Eric Butterworth Speaks: Essays on Abundant Living #13
Delivered by Eric Butterworth on May 12, 1975
The wisdom of the ages is not limited to the tomes of the past. Most of it still lies locked in the depths of man’s mental potential. In the past hundred years the world has seen its frontiers disappear. Today, the last remaining frontier is in the realm of Spirit. In the face of the awesome challenges confronting man, there is nowhere to go but in. The next great step of mankind is the “adventure into God.”
In these essays we want to introduce you to an insight into Truth that can help you in that adventure. We are responding to the great need to teach that: God is not only the God of history...He is also the God of today; The Supreme Power of the Universe is not locked in ancient scriptures but is alive in the world now; Revelation is not a special dispensation of God but a quality of Divine Mind and a faculty of the mind of man; What God is revealing to man today may be more important than what He said to man yesterday.
Man is incurably religious. There is an inner restlessness in man that is never fully satisfied until he “finds repose in God.” This restlessness has led to the increased study of many forms of teaching. For many it has led to the field of metaphysics and “New Thought” and for you it may have led to these essays.
Some years ago there appeared an article in The Atlantic Monthly written by a prominent Englishman. He called attention to the fact that there was a profound desire for religion in the world that no church or sect seemed to be satisfying. He closed with these significant words:
“The question remains which no one yet can answer, whether any existing church has the energy to grasp the full-orbed conception of the Kingdom of Heaven, both as an inner and an outer thing, to free itself from its own past, to proclaim the Truth that Christianity is yet to be discovered by all the powers of man’s mind, and to be practiced by all the energy of his will. If not, we may dare to predict that a new church will arise and destroy the old ones.”
I do not pretend to represent this “new church” and in fact I don’t represent a church at all in a real sense. Nor do I agree that the “old ones” must be destroyed. It is obvious, however, that movements such as this have come into being as a direct result of the failure of the establishment in religion to realize that “Christianity is yet to be discovered.” Our work is intended purely and simply to help people both within and without the Christian churches to make that discovery for themselves. While some people claim The Unity Center as their church home, the great majority who are helped and influenced by these insights consider them as a “supplementary faith”, and continue to be members in good standing in their own churches and synagogs.
All religions of the world reveal a common pattern of evolution. All began in a moment of inspiration in one great life. Then followed a period of teaching and healing. This was usually followed by a similar period of teaching and healing by students and disciples. After this there was usually an organization of a movement to perpetuate the ideas and memory of the founder. Finally, the organization becomes almost exclusively devoted to the worship of the founder.
The problem that all such movements have faced is man’s desire to have a personal experience with God. But this desire has been completely incompatible with the ideals of religious “machines” which have perpetuated the idea that any relationship with God must come through the organization—through its priests or clergy. Ralph Waldo Emerson asked the question in his famous Divinity School address in 1838: “Why should we not have a firsthand and immediate experience of God?” Thinking people through the ages have asked the same question, and so do I. The teachings of the new insight are directed toward this very goal. I do not subscribe to any cut and dried formula or dogma or definition, because one cannot accept Truth as ready made without its ceasing to live as Truth.
These insights have been referred to as a “return to first Century Christianity”, or “practical Christianity.” The use of the word practical does not connote that other teachings are impractical. We try to be practical in the sense of actual practice of Truth on a seven-day-a-week basis, instead of a one-hour-on Sunday preoccupation with the religion about Jesus. Christianity, wherever it is taught, shorn of its superficial ritual and dogma, becomes an amazingly practical method of therapy for all human ills.
In this sense, our teachings are not a new religion at all. They are simply techniques in the demonstration and practice of spiritual principles—principles that have been understood and practiced by the few through all the ages. Actually, neither did Jesus teach a new set of spiritual principles. He said, “I came not to destroy the law but to fulfill it.” Jesus accomplished great works and attained the level of Christhood because of His consciousness of the ageless and Universal Truth. I like to think of Him as the Supreme Revealer of Truth to man. But His teachings, which have been called Christianity, were Universal Truths presented in the form of dynamic techniques for understanding and demonstrating from the power of our oneness with God.
All through the ages, there have been those who have clearly or dimly perceived a “Relentless Stream of Truth” that has known no boundaries. It has flowed through the minds and hearts of both churchmen and the unchurched alike. We can find evidence of the Stream of Truth in the thinking of Plato and Socrates and Aristotle and others of the Greek philosophers. We find it in St. Augustine, St. Francis, Thomas Acquinas, Meister Eckhert and other religious leaders. We find it in Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Einstein, and others in the field of science. We find it in Hegel, Kant, Schopenhauer, and other modern philosophers. And we find it singing through the words of poets and essayists like Shakespeare, Browning, Tennyson, Carlyle, and Emerson.
Many who have moved within the Relentless Stream of Truth have been branded atheists and agnostics, simply because their concepts dared to differ with the musty creeds that prevailed in their day. And if it was their misfortune to live during certain dark periods of history, they may have been burned at the stake for their differences.
Our teachings today are dedicated to the open mind and the continuous quest for Truth. We seek not to tell you what to think, how to define God, or what creeds to accept. We seek only to teach you how to think, how to pray—so that you can experience your own communion with God, and find your own distinctly personal revelation of Truth.
What is my object and goal? Strangely enough, our organization has no goal. It is not seeking to have Unity centers on every corner. We desire to be, not a powerful organization, but a powerful influence for good in individual lives. We seek not to be the religion, but to help men find religion for and within themselves.
The essence of religion is the consciousness of God. The ultimate goal of any teaching should be to help you to become one with God. The church has always tried to lay stress on sacraments, creeds, manner of worship, etc. Yet the great spiritual thinkers of every age have clearly recognized that the only salvation worthy of the name is in the life that results from spiritual unity with God. This is what relgion meant to Jesus. His God was not a formula to be explained, least of all a name to conjure by. God was the wondrous life welling up in Him, the true essence of His Selfhood. What to Jesus was an actual experience in consciousness.
He knew was an experience possible to all men and women, when once they had awakened to the meaning of their own Divine Sonship.
© 1975, by Eric Butterworth