Eric Butterworth Unity Podcast #29
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We’re continuing today in our study of Discover the Power Within You. As I mentioned a little bit last week, this book was written as a result of a personal quest in seeking to, I suppose we could say to correlate some of the concepts of truth with my own roots in Christianity. It was written, at one time, into a brief essay that was entitled The Truth About Jesus and the Christ, which was trying to point out the tremendous confusion that exists within Christianity, and certainly within a lot of Christian metaphysical groups, between Jesus the man and Christ the individualization point of God in man, the Christ which Jesus discovered in himself.
To me, it is a very basic awareness, whether or not one is Christian oriented or whether he has any religious background, to realize a very specific ideal that is fundamental, that we try to reiterate throughout all of this series, the activity of God becoming the person and that point of relationship. Actually, our purpose is to, as our title indicates, to discover the power or the deeper potentiality within us. It’s the great quest of all of us in life. But in realizing that this is what Jesus was all about, it is trying to get to the heart of the Christian teaching, to ask the question and to press for an answer. What did Jesus really teach? What did Jesus really teach?
It is strange, and yet probably not strange when we know what has happened in religious evolution, that in Christianity today the teachings of Jesus Christ, mind you I say this with great sincerity, the teachings of Jesus Christ are rarely heard. This is because Christianity has evolved into the religion about Jesus, and its bulwark is in the concepts and the consciousness of Paul throughout the letters of Paul. And the teachings of Jesus Christ are rarely dealt with specifically, so that often if you pose a particular problem relating a specific instance of Jesus teaching, you will have someone, say a Christian fundamentalist, who will object to what you’re saying because that’s not Christianity. If you take the so-called five fundamentals of the fundamentalist approach to Christianity, not one single one of them can be found in the teachings of Jesus.
The thing that happens in religion, it’s not a thing that has happened in Christianity alone, it’s happened throughout religious evolution all over the world and throughout all history, is very strange. It can be indicated in what I call the five Ms of religion. It’s my feeling that all religions, no matter how they have evolved, how sophisticated and how esoteric, how formalistic, that religions all began at one time with an awareness, with a consciousness normally, within one person. Someone had an experience. Someone had a breakthrough. We talked last week about the breakthrough that Jesus had, but somewhere, some time and someplace, someone had a great transcendent experience. And this was the first of the Ms, the man, could be a woman. We’re talking about the strictly in a universal sense.
The man had an experience. It turned his whole life around. It gave him new direction. And because it is the nature of man to express his interest in and love for his fellow creatures, the man articulated the experience into a message, and this is the second M of the five Ms, the message of Jesus, or the message of a Buddha, or the message of whatever religious teacher may have lived. His message is articulated with the purpose of trying to help other folks to gain the awareness so that they too can have the experience that he has had.
The third M of the five Ms is the movement. Very soon, it becomes evident that if the message is going to get out properly, to reach lot of people, there usually is an inclination to gather disciples and teachers who are going to work with him, and a movement develops. We see this specifically in Christianity, and the movement quite often develops on to a point where it has enough force to continue on after the original leader is no longer there. So the movement goes forth, but then another thing happens, that when the original inspirational force leaves, passes away, transcends, resurrects or whatever, then there is a tendency to get it all codified. Don’t rock the boat. Let’s don’t lose this beautiful consciousness that we had.
So the movement develops into a machine so that it cannot be in any way deviate from the original course that they believe was set forth by the leader. This is the fourth M, and the machine rolls on and on and on, never changing not a dot or a jot or tittle, keeping the thing going, formalizing more, becoming more organized. And this will go on sometimes for hundreds of years, maybe thousands of years until eventually there’s little left except a monument to the man. And churches are built as monuments and temples and cathedrals, and we see over the ages, if you go, which you can’t do anymore today because of the regime today, but if you search the jungles of Cambodia you’d find these monstrous, shouldn’t say monstrous, these massive temples that were built at some time by someone. Nobody really knows who or why or what, but they are today the monument to someone who had an experience at some time, somewhere.
This kind of evolutionary force is normally set into operation, as human nature goes, and we can see it as Christianity has evolved. Christianity has evolved probably through the first four Ms, and we have a great deal of the machine-like movement of the Christian teaching, and perhaps occasionally there’s the evidence of the monuments, the great cathedrals of Europe, which stand there, and about the main purpose of them is for the tourists, like me, to go along and look at all the stained-glass windows, and to gawk at all this and so forth, and about all they are is tourist places.
Well, and we say this not in any derisive way about Christianity or about any other religion, but by way of trying to understand that there are certain forces, evolutionary forces, that seem to work. And if we do not recognize this and acknowledge it, then we don’t really understand what Christianity or any religion is all about, and thus it is very hard to get to the root of it. What did it intend to do? So we’re asking the question, “What did Jesus really teach?” Of course, to really get to the heart of what Jesus really teach, we have to be willing to let go of the monument, to kind of transcend the machine, and to forget for a while about the movement and think about the message. What was it he was trying to say?
We have the great historic creeds of Christianity, and these great historic creeds, which has formed the bulwark of the Christian movement, again, with the evolution of the religion about Jesus. They were the great concepts that came out of the age of speculation when bishops and various other religious leaders sat around debating and arguing. There were sincere people, but they were trying to find some way to articulate this thing a little more clearly. Of course, in order to try to make it clearer, they made it more confusing. And the result was, they developed all of these many creeds, none of which had any real basis in Jesus’ teaching, but all of which became a part of the great machine of the Christian movement as it rolled along.
This is very startling to some people who are very closely involved in Christianity. It is very shocking. It is very sacrilegious, and probably I should be called up for a heresy trial. Unfortunately, I’m not a part of a movement that has such a thing, so I guess I’m safe, for a while at least.
But this is important, because you see, I’m not simply an iconoclast. I’m interested in the truth. I’m interested in the workable principle. I’m interested in finding the thing, not that is going to give me some kind of salvation in some future eternal existence, I’m interested in the kind of concept and consciousness that’s going to help me to find the eternal depth within myself today so that I too, and you too, and all of us can express the truth and began to live the life more abundant that Jesus, seems very clear to me, was trying to help us to do.
Therefore, it’s my feeling that whereas tradition has emphasized the divinity of Jesus, and that goes without saying with most of the Christian movements today, it’s my thesis that Jesus himself taught the divinity of man. In other words, it’s not in any way diminishing Jesus, but it’s elevating man. It’s realizing that Jesus, as a man, had the same experiences that we have, had the same need to grow, and he did grow, had the same development of consciousness that each of us can experience, and he achieved an end that he said himself we could do, and even greater things, if we had the faith, if we understood what he was doing, if we really got to the heart and root of the truth. And so he said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” But how do we know it?
Today, we’re going to examine Jesus’ beliefs about God. They’re very clear, and yet they have been quite confused because of the deification of Jesus as very God. This has created the problem, so that for the typical Christian today, when you ask about God, he shows you Jesus. This is God. And he feels that if he prays to Jesus, he’s praying to God. And this has been a great confusion. So as a result of this, the Christian movement has carried over the primitive concepts of the Old Testament.
It’s very difficult for some people to accept the fact that one has the freedom to take a look at the Bible in this way and say that there’s certain parts of the Bible that show a primitive aspect of religion, but it’s all there if we care to really look at the record. We recognize that the Bible, as we mentioned in our workshop yesterday, the Bible has unfortunately been limited because of the insistence that the Bible is the word, the holy word of God.
In other words, the Bible did not create Christianity. Christianity was articulated by different people, and Judaism was articulated by certain people, prophets and teachers and so forth, to the best of their ability, and set down into written form, which at some time was put together by scholars and theologians, and they made decisions, judgments, which they felt was good, which was not good. So these were considered Scripture. These were considered apocryphal. These were considered pseudepigraphal, which meant that they were spurious, and others were rejected entirely. But someone made a judgment at some time.
We’ve always thought that somewhere, God sat down and wrote a Bible, or that somebody, an inspiration of God, wrote a Bible. But the Bible wasn’t written in that way. The Bible was written over many years by many different people, in many different times, for many different purposes, saying many different things, some of which, of course, reflect the consciousness and the realization and the hangups of the person who wrote it. So the early stages of the Bible, you find the evidence that many times the Bible writers had a very primitive view of God. They saw God as a big judge on high, a God who wiped out whole cities, God who killed, who destroyed, God who got angry and sulked, and went off in a corner and so forth. There’s all this kind of an evidence of the primitive form viewpoint of God in the Scriptures.
This doesn’t mean that the Old Testament is not a valid source of study, but in order to study it, we must look beyond the literal expression, be willing to deal with it metaphysically, and to recognize that the great golden thread that runs through the Bible from beginning to end, or as the old preacher would say, from cover to cover, there is a beautiful realization of the evolution of God consciousness and the ascending urge of man. There’s an evolution of man that begins all the way from the earliest forms all the way up to the development of the Christ as it manifests in Jesus, or as the Christ as it is potentially manifesting in all persons everywhere. So the Bible then becomes a great and wonderful roadmap that we can use, that is very extremely helpful.
But you ask the average person, “Do you believe in God?” And he probably will say, “Of course.” Ask him what he means by God, or to describe or define or talk about God, he will look at you with an attitude all the way from shocked that you would have the audacity to say such a sacrilegious thing, or else he will shrug his shoulders and say, “Who knows?” and walk on his way. In other words, the chances are very likely that he will reflect the idea that one isn’t supposed to know anything about God. You’re just supposed to believe.
Like I tell the story of some Baptist friends that I used to have when I was a child, and they were with us on vacation one time. And at night, before they went to bed, they always had to read two chapters of the Bible. They would read, and I’d listen. They’d read it out loud, and they’ve read the these, and the thous, and the begets, and when they were through I would say, “What does that mean?” They’d say, “You’re not supposed to know what it means. You just read it. It’s good for you.” This has kind of been the approach, you see, to accepting things, as the little child once said, misinterpreting what his parents had said, accepting religion on confusion of faith.
The point is, the whole concept of God has been so clouded, so confused, that the average religious person has had this very confused, clouded attitude about deity. For instance, when I was a little younger than I am now, I was studying music. I had a music school and I used to earn some money doing singing around, and I sang for funerals. They have preaching Sams, I was singing John, I guess. I don’t know, but I sang for funerals, usually half a dozen or more a week, in the days when they always had a soloist at a funeral. And I have heard just about every kind of funeral service, and it’s a wonder that I ever went into ministry, because they all turned me off. Some of them were so shocking and so disturbing, it almost seemed as if the clergy involved was setting as his goal to see how many people he could have faint during this funeral service.
And they would say such things as, “God has taken your loved one home.” And in the casket is a little child that was struck down on the street in some kind of a heinous crime. But God has taken the child home, that there’s a better place for. I always thought this was saying so confusing, and so heartless, and so unfortunate in trying to get across any sort of a comforting message to the person.
So that we find it then, that throughout the early part of the Bible, we have these many primitive concepts, and we must see through the screen, through the shadow of this primitive viewpoint of God, where God was little more than a tribal fetish, where God was associated with places and alters and trees and wells. Then along came Moses, who had a little higher ideal of God, a little greater awareness of that God consciousness working through man, but who still erected an Ark of the Covenant which became the house of God. And the Israelites carried this Ark of the Covenant into battle. It was their good luck charm. It was their personal tribal fetish, as it were, and as long as they had the Ark, they were saved. If the enemy captured the Ark, “Why, we’re destroyed. There’s nothing left for us.”
Eventually, in order to make sure that the Ark would have a safe haven, they built a Temple. The Temple was built to house the Ark, this little vehicle that they carried around with them that was the house of God. So, the Temple became the residing place of the Ark of the Covenant, which in turn became the house of the Lord. So this was set, and it became all down through the ages, it became sort of the traditional thought that if you wanted to go to God, you went into the house of the Lord. You went to God’s house. You knocked on the door, as it were. You came in and visited God, and you went home and left God behind.
Today, it’s probably true, and I’m sure many people would not question it at all, that they stream into churches and synagogues all over the land to get close to God. It is self-evident in this concept that God is in a church, but he’s not in a theater, that God works through holy people, but not through sinners. And yet, if we want to look at it from a more logical or even metaphysical point of view, if God is limited in manifestation, in other words if God can be this place and not somewhere else, then he must be limited in potentiality.
So we’ve created a very limited God. We have a God whose hands are tied behind his back. We have a God who works overtime against the forces of evil, and like the little woman once said, “Oh, we sure must pray for God, because if he loses the battle we’re all sunk.” Because God is working on this constant struggle against the force of evil, and the devil usually has the upper hand, and the chances are very likely that in most pulpits, at least through much of recent times, the major subject is not about God, but about the devil, the devil and how he’s running sway throughout the world, and luring people here and there into perdition and so forth.
So the God concept evolved through the Bible. As you read through, if you think of the Bible as a story of the evolution of God consciousness, and the evolution of the spiritual nature of man, then you acknowledge this and it doesn’t disturb you at all. It’s like the little child in Sunday school who had gone through a period of studies of the Old Testament, the lurid details of God who was so destructive and so vindictive. And then finally they moved over into the New Testament, began to study about Jesus, God of love, the father within who loves us all and whose good pleasure it is to give us the kingdom. One day the little child blurted out in Sunday school, just like that, the child blurted out in Sunday school, “Goodness. God got better as he got older, didn’t he?”
The point is, according to the traditional concept, God did get better. He evolved into a whole different thing. The unfortunate part is, the hangup was there about the God of the Old Testament, this vindictive God, and so that, for most persons, is the God that we have today. My feeling is that that God is not big enough. That God is incapable of taking care of us in our times, if you want to take such a sacrilegious stand.
So then a few years ago, when Time Magazine dared to have on its cover of its magazine front, “God is dead.” You remember that one and how startled people were? What a terrible, sacrilegious thing it was to say God is dead. I said, “Three cheers. God is dead.” I gave a talk sometime after that, God is dead if you are. My really feeling about this was this, and this is what the so-called, they call themselves Christian atheists, were about, though they were very rarely understood. They felt that the God which was what Santayana calls the floating literary symbol, or the God who was a word, the God who was an intellectual construct, the God who was the figurative imaginary ideal that was up here in the sky, that was off like an absentee landlord unable and unwilling, perhaps at times, to take care of the needs of man, that it’s time that we got rid of that God.
Then this becomes much more understanding when you get the thought of Ralph Waldo Emerson who says, “When we have broken with the God of tradition and destroyed the God of the intellect, then God fires us with his presence.” But you can’t really experience the presence of God until you’re willing to let go of what I call the absence of God. Much of the primitive concept of God is an absent God. It’s a God that’s out there somewhere. It’s a God that you have to speak in a loud voice to reach. You have to beg and supplicate, God who turns his back on you. God who’s angry at you, God who destroys you, who punishes you. God who is a scarecrow for children, as Thoreau says. We need to let go of that God concept and get a larger thought of God so that we can understand God as presence. Then suddenly God comes alive, and God becomes a very living, present help to us in time of need. And this is what everybody’s always wanted.
You see, so it really is not quite as bad as it seems at first when you say God is dead. The old concept, and of course old concepts die very slowly. And so notwithstanding the Time Magazine article, the concept still goes on with many folks, and it’s very disturbing to many to think about God in any other sense. So then Jesus came along with a concept in which he discussed the Father within me, the Father who knows my needs better than I know them, the Father whose good pleasure it is to give the kingdom. He talked about Father in heaven and then said heaven, “The kingdom of heaven is neither here nor there. Lo, it’s within you.” Not in the sky somewhere. So that his whole realization, his whole awareness was different, and it dealt in a very personal sense with something that was available, something that was meaningful, something transcendent to the individual, and yet something that is always a part of his own superconscious awareness.
Of course, there have been modifications of the old traditional stand. Again, noting as we said earlier, that the Christian theologians in the age of speculation were about developing all these great historic creeds. And one of the historic creeds, and probably the greatest of them all, was the Holy Trinity, which was created at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. Actually, a conference was set up by the Pope at that time with the idea, when of course the Pope was the head of the Holy Roman Empire, and it was a political move. It was a move that was just as political as some of the moves that are taking place in the Middle East today. It was a ploy. It was an attempt to, if you can’t beat them, join them. They were having such a difficult time with these upstart Christians.
So they decided if we could just somehow find a way to bring it all together. So the bishops were ordered to go into a conference, like perhaps a negotiator or an arbitrator will make the forces of management and labor go into a session together, and hammer it out and come out with a solution. So, they hammered this out, and they hammered. As a matter of fact, it’s on record today. It’s a record that one can read in the annals of the Catholic Church, that I can’t remember the exact persons, the Bishop of Myra and one other bishop became so infuriated in their discussion that one of them punched the other one in the nose.
And eventually after these days of discussion, they come with a split decision. I don’t remember the exact figures, but a split decision, but the vote was in favor of Bella Abzug. No, I mean in favor of ... The vote was in favor of the Trinity, God in three persons. And we’ve been stuck with the Holy Trinity ever sense, and nobody’s ever really understood it. Everybody’s talked about it. Metaphysicians can make beautiful metaphysical hay out of it, but basically it was an attempt of people to try to somehow present a kind of picture that related the individual to the confused concept of the absolute, and it never did make any real sense.
Again, this is a very iconoclastic view, and I could bring the roof down in some Christian establishments when I mention this. But the important thing is that this concept of the Trinity, typical of the great historic creeds, in no way reflected the consciousness or concept or teaching of Jesus. He said nothing whatever about it. So this great historic creed, which is so fundamental to Christianity, came out of an area that was, as we say today, clear out of the ballpark in terms of Jesus’ teachings. So that when we get into the teachings of Jesus, what did Jesus really teach, we don’t talk about the Holy Trinity because it has no part in it.
Now, Jesus did say some pretty striking, and to some folks, pretty shocking things about God. The old tradition had said, “No man hath seen God at any time.” Now, obviously this was in evidence that God was spirit, or a spirit, and he was off somewhere and you weren’t able to see him. Jesus said, and oh how this has been confused, he said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” And oh how the Christian traditionalists have made hay with that, because you see that seemed to completely vindicate the idea that Jesus was very God. Jesus was God, so therefore if we want to see God, look at Jesus. Here he is. Now you get a good look at God.
Meister Eckhart, the medieval parish priest who had one of the greatest absolute consciousness or metaphysical insights of all the philosophers of all the ages, said, “God is being. Man is in a state of becoming. If God is all excellence, it is impossible that anything should exist apart from him. All things, therefore, in their substance are themselves God. Whatever else they possess is only in appearance.”
So Jesus was saying, “If you want to see God, see me when I have my moments of God consciousness, or see one another in these illumined times. Then you see God.” You see God by how this infinite process manifests through the illumined awareness of man, you see. This was very self-evident, but it’s been terribly confused. You remember the time when Jesus was talking to the woman at the well, and he said to her, “God is spirit, and they that worship him shall worship in spirit and in truth. God is spirit. They that worship him shall worship in spirit and in truth.” Now, this was essentially what I call an anti-definition. He wasn’t defining God, because God has never really been defined, and probably the ancients were right when they said to define a thing is to limit it. If you think you know what God is, then you probably don’t know at all.
It was kind of an anti-definition, such as St. Augustine’s concept, “God is a circle whose center is everywhere, and whose circumference is nowhere.” Which itself is a very interesting illustration, one that when you first hear it you think, “Gee, that’s great. I could write a picture of that.” Well, take a pencil and spend a few years, and see if you can draw a picture of God is a circle whose center is everywhere, and whose circumference is nowhere. And yet, that is a very beautiful realization too, because what it does say is the center of God is everywhere, so the center of God is you. God is a circle in terms of a limitless universal awareness, but the center of that activity is where you are. You are the point where that infinite is expressing as you, and you, and you, and you, and me too, everyone, everyone.
Now, this is a very wonderful thing, you see. So that God is spirit, and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth means, of course, that we don’t worship God in a place. We don’t worship God afar. We don’t worship anyone or anything at any time, but we worship in spirit, which means that we worship through our consciousness. Jesus said, “If you say you love God and hate your brother or your neighbor, you’re a liar.” I always jokingly say, after that, “He said it. I didn’t. I wish I had.”
But it was pretty shocking, because a lot of people say they love God and have prejudices against people around them. And he says, “You’re a liar if you say you love ... How do you love God? You love God by loving.” So you worship God in spirit, in consciousness. You worship God through, to use the term we use, through getting an awareness of worthship. When used to experience the sense of worthship, then that worthship projects the aura of radiance of love, and of understanding, and of patients, and of the interacting process that comes out of this spiritual awareness in all your relationships with people, you see.
The tendency has come from this old anthropomorphic idea that God is somewhere. He’s on the hill. He’s in the tree. He’s in the altar. He’s in the crucifix. He’s in whatever. But God is all things, in all things, and the only way we can understand, or relate to it, or worship it is to get into the spirit of it and then express it. So therefore, “He that hath seen me, hath seen the father.” And if you want to see God, see me, or see you in those moments when we’re aware of that God activity, and we are worshiping in spirit.
The beautiful part about this is that this helps us to understand, or at least points us in the direction where we are challenged to try to understand, this concept of the universality of the infinite process. The life principle, which is breathing itself out as man, the holy breath as you were, which is breathing itself out as man and as the universe. When we think of God as a person, you see, this something, this presence, this force, this deity is always at a distance and we’re always trying to find him, to reach him. Our prayers are this. We’re struggling. We’re looking up. We’re reaching up. We’re praying out and up. We’re sometimes praying at the height of our voices, and usually there is a tendency that has developed down through the ages that if you’re praying to God, you even use a particular language. You intone your voice.
Many folks today who are not even aware that they do this, who may feel that they’ve totally gotten rid of this whole relationship, when they pray, quite often change their language and begin to pray in the language of Shakespeare. Oh God, thee, thou and so forth, and intone their voices like the preachers love to do, “Oh dear Lord.” You know, and so forth. That’s supposed to be a way to reach the infinite. Has nothing whatever to do with the spiritual process. If God were a person, he probably sits in the high places and laughs.
Like the Psalmist said, “He that sits in the heavens shall laugh.” But it’s not God laughing derisively. Actually, it’s referring to the realization that the laughter of God is a divine whimsy which every person experiences when he gets on high. We talked in the early part of the session about sitting on a high mountain or a high building and looking down, and seeing the city or seeing the world with all of its turmoil, and yet seeing it in an entirely different perspective. So when we sit on high, when we sit in a higher awareness of spirit or a higher awareness of our own God consciousness, we see things differently. We see more purely. We see more clearly. We speak more articulately.
The important thing is that we don’t have to find God. Many religious folks have spent all their lives trying to find God, and the songs sing, “Oh that I might know him. Oh that I could find him. Oh that someday I would come into his presence.” Well, as long as we’re trying to find God, we’re working in the wrong direction. As I say, sort of whimsically, God isn’t lost, so don’t look for him. There’s no way. It’s like one of the philosophers have said, that the fish looks eternally and fruitlessly for water. And the one thing that a man can never find, ever, is God, because if you find God, then your whole consciousness has been distorted. You will find that very quickly that which you see as God has clay feet, you see, because you’ll see a brief glimpse or a fleeting moment of God consciousness expressing in a person or in a place, but it doesn’t last simply because God is spirit, allness.
You can’t find, and so therefore, one needs to turn around his whole attitude of prayer and stop trying to pray to God. As long as you’re praying to God, you’re practicing the absence of God. You’re saying, “God is there. If I pray to him, he’ll hear me and he will do something for me.” Well, certainly God is there, but God is here. But as long as I’m praying for the answer to come from there, I’m rejecting the answer that is already present here. Jesus says, “The Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” It’s already present. “Before they call, I will answer.” It’s already here, so we don’t pray to God. We pray from the consciousness of God.
There’s a little illustration that I’ve used in my book, and some of you have pointed out that it’s been very meaningful to me. I’ve said often that this is a statement that, I suppose like lots of people who write things, it was almost a kind of a throwaway thing that was just sort of added in. I don’t know how it came out, but it has been more meaningful to more people than probably anything in the whole book. It’s the simple statement that God is not in man like a raisin is in a bun, but God is in you like the ocean is in a wave.
You see, this is the problem. We tell children, for instance, that God is in you. Well, a child, at one stage, has a very literal mind, and so he says, “God is in me.” I remember when my son was quite young. We were telling him this idea that God was in everything. God was everywhere, and he put up a grape, he says, “Is God in the grape?” “Yes.” Cut the grape open, he said, “Now where’s God? I don’t see him.” You see? If God is in man, where is he in man? Do I then have to go searching around in my inner self to find God any more than I will find God out here in the outer somewhere?
God is not in man like a raisin in a bun, or like a button in a glass of water, because you will still have the water, and you’ll still have the button. You still have two, not one. But God is in man like a wave, like the ocean is in wave. Just think about that for a moment. What is a wave? Well, you say a wave is a body of water. But is it a body of water in the sense of it having its own unique individualized, totally separated identity? No. A wave is the ocean at that point forming itself into a wave. And it can never be less than ocean, and it can never be more than ocean. If you relate that to your own experience, then what am I? I am God expressing as me, and I can never be more than that, and I can never be less than that.
If we can get that insight, that understanding, then we see that God is not somewhere, but God is a life principle, a substance process. God is love. God is the allness force that is expressing where I am. Then also we will come to realize another great dynamic, which I think was first expressed by Thomas Troward, the idea that wherever spirit is, spirit is, the whole of spirit must be you. And wherever spirit is at all, spirit is omnipresent, so wherever spirit is at all, at any point in space, spirit must be there in its entirety. So that to use the illustration, we could say, and obviously any illustration can break down, but we could say that the wave is the ocean expressing as a wave, but at the point where it becomes the wave every property, ever potentiality of the ocean, is present in it. Cup full of the water and the chemicals and so forth are all in the water, so it’s ocean. You take a cupful of the wave and say, “What do you have? Do you have a cupful of wave?” You have a cupful of water, cupful of the ocean, you see.
So you take man, the mind of man, the heart of man, his love potential, his creative potential, his healing process and so forth. What do you have? You have the whole of God manifest at that point in its entirety as man so that the mind of man, then, is like the wave in the ocean. The mind of man is a movement within the infinite mind of God, where it has its own identity, has its own shape and form, and can even within that scope have its own attitudes, but it can never be less than infinite mind. So how then, in prayer, or in treatment, or in self-realization do you find the wisdom of God? Do you go reaching off into divine mind?
I’ve seen people often say, “Oh, I believe that all things can be done in divine mind, and I am trying to reach divine mind.” Well, you’ve simply put the old wine or the new wine in old wine skins. You have a new metaphysical concept. You have a new attitude, a new definition for God, but you still have the old idea that God is out there somewhere. Where is divine mind? Divine mind is omnipresent, and wherever mind is at all, the whole of mind must be.
So in your mind, the whole of divine mind is present. The only real realization, the only reason that there is a tendency to feel confused and absent and separated, is because we feel confused and absent and separated. In consciousness, we think of ourselves as separate creatures, and so like the prodigal son, we’re out in the far country and we come to know want. But the beautiful part of that story is that the father in the prodigal son didn’t go running out into the far country to find the young son. Why? Because where was the young son? The young son was actually the father. The story deals with one person. The father and the son were one. The father represented the God potential reality that was always with him. The father was the potentiality within him even when he was hungry, even when he was confused. And at any time, the whole picture could change the moment he woke up. And that’s the story. It says he came to himself.
Did you come to yourself this morning when you got out of bed? You came to yourself. You woke up. So he woke up, and suddenly he realized that all that the father hath is mine. You see, that’s the whole meaning of that parable of the prodigal son, which is to me, the whole Bible in a nutshell. It’s the whole teaching of Jesus, given in a simple story, as the little child says, the earth story with a God meaning.
So Jesus then stresses the idea of the kingdom of God within, that wherever we are, we are at the center of the universe. We’re in the midst of it. “The kingdom of God,” he says in another time, “is at hand.” It’s present. It’s here. It’s not somewhere else. So the potential of life, which the kingdom is talking about, the God potential, the human potential, however you see it, is always present. It’s not something you put into yourself. You can read books of self-development and talk about how to be this and how to become that, and how to develop that, and you may tend to think that, “Though I am nobody and though I’m insufficient, and I’m incapable, if I work hard up enough at this now be able to become capable and creative.”
There’s no way that any teaching, any philosophy, any spiritual giant, now or in any of the ages past, could ever put within you a potentiality. Either the potential is there, or forget the whole thing. Well, the point is the kingdom of God is within. That’s the principle, so the potential is always present. Man is always a spiritual being. Man always has this genius potential within him, but of course he, as the preacher of Ecclesiastes puts it, “He has invented endless subtleties of his own.” And these endless subtleties become his complexes, and his attitudes, and his feelings of self-limitation, all of which block his consciousness from accepting the whole, which is always present.
This is why I say, and I think this is so self-evident in Jesus’ concepts of God and of prayer, that when you pray, it’s so important to turn away from the old idea of trying to go somewhere, to get into something. You know, “I’m praying to get into the silence.” You don’t get into it. There’s nowhere to get into. You’re not trying to rise out of something. You’re not trying to elevate. We talk about elevating our consciousness. Well, of course it’s a term we use, which simply doesn’t really mean geographical up and down, and out and in, and so forth. But there’s a tendency to strain out and up, “I’m trying to raise my consciousness.” You can just see a person almost stretching his neck to try to get up high, to get above this thing. But there’s nowhere to go.
When you pray, Jesus says, “Enter into the inner chamber and close the door.” Where? Right here. Be still. Just relax and let go, and get the sense that right where you are, at the very heart and soul of you, you are in the presence, and the presence is in you. And you are the presence acting as you. All you have to do is gradually let your limited concepts fall away. You’re not rising in anything or going somewhere. You’re letting it all follow, or you’re denying it, you’re letting it go, you’re letting it go. You’re letting it go, and then gradually you know your oneness.
But you didn’t go anywhere. You didn’t have a soul flight. You didn’t take some journey to get there. Right where you are, God is. And how do you know God is where you are? You remember the story of the little boy, lost in the forest, and they searched for him for days, and when they finally found him he’s sitting there at a tree whittling. And they were so happy to find him. They come up and hugged him and held him in their hands, and so forth. And finally one of them said, “Weren’t you afraid out here alone?” “No. I wasn’t afraid.” “Why weren’t you afraid?” “Because God is here.” And one skeptical man said, “How did you know God is here?” “Because I’m here.” I’ve always said that it’s unfortunate, but probably true, that very soon he’ll go to Sunday school and they’ll teach that right out of him.
But at that point he knows it, intuitively and instinctively. He knows that where I am, God is, and God is where I am because I’m there. It’s like the wave looking for the ocean. How does the wave know the ocean is there? Because the wave is there. Because the wave is the ocean expressing as a wave. This comes very hard, I know, to some folks that have been so steeped in the anthropomorphic concept of God, and the idea that God is somewhere. God is separate. God is apart. God is some person somewhere that can do great things. This is in no way minimizing the tremendous potentiality in God, the tremendous help that man can experience through realizing God. But it simply means that all the help that we seek, that we desire, is already ours. “All that the father hath is mine.” said the elder son in the prodigal story. Mine. Now. Here. It’s all here. It’s all mine. I’m in it. It’s in me.
The need is to develop the awareness of it, to do it. “You hear these things, blessed are ye if you do them.” Jesus said. Do it. Work it. Act in the consciousness. Let the spirit express. It’s all present, you see. What a difference this makes to us, if we’re talking, have a need for healing, or a need for guidance, a need for prosperity. You think, “I’m going to pray about this.” All right. Be very analytical for a moment. Well, how are you going to pray about it? Why are you going to pray about it? Who are you praying to? You want healing? You’re praying to God for healing? Why pray to God for healing? Does God have the heath you want? Well, of course he does. Well, if God has the health you want, if he loves you like you think he does, why doesn’t he give it to you? Why does he wait for you to suffer? Why can’t you just let it happen?
Well, quite often the person has never really thought of that, and sometimes he doesn’t want to think in that way. But the fact is, the health of the infinite is present in its entirety at every point in space at the same time, which means in every cell and organ and function of your body. You can never be separated from life. You’re in it, and it’s in you, you see.
So your prayer for healing is not to try to get something into you, but rather to let go of the endless subtleties of the mind and let, as the Old Testament says, “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall spring forth speedily.” Boom. Here it is. It’s already present, you see. So there’s nowhere to go. So it is with prosperity. So it is with guidance.
We think of guidance as a special voice that comes from the infinite somewhere. “I listen so God will speak his word to me, and I’m listening. I’m listening.” The thing is, that so often if we listen in that kind of open receptivity, and that kind of naivety, sometimes the subconscious mind will produce some sounds for us and we’ll think we’ve heard the voice of God. Divine guidance is a principle, a principle of mind action. Guidance is always present. There’s never a question of the guiding directing influence of God. The question is, can we listen to it? Can we let it guide us and direct us? Can we be still, let go of our preconceived notions?
Quite often the person who says, “I’m praying for guidance.” He says, “I have this thing that I want to do but I’m praying for guidance.” What he really means is, “I’ve made up my mind to do what I want to do, and I expect God to give me a guidance in this direction because I’m going to do it anyway.” This is what often people mean when they say, “I’m praying for guidance about it.” What they mean is they’re praying for divine vindication. They want God to say yes to what they’ve decided they’re going to do, whether or not, you see.
But this is not the way divine guidance works. Divine guidance is the principle of mind action within us. Whatever it is that you desire to do, if you get still enough so that you begin to realize what it is you really want to do, in most cases we don’t know what we want to do. We don’t really know our own minds. We don’t know ourself that much. We let go and break through the encrustation of the endless subtleties that have accumulated in our consciousness so much by listening to what they say, and hearing the styles and the trends, and trying to keep up with the Joneses and so forth. These are the things that motivate us most of the time. We let go of all of that to really experience ourself at the root of ourselves, then suddenly we know. We know.
We know what to do. We know where to go, and we take action. Now, some might say, “Well, how did you know? Did God speak to you? How does God ever speak to you? In a loud booming voice?” You may sit from now until the end of time waiting for that loud booming voice, and you may never hear it. But that doesn’t mean that you haven’t been guided. Your imagination will work in certain ways so that quite often a person may hear a voice because he has the kind of creative imagination that interprets feelings in this way, but it need not be that. It doesn’t work that way for me. I’ve never heard the voice of God in all my life, not in any kind of a loud voice. Not saying, “Eric, Eric. You do that.” I think if that happened to me I might be a little scared.
And yet I’m quite confident, quite completely confident, that I experienced guidance many, many times. I can’t say all the time. After all, who’s infallible? Because we’re often listening to the human inclinations rather than to the divine force, but there’s so many times when after something has happened and I sort it out, as I look back on it I see there was a tremendous guiding force that was at work there. But it worked through me. God works through human hands. God works through your hands, through your mind. When you have a flash of insight and you are humble and willing to accept the guiding, directing force that is transcendent to your human instincts and inclinations, and then let it work through you, this is God working through man, and this is the presence of God.
Now, many people express great concern about things in the world. In other words, quite often, I’ve pointed this out in one book of mine, I can’t remember what it is, that there’s a tendency to try to see God through problems. In other words, God has become the great conjecture. When was the last time you heard someone say, “Well, I don’t know. If there’s a God, why does he allow the airplane to crash?” Now, that may be a good religious person, but he still has his doubts. He would be better off if he would wake up and face up to the fact in his life that he still has a lot of doubts about God, because a person who has doubts is probably much closer than the person who has the hardheaded feeling that he knows it all, that he accepts, “I believe in God, period.”
But the point is, he tends to see problems, see God through problems. So he has God out here as the big question mark. And every time something happens he says, “God, how could you allow this to happen? God, if you’re so great, then do something about this.” He’s always acting in this way relative to cyclones, and tornadoes, and snowstorms that block personal desires, and airline crashes, and the great tragedies, and so forth. How could God ever allow this thing to happen?
You see, the great need is to turn the whole thing around. As long as God is a great conjecture, then obviously there can be very little continuity in our spiritual feeling or faith or fervor. The need is to begin with the principle. Start with the principle. Start with the realization of God as a very present force, a great present help, an omnipresence in which I live and move and have my being. This is the principle. Now, let the principle be the window. Now, see the trouble through the principle. Instead of trying to see God through the problem, see the problem through God.
You begin with the consciousness of God. You begin with the idea that God is omnipresent, the allness of God is ever present. Beginning with this slide rule, with this formula, now you look at challenges, the difficulties of snowstorms, and you begin to see an inkling of meaning. But what you do see, is you keep a continuity of guidance and direction that enables you to deal with these situations from the highest possible point of view, and to find the way through them, ultimately perhaps to look back on them and say, “Well, it’s sad that that happened, but now I can understand that there was some meaning in it for all of us concerned because of the growth that took place.” You see.
It’s this kind of consciousness that I think Jesus implies. Quite often people say, “Why doesn’t God stop a war, or why doesn’t God bring peace in the Arab world?” Why doesn’t the principle of mathematics answer problems or keep us from getting wrong answers? Why does God allow the child to add two plus two and get five? Well, God, or the principle, has no knowledge of the five. If God is principle, it is principle, and the principle is always there, even if we come up with wrong answers, even if we have an erroneous concept of ourselves. The principle is each of us is a spiritual being, perfect and whole, Christ within our hope of glory. That’s the principle.
We may not realize it. We may act out a much lesser attitude and consciousness of that. That is always present. That’s the presence. So when you start with that principle, then instead of saying why doesn’t God bring the nations together and establish peace, the question is why do not nations begin with the consciousness of the allness of God, and the peace of all-pervading love of God, and let it project through their awareness into their attitudes at the bargaining table so that they can establish peace, you see.
This is the only way it can work out. It can’t work the other way, simply because God is not the person who says, “I’m going to knock some heads together and get some sense into you.” Man has the privilege of individualization. He can completely project it, or he can frustrate it. And all of the problems of mankind, all the way from so-called sin to sickness, to war and aberrations of all kind, are simply the result of the frustration of potentiality. The potentiality is still there. The God activity is still within every person. The allness is still within the illness. The all-sufficiency is still within the insufficiency, because this is the realization of the allness of God that is present everywhere in its entirety. But it’s a potentiality.
The beautiful part of it, each of us has the opportunity to give birth to this great realization. The unborn possibility is always present, but ours is the privilege of giving birth to it, and thus come alive and become consciously at one with the process and become active.
Prayer can never influence God to be more or less than God. God is always present as the potential, even within the problem. God never can be, in any way, less than that potentiality. There’s no possibility that there can be any separation, that there can be any problem that doesn’t have an answer, and that there can be any problem that doesn’t have the answer right within the problem. “Before they call, I will answer.” is the principle.
Therefore, there are no insoluble problems. There are no incurable illnesses. This is a very difficult one for us, because we’ve accepted all sorts of endless subtleties of human consciousness and made gods of them. There are no such thing as an incurable illness. There may well be, as some doctors are saying, incurable people. The person may be so totally locked into the endless subtleties of the mind that there’s no way, in his present consciousness, that he can let it go. But it’s not an incurable illness. It’s an incurable state of consciousness, and even that of course is not exactly correct because of the element that comes out in the teachings of Jesus, which is often referred to as the grace of God.
Now, the grace of God is a concept that has become sort of a great theological tenet that becomes self-feeding and self-explaining. We won’t get into this hardly at all, but just briefly I’d like to say that the grace of God is a way in which we can understand the divine process. It’s not a special action of God. It’s not a divine favor. It’s not something that God is doing out of his grace, he’s going to save this one and pull this one out of the fire. It simply means that there is an aspect of the infinite process within us that seems to temper the so-called law of causation.
We’ve said if you do a certain thing, you will first suffer for it. But under the grace aspect of divine law, which is simply a way of understanding that man is not simply acted upon by the principle, but he is more incorporated into the principle itself than he’s aware of, so that you’re always a little better than you think you are, and you’re never quite as bad as you think you are. That even if you set forth some activity of the law of causation, that you never quite get back all of the bad parts that you think you would get under the law of karma or causation. You always get a little more. It’s like a person in a grocery store who always adds a little extra on the scales.
This is simply because there is a love aspect of this divine process. It’s simply because, as Jesus said, “It’s the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” This divine process is working so continuously, and so ceaselessly, and so lovingly to project itself in us and to help us to express, to release the imprisoned splendor, as Browning says, that even if we consciously try to hold it back, it’s like the little child who says, “I’ll hold my breath. I’ll hold my breath.” And a wise parent knows that he’s not going to hold his breath very long. Even if he holds his breath long enough until he passes out, he will very quickly resume breathing again because you can’t kill yourself in that way, you see. There’s no way that you can.
In the same sense, even though a person may be a negative, he may be destructive in all of his tendencies, yet somehow there’s a love element in the divine process that tempers and ameliorates the whole process. This is the grace of God. It’s a very lovely, a very beautiful thing, a very simple thing. I say, just to explain it, to lay it aside, but don’t get involved in it because in most cases the grace of God has been so completely correlated with the idea of divine favor, and of a God on high who pulls special strings, that the best thing is to let the word go and don’t even use it. That’s the way I do. I rarely ever use the word. But it is an aspect of the divine process that I think is really very beautiful.
So then we see that Jesus realized the importance of the unity with the whole. God, a presence, ever-guiding, ever-healing. I think maybe this is best explained by a poet who says, and I’ll close with these lines, “He who stands cool and composed in the presence of a million universes, the power that framed each heavenly world, and on their course the planets hurled, is his to use.” This whole dynamic activity of the universe is in our hands. We talk about he has the whole world in his hands. You have the whole world of the infinite process of God in your hands at all times.
Charles Fillmore used to say, even though this was very shocking to some people, “Never fear using God, because God loves to be used.” Because the divine process in you has nothing whatever to do, as far as you’re concerned, except to evolve and express and open out the imprisoned splendor. That’s the purpose of the God activity within you, and it’s a marvelous realization once we get it. This is God as presence.
Let’s be still for just a moment. In one moment I would like us to consciously, willingly let go of all attitudes or feelings that we may now have about God, which would have to be related to the idea of absence. Let it all go, even the words God on high, God in heaven, God out there, God who judges, God who condemns, God who gives special favors. Let it all go to just realize God of present help. And the word presence is a very beautiful word, because it really means present. It is that of God that is present, not absent.
So we let go of all thoughts related to the absence, and we think of that which is present here and now. So then we can say for ourselves wherever I am, God is. But even more, we can say, knowing the tremendous implication of the name God, which the Bible articulates as I am, we can say wherever I am, I am. May we all now, within ourselves, just whisper our own particular word of gratitude, feeling, thank you, praise God, just say yes. But in some way, sense this appreciation, this gratitude for the truth that makes us free. And so be it.