The Quintessence of Unity

Published on: February 17, 2016

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The Reverends Frank and Martha Giudici were effective and beloved Unity ministers and teachers. They taught at Unity School of Christianity for many years and they were my teachers when I was studying for ministry. Frank loved to teach the Bible and taught it as it should be taught, as great literature and universal stories. He understood metaphysical interpretation, biblical scholarship, and the importance of both. Yet it seems to me his real passion was for the stories, seeing in them a reflection of and balm for human experience. Martha was adept at identifying the essence of metaphysics and spiritual practice and gifted at clearly conveying that essence to her students.

Martha Giudici may have been the first to identify and teach five basic principles of Unity. At least, that’s what I’ve been told. I am fairly certain that the five principles were not a standard Unity teaching until sometime in the 1970s. Martha taught my ministerial class her version of the five principles, but I can’t recall if they were identical with current statements; I seem to recall there was one minor difference. Since I was in school over 35 years ago, my memory is a bit fuzzy on the details.

In any case, the idea that Unity has five basic principles was popularized by Connie Fillmore and her version was the basis of the Five Principles seen posted on Unity church bulletin boards and websites all over the world. Here is the version found on Unity World Headquarters at Unity Village’s website:

  • God is the source and creator of all. There is no other enduing power. God is good and present everywhere.
  • We are spiritual beings, created in God’s image. The spirit of God lives within each person; therefore, all people are inherently good.
  • We create our life experiences through our way of thinking.
  • There is power in affirmative prayer, which we believe increases our awareness of God.
  • Knowledge of these spiritual principles is not enough. We must live them.

Why are there five Basic Principles rather than 3 or 7 or 12 or 23? I suspect archetypal energy is involved. The number 5, as a geometric archetype, is associated with evolution, life and quintessence (the 5th essence). In Chinese metaphysics there are five basic elements or essences (earth, air, fire, water and metal) and likewise in Western metaphysics going back at least to Aristotle (earth, air, fire, water and ether). Religions have frequently identified five essential important ideas, e.g. in Pythagoreanism five symbolized the marriage of heaven and earth, in Judaism are the five books of the Torah, there are five pillars of Islam, in Sikhism five sacred objects, in Buddhism five meditations and five hindrances to meditation, five fundamentals of Fundamentalist Christianity, et al. Symbolically, from the five essences, teachings and life evolve.

Unity’s Five Basic Principles may have evolved from Charles Fillmore’s “statement of Truth” in Christian Healing (1909):

The Truth is, then:

That God is Principle, Law, Being, Mind, Spirit, All-Good, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, unchangeable, Creator, Father, Cause, and Source of all that is.

That God is individually formed in consciousness in each of us, and is known to us as “Father” when we recognize Him within us as our Creator, as our mind, as our life, as our very being.

That mind has ideas and that ideas have expression; that all manifestation in our world is the result of the ideas that we are holding in mind and are expressing.

That to bring forth or to manifest the harmony of Divine Mind, or the “kingdom of heaven,” all our ideas must be one with divine ideas, and must be expressed in the divine order of Divine Mind.

Note that the first three statements are similar in meaning to the first three “basic principles.” The fourth statement is very important, for it indicates the way to “heaven on earth.” If our world results from ideas that we are holding in mind, the question arises “What kind of ideas produce the best results?” Charles Fillmore’s answer: ideas that are one with “divine ideas,” the ideas of the All-Good Mind. Certainly the Fillmores emphasized affirmative prayer (the 4th principle) to unify with the divine ideas. Surely they would agree with the 5th principle of living the principles we know. Nevertheless, I do not know that, if pressed, Charles or Myrtle would have listed the five Basic Principles of Unity as we have them, or even would have been willing to limit the list to five.

What I do know is that there is more to Unity teachings than can be deduced from the five Basic Principles. Mr. Fillmore’s “4th Truth” about divine ideas is amplified in his 12 Powers teaching—those twelve ideas were his understanding of the divine ideas to hold in mind to manifest the “kingdom of heaven.” He firmly believed that Jesus Christ was the ultimate example, the “Way Shower” for attaining realization of our innate divinity. I am certain that to the Fillmores, following Jesus to Christ consciousness was an essential principle. For the Fillmores, regularly “sitting in the Silence” was an essential practice, and that practice is not implied by the words “affirmative prayer,” though it is still essential to Unity teachings on prayer. Mr Fillmore dedicated much time to metaphysical interpretation of the Bible, and I believe that metaphysical interpretation of the Bible is an essential characteristic of Unity’s teachings.

Finally, there is a “soul” of Unity, the consciousness that ultimately there is an underlying unity of all things. Consciousness of unity is as “quintessential” to the Unity movement as any basic principle we might attempt to state. This consciousness of Unity reveals to the awakened that since God is omnipresence, all the different religions ultimately flow from the same Pure Source, religion and science from that same Divine Mind, and all peoples are connected in the Divine Matrix of Love. Whatever Unity has evolved to and wherever it is unfolding, at its heart-center and source, it flows from the same One Infinite Source as all the vast and wonderful cosmos. In the Truth of the Divine Unity there is hope, assurance and peace for all people. As Frank Giudici used to say, while relating stories of Israel’s tribulations: “Don’t worry—God is coming!”

[author: James Gaither]

James Gaither
Rev James Gaither, ThD, is Director of Academic & Student Affairs, taught at Unity School for 20 years and ministered in New York City for 7½ years. He has written for Unity Magazine and authored The Essential Charles Fillmore and The Hidden Realm of God: The Historical Jesus and His Healing Philosophy.

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  • Rev. Karen Tudor

    Beautifully said, Jim! Thank you for bringing to mind the Giudicis and their influence on our movement and so many of us personally. And thank you for mentioning the importance of sitting in the Silence as part of our mystical tradition that brings the training of the mind into harmony and under the guidance of the Spirit in the wordlessness, thoughtlessness of Pure Being. Perhaps we need to find a way to incorporate that idea into the Quintessences in some way?

  • michael sheets

    Thanks Jim for the historical perspective, especially tying the 1909 writings of Charles to what Connie put forth in later years. I think she got it right when she said “knowledge of these principles is not enough. We must live them”. Sitting in the Silence is fine, but at the end of the day you have to “treat and move your feet”. Sounds like Practical Christianity was a good descriptor.

  • Rachel Simpson

    I am glad I cam across this article today. I am going to be speaking on the 5 principles for the next 5 weeks.

    I grew up in Unity, but the first time I heard the principles put together in the now familiar format was in 2004. All of the principles were familiar, I just hadn’t heard them together like that. Thanks for the background.