Unity History & Philosophy
Unity was founded in 1889 by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, a couple who lived in Kansas City, Missouri. Both of them had physical challenges. Myrtle had a tubercular condition and had been given only a short time to live, and Charles was in constant pain with a withered leg caused by a childhood accident and inadequate medical treatment. After a great deal of prayer, spiritual research, and study of the religions of the world, they formulated a philosophy based upon spiritual principles as taught by Jesus Christ. They practiced these principles and found that they worked; their lives were changed both physically and spiritually. Others inquired about these principles, applied them to their lives, and they, too, were helped. From a small prayer group meeting in the Fillmore's home during the late 1880s, a movement began that has encircled the globe.
The Fillmore's believed Jesus taught the presence of God in every person and that God's will for mankind is good. They believed that, as children of God, we are heirs to all that God is and that through prayer and meditation each of us can find God in our own way, at our own pace.
Through the practical application of universal spiritual principles, Unity has helped people around the world to live happier, healthier, and more productive lives. Unity is a way of life with no strict dogma or creed.
Unity is non-denominational and welcomes all people. It emphasizes the divine potential within everyone and seeks to help each person realize and express his or her divine potential for a more fulfilling and successful life.
In recent years, Unity has become more "Interfaith" in its expression, discovering and exploring the many ways in which the religions and cultures of the world have taught and practiced the universal principles embraced by Unity.
Unity's Distinctive Characteristics
Unity people are invited to study according to their own needs and desires and to participate as they wish in the many services, classes, workshops, and activities at Unity of Tacoma. Our organization is funded by love offerings.
There is a freedom in Unity that allows the 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 have fixed creeds or to impose limiting beliefs. Each individual is encouraged to apply Unity's teachings in determining personal responses to social, political, medical, and economic issues and concerns.
Unity sees worship as serving God by uplifting and glorifying God's Spirit in humankind in positive, joyous ways. Unity welcomes people of all races, colors, sexual orientation, religious, social background, and economic levels in dignity and love.
Unity of Tacoma is dedicated to teaching and practicing the universal principles of Truth as taught and demonstrated by many spiritual masters, including Jesus Christ. Our celebration services and activities are designed to help people understand, know, and experience oneness with God.
The Basic Ideas That Make Up the Unity Belief System
(Adapted from The Quest: A Journey of Spiritual Rediscovery)
First: We believe that there is only one Presence and one Power in this universe--God, the good. This truth is at the very heart of Unity. There is only one Presence. There is only God. Therefore, God is omnipresent. This universal presence is an aspect of God. Since God is all, there can be nothing outside of God. There can be no place where God is not. Everything is part of God. Therefore, God is more than omnipresent; God is Omnipresence! "There is only one presence and one power active in the universe and in my life, God the good, omnipotent."
- You can only know the God of your own experience.
- Knowing God is a very simple and natural experience.
- There is only one Presence and one Power: God, and God is good.
- God is Omnipresence, Omnipotence, and Omniscience.
- We don't make divine order happen. It is already established in our lives.
Second: Human beings have a spark of divinity within them. Their very essence is of God, and, therefore, they also are inherently good. Thus, God is individualized in each person and in the universe.
- As a wave is part of the ocean, you are part of God.
- You have been created to be the hands, the feet, the voice, the eyes, the ears, and the heart of God.
- You are spirit (the divine part of you), soul (mental and emotional you), and body (physical you).
- Your spirit (your divine nature) is your true identity.
- The soul is where you do the work, where you make the changes.
- The soul is pivotal and can look within as well as without.
- The conditions of your life mirror the condition of your soul.
Third: Human beings create their experiences by the activity of their thinking. Everything in the manifest realm has its beginning in thought. God operates in the universe according to this law of mind action: "Thoughts and feelings held in consciousness produce after their kind in consciousness," and we act and interact with the world
- Everything begins with an idea.
- Your thoughts are the blueprint for your life.
- Change your thoughts and you will change your perspective on the world, seeing divine possibilities where none seemed to exist.
- Through the power of your thoughts, words, and actions, you are constantly co-creating your life.
- You have absolute control over your reactions.
Fourth: Prayer is creative thinking that heightens the connection with God-Mind and, therefore, brings forth wisdom, healing, prosperity, and everything good. Prayer is talking to God. Meditation (the silence) is listening to God.
- Times of prayer provide you with sustenance and renewed strength.
- The reason for praying is more important than the method.
- Your whole life is a prayer, and life-prayers are always answered.
- Having your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions all "in sync" is your strongest prayer.
- The highest use of prayer is the announcing of your intention to open yourself to God's will.
- Prayer is a way to express your thanks for past, present, and future blessings.
- Prayer is not to change God. It is to change you.
- In meditation, in the silence, you meet God and you listen to God.
- In the stillness, you move beyond the intellect into the realm of spiritual knowing.
Fifth: Knowing and understanding the laws of life, also called Truth, are not enough. A person must also live the truth that he or she knows. We must walk the talk using the spiritual tools of release and affirmation during daily prayer and meditation.
- God can work best when you show your willingness by moving into action.
- Truth teachings must be applied to every situation in your everyday life.
- A desire without a deed is a dead end.
- Once you receive your guidance, it is time to move into action. Spirit will show you the path, but you must walk that path.
The Place of the Bible in Unity
Unity began as a Christian organization, and the Bible has been Unity's basic textbook. It is accepted as a body of historical significance, a moral and ethical teaching, and 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 evolution of human consciousness. Through the study of Unity, the Bible is made more meaningful to individuals as a helpful guide in their lives. We believe that the Bible reveals the spirit of Truth and the word of God. Our final authority is the Holy Spirit working through us.
- Metaphysical lessons lie camouflaged in the characters, events, and symbols of the Bible.
- Beneath the obvious lesson there is always the hidden meaning for you, personally.
- The Bible is the story of your own spiritual evolution and growth.
Unity Teachings 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 but whenever we turn our thoughts (repent) from fear, anxiety, worry, and doubt to thoughts of love, harmony, joy, and peace. The "fall of man" 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.
- Sin (self imposed nonsense) is error thought caused by our separation from God in consciousness.
- Heaven and hell are states of mind.
- The kingdom of heaven is within you.
- You create your own heaven or hell.
- The anguish of a personal hell can serve to strengthen you if you will let it.
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; a mental and spiritual process takes place within the individual consciousness. Spiritual communion takes place through prayer, and Unity practices communion by appropriating, or partaking of the spoken word.
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.
What is the significance of the Crucifixion?
Unity teaches that the cross symbolizes the crossing out of all false beliefs. Here again, the emphasis is on life and living through resurrection by claiming our oneness with God. Jesus died and resurrected to demonstrate the triumph of spirit over body.
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--the process through which all manifestation takes place.