Sweet And Bitter Opportunities
(Posted on June 29, 2013 by David McMillin)
And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. (Revelation 10: 8-10)
In Chapter 10 of the Revelation, a mighty angel came down from heaven. He held a little book in his hand. He told John to eat the book. He said that it would be sweet in the mouth like honey, but bitter in the belly. John obeyed the angel and ate the book. Sure enough, it was sweet in the mouth and bitter in the belly.
So just what is the little book? As part of the process of becoming self-aware, we come to recognize the continuity of consciousness. In other words, we live multiple lives. The little book that is sweet in the mouth and bitter in the belly is the "Book of Life" or "book of remembrance" that contains the story of our past lives as well as our present incarnation. It is the story of the individual soul, with all its karmic influences.
So the self-analysis process goes on and on – we are constantly being given the opportunity to know ourselves. This is part of the initiation, the purification of mental and emotional patterns that we carry over from one existence to another.
In Chapter Eleven the mighty angel that gave John the book, tells him that two witnesses will be given the power to prophesy and testify. They will be killed and after three days will be raised up and ascend into heaven. Cayce tells us that the two witnesses, also symbolized as two trees and two candlesticks, represent our past lives in the earth and our past lives in other realms.
(Q) What is meant by the 2 witnesses mentioned in Rev. 11:3? Are they the mental and emotional bodies of the soul of man?
(A) As has been made reference, now – the Book of Life has been eaten. It is in the mouth, sweet; in the belly (or the body), bitter.
This may be the interpretation then: the mental or the subconscious; but rather is it the CONSCIOUS PHYSICAL lives, or the attributes and the consciousness in the EXPERIENCE of the soul in the attributes of a physical consciousness!
Do not confuse self; and many of you are wondering just what it is. Then, as has been so oft given, all of this was recognized by John. Hence all of this is given in form, ritual, the emblems, what we may term numerology, astrology, and all the forms of the ancient wisdoms; yet it is represented by the activities of same upon a physical being.
As has so oft been given, an individual experience in the earth plane is motivated by that which arises from its sojourns in the influences of the consciousnesses outside of the physical being – or as ye would say astrologically the sojourn in the environ of Venus, Jupiter, Mars, Neptune, Saturn, Uranus, Sun, Moon, and the constellations and those effects upon same – emotionally from the INNATE forces; AND by the EMOTIONAL effect from sojourns in the earth. Both of these are witnesses.
As the Book of Life then is opened, there is seen the effect of that which now has been attained by the opening of the system, the body, the mind; all of those effects that have been created by the ability of the entity to, in the physical, being attune self to the consciousness of being at-one with the divine within.
Now we see those in the material world using these influences for self-exaltation, self-indulgence, self-glorification; and yet we see those using same for the glory, the understanding, the knowledge, the wisdom of the Father.
These then are the witnesses. The innate and the emotional; or the spiritual-mental, the physical-mental; the subconscious, the superconscious. (281-33)
So with spiritual awakening, we begin to become aware of ourselves as eternal beings – souls making our way through eternity, finding our way back to the Source. At some point, we also begin to become aware of karmic patterns that we have created in previous experiences – patterns that we will meet in our present experience. This is a process of spiritual initiation – purification, cleansing self, overcoming selfishness.
As we commit ourselves to a spiritual ideal and attempt to apply what we have learned about spiritual principles, we will undergo spiritual initiation. The Cayce readings insist that this is part of everyone's spiritual journey. When we learn about spiritual truth, it is sweet in the mind to contemplate and sweet in mouth to discuss. But when we have to live that truth in the midst of life, to meet ourselves and our karma in our daily activities and relationships, it can become very bitter to stomach.
Again, this is part of the purification process. We come to know who we are and what we believe by application of spiritual truth. This is how we are transformed:
(Q) What is the significance of John eating it (the little book) …
(A) As illustrated in that as indicated, and as from the use of same. Know ye have it – what will ye do with it? It becomes part and parcel, by the eating up. It is very beautiful to look upon, very beautiful to be desired; but in the application of same at times very bitter…. Then as this has been found, as is illustrated here by John, in the taking of the book and in becoming these, each then must pass in its experience through the same sources. (281-32)
By its very nature, spiritual initiation is voluntary. We have to say "yes" to the sweetness. No one can be forced into it. If we are forced to be spiritual, we usually don't become bitter – angry or resentful perhaps – but not bitter. To experience this type of bitterness we must have had the sweetness first, we must have said, "Yes I want spiritual transformation."
Then, when we apply spiritual truth we are purified. That is not always easy to digest. If it were not for the sweetness that draws us into the initiation, we might never get around to it! No one said that enlightenment was always easy or fun.
But just keep in mind that we are always meeting ourselves. So when the bitterness comes, we can be sure that it is coming from within us – we are being purified. The key is not to let the process end with bitterness, but to accept the initiation and be purified of the negative attitudes and emotions that are pouring forth. Don't allow yourself to lapse into feeling sorry for yourself or blaming others for how you feel. It is your initiation. Own your feelings and work through the bitterness.
The concept of initiation exposing negative attitudes, emotions, and behaviors will be familiar to anyone who has been active in a church or other spiritual organization. The long shadow cast by a high spiritual ideal, often leads to unseemly behaviors as drosses are brought to the surface for purification – as sweetness turns bitter. By understanding the sweet and bitter of initiation, you can provide support and assistance to others as they undergo the initiation process.
In the mental attributes of the body – as has been given, these are exceptional in many directions. Will the body, [If the body will] for its own mental development, make a very close study of that book known as Revelation – in the Holy Book – and apply each indicated force IN same to the PHYSICAL BODY, and UNDERSTANDING will come within self that will make for the directing of the mental abilities that will be most profitable, most beneficial to self AND to others. As an illustration – where there is spoken of, as the book becoming bitter within the stomach when eaten, this referring to the application of that as is digested mentally WITHIN an individual. (311-4)
The purification associated with spiritual initiation can take many forms. There is inner purification of selfish soul patterns in relationships with others. Dysfunctional mental attitudes are abandoned. Even the physical body undergoes purification. Dealing with serious illness can be an initiation if approached from the perspective of transformation and soul development. Whatever the context, spiritual initiation signifies a fundamental process of change. Change is hard for everyone, especially when the change involves innermost patterns of mind and spirit.
These changes can be painful if you cling to the old patterns. Inner attunement through prayer and meditation is essential for letting go and releasing. It may feel like a part of the self has died. You may also feel as if you have been reborn, or at least transformed in some significant way. Your step will lighter, the way will be brighter. You will look forward to each day as an opportunity to serve.
The Search for God will provide abundant opportunities for purification and spiritual initiation. It is up to each individual to accept the initiation as part of soul development and not project bitter negativity purged from within, outward onto others.
Case Examples From The Readings
From a practical standpoint, I have found that people struggle with the concept of "sweet and bitter spiritual initiation." It can seem rather abstract and removed from daily life. So here are some case examples from the Cayce readings to make the concept a bit more concrete and practical.
Morton Blumenthal was a businessman who received many readings from Edgar Cayce, often dealing with business deals, dream interpretation, and even some physical readings for himself, his family, friends and business associates. Several of these readings dealt directly with the "sweet and bitter" of life.
Blumenthal was quite intellectual, engaging in deep study of metaphysical and spiritual texts. Thus he had tasted the sweetness of setting out on a spiritual quest to become more spiritual-minded and also to write about spiritual matters. Reading 900-220 cautioned that he may have to face some bitterness on the spiritual path in terms of “ILLS, mental and physical.” He was encouraged to meet such health challenges with a positive attitude, recognizing them as opportunities for growth rather than becoming bitter, and blaming God or others for his experiences:
… there is illustrated in the book of life, as this: "And I saw the little book, and I took it and ate it up, and it became sweet in my mouth, but when in mine belly bitter as gall." As is seen in these lessons then, as are gained from this: ILLS, mental and physical, are to the entity those conditions that would be as succor and strength, rather than as producing that which would "turn again and rend thee." (900-220)
Perhaps prophetically, the readings must have recognized the potential for the “sweet and bitter” in the life of Mr. Blumenthal. Here is another excerpt from a dream interpretation reading that emphasizes the importance of spiritual application in the midst of life, rather than simply reading, pondering, talking or writing about it:
… even through him on Patmos [John in the the Book of Revelation] – that that written in books may be sweet to the mouth but bitter in the belly; while that disseminated through the actual application of same truths in the lives, hearts and actions of individuals, may become living truths known and read of all men, springing up as wells of living water in the way that brings a more perfect understanding to all. (900-403)
Apparently, Morton Blumenthal did have his share of sweet and bitter initiations: The stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent loss of his business; the closing of the Cayce Hospital and Atlantic University (that he bankrolled); the breakup of his marriage; and extreme bitterness toward Edgar Cayce and those associated with the work of the readings. As souls, we always have a choice – even the choice of whether to work through the bitterness of spiritual initiation or meet ourselves later in some other circumstance in the school of life.
The theme of “sweet and bitter” initiation in Morton Blumenthal’s experience had another connection through an employee, a saleswoman in his stock brokerage office. She received several readings from Edgar Cayce, including a life reading that described past lives as “Joan of Arc” and Thetis (the mother and power behind the Greek warrior Achilles). Clearly this was a strong-willed individual with her own agenda. Her first reading observed: “One that has the ability to destroy or to make men.” (302-1) In her fifth reading, she was cautioned not to become too enamored with the sweetness of her business success, else she would experience bitterness and regret:
As to the abilities respecting the business associations of the entity, the body in its present surroundings is in that sphere where it may accomplish that it aspires to. Only be sure that that aspired does not become bitter in the mouth and belly; for while fame, position, wealth and power, may wield that satisfaction that in the pursuit of same may be felt is beyond measure that desired [A LOT OF SWEETNESS!!!] ; yet this body may attain to this position – to that power in money, in social, in business – and attain same in the PROPER way and manner, and same bring joy, peace, satisfaction of a life well spent. It may be attained by the body in a manner that will bring regret, bitterness and discontent, contempt of self, and lack of faith, hope, confidence, in any. Then be SURE that that upon which the entity builds is in the proper direction. (302-5)
Notice that the sweetness need not necessarily lead to bitterness if it were fulfilled "in the PROPER way and manner" which could bring "joy, peace, satisfaction of a life well spent." Or there could be enormous "regret, bitterness and discontent, contempt of self, and lack of faith, hope, confidence." WOW!! Talk about sweet and bitter – she really had it all laid out before her. Essentially the question was a matter of ideals – focusing on a spiritual ideal and translating that spiritual ideal into mental attitudes and physical behaviors.
The outcome in this case is also quite fascinating. Given the situation during that era of economic boom and bust (a sweet and bitter experience for many, to be sure), she struggled financially in the late 1920s and early 1930s, eventually forced into bankruptcy. However, she kept a sweet spiritual focus as evidenced by this letter written in 1933 by Edgar Cayce to one of leaders of the "Work" in New York:
I don't suppose there is a single individual who has been any more helpful to the MATERIAL organizations that have assisted this Work than Miss . And I am sure the New York Group, if it can get her to work, will have the material things forthcoming from some of the plans that she would set in motion from time to time. And I will say this for her, she has never sought self-exaltation in any of it. (302-10; report)
In yet another case of “sweet and bitter” linked to Morton Blumenthal, an associate of Blumenthal was encouraged to receive a reading from Cayce to address some issues relating to choices about relocating in response to business opportunities. In correspondence to Cayce before the reading, Blumenthal noted:
"…I appreciate your taking this for the kid, Edgar. She thinks Columbus is a jungle and that Broadway is America in total. However, one way or another it's good to get them thinking along lines whether they get it from this way or Physical or Life readings. We all start from wanting things…"
A single reading was given for the twenty-four year old woman. The suggestion given to the entranced Cayce was for “a mental, spiritual, and financial reading for this body, including her social relations and all phases of her life involving the future that she and her husband face.” Sounds like the kind of advice many of us would like to receive in the uncertain world we live in today. Here are a couple of the Q&A excerpts from this reading where much of the focus was on choosing between two prospective job offers her husband had been offered:
(Q) Would either of the two [business] propositions now offered to my husband prove beneficial from every angle?
(A) We haven't the husband. We have the body and the mind, as considering and as related to same, and when the entity follows out those purposes, those truths, those conditions, as have been set before the entity, same should be able to determine this question within its own mind. ANSWER FOR SELF, for SELF is responsible to the self for the service rendered to Him through spiritual, mental, or physical condition.
(Q) Which of the two would prove most beneficial – the more or less indefinite proposition made by Edmund Kaufman, or the proposition in Columbus?
(A) Dependent upon which phase of same is the condition or proposition viewed from. PERSONALLY – for the entity,  – we would find the Kaufman proposition BEGINNING as more satisfactory, yet unless many things were changed in the end would prove as "sweet in the mouth but in the belly bitter."
As to the proposition in Columbus, this, as we have given, would be the best in a STABILIZED form and manner – FINANCIALLY. Spiritually and morally better, may be made according to that which the entity wills from within self.
(Q) If the Columbus proposition is accepted, it may be necessary for me to move and make my home in Columbus. Is it possible for the Columbus proposition to be accepted and an agreement brought about by which we may remain in New York?
(A) There may – but would it be best? The entity must answer – entity must answer for self in this. (4869-1)
This woman was encouraged to focus on the spiritual aspect of the decision making process. Her reading encouraged her to approach the choices from the standpoint of purpose and ideals – to use the opportunity as an expression of will. Notice that even in this very practical level of life, the spiritual is the basis for making choices. And even if a certain option is very “sweet” superficially and immediately, in the long term it could be a very bitter experience.
There is no follow-up correspondence with this case and we don’t know which of the two options this husband and wife made – the glitter of Broadway (the Kaufman option in New York city) or the more pastoral (“spiritually and morally better") setting in Columbus, Ohio. But this is the kind of everyday situation that we can all relate to, and yet sometimes don’t make the connection to the “sweet and bitter” of spiritual initiation. Often there is a disconnect between the spiritual ideal and the mental and physical ideals (attitudes and behaviors) that bring that spiritual ideal into daily life. If we experience bitterness in any area of life, it probably has it basis in spirit as an initiation in some manner.
One of the common patterns associated with the sweet and bitter spiritual initiation was cited in reading 557-3:
So oft in seeking that some great thing may be done does the soul stumble over itself … (557-3)
In other words, in the grandiose seeking after great things, there can be much sweetness. This is particularly so with spiritual truth, that is so attractive to the mind to ponder – so sweet in the mouth to talk about. But when we have to apply that spirituality in the midst of life and we bump up against our personal karma, we can stumble (sometimes bitterly so). I have a feeling this was the pattern of sweet and bitter that Morton Blumenthal experienced, and that his own readings warned him about.
But as the readings have also noted, this need not necessarily be the case. If the karma is met gracefully, the soul development can be relatively smooth. As with the young woman who was pondering the business and relocation options in reading 4869-1, it really is a matter of choice (hopefully based on a spiritual ideal). And therein resides the OPPORTUNITY for soul development.
Of course, the really essential part of “sweet and bitter” opportunities (spiritual initiation) is being healed of the bitterness. Let’s be clear, bitterness is poison that must be cleansed. There may even be a physical aspect of the toxicity and cleansing, in some cases. The initiation is about purification. Here are some key points to keep in mind if you find yourself experiencing a sweet and bitter opportunity as we have discussed in previous sections:
1. Recognize and acknowledge the bitterness. Sometimes we have difficulty recognizing our own feelings. We can be bitter and not really identify that emotion for what it is. Bitterness is distinct. It is not hatred or anger, although we may feel some of that too. Bitterness is sweetness gone bad. Feelings of betrayal or rejection can be part of it. There was sweetness and something happened – now there is bitterness. If you detect bitterness within, and recognize it for what it is, that is the first step toward being healed.
2. Own the emotion. Don’t project it onto others. Don’t play the blame game. It is your initiation. You are the one being purified. For there to be bitterness, you must have said “yes” to the sweetness up front. Even though you may feel you were tricked or deceived by the situation or other people, just look within to see if you agreed to be a part of it at some level. Remember how the Cayce readings keep insisting that we are constantly meeting ourselves – that’s the idea.
3. Deep meditation is a wonderful tool for purification. Take it before the Divine within and leave it there. Release it and turn it over to God. In other words, “Thy will be done.”
4. Mindfulness meditation (“Stand aside and watch self pass by”) is also helpful so that you can monitor your progress when in situations (or interacting with people) that are associated with your “sweet and bitter” initiation opportunity. Just be a witness. If you recognize that there is still bitterness within, say a prayer of release right there in the midst of life. Take a conscious breath or two. And make a mental note that you will revisit it again in deep meditation. Sometimes the cleansing process can take time, so be patient with yourself.
5. At some level, healing bitterness usually hinges on forgiveness. Yes, the process may involve forgiving others. But be aware that it is usually self that is most in need of forgiveness. That’s the purification part of the initiation.
- Sweet and Bitter Initiation – This video segment from the Rivers of Light DVD covers the meaning of the little book that when eaten is sweet in the mouth but bitter in the belly.
- Two Witnesses – This is another video segment describes from the Rivers of Light DVD. It discusses the concept of the Two Witness (past lives on earth and planetary sojourns).
- The Soul's Journey – If the concept of planetary sojourns is confusing to you, this video segment from the Cayce's Cosmology DVD may be helpful.
Initiation – This lesson from SFG 3 may provide some additional insights into the broader concept of intitation as it applies to the spiritual path.