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Unity's Core Teachings

Every spiritual movement or religion tries to answer the great questions of human existence.  What are we?  Why do we exist?  How should we live?  Like most movements and religions, Unity builds on what has come before and then adds a different perspective.  Unlike more traditional denominations, it has no hard doctrine or dogma (that is, codified by religious authorities as incontrovertibly true) – but it does offer key principles and core teachings.

 

Unity calls itself “practical Christianity.” The goal is to apply what we believe in every circumstance of our daily lives.  To that end, Unity gives us a set of tools which will be discussed later in this blog.

 

Because it does not teach doctrine as typically understood, Unity can be confusing for inquisitive newcomers – especially those who come from a traditional religious background.  As well, different Unity churches approach its key teachings somewhat differently.  I myself took 15 years to explore, compare, and puzzle before I reached my own understanding and became certified as a teacher. Here are some core teachings that I learned early in my training.  While the terminology is changing somewhat as our understanding evolves, these key teachings still apply:

 

1. Heaven is not a place, but a state of consciousness.

2. We all have an innate capacity to know God (Spirit) directly.“The Christ” is that part of God (Spirit) that is in every person.

3. We are here to set a positive example.

4. We are here to make the world a better place.

5. Prayer works.

The point is to reach your own understanding, in whatever time it takes, using whatever tools are most useful.  Later in this blog, we will look briefly at Unity’s Five Principles and the Twelve Powers, as well as the key role of prayer and meditation.

 

-Mary Hanson

Licensed Unity Teacher (LUT), Unity Spiritual Center of Springfield

Unity's 5 Principles

We’ve discussed the basic Unity beliefs elsewhere on this blog (click here to read.)  Now, how do we apply them in our daily lives?  How do we make it practical?  The “how” of Unity is captured by five principles.   The specific wording continues to evolve, but in abbreviated form, they are:

 

  1. God is all.

  2. Therefore, I am God.

  3. I co-create with God through thought.

  4. I commune with God through prayer.

  5. I express God through action.

 

Perhaps the most powerful is #2:  “I am God.” This may seem shocking to those who come from traditional religious backgrounds.  However, notice that it follows naturally on Principle #1.  If all is God, and I am part of “all,” then I am also God!  For a long time, Unity referred to a “spark of divinity” and “heirs of God.” Our metaphysical understanding is evolving beyond those caveats.  Remember, we believe that God is within—not an external force that influences the course of events.  The emphasis here is on personal responsibility and action.  We co-create, commune and express.  (In that sense, the five principles comprise two beliefs followed by three applications of those beliefs.)

 

Perhaps the most sobering is #3:  I co-create with God through thought.  Charles Fillmore called this the Law of Mind Action, which means that thoughts held in mind produce after their kind. In other words, what we think increases in consciousness and shapes our experience of the world.  Once again, personal responsibility!

 

Reminder: If you find the word “God” to be a hurdle due to cultural connotations, then choose another term that works for you (as discussed at the beginning of this blog).  The point is to tap into the universal source in a positive and consistent manner.

 

Learn how to apply these principles in your daily life with this very readable little book, “The Five Principles: A Guide to Practical Spirituality” by Ellen Davenport, found on amazon.com.

 

-Mary Hanson

Licensed Unity Teacher (LUT), Unity Spiritual Center of Springfield

Unity's 12 Powers

Imagine being able to live life more fully, more consciously, more masterfully.

That is how the book “Power Up” begins, and then explains just how to do that using the twelve spiritual powers as outlined by Unity founder Charles Fillmore.  The twelve powers represent a central Unity teaching.  Each is represented by one of the twelve apostles. The point isn’t to memorize them but to understand how they are already at work in our lives—and choose to apply them more consciously.

Here’s a list of the powers, the apostle they represent, and a brief description:

  • Love (John) – attract, harmonize, unify

  • Faith (Peter) – deep inner knowing

  • Strength (Andrew) – endurance, steadfastness, stability, perseverance

  • Wisdom (James) – evaluate, discern, appraise

  • Power (Philip) – authority over our thoughts and feelings; master, control

  • Imagination (Bartholomew) – visualize, conceptualize, envision

  • Order (James) – balance, right sequence, organize, adjust

  • Understanding (Thomas) – perceive, comprehend

  • Will (Matthew) – choose, decide, command

  • Zeal (Simon) – enthusiasm, inspiration, motivation

  • Renunciation (Thaddeus) – letting go of the old to make place for the new

  • Life (Judas) – enliven, energize, vitalize; propels all forms to action

Find “Power Up:  The Twelve Powers Revisited” (by Paul Hasselbeck and Cher Holton) on amazon.com

 

-Mary Hanson

Licensed Unity Teacher (LUT), Unity Spiritual Center of Springfield

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