Striking at the Root

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In his first publication, Modern Thought, Charles Fillmore pointed out that they would “… sympathize with reform movements of every kind, …  but it is not our province to become identified with them all, nor to give them a hearing in these columns.”

This position was maintained by the Unity Movement until recent times. Today, under the guise of spiritual social action, many leaders in Unity have taken a definitive turn toward social activism. As an institution devoted to teaching spiritual principles, Independent Unity will not follow this trend. Our sole purpose is to provide the teachings and environment that encourage the spiritual awakening of the individual.  

How is this different from advocating so-called spiritual social action, and why is it important to make such a distinction? Jesus advised rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. While he does not present this as an either/or proposition, he does make a clear distinction between social responsibilities and spiritual interests. And for good reason.

Social issues become politically charged because they center around the underlying question of how government should be used. Should government give the man a fish, for example, or should it encourage him to learn to fish? If we are to maintain a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” then this is indeed a very important question, but one that clearly falls under Caesar’s domain. Contrary to the belief of some, the study of spiritual principles—God’s domain—does not provide a definitive answer to this question. Here’s why.  

The principles involved in the spiritual awakening do not pertain to how the fish is acquired. Coming to know oneself at the soul level, that is, finding one’s spiritual center of power, involves spending time alone, in quiet, letting go of all external distractions. This process has absolutely nothing to do with attempting to strike a balance in real or perceived social inequalities.

A ministry focused on the spiritual awakening of the individual is not denying the social aspects or political concerns of the human experience. It is, in fact, representing the highest possible solution to social ills. Many so-called social-justice warriors have clearly lost their center of power. They need a cause, any cause, to feel whole. The moment they’re done marching for one, they jump on another. Thoreau recognized the type.

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve.”

The best leaders are those who have discovered their true spiritual center of power. These strike at the root by bringing the highest level of mental, emotional and spiritual sanity to any given issue. These are the ones that will find Independent Unity attractive.

Spiritual Independence

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independent: free from outside control; autonomous; not subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction.

The Independent aspect of our new name, Independent Unity, serves a two-fold purpose. First, it states our organizational status as an autonomous, nonprofit, Colorado corporation. On the personal level, the term reflects the type of independent thinking that makes the path of spiritual discovery our own. Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, co-founders of the Unity Movement, considered themselves eclectic, drawing from all teachings that encouraged the practice of universal spiritual principles. From these many sources, however, they drew their own conclusions. 

In his book, The Story of Unity, James Dillet Freeman describes Charles Fillmore’s independent attitude:

“He had an instinctive urge to seek out the meaning of life and he was the kind of person who had to find the meaning in his own soul. He had to find God for himself. Other persons might point the way, others might give him hints and clues, but he would have to test their ideas for himself and prove them in his own mind and his own life before they would have validity for him” (40).

We obviously benefit from the inspired words of others, but we make the most progress when we drink from that same well of inspiration that they point to.

Like Fillmore, we advance in understanding when we free our mind of dogmatic statements of faith that define the thinking of so many followers of mainstream religion. Independent Unity encourages individuals to adhere less to religious dogma and more to their own personal spiritual inquiry. 

The inclusion of Unity in our name is intended to assure members and friends that we retain our rich heritage that is rooted in Unity School of Practical Christianity, the Unity of our founders. As the Fillmore’e commissioned and adopted Dr. H. Emilie Cady’s Lessons in Truth as their basic text, so Independent Unity continues to draw from Cady’s work as an inspirational and instructional source. First published in 1894-1895 as a series of lessons, Cady’s writing style naturally reflects that of her era. This work, however, remains the gold standard for capturing the principles embodied in the Unity philosophy. The principles set forth are as timely today as ever.