The Greatest Law
This week, Rev. Joanne begins a six-part series based on the book The Twelve Freedoms1 by Unity minister Phillip Pierson. Using The Twelve Powers of Man2, as taught by Unity co-founder Charles Fillmore, Rev. Pierson pairs the Powers into six dyads, one “active” and one “passive,” that inform and support each other.
The dyad of the Powers of Love (active) and Wisdom (passive) are first up for our discussion. Rev. Joanne explains that this pairing is the “unifying” dyad, and reminds us that by our very nature, as Genesis tells us, all that was created was “good” and “very good.”
Love is the harmonizing Power. It is important to understand that the power of Love is not synonymous with affection or romantic attraction, but is the ever-present and unchanging nature of Divine Presence. This distinction does not mean, however, that affection and attraction are not included within Love, but that only when we connect to the true Divine Presence within Love, can affection and attraction be of the same enduring nature.
Wisdom is the discerning faculty of Mind. Often, we are told to “go within” and trust the “still small voice” we contact during prayer and meditation. Many times in my life, I have taken a question, challenge, or feeling to meditation with the express intention of listening for that inner guidance. More often than not, that guidance does not present itself. That does not mean that patient and gentle effort will not eventually yield the desired insight. It will. But how do we know when the answer is given?
Sometimes I try to be a bit too clever, a bit too sophisticated, in my attempts to listen for inner guidance. Life does offer different levels of challenges that do require greater effort to solve than others. That much is obvious. However, not every answer we seek requires differential calculus to solve. Sometimes the answer is actually as simple as two plus two equals four. For myself, I think that sometimes I actually want the answer to a challenge to be more complex than it really is because then I have a reason, really a rationalization, that the answer was either not apparent all along, or was too difficult to understand or act upon.
Wisdom is not only knowing the best course of action to take, but knowing that we know it. This knowing comes with experience, and will be strengthened with each new insight gained and successful outcome. Here is where Love comes in to support Wisdom.
On one of the many occasions that Jesus was teaching, the Sadducees, who had no great affection for him, attempted to trap him into saying something that contradicted the Judaic Law regarding whose wife a woman would be on judgment day, if during life she and her husbands followed the Law by each brother taking her as their wife upon the death of their elder brother. Jesus replied, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” Matthew 22:32.
Also no great fans of Jesus, the Pharisees heard of this exchange and wanted to try their hand at trapping Jesus and asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40.
These two Laws are the Love that Fillmore and Pierson write about, and support our Power of Wisdom. The second Law, ‘Love thy neighbor as yourself’ actually contains two pieces. It says that the love we extend to others should be the same as the love we give to ourselves. But what if we do not have a healthy love for ourselves?
Loving oneself, as implied in the above Bible verse, is not vanity, narcissism, self-absorption, or conceit. It has at least a two-fold purpose. First, it is the basis of self-preservation, of our very survival. Second, it is the realization that we are created in God’s image, and as such are “very good.” Once we understand this, the Power of Love helps us to trust our inner guidance to know that we know that we know what we know, you know? This is the beginning of wisdom.
Just as with all good partnerships, each party supports the other equally. So too with our Love-Wisdom dyad. Love not grounded in Wisdom can be unhelpful, such as possessiveness or jealousy. Allow your inner voice to guide you toward Divine Love for God, yourself and everyone. When we have the wisdom to “know that we know,” this helps us to actually make the distinction between possessiveness and trust, between jealousy and absence of fear.
The word love can be used many ways. We can love ice cream or love playing golf, for example. Neither of those things is bad. On the contrary, having zeal (a Power topic for future discussion) is part of what makes life interesting. Wisdom informs our love of people, places, or things by providing the ability to discern how much of a good thing is no longer a good thing. Too much ice cream may increase your waistline, and too much golf may deplete your bank account or cause your employment or relationships to suffer.
Rev. Joanne reminds us that often in life we may not know how we will get from where we are (point A) to where we want to be (point B), but by connecting to, and trusting in, the mutually supporting Powers of Love and Wisdom we know that our actions will be taken from a place of kindness supported by divinely guided discernment. What could be better than that?
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6
This week, meditate on the idea of the dyad of the Spiritual Powers of Love and Wisdom. How do these two concepts complement each other? What does thinking and acting from a place of Wisdom supported by Love, or Love supported by Wisdom look like? Throughout this week, whenever you “catch” yourself having an idea or taking an action that reflects that support, jot it down, then refer back to your notes for positive reinforcement for those times when you feel that you may be thinking or acting from a place without that support, and allow your inner voice to guide you to a healthier, more productive choice.
1Pierson, Phillip, The Twelve Freedoms: An Understandable Path to Total Freedom, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 16, 2015).
2Written in the middle third of the twentieth century, The Twelve Powers of Man used language that was common for its time. In this context, the term “Man” in no way suggests that these Powers are held only, or in any way more strongly by males, but that “Man” was a shortened version of “Mankind.” A modern author would likely choose the term “Humanity” instead, or simply omit a nominative descriptor entirely. Currently, www.unity.org uses the term “Twelve Powers: Spiritual Tools for an Abundant Life.” Other references include “The Twelve Freedoms, by Rev. Phillip Pierson, and “The Twelve Pathways,” by Rev. Michael Maday. The original text of Fillmore’s The Twelve Powers of Man is available free of charge for online reading at https://www.truthunity.net/books/charles-fillmore-the-twelve-powers-of-man