The Power of Silence

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It seems counter-intuitive to associate power with silence, especially when we acknowledge that it is the squeaking wheel that usually gets the grease. In the world of circumstance, there are times when squeaking is called for. The development of our spiritual awareness, however, is done in silence. “Be still and know that I am God,” (Psalms 46:10) is a powerful acknowledgement of this truth from the Psalmist.

From this perspective, the only way to know God firsthand is through our intuitive faculty. This Creative Life Force that is the source of our being is always present, but works in silence as a hidden, ever-sustaining fountain of living energy. The intellect can grasp the logic that this is so but it is the intuitive faculty that makes it tangible. The intellect throws many hurdles in our way, mental images of God that distract us from direct knowing. Coming to experience and know God requires discipline and a commitment to moving into a deeper, more satisfying relationship with our Creator/Sustainer.

Find a time when you will not be disturbed, a time dedicated to seeking your experience with God. You may read some inspirational material to bring your purpose into focus. Start with short periods and let these naturally increase as you begin to see the benefits of this quiet time. Emilie Cady writes of the receptive attitude as the fowl bathing in the sun. There is no action on our part, just a receptive knowing that the living light that is God is rising into our awareness. We relax the body and keep the mind centered. If we have a favorite affirmation, we may find it helpful to quietly speak it when our thoughts drift. Never try to force anything.

Do not become discouraged if nothing seems to happen. Often the fruit of this exercise comes in unexpected moments. You may feel a deep sense of peace and joy sweep over you during the day. You may feel an unconditional love for life, or a deep feeling of compassion for another with no provocation. You are opening the intuitive door, and through this door the light of God will begin to shine in ways you are not looking for.

A Matter of Choice

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“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad” (Matthew 13:47-48).

For me it rings true that choice plays a major role in the quality our life takes on. Some will say, “No, it’s our thinking that influences our life.” Yes, this is true. But each thought we think is a choice. People and circumstances may influence our thought, but we have to agree to allow this to happen before it can.

I think this is the point Jesus is making with his parable of the dragnet. The fishermen catch a variety of fish then make the choice to keep what they want and discard the rest. Think of this as the principle involved in prayer. We release the energy of negativity and affirm what is true at the level of the absolute. A healing prayer: I now release the appearance that is illness is real and I fully embrace the truth that God is my unfailing source of wholeness. A prospering prayer: I now release this appearance of lack for I know God is my unfailing source of abundance.

By making such statements from a level of conviction, we are releasing the bad fish and keeping the good fish in the vessel of our mind. We are making a conscious choice to let God’s greater good unfold through us. Should we choose instead to let our thoughts be controlled by negative appearances, we are making a choice to keep fish we do not want.    

How we think of God, how we think of ourselves and how we envision our relationship to God sets our standard of choice. If we see God as the ever-present source of life, love, power and intelligence and we see ourselves as a complete expression of God in a relationship of oneness with God that cannot be broken, then our prayers are charged with a power that will move mountains.  

Paul suggested that we pray without ceasing. Jesus provided a mechanism that helps us become conscious of how we are praying. Do we really want the fish we’re keeping? This truly is a matter of choice.

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.