LIFE IS FOR LIVING
by Eric Butterworth
Order in Adobe PDF eBook or printed form for $6.95 (+ printing charge)
Life for most persons consists of the number of things that happen around or to them -- if these things are good, they are happy; if they are less than good, they are miserable. Of course, we are more than reactors to outside stimuli -- each person is a channel for the expression of the Infinite Life of God, an actor, acting out into expression "the Imprisoned Splendor " within.
SOME YEARS AGO I ran across this simple and yet cogent observation by Elsie Robinson: "Things may happen around you and things may happen to you, but the only things that really count are the things that happen in you." Life for the average person consists of the number of things that happen around or to him. If these things are good, he is happy; if they are less than good, he is miserable.
On this level of experience, man is simply a sponge, and life has meaning only in what he draws from the world about him. Yet the sage of old said, "As he thinketh within himself, so is he." In other words, all that really counts is what we think about what happens around and to us. It is here, in the realm of mind, that we are (or can be) masters of ourselves and our worlds.
Of course, man is more than a reactor to outside stimuli. Man is a channel for the expression of the infinite love of God, a focus of the infinite life of God, a creative activity of the infinite Mind of God. Man is not just a reactor, he is an actor, acting out into expression "the imprisoned splendor" within him. Life is for living!
At the circumference of life we tend to think of spending our substance, exhausting our ideas, con-suming our time, depleting our energy, and re-lentlessly moving on to age, deterioration, and death. In "the wisdom of the world that is foolishness with God" we have placed the emphasis on caution and conservation and security. But life is for living! Life cannot be hoarded, nor can any of the gifts of God. Life is for living, for expressing, for unfolding. And if we are busy expressing what we are, we will not become anxious or troubled concerning what we have or do not have.
This is not a problem-solving book, though we hope it will be a problem dis-solving influence. We want to turn your attention from the problems of life to a "contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view." Every individual has a built-in capacity to meet and conquer any of the challenges or changes that life may seemingly present. "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world." We want to emphasize the point that life is not just an arena in which to solve problems. Life is for liv-ing. Problems are simply opportunities to "stir up the gifts of God" within you, drawing forth more of your innate potential. When the problems are mastered, as they surely will be, forget "that which is behind" and get on with the joyous business of living.
"Cast away from you all your transgressions, wherein ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die . . .? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord Jehovah: wherefore turn your-selves, and live."
A New Dimension of Life
There is a dimension of life that Jesus referred to as "Hfe mote abundant," and He said that He came to help us to find it. We find it on the journey from rime into eternity. Life is not simply a jour-ney between two points on an endless highway. Life is eternal, and we are alive in eternity now. Why not live fully, abundantly? After all, life is for living.'
LIFE HAS ALWAYS BEEN the most serious subject of inquiry to scientists, philosophers, and theo-logians. What is life? Why is life? What and why is death ? Many have offered answers, but few are more than conjecture. As someone once said, "Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insuffi-cient premises."
To the average individual, however, life is not something to be studied, but something to wade through as best he can. Life to this person is a game of chance. He is here without his own consent, and at some unknown time in the future he may be just as unceremoniously removed hence. Life to this per-son is a transient experience that begins with infancy and ends with death. Life is a series of changes over which he has no control, in the face of which he usually says with a shrug, "Well, that's life for you."
Of course, you who read this, you who are on the quest of Truth, are not "average." You have a feel-ing, even if it is not backed up by understanding, that the follies and foibles, the challenges and crises of human experience do not reveal the whole story. You instinctively know that there is something more, something deeper, an added dimension that eludes the sight that sees only the appearance.
One thing is certain; life is not physical, but simply flows through the physical as a vessel. Life is invisible. No one has ever seen it. Life, like an idea, cannot be touched, tasted, smelled, seen, nor heard. Perhaps this is the key; perhaps life is an idea in the great Mind of the Infinite. As is the case with an idea, all that we see are its visible manifes-tations. We see it coming into birth. We see what we call life: gay, pleasant, and joyful—or sad, unpleas-ant, and sorrowful.
"Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by."
In his epistle to the Philippians Paul said, "For to me to live is Christ." This has been given all sorts of theological overtones, but could he not have meant, quite simply, that life is the evidence o£ a divine idea, which he called the Christ, finding its expression in us and as us? Even as I know the wind is passing by because the trees are bowing their heads, so I know the activity of God-life is here be-cause I am here.
I have seen many persons whose lives have been clouded by the verdict of a hopeless medical prog-nosis. Perhaps one never really appreciates life until he stands face to face with the fear of death. Full and complete life, abundant life, may depend on the degree to which we achieve a victory over ourselves in such an encounter.
A man had been hospitalized after an attack of abdominal pains. Preliminary examination seemed to indicate a tumor, which he was warned could be malignant, and in his case could be incurable. For several days he lived under a cloud of gloom and fear, awaiting the outcome of an exploratory opera-tion and a biopsy. One morning the doctor came into his room, put his hand on the man's shoulder, and said, "Friend, you are going to live."
This man said it was as though he had just come out of a dark tunnel into bright sunlight. He heard music in the sound of the birds that he had never heard before. The sky outside his window was a richer blue; the clouds were a more billowy white; the flowers on his stand were more beautiful and fragrant. His family, his friends, those with whom he had business relationships suddenly seemed more important, more beloved than ever before. Instantly, life had become a great and joyous adventure.
Lying in bed during the days of his convales-cence, this man did some deep thinking. He began to see that he had been living on the surface of things. His life and his attitudes toward life had lacked depth. For the first time he seemed to understand what life really is—not the transient experience be-tween birth and death, but the finite encounter with-in an infinite and never-ending life. He was as a man reborn into a new way of life, a new dimension of life.
I suspect that this is what Paul had in mind when he said, "Awake, thou that sleepest . . . and Christ shall shine upon thee." Open your eyes and see be-yond appearances, see beneath the surface, see that life is actually an idea in God-Mind, and that you are that idea in expression.
Jesus said: "I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly." And, as if to reveal how we can actually demonstrate that abundant life for ourselves, He said: "Look up, and lift up your heads" and "Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment." "Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not?" In other words: "You have been appropriating life on the surface only. Open your eyes and see with your soul; see life as a changeless reality; see a new dimension of life."
This is the object of our quest in Truth—the realization of the fullness of life, the unbroken circle of eternal experience. Robert Browning had caught that vision, for he said, "On the earth the broken arcs, in the heaven the perfect round." The goal is not the experience of life, but the "isness" of life, life without beginning and without end.
Not even human birth nor human death inter-feres with this larger idea of life any more than turning on the light or turning it off can interfere with electricity. You do not change the unchangeable electric energy of the universe when you turn on the lights or turn them off, or when you run the elevator up or run it down. All that you do by these acts is to appropriate energy or stop appropriating it. No matter whether your experience of life is full and complete or narrow and limited, the life idea that is in you and is you remains full and complete.
Why then do we have sickness? How can we ac-count for deterioration and age and death? In truth, there can be no sickness in life; there can be no de-terioration in life; there can be no death in life. But in experience persons do manifest these conditions. Why?
Consider the five fingers on your hand. There is a flow of blood from the heart into and through them. If you were to strangulate that flow at the main artery leading from the heart, none of the fingers would have circulation of blood. They would soon wither and decay. If we liken the heart to the divine source of life, let us say that you can never stop the flow from the main artery. It is always active; its flow is constant. But you can put a rubber band around a finger and cut off the circulation in that part, with the same debilitating effect. However, you know the strangulation is in the finger and not in the heart. To correct the condition, you do not have to make the bloodstream flow. You need only loosen the band and let it flow.
Many doctors have long held that all sickness in human experience is caused by a congestion or strangulation of the flow of the life forces through the body. This belief has led to research into the mental and emotional factors in sickness and health. Dr. Hans Selye, of the Universite de Montreal, has been experimenting with what he calls the "stress" factor in life. He has proved that the body itself is equipped to maintain itself in health, to cure itself of disease, and to remain youthful by successfully coping with the factors that bring about what we call "old age." He has demonstrated that all sickness or weakness or deterioration originates with the strangulating effect of the stress-producing factors of fear and worry and tension. Such studies in the medical field are pointing clearly and inescapably to the validity of health through spiritual means, through a conscious awareness of the stress-free spiritual dimension of life.
There are about three billion people in the world today. They are all supplied by the same spiritual life blood. They all use the same Mind and live by the same Spirit. If something could remove every concept of fear, of lack, of insecurity, of sickness and death, the Spirit would flow into every mind and body unobstructed. Who is to say that someday this will not occur? The only thing that will accomplish this is the universal recognition of the larger view of life and of the indwelling restoring and renewing activity of the Spirit of God. This is the great work for Truth. This is the "gospel" that we are called to preach and teach, "for the healing of the nations."
In The Revelation of John we read: "To him that overcometh, to him will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God." To overcome means, in a very real sense, to come up over the old mortal beliefs, to correct the thoughts that fall short of the divine ideal. This does not mean, as it might seem, that a person must achieve perfection before he can "eat of the tree of life." The very act of rising to a higher state of consciousness is over-coming. Every time you speak the word of Truth, you take a step in overcoming and you eat of the tree of life.
Actually, eating of the tree of life and overcom-ing are one and the same thing. One is the key to the door of life; the other is the will to turn the key in the lock. The Revelator is not saying that God will give you a prize if you reach the goal. He is simply assuring you that if you really want to be healed or prospered or transformed you can be, for it requires only that you know the Truth, and that the word of Truth is already within you seeking expression. "The word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it."
The important thing is that we must go the way of overcoming if we want help or healing in life's challenges. We cannot be healed by thinking about sickness, nor can we be prospered by thinking about lack. We cannot achieve our goals by thinking about our mistakes, nor can we realize the fullness of life by thinking about or fearing death. Every time we dwell on a thought of limitation about our life—a thought of disease or age or death—we cause a re-striction in the flow of life. The strange thing is that often a person may be praying for healing and all the while restricting the flow of life and whole-ness because he is fearfully dwelling on the condi-tion he is afraid of and does not want. He is like the classic cartoon that shows the man trying to water his lawn with a trickle of water, not realizing that he is standing on the hose. Shakespeare wrote:
"We, ignorant of ourselves,
Beg often our own harms, which the wise powers
Deny us for our good; so find we profit
By losing of our prayers."
Unfortunately, we do not always lose these prayers. Result: the frustration of constant prayer about a situation that shows no progess and, in fact, often gets worse. If we want healing or help of any kind, we must come up over the negative state of consciousness, speak the word of Truth, and keep the mind stayed on Truth. It will take disciplined effort. But if you really want healing, there is little use fooling yourself. Even as when you want water you turn on the faucet full, so if you want a new experience of vitalizing life, turn on the "faucet" full by speaking the word, "I am life." Speak the word repeatedly, enthusiastically, joyously. Then give it meaning by acting as if you really believe it to be true now.
It is truly startling to see so many people who are lifeless, listless beings, lacking in vitality and energy and enthusiasm for life—startling, when we know that the radiant life of God is within each one awaiting expression. Yet how wonderful it is to know that every one of these individuals can be transformed, healed, revitalized, "changed, in a mo-ment, in the twinkling of an eye." Seeming miracles of transformation have come when individuals have opened their eyes to a new dimension of life.
The next time you feel weak, tired, lifeless, de-pressed, "down in the dumps," affirm for yourself, "I am radiant with life and vitality." Even as you speak the words, know that you are one with a life that is larger and deeper than that which you are experiencing. Speak the word; open the floodgates; let life pour forth unrestricted.
It is startling to discover how many people ac-quiesce in the idea of death, and begin to make all sorts of preparations for death, even at a time when they should be enjoying the fullness of life and youth. Death has no place-in the fullness of life, and the person who holds to the life idea cannot die. "The wages of sin is death" refers not simply to moral turpitude, but to the general consciousness of thoughts that fall short of the divine ideal. The human mind says, "After all, we all must go some-time," But this is a sin in the larger sense, because it fails to perceive the divine idea of life in which there is no death. What we think of as death is simply the movement of the soul experience of life from one vessel of experience into another vessel. Because we acquiesce in the inevitability of death, we "stand on the hose" and limit the flow of life into and through our body temple—actually causing the experience of deter-ioration.
One man of seventy years was very sick and had resigned himself to dying. In the belief that he was too old, he was "ready to go." At the request of a loved one he agreed to let a Truth teacher talk to him. To him it was like a priest administering the last rites. But something strange occurred. He caught hold of an idea: "You don't have to die, for the same life is in you that is in the strongest and young-est person alive." It was no conversion or emotional experience of transformation, but there was a change. Suddenly he saw a new dimension of life. He felt a new desire to live, accompanied by the faith that he could be healed. He is still alive and strong today, many years later. He says: "I don't completely under-stand what happened. I guess it was just that the thought that time had run out was canceled with the realization that God's time never runs out, for God and His life are eternal."
Charles Fillmore says: "If you want to know all the mysteries of life, study life and put out of your mind every thought about death or the condition of the dead. Then through the law of thought formation you will build up in yourself such a strong consciousness of life that its negative (or absence) will ever be to you nonexistent. Jesus meant this when He said, 'If a man keep my word, he shall never see death.' "
We must stop thinking of life as a journey be-tween two points on an endless highway. It is this subconscious feeling that leads to hurry and rush and tension, and the "stress" that restricts the flow of the vital forces through our body temple. Life is eternal, and we are alive in eternity now.
Most of us are willing to admit that immortality is a fact that will be proved after we die. But this was not the teaching of Jesus. We are told that Jesus "brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." To bring a thing to light, you make it mani-fest. Jesus revealed that immortality is not a post-mortem experience, but a present reality. He did not add much to the world's knowledge if He merely came to preach immortality after death. The Phari-sees already believed that. The Egyptians had be-lieved it in more ancient times. The Israelites had long believed in the immortality of the soul. Jesus came to reveal immortality now. "Now is the ac-ceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation,"
Immortality and eternity, then, are actually the new dimension of life. In this eternity domain, or in Divine Mind, concurrent with his manifest experi-ence, man is perfect beyond his imperfection, whole beyond his sickness, intelligent beyond his ignorance, and opulent beyond his poverty and lack. In God, in Truth, in the kingdom of heaven, health, wealth, harmony, peace are constant, and they are now. They are ours to the degree that we can open our eyes to see them, sharpen our faith to believe them, and call forth the will to accept them and use them. It is not a matter of whether we are in New York or Los Angeles or Jerusalem, or whether we are thirty or sixty or ninety years of age. It is simply a matter of where we are in consciousness in the realization of our oneness with God, with the fullness of life, with immortality.
Modern scientists are suggesting that life is not sustained by matter, that life is not contained in us but that it courses through us. It is interesting to note that water is more necessary to life than food, for we can get along without food much longer than without water. We can also live much longer with-out water than we can live without air. Beyond air, what? Scientists are suggesting that the real key to life is to be found in this "interpenetrating ether." Can we not see the quest for Truth in the fields of science leading to answers that are nonphysical and nonmaterial? Unquestionably the scientists of today are discovering God and a new dimension of life.
Jesus said, "I have meat to eat that ye know not." How well this testifies to the fact that His great strength and sustenance came not from the food on the tables of the many festive gatherings He attended, but from His retreat experiences in the wilderness when He went apart to pray. He was strong because He had tapped an inner resource, a "well of water springing up unto eternal life."
This is why Jesus placed such great emphasis on prayer. What is prayer but the appropriation of the fullness of life, eating of the tree of life, and open-ing our eyes to a new dimension of life? The prayer-conditioned life is the life of vitality and joy and confidence. When we live by the Spirit, we enjoy better health and we experience increasing longevity.
Remember, you too are going to live! Why not live fully, abundantly? Eat regularly of the tree of life whose roots are planted in the divine. Only in this way shall we come to know what life really is. Only in this way shall we understand and live within a new dimension of life.