Discover the Power Within You

A Guide to the Unexplored Depths Within
by Eric Butterworth | HarperOne © 2008 · 256 pages

Eric Butterworth was a prolific author and Unity minister—one of the great spiritual teachers of the 20th century. We featured another one of his books called Spiritual Economics. That one transformed my consciousness around money/ambition/etc. (I *highly* recommend it.) Butterworth was also Maya Angelou's spiritual teacher. And, Oprah says that this book is one of her all-time favorites. Big Ideas we explore: Where to find the Divine (hint: look within!), the great decision, the true meaning of “meek” (it's not what you think), going the second mile, and how to create a heaven (or hell) right NOW!


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“This book will ask the question, ‘What did Jesus really teach?’ It will cut through theologies and dogma and ritual, and show how Jesus of Nazareth, two thousand years ago, grappled with the problem that beset men and found some profound yet simple answers. We will not preach in a tone that suggests that Christianity alone can save the world. Yet we are confident that Jesus could make a vital contribution to our time, if He were only given an unbiased, nonsectarian hearing.

The philosophy of Jesus is a workable philosophy, a way of life. Jesus taught the depth potential of man and of his spiritual unity with God. Perhaps He was ahead of His time. Only recently have scientists, philosophers, psychologists, and educators begun to catch the idea of an integrated whole as the guide for studying man or life or the Universe. This is the concept of spiritual unity that is found between the lines in all Jesus’s teachings. Strangely, religious groups have been the slowest of all to catch this vision. This is especially remarkable because the very word ‘religion,’ from its Greek root, has a strong connotation in unity. …

So now, let me commend Discover the Power Within You to you. A religious book is usually church-centered, Jesus-centered, and dogma-centered. However, Jesus stressed a spiritual philosophy that is you-centered. You do not accomplish Jesus’s ideal simply by believing things about him. You must come to believe about yourself what Jesus believed about himself. So this book is not something to believe . . . it is something to do. And judging by the testimonies of hundreds of readers who have written to support the claim, I think it can be the means of changing your life.

Commence your journey through the pages of Discover the Power Within You . . . and let something wonderful happen to you!”

~ Eric Butterworth from Discover the Power Within You

Eric Butterworth was a prolific author and Unity ministerone of the great spiritual teachers of the 20th century. We featured another one of his books called Spiritual Economics. That one transformed my consciousness around money/ambition/etc. (I *highly* recommend it.)

Butterworth was also Maya Angelou’s spiritual teacher. And, Oprah says that this book is one of her all-time favorites.

Angelou wrote the foreword to the book. She says: “Butterworth was a twentieth-century Emerson. His mission was to help others realize their spiritual potential and to empower the world through spiritual growth. … He’s helped me to live more abundantly, and he can help you to live more abundantly, too… I hope one of [the things I will be remembered by] would be the encouragement to live the life you want to live. Live your life so that you will not leave too many things undone. Live the life you sing about. Live the life. That’s it.”

This could be its own Idea: Live your life so that you will not leave too many things undone. Live the life you sing about. Live the life. That’s it.”

Amen. Are you leaving anything undone? What would the life “you sing about” look like? Live that life. Now!! Helping us do that by taking a fresh, spiritual perspective on Jesus’s life and teaching is what this book is all about. (Get a copy here.)

Of course, it’s packed with Big Ideas. I’m excited to share a few of my favorites so let’s jump in!

Where to discover the Divine (Hint: Look Within!)

“According to an old Hindu legend there was a time when all men were gods, but they so abused their divinity that Brahma, the chief god, decided to take it away from men and hide it where they would never again find it. Where to hide it became the big question.

When the lesser gods were called in council to consider this question, they said, ‘We will bury man’s divinity deep in the earth.’ But Brahma said, ‘No, that will not do, for man will dig deep down in the earth and find it.’ Then they said, ‘Well, we will sink his divinity into the deepest ocean.’ But again Brahma replied, ‘No, not there, for man will learn to dive into the deepest waters, will search out the ocean bed, and will find it.’

Then the lesser gods said, ‘We will take it to the top of the highest mountain and there hide it.’ But again Brahma replied, ‘No, for man will eventually climb every high mountain on earth. He will be sure some day to find it and take it up again for himself.’ Then the lesser gods gave up and concluded, ‘We do not know where to hide it, for it seems there is no place on earth or in the sea that man will not eventually reach.’

Then Brahma said, ‘Here is what we will do with man’s divinity. We will hide it deep down in man himself, for he will never think to look for it there.’ Ever since then, the legend concludes, man has been going up and down the earth, climbing, digging, diving, exploring, searching for something that is already in himself.

Two thousand years ago a man named Jesus found it and shared its secret; but in the movement that sprang up in His name, the Divinity in Man has been the best kept secret of the ages.”

Those are the first words of the book. First, note how interesting it is that a Christian (Unity) minister kicks off a book about the teachings of Jesus with a Hindu parable.

That’s after a discussion in the foreword to the 25th anniversary addition of the book in which Butterworth talks about how much he would enjoy watching Jesus hang out and chat with “a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Muslim, and a Shintoist—discussing ultimate Truth.”

He says: “I just can’t believe that Jesus would have said, ‘You must forsake your beliefs and come follow me.’ I think he might have pointed out that the differences were chiefly a matter of semantics, and that there is an underlying principle similar to the Christ idea in every religion. I think he would have stressed the basic unity within the diversity of religions, pointing out that the greatest need of all persons is to find that indwelling unity with God, which is found in the principle of divine Sonship, that we call the Christ.”

And THAT is pretty much the whole point of the book.

Butterworth tells us that what Jesus *really* taught is that we ALL have the Divine within.

More than anything, he tells us, Jesus was a man who mastered himself and demonstrated what we ALL can do when we “discover the power within”!

Let’s explore how to go about doing that…

But you must still make that great decision to affirm your unity with the Infinite. You must still believe that I AM, and then work tirelessly to act the part. You must claim your freedom, realizing that it does not mean doing what you like, but becoming what you should.
Eric Butterworth

The Great Decision

“The Christ in you is you at the point of God. It is your ‘hope of glory’ for it is your root in Divine Mind. However, you must become conscious of this root of your being, you must make the decision to act as though you are a spiritual being in potential. In a way, making the ‘decision for Christ’ is as fundamental as turning on the light. You may be interested in the electrical energy in the circuits. You may have a conviction that it can glow in the bulb and make light in the room. But in the end you can have light only if and when you make the decision to turn on the switch.

With all the studies of Jesus, few have caught the real significance of His life and teaching. He was man on the quest, man making the great discovery of His divinity, man breaking through the psychological barrier between man and God, man proving the Christ in man and his inherent potential for overcoming, for eternal life.

We have been misled to focus on His divinity. We have overlooked the fact that He focused on our divinity. He said, in effect, ‘You can do what I do, if you have faith’—if you make the decision, the decision for Christ. But this is simply a decision to accept the Christ in yourself, to follow Jesus’ guidance and make the same discovery of the unity in yourself that He had found in Himself.”

That’s from a chapter called “The Great Decision.”

Butterworth tells us that the most frequently used metaphor to capture the power of God/the Divine/etc. is light—which reminds me of Joseph Campbell’s wisdom from The Power of Myth.

Pop quiz! Campbell asks: “What am I? Am I the bulb that carries the light, or am I the light of which the bulb is a vehicle?”

Hmmm… Am I the bulb… or the light?

Answer: Yes. :)

Most importantly, for our practical purposes: Want light? Flip the switch. When? Moment to moment to moment. All day. Every day. Repeat. Moment to moment to moment. All day. Every day. Repeat. (Have we mentioned that before? :)

ACT AS IF you are a spiritual being in potential.

Flip the switch. Allow the Divine to flow through and as you.

P.S. Another 20th century spiritual teacher, Ernest Holmes, puts it this way in The Art of Life: “You are using the Law of Life every time you think. No matter how long you may have been using It wrongly in your ignorance, the very day, that hour, yes the very moment, you begin to use this Power rightly, the effect of having used It wrongly will pass from your experience. Does it make any difference how long a room has been dark when you introduce a light; how long the earth has been parched when refreshing rain come to bring new life, a new seed time and a new harvest to the fields?”

P.P.S. I’m also reminded of another brilliant 20th century spiritual teacher, Walter Russell. In The Man Who Tapped the Secrets of the Universe he tells us that genius is self-bestowed while mediocrity is self-inflicted.

The Great Decision? Early in life I found that to achieve greatness one had to go only one inch beyond mediocrity, but that one inch is so hard to go that only those who become aware of God in them can make the grade, for no one can achieve that one inch alone.”

Back to Butterworth for one more thought in this context: “When we know the Truth of this great spiritual potential within us which Jesus called the Kingdom of God within, we are free to become our unlimited self, free to do unlimited things.”

One more time: Flip the switch. Allow the Divine to flow through and as you.

P.P.P.S. Here’s another way to think about it: “Jesus had a unique conception of God. To Him, God was not an object of worship but a Presence dwelling in us, a force surrounding us, and a Principle by which we live. It is not too much to say that anyone who catches the idea of Jesus’ concept will find himself caught up in a new consciousness that will change his whole life. He will never be the same again.”

He continues by saying: “Ask the average individual if he believes in God and he will very probably say, ‘Why yes, of course I do!’ However, it is unlikely that he has ever asked himself what he means by God. In a recent survey, some 90 per cent of the people who were asked the question, ‘Do you believe in God?’ answered, ‘Yes!’ But when asked further, ‘What is your conception of God, and what do you think God has to do with your everyday life?’ only a few had any comment to make.”

To which I ask: “Do you believe in God?” And… The most important question: “What is YOUR conception of God, and what do you think God has to do with your everyday life?”

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick: and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven.
Matt. 5:14-16
You may say, ‘But I am only human.’ This is the understatement of your life. You are not only human—you are also divine in potential. The fulfillment of all your goals and aspirations in life depends upon stirring up and releasing more of that divine potential. And there is really nothing difficult about letting this inner light shine. All we must do is correct the tendency to turn off our light when we face darkness.
Eric Butterworth
Like the pattern in the seed, there is a plan for every person in the Mind of the Infinite, which gives rise also to a ceaseless urge within man toward fulfillment. This might be called God’s will. How important it is that we understand this.
Eric Butterworth

Niagara Falls, Discipline and Your epic Power plants

“The Greek word, praeis, which we translate as ‘meek,’ has the connotation ‘tamed,’ from the standpoint of harnessing that which is wild and unrestrained. Niagara Falls is an example of raw and unrestrained power. Tremendous forces are involved as the Niagara River dashes madly over the Falls. This vast energy was wasted for millions of years until we built several large power plants to harness the power for electricity. Today the Falls have been ‘tamed’ as the water turns great turbines to generate electricity for many Eastern cities. …

Meekness is a sensitiveness or surrender of consciousness to the influence of something. When Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the meek’ He doesn’t mean a surrender to people but to God. The best conductor of electricity is the substance that is least resistant to the flow of the electric current. Likewise, the best conductor of divine power is the person who is nonresistant to the flow of divine power. This attitude comes from a conviction that God is always the answer to human needs, and a willingness to submit wholeheartedly to the flow of the Spirit in and through us.”

That’s from a chapter in which we start unpacking Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

I’m reminded of some parallel wisdom from Steve Chandler’s great book Fearless where he says: “Some feel that fear is okay as a lifestyle because they’ve heard that the meek shall inherit the earth. So they can go on with being meek as a way of life. They become soft-spoken and compliant, never standing for themselves; always resigned to being a fluffy doormat. But scholars now say that in the scriptural texts that were translated from the Greek, the word praos doesn’t exactly mean ‘meek’ as people have always thought. In fact, it is more accurate to say it means ‘disciplined.’ A very big difference in those translations. It’s much more encouraging to now realize that the disciplined shall inherit the earth.”

Isn’t that fascinating?

The Greek word we’ve translated as “meek” really means something closer to “disciplined” or “tamed.” We need to discipline/tame ourselves so we can create the Niagara Falls-like power plants within our being that allow us to channel the ENORMOUS (!) latent Divine energy within.

Can you FEEL that?

See the Niagara River flowing over Niagara Falls. That’s a TON (!!) of energy. But it’s “wasted” until we build “several large power plants” to “tame” or channel the energy, eh?

Well, guess what? SAME WITH US. We each have a TON (!!) of energy within. We just need to do the work to “tame” ourselves as we build the power plants so we can USE all that energy.

Btw: I also love the fact that the best conductor of electricity (and Divine power) is that which has the least resistance.

Our resistance to the Divine flow? Negative/disempowering thoughts of fear, anxiety, doubt, etc. And… Mundane stuff like sugar, flour, constant papercutting of our consciousness via our addiction to digital devices, etc. Each of those kyrptonites creates resistance. Let’s get rid of ‘em.

Let’s tame ourselves, remove the resistance and build our power plants. Harness all that latent power. How? Again: DISCIPLINE. “Meekly” submitting ourselves to God.

What is an acorn? It is an oak tree in the making. What is an egg? It is the first stage of a performance that will lead to a bird. What is man? A man is what he can be. And what is that? Only spiritual perception can tell.
Eric Butterworth
Happiness in marriage is a conquest and not a bequest. Marriage is the license by which two people, who have seen the greater possibilities in each other, may work together to bring forth those possibilities. It is a laboratory of individual unfoldment.
Eric Butterworth

Go the second mile (and beyond)

“The admonition to go the second mile relates to the right of the Roman soldiers in Jesus’ time to compel subject peoples to carry their burdens for one mile. It was the imposition of despotism, but the subject people could do nothing about it. Jesus indicates an uncommon-sense way of doing something about it. They could break their bonds of enslavement by doing what was demanded of them as if they really enjoyed doing it. And that doesn’t make sense, does it? …

When you go the second mile—give more to your work, are more thoughtful and kind to people, become a joyous giver and a gracious receiver—suddenly life takes on new meaning. On the second mile you find happiness, true friends, real satisfaction in living—and probably a larger pay check, too.”

That’s from a chapter on “The Law of Nonresistance.”

Roman soldier force you to carry his stuff for a mile? Go two.

Why? -> “Jesus knew that when you do what is required of you and no more, you are a slave.”

<- Take your power back. Assert your autonomy. Do more.

The Stoics tell us that the wise person does nothing reluctantly.

In The Man Who Tapped the Secrets of the Universe, Water Russell tells us: “There should be no distasteful tasks in one’s life. If you just hate to do a thing, that hatred for it develops body-destructive toxins, and you become fatigued very soon. You must love anything you must do. Do it not only cheerfully, but also lovingly and the very best way you know how. That love of the work which you must do anyhow will vitalize your body and keep you from fatigue.”

Then there’s mental toughness guru Jim Afremow who tells us we want to make sure we’re “outperforming our contract.” <- Are you?

There’s freedom on the second mile. See you there!

Whatever you have, no matter how seemingly inadequate, bless it. Even if you have no money and no food, bless your hands, your mind, your skills, your friends, the air you breathe, the sun that brings light. Bless everything, and your life will be blessed with riches hitherto undreamed of.
Eric Butterworth

Heaven (+ Hell): The time is NOW!

“The great sin of mankind is not to know the divinity that lies unexpressed within every individual. … We must stop thinking in terms of futurity. The time is now! The Kingdom of God may begin its unfoldment into the world right at this moment and it may find in you its starting point.

Make the great discovery for yourself. Knowledge of the divine potential in you will not only lead to great new things for you. It will also help you play a great role in the ‘next development in man.’

‘Namaskar!’ Behold yourself in a mirror and say, ‘Namaskar!’ (I salute the divinity within you.) And then go out and act the part. Behold all the people of your world—friends and enemies, neighbors and strangers—‘Namaskar!’ And then treat them as if they were what they should be. You will be an influence in making them what they can be. In this way, your life will have meaning.

No matter where you are on the ladder of life, no matter what you may be experiencing, no matter how many heartaches you have had or how many conflicts you have right now—there is more in you, there is a divinity in you, the Kingdom of God is within you. You can release your potential, for Jesus proved that you have it, and that you can release it. This is what Jesus really taught.”

Those are the very last words of the book. We start with the Hindu parable on the hiding place for the divine and we end with the Sanskrit word for “saluting the divine” within ourselves and everyone we meet. <— What a beautiful Unity of Ultimate Truth.

The Divine is within you. And me. And your loved ones. And everyone. Let’s see it. Let’s bow to it. Let’s be a demonstration of what life looks like when we let THAT Force guide our lives.

And, one more pop quiz.

Do you happen to know the ancient etymology of the words heaven and hell?

Butterworth tells us that the word hell comes from a word that literally means “to not see.” To not see what? … To not see the Divine within yourself and others. That is hell.

Heaven? Well, that comes from a word that literally means “to expand.” To expand into what? To EXPAND into our Divine potential.

How? See the power within. Express the best version of yourself. High five your inner daimon. Flip on the light. Be a radiant, Divinely inspired light. Moment to moment to moment. SHINE!! (Please!) We need you nice and bright and shiny NOW more than ever before!

I bow to the divine within you. Let’s be the change and change the world together.

The Christian church has preached about the saving of society, but Jesus called for a society of saviours. You must be a saviour. Don’t stand looking to the heavens. Stir up the gift of God within you. You can be a saving influence. You can be a peacemaker. Declare your unity with God and with mankind by affirming: ‘I am now established in spiritual unity with God and with all people of the earth.’
Eric Butterworth

About the author

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Eric Butterworth

popular leader in New Age Spiritual movement