences in life, unrelated to consciousness, and there can be no permanent changes of the person without an actual change of the spiritual center of gravity.
We often say that our goal is not to set things right, but to see them rightly. This is not just a cute phrase. This indicates something of the process that is involved. Not to set things right, but to see them rightly, because our seeing, to a large extent, evidences the level of our consciousness. Things exist, people exist for us as we see them. This is why in working for others, we always say if you are anxious about another person, and you wanna help that person spiritually, first of all, heal your concern about him, change your consciousness about him so that you can see from a higher level, and then work on that higher level. Then you will tend to be an influence basically because you have influenced yourself. You have changed your attitude, your whole way of seeing.
Sight is a rather interesting phenomenon. Things are seen, on the retina of the eye, upside down as in a camera, and through the nerve endings that are sensitive to light, we actually see the picture distributed over an infinite number of little recording points. Yet, in some way, the picture is transformed into one solid view, but you see what the mind sees is not the solid state of those points, but that which in our own awareness sees them as being. There's an interpretation that is put on it.
So, then it is said seeing is believing, but this is absolutely untrue. Seeing is not believing. Believing is seeing. What we know and believe and are impressed by, that we tend to see. So, consciousness is the ruling, regulating force in our seeing. It's what we know to be true, and also what we have accepted as true that is untrue. It's what we feel and where we are in terms of our prejudices and our convictions and our doubts and our fears and our hangups and all that goes on in consciousness all rolled into one. All of that together determines the reaction to what you see and what you experience and becomes the level at which your life is drawing from this great promise "Come ye, blessed. Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
The word consciousness literally means knowing together all that the senses report on the outside, and all that we have on the inside in our subconsciousness and in our faith, and in our highest insights, all those together, and we see it all together, and that's what it is as far as we're concerned.
So, things are not what we see, but what we interpret them to be. Things are not as they seem to be out here, but as they are directed to us, and become an influence on us in terms of the level of our [inaudible 00:23:00] you see. How we see, and how we project this insight into our life has a great deal to do with what people do to us, what the world does to us, and also in terms of our own experience. Because if we think we are sick, and psychosomatically induce the symptoms of sickness, then we're actually sick. We have pain and suffering even though we may be seeing from fear and out of that fear, it comes upon us.
More than we know, consciousness is involved in even the organic changes in our body, and so all disease is essentially psychosomatic. Perhaps thought didn't create the condition, but thought has permitted it to flourish, and thought is the level that has drawn from the world around us the kind of substances, and the kind of conditions that have taken the kind of form that we believe according to our own self-evaluation.
So, therefore, true help or healing of any kind must come through changing consciousness, through changing the level, raising our center of gravity as it were. This is why I always say that it's important that we do not seek to pray to God, but that we pray from the consciousness of God. That we're not trying to get God to do something for us, but we're trying to get the awareness of the divine flow that enables us to see from that level of the divine, and thereby, to draw from life, draw to us an experience that which is the highest possible manifestation of this "Come ye, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." And any change that takes place, takes place as a result of our center of gravity.
So, when we begin to get this idea into our consciousness, this awareness, this realization, then we know that there is always a choice in experience. You have certain things happen, you say "Well, that's the way it is. What can I do about it?"
There's a clothing merchant who has made hay on a little statement that I think is rather interesting. He says "Select. Don't settle." The point is we always have a choice. You don't have to settle for the way things seem to be. That's why Jesus says "Judge not according to appearances, but judge righteous judgment." Let your consciousness be raised so that then you can select the level at which the experience is gonna touch you. Select. Don't settle. You may not be able to change people, you may not be able to change the weather, you may not be able to change the economy, but you can always change the way you see them, and the level at which you deal with them. You always have a choice.
This gives man the tremendous leverage of his spiritual awareness. Consciousness can do marvelous things, and when you lift our consciousness and work to get a higher awareness of your oneness, then actually, you can determine what things are as far as you're concerned, and thus, you can actually change things, because you changed the way you deal with things.
This then puts the importance upon the idea of prayer and meditation. It means that in trying to change the world or change people or change the experiences of life, we must first of all be still and know our oneness. And in that stillness, and in that knowing of our oneness, the tendency is that we cut away from the maya or the sense limitations, the thing that tend to bind us in the limited levels of our life, and like getting rid of the ballast on a balloon, there's a tendency to rise. And our consciousness rises higher and higher and higher, and we need constantly, in our prayer time, to have some moments when we're not praying for things, and not praying to God, and not trying to make changes, and affirm this, and affirm that, but just to be still and know our oneness. Know that we are a part of this spiritual process of life, and thus, seek to get our awareness centered in a spiritual level of gravity so that we are going to deal with life at a higher level, going to experience higher level experiences, but most of all we're going to see from the level of the Christ in us.
Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee. Then the law of consciousness works. To him that hath, shall be given. To him that hath this consciousness, to him whose mind is centered in a high level of spiritual gravity, all things come to him, and he can't keep them away. They just come naturally. And to him that hath not, whose spiritual center of gravity is in a low state, he can't even hold on to his health. He can't hold on to things that people give him, things that come by luck or chance. Everything seems to go away. He loses things. Things are stolen. Everything happens to this person, because his mind has stayed at a level in negativity.
So, therefore, when we get into this higher state of consciousness, we begin to attract harmony and health and opportunities, because our state of mind is centered in a spiritual center of gravity in the positive power of the Christ mind.
Copyright 1981 Unity®
Unity Village, MO 64065