Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Show Me The $$$...or not.

After Discover The Power Within You, SPIRITUAL ECONOMICS is perhaps Eric Butterworth's [EB] most popular publication. Despite the word 'Economics' in the title, the book is not strictly about money. It is essentially a spiritual guide for abundance, which includes not only financial prosperity, but it also relates to health, relationships, living in the flow of life, and overall success.

Butterworth applies the same theory of ill-health towards lack of prosperity: it's a matter of consciousness, and our outer life is merely a reflection of our inner consciousness [p.8; p.100; p.118]. And to be clear, it is our "consciousness that attracts things" even though prosperity is not only about acquiring possessions [p.9]; It's how we live and think. Butterworth subscribes to Fillmore's premise that we are surrounded and supported by God-substance, the source of all ideas and all things eventually manifest. When we align our consciousness with that truth, we will never lack because it is through our consciousness that substance will flow as we need it [p.27]. He uses the panentheism analogy of the fish in water that never lacks for water yet is not even aware that is in water. This analogy is a common one yet it ultimately breaks down because it assumes that the fish cannot be taken out of the water, which it can.

As in previous publications, EB reminds us that miracles do not exist, only divine law. And when we use divine law [i.e. change our consciousness] we discover we can bring things into manifestation. However he warns against becoming an "economic hypochondriac", addicted to manifesting every object we may covet [p.80]. Our emphasis should not be on manifesting possessions which is often the goal of many prosperity teachings, but on deepening our awareness and expanding our consciousness and eventually we will become the demonstration [p.39]. And what does it mean to "become the demonstration?" Perhaps it is being the "whole experience of healing life, satisfying love, abiding peace" and the "life more abundant." [p.10]

But what of actual money? What of unemployment and debt? As this country and most of the world struggles to regain a firm footing after what is considered to be the worst global financial crisis, do EB's teachings still have relevance? After all, he wrote this book in 1993 at the dawn of the longest period of economic expansion in US history, characterized by a balanced budget and a federal surplus. I remember it as a time when there were more jobs available than employees to fill them. Today the reverse seems to be the case, and even churches, including Unity churches, have suffered great economic hardship. EB's response is this: "the economy is little more than a barometer that registers the highs and lows of consciousness [p.116]" So once again it is a call for a shift in consciousness, this time on a much larger scale. To shift unemployment the first step is not to look for a job but to change one's self-image from "unemployed" to "ready for work." [p.121] Psychological semantics? Perhaps, or the first of many steps to shifting consciousness to a place of receptivity to the flow of the universe. Money is also a reflection of our consciousness, a "symbol of limitation or of limitlessness [p.154]." He writes that brooding over a lost job or financial dilemma will blow the situation out of proportion, and "when you are grounded in the field of limitless substance then you may be broke but you can never be poor [p.127].

Some keys to true prosperity: a grateful heart, giving, and tithing. Gratitude is a "causative energy" [p.95] that changes our thoughts, feelings, and consciousness [p.97]. According to EB giving is a divine law articulated by Jesus in Luke 6:38 ["Give, and it will be given you."] and is fundamental to achieving prosperity. EB's view on tithing is somewhat surprising. He does not consider it a divine law but rather a discipline to get us into the habit of giving [p.187]. He highlights the potential dangers of "tithe-your-way-to-riches" thinking [p.188] because it is not a substitute for a giving attitude, which is more an act of consciousness that intellect. He refers to the whole tithe quoted in Malachi as our whole being, not just our monetary tithe. EB even recommends testing the difference between rigid adherence to tithing ten percent and "spontaneous freewill giving [p.194]." The former is an immature approach while the latter is a consciousness-shifting way of life.

1 comment:

  1. Hard question: Does EB's remarkable (some have said life-long) consistency mean Butterworth's thought did not grow during a half-century-plus spent writing, preaching, and doing ministry?