I have been on an exciting adventure for the past month or so—one I have shared with a few of you. One friend suggested I include a special quote for the readers who stop by Paula’s Corner. I’ll get to that in a moment…
About a month ago, I learned of a unique opportunity offered by Mark Hicks, a Licensed Unity Teacher, who created and manages a website called TruthUnity. Mark has devoted a lot of his energy to archiving documents from the New Thought world – mostly Unity but not exclusively. If you go to his website, you will find a lot of interesting information and writings from the turn of the century (the 20th century) when there was a lot of energy and excitement about New Thought ideas and philosophies. I happen to love the old writings, but admittedly one must have a high tolerance for the syntax of that era!
Mark went to Unity Village and perused some of their archival material. In conjunction with UWM, he photocopied old typewritten manuscripts of talks given by Charles Fillmore that have never before been published. He spent many hours on this project, and upon his return home, made an offer to some of his readers to volunteer to take the documents and put them into a Word document—something more current and easier to read. The same day I got the notice, I emailed him and signed on. Little did I know that I would, by the end of that day, feel as if I had won the lottery!
I worked with almost 20% of the transcripts offered up for a fresh transcribe. It has been a phenomenal learning experience. I have felt, at times, like I was reading into the mind of the great mystic, wisdom master, and sage, Charles Fillmore. A few things became clear to me: 1. He studied many philosophies while including them in his talks and writings. 2. He was, most likely, a devotee of Hermetic and Platonian philosophy, and much of the content of these philosophies found their way into New Thought as Unity portrayed it to the public, and 3. He mentioned nowhere that he intended to form a church, a new religion, or a cult. He was interested only in getting, to the masses, what he thought was valuable ancient wisdom that would help people live a meaningful and informed life.
One of the most exciting and new things I uncovered in the transcripts is the following quote from Charles about what he feels is the unique mission of Unity in the world:
The Unity movement is in sympathy with all spiritually awakened people and rejoices in their efforts to help the human family although we may not be led to take an active part in their propaganda. The Lord is working everywhere to raise the thoughts of men to higher things, and every movement that has this object is good and will receive the blessing of the most High. Each of us has a special work in the great onward trend of the race. The Lord has given Unity the Department of Individual Religious Training, and it is requiring all our time and efforts to meet the large demands made upon us. The harvest is ripe and the laborers seem to be few.
By divine appointment, according to Charles, Unity has been assigned the role of The Department of Individual Religious Training. This, to me, is very clear, and I really resonate with Charles and Myrtle’s mission. Other denominations within the broad of umbrella of the term, Christianity, can claim many noble purposes, but Unity’s is individual religious training. There are ways to interpret “religious training,” admittedly, but with the emphasis on individual, our mandate is to learn the wisdom of the masters, including Jesus, embody it (LIVE it!) and then teach it to those who might indicate a desire and a readiness to learn.
New Thought (which is really very ancient thought) includes many precepts which are difficult to understand, and after a lifetime studying New Thought, I can say that I feel that I am only now able to put it all together. I believe that when Unity became an organized denomination and a church that some of the emphasis on individual training got watered down. That being said, because Unity is an educational movement, it is clear that individuals interested in what Unity has to offer are obligated to a great deal of independent study and personal practice. One can attend services every Sunday and even occasionally take a class or workshop, but the commitment to master the deep and important precepts is what will take each of us to the next level of understanding and enlightenment, which is what Charles repeatedly emphasizes in his early writings!