Eric Butterworth Unity Podcast #45
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There’s something very good about an experience like this, because there’s a sense of oneness, a fellowship which all of us feel because we’re all on the quest for truth. It’s a mutual experience, and I like to make it very clear that I’m on the same quest, that I’m not here as an Oracle, I don’t stand here on Sunday morning to tell you exactly the way it is. It’s my role to try to incite, to challenge, to urge you to look a little deeper within yourself. But the answers that are going to make the different in your life, are not the words that come from my mouth, but are the inspirations that come from within yourself as a result of, perhaps, something I may say that will awaken within you something that you have always known. This is what truth is all about.
As Browning says, “Truth is within ourselves.” Truth is not a set of words, if it were a set of words, then I could simply recite a series of metaphysical phrases, or better yet, I could put them in your hand, better yet, tell you to get a book and go home and read it. But this is not what truth is. Truth cannot be captured on paper, truth is an inward spirit, it’s an inspiration, it’s a flow of guidance and direction. It’s non-verbal really, though we try so hard to put it into words. So therefore, what we’re about today, as always, is to try to take another look at ourselves from a deeper and deeper level, and to awaken within ourselves the kind of flow of direction, and guidance, and inspiration that will help to make our lives more meaningful, it will help us to rise above the challenges that life, but it’s very nature, seems to bring to us.
And today we’re going to think about obstacles. As a matter of fact, it’s what is sometimes referred to as, The Obstacle Complex. Have you ever had a feeling that something is standing in your way? Let’s be honest now. Have you ever had, or perhaps even made the statement that, in your job, in your work, in the things that you are doing in your particular field, that you try, you work hard, you’ve been on the job for many years, but somehow the promotion, or the level of economic affluence that you’ve always desired has eluded you? And, you have felt that maybe it’s because of this, that and the other, and you can think of all sorts of reason, most of them rationalizations, most of them excuses or alibi’s.
But haven’t you felt that something has stood in your way, perhaps in terms of your physical health, that you would like to be healthy and strong, that you would like to overcome some particular challenge that you’ve had for a long period of time? And yet, it seems that every time you begin to experience a modicum of health something else comes along, another flu bug, or another accident, or another chance experience of this, that and the other, and the first thing you know, there you are again, down, facing life from a feeling of physical unfitness and so forth?
Have you ever had a feeling that in your relationships, that you’ve never really had a sense that things were working out just perfect and right, that usually just about the time a relationship came to the kind of fulfillment that you thought you desired, something happened and you say, or have said, or perhaps you’ve hear other people say, “Just like me, it always happens. Something always turns up. Life is just one thing after another.” Have you ever had that feeling, or perhaps heard someone that had that kind of feeling? Jesus had a word for it, he had a word for so many things, and most of his words are very difficult to take because they get right to the heart of the matter, and the heart is usually in ourselves.
He says, “A man’s enemies ...” Ah, enemies, that’s it, I’ve got lots of enemies. “A man’s enemies, are they of his own household.” Oh, that means my mother, my father, my sister, my brother, my husband, my wife, my children. That isn’t what he means at all. He’s talking about the household of your mind. The enemies are your own thought people. And one of the greatest discoveries that we make as we go along, and truth is, when we come to the dawning realization that the only thing that can ever really stand in our way, the only obstacle we can ever have, the only thing that can keep us from the goals that we seek, the only real thing, is not things, or people, or circumstances, but our reactions, our thoughts, our feelings of insufficiency, our feelings of inadequacy. Or, as we would say, the obstacle complex.
And this obstacle complex shows itself in so many different ways. Usually it evidences in the “I can’t” philosophy, “I can’t do this because ...” How many reasons can you think of why you can’t do something that you have to do? Have you ever thought about that? Make a list of the reasons that there’s no way that you could possibly succeed at something that you would like to do, or something that you’ve been called upon to do, something that you have to do in your work. “I can’t possibly do it. I don’t have time, I don’t have the background, I don’t have the education, I’m too old, I’m too young, I don’t have enough money, I don’t have enough friends” and so forth.
You can think of thousands of reasons if you really give your mind to it, and something we give our mind to it. Thousands of reason why you can’t do what you need to do, what you want to do, what somebody insists that you do, what in your heart of hearts you feel is right for you to do. You can think of loads of reasons why you can’t possibly do it, if you want to think about those reasons, and so often we do if we feel sorry for ourselves. If we feel that life is sort of putting us down, that things are standing in our way, that nobody understands us, and so forth, then obviously we think of reasons why things don’t work out as they should.
But, you know the lives of great people have always seemed to demonstrate that though you can think of many, many, many reasons why you cannot possibly succeed in this, that or the other project, there is not a single reason why you need to fail, that’s the important thing. There are many reasons why you can’t succeed, but there’s no reason why you need to fail. You don’t need to fail. There’s no reason that you need to fail. And if you need not fail, then you need not fail, it’s that simple. Not easy of course, but it’s simple. But it’s an important realization, you see, because most of the problems in our life come about because of our attitudes, because of our complexes. Not so much by the things that confront us, but the reactions that we take to those things. As we say so often, “The incident is external, the reaction is our own”, always.
So, our reactions are what we ... Why do we react as we do? Why do we say the things we do? Why do we say, “I can’t possibly do it, there’s now way, I don’t have enough time”? Why do we do that? Normally because we have a whole complex of attitudes. Many of them have been conditioned, we have conditioned ourselves and have been conditioned by life. As a matter of fact, it’s interesting how these conditioning elements come along.
When I first started out in this field, a few years ago, I was probably ... I had a few less gray hairs then I have now, let’s say that, and I had one of my first counseling sessions. A woman came in for help and so of course, this was a part of my job. So, we sat down and she told me her problem, and I proceeded to tell her how to solve it, and all the things that you shouldn’t do as a counselor, you see. And she was sitting there looking at me, and her eyes were kind of wide, and she was kind of shocked, and I kept on saying things, then I realized maybe I was going a little too far. And then, I began to give her sort of a spiritual guidance treatment and so forth, and she didn’t respond at all. And I said, “Madam, I don’t think you’re listening to me.” She says, “No”, she said, “You’re so young.” I said, “I’m young?” She says, “Yes, you’re so young. I just don’t feel confident that you could help me. You’re so young.”
I said, “Madam ...” This was a flash of inspiration which some of us have rarely, and it was a very beautiful thing for me because it helped me from allowing this to become an obstacle in my life, it could very easily. I said, “Madam, that’s one failure that I think I will overcome if you give me time.” But how often simple little things become a block in our consciousness.
I had another thing. I don’t want to spend all of my time talking about myself today, because that’s not my way. But, I had another experience, and I probably have recounted this to some of you before. It was early along when I was in the school taking some kind of preparation, of which I had very little, incidentally, and during this time there was a communication expert who was called in, and he tested all of our voices and was giving us sort of a try out in terms of our ability to do work in radio. Radio was a big thing in those days. That was before television was thought of as too much of a possibility. And so we all went through the testing devices, and we had evaluation charts, and then they talked about it and so forth. And the final consensus was, that though possibly I might have the ability to make it as a speaker, though there was some doubts about that, there was no question about the fact that I could not possibly ever do radio work, because I didn’t have the voice.
So the fact is, I have done radio work now for going on 30 years. Whether or not it’s effective or not, I think that isn’t the important thing. The important thing is that I did not allow that to become an obstacle in consciousness. And I don’t know why, except that I suppose intuitively the drive to achieve was greater than the willingness to accept the obstacle. But how often those little things come along. You may have had some time in your early life in school when a teacher has made some statement to you, or a parent has said something, or an aunt, or an uncle, or a next door neighbor, or a friend has made some unkind, unthinking remark just off the cuff, and it dug a little barb within you, and you’ve carried this with you through the years. And possibly deep down within yourself this on of the excuses why you do not succeed, why you do not achieve the things that you want to achieve.
The important thing is, as we say again, there is no reason at all why you ever need to fail. There’s no reason why you need to fail, though there are many reasons why you can’t possibly succeed if you want to emphasize those reasons. Alright, enough about that. But, what we want to think about is a very interesting Bible story, one that’s very meaningful to me, it’s one of my favorite stories of the Bible.
The whole experience of the children of Israel and their quest out of Egypt under the direction of Moses, has a tremendous personally symbolic meaning for all of us. The Bible makes sense, only if we see it from a metaphysical or personally symbolic way, otherwise it’s simply a series of stories, and a series of Thee’s and Thou’s, and begets that maybe at one time we had to read like taking a dose of castor oil, but we never really got much out of it. But when we see it in a personally symbolic sense, this story of the Israelites and their movement from Egypt, has great significance. Egypt metaphysically, represents the particular bondage in which we find ourselves, and most of us have some kind of bondage. We may be in bondage in to the physical self. If you’ve ever had a hard time losing weight, or overcoming some sort of a physical desire for something, or cutting out smoking, or drinking, or whatever, that you have often become enslaved to the physical.
You may be in bondage to your intellect. The intellect may drive you up one side and down the other, it will not allow you to accept something on faith because the mind is always reaching ahead and saying, “Well, now, but this is not logical and so forth”. This is a kind of enslavement into Egypt. There may be enslavement of the emotions, and the emotions may run rampant and keep you from having any sort of stability or normalcy in your life. There may be an enslavement to financial conditions, and so forth, or to the feeling of life. But however, this is what Egypt represents.
Now, the Bible suggests through many, many, many different stories, that there is always a “wayshower”. There is always that which comes along to lead man out of his enslavement. It’s the inspiration of the Almighty, it’s that inner flow of guidance and direction, it’s the healing process, it’s that which will not allow us ever, to remain in a situation long, but there will always be those little urges, those guidances, ideas, suggestions, things will happen. Because, and this is what I call the ascending urge of man. To me this is what the Bible story is all about, it’s the ascending urge. Or, it’s what I sometimes call the GodSpell. It’s that God activity within us, that keeps lifting us up. It’s the yeast-like consciousness that is always bubbling, boiling, always effervescing, always seeking to lift us up. We cannot ever rest satisfied with limitation. Our hearts are ever restless until they find repose in God, said Saint Augustine.
This is one of the great realizations of the Bible. So that symbol ... Symbolical of this was Moses. Moses was the ascending urge. Moses was the characterization of a process that was leading the Israelites, representing the God thoughts of each of us, into a higher awareness, or into their own promised land. So Moses came along and he did a selling job, and he managed to rally the Israelites to the point that they were willing to give up the comfortable confines, even of their enslavement, which took a lot of doing. And they eventually went out into the wilderness, and they had the Red Sea experience, and a lot of other experiences, but eventually they came right to the point where they simply crossed a river into the promised land, the land of Canaan.
And then, of course, Moses being a wise leader, sent out spies. They sent 12 spies, one from each of the tribes into Canaan to reconnoiter, and to bring back a report of what kind of land it was, and what kind of defenses there were, and then an appraisal of whether the Israelites had the ability to go in and possess the land. Well, the spies eventually came back, all 12 of them, and they were ecstatic. This is a land flowing with milk and honey, it’s a marvelous place. And to prove this they brought a tremendous bunch of grapes, this is the Bible story, although the Bible has given little to the gigantic ... the gigantesque. I suppose it has a shred of truth in it.
This bunch of grapes was so great, that two men carried it suspended on a pole and the one bunch of grapes hung clear down and dragged the ground. Now, I suppose their are grapes that big, but anyway, it was to symbolize that this was a marvelous place. And then they gave their appraisal of the land. Well, two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb were very confident, they said, “Well, let’s go in and take the land, we can do it easily”, but they were a minority voice. The majority ruled, and the majority said, “In the land there are giants, huge creatures, and we are in their sight as grasshoppers and in ours.” So therefore, this brought great fear to the minds of the Israelites, and therefore, they went back into the desert and wandered around as a Nomadic people for 40 years.
And of course, we can get into that aspect of it, which is a very interesting story. But, right at this point, the thing we want to consider today, is that they were dissuaded, restricted from the goal that they had set for themselves. They could not possibly succeed, because in their own sight they were grasshoppers. They were in the grasshopper consciousness, this was their obstacle. “These great giant-like creatures are too big for us, there’s no way we can do it, because we are in their sight as grasshoppers, and also in ours.” And as a matter of fact, this is the kind of experience that many of us have often.
I love the story of the little boy who was pushing a table around, and it was a huge table, and the mother came in and said, “Johnny, you can’t push that table around, why the table is as big as you are.” He said, “But mother I can push it around, because I’m as big as big as the table.” Now, this was a youngster who right then, was resisting the tendency of establishing him in an obstacle complex. He knew that it was not so much what happened out there, but how he dealt with it, how he felt about it, how he felt about himself. And right at that moment he felt, “I’m as big as this table, and therefore I can take care of it.”
When was the last time you said this thing is too big for me, it’s too much for me, it’s just too much, I can’t possibly do it, I don’t have enough time, I don’t have enough help, I don’t have enough money, I don’t have the education, it’s too much for me? Well, if you think it’s too much for you, then there are giants in the land and you are in their sight and in your own, as a grasshopper, and a grasshopper is not going to go very far against the giants. So many of us spend so much of our lives dealing with things and dealing with ourselves as grasshoppers. I love the story that is told, Margaret Lee Runbeck, in her excellent book “Answers without ceasing”, where she tells a lot of anecdotes and stories of people who have had tremendous demonstrations through prayer.
A women whose husband died, and she was left without any help, without any visible means of support, and as a result ... it was before the type of health insurance, and so forth, and Medicade, and Blue Cross, and so forth, and so forth. So practically all of their assets were used up in trying to nurse the husband back to health, and he didn’t make it, and eventually she was left destitute, with nothing. They’d used their insurance money and everything. She’d never worked a day in her life, she had two children, and very soon the meager resources that she had were used up. And the story picks up where on this particular day she was down to her last 20 cents, she had two dimes, and she heard that a plant out somewhere in the suburbs was hiring some people. And so, she took her last two dimes, with one of the dimes she caught the bus ... you can tell that was a while ago, because you don’t get a bus ride for a dime anymore.
And she took the bus out to this place, and eventually stood there before the gate of this factory and she felt like a pygmy, like a grasshopper before giants going in to meet these great Lords of industry. She felt very insecure, but she went in, she made an appointment to see the personnel man, and eventually she sat face to face with the man who was charged with hiring. And he said, “Well, Madam, what kind of a job are you looking for?” She said, “I really don’t know.” She said, “I never worked before in my life. I don’t really believe I can do anything, but I need help so badly, please hire me.”
Well, I don’t know how many of you are aware of this, if you’re not maybe I can give you a little bit of information. No employer is interested in putting another name on the payroll. Employers are not in the business of welfare, and this doesn’t mean that they’re hard hearted. I mean, it’s practical common sense. So, obviously the man said to the woman, “I’m sorry, there’s no help for you. We can’t do a thing for you. There’s no work.” So she was crushed. It seemed to be her last hope, because it was symbolized by the last money she had, these two dimes. So she went out through the gate again and she stood at the bus stop, and she was absentmindedly fingering this dime in her hand, and as she looked down, again almost absentmindedly and unconsciously, she began to read the words, “In God we trust.”
Suddenly the thought came to her mind, “Certainly the people who coined this phrase many years ago, were probably facing far more obstacles, and hardships, and difficulties than I am facing, and somehow they found a way.” And as she reasoned in these few minutes before the bus came, she began to think looking sort of into the mirror of self-evaluation, “I’m not a beggar, after all I have a certain background. And there are a lot of things I can’t do, but there must be something I can do.” And so for the first time in her experience, she began to think of herself positively. She began to think of positive things that she could do, contributions she could make. So impetuously she went back through that gate and she went up those stairs with tremendous determination, she went into the room to see the personnel man. By now he was bust, she says, “I want to see him.” They said, “You can’t see him, you’ll have to come back tomorrow.” “I want to see him today.”
And eventually the secretary decided that the woman was quite insistent, so she called the man and the man allowed her to come in. She sat down and she said, “Do you have a cafeteria in this place?” He said, “Yes, we do, why?” He said, “Are you looking for something to eat?” She said, “No.” She said, “I think I can be of help to you.” She says, “I’m very good around the kitchen, I’m good around food, I have a great sense of proportion and so forth when it comes to food stuffs, and I think you could use me.” So he said, “Well, as it happens, we do need someone in the cafeteria, and I think we’ll hire you.” So she went to work and her life was changed just like that.
But you see, the turning point came when she realized that the problem had been, and could very easily continue to be, and for many folks stays with them all their life, the obstacle of her own consciousness. Her own sense of self-limitation. “I can’t do anything.” This was the result of feeling sorry for herself, and there was good reason for it. Many people would sympathize with her, “Poor, poor dear. Left alone without a husband, without any visible means of support, never having worked before in her life and so forth. Isn’t that sad? Terrible, terrible, terrible.” And how often we do this, and react to situations in this way. This is wrong of course. We should never sympathize with people, we should be compassionate, but always encouraging. Because, if you sympathize with a person, you simply agree that there is no reason ... no way that he can make it.
That he’s chances for success are nil, and isn’t it terrible life would deal with anyone like this, you say. “Terrible, terrible, terrible.” We should never do this. A true student who is really working at it, will never sympathize with anyone. Always be compassionate, always realize for the person, that he is a child of God, that he is a spiritual being, and then help him encouragingly to know, that he has the power within him by which he can deal with this thing and rise above it, you see.
It’s the same thing in cases where people have faced a situation of a youngster who, perhaps, has suddenly been left without a father, or without a mother, or without parents as a result of some accident, and those of us who have parental feelings will almost always have our heart go out, as we say, “My heart goes out to this little child having faced ... He’s going to have to face life without love, without care, without a family. Isn’t it terrible? Terrible, terrible, terrible. Poor little chap.” And this is the worst thing we can do. Obviously, this child is going to have to dig a little deeper, he’s going to have to work a little harder, he’s going to have some handicaps, but handicaps sometimes, are the very best things that can happen to us, depending on where we are in consciousness. It can be a terrible obstacle.
A child without parents, without a home, without family, can have a tremendous, almost impossible situation. And you could say again, there are a thousand reasons why he’ll never make it in this world as a normal mature person, but there is no reason why he need to fail. Not one single reason why he need to fail. And the question is, “Where do we put the emphasis?”
You see, every time we face an experience in life, it is almost as if life says to us, in the terms of a person, or a situation, or an employment, agent, or whoever, life says to us, “Who do you think you are?” This is what the man was asking the woman when he asked her, “What can you do?” “Who do you think you are?” And she was saying in effect, “I’m a nobody.” And if we’re nobody’s, then we face life as grasshoppers, and we spend our figurative 40 years in the wilderness, which sometimes means a whole lifetime, sometimes many lifetimes. Who do you think you are? You have a choice, you always have a choice. You can decide how you evaluate yourself. Well, I can’t do everything, but I can do something, and what I can do I will do, and what I will do, by the grace of God, I can do it easily and I will do it fulfillingly, and nothing can stand in my way. These situations may be seem to be too big for me, but I’m not insufficient. I can cope. I’m not a grasshopper, I’m a giant.
And all this is the tremendous revelation that comes always out of the innermost self as a result of the Moses consciousness. There is always that within us, if we will but listen, if we will take time to remember that, “I am after all a child of God, and that’s my security, that’s my key.” I love that statement of Paul’s, again, it’s one of my favorites and I refer to it often, when he says, “For God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able, but will with the temptation provide also a way of escape.”
Now, the word temptation gives us problems here, but actually it’s a bad translation. It comes from the word Pelagos. Literally it means, deep and open sea. We get our word archipelago from the word Pelagos, from which the word temptation has come. You can see how far removed it was in fact from the original meaning. It means far more like being tested rather than tempted. It doesn’t mean that the Devil is coming along tempting us, but it means a testing process, a challenge. “That in the divine activity in which we live, there is no way that we can ever be without the means of overcoming the challenges.” In other words, you may be in deep water. Haven’t you said some times, “Boy, I’m really in deep water? But what is deep water to a person who can swim? Does it really matter if you’re in five feet of water, or ten feet, or 100?
You might say, “This water is 1000 feet deep.” What’s the difference if you can swim? So the law is that you will never experience any kind of a testing, a challenge, or a deep water experience, a Palegos activity, when you do not have the ability, God-given, to swim, to rise above it, to cope. The power is always within you. You could find hundreds of reasons why you can’t possibly make it, but there’s no reason why you need to fail, unless you want to fail.
This is why Emmet Fox says, “Don’t think about the problem, think about God.” So often we think so much about the problems. You say why after all he says, “Think about God.” What is that going to do? I’m not going to think about the problem, I’m going to think about God. But how do you think about God? And this is the difficulty that most of us have, because of the anthropomorphic concept of God. As a matter of fact, it could be said, that for many of us God is an obstacle. Some psychiatrists say, “Your God is scaring you to death.” Because God is nothing personal, nothing present, God is somewhere out there, someone who is judging us, condemning us, and filing us with feelings of guilt.
But when he says ... When Emmet Fox says, “Think about God”, he means think about the God activity that is present in you as you. Don’t think about the problem, don’t think about ... Like the mother saying to the little boy, “The table’s too big for you, why it’s as big as you are?” But he says, not thinking about the table, but thinking about himself, “I’m as big as it is.” Don’t think about the problem, don’t think about the job, don’t think about the tremendous responsibilities that the employer is putting upon your shoulders, don’t thing about the financial difficulties that seem absolutely beyond help, think about your ability to cope. Think about yourself as a dynamic God activity flowing forth with intelligence, and guidance, and creativity through which you can do what you need to do, and do it well. There’s no reason ever to face any kind of a challenge with the idea, “This is the end of everything, there’s no hope for me”, unless you want to wallow in self-pity, unless you want to get down and roll in the mud.
And there are plenty of people around who will come and roll in the mud with you. That’s what sympathy is. They will say, “Oh, you poor, poor dear. Isn’t it terrible what life has done to you? Oh, I think it’s awful. Employer’s are so hard-hearted, the government doesn’t care, da-da-da-da-da-da.” Rolling in the mud with you over, and over, and over again. What happens? Well, now instead of having one person in the mud, you have two, or three, or half a dozen. Nothing is gained, you see. The important thing is, don’t think about the problem, think about God. Stop thinking about how many impossibilities there are before you, think about the possibility, and think about the God possibility, which you are.
The word Pose, from which the word possibility comes, comes from the Latin, which means, I am able. I am able. Are you able? You are. This is the fundamental truth about every person, you are able. You have the power within you to do the things you need to do, to rise above the situation. Oh, you may have to do all sorts of challenging things to cope. You may recall the story of Michelangelo. There’s no possible reason, no possible way I should say, by which Michelangelo could do what he did when he painted that marvelous artwork on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel of Rome. Why? Because he had a bad back. He couldn’t endure the pain of laying on his back for more than ten minutes. Also, because he had a block in his nose, and whenever he laid down in a prone position, his nose was clogged up and he had tremendous pain.
There was no way that he could spend four to six months on his back painting this ceiling. But you see, he wasn’t thinking about the problem, he was thinking about the possibility. He was thinking about God. We don’t know how he did it, we don’t know whether he was in pain during the time. There’s no way of knowing this. All we do is we see that beautiful ceiling, and I’ve seen it on several occasions, and it’s breathtaking. And you realize that it is a demonstration, a perfect example, of a person refusing to allow limitations to stand in his way. Or, you might think about someone like Winston Churchill, who was born with a defective pallet. A pallet that was so bad that he lisped. It was very hard for him really in life to speak.
Yet there came when Winston Churchill’s oratory swayed the whole world, and helped us in one of the times of the world’s greatest crisis’. It’s hard to conceive of how first the British and the Americans helping the British, could have fared if it had not been for Winston Churchill’s steady voice, his courageous tone, telling us that we will go through, we will conquer, nothing will defeat us, and so forth, all because these people, you see, refused to accept self-limitations. They refused to wallow in self-pity, they refused to see all of the many reasons why. How many reasons could you imagine? We could not possibly get ourselves out of this terrible war that we were in during the Second World War when there was a time it seemed, as if the Nazis were overrunning the whole world. You could think of dozens of reasons why we couldn’t possibly make it.
But we discovered, and this is probably something that is fundamental to the American dream, which has rubbed off on most of us collectively if not through our representatives, that there is no reason why we need to fail. Sometimes we have to face that type of tragedy, or difficulty, or challenge before we really get our metal up, really dig down deep within us, and begin to deal with life as the God potential people that we are capable of being. Isn’t it marvelous. Sometimes in your own life you’ve come up against a situation, I’m sure, when it seemed that there was no hope, when you couldn’t possibly achieve this, or that, or the other, and yet, as a result of that experience you found yourself doing something, expressing something, calling forth some power, some activity so great that now you look back you can’t imagine how you ever did it. But suddenly out of nowhere came the help, came an answer, came a guidance, came strength.
I recall a few years ago, it was story in Time magazine no less, and I remember it vividly because at the time I was traveling in England and I picked up the European edition of Time magazine, and this is how I remember exactly when it was. It was in 1960. And, in the Time magazine they told a story in one of the little vignettes that they tell on the back pages. The story of a woman in Florida, who had been physically ill and incapacitated for many, many months, and she was recuperating and she was sitting on the porch of her home. It was a rural home obviously, out in the Boondocks I suppose, we would say. And she was sitting there and she was unable to walk, they had to carry her back and forth to the house, but she was sunning herself and recuperating, hoping that before very long within a matter of months, she’d be on her feet again.
And, the young boy, their son, was out in front of the house with his car jacked up on blocks, and he was working underneath the car on something, who knows what. Suddenly the car lurched and fell, and fell right on the boy and was in the process of crushing the very life out of him. The husband came out, screamed and hollered for help, but nobody was in miles, and he tried to move the car. There was no way he could move the car, so he jumped in his automobile, ran down the road to try to get a neighbor to come and help. But the mother realized that the young man was on the very verge of losing his life, because his gasps became less, and less, and less.
So, this mother, who could possibly walk, after months of total incapacity, got up from her chair, teetered down the garden path, went to the car, braced herself and lifted the car off the young man. And the young man pulled himself out, then she dropped the car and collapsed of course in a faint, the doctor was called and she was treated, and of course she had ruptured something in her back a little bit. Nothing serious, but pulled muscles and so forth, and then the doctor later, and this was recorded in Time magazine. The doctor later said, almost whimsically, “I almost wonder how she far she could’ve lifted that car if she’d been strong.” But again, this is not my story, this is a story that came out of Time magazine.
But, the interesting thing is, what this seems to indicate, would be that, there are so many times when we face a situation where’s there’s no hope. “I don’t have enough money, I don’t have the education, the job is too much for me, life makes too many demands upon me”, and we like the father in a very logical sense, jumped in the car and ran down the road. Or, like the Israelites, they simply backed away from their promised land and went off into the wilderness for 40 years wandering around, trying to find themselves. Obviously, a time of growth for them. But what a marvelous thing it is, that there is the Joshua and the Caleb within us representing hope and aspiration, representing this vital flow of guidance within that says, “You can, you can, you can, you can.” And it enables us to face up to the difficulty and find the power which was always within. This same power by which the woman raised the car off the boy, was in her while she was sitting on the porch as an invalid. The same potential was there.
And there is always far more potential in us, even if it’s very difficult for us to conceive of that kind of physical possibility in a body that is emaciated. But, there is always a potential in terms of a new idea. When are you ever farther away from complete success, or the change that will turn your life around, then one idea? One idea. You may sit at a time and feel, “I don’t know where I can go, I’m at the end of my rope. I just don’t know what to do about anything.” You are at that moment on the verge of a tremendous turnaround, and it can only come through one idea. Just one idea pop into your mind, “Why goodness yes, why didn’t I think of that before?” And that one idea can open the door to a whole new set of circumstances, a whole new flow of guidance and creativity, and means, and help coming from all sources, starting at one point.
Where did the idea come from? Did it come out of the sky? Did God suddenly say, “Well, I guess he’s suffered long enough, I’ll give him an idea?” It doesn’t work that way folks. God doesn’t sympathize with people. There’s no way that God says, “Well, I really feel sorry for him, so I guess I’ll help him.” Or, as the God in Mark Connelly’s Green Pastures, laying back on his big billowy cloud says, “Well, I guess I’ll pass me a miracle.” God doesn’t work that way. God is the all-potential mind in which we live, and move, and have our being. There was always the potential for overcoming, for change, for growth. It is always present, God is present. This is what the word presence means. The presence of God means, that of God which is present. God is never absent, unless we are in the consciousness of the absence of God, which is where we are much of the time. But God is always present.
If we get out of the sense of absence, and get into the consciousness of the presence, then present is a help by which we can do, and do well, anything that we need to do. That’s a marvelous thing. It’s one of the greatest realization that could come to us. And I would say, that for anyone of you today, including myself, that if we would go from this place today and remember that, no matter what happens to us this day, or during this week, or during this year that is still so fresh and new, no matter what happens, no matter what occurs, whenever we find ourselves standing with the promised land across the river and we send out our spies in a sense of evaluating, as we always do, “Well, I’m going to take stock of this, I’m going to evaluate it. I’m going to be very careful, and analytical” and we evaluate the situation and then come up with a realization, “Ah, they’re giants there and I’m a grasshopper, there’s no hope. I don’t have the means. I can’t do it, I cannot go beyond this point. I don’t have the help, I don’t have the strength, I don’t have the education, I’m too young, I’m too old”, and so forth and all of the many reasons which we drum up out of our subconscious mind.
If you come to that point, and just remember, you want to remember the story of the little woman who suddenly realized, “In God we trust”. She realized, “I’m not a beggar, I’m not a grasshopper, I’m a giant in potential.” Realize then that this experience, whatever it is, is asking you, “Who do you think you are? Who do you think you are?” Emphasis on the thought.
What is your attitude toward yourself? Now, you have a choice. You can express the self-limiting attitude, you can say, “Well, I’m really not very much. I’m inferior, I don’t have that much confidence.” Or, you can turn to the deeper flow of divine guidance within yourself and you can respond to that in you, which is suggested in the scripture, “This is my beloved son in whom I’m well pleased”, and let that divine flow in you, well up within you as you say, “I am the Christ, the son of the living God. This is what I really am, this is the posse, possibility. This is the, “I am able” consciousness. I may not have demonstrated it, I may have rejected it many times in my life, I may have floundered in the far country, I may have been wandered in the wilderness like the Israelites, but this is what I really am. I am the Christ, the son of a living God, therefore, I’m able.
The situation may be big, it may be as I am, but like the little will say, “But I’m as big as it is”, and therefore, I can do it. I can conquer, I can accomplish. Certainly, I may have to change my ways, I may have to change my attitudes, I may have to do all sorts of things different.” It’s like the story that’s told of the man who had been crippled all of his life, and everyone admired him for his tremendous ingenuity, and for his courage and for the accomplishment of his life. He was able to do all sorts of things, which people with perfectly well bodies have never been able to do. But eventually, one man came to him and was talking to him, sort of sounding him out to get his philosophy of life, and he said, “But really, hasn’t your crippled condition colored your thinking in life?” Without hesitation he said, “Of course my crippled condition has colored my thinking, but I have always chosen the colors.” And that’s the key.
You can’t get away from reacting to situations in life, and there will be all sorts of difficulties. There will be times over, and over again when life will tend to say, “You can’t make it, there’s no way. The odds are against you.” But there’s that within you that can say, “But I will choose the colors, and I will react to this as I want to react, and I will think as I want to think.”
In fact, I remember as a youngster I used to love the ocean. I grew up around the ocean in Southern California, and I loved the breakers, and the waves and so forth. And a few years ago when I was in Hawaii, I went back into the ocean ... I hadn’t been to the ocean for a long time, and there’d been an interval of quite a few years, suddenly one of these great, big, monstrous breakers came. You’ve seen them if you’ve watched pictures of the surfing and so forth, even after you’ve been in the ocean yourself. This monstrous breaker came, and for a moment there was this great feeling of fear. This tremendous body of water, I don’t know, it seemed like 100 feet, it probably wasn’t, more 10 or 15, then even that would be big.
But this body of water coming, and then suddenly I recalled, something that I knew almost instinctively when I was a youngster, with this body of water with it’s tremendous seeming foreboding of forming power and threatening to engulf you, is actually all bluff, and all you have to do is just dive under it and you’re on the other side, and you see this great big wave crash harmlessly on the shore. So easy to forget that. So the giants of life are all bluff. And this is the story again, and we come to the end of the story of the Israelites. Though Joshua and Caleb, as a minority voice, were not listened to, but later after the 40 years in the wilderness they were the ones that survived. They became the leaders and they brought the children of Israel back again to their promised land, and they entered in and possessed the land. And it says in the story, “And the giants ...” The people of the land were the Amorites. And it says, “The Amorites hearts melted, neither was their any spirit in them at all.”
In other words, suddenly, they were reduced to their normal size. The giants were all bluff. Why? Because the giants were in the consciousness of the Israelites, in their own attitudes, in their own fears. And suddenly, when the entered in and possessed the land with fait and under the guidance of Joshua and Caleb, under the guidance of this intuitive awareness of the “I am able consciousness”, the giants practically disappeared. They just simply reduced to nothingness. And so it is with all of these things. There may be challenges in your life that you’ve been qualing before for years. What a marvelous thing when you can stand before them and say, “Well, certainly this challenge is as big as I am.”
But like the little boy you can say, “But I’m as big as it is, and I choose to see myself as a spiritual being. And I know I have the power within me to cope. Certainly it is a Pelagos, it’s a deep and open see, it’s deep water, but I can swim. And if I can’t swim then I’m going to learn how. I don’t have to learn how to go down to the bottom of the water and back up again, all I have to do is keep my head above the water.” And that’s all swimming really is, and that’s all coping in life really is, keeping your head above the water. And we all have that power within us, that’s the story of the Israelites under the leadership of Moses, and it’s a very personally symbolic story us.
And I hope that you will capture from this today, this one idea, that there’s no reason ever, why you need to fail. There’s lots of reasons why you could fail if you want to. There’s lots of reasons why you can’t possibly succeed on your job, in your relationship, in your career in life, but there’s no reason why you need to fail, never, because you are a spiritual being. And you have that all-potential mind of the infinite ever within you, ever ready to express through you. It can pop into your mind just like this. I think it was Henry Ford who once said that, he believed that whenever an idea came into his mind, that he had the capacity to carry it forward to fulfillment.
Anytime an idea comes ... This is why we talk so often about the idea of desire, when you desire something. Desire is proof positive of your ability to achieve. If you desire to do it, the desire is the first inkling, the first feeling of the unfoldment of that power within you. If you desire to overcome, if you desire to succeed, this is the spirit telling you, you can do it, and you have the power within you to carry that idea forward to completion. You may have to work at, it’s not going to happen overnight, it’s not going to come in some great flash, or some great miracle, but you have the power and you go forward in a new consciousness, and like the Israelites, you enter into your promised land and you’ll possess the land.
Let’s take a moment now to be still. And I would like you to just kind of imagine for a moment, that all of the things that you desire, that you aspire to, all the things that you hoped for, all the yearnings of your consciousness, all of them are symbolized by that land of promise just across the river, and you stand now looking into the promised land. And like the Israelites, you say to yourself, “I wonder if I could conquer? I wonder if I could go in and survive? I wonder if I can do what I would like to do? Oh, I wish I could, but I wonder if I could?”
So now listen to the Joshua and Caleb consciousness, that which acknowledges that it’s a fruitful land, it’s a beautiful experience that I long for, they’re great obstacles. And where some of us might tend to say, and some of the thoughts in our mind might say, that they’re giants, “Why they’re bigger than we are.” We will allow this Joshua and Caleb consciousness to well up strong within ourselves.
We will choose the colors, we will determine the attitude with which we meet and react to this thing, and we will say, “But I can cope. I am bigger than this. Where there is a power within me, God-given, by which I can rise above this condition, and I can enter in and possess the land. I can a chieve, I can go forward, I can succeed, I can be healed, I can overcome. I can because I want to, because I desire to do it, and because I know that, that desire is God’s answer even before I experience it. Before they call, I will answer.”
So, now as we look forward across this river into the promised land of our hopes and dreams, let’s say to ourselves, “I am a giant. I have the power to overcome. I can do what I need to do. I can and I will.” And let’s make the commitment right now, that we will go forth in a new consciousness, a new attitude, a new feeling of the all-potential mind manifesting within us. A new awareness of life’s possibility. Posse, I am able. The realization that we are able to do, and do well, and do successfully what we desire to do. God-given from the very beginning of time.
Praise God for this consciousness. And may this awareness now enable you to see yourself crossing the river, entering in, possessing the land, and accepting your good right now. Praise God that you are now accepting your good, that you are now seeing yourself as conquering, overcoming, achieving, realizing great fulfillment. And so be it.