EBUP37: Excess Baggage

Eric Butterworth Unity Podcast #37

Eric Butterworth Sunday Services — Excess Baggage

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I wonder if you realize what an interesting gathering this is because each of you is here not because it’s Sunday and you have an obligation to go to church. You’re here because you want to engage in an experience of what we call creative worth-ship. You’re finally interested in self-improvement and overcoming, perhaps engaging in some mental housecleaning. Getting rid of what we’re calling excess baggage that you’ve been carrying to the determine of your effectiveness as a creative individual.

The gospel story of Jesus experiencing temptation in the wilderness is actually his tussle with the inertial pull of human consciousness. As we often point out, Jesus was not God becoming man, but man becoming God. In the final stages of self-realization and mastery, his victory over himself proved that you and I can achieve a victory, so the same. His personal struggle indicated that we all sometimes experience our own purgatory. Much of what we’re up to in this study of truth is a matter of taking per person growth and overcoming. Confronting and discarding patterns of mind that work against us, attitudes that are excess baggage, weighting us down, disrupting our creative efforts.

Paul calls for us to lay aside every weight, then the sin is not so easy to beset you. It’s not easy, for pernicious negatives become deeply rooted in the mind. These attitudes that are absorbed into your consciousness over a lifetime can be changed, but not overnight. First of all, you must get the feeling that you can change. Then, you must cast off the excess baggage of your mind with a great deal of effort.

Favorite story of mine is the story of, Mark Twain’s The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. This champion frog was such a good jumper, he could out jump any other frog pitted against him in a contest. One day, a stranger who had the frog in the contest, which he knew couldn’t out-jump the champion frog, figured out a way to beat him. So on the sly, he sneaked into the room where the champion was housed the night before a contest. He opened the frogs mouth and filled it full of buckshot.

Next day at the contest when the champion was brought out to perform, there was a silence as they all waited to see the tremendous jump that he would make. He hunched and heaved, trying hard to get off a jump, but alas he was so weighted down that he couldn’t even budge. So the jumping frog of Calaveras County lost the contest to the stranger’s untrained frog.

This classic story of Mark Twain’s has brought hardy chuckles to his readers through the years. Actually, it’s a kind of living parable that points out the fact that even as a champion frog cannot win any kind of race or contest if he’s weighted down with lead, so that any kind of athletic contest, the participants are careful not to carry too much weight. Certainly, no one would think of trying to set a new world record in the mile, or the marathon carrying a sack of window sash weights on his back.

In any race, you must travel light. Get rid of all excess baggage, and streamline the vehicle or ourselves. As obvious as this is, we sometimes weight ourselves down in our thoughts by doubting our ability to achieve success, going over all the mistakes that we’ve made, over, and over, and over them, condemning ourselves for having made them. We weighed ourselves down with fear that things would go wrong, and that something or someone would work against us. We need to take hold of ourselves and literally shake the lead out. We need to streamline ourselves for success by discarding our notions of defeat, attitudes of limitation, our feelings of discouragement.

One of the loveliest of Bible statements is the words, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind has stayed on thee.” It might come as a surprise to some Bible students to recognize that the direct opposite of the statement is also true. That would keep him in perfect confusion, whose mind has stayed on negative and destructive thoughts. That’s where most of us check-in.

In the subconscious caverns of the mind, we tend to store up every kind of thought and feeling that we give our mental acceptance to. Unless we keep watch, and screen out the negatives as they occur, we soon find ourselves with an awful lot of excess baggage. As an example, one of the prime items in the excess baggage that we carry around in the mind is hurt. Just the mention of the word hurt might jog the memory and a re-sensing of pain, and the opening of wounds.

Now hurt and its pain are part of the human experience, a by-product of human relationships. Since life is basically spent in the framework of human relations, there are countless opportunities for feeling of hurt if you’re so inclined. That may surprise you if you’re so inclined, may appear to be startling. But see we must face the fact that we always have a choice. No matter what a person does or leaves undone, you never have to give him the power to decide how you’re going to think, or feel, or act.

There’s a common explanation in the hostile relationship. You’ve probably said it to yourself. If you haven’t, we’ll give you a merit badge. It goes like this. I don’t have to take that from anybody. I don’t have to take that. Precisely, you don’t have to, so why take it? Seriously, how logical is such a faith and such a truth? How easy we overlook it. It’s as if we carry a special grievance knapsack on our back into which we deposit the accumulated memory of incidents in which we’ve taken offense. We’ve taken offense. It wasn’t forced on us. We took it of our own volition, so why take it?

In the mental storehouse of hurt, we have what I might call a growing enterprise, with scars and even festering open wounds of rage and unforgiveness, and frustrations that block the creative flow, all of which we’ve taken and we never really have to. In truth, we have known it for a century, but medical science is just now catching up to the realization that we cannot maintain an active storehouse of hurt, and enjoy either health or happiness.

Startling new revelations from medical science have been appearing daily in the newspapers, weekly in the rotogravure sections, things that we’ve known for years. But you can’t have hurt and limited attitudes in your conscious, and enjoy health or happiness. It’s even being proved medically that most if not all physical ails are emotionally induced. For instance, arthritis is often called bottled hurt. Robert Burns talks about the good wife, Kate, at home, nursing her wrath to keep it warm. You can be sure that the good wife, Kate, suffered from high blood pressure, rheumatism, and various and sundry complaints.

The word resentment comes from the root meaning re-sense. It is a constant re-sensing of the experience, keeping alive all the pain and self-pity. It could be said along with the good wife, Kate, most persons have a mental string of rosary beads as in the ritual of prayer. They go over and over the scars and open wounds of hurt, counting them one-by-one. In time, the person loses control, in fact, becomes controlled by the rage and ravaging effects of the pain.

It could be said that one’s whole personality in the course of his life may be shaped in the image of his hurt. This is tragic when we know that these hurts are things that he’s taken, he doesn’t have to, but he’s taken them. He’s accepted them. He’s made them a part of his consciousness. There’s an interesting self-repeating exercise that we use at our retreats often. Some of you have been with us for retreats have probably gone through something like this.

We ask you to write an explanation of one of your deep hurts, just a narrative paragraph telling the story of the hurt, how it happened, how bad you feel. Perhaps something you never shared with anyone. And when you’ve written it out, and you take time to do that, suppose that I ask you to give me the paper and I promise you, you’ll be free forever from the pain of this hurt and its influence in your life. Think carefully about it. You give up all entitlement to your self-pity, to the instance that what he did or what she said has had a harmful effect on your life, all that is over. Now honestly, are you willing to be free?

You may be surprised to find that if you’re honest with yourself, you’re not spontaneously eager to let it go because you’ve taken it of your own volition. It’s interesting how we hold onto hurt. It’s because most emotional pain is what I like to call substitutionary fulfillment, substitutionary fulfillment. Someone might do something, or say something against you that is disturbing. If you realize there’s little or nothing you can do about it, you may turn to self-pity as an alternative. You may be deeply hurt and you may feel with good reason. You may say, “Of course I’m hurt. Do you know what he did to me?”

So now, you write it all out in the paper. I promise you that if you give it to me, you’ll never have it anymore, no more hurt. Are you willing to let it go? To forgive and forget, give up the memory of the whole experience, the pain, the self-pity? Actually with many of us, something within may be crying out, “No, don’t take my hurt away from me. It’s mine. I have a right to something. If I can’t have things as I want them, let me at least have this substitute.” It’s all very subtle of course, but it’s real.

The hurts that we carry in our minds are retained in our memory. Ever said, I wish I had a good memory? Actually there’s rarely such a thing as a poor memory. The inability to remember is not likely that something is lacking in your equipment, but that you may be remembering too much of the wrong things, remembering too many of these hurts that you’ve taken of your own volition. What we really need basically is to develop a good forgetory.

One woman enrolled in a memory course. In the hall of the classroom before the first session, she was telling a friend how upset she was over a fight she had had with another friend. The friend said, “Why don’t you forget all that and let it go?” With eyes ablazing, she said, “I don’t intend to forget that ever after she hurt me the way she did.” Note the paradox, she’s applying to take a memory course. What she needed was to concentrate on getting rid of the clutter and the excess baggage, to learn to forget. Paul says, “Let not the sun go down on your wrath.” That’s an amazing and beautiful statement if you think about. You might put it on a plaque on your desk, or over your dressing table.

In the course of a day, it’s easy to indulge in negative states because it might take the patience of a saint to keep perpetuated poise. When you retire at night, when you take time to disrobe, to lay aside your clothes, to empty your mind of unwanted things even as you empty your pockets, as you lay your garments aside, make a ritual of it. Think back of what has happened during the day, those things that you’ve taken. They’ve upset you because you’ve taken them into yourself. People who have despitefully used you, people who have disturbed you, let them go.

Would you go to sleep tonight with a poisonous reptile coiled under your pillow? You might say of course not. Yet how many persons go to sleep every night with something equally deadly coiled in their consciousness? Maybe a deep-seated grudge, a strong feeling of resentment, a secret fear about something that you’ve hardly admitted to yourself, let alone tell it to anyone else. Let not the sun go down on your wrath.

Jesus says agree with your adversary quickly. Many people have misunderstood this, they think that he’s telling you no matter who’s out there doing things, agree with him, let him do it. Let him punch around, let him slap you on both cheeks. To agree here means to settle with and your adversary is not the person that despitefully used you, but your adverse reaction to the person. Jesus gives a key this, he says, “A man’s enemy’s are they of his own household.” His mental household, his own mind, these are your enemies.

So settle with the adverse states of your mind. Get your mind centered in the divine flow, and then see the excess baggage falling away. If you should be in the state of mind in which you have an enemy, it’s important to listen to Jesus’ clear direction. He says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who despitefully use you that you may be sons of your father.” How can you love your enemies? And part of me has realized that your enemy is basically your enmity, your enmity, the adverse reactions in your own mind. Love this enmity, get love flowing through your consciousness. Not that the other person deserves to be off the hook so easily, but because you deserve the kind of fulfillment that comes through a loving state of mind.

You may remember impetuously Peter crying out, “But master, how long should we forgive, until seven times?” Jesus puts it on the bases of law. He says, “I say unto you, until 70 times seven, and the words always, eternally, ever.” Peter was saying, “But you just can’t go on forgiving people, how much can a person take?” Don’t take it, it’s very simple. If you want light in the room, you must turn the switch. You refuse, you’ll sit in darkness and it will be of your own choosing.

The power that goes with your divine potential is only actually yours when you act the part. That’s why Paul says, “As many as are led by the spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” We’re all children of God, spiritual beings. Funny, when we act the part, and all the power, and the potential becomes a part of our experience. Turn on the light, let go of bitterness and hurt. Forgive and forget, not so much because that other one deserves it, but because you need the healing unity only right thinking can bring.

Continued unforgiveness is often rationalized by Christians as righteous indignation, don’t you love that? Righteous indignation, I have a right to my anger. I have a right to my self-pity. I have a right to my hurt. In other words, you can hate, and resent, and be angry if it is what you may call piously, a righteous cause. What’s a righteous cause to be hurt and upset, to be angry, to be bitter? Righteous or unrighteous, it’s still holding to the nettle.

There’s a story told, you may be familiar with it. Two Hindu priests are on a long walking trip. They came to a large stream where a women was in distress, unable to cross. Despite their priestly vow never to touch a woman, one of them took pity on her and carried her across on his shoulders. As he continued the journey for miles, the second priest berated the first one for breaking his vows. “How could you do such a thing? You’re a disgrace to your order.” Finally, the first priest had had it. He said, “My friend, I carried the damsel simply across the stream and promptly put her down. You’ve been carrying her for the last 20 miles.”

Think about that in terms of your own consciousness and your own experience. The act that you’ve been so upset about, so angry over, so bitter about and so hurt, the act may have long been stopped in the darkness of consciousness of the perpetrator. The negative conscious in him may have long since been corrected. But if you keep holding to the memory of the wrong, and bitterness, and resentment, and it is you who are now breaking the spiritual law, that’s not easy to take. That’s the truth.

There’s another kind of hurt that is rarely considered, I mention this just in passing. Someone dear to you may have passed on. You’re in a turmoil of emotions over it. You may be looking back in grief and sadness, remembering other times of companionship and love, or in guilt that this is how it should have been. A very subtle point is that much grief is to a large extent hurt. You’re hurt that this one on whose love you depended has gone off and left you. You have the fear, and the resentment, and the deep hurt of abandonment, so you need to forgive him to let him go. The relationship has come to pass. It brought you just the experience that you needed, and will begin to bless with growth, if you can let go and walk on.

It’s important for you and for the other one that you let it go because to keep it on is to carry a nettle in your consciousness, and to disturb yourself over the feeling of abandonment. Your mind is your own and what happens in it is totally your responsibility. Truly a mind is a wonderful thing. To insist on holding onto negative things is to persist to taking poison into your mind, into your whole system.

I love the wise observation of the comic strip character, Skippy. He says, “I don’t let it worry me none because I think too much of my mind.” How much do you think of your mind? Things other people do or say even to you, are their problems, not yours so don’t take them into your consciousness and make them yours. One of the common items in the excess baggage in the mental storehouse is a tendency to live in the past. A common human tendency at the beginning of a new year is looking backward and feeling a little nostalgia, grief, guilt, and resistance to change. But you can’t have the years back, as much as you’d like to. What is past is done, it is history.

There’s one thing you can do about the past, you can change your thoughts about it, and be willing to accept that all things working together for a good process. To admit that even if someone did something pretty evil, as it says in Joseph in the scriptures, that God meant it for good. That you can bless the other person, and release the experience, and walk on. You can’t change what happened. You can’t say it didn’t happen, it never took place. You can’t change perhaps the memory that it hurt terribly. But you can change the fact that you’ve been carrying this hurt, this heartache, this grief for a long period of time of your volition. You can let it go if you will.

We all know persons today who spend their time looking back to golden age of early times, obsessed with another world leading to an excess of mental baggage that limits their world today. I well remember my father who had come to America from England and never returned for 40 years. He was always looking back on the way things were. He used to entertain, if that’s the word, my brothers and sisters with stories of all the marvelous things of his hometown and his country, how wonderful things were back then.

One day he had a chance to return on a trip. He visited the hometown after 40 years and he found that it really didn’t exist as he’d idealized it. It had been a fantasy of his own mind. He was discouraged and distraught, he could hardly wait to get back to his home in this country. He was cured, taking a renewed interest in the present and with plans for the future. Many persons never have the opportunity to unmask the glamours of the past. To discover that riding the observation car is a distortion of the importance now.

There’s a verse of scripture that should never be overlooked. It says, “God requires the past. God requires the past.” When you throw a log on the fire, the wood as acorn tree and kindling must go in order that the heat and light of fire may be realized. So if the day is to be fired with enthusiasm, and light, and the head of creative action, then you have to be willing to let it go, to release it. Let the consciousness of now unfold in your life.

Whether you’re looking back in anger, or in feelings of nostalgia, to times when you had more money, more friends, more health, more attractiveness. Today has something more thrilling than any of them because today is here. It is new. It is now. So if old fears, and grudges, and recollections of injustice have become too excess for normal living, it’s important for you to set for yourself the task of consciously and deliberately putting out of your mind unwanted thoughts.

Remember, you’ve taken them there of your own volition. You have the power to let them go. You recall for getting back to basics, realizing that your mind is an extension of divine mind, as you’re a channel for the unfoldment of light, and life, and love. You must affirm that all that is out of balance and not in keeping with the outworking of the divine potential within you, as waters that have passed away. All things have become new. Again, Paul says, “Lay aside every weight and the sin is not so easy to beset you, and run with patience, the race that is before you.”

Jesus talks to this, the very fact of it. He says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for my yolk is easy, my burden is light.” What does this mean? The word yoke comes from the same route as the word yoga, meaning union, oneness, unity with the divine flow within you. When Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you.” He means understand this consciousness of oneness which I have found and realize it for yourself, take this into your own consciousness. When you’re conscious of your oneness within, life is easy and your burden is light. You let go of all of the resistances, and the resentments, and the hurts, and the bitterness you’ve taken into your consciousness.

If the focus of your excess mental baggage involves harbored hurt or resentment of some person, condition in your life, and just completely taking over your experience, you might be interested in a simple little poem that I would like to read, entitled One Of These Days. Don’t ask me for the author because I can’t remember it. It goes like this,

“Say let’s forget it. Let’s put it aside. Life is so short, and the world is so wide. Days are so short and there’s so much to do. What if it was false? There’s so much that’s true. Say let’s forget it. Let’s brush it away, now and forever. So what do you say? The sun will be shining and drive off the haze one of these days. Say let’s forgive it, let’s wipe off the slate. Find something better to cherish than hate. There’s much in the world that we’ve already had. Let’s strike a balance and call off the bad. Let’s forgive it, whatever it may be. Let’s not be slaves when we ought to be free. You should be walking in sun shiny ways one of theses days. Say let’s not take it so sore to the heart. Hates might be friendships just drifted apart. Failure be genius not quite understood. We could all help folks so much if we would. Let’s get closer to somebody’s side, see what his dream is, know how he tried. Learn if our scoldings won’t give way to praise, one of these days.”

Let’s be still. It’s a beautiful thing to realize that our mind is a channel through which the infinite mind expresses. There is within us potentially a continuity of love, peace, life, light, which will flow unceasingly through us if we keep our mind open and receptive within. So acknowledging that many of us have taken into our consciousness ideas, feelings, hurts, made them into complexes and obsessions, how good is to know, we loosen and let it all go and center ourselves in the divine flow, where love and fulfillment can express through us.

So just for a moment, hold an image in consciousness, have an open channel. See the channel uncluttered, open, free, all that would limit and bind is washed away. As we’re told old thoughts and old conditions are as waters that have passed away, the old I am come, all things made new. If they’re things in your consciousness that you’re holding onto, you find it very difficult to let go of, just remind yourself, you don’t have to forgive, you don’t have to in any way try to atone for the problem, just be open and receptive. Let the infinite spirit flow in you and through you and wash away the limitations. Your conscious need no longer be clutter by what we could call mental cholesterol.

You’re free. Free from resentment, free from resistance, free from unforgiveness, free from hurt, from all kinds of obsessions and limitation, or basically you’re a spiritual being and you have within you the potential to express the Christ light in all your ways. Let this be a day of new light and life within you. Let this be a week of new unfoldment of the love that is basically you. Let this be the first day of the rest of your life, a life of freedom, life of wholeness. Praise God for the truth that makes us free. So be it.