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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Back To Basics Redux

The beginning of a new year seems the perfect time to revisit some of our foundational teachings and recommit to practice them. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing my thoughts about these principles in this space as well as in my Sunday lessons at Unity Spiritual Center Denver.

As I was reviewing some of my past writings on the basics, I came across a post from 2014. Reading it helped to remind me of what is essential in our teachings. It also renewed my focus for the upcoming series. I have chosen to share it here in hopes that it will inspire and possibly help to reconnect you with some concepts that are important.


I hate to admit it, but sometimes I have a propensity to make things more complicated than they really are. One might think that I would have been fully aware of that before now, but apparently not. Only recently that I have begun to “connect the dots” and reduce all of that teaching and learning down to two basic concepts upon which the remainder of the teachings rest.

Those two concepts are: “There is One Power and One Presence,” the first of Unity’s Five Basic Principles and “Human beings experience life as an effect of consciousness,” the third basic principle restated in my own words. Everything else Unity teaches is
  • an effort to explain or define the first concept;
  • demonstrate how a consciousness which is fully aware of this concept experiences a life that is empowered, joyful and free;
  • encourage, inspire or instruct ways to transform one’s consciousness.
It truly is quite simple, and when I choose to view Unity philosophy from that perspective I see that I have been making it much more complicated than it really is. Also, I have a new understanding from which to learn and teach.

The concept of “One Power and One Presence” is an essential Truth principle: It is a core belief and a foundational axiom of Unity and the New Thought movement as a whole. In our effort to understand, we call the “One” by many names such as God, Divine Mind, Allness, Quantum Field, Pure Potentiality, as well as others. We also assign it attributes such as Wholeness, Abundance, Love, and the like. Of course, to describe the ineffable is, by definition, impossible.

The best understanding I have of the “One” is that it is the ground of being in which and from which all creation has life. It helps me to conceive of the “One” as that which is the potential for the ideal expression of perfection, and that which I may express and experience as order, harmony, beauty, love, life, and unity, and many others. Further, when my consciousness is filled with the awareness of the “One,” then the foregoing is all that I do experience in and as my life. And, since there is only One, each of us must be individuations of that One; therefore, Unity’s second basic principle is a given.

While I propose that it is quite simple, I acknowledge that the third principle is possibly the most confusing, confounding, misunderstood and misinterpreted of all the teachings. It is fraught with possibilities for us to beat ourselves down (it is impossible to beat ourselves up) with blame and criticism when we experience some event in our lives, such an illness or accident, that we judge as “bad” and then attempt to discover the thought we were holding that “created” it. We do ourselves and each other a grave disservice when we teach that we are individually responsible for each and every event that occurs in our lives.

Our consciousness is comprised not only of the conscious phase of mind, which is our current thoughts, beliefs and sensory awareness, but also includes the subconscious, which is the storehouse of impressions, beliefs and images from our past, as well as collective consciousness, which is the conscious and subconscious of all humanity. It seems clear that we are not individually responsible for the circumstances of our lives, yet the state of our individual consciousness impacts our circumstances and because our individual consciousness contributes to collective consciousness, we impact the circumstances of all creation.

It is also important to recognize that while our individual consciousness does not solely create the events and circumstances of our lives, it does determine our experience and interpretation of those events and circumstances. For example, if one experiences an illness or other physical body manifestation it does not mean that he or she created the condition solely through the projection of individual consciousness. However, the way in which he or she experiences the condition is solely the result of individual consciousness and can have a direct impact on future conditions.

When we allow awareness of the “One” which Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity, termed “Superconscious” to imbue our consciousness at every level, we will experience only the perfection of life. This does not mean that we will not have events in our lives that appear as illness or accidents. It also does not mean that we will not face circumstances that allow us the opportunity to question our belief in the ever-present expression of eternal life, beauty, order, or wholeness. It does, however, mean that from a consciousness filled with the awareness of the “One” we will see from the perspective of the “One” and we will be able to observe perfection, meaning without defect or flaw and lacking nothing, manifested in and through all.

This transformation of consciousness is facilitated by our conscious understanding of truth principles, and through our practice of prayer, meditation and contemplation and various other spiritual practices that we teach and promote, thus affirming Unity’s fourth basic principle which states that prayer helps us to consciously connect with the One and the fifth basic principles which states that it is not enough to know Truth, we must also practice it.

It really is very simple. There is only One: Each of us is that One, and when we know that Truth, we are free. Everything we teach is based on this Truth. And, everything we teach is intended to support a transformation of consciousness so that we may experience life from this awareness. Whew!  And to think I thought it was complicated.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Celebrating Epiphany

Some Christian traditions celebrate Epiphany on January 6 as the day when the Magi, or wise men as they are commonly known, arrived in Bethlehem to honor the birth of Jesus. The wise men came from a distant land and were most likely of the Zoroastrian tradition. Their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh were precious commodities and worthy of royalty. For many who view the story literally, the acknowledgement of the wise men from the East signified that Jesus was born as the savior for all the world, not just for Jews. Their recognition of Jesus as a newborn king represents the proclamation to the Gentiles, those not of Jewish heritage, that he, indeed, was the Son of God.

In Unity, we do not adhere to the traditional liturgical calendar; therefore, we do not ceremoniously celebrate Epiphany. We do, however, explore the deeper meaning that this aspect of the extant Christmas story holds for us as we evolve in our recognition, realization and revelation of our Christ nature and its innate gifts. As Unity cofounder, Charles Fillmore, said, in Unity we do not so much focus on the historical aspects of Jesus or the Christmas story, but on the metaphysical truths inherent in it, as well as in all Bible stories.

Metaphysically, the wise men traveling from a distant land and bringing gifts to the baby represent the powers of our spiritual self that may be hidden from us until we awaken to our Christ nature. They are then revealed to us and bless us with their gifts.

Metaphysically, gold represents the “richness of substance.” Substance is not the same as matter but is that which provides the foundation of all matter. Substance is the building block for the material universe. It is rich with all potential and possibility. It is the creative medium that responds to and forms itself in alignment with our thoughts and feelings. This is a foundational teaching of Unity which we often refer to as the “law of mind action.” We may also hear it expressed as, “thoughts held in mind produce after their kind,” or “what you think about comes about.”

When we embrace and embody our Christ nature, our thoughts and feelings come into alignment with the Truth of our being and our manifestations take on the qualities of the Divine. This is the distinction Charles Fillmore makes when he teaches that all thoughts/feelings are formative, but not all thoughts/feelings are creative. All thoughts/feelings form energy fields to which substance responds, and when our thoughts/feelings are in alignment and endowed with the energy of our Christ nature, they become creative, meaning that our manifestations are enduring.

Our fullest potential for creating a world, including our personal experience, that is in alignment with our Christ nature lies in our accepting, receiving and embodying the purity and potential of the “gold” inherent in the Christ of our being.

Metaphysically, myrrh represents the eternity of Spirit, and the anointing of love. In The Revealing Word, we read that ‘Spirit’ is -- “God as the moving force in the universe; Principle as the breath of life in all creation; the principle of life; creative intelligence and life.”

Spirit is revealed to us in the quiet of our hearts and minds. It is the source of all Divine Ideas to which we can and do attune in the Silence. When we open to and allow Spirit to inform our thoughts and affect our feeling nature, the energy of Spirit infuses our creative capacity. This energy acts upon substance and creates manifestations that are in alignment with a higher knowing and order. With this anointing of Love and our attention to and allowing of it, we participant in the Divine Plan of peace and plenty for all humanity.

Lastly, frankincense represents the transmutation of physical consciousness into spiritual. We teach in Unity that consciousness is pivotal. This means that because of the nature of freewill, we choose the direction of our conscious attention. We may choose to focus primarily on the physical or material world and strive to affect creation from that perspective. Alternately, we may choose to focus our attention on the activity of Spirit as us, listen for the still, small voice within, follow its leading and surrender to a will that is greater than that of our adverse-ego, or what might be called our false self.

In the Christmas story, this aspect of ourselves is represented by Herod who seeks to kill the newborn Jesus. While our adverse-ego, or false self, is not our enemy, it constitutes our habitual ways of limited thinking and reacting from physical consciousness, and it most often informs our actions. When the awareness of our Christ nature is awakened, it appears to be a threat to the presumed power of the false self because our habitual ways of being are challenged. This can often create internal conflict that we must face and resolve as we awaken and grow more fully into our Christed being, or true self.

Although it may happen for some, for most of us this transmutation does not occur instantaneously, but is a process that requires our practice, patience and presence. It requires that we make conscious choices moment-by-moment about where we place our attention.

Do we choose to allow the false self to rule or do we give power to the Christ within and follow its direction? Do we choose to continue to create our lives and our world from thoughts/feelings that are primarily influenced by the perspective of the false self, or do we allow our thoughts/feelings to be renewed by our conscious attention to the true self? Do we react from our conditioned mind, or do we respond from a renewed awareness of who we truly are?

As we celebrate these last few days of Christmastide and explore the significance of Epiphany for ourselves, I encourage us to contemplate the gifts of the Spirit within us which are represented in the story by the Magi and their gifts to the newborn Jesus. It is up to each of us to decide if we will receive the gifts, open to their power, and use them effectively.