Brief History of New Thought
A young woman, Myrtle Fillmore, dying of hereditary Tuberculosis, attends a lecture in 1886, leaning heavily on her husband Charles’ arm. He walks with a severe limp, having damaged his hip in a childhood skating accident that left him with a withered leg. The Fillmore's emerge from the lecture with a new and powerful belief: "I am a child of God and I do not inherit sickness."
Two years later, with no further medical intervention, the she is completely healed. Her husband's leg, no longer withered, has grown three inches longer, and his constant pain is gone. The Fillmore's begin a ministry that becomes worldwide, healing and prospering many thousands of people.
An elderly man washes dishes in a hash joint, eking out a bare existence. He literally saves his pennies and invests them in thousands of shares of stock in the bankrupt Missouri Pacific Railroad, then selling for six cents a share. Each night, he writes out his vision for the railroad: new, enlightened leadership, new tracks and equipment, new prosperity. In the morning, he rereads what he has written and then burns the paper at the tiny sink in the corner of his shabby little room, "so that my words go forth into the universe." When a kindly stockbroker takes an interest in him, he explains that he is doing all this at the suggestion of his minister, Ernest Holmes.
Months later, the stockbroker begins to read in the daily paper about the rebirth of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. First a line, then a column, then long articles describe the belief that it could be rebuilt, then the acquisition of intelligent new leadership, new track, and new rolling stock. Soon, Missouri Pacific is trading not for six cents, but for $89 a share, and the astounded stockbroker is wracking his brain to recall the name of the elderly gentleman's minister!
The name of the minister was Ernest Holmes. The name of the lecturer was Eugene B. Weeks; his listeners were Myrtle and Charles Fillmore. All of them were students of Emma Curtis Hopkins, herself a student of a woman who had been healed by an unschooled Maine clockmaker and inventor named Phineas Parkhurst Quimby. Quimby believed that he had rediscovered the lost healing methods of Jesus. The loosely organized movement that began with him eventually became known as New Thought, and consisted of a number of independently developed branches to include Unity and Religious Science. Both branches emphasized spirituality, not religiosity.
Spirituality refers, as religiosity cannot, to the intensely personal, devotional, life-transforming aspects of religion. It is a term preferred, for example, by people who have had enormously moving experiences but who are disinclined to engage in conventional religious alignments, activities, or orientations. Jesus said, "The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” Religiosity commonly is connected with the letter, the mechanistic, literal observance or prescribed practice of a system of beliefs.
Yet, if New Thought is spiritual, it is also intensely practical. It is the application of one's religious beliefs to solve the daily problems of living. Originally dealing with problems of sickness, it rapidly expanded to include problems with lack of money or difficulties in relationships with other people.
Jesus, one of the greatest spiritual teachers of our times, in his great compassion for people, saw to it that their daily needs were met, and taught us to pray for "our daily bread.” The genius of New Thought is that, following the example of Jesus, it synthesizes the seeming opposites of practicality and spirituality. Yet New Thought goes beyond problem solving to teach us how to create the world we want by forming it with our thoughts. Jesus said, "I am come that they may have life and have it abundantly." New Thought advocates a life of abundance here and now.
All the early leaders of New Thought came from Christian backgrounds, yet most of them had found organized religion restrictive or repressive and turned away from it. They were all deeply spiritual, though they were not all deeply religious. Since America was largely settled by people who came here to escape repressive religions, this should not be surprising. What is surprising is how often the oppressed become oppressors at the first opportunity. New Thought has happily escaped from that pattern, tolerating very great latitude in beliefs and practices. Yet critics have complained that New Thought did not insist on suffering as somehow necessary for salvation! The "religion of healthy-mindedness" has always been an upbeat, positive, optimistic way of life. Interestingly, recent research in psychology has revealed that optimists do better in every way, including health, longevity, and overall performance.
Not everyone in New Thought is seeking refuge from a religion that failed to meet his or her needs. Many people continue to be loyal members of a mainstream church while using New Thought as a little leaven for the loaf. The best-known example of this is the late Norman Vincent Peale, a faithful Reformed Church minister who acknowledged in writing his debt to New Thought, the source of his Positive Thinking concept.
New Thought is what all Christianity could have become if it had been able to avoid the stultifying tendencies needed to become a religion capable of competing with mystery religions for the title of official religion of the Roman Empire. It is what all Christianity could have become if it had allowed freedom of belief, concentrating on following the loving, healing example of Jesus rather than developing a rigid superstructure of teachings about Jesus.
What are the principles of New Thought? New Thought is simply expressed in Romans 12:2, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” New Thought advocates seek nothing less than total life transformation, empowerment through changing their thoughts and keeping them changed. The linchpin of New Thought is the Law of Mind Action, also called the Law of Attraction: thoughts held in mind produce after their kind. There are many ways to express this: like attracts like; as in mind, so in manifestation; as in heaven, so on earth; as above, so below (Hermetic Axiom); “you can only get what you can take (understand); "them that has, gets." This goes along with what philosophers refer to as idealism, belief that the world is really made up of thoughts or mind or spirit. Its opposite is materialism, belief that the world is made up of material "stuff" that one can measure.
In the longstanding battle between science and religion, idealists generally represented religion and materialists represented science. Ironically, physics, the king of sciences, the yardstick by which other sciences are measured, has now moved toward idealism with the discoveries of Quantum Physics. British scientist Sir James Jeans remarked that the universe looked like nothing so much as a giant thought. New Thought from its infancy has sought to bridge the gap between science and religion, and its branches have been given names such as Religious Science and Unity. Quimby studied mesmerism, or hypnotism, as did Freud, because it was the latest scientific wrinkle of the day.
If this is a universe of thought, then changing one's thoughts changes the universe. Current physics teaches that the act of observing changes what is observed.
At the heart of New Thought is a minimalist creed, a simple system of beliefs that make optimistic idealism credible. As stated in the Declaration of Principles of the International New Thought Alliance, an umbrella organization for New Thought:
· We affirm the inseparable oneness of God and humankind, the realization of which comes through spiritual intuition, the implications of which are that we can reproduce the Divine perfection in our bodies, emotions, and all our external affairs.
· We affirm the freedom of each person in matters of belief.
· We affirm the Good to be supreme, universal, and eternal.
· We affirm that the kingdom of God is within us, that we are one with the Father, that we should love one another and return good for evil.
· We affirm that we should heal the sick through prayer and that we should endeavor to manifest perfection "even as our Father in heaven is perfect."
· We affirm our belief in God as the Universal Wisdom, Love, Life, Truth, Power, Peace, Beauty and Joy, "In whom we live and move and have our being."
· We affirm that our mental states are carried forward into manifestation and become our experience through the Creative Law of Cause and Effect.
· We affirm that the Divine Nature expressing Itself through us manifests Itself as health, supply, wisdom, love, life, truth, power, peace, beauty and joy.
· We affirm that we are invisible spiritual dwellers within human bodies continuing and unfolding as spiritual beings beyond the change called physical death.
· We affirm that the universe is the body of God, spiritual in essence, governed by God through laws, which are spiritual in reality even when material in appearance.
Most mainstream churches would have little difficulty with these principles. New Thought believes that there is only one Power in the universe and that Power is good. New Thought states that there is no place where God is not. In God "we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). This means that we are all parts of God, more specifically, God's body and there is God the Solution at the heart of every problem.
“Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.” – Psalm 39, 7-12
New Thought is optimistic and upbeat! Fundamentalists have difficulty with the idea that the only Power in the universe is good. New Thought teaches that evil is insubstantial, that it is only immature or misused good. The Devil is the invention of our minds, and goes as fast as he comes. When you walk into a dark room and turn on the light, the darkness vanishes; you don't have to chase it away. The Bible was written by Oriental minds for Oriental minds, and most of it was never intended to be taken literally. Jesus cast out demons, which is to say in the language of today, that he straightened out people's thinking; and our fear thoughts are demonic indeed.
But New Thought does not concern itself with most religious doctrines. If the Virgin Birth literally happened, wonderful; if it did not, that is fine, too. In addition, New Thought does not care what you do on Sunday morning. If you have a church that gives you spiritual food, that is great. If not, and you want some, New Thought has a wide variety for you to choose from, from banquets to picnics.
One special feature of New Thought, emphasized more in some branches than in others, is known as the metaphysical interpretation of the Bible. This misuse of the term metaphysical raises a few philosophical eyebrows, but what it really means is treating Scripture metaphorically, seeking a deeper meaning beyond the literal. Jesus frequently taught in parables, which he later interpreted for his disciples. From the days of Philo Judaeus and of the early church in Alexandria, scholars have interpreted names in the Bible to arrive at deeper meanings. Unity co-founder Charles Fillmore compiled his Metaphysical Bible Dictionary of these interpretations.
Some metaphorical interpretations are consistent throughout the Bible. This is truly remarkable when you consider that many different individuals wrote it at “divers times and in sundry places”. For example, man and woman symbolize either body and soul or intellect and emotion. For this reason, well-meaning attempts to eliminate sexism in the Bible obscure deeper meanings. Unity minister Catherine Ponder and the late Divine Science minister Emmet Fox both have written extensively about metaphysical interpretation of the Bible.
Direct experience of God is sometimes called mysticism. It is a right-hemisphere function, frequently distrusted by logical thinkers, who are left-hemisphere dominant. But using only half a brain makes you a half-wit! We need mysticism balanced and corrected by reason, with both firmly and practically anchored in the real world of daily life. This is not a book on how to become a mystic, but it will acquaint you with one form of mysticism as a significant aspect of American spirituality. It will help you become more aware of what is going on around you, and if you choose to put the information to work will help you live life more effectively, with improved health, wealth, human relationships, and abundant, happy living. Success can be defined as reaching reasonably challenging goals that you set for yourself. On that basis, New Thought is the royal road to success in life.
No one can tell you how to experience God directly; that is up to you and God; but, it can acquire spiritual knowledge to do so, coupled with support based on scientific research to justify these beliefs. William James, wrote, "The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude and mind.” "As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he," wrote King Solomon.. And Jesus said to the Roman centurion, "As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee." As you can see, New Thought is an appropriate name.
The Religious Science Teaching
1. Divinity: As a Divine being, you are the master of your destiny. This is the great message Religious Science brings to people of all faiths. It is a fresh concept of religion as a life philosophy and a science. As a philosophy, Religious Science presents a practical, down-to-earth way of thinking about the nature of the Universe and our relationship to it. As a religion, it presents a philosophy that is both mentally stimulating and emotionally satisfying. As a science, it presents specific and definite ideas, which you can demonstrate for yourself and directly, experience the benefits in your life.
2. Spiritual Principles: There is a power for good in the Universe greater than you are—and you can use it! Science of Mind is a system of mental and spiritual principles, combined with a technique for the application of these principles. It is designed to live and expand consciousness in ways that lead to an even higher order of livingness. It emphasizes the spiritual connection of all, thus promoting peace and greater harmony at all levels of experience. The consistent application of Religious Science results in health, satisfying relationships, enhanced creativity, and prosperity.
3. Thoughts: Change your thinking and change your life! Religious Science is not a closed system of thought.” It grows continually as humankind evolves, drawing on the frontiers of knowledge as well as the wisdom of the ages.
4. Affirmative Prayer: In Science of Mind we use affirmative prayer, or “spiritual mind treatment”. Affirmative praying is a simple process. It requires of us the persistence to think in ways that will naturally, lawfully, create what we desire. It is praying the way Jesus of Nazareth prayed; it is praying as the Buddha prayed. It is using the spiritual laws of this Universe to unfold in our lives the experience we desire. Once you know more about these Universal Laws, it is simple to practice using them. In addition, they can be summed up like this: “It is done unto you as you believe”. Affirmative prayer, then, is about shifting our belief. The steps below have long been recognized as parts of the recipe for a change in consciousness. Each step is an ingredient for change, but keep in mind that the master chef always feels free to experiment! The best way to pray is the way that helps you feel connected with Spirit. Here are the general steps:
What do you want? This is the first thing to decide. In order for the Universal Intelligence to know how to flow through you, it has to know what you want. It cannot know until you do! Word: Resolve things into thought. Think about your desire. What are the qualities of what you desire? In other words, if you had it, how would you feel? How would you be? Yes, you may want the thing, but for the Law to work for you most effectively, you need to know what's behind the thing. For example, if you wanted a new car, why? Reliable transportation may translate into a feeling of being safe, secure, and supported. Greater luxury might resolve into an experience of Life's true nature because the real nature of life is abundant wealth!. Needing your own transportation, may translate into freedom of movement, and so on. You are creating a “mold” for the Universal Law to fill. This is called your Word.
Recognition: remind yourself of the nature of life/god/spirit. This is the main ingredient in affirmative prayer: recognition. You must know what the nature of God is before going further. If, for example, you used to believe that God was an angry, vengeful God, now is the time to remind yourself of the greater truth. Remind yourself of the lawful and loving nature of God.
Unification: remind yourself that you come from life/spirit/god. If God exists and is everything good and wonderful, but you're on the outside looking in, why even bother to pray? Remind yourself that God is the source and the creator of everything, including you and your desire. This is another crucial ingredient in affirmative prayer.
Realization: know that life already is the thing or experience you want. If you can desire it, then imagine it, picture it. It must exist in Mind. Otherwise, where did you get the idea? Remember, the first premise of Religious Science is that there exists a fundamental Unity. There is no place other than Mind to get your idea. For a truly effective prayer treatment, you want to keep contemplating spirit's nature as your own; when you have an inner feeling of "YES!” that's when the realization arrives. When you open your eyes, your desire may not be sitting on the floor in front of you, but do not be fooled...Mind is already at work unfolding it.
Eliminating Doubts: If doubts arise...Don't just turn away. Face them! Speak the truth about what you are fearing will or will not happen...for example, if you feel that you could never afford a new car, you might say, "Infinite Mind has given me this desire and along with it everything I need to let the power of law flow through me, manifesting my desire in perfection and joy. God is our supply; God is our wealth, so there is nothing to fear...because God is right where I am".
Thanksgiving: Have total faith/conviction and know that what you desire is yours. It is important to give thanks, because it acknowledges already having received the thing you desire. This is the "already having received" attitude that adds fuel to the fire of your affirmative prayer treatment. This is why you have to know how you would feel if you had what you want right now.
Release: and so it is. Letting go is a crucial step. When you are done, your mind should be at peace, clear, unafraid, and watchful for signs of your desire showing up without becoming obsessive about it! Let Universal Law work through you and make your desire a physical reality!
While there are steps to follow, or ingredients to include in any affirmative prayer, also known as spiritual mind treatment, they don't have to come in any particular order; there's no need for them to follow a rigid pattern. The point is to build a consciousness that is whole, that automatically creates the experience you're desiring. This is all about engaging your mind, heart, and being with the creative power of the universe. How you get there is not all that important. This method does work, but it's only the means to the end. Religious Science isn't about a method; it's about a more profound connection with Spirit.
4. Practitioners: A professional practitioner is a qualified licensed individual who is committed to maintaining a high spiritual consciousness; to doing spiritual mind treatment (affirmative prayer) for those who request it, through the church's Ministry of Prayer or as an individual client; and to being an active spiritual presence in their church and community.
· To become a licensed practitioner through United Church of Religious Science one must complete a multi-year required course of study, pass a comprehensive written exam and be approved by an oral panel consisting of ministers and experienced practitioners. The practitioner's license is renewed every two years after meeting service requirements, continuing education requirements and with the recommendation of the minister.
· Practitioners do workshops, classes, projects, help with church services in various ways for their specific church. The practitioner not only serves at the local church level but also at the United Church level by participating in the Ministry of Prayer, serving on Standing Advisory Committee of Practitioner Policy, serving as chaplains for International Board of Trustees, serving on the International Board of Trustees, doing workshops at the yearly area and the yearly convention.
· Practitioners have individual practices for spiritual counseling. There is a fee for their professional services, which is established at the time the appointment is made. Personal financial arrangements are flexible and need not be a deterrent to receiving services.
5. Spiritual Knowledge: Why take classes? Science Of Mind classes are encouraged to obtain spiritual knowledge. Smart people learn quickly from others; they have teachers; they also learn from the mistakes of others. Average people learn from their mistakes, but the process is drawn out. Below average people do not learn from mistakes; instead, they keep making them repeatedly.
Religious Science International and Emersion Theology Institute of the Affiliated New Thought Network present a broad program in Science of Mind teaching. The basic principles we study are profound, but not necessarily easy to embody and practice in our daily lives. Sunday morning is where we hear about our potential, but the classroom is where we experience the practical application of principle. The process of regular Science of Mind class attendance is how we begin to embody a true change in our consciousness.
No matter who you are or what the current issues on your path, in classes you will find a new perspective—in a timeless message that is very relevant for today. Each class is taught in a fun and fast-paced format. The support of shared insights and the opportunity to ask questions in a classroom setting offer a learning environment not easily duplicated with solitary study. The discipline of regular attendance and the weekly readings create a framework for asking the big questions about life and our place in it.
What happens in class? Through lectures, discussions, and workshops led by a qualified instructor, the student learns how to personalize the same metaphysical principles, which the great masters throughout history have used to experience greater wholeness! Each class takes on energy of its own which stimulates each individual mind.
What will you learn?
You will learn about your connectedness to an infinite power for good, which you can use.
You will learn how to apply Universal Principles in your daily life and get results.
You will learn the art of positive prayer called Spiritual Mind Treatment.
You will learn the value of meditation and daily spiritual disciplines and commitment.
You will learn that you have found new friends and relationships in your classmates who think as you do.
You will learn you really can create a new life by changing your thinking and beliefs.
Is there tuition for classes? Yes. Taking a Science of Mind class requires a commitment of both time and money. The truth is, little can be achieved without commitment. It creates an expectancy of change, which is very valuable. Tuition is set by Religious Science International and is standard for all churches.
What is the value of taking "accredited" classes? A certificate of completion is issued at the conclusion of all classes when the attendance and other requirements have been met. After completing a specific number of classes, a student may be eligible to be licensed as a Religious Science Practitioner, and with further class work, as a Minister of Religious Science.
The Unity Philosophy has often been called “the best kept secret in the world. Unity was founded over one hundred years ago by a Kansas City couple, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. Myrtle experienced a healing of tuberculosis while Charles also found healing by spiritual means. Soon others, who saw the healing miracles in the Fillmores, began to ask them for help in their lives. The Fillmores responded to all calls for help by sharing their knowledge and tools.
In 1889, Charles and Myrtle began publishing Modern Thought magazine, which was later, changed to Unity. With this periodical, the Fillmores shared Unity ideas with people all over the country. Others were learning from the Fillmores how to set themselves free through the power of God within.
1. What is Unity? Unity is positive, practical Christianity. It teaches the practical application in everyday life of the principles of Truth taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ, as interpreted in the light of modern-day experience by The Federation of Unity Churches, the Unity School of Christianity, and the Association of Unity Churches. Unity is a way of life that leads to health, prosperity, happiness, and peace of mind. The Federation and Association of Unity Churches, in cooperation with Unity School of Christianity, has established centers of study and worship throughout the world where people study and practice the Unity way of life.
We believe that all people are created with sacred worth. Therefore, we recognize the importance of serving all people within the Unity family in spiritually and emotionally caring ways. We strive for our ministries, publications, and programs to reach out to all who seek Unity support and spiritual growth. It is imperative that our ministries and outreaches be free of discrimination based on race, gender, age, creed, religion, national origin, ethnicity, physical disability, or sexual orientation. Our sincere desire is to create spiritually aware organizations that are nondiscriminatory and that support diversity.
In our effort to reach out to all people as did our Way-Shower, Jesus Christ, we support: the modification of our facilities to make them accessible to all people, regardless of physical challenges; the translation of our materials into Braille and other languages; and respect for the wonderful variety of human commitments and relationships.
We encourage ministers, teachers, and others within Unity to honor the strength of diversity within their spiritual communities. It is with love and in celebration of our unity, in the midst of our wondrous diversity, that we affirm this position.
2. What are the basic tenets of the Unity teachings?
First: God, Divine Mind, is the Source and Creator of all. There is no other enduring power. The nature of God is absolute good; therefore, all manifestations partake of good. What is called "evil" is a limited or incomplete expression of God or good. Evil's origin is ignorance.
Second: We are spiritual beings, ideas in the Mind of God, created in God's image and likeness. The ideal expression for every human being is the pattern every person is seeking to bring forth. Each individual manifests the Christ in his or her own unique fashion. The perfect expression of the Christ is, therefore, different for each person.
Third: Jesus was a special person in history who expressed perfection and thereby became the Christ, or Jesus Christ. He was a Teacher who demonstrated the importance of thoughts, words, and deeds in shaping the life and world of the individual.
Fourth: Jesus' teaching was based on prayer, which to Him was conscious communion with God. Preparation for prayer involves the use of the spoken word, the creative power of God, which is made practical through denials and affirmations. Unity teaches that repeated use of statements of Truth (denials and affirmations) establishes right patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting. This is one way individuals use the creative power of God to take dominion over mind, body, and affairs.
3. Does Unity believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ? Yes, Unity teaches that the spirit of God dwelt in Jesus, just as it indwells every person; and that every person has the potential to express the perfection of Christ, as Jesus did, by being more Christ-like in everyday life.
4. What are Unity's distinctive characteristics? Unity students are encouraged to align with the spirit of the Christ within for personal guidance and direction that will best enhance their spiritual growth. The Unity ministry provides a safe and sacred space for study, participation, fellowship, support, transformation and awakening to the joy of living in God's world. Each Unity ministry is supported by the freewill offerings of those who share its vision. Unity affirms the freedom of each individual to advance spiritually according to his or her own level of understanding. Respect for and faith in the spirit of God in every person makes it unnecessary to set down fixed creeds or impose limiting beliefs. Each individual is encouraged to follow the Unity teachings in determining personal responses in his or her life.
5. What is the Independent Federation of Unity Churches? The Independent Federation of Unity Churches is dedicated to the teachings and expansion of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore’s teachings and H. Emilie Cady’s work. It’s Headquarters are in Florida.
6. What is the Association of Unity Churches? The Association of Unity Churches is comprised of approximately 915 member ministries and satellite ministries on the North American Continent; through the World Outreach Department of Unity School there are approximately 65 international ministries informally affiliated with the Association of Unity Churches. Each ministry is under the leadership of a licensed or ordained Unity minister, or authorized spiritual leader. The emphasis in Unity organizations is on spiritual activities, such as worship services, healing meetings, prayer groups, counseling, study classes, and youth development, including Sunday school and programs for young people of all ages. Since acknowledging God's presence in each person is part of Unity's spiritual purpose, social functions are also an important part of Unity organizations.
7. What is Unity School of Christianity? Unity School is the world headquarters for the Unity movement founded by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. After Myrtle Fillmore's remarkable healing utilizing prayer and affirmations, many who were seeking help became interested in how she accomplished this healing. From small prayer circles in living rooms, Unity grew. The first issue of UNITY magazine was published in 1889. The teaching of the practice of prayer, through classes and correspondence, led to the establishment of Silent Unity, the Unity School for Religious Studies Continuing Education Program and Ministerial Education Program and the Retreat programs. Through its threefold ministry of prayer, publishing, and education, Unity School serves millions of people in more than 150 countries. Unity School publishes inspirational magazines, books, audio and videocassettes, CDs, and pamphlets for adults and children.
8. Who are Unity students? Unity students are those individuals who have found a deeper understanding of God, of themselves, and of their world through the practical methods presented in the Unity teachings. Often this has come about as a result of some very trying and seemingly hopeless experience. Unity students include many who are readers of the various publications; others attend Unity services and classes, finding in such attendance a spiritual "home" in which they are strengthened in their spiritual unfoldment. They are from all walks of life, and of all races, creeds, and nationalities.
9. What is the relationship of Unity to other churches? Unity puts into practice a true ecumenical approach. Unity sees itself as a vehicle for instruction, inspiration and prayer support for spiritual seekers, regardless of their religious affiliation. Rather than a denomination, locked in tight parameters that restrict, Unity views itself as an ever-expanding expression of love, light, and peace. Therefore, it freely shares its teachings with all churches. Unity believes in the oneness and freedom of all people. Emphasis is always on the similarities rather than the differences in the human spiritual expression.
10. Is there any connection between Unity and Unitarianism? No, there is no connection, although there is sometimes confusion because of the similarity of the names. Many beliefs are held in common, including the importance of individual freedom in the quest for Truth. This very freedom, however, makes it difficult to determine the basic differences. In a very general way, it might be said that the two differ mainly in their beliefs regarding Jesus Christ and the Trinity. Unity places great emphasis on spiritual healing, while this is not practiced by Unitarians as a rule. In turn, Unitarians place great emphasis on social and political action.
11. Is Unity an offshoot of Christian Science? No. Unity and Christian Science, as well as many other New Thought groups, had their beginnings in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Many of the leaders in these groups studied under the same teachers. There are similarities in the teachings of Unity and Christian Science, including the importance of prayer, the practice of spiritual healing, and some fundamental theological points. Also, both have great publishing operations. However, the application of principles, the methods of teaching, and the organization of the two movements are quite different.
12.What is the place of the Bible in Unity? The Bible is Unity's basic textbook. It is accepted as a body of history, as a moral and ethical teaching, and as a great literary work. Beyond this, Unity finds deep significance in the Bible through its metaphysical interpretation, wherein names of places and people and their experiences symbolize the unfoldment of human consciousness. Through the study of Unity, the Bible is made more meaningful to individuals. Scripture comes alive when it is understood as a clear and helpful guide for today's experiences. The Bible reveals the spirit of Truth and the word of God. Holy Spirit, working individually through those who study Scripture and listen within, is the final authority in spiritual awakening.
13. Does Unity practice baptism and communion? Yes, symbolically. Whereas baptism by water represents the cleansing of the consciousness, spiritual baptism signifies the inflow of the Holy Spirit. No person can truly baptize another. Baptism is a mental and spiritual process that takes place within the individual as he or she aligns with the spirit of God. Spiritual communion takes place through prayer and meditation in the silence. The word of Truth is symbolized by the bread, or the body of Jesus Christ. The conscious realization of God-life is symbolized by the wine, or the blood of Jesus Christ. Unity practices communion by appropriating, or partaking of the spiritual energy represented by these elements. In Unity services, ritual is de-emphasized as a general rule, so that full attention may be devoted to the teachings and their practical application.
14. What is the significance of the blood of Jesus Christ? The blood of Jesus Christ represents the spiritual energy of God-life that purifies or redeems the body through a cleansing and renewal of the consciousness by the spoken word. Regarding the "spilled blood," or the "ransom of many," the emphasis in Unity is not so much on the death of Jesus as on His life. He did not relieve us of the necessity of working out our own salvation, but His example and teachings show us the way.
15. What about the Crucifixion? Unity teaches that the cross symbolizes the crossing out of all false beliefs. Here again, emphasis is on life and living, through the resurrection rather than on the Crucifixion.
16. Does Unity accept the virgin birth? Unity accepts the virgin birth as an experience in the spiritual unfoldment of each individual. Thus the virgin birth is spiritually interpreted as the birth of the Christ consciousness (the awakening of the awareness of God's Spirit within) in the purified soul.
17. Does Unity look for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? Unity understands the Second Coming as the individual expression of the Christ consciousness. This is not an event to be anticipated in the future. It is happening here and now, through prayer, meditation, study, and application.
18. How does Unity regard the Trinity? Unity interprets the religious terms Father, Son, and Holy Spirit metaphysically, as three aspects of mind action: mind, idea, and expression. This is the process through which all manifestation takes place.
19. What does Unity teach about sin and salvation, heaven and hell? Sin is our separation from God in consciousness, caused by our belief in the "devil" or a power other than God, the good. This belief leads to our unwise use of our God-given powers and abilities. Salvation is now--not something that occurs after death. It happens whenever we turn our thoughts (repent) from fear, anxiety, worry, and doubt, to thoughts of love, harmony, joy, and peace. The "fall" takes place in consciousness whenever we fall into negative habits of thinking. Heaven and hell are states of consciousness, not geographical locations. We make our own heaven or hell here and now by our thoughts, words, and deeds.
20. Does Unity believe in reincarnation? Many Unity students accept the concept of reincarnation (re-embodiment after a period of soul rest). This allows us to attain new understandings in a new life experience, so that we can eventually express perfection and demonstrate eternal life. This is our ultimate goal. Unity's real emphasis is on regeneration, not reincarnation. When we achieve this goal, as Jesus did, it will no longer be necessary to reincarnate. The belief that we could ever be embodied into a lower form of life is not accepted by Unity.
20. What are the advantages of attending Unity? To attend Unity is to be assured that one will be kept constantly in the remembrance of his or her own inner Christ potential. This awareness, plus the practical principles for living a happy and successful life, is experienced at Sunday services and weekday classes. By joining with others, it is possible for the local Unity ministry to provide expanding services, such as Sunday school, a radio and/or TV ministry, community outreach, prayer and support groups, and counseling. It is very helpful for individuals to have a place where they can be involved in putting these teachings into practice in serving others. Through the local ministry's affiliation and participation in the Association of Unity Churches, such individuals are part of a global movement, which forms a base on which to stand as we build a better world together.
It's one thing to read about New Thought and agree intellectually that a positive attitude is a good idea; it's quite another matter to assimilate it so that you put it into practice automatically when life hands out lessons.
The number one New Thought suggestion for getting through the day is to change your mind and keep it changed. Like Brother Lawrence, New Thought teaches that our beliefs should help us get through the day. Since our experiences are derived from our beliefs, we might as well picture the best and expect the best, especially in view of the research on optimism and expectancy. Having survived the day, we need to take time to visualize and plan for the future that we want, that fulfills our mission in life; and take whatever steps we can to make it come about. The idea is not to keep living the same day over and over, but to visualize and plan for something better.
This reminds us of the story about the construction workers who ate lunch together. Every day one of them would open his lunch box and exclaim in disgust, "Peanut butter and jelly again!" Finally the other inquired, "Why don't you ask your wife to fix something else?" "Oh, I'm not married," was the reply. "I make my own lunch." All of us make our own lunch with our thoughts.
No matter how limited we may feel at present, we can continue to visualize daily and be alert and ready for new opportunities, which have a way of suddenly appearing. If we are very clear about what we want, we will recognize such opportunities.
New Thoughter Joseph Murphy illustrates this well with an account of a scientist who was in a Russian concentration camp with no apparent hope of escape. He had seen pictures of Los Angeles, so every day and night he would picture himself driving along Wilshire Boulevard. One morning during roll call, the guard unexpectedly interrupted the count, and the scientist was able to step out of line and slip away without being missed. He made his way to Switzerland, where he met a couple from California who invited him to visit them there. He soon found himself being driven by their chauffeur along Wilshire Boulevard, just as he had pictured.
When we are embroiled in our problems, the hardest thing in the world is to picture what we want instead of stewing over giving our attention to what we don't want, which we thereby attract more of. There's nothing supernatural about it. Mysticism is helpful, but optional. What is not optional is the self-discipline necessary to back up our imagination with the willpower to commit to and stay focused on what we want while taking whatever steps we are able to take to reach it. Those steps may include additional learning, in or out of school, with perhaps some research in the local library or seeking out a knowledgeable person to talk with. They may involve rethinking our attitudes and opinions about someone or something. They may involve breaking old habits, old patterns of doing things, and replacing them with new patterns. In any event, they mean change, and change is strange; otherwise, it would not be change. We have to be willing to put up with that strange feeling.
When problems have us discouraged, reading an inspirational book can help us raise our consciousness. New Thought literature runs the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous, so you need to choose what meets your needs. The words and actions of Jesus are our best role model, and symbolic interpretation of the Bible can make it relevant and meaningful for you. People have always had to scramble for a living, wrestle with health challenges, and struggle with relationships until they develop prosperity
consciousness, a habitually uplifted state of mind. You feel stressed? Read about St. Paul's shipwreck, or Daniel in the lions' den, as discussed by Emmet Fox. Now there's a stressful situation. Still, as Robert Schuller says, "Tough times never last, but tough people do." Old Daniel made out all right, as did Queen Esther in another Old Testament story involving even more stress than going to the boss to ask for a raise.
Robert Ringer, author of the much-misunderstood book, Winning Through Intimidation, has a Theory of Sustenance of a Positive Attitude Through the Assumption of a Negative Result. This means preparing for long-term success by being prepared for short-term failure. Ringer points out that this only works if you are really prepared mentally to succeed and not merely seeking excuses for failure. You're only a failure if you say you are; otherwise, you just haven't succeeded yet. How many times did Edison fail to invent the light bulb before he finally succeeded? It was somewhere in the thousands of times. Control theory has a saying, "There is no failure, only feedback."
Charles Fillmore employed this non-negative thinking when the sheriff came to repossess the printing press on which Fillmore had been unable to make payments. He said calmly to the sheriff, "I have a rich Father who is taking care of this." "Oh," said the sheriff, "in that case, we will give you a little more time." And of course, Fillmore's heavenly Father did come through, first with ideas, and eventually with lavish abundance, monetary and otherwise.
The self-disciplined, God-centered mind looks for the good in the midst of trouble, and is therefore prepared to act when opportunity presents itself. You may not be able to prevent negative thoughts from coming into your mind, but you don't have to dwell on them. Emmet Fox likens them to a hot ash lighting on your sleeve. You can let it burn a hole or simply brush it off, and you certainly don't have to express negative thoughts aloud. It is literally true that words have power, and your brain hears what your mouth says. If you have to listen to yourself, you don't want to go around steeped in negativity; it's unhealthful. Remember the little prayer that goes, "Lord, help me make sure that my words are sweet and pleasant, for tomorrow I may have to eat them."
Even deep grief or catastrophe can be better dealt with by striving for an uplifted consciousness: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help" (Psalm 121). We can also pray to be shown the good in any situation. This is especially helpful when no good at all seems apparent.
The disciplined mind is also disciplined in its dealings with others. Three of Covey's Seven Habits (see Chapter 7) deal with interpersonal relationships: Think win/win; Seek first to understand, then to be understood; and Synergize. If we are all part of one good God, then there is good in each of us, even if it seems to be particularly well hidden in some. The most obnoxious or troublesome people in our lives are there to teach us something. When you have learned your lesson, you will find that either they change or they disappear from your life. You need to love them (remember, love means to wish someone well. Well in some cases might mean a brain transplant). We don't always know what is best for someone else.
Specific Techniques: New Thought is founded on the premise that we create our world with our thoughts (Process New Thought would say through our responses to God's initiatives in our lives, for those responses are largely experienced as thoughts). The only behaviors and thoughts are behaviors that we can change are our own. Changing our own thoughts changes at least slightly the background from which we and everything else emerge. Consequently, changing our thoughts really does change everything.
Specific thought-changing techniques include, in addition to Spiritual Mind Treatment and the Golden Key [Emmet Fox's name for moving attention from a problem to the presence of God in its place], any form of meditation along with visualization. Changing what you are doing with your body also helps you change your thoughts, especially when you go from inactivity to activity (overcomes depression), or from running about to rest (calms you down).
Changing our thoughts and keeping them changed requires the self-discipline of habitual practice of whatever techniques we select. This means that at least once a day and preferably oftener, we take the time to "sit in the silence," as Charles Fillmore put it, and become aware of God everywhere present. We can meditate, visualize, pray in conventional fashion, or walk in beautiful, natural surroundings. But whatever we do, we get our thoughts off of our problems and onto God. Emmet Fox's technique called the Golden Key was simply that: stop thinking about the problem, and instead, mentally rehearse everything you know about God.
Science of Mind (Religious Science) founder Ernest Holmes developed a similar technique that he called Spiritual Mind Treatment. You can use it for yourself or others (with their permission) to get a new car, a job, a mate, a healing, insight, or whatever else you desire. There are several variations, but these are basic steps: a) focus your attention on God, b) feel your oneness with him/her, c) state your desired outcome as if it had already occurred (sometimes called "speaking your word"), d) give thanks that it is accomplished, and e) release any further thought or worry about the thing you are treating for until time for your next treatment (let go and let God). Jesus regularly gave thanks in advance for his miracles. The key element to this type of praying prayer’s faith/conviction as “It is done unto as we believe”, said Jesus.
These steps are not different from the praying practices of other forms of New Thought but are methodically stated:
1. Recognition of God's existence.
2. Unification of yourself with God (a meditative practice ideally producing something at least approaching mystical experience).
3. Realization (making real, calling into actuality what you desire, accepting, affirming, choosing your good, truth telling, firmly and confidently "speaking your word," always in the present tense, as if already accomplished).
4. Thanksgiving (gratitude).
5. Release (letting go, allowing God to work without your supervision, not pulling up the seeds that you have just planted, to see whether they have sprouted yet).
There are many ways to give a metaphysical treatment for healing, but there is only one purpose behind any treatment, which is to change the consciousness of the person giving the treatment. This done either by "argument" or by "realization", but the effect is the same. We usually give a treatment by stating, in various ways, the Truth involved, until we finally realize that this Truth is now established, and we can "let go and let God", knowing the work is done.
Some students prefer just to see and feel and know God's perfect Presence at, in, and as the person, place or thing treated. This kind of work is a silent "realization," rather than a use of statements or words.
But whatever the method of treatment, what happens is that our own consciousness is changed: where we saw a problem, we now see Truth established .
Once into a calm, centered, uplifted state of consciousness, we can become aware of our mission in life, the fulfillment of which will bring us the greatest happiness. We can set goals and make plans to carry them out, guided by divine Wisdom. Emmet Fox defines Wisdom as a blend of Love and Intelligence, one of which without the other can get us into difficulties.
The practice of the presence of God for practical purposes empowers us. It teaches us that we are God individualized at the point where we are, all the love and power and abundance of God. We are not victims or worms of the dust or sinners, unless we say we are. We are co-creators with God, and our mission is to glorify God ("Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of my brethren, ye have done it unto me" Matthew 25:40) by serving each other in ways suited to our particular talents and desires, which are God's perfect possibilities for us. To do this is to follow our bliss, to live in peace, harmony, joy, and abundance. Jesus said, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over" (Luke 6:38). To live this way is to be well; illness results when we are unhappy and out of balance, at odds with other people, or not making good use of our talents. Fear limits us; love empowers us. We are empowered when we change our thoughts and keep them changed, away from fear and separation and onto love and oneness. That can transform our lives: "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). We'll let Jesus have the last word: "Fear not, little flock: for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32)
Inspirational Metaphysical Affirmations
When William James wrote his chapter on mind-cure--mostly New Thought--in his classic study, The Varieties of Religious Experience, he appropriately titled the chapter "The Religion of Healthy-Mindedness." In it he guards against the view that "the happiness which a religious belief affords [is] a proof of its truth." But he takes note of "persons in every age, passionately flinging themselves upon their sense of the goodness of life, in spite of the hardships of their own condition, and in spite of the sinister theologies into which they may be born." James hopes that we all have some friend . . . whose soul is of this sky-blue tint, whose affinities rather with flowers and birds and all enhancing innocence than with dark human passions, who can think no ill of man or God, and in whom religious gladness, being in possession from the outset, needs no deliverance from any antecedent burden.
Although the religion of healthy-mindedness may be "a deliberately optimistic scheme of life," much of it is spontaneous, and this may be found in its literature, some of which James found "so moon-struck with optimism and so vaguely expressed that an academically trained intellect finds it almost impossible to read it at all." But this may be at least partly because of the essentially mystical quality of many of New Thought's utterances. As James is famous for observing, one of the marks of mystical experience is its ineffability: "it defies expression, . . . no adequate reports of its contents can be given in words." However any of this may be, it seems appropriate for us to conclude this book with some possibly moon-struck lines expressive of both the experiences underlying New Thought and consistent with the best attempts of philosophy to express the inexpressible.
These lines implement the teachings of this book, put into terms that one can use as jumping-off points for meditation, for conveying truths that have roots deeper than any philosophy can state. These truths must be felt as well as understood.
I am love. I am the great Givingness of God (or all reality) centered in myself. I am the awareness of generosity flowing forth to everyone and everything everywhere. I am the abundance of God bursting forth unreservedly in my life and in all those with whom I have any contact (and in some degree that is everyone and everything).I am a process through whom God enriches the universe.
I am joy. I am the bubbling, laughing, smiling, charming spirit of all reality, coming forth through my awareness. I am God's playmate, a small but indispensable source of God's joy, God's satisfaction. Even when I may not feel that I am a source of joy to myself, I have some awareness that my often stumbling growth is a source of satisfaction to God, even as a child's first efforts at walking are occasions for joy to the parent, who knows that great strides are in the offing.
I am God's unique project. I am the bursting forth of goodness, of strength, of beauty, of humor, of cussedness, of ordinariness, of almost angelic balance, of splendid uniqueness. I am an opportunity for God to accomplish something marvelous as me. I let God do it! I join wholeheartedly in the divine adventure of making something splendid that never has been before in the whole history of humanity. I hardly can wait to see what God and I shall make! I'm ready, God; let's go! You lead the way and I'll do my best to embody you in the fullness of beautiful accomplishment. I'll not waste time regretting that I didn't join in the fun more fully long ago. I let that past be past, as I relish the present, in which we happily co-create.
I am abundance. I am the richness of the universe centered in myself, radiating forth to everyone. I am the security that only awareness of unity with God can give. I am that which cannot fade, that cannot disappear, that is ever new and abundant. I am the certainty of divine assurance, the confidence of perfect power, perfect repose.
I am co-creator of my life. Never do I go it alone. Never do I lack guidance. Never am I without perfect companionship divine and, in whatever degree I choose it human. I have never created on my own; it has always been in cooperation with God, who gave the perfect ideas, the perfect possibilities even when I didn't listen. But now I KNOW; now I am open and aware that God and I work together; that neither God nor I can make this little bit of reality centered around me, without the contribution of the other.
I am perfect peace. I am so unshakably confident of the presence of the God who is perfect love that I have no fear, no trembling, no uncertainty that could undermine my confidence. I am perfectly at ease. I know that I have given my life to God for perfect divine guidance and for uncritical acceptance. I allow the alchemy of love to work its wondrous way in my life. I give up all striving on my own, now that I know that God and I are partners, I the junior, happily cooperating with my Senior Partner.
I am endless enthusiasm. I enthusiastically accept God's magnificent gift of fresh ideas every moment. I know that the whole universe is present to me and providing all that I ever could need or want, in the context of God's guidance. I am eager to see what loving gift God will give me this moment and every one after it.
I am thankfulness unimaginable. I am so grateful for God that I could shout, and in my own quiet or boisterous, outrageous way I do! I let my life shout my appreciation of God. I don't need to talk about it, and I'm wise enough not to, except when people in words or their other ways make it clear that they'd like to get more consciously into the divine act. Then I tell them what I can, but mostly I invite them to turn within and discover the glory that they have been hiding and maybe denying for decades. As they grow, we grow together in the company of the smiling ones who blossom forth in common joy, yet unique in each expression of it.
I am free choice. I realize that the essence of my life is freedom of choice. I am not poured into anyone's mold. I am not determined by the past. I am free to choose from the alternatives provided by the pattern of the past and by the perfect possibilities, the enlightened ideas, that God offers to me.
I am perfect paradox. I am the silence that hollers. I am the stillness that dances. I am the beginning that is the end. I am the newness that is ancient. I am the here that is everywhere. I am eloquence without words. I am human that is divine. I am the divine that is garbage. I am the trees that walk. I am the impossible possibilities. I am something so great that it is nothing. I am so fully that I scarcely care whether I am at all. I know without knowing. I weep with neither sadness not apparent joy. I am I AM, yet ever i.
I am born anew. Not born again, for I have never been before. Yet I contain the ages. All wisdom is mine. But I know nothing other than the freshness of original birth. I have all that I could ever want, even when I forget it. Then I am new again in another first birth.
I am me. I note my immediate surroundings, and they are not-me. I become aware of my body, and I allow it to relax. I become aware of my thoughts, and I allow them to slow, and then cease. I become still, and centered, waiting in the silence. I begin to expand. I become aware that I am one with the entire space I occupy. I expand still further, until I include the town, the state, and the continent. I feel the oceans beating on my shores, the mountains rising in my midst, the sky overhead. I continue to expand, until I include the planet, light on one side, dark on the other. I am the solar system, the galaxy, the universe. I am one. The Love that made me, is me, as me. Somehow, everything is as it should be. Disasters, wars, cruelty, waste, disappointment, loss, are all part of the same Whole as beauty, love, peace. Chaos resolves into higher order. The divine plan continues steadily, resolutely, dependably. The darkness drops away, and all that remains is light and love. All is well.
The Optimist Creed
Promise Yourself -
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature you meet.
To give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud word, but in great deeds.
To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.