February 16, 2017
Last week, I introduced a new blog series I am calling “Walking the Unity Talk.” In this second installment of the series, I explore Unity Principle #1, which states, “There is only One Power and One Presence in the Universe and in my life. God the Good, Omnipotent.” Specifically, we will take a look at what it means to really believe the truth implied by this principle, and explore what it might look like to fully live its truth in the world.
A Brief Reminder About Unity Principles
Before we dive into this week’s principle, I offer a brief general reminder about Unity Principles to keep in mind as we go through this series together. The first thing to remember about the “five principles” is there is no one, single “standard” articulation one is expected to memorize. Across the Unity movement, it seems there are almost as many different written forms of the “five principles” as there are Unity churches. For our purposes, alternative versions are unimportant. As Rev. Ellen Debenport says in her book, The Five Principles: A Practical Guide To Spirituality, “Don’t be distracted by the specific language. Pay attention to the essence of the teachings.”
It is also helpful to remember that the “five principles” were not even articulated until the late 1980s as Unity approached the centennial anniversary of its founding by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. The Fillmore’s great grand-daughter Connie Fillmore Bazzy first set down the five principles in specific form for the Unity spiritual movement. However, as Ellen Debenport points out, the five principles “reflect laws of the universe [that] apply to everyone, all the time.” Our work is to understand for ourselves the essence of spiritual truth implied by those principles, and to discern what that truth means in and for our lives.
UCOH’s Take On Unity Principle #1
As a way of illustrating specific differences in the presentation of Unity Principle #1, let’s compare the statements offered by Ellen Debenport in her book and the one Unity Church of the Hills [UCOH] uses. At UCOH, we state Unity Principle #1 as follows:
There is only One Power and One Presence in the Universe and in my life, God the Good, Omnipotent.
Depending how you count, there are three, maybe four, parts to this simple statement of principle. The first part acknowledges there is “only One Power and One Presence,” which implies there is no countervailing, oppositional power or presence active “in the Universe and in my life.” This second part places the “One Power and One Presence” everywhere in the Universe, including within my very own life. It is both eminent (within my own being) and transcendent (everywhere without).
The third (and fourth) part of UCOH’s statement of Unity Principle #1 names this “One Power and One Presence” as “God the Good” and further clarifies it as “Omnipotent,” or all powerful. Unity primarily sees “God” as truth principle, rather than a physical entity. As such, some followers of Unity maintain that “God” is not omnipotent, or “all powerful,” but rather “God” is Omnipotence, or all power. Regardless of this distinction, “God” is “the Good,” the principle of Good active in the “Universe and in my life.”
Connie Fillmore’s Take On Unity Principle #1
In Rev. Ellen Debenport’s book, she states Unity’s first principle closer to Connie Fillmore Bazzy’s original articulation as:
God is Absolute Good, everywhere present.
This is a more succinct statement, but also not quite as expansive or inclusive. This statement and UCOH’s version both see “God” as the principle of “Absolute Good;” however, this one makes no statement as to their being “only One Power.” It leaves room for a principle that could be “All Bad” or “All Evil.” Both statements describe this principle of God as the “Good” being “everywhere present,” so to speak. However, UCOH’s statement is, to my thinking, ultimately more powerful, because it affirms “only One Power and One Presence.” It does not leave room for the principle of an oppositional power or presence, only “God the Good.”
These are only two of the many different statements of Unity Principle #1 that you may encounter in Unity. Of these two statements, I believe UCOH’s to be a more complete and comprehensive statement of principle, primarily because it also more precisely implies there is no separation between me or you, and this “One Power and One Presence.”
The Father and I Are One
In John 10:30, Jesus plainly states there is no separation between Him and God (the Father) when he teaches: “The Father and I Are One.” Since Jesus reminds us elsewhere in His teachings that we too are just like Him, the Principle of Oneness with God also applies to us. You and I are also “one with God.” Since we are dealing with principle, this same truth is also true for everyone else. No one is separate from God in reality. We may, and often do, falsely believe otherwise for ourselves. Yet, it does not change the nature of truth principle one iota that I do not believe it. I am still one with God and always have been, regardless of what I believe. The same is true for you.
Living the truth of Unity Principle #1 means we must be willing to view all events in the world or in our own lives through the lens of “only One Power and One Presence” active everywhere for everyone. We must remind ourselves that this “Power and Presence,” which we call “God” is the principle of “the Good,” or “Absolute Good” active and everywhere present. The test we all have before us in living Unity Principle #1 is to know and to see the “power and presence” of this “Good” everywhere in all circumstances without exception.
Once we have established the truth of this principle in our consciousness, we allow it to transform all of our thoughts, words and actions. Seeing “only One Power and One Presence,” we live our lives in accordance with the truth that there is nothing or no one that can actually, in reality, oppose the power of God. From this perspective, there is no real spiritual need or cause to fear in our consciousness. Just because we may not yet be able to see the good in situations, where we believe there is no opportunity for good, does not mean good is not present. If you are ever in doubt about this, simply bring Unity Principle #1 to mind, then choose accordingly.