What Is Unity?
Unity Church of Truth – 108 Years of Service in Toronto!
Our Unity church believes in the ‘paradigm of oneness’ and differentiates its teaching from other Christian churches who belief in a ‘paradigm of separation’.
What is a paradigm of oneness? Simply put, we believe that each individual has his/her direct relationship with God. We are all capable of the miraculous works of Jesus.
Please read what the Reverend j douglas bottorff has written about the paradigm of oneness below.
Much of the old paradigm of separation requires various ways of influencing God’s behavior and attitudes. The paradigm of oneness involves understanding and cooperating with God as the Creative Life Force that is unfolding through us. God is infinite Being whose characteristics are life, love, power and intelligence. God is omnipresent and accessible to all people at all times regardless of their beliefs or lack thereof. As we open ourselves to God as a living presence we find a warm and loving companionship, steady guidance, and inspiration that leads us to the establishment of inner and outer conditions that allow for unlimited expression of all that God is.
Our understanding of God plays a major role in the way we think of ourselves. The paradigm of separation causes us to live life trying to measure up to the expectations of God. Those living by this paradigm are vulnerable to control by guilt and shame and they seek to maintain a standard of behavior they assume will be pleasing to God. Those who do not adopt a religious or spiritual approach may still see themselves as incomplete and spend their lives seeking to address feelings of incompleteness by stockpiling things, positions and relationships they hope will give them the sense of completeness they crave.
Shifting to the paradigm of oneness we begin to see ourselves as spiritually whole, expressions of the Creative Life Force, and we have simply forgotten who and what we are. Our focus turns from outer to inner directed, an approach that holds as key the process of self-discovery. We begin to grasp that our desire for wholeness and abundance of all good is really an intuitive message rising from our inner depths, the voice of our native soul.
Understanding the Relationship between God and the Individual
There is a widespread perception among religious advocates that humanity is living in a fallen state that began with Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God. According to this perception the consequence of this “sin” is the condition of separation, illustrated by the first couple being cast from the Garden of Eden. This assumed separation is a powerful belief that is reflected throughout all aspects of religious architecture, art, music and the commonly held theology of sin and salvation embraced as a defining element by most mainline Christian sects.
The new paradigm of oneness begins with the recognition of unity between God and the individual. Understanding this unity puts us in the position of having already received the life, love, power and intelligence of God. Our acceptance of this truth allows us to begin now to express more of these divine gifts as healthier minds, bodies and more prosperous conditions without fear that we need to first earn the approval of God. As expressions of God, the question of approval becomes a moot point.
Because so many people have been influenced by the old belief that we are separate from God, this chapter will address the challenges associated with transitioning from a separation-based faith to a oneness-based understanding. This chapter will help the reader discern the difference and make them aware of the times they are attempting to put new wine into old wine skins, of seeking to apply principles of unity while inadvertently holding the old belief in separation.
Meditation & Prayer
From the point of view of the paradigm of separation, prayer is seen as the means of contacting or influencing God, usually in a pleading manner. The good God has for the one praying is also separate, doled out or withheld at the discretion of God. Meditation , if practiced at all, is thought of as the consideration of something like a passage of scripture, usually with the intention of understanding the message God is seeking to impart to the believer.
From the paradigm of oneness, meditation plays a vital role, as it is the practice of stilling the senses and opening the intuitive portal directly to the presence of God. This communion can be achieved by all, for oneness with the Creative Life Force is an inalterable condition. Prayer is the process of aligning one’s thought and feeling with what is true at the spiritual level. We do not pray for healing, for example, as if health is a commodity that God has to give us. The prayer for healing is the process of aligning our mind with the truth of our wholeness at the spiritual level. In meditation we experience this wholeness. The healing prayer is the affirmative alignment of our mind with the truth of Being.
The paradigm of separation causes one to place a great deal of emphasis on morality and sin. Moral thoughts and actions are pleasing to God, immoral thoughts and actions are not, with the discerning factor of what is moral and immoral being derived from select scriptures. The emphasis is placed on conscience rather than consciousness.
The paradigm of oneness understands consciousness as the sum of our beliefs. The character of our beliefs affects the way the Creative Life Force expresses through us.
In metaphysical literature the soul is often depicted as evolving. The paradigm of oneness takes the position that it is not the soul but the consciousness, whose nucleus is the trinity of core values, that is evolving. The paradigm of oneness sees the soul as complete. The experience of God as an all-encompassing, all-sustaining presence, the acceptance of the truth of our wholeness, and the acceptance of our unity with God stimulates a basis of understanding that builds a system of consciousness that is in harmony with Truth. The inner awakening prompts a natural morality in thought and behavior. These moral standards are governed by the individual’s awareness of what is and what is not in alignment with the truth of Being.
Because consciousness provides the foundation for our external conditions, we see in this evolution of understanding a natural improvement in all that concerns us. Added to the principle that consciousness precedes demonstration is the understanding that the trinity of core values precedes consciousness.
The paradigm of separation sees the person of Jesus as the exclusive means by which the believer is united with God. There can be no doubt that many of the New Testament writers presented Jesus in this light. The question of whether or not Jesus thought of himself in this way is another issue entirely. The paradigm we hold, whether it is one of separation or oneness, determines how we view the role and the teachings of Jesus. There are a sufficient number of scriptural passages to support either approach. The reason for this mixed message is simple: we do not have a gospel according to Jesus. We, therefore, do not know who Jesus was and we do not actually know what he accomplished. We know only how the Gospel writers and people like Paul wanted their readership to think of him.
However, the meaning of Jesus is not to be surmised from the scriptural accounts but from our trinity of core values, the paradigm of oneness. The deeper we delve into our own spirituality, the more we recognize which of those sayings attributed to Jesus are relevant to our own spiritual awakening. Viewing Jesus from the paradigm of oneness we can see him as one who lived with a perpetual awareness of his own divinity and encouraged others to awaken to theirs as well. His message of new wine skins for the new wine was an admonition to shift from an outer to inner orientation, from practicing the letter of the law to an experience of the spirit of the law.
From the paradigm of separation, we view Jesus as the theology of separation dictates. From the paradigm of oneness we view Jesus from the core value of unity with God. From this point of view we see him as one who understood and demonstrated the ultimate awareness we seek in our own experience.
From the paradigm of separation the Bible is seen as the word of God, God’s means of communicating with people. Shifting to the paradigm of oneness, this view quickly changes. The Bible is not to be thought of as God’s communication to humanity but as an expression of each writer’s understanding of God, the world, and their place in it.
The scriptures that mean most to us are those that support our trinity of core values.
Those who embrace the Bible as the literal word of God make the assumption that these scriptures put forth a uniform view of God, the individual, and the individual’s relationship to God. One can quickly see, however, that the paradigm of separation and the paradigm of oneness are both clearly represented, an indication that individual contributors did not share a uniform understanding in these areas.
Conversely, those who believe that the Bible is a kind of metaphysical treatise, a written record of the soul’s evolution, are reading into this body of work a perspective that is not supported by Biblical scholarship and would not likely have been embraced by any of the original authors who had no idea their works would wind up in such a collection.
The determining factor for what we draw from the Bible is that which supports our own set of core values. A particular scripture stands out because it reflects and supports our understanding of God, ourselves and our relationship to God. A reader who is in the habit of highlighting meaningful scriptural passages will discover, in reviewing their highlights, that these passages are meaningful because they resonate with their trinity of core values.
Broadly speaking, traditional Christian sects hold at their core the paradigm of separation. Christian-based New Thought religions hold at their core the paradigm of oneness. While there are many points at which these two distinct streams of thought may touch, perhaps even agree, their starting point, their trinity of core values is in complete opposition, a fact that, when understood, makes it easier to agree to disagree.
The parable of the prodigal son provides an excellent model for religious thinking. The young son represents the wayward sinner. The elder son represents the mindset that seeks strict compliance with religious rules. The father extends his love and compassion to both. He goes out to greet his wayward son and he goes out to console the elder son who refuses to join the celebration of his brother’s homecoming. God as love transcends our mistakes and our attempts at winning God’s favor by doing good.
Each person must establish or clarify their own personal religion beginning with a clear statement of their understanding of the nature of God, themselves, and their relationship to God. Each needs to consider how this trinity of core values works in their understanding of prayer, of prosperity and healing, and of all the important aspects of their lives.
The Soul’s Journey
The paradigm of separation sees the soul on a journey from birth to death and culminating in an afterlife either in Heaven or Hell.
The paradigm of oneness allows for the soul to experience multiple incarnations for any and all purposes the individual sees fit. The universal goal of each person is the experience of absolute freedom. Our intense desire for this state of freedom is a response to the fact that, at the deepest level of our being our native soul is already free.
The common belief that we choose various incarnations so we may learn and grow comes into question when we see that a material environment is not required to awaken to the deeper levels of our being. To the contrary, we achieve spiritual understanding by periods of closing the senses to the material realm and opening the mind to our spiritual center.
The controls of the incarnation process are at the disposal of each individual. Why we choose to incarnate is a question only we can answer.
(Written by The Reverend J. Douglas Bottorff Independent Unity Minister)
Q: You’ve become involved with a lot of Unity ministers over the years, and over the last four years in particular. You’ve noticed there is a wide range of understanding of what Unity is and is not. Is there any way to find a common ground, a common starting point in our teachings that most, if not all can agree on?
A: I would start answering this question by explaining how not to do this. Each minister and licensed teacher goes to their personal library, pulls down the Fillmores, the Cadys, the Shanklin’s, the Turner’s, the Butterworths. We open our books and share the highlights we’ve made. We combine these into an anthology, sort it into categories, and present it as the essence of Unity. This would no doubt be a powerful document. But would it represent a comprehensive presentation of Unity, or would it be a design-by-committee aardvark of a beast that would state our opinions but fail to capture a coherent presentation of Unity’s essence?
While we probably could not reach a solid agreement as to which of our writings best represent Unity thinking, I believe there is a point from which we can begin in total agreement. This single point is really three points, a trinity of ideas that influence our thinking, our logic in all other areas of life.
Unity’s 3 Basic Points:
1. Our view of God.
2. Our view of the individual.
3. Our view of the relationship between God and the individual.
1. Our view of God can be summarized in our foundation statement: There is only one presence and one power in the universe, God the good, omnipotent. Though there are variations on this statement, the idea that God the good is the only power at work.
2. Our view of the individual is that God the good is individualized as the central core of every person’s being. All the elements that God is are focalized as the essence of the individual.
3. Our view of the relationship between God and the individual is that of unity, oneness. There is no place where God leaves off and the individual begins.
These three elements determine how and why we view Jesus in the way we do. They totally influence the way we approach prayer and meditation. They provide the rationale behind our approach to healing. They are the foundation that governs our understanding of prosperity. In fact, every single concept we teach has as its basis of logic our understanding of these three elements. Those who wish to know why Unity takes its particular approach on any given subject will understand why once they have this key.
Ask the same three questions of any religion and you will have an understanding of their entire theology. I was raised in traditional Christian thinking, for example. God was seen as an anthropomorphic, all powerful, old man in the sky. The individual was seen as born in sin and in need of salvation. The relationship between God and the individual was one of separation. Understanding this explains why the traditional Christian takes on a beseeching prayer, why it’s essential to accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, and why not everyone is going to make it to Heaven.
Each trinity of beliefs represent a paradigm, a model we use to explain all things. The New Thought paradigm, which includes Unity, is based on a paradigm of oneness, as defined by the relationship of unity between God and the individual. The traditional Christian paradigm, which includes all approaches that see the individual as something separate from God, is based on a paradigm of separation. The distinguishing aspects of a given religion are found in the paradigm that religion embraces.
Q: Many people see a day when religious differences are dropped and we come to understand that we all worship the same God. How do you see this?
A: These two paradigms are like dual rails of a single railroad track. It appears they come together on the horizon, but in truth they never can. Though there are variations of each paradigm, the two are so fundamentally different that they can never come together. We should stop wasting our time hoping they will.
Take a person like Joel Olsteen, for example. While he presents a message that most Unity people can be comfortable with, he clearly embraces a paradigm of separation. Listen to him for five minutes with these two models in mind, and you will see that though he sounds like New Thought, he is not New Thought. He presents a paradigm of separation with a spin that one in New Thought would find palatable, at least up to a point. The paradigm of separation, however, will show eventually. Listen to Joel’s alter call at the end of his program and you’ll see it there.
I’m not at all faulting Olsteen’s approach, for he is being true to the paradigm he embraces. Those in Unity who do not know the difference may find this a helpful way to make a distinction. In truth it doesn’t matter what paradigm a teacher embraces if he or she inspires you to greater freedom on some level. However, one who is unable to tell the difference indicates that they are not clear on which of the two paradigms they themselves practice. In all likelihood, if one cannot tell the difference then the chances are good that they embrace a modified version of the paradigm of separation.
The majority of the world’s orthodox population–Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Sufi, etc.–base their thinking on the paradigm of separation. While every religion has its mystical side; i.e.; those who couch their teachings in the paradigm of oneness, the majority of all the religions of the world practice their beliefs based on the paradigm of separation. There will no doubt be strong disagreement with my next statement, but I will venture to say that the thinking of most people in New Thought is still governed by the paradigm of separation. The paradigm of oneness may reside in their heads, but their speech and actions often betray the working template as a paradigm of separation. Understanding the signs of where a person is actually coming from is, in my opinion, an important tool in successful ministry.
You are meant to live abundantly
You are meant to be whole and well
Divine wisdom is within you
PRAYER AND MEDITATION
You can connect directly to God
LIFE IS ETERNAL
Your life began before birth and
continues after death