Eric Butterworth Speaks: Essays on Abundant Living #73
Delivered by Eric Butterworth on September 10, 1975
Q. I am frequently asked to explain Jesus* teaching, “If a man smite thee on one cheek, turn him the other also.” This is important from the dynamics of practical Christianity. It is not a pollyanna philosophy urging that we all become doormats; it does deal with the essentially two-fold nature of man. Man has within himself always that which is untouched by the negative ebb and flow of human experience; he has within himself that positive level of consciousness on which he can draw if he so wills. It is, however, always the case, as the Bible says, “Choose ye this day whom you will serve.” Finding yourself disturbed, fearful, anxious, due to the world around you, it is because you have been smitten on one cheek, so to speak, and if this disturbs you, then the Bible teaching is to turn the other cheek, which really means to show the other side of your nature, to turn to that part of your innate personality which is unmoved and untouched. This is what so-called non-resistance is all about, getting yourself in the non-resistant flow of spiritual consciousness where you can deal with your situation rationally and creatively rather than simply reacting.
This is the same thing as agreeing with your adversary, which is the way Jesus puts it. It does not bespeak a lack of the courage of your convictions; your adversary is the adverse reaction of your own consciousness; it is not another person, it is yourself. So, to agree with your adversary means to get your own consciousness in tune so that the love-consciousness flows, so that you are non-resistant, so that you are a creative person in your approach to the world. When you have this inner agreement within your own mind, then you have a sense of peace. As long as you continue to resist and argue and fight and struggle,you give power to the outer condition or persons to persist in injuring you.
The real adversary is not that other person who seems bent on imposing injustice on your life, but your thought of him, and this activity of your mind is your responsibility. What the other person does is his problem; what you do and how you react to what he does is in you. Incidents are external; the reaction to them is your very own. Agree with your adversary, get your inner thoughts in agreement, eliminate adverse reactions; you will then find the way to deal to your advantage and creatively with persons and situations that you encounter.
Q. “The philosophy you espouse, is too good to be true. It is expecting too much.” This used to be termed “reaching for the moon.” Mankind nowadays continues to achieve so much of what was formerly considered impossible—he has reached the moon and come back several times! However, to a certain state of consciousness, the Truth that we refer to and talk about does seem too good to be true, and as long as a person thinks so, that long will he continue on the long way of experience. Our ideas and ideals and dreams and hopes and desires are thought of as a kind of hitching our wagon to a star—-an attractive idea, but beyond hope of realization. But take note of the following remark made by G.K. Chesterton, the English philosopher: “Among all the strange things men have forgotten, the most universal lapse of memory is that by which they have forgotten that they are living on a star.”
How often we have been advised to reach for the stars, or to hitch our wagon to one, and always the stars have been up there, countless miles away, hopelessly unattainable. To think that all our lives we have been living on a star; the materials and tools with which we could make out lives glorious are at hand; we are surrounded by infinite potentialities and possibilities. We need no longer attempt to reach our destiny in the stars; our destiny depends upon how we live on this star.
Q. “Is it true that advanced students of Unity advocate the following of astrology and that the metaphysical symbolism found in the Bible relates always to astrology?” I have always declined to be drawn into the “astrology controversy,” but in this question-and-answer lesson I will comment briefly upon it, although I have never felt that I had anything of particular value or uniqueness to contribute to this psuedo-science. I accept the fact that many long-time teachers and students of Truth do delve into astrology, as they do into ESP, numerology, and other such fields, this does not indicate that these are themselves part of an advanced study in Truth. They are merely interesting, and it is certainly up to each individual to decide for himself if he is drawn to any such pursuits. Incidentally, there is nothing new in the pursuit of astrology although there has been a recent tremendous revival in it; it has been around since pre-Biblical times. The Star in the East, followed by the Wise Men, who are believed by many scholars to have been astrologers, in their search for the infant Messiah, may not have been a star in our ordinary sense but an astrological computation. Obviously, there are significant relationships between numbers, both in astrology and in metaphysical interpretation. The number twelve, for example, generally seems to represent fulfillment, or completion. Mathematicians have shown us that we get back to the One, which is God, through root computations in the study of mathematics. However, the assertion of astrology is that man’s good depends on a celestial system outside of himself, on the position of the stars and planets when he was born and what they are at any given point in time, and this assessment of the reason for a certain fate or providence is something that I find difficult to accept. Edmund in Shakespeare’s King Lear observes, “This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune—often the surfiet of our own behavior—we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as if we were villains by necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, theives, and treacherers by spherical predominance. . .an admirable evasion of. . .man, to lay his goatish disposition to the change of a star.” Thus, even Shakespeare expresses his scepticism of astrology.
Well, I am not completely sceptical; it can be interesting, but I’m afraid that the way it is practiced is extremely rationalistic, causing the gullible to look to the stars for justification of all sorts of traits and characteristics and habit patterns. Some fifty years ago, J.B.S. Haldane, the distinguished British scientist, remarked that his suspicion is that the univierse is not only queerer than we suppose but queerer than we can suppose. I am sure that in some not-yet-understood way the existence of the electron is related to the life of the person, and that each of us is the result of a confluence of factors, from the genetic to the cosmological, that we have scarcely begun to comprehend.
Although I personally have not taken up any study indepth of astrology, opportunists have taken advantage of human nature and have turned it into a pursuit of personal gain or sensationalism. Astrology may well have some merit, but that merit would hardly be the fortifying of vanity or the encouraging of dependence on outside chance instead of taking responsibility for one’s own situation. I have sometimes had to deal with and to counsel people who have become overly interested in it to the point where they have become overly negative and fearful, but this is not the fault of astrology per se but of the people themselves who have become over-involved in it and over-credulous.
© 1975, by Eric Butterworth