What is Unity?
Rev. Richard A. Schumacher
When I set out to write a short article answering the question "What is Unity", I wondered how I could relate a rich history of metaphysical thought and a complex theology in a short article. The answer that came to me was simple. I remembered my childhood days of skipping stones across the surface of a smooth lake. If the stone skipped four times before sinking to the depths that was a good throw. So this article will skip across the waters of the Unity movement touching down briefly on Unity’s history, churches and centers, and five basic principles.
Unity is best understood in the context of its history. In the late 1800’s there was an exciting movement in America that was rooted in the minds of a few creative and forward-thinking people. Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, the co-founders of the Unity movement, were but two of those people.
Myrtle, a sickly woman, heard a lecturer say, "You are a child of God and you do not inherit illness." Something happened in her that night in 1886. By 1888 she was completely healed. Her husband, Charles, seeing the change in his wife, embraced a spiritual journey that was to last a lifetime. He believed that he could go directly to God and prove the spiritual laws that brought healing to Myrtle. So Charles and Myrtle and a small band of friends began to pray and meditate together. Charles began to speak and write about his insights, and over a hundred years later the result is a worldwide metaphysical movement. The Unity focus, in those early days, was three-fold: first and foremost Unity was about prayer; and secondly Unity became a publishing house with several magazines and numerous book titles. Lastly Unity was a place for education. People came to Unity to be fed spiritually. Through prayer, publishing and education Unity sought not to become another denomination, but to help people better understand and experience their own faith tradition. However, Spirit had something else in mind.
Churches and Centers
The time quickly came when individuals asked the Fillmores to send teachers to their community so they might deepen their study of truth. Around the country little study groups sprung up. These groups were the seeds from which grew the Unity Churches and Truth Centers we enjoy today. Unity has no formal creed or dogma to which Unity students must subscribe. Unity offers freedom of thought, the freedom to develop the student’s individual consciousness as they see fit and it reminds the students that such that freedom brings with it the responsibility to live out of that consciousness and to live in the experience that their consciousness creates. Often people confuse openness to different religious thought with not having a basis for believing. Unity is at its heart Christian. Charles Fillmore in his Statement of Faith wrote, "We believe in all the doctrines of Christianity, spiritually interpreted, and we agree with the Universal Truth evident in all religions, for each is a path to God." This spirit is evident in Unity churches and centers today. At Unity’s services you can find individuals from all faiths. Unity is non-denominational and has become inter-faith in expression. People from all faiths can feel comfortable in Unity because at its core are five key principles.
Five Key Principles
The first and foundational principle teaches that God is good and everywhere present. God is only good. By this we understand that God doesn’t play "gotcha" with people. By this we understand that everywhere present means not only every physical place, but also every place in consciousness. Wherever God is ALL of God is, and we have instant access to all that God is. We have access to all the life, all the health, all the wealth, and all the peace that God is. We can never be separated from the good that God is.
The second principle states that You are divine because a spark of Divinity lives in you. Some people find this idea somewhat disturbing. Unity teaches that the same Christ that expressed so perfectly through Jesus is the same Christ that lives in you as the perfect pattern for life expression that is continually seeking expression through you. It is this spark of divinity that Jesus referred to when he said, "Let your light shine…." Thinking oneself to be divine can be a bit disturbing at first, but knowing oneself to be divine brings the second principle alive.
The third principle takes us to the source of all joy and sorrow. This principle states that You create your experience by what you think and feel. Simply put, life is consciousness. Your life, be it joyful or sorrowful, is the result of your consciousness. Earlier we stated God doesn’t play "gotcha" with people. This principle demonstrates how we are co-creators with God. The truth is this God doesn’t do it to you, He does it through you. And more often than not you do it to yourself.
The fourth principle states that through prayer and meditation you become aware of your connection with God. Prayer was central to the development Unity movement because prayer and meditation revealed the truth to Unity’s founders. Prayer and meditation remain the one sure method to know the truth today.
The fifth principle states that, it is not enough to know these principles you must live them. This seems obvious, but as simple as these principles are they are not so easy to implement in daily living. Unity is a discipline. It requires application of the things you come to know are true. Unity is often called a work. The work these principles call you to do is a work in consciousness. It is through your consciousness that you demonstrate your true understanding of how God’s good is made manifest in your life.
So Unity offers a something for the spiritual seeker, regardless of the religious background. What does Unity offer to You?