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EBS22: Look Where You Are Going

Eric Butterworth Speaks: Essays on Abundant Living #22

Delivered by Eric Butterworth on May 21, 1975

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“Man is mind, and evermore he takes the tool of thought,
And shaping what he wills, brings forth a thousand ills.
He thinks in secret and it comes to pass.
Environment is but his looking glass.”

These classic lines are from James Allen’s As A Man Thinketh.

Attention is the key to life; you tend to become whatever you give your attention to. Rudyard Kipling tells of a Newfoundland fisherman who appeared for all the world like a great cod fish. We must look where we are going, because we will most certainly go in the direction in which we are looking.

When the Israelites of old looked toward God, they prospered, and when they looked away from God they came to know want. We are told, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength.” To love Gcd is to give our attention to the transcendence in life. God has much in store for us, but He can give to us only when we give Him our attention.

Victor Hugo, speaking of the tremendous power of concentrated attention, says,

“There is neither fog nor problem in algebra
Which can withstand in the depths of the numbers or the skies,
The calm and intense fixation of the eyes.”

When we grasp this idea we feel as the child does when he discovers that a magnifying glass held to the rays of the sun will cause paper to burst into flame. The mental atmosphere of the world is like diffused sunlight in this respect. Passing through the lens of concentrated attention, this thought becomes intense power. To attain a desired result, we need only direct our attention to a particular objective. Yet even with all the sunlight of a clear day and the most perfect magnifying glass in the world, there is no result without steadiness of hand. And given all the intellect in the world, without fixity of purpose and attention, man will fail as a creator and will be merely an encyclopedia of facts. When we let lack and limitation into our lives, it is foolish to blame the Universal for not setting fire to the paper.

Attention is a matter of directing the gaze of the mind’s eye. Jesus said, “Let thine eye be single.” See only that which is good, and only good will come to you.

In human operation, the eyes record the image of our gaze into an image in the mind. But there is a higher use of seeing, and it is this higher use that is the secret to abundant living. When your eye is centered on, and magnifies, appearances, they loom large and seem greater than your capacity to overcome them. But we can also choose to “magnify the Lord”. We can keep our attention on God,on the Universal good. Then our eyes will not simply be for recording appearances, but will be a means by which we can let God’s light shine though.

This principle of mind action works invariably: center your attention on a condition in the visible realm long enough, and it becomes pronounced. But take away your attention and the condition tends to disappear. For instance, as you drive you may notice specks of dirt on the windshield—as long as you concentrate on them, you will not see through the glass. But look through the specks, and the imperfections will seem to disappear. As the poet says,

“That thou seest, man,
Become, too, thou must:
God if thou seest God;
Dust if thou seest dust.”

There is a story that comes out of India of two cousins who came a long way to visit a great teacher. One of them was noted for his righteousness, and the other was notorious for his evil propensities. The teacher told the righteous one to find a man, within six months, whom he thought was vicious. The evil one was given six months to find a man whom he thought was good. Both failed and returned, frustrated, after having searched the whole world.

The lesson is simple—the world is a mirror. It reflects without what we hold in our hearts. When love is in the heart, we find love all around us; when we feel bitterness, we see bitterness. Hold the image of God in your heart and you can be sure that you will be greeted in the same way.

If you are having trouble with people in your life, remember this lesson. We see in others the qualities to which we give our attention. In Truth, there is only good in people—it is always there, a divine potential beneath the surface. However hidden this divinity may be, the fundamental principle of life is that it is always there. We can draw it out by giving our attention to it. As Father Flanigan of Boy’s Town said,

“The best way to turn a youngster into a gangster is to treat him like a gangster. If you want to make a good citizen of him, look for the spark of good in him, it is always there, and then fan it into a bright flame with recognition and praise. This method never fails when it is practiced with patience and perseverance.”

The Father speaks with authority for he has had remarkable results.

Just as there is tremendous potential energy in sunlight, waiting to be focused, there is tremendous energy in our basic faculties. We can bring perfect health into manifestation just by giving our attention to it. Health is in us just as the oak tree is a potential within the acorn. We must externalize it through the intelligent direction of the only force with which God has equipped us for our journey through life—the force of mind.

Get interested in the things you really want in life. So many of us have cultivated an interest in the things we fear and resist. That interest is constantly directing the power of God into those channels, sustaining negative conditions and bringing them into reality. As Shakespeare says, “There is nothing either good or ill, but thinking makes it so.”

It is unfortunate that traffic safety councils and heart and cancer organizations use the negative approach of centering our attention on the negative eventualities—they hold out symptoms to our gaze. If we continue to look upon these things, we will tend to experience them. As we are told in the scriptures, “All the land thou seest, to ye will I give it.”

One writer points out, “In a bed of hundreds of pink flowers, a purple flower gets far more notice than it deserves, simply because of the contrast.” And so, we have the problem of the news of the day. Our newspapers and broadcast commentaries most often give us a distorted view of life because of the playing up of violence and suffering. It is vital for the student of the new insight of Truth who wants to look where he is going to look for the good news of the day. There is a tremendous amount of excitement and glamour and drama in the everyday adventures of good people whom we seldom hear about.

Form the habit of looking where you are going. If you constantly look at the sordid, the error, the confusion, and the injustice of life, then that is what you are going to be drawn to. We infallibly go where we are looking. Decide what it is you want and fix your attention on that. You will be surprised at how things will change in your life.

© 1975, by Eric Butterworth

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