God the good, omnipotent
This week, Unity Spiritual Center had the good fortune of receiving words of wisdom not only from our own Rev. Joanne Rowden, but also from guest speaker Panache Desai. Panache is a best selling author, speaker and visionary, and was named a Contemporary Thought Leader by Oprah Winfrey. Panache was a special event featured speaker at Unity Spiritual Center on Saturday, November 16, 2019 when he shared his thoughts and insights as laid out in his book Discovering Your Soul Signature. He graciously agreed to spend additional time with our community on Sunday, November 17, 2019. We very much appreciated and enjoyed the two days he spent with us, and look forward to his return soon.
At least once per year, Rev. Joanne has asked our congregation to submit questions for her to answer during a special Sunday service. Several great questions were received. Different questions were addressed at the 9:00 am service and the 11:00 am service. The service video we post on our website and on youtube.com is usually the livestream from the 11:00 am service. The question I would like to address in this blog post was answered at the 9:00 am service, so it may not appear in the accompanying video for this date.
“My question for Rev. Joanne is about Unity’s First Principle. It states that God is all good. So how does Unity define good so that it is not a matter of perspective? I wonder, because when I am connected to the Oneness, the duality of reality does not exist. And ideas like good become meaningless.” Submitted by a Unity Spiritual Center congregant.
Unity's Five Basic Principles1
We encourage you to explore and apply Unity teachings based on your own spiritual understanding. We believe this spiritual understanding is enhanced through reflective prayer and meditation. The five basic ideas that make up the Unity belief system are:
- There is only one Presence and one Power active as the Universe and in my life. God the Good.
- Our essence is of God; therefore we are inherently good. This God essence was fully expressed in Jesus, the Christ.
- We are co-creators with God, creating reality through thoughts held in Mind.
- Through prayer and meditation, we align our heart-mind with God. Denials and affirmations are tools we use.
- Through thoughts, words, and actions, we live the Truth we know.
If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? This question is a well-known thought experiment about observation and perception. Some people have extended the metaphor to metaphysical properties, including the nature and existence of God. It has become so familiar, that most people never really consider that it is more than simply an “unanswerable” question.
The question submitted to Rev. Joanne is in the same vein. She explained that Unity teaches life is a temporal relative reality, which allows for the experience of duality. The experience of God is of the Absolute Realm out of which everything arises, and God is good. But what is reality? Love. Love is what stands under everything. That which is not love is only an illusion.
The question and the answer contain a few terms that will benefit from some definition:
Temporal Relative Reality – That which is abiding, eternal, and unchangeable, the same "yesterday and to-day, yea and for ever" (Heb. 13:8). The basic principles of mathematics and music are real, because they are not subject to change. A wrong application of their principles may produce discord, but the principles are not disturbed. God is the one harmonious Principle underlying all being and the reality out of which all that is eternal comes.
All causes are in mind. Error thoughts produce the mental and physical inharmonies called disease. These effects are not enduring and eternal. Error can be erased from the mind and be made to disappear from the body.2
Duality - Mind–body dualism, or mind–body duality, is a view in the philosophy of mind that mental phenomena are non-physical, or that the mind and body are distinct and separable.
God – The unchangeable life, love, substance, and intelligence of Being. Principle does not occupy space; neither has it any limitations of time or matter, but it eternally exists as the one underlying cause out of which come forth all true ideas.3
Absolute (Realm) – Absolute, Divine Mind; unlimited Principle; the almighty One; the all-pervading Spirit; the Infinite; the Eternal; the Supreme Being. The one ultimate creative Mind; the Source of all things. That which is unconditioned, unlimited, unrestricted, and free from all limitations. The self-existent God.4
Love - Love is an inner quality that sees good everywhere and in everybody. It insists that all is good, and by refusing to see anything but good it causes that quality finally to appear uppermost in itself, and in all things.5
Like so many interesting philosophical ideas, answering this congregant’s question raises additional points for contemplation. At the heart of this issue is “what is good?” Philosophers and theologians have been considering that question for millennia, and there is no single agreed upon definition. But common to virtually all definitions is some idea or baseline of morality and ethics. Since morality and ethics are different from culture to culture and throughout human history, defining any such amorphous term as good in absolute terms is impossible. If good is defined as that which emanates from God, and the concept of God has also changed greatly over time, we run into a circular argument. What is God? God is Good. Well then, what is Good? Good is that which comes from God. At some point, we must simply sit with the question and allow Spirit to guide us to our own meanings of God and of good. If we believe that God is only good (please pardon the self-referent paradox) and that we are inherently connected to God, then we will receive The Truth of what “God-ness” and “Good-ness” are.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21
To question can move us to the place of curiosity and wonder. Can you see with beginners’ eyes? Can you open to a new understanding? How can you set aside what you know this week and be open to discovering something new? How can you live in the question? What question will you live into?
This week, I will be living into the question, “How can I look for the God/good in myself and in everyone?” That should be enough for one week. Smile.
1For much more information about Unity teachings visit www.unity.org.
2Fillmore, Charles, The Revealing Word, Unity Press