Antecedents of New Thought - Charles and Myrtle Fillmore

Lecture 7 - Charles and Myrtle Fillmore

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Eric Butterworth stresses Charles Fillmore's lack of concern for building and controlling a movement. And in his talk about Mary Baker Eddy he stresses Mrs. Eddy's extreme obsession about exerting control over Christian Science. Butterworth compares and contrasts both Eddy and Fillmore and concludes in this talk that the way Charles Fillmore ran his organization was better.

Each of us will need to make up our own mind on this issue. But it seems to me that our conclusion will wind-up being based on whether we see Unity as a movement or as an organization. Charles Fillmore wanted to grow a movement; Mary Baker Eddy wanted to control an organization.

One way to achieve both objectives is to have multiple institutions, each asserting control over themselves, but at the same time working independently to achieve growth in their respective missions.

Such was the thinking behind Charles R. Fillmore's decision to separate the Field Department from Unity School in 1966. That was the beginning of institutional pluralism in Unity. I believe we will gravitate to more pluralism in the future.

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118 How Quimby and Eddy preceded Hopkins

Now, we may recall going back at least a couple of steps, the work of Quimby, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, the New England watchmaker, turned mesmerist, who touched off the quiet revolution in mental and spiritual healing here in America, which as I have pointed out, along with the influence of Emerson, led to the American New Thought movement. We recall that he gathered, Quimby, he gathered a few of his more advanced students into an inner circle and one of these was Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, who was, as I think you will recall we pointed out played a very important part in systematizing the concept of Truth which has been extremely influential.

The influence that Mary Baker Eddy has had on the development of New Thought has been somewhat inadvertent perhaps, because indirectly it came about because of her insistence upon originality and the ownership of her science, which along with her autocratic method led to many students breaking away. Of course this had it's good point.

It was like serendipity that the students then went out and freed from this type of control began to read, to explore, to continue the research. My feeling is that the Truth is must be open-ended. It's a continuous process that Truth is an ultimate, can never really be captured into words. Whenever you capture Truth as we might say, Truth into words and say, "This is the Truth," that moment it ceases to be Truth because it's crystallized, it's static and Truth must be dynamic and the part of a spiritual flow.

As a result of the inadvertent point of Mary Baker Eddy closing off the end, as it were, in this very vital movement, Christian Science, there were those who just could not tolerate this type of experience and moved out and continued this dream I other ways. Inadvertently, this dream of New Thought

America was influenced to a great degree by Mary Baker Eddy.

119 The success of Emma Curtis Hopkins as a teacher

Emma Curtis Hopkins
Emma Curtis Hopkins / Wikipedia

One of Mrs. Eddy's students and teachers, was Emma Curtis Hopkins. I don't know if you very even heard the name before if you've studied many things in New Thought or Truth in many years, you might have read some works of hers, especially the work, High Mysticism, which is extremely valuable. She was the first editor of the Christian Science Journal, other than Mrs. Eddy herself. Starting in the year September 1884. She served in that post for about one year and then suddenly with no notice or explanation her name was dropped.

We don't have too much history of Emma Curtis Hopkins. The next record we have of her is when she began to teach her own classes in Chicago. In the beginning, she was teaching Christian Science. She used the name Christian Science, as we pointed out a couple of weeks ago, Christian Science was a term in those days that was used generically, much in the way we use the word Truth today. We say, "I'm a Truth student." It doesn't mean I study Truth here or there with that school of thought, it just means that we're studying the new insight. At that time, Christian Science was the common term. She continued to teach Christian Science and use the name. She first had a Christian Science College and then changed the name to the Illinois Metaphysical College.

Mrs. Hopkins had a tremendous success as a teacher. It is said that she taught probably 50,000 students in her lifetime. Obviously, she taught large groups of people, she traveled all around the country. In her travels around the country, she managed to be influential in starting and igniting the spark and ultimately as a direct role as a teacher of many important people who became names, prominent names, in the New Thought movement. For instance, Mrs. Frank Bingham, who later was the teacher of Nona Brooks who founded Divine Science, headquartered in Denver, came out of Emma Curtis Hopkins.

Many of you have thrilled, as I have, to some of the beautiful works of Ella Wheeler Wilcox, the poet or poetess, if you will. She was a student of Emma Curtis Hopkins. The Nautilus Magazine some of you may remember of Elizabeth Towne. Elizabeth Towne was a teacher as well as the editor of the magazine, she was a student of Emma Curtis Hopkins. You may be interested in knowing, those of you who have studied Lessons in Truth and Unity, which has been Unity's primary textbook for a long time, Emilie Cady had her first experience with Truth with Emma Curtis Hopkins right here in New York City, and studied with her extensively.

Ervin Seale
Ervin Seale

You might say that there are many, many others, even indirectly, perhaps Ernest Holmes, the founder of Religious Science was a student of those of who were students of Emma Curtis Hopkins. Those of you here in New York City who were influenced by or very much a part of the work of Ervin Seale, who was here for so many years, may or may not know that Ervin Seale was a student of Albert Greer, who was a very important student of Emma Curtis Hopkins.

Behind the scenes, Emma Curtis Hopkins, then, was one of the most important people in the modern New Thought movement in America today. She was a teacher of teachers. One of the students, or the two folks that we're considering today, were students of Emma Curtis Hopkins, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore.

120 Hopkins influence on Unity

But, first of all a few thoughts about Emma Curtis Hopkins. Charles Fillmore said of Mrs. Hopkins in an early issue of the Unity Magazine, which at that time was called Christian Science Thought, used generically again, and later was changed to Modern Thought, because Mrs. Eddy insisted with legal suits that the term Christian Science was her own.

In this early Christian Science Thought of Unity, Charles Fillmore said of Mrs. Hopkins,

"She is undoubtedly the most successful teacher in the world. Her instruction not only give understanding to the student by which he can cure ills of himself and others, but in many instances, those who enter her classes confirmed invalids come out at the end of the course perfectly well. She dwells so continually in the spirit that her very presence heals, and those who listen to her are filled with new life."

That was a great tribute to by Charles Fillmore to Emma Curtis Hopkins.

H.B. Jeffery
H.B. Jeffery

Those of you who may have had some exposure to, or involvement with Unity through the years, may recall, although this may kind of date you a little bit, may recall H. B. Jeffery, who at one time was Unity's foremost field lecturer traveling about the country. He was one Mrs. Hopkins's most articulate students and he remained faithful to Emma Curtis Hopkins and to her pure concepts all his life, even while he was representing Unity.

121 Ella Wheeler Wilcox as interpreter of Hopkins

Mrs. Hopkins lived until 1925, but her influence lives on, of course, through those who she taught and those who continue in that stream of thought. Of course, as I said, the great influence continues through the poetry of Ella Wheeler Wilcox, or even as Wordsworth articulated, the transcendentalism of Kant, so Ella Wheeler Wilcox articulated the absolute Truth concepts of Emma Curtis Hopkins.

122 Hopkins teaches good is the only true definition of God

Just a few thoughts, Emma Curtis Hopkins places chief emphasis upon the idea of Good. G-O-O-D as being the only true definition of God and the only true experience of God. She says, if you take the word "God" for your stating point, you will not start so near the foundation feeling of your mind as you will if you take the word "good." She had a favorite affirmation,

"I am seeking my good therefore I am seeking my God."

She says,

"God is not the author of sickness, God is good. Good is Truth. Truth is God. We are brought to where we cannot tell that sickness is good, good is God, therefore God is health."

She says,

"You will notice that the moment you acknowledge that there is good for you which you ought to have, it arises in your mind that you do not have the good that belongs to you. You feel that your good is absent from you. This is known as the conviction of absence. The conviction of presence is not uttered."

In other words, we feel the idea of the good being for us, but we do not say so, and we feel the idea of the good being absent from us and we keep saying so.

123 Hopkins teaches there is no absence of life anywhere

Now she says, and this obviously is a direct, I wouldn't say slap at, but reference to the opposite position of Mary Baker Eddy, which position she held herself until she began to evolve in her own consciousness. She says,

"If the Metaphysicians had said, 'There is no absence of life, substance, or intelligence anywhere,' they would have demonstrated life better than they have. For life is spirit, never absent, so then, why speak of no life?"

Again, this is referring to Mary Baker Eddy's fundamental statement "there's no life, substance, or intelligence in matter." She says,

"If spirit is substance, omnipotent, why speak of substance as no substance anywhere?" And the same with intelligence."

Then she says, "One reason why the substance," obviously she was referring to what we call prosperity, "One reason why the substance of many metaphysicians is so often failing is because they say there is no substance in matter."

124 Early life of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore

Anyway, this leads us to the Fillmores in Unity, which is our consideration for this evening. The story has been oft told, and those of you who are students or have been a part of Unity stream for a while, you know the story well and it certainly needs no repetition, those of who are not really a port of the stream, certainly there is no point in going into any great detail into, and we certainly don't want to glamorize or in any way build up the Fillmores to any saintly level. We want to be as objective about their life and about their influence as we have as with other.

Charles Fillmore
Charles Fillmore

Charles Fillmore was born in 1854 in a log cabin on an indian reservation near St. Cloud, Minnesota. He had to work very early to support his family. He was handicapped by a withered leg resulting from improperly treated injury early along in life. He had, therefore, little, practically, no formal education. All of his obvious involvement with various teachings and ideas, and he was always interested in science and so forth, came as a result of his own digging, his own research. He was purely and simply in the classic sense a self-made individual.

He was into and out of many things for a while. He was a promoter, a businessman, a miner, a printer, a real estate adventurer and so forth. It was in Texas that he met a school teacher, Myrtle Page, who probably provided a very important balance in his life. It is unlikely that without the influence of Myrtle Page, Fillmore ever would have gotten into the kind of focus that he did. They were married. She was from a much more affluent family, had attended college, Oberlin College. While Charles was somewhat agnostic and the free thinker, she was active in the Methodist Church and had a good solid Protestant background.

125 EB Weeks lecture transforms Myrtle

We pick up the story, then, in Kansas City, in 1886, where Charles and Myrtle Fillmore had suddenly experienced some serious reverses. Mr. Fillmore had been very much involved in a real estate boom in Kansas City. Any of you who have lived in or around Kansas City may remember some of the important streets in the city that would bear names, that if you were conscious of it would reflect the Fillmores because Charles Fillmore did a great deal in laying out the City of Kansas City, early years ago, Myrtle Avenue and different places like this were actually laid out by Charles Fillmore in those years.

Myrtle Fillmore
Myrtle Fillmore

They hit this collapse of the boom, and so therefore the family fortunes were in very sad shape and to make it worse, Myrtle Fillmore had this illness with tuberculosis, and the prognosis was she couldn't live six months. They were searching, like a lot of us have searched in our lives for some kind of spiritual solace, or some kind of philosophy that could help them to understand life and perhaps to find ways out of their difficulties.

It was this time that they, as we probably all have done, floated around from here to there, listening, reading and so forth, they found themselves sitting in an auditorium listening to a lecture by a now obscure teacher by the name of E. B. Weeks, who was a student and a lecturer out of Emma Curtis Hopkins's school in Chicago. Whatever the man said that night, no one really knows, but we do know from Myrtle Fillmore's own words that she left that night a changed woman.

For, somehow, though in her background there had been the belief that prevailed and does prevail with many, even today, that you inherit all sorts of diseases and family traits and characteristics. In her family, there had run the problem of tuberculosis, many of her ancestors in her own family had died of tuberculosis, and so she had it. She came away with the realization, "Why I am a child of God and therefore I do not inherit sickness."

This was on open door. Suddenly, the lid was off and she went on to complete recovery, which is another story. She lived on for more than 40 years after that as a great influence.

126 The awakening of Myrtle and Charles

Myrtle was very soon caught up in the spirit of the healing. She was not the inquiring intellectual type as Charles, she was a beautiful, loving, feeling type woman. All she knew was like the blind man when he was healed by Jesus, when people were saying, what happened, what did he say? "All I know is that whereas I was blind, now I see." "All I know is I'm healed."

She experiences something, felt it very deeply, and suddenly she began to experience a kind of healing influence in herself. They would tell this story to some of their friends. One of the friends would say, but I have have this physical problem, will you pray for me? The would have their little prayer group together and many, many people were healed. The first thing you know, the word spread rapidly here and there and they started a little prayer group and they simply referred to it, at first kind of whimsically, and then later formally, as the Society of Silent Help.

That has evolved into what is today Silent Unity, a movement which many don't even know about because it does such an obscure behind-the-scenes activity, but the fact is if you were the Postal Service in Kansas City or the surrounding environs, you would know that every day truckloads full of mail pour into Unity headquarters, from the last I heard, some 40,000 or 50,000 letters a week from all over the world, with prayer requests of every kind, shape and form, from people of all religious backgrounds. All as the outgrowth of the evolution of this consciousness and concept that Myrtle Fillmore experienced early along.

Charles Fillmore
Charles Fillmore

Charles Fillmore was a little slower to come to the conviction in this area. He was more agnostic. He doubted. He had to prove things intellectually and though they continued to go to lectures and eventually did study with Emma Curtis Hopkins, he still was a little slow to piece it all together. He could see so many inconsistencies in the view of various teachers, but because his wife had obviously experienced a healing, and because they did begin to have a change in so many other areas in their life, he was influenced very strongly. In time, he evolved a system in his own consciousness that was acceptable to his intellect and then of course became ultimately very prolific in writing and teaching and so forth.

Letters of Myrtle Fillmore Cover

The interesting thing about Charles Fillmore, we could talk a lot about Myrtle Fillmore, unfortunately we don't have the time, really, she was another story. A beautiful person, in the early years I knew her, not as much as I did Charles, but very humble, loving person who obviously had a tremendous healing consciousness. She wrote very little, except she wrote letters and so about the only thing they have, and they do have a lot of that, of letters that she wrote to people and they've pieced together some of her beautiful, loving spirit in several compilations in books of Letters of Myrtle Fillmore.

127 Charles interested in free flow of truth ideas

Charles Fillmore, who, in the later years, because he continued as the head of Unity and because his works were so significant in the magazine, he wrote in all the magazines for years, and years, and years, and because he led the way in an evolution that took place through Unity, Charles Fillmore then, is one that we will give our major thought to. Fillmore was very interesting in that in a strange way we was a very humble man. He never had any intention of certainly founding a movement.

All the way along, he always stood with awe when he would stand back. I've been with him many times when he would stand outside of what became Unity Village, when they had this ... At that time it as Unity Farm, when the school moved out to the farm. He would stand and see all these big buildings like a little child. He said, "Isn't it marvelous." He couldn't believe that this had come out of something that he had done.

He had no intention of creating a systematic philosophy and tried in every way to keep that kind of thing from happening. He was interested in ideas and was interested in people who were interested in ideas. He founded a magazine, as I said, the Christian Science Thought, Modern Thought, later Unity magazine. In it's early edition, it said it was devoted to the spiritualization of humanity from an independent standpoint.

In the beginning, he roamed far wide both in his own seeking, and editorially in the magazine. They had articles about spiritualism, psychic research, theosophy, astrology, vegetarianism, yoga, Vedanta, everything. It was really a free-wheeling kind of publication. It was quite interesting. As a matter of fact, I have probably the only one outside of the Unity Editorial Library, a complete set of these magazines, dating all the way back to the very first issue, which I have come about through an awful lot of effort through the years.

It's interesting to read some of these old magazines. The interesting thing is Charles Fillmore seemed more interested in promoting the free flow of truth than in articulating any single concept of his own. As we pointed out, when he felt the need of a unique source book for Unity, he asked Emilie Cady, who had written an article that he liked in his magazine, I think it was an article called, Finding the Christ in Ourselves, which was later included in a little book of Emilie Cady's. He asked her to write a series of articles and later printed this book, published it, and pushed it through the years as the textbook of Unity, which was kind of interesting because he wrote a lot of things himself.

128 Charles was eclectic and practical and open to change his mind

Fillmore's approach was always eclectic and interestingly enough, the word eclectic is often used in religion as a criticism. Fillmore was proud of it. Anybody that called him an eclectic, he said, "That's exactly right." He says, and we quote and this is one of Fillmore's early editions of the magazine. He says,

"We do not claim that we have discovered any new truths, or that we have had any special revelation of truth. There is truth in every religion. It is my privilege to take truth from any source, put it into a religion, make it fundamental as a rule and action in my life." [Unity, August 1895, 9; Unity, October 1923, 203]

He was a kind of a spiritual researcher, and of course with him it was by the fruits he shall know it, so he would apply it, work with it in silence and meditation and his own personal work, and if it worked, then he would teach it. If it didn't work, he would reject it. Even if it worked for a while and he found suddenly that maybe he had over-emphasized it, he would just say, "Well I have changed my mind." People didn't like this of course, they felt that one should stand for the same thing forever. That it should be as if you received your spiritual truths from the gods, and thereby it's all down in black and white.

The classic story that has been oft told is when Charles Fillmore is in one of his lecture classes at the training school years ago. He was talking on a particular subject, I don't know what it was, and at the end he asked for questions, and one of the students, one of those who always knows the paragraph and line of everything, said, "But, Mr. Fillmore, you just said thus and so, and on page 25, paragraph three, line seven of Christian Healing, you said thus and so." He said, "I've changed my mind." That was Charles Fillmore. You couldn't pin him down in that sense.

129 The strength and weakness of Unity and Unity Statement of Faith

This was, as I have said often, this was both a strength and a weakness of Unity. It was a strength in that it promoted the open-ended research and study and of course without that kind of approach or concept, I would never be a part of it. It was a weakness, unlike Mary Baker Eddy's dogmatic approach, did not provide the kind of motivation for discipline, so that often among so-called Unity people, which make up people of all diverse backgrounds, people like yourself, who simply are interested in attending a lecture, reading a book, and without any ties or strings attached and so forth, there quite often is no great dedication to knowing the principles.

Statement of Faith handwritten by Charles Fillmore
Unity Statement of Faith
Handwritten by Charles Fillmore

Quite often the Unity Student will say, but give us the principles so that we can know them, one, two, three, four, five. Someone pinned Charles Fillmore down on this, and so he decided all right, so he created what was called the Unity Statement of Faith. It was the closest thing he ever came to creating a theology.

This long, extensive, I don't know how many points, numbered one, two, three, four, probably 50 or 60 points of the Unity Statement, in fact you can still get it in a little pamphlet form. Some people kind of like this kind of thing that Mr. Fillmore is saying all of the things he believes in. Then, at the end of it, he wrecks the whole thing to some because he says, "Well this is where I am now, but I reserve the right to change my mind." That was Charles Fillmore.

130 Charles frustration with Unity field movement

As I said, through the years, he was a prolific writer, lecturer, teacher and administrator, because whether it was inadvertent or conscious, they developed a great printing plant and the Silent Unity Work and the various schools that grew up and now are out at what is called Unity Village. As the movement out in the, as they called it the field began to evolve, Charles Fillmore at times threw up his hands because he had no intention and often made this statement there are articles in the magazines about this.

He had no intention of creating a movement. He had no intention of developing Unity centers. No intention of training teachers or minister. I mean, he was just trying to spread the truth everywhere. This, again, was a strength and a weakness of unity. It was a weakness to those who would like to see Unity stand up and be a great movement in the world, say like Christian Science and so forth. It never would, and in my estimation, and my personal feeling, hopefully, never will. I say that, hopefully because I share Mr. Fillmore's ideals and I don't stand completely together with some of my confreres in the Unity movement on that.

There is always a desire, we want to have a strong movement. People get together in the center, we want to have a strong center, which very quickly becomes a church and gets involved in all the inter-church activities, and church suppers and all the fundraising processes and so forth, and I personally don't want any part of that and that was sort of the consciousness of Charles Fillmore.

So, when the leaders and teachers that he had spawned inadvertently would come back and ask to have a conference at Unity Village, he would sit back and almost say, my goodness what have I done?

Here they were talking about what they could do, how they could develop the movement and sometimes he would put his head in his hands. May Rowland told me one time that she'd been confiding in her office, long after he'd retired and he was saying, "I just wish we had never decided to ordain ministers." She said, But Mr. Fillmore, you were the one that agreed to do it, yeah, but they pestered me so much. They told me that they couldn't get along, they had to have some credibility out in the community, so they gave in."

This was obviously the fact that he had no intention really of developing the kind of church orientation which sometimes has evolved, and whether you folks are aware of it or not, I personally am considered to be on the extreme left as a kind of a radical in the Unity movement because I've held out probably one of the last in terms of insisting that a center is a center in every name and we're not interested in tying people down to membership or creating any kind of a continuity of involvement and so forth, but that we're interested basically in promoting the Truth to all who are interested.

131 Strength and weakness of Unity organization

This was a strength and a weakness. It was a strength in that probably more than any other metaphysical movement, including Christian Science, Unity has reached out. Someone, I read somewhere, while I was doing some of the research for this, and I read so many things that I even forgotten exactly where it was, but it was in one of the books of people who have done some research in this whole field. This person told about a test that was made up at Riverside Church, here in New York City. Typical congregation. I can't remember whether it was done by mail. I think it was in a group.

Somebody asked the question. How many of them had any contact with Unity, through Silent Unity or listening to Unity broadcasts or reading the Daily Word or involved int he Unity center, and so forth. 80% of the group had has some relationship or involvement with Unity. 80% of a somewhat typical Protestant church. That shows something of the strength of Mr. Fillmore's idea.

You see, Mr. Fillmore used to say that his goal was to spread the truth, not so that people would leave churches and become a part of a new organization, but that they would get an insight that would turn them on to go back and help to restructure and reshape and restore the spark and spirit to Protestantism, or Catholicism, or whatever, so they would be better Catholics, better Baptists, better Methodists, and so forth. This was his goal.

Its a thing that I find myself very satisfying. I had a call for instance, from a Rabbi over here in Brooklyn a few years ago. It was shortly after my book, Discover the Power Within You, had been published. I discovered since that the Rabbi was a very distinguished man, and he said, "I've just read your book," and he said, "I would like to complement you for it," and he said, "I enjoyed reading it." He said, "I want to ask you a question," he said, "Is this what Christianity is?"

I said, well, I'm sorry I can't say that it's what Christianity is, I can say it's what Eric Butterworth thinks Christianity is, or what maybe what it ought to be, or at least how I see the teachings of Jesus Christ. Then he made the statement, which I thought was quite interesting. He said, "If this, that you have outlined in this book, were the position of fundamental Christianity, there would be no reason for any separation between Judaism and Christianity."

Well, now, that's the kind of thing that Charles Fillmore would have delighted in because this is where he was, you see. Unlike much of the metaphysical movement that has given almost chief articulation to the mental science approach of the Quimby process, and somewhat like Mary Baker Eddy and her emphasis of dealing with it all in the context of the Bible and Christianity, Mr. Fillmore ultimately narrowed the scope of this open-ended free inquiry everywhere to finally determine that maybe he should stand for something, so he simply stood for what he called the Truth in the context of what he thought to be practical Christianity. It was Christian-oriented, biblical-oriented and this is the way he set a pathway for himself and a kind of a pathway for others to follow.

132 Unity and vegetarianism

There's some interesting stories that are told about Unity, it's hard to know where to begin or end. Almost in passing, it's hard not to touch upon the fact that out of Charles Fillmore's idealism, he was such a visionary. He was so naive and had such childlike faith, and he believed it. He believed that certain things that could manifest in your life just by accepting the idea that God intended them for you.

As some of you may know, in the early days, Charles Fillmore got into vegetarianism. He became a committed vegetarian and remained that way through all the rest of the years through his life. To the extent that in those years, Unity was often referred to as, "those vegetarians." People became vegetarians because Fillmore was a vegetarian. He didn't teach it as a part of his teaching, but people knew that he was a vegetarian. Quite often when they asked his comments on it and so forth.

He wrote some articles in the early years in Unity. Later years he did not because realized that it was confusing to people. Confusing in the sense that people would feel that it was tied in completely with his spiritual concept, which it wasn't. And yet, in a sense it was, because his brand of vegetarianism was not dietary, it was "spiritual vibrations." He felt that meat actually had certain animal vibrations that you took into your system, and so forth. He believed this very strongly.

Anyway, in these years, he discovered that there was no decent, if we can use that term, vegetarian inn or cafeteria or restaurant in Kansas City. People kept asking him, "Why don't you have a cafeteria?" So, he created one and it was called Unity Inn, and for many years, when I first went to Unity, it was still in operation, and was looked upon as one of the favorite eating places of many, many people. Some of you may have lived in Kansas City, may have never even known about Unity, yet attended the Unity inn.

133 Unity Farm

Right away, they had a problem of supply, of getting vegetables and fruits for the inn. Fillmore and his usual naive way, said, "Well, we'll just get a farm, so they went out one Sunday, you can just imagine getting into the old touring car and driving out into the country somewhere, way back in the early 20s I think, and he looked around and he found this piece of ground, and he says, this looks like a beautiful place," and the real estate man says, "Worthless property." It's right in the corner where all these gullys that they usually parcel off and leave alone because there are too many rocks to uproot and too many trees to cut down. He says, "I'll take it, this is it. This is Unity." Called it Unity Farm immediately, paid practically nothing for it.

Unity Farm Facts With Map
Unity Farm Facts With Map

When they began to operate, he got some farmers in the area to come in as tenant farmers to start the thing for them. The first thing they had to do was to find water, so they drilled for water, and they struck oil. And they drilled for water again, and they struck oil. When I first went to Unity in 1938, was the first time I set foot on Unity Village, then Unity Farm, they had oil wells all over the place. They were pumping oil and produced oil. Not great quantities, but certainly enough to take care of all their power needs and a lot more, and there was plenty of oil there but they just didn't get into the production of it, and eventually got out of this before the war because it was too much of a sideline.

Anyway, they kept drilling. Then they drilled and drilled and eventually, the struck natural gas. When they finally hit water, it was an Artesian well. That was the history of this whole Unity Village complex. It's a story that would make a great scenario. Obviously attributable to this beautiful consciousness Fillmore. He just accepted it. Of course, this is what God wants.

They decided to do some building and they suddenly discovered they had the most marvelous natural stone. For years they quarried stone there. So much so that all the early buildings were built out of the stone naturally there. Then, eventually, some enterprising business man asked them if they could quarry stone commercially. At first they refused, finally they said, "Well, we'll let you do it if you will take it away without disturbing the land. They created these big caves, taking stone out.

When the war came along, they had these huge caverns. I never even knew anything about them. They rented them to the Federal Government for years to store all sorts of implements and so forth. The trees that were all over the place were black walnut trees, and they cut them down and cured them and all the furniture and everything of Unity for years was built out of the black walnut trees off of the land. Anyway, this was the kind of a thing that evolved and it just was the natural way these things came out of the consciousness of Charles Fillmore.

134 Influence on Norman Vincent Peale and others

Norman Vincent Peale
Norman Vincent Peale

Charles Fillmore, then, his ideas were always set forth freely in the spirit of "this is what I believe today, tomorrow, I may change my mind." He had a great influence across denominational lines. He has been influential indirectly through lots of churches as a matter of fact, when Unity had it's 75th anniversary a number of years ago, I was instrumental in getting Norman Vincent Peale to go down and talk to the group. He stood before this vast assembly of people in the amphitheater at Unity, and told them all that his whole life had been changed when he discovered Unity and the teachings of Charles Fillmore and this had actually changed him from a mediocre Protestant minister to one who had a real message. Paid tribute that Unity and Fillmore was the one that had been the influence of positive thinking and so forth.

There are so many like this. A man by the name of Dunnington [Rev. Lewis Leroy Dunnington] out in Iowa, very, very successful. One of the most successful protestant ministers in America, who eventually in the end, unblushingly was simply teaching Unity and affirmations and so forth in his congregation. This has happened often.

This is a tribute to Fillmore's spirit that he was more interested in spreading this out and actually recreating a recandescence of the Christian spirit than trying to build up an organization. This is why I say that probably it's influence has spread broader than Christian Science in terms of the indirect reaching of people all over. Though, on the other hand, as I say, it's a weakness in the sense that it did not actually build up a movement, Fillmore would have said, well that's what he wanted anyway.

135 Healing life manifests in the physical form

Charles Fillmore Jesus Christ Heals Cover

Now, he was very, very much into, as we would say today, the healing idea obviously and the prosperity principal. He evolved a concept and obviously it was the result of two things. It was the result of the modification of Mary Baker Eddy's position by Emma Curtis Hopkins, who herself had reversed her position, though at first she had been as strong follower of Mary Baker Eddy, but kind of got away from the idea that there is no life substance or intelligence in matter to the idea that there is no absence of life, substance or intelligence anywhere.

This was the thing that Fillmore picked up. He stressed the idea that health is from within and does not have to be manufactured without. It's the normal condition of man. A condition true to the reality of his being. He emphasized the idea that healing life manifests in the physical form. Therefore, there was no problem in his mind with the question of whether a person should go to a doctor or use medical means instead of, or in addition to a spiritual approach. There was no question at all.

With Fillmore, he delighted in the fact that often times there would be a case where someone was lying ill desperately in the hospital and on the one hand a doctor would be injecting something in the veins of a person to keep him alive, and on the other hand, a Unity teacher was speaking the word of Truth for him and one was holding one hand and one was holding the other. This to him was the way it should be.

Not, that he ultimately Materia Medica was the goal because he believed as Mary Baker Eddy did. That ultimately the goal is spiritual healing, totally and completely. He felt, and he I think probably, this was as a result of his own consciousness, where he was, but he felt that people need the recognition of the relative as well as the absolute.

Therefore. they were free to begin where they were and take progressive steps until they could let go or put away childish things. Let go of the aids and the remedies and begin to trust wholly and completely upon the healing life presence within. Anyway, this was Fillmore's position, which is one of the most marked different between Unity and the Christian Science concept.

136 What prosperity is and how it has been misinterpreted

Prosperity by Charles Fillmore 1938 Edition

He also emphasized the prosperity principal more than many. His concept, which he was very blatant about was that it's a sin to be poor. This was a complete reversal of the old Protestant concept of the grace of poverty. He says it's a sin to be poor because if you're poor somehow you're frustrating the divine flow. Expect prosperity. This was very fundamental part of his teaching.

Obviously, one's background, his experiences have a great deal of influence on what he gets into and what he believes, even as I pointed out in a positive sense, some of the deep frustrations and confusions of the early life of Mary Baker Eddie had a great influence in the dynamic insistence on certain absolutes. Fillmore, of course, had many problems with prosperity, with poverty and so forth. There was this tremendous influence on the need to be prosperous and working through spiritual means to create affluence in one's life. This, I feel, has led at times, and I say this as objectively as I can, has led to what I like to call a "materialization of truth."

Sometimes there's an over-emphasis on prosperity, which sometimes is seen, and I've seen this, you don't have to look outside, I've seen it in Unity groups, where there was a feeling, "Well, Charles Fillmore said we should be prospered, so therefore we deal with prosperity, we sing songs of prosperity, and get into affirmations like money, money, money, money comes from all sides, money is God, money is good, and I'm one with money, money, money, money, you know. As I say, this turns me off and I believe this has tended to be one of the weaknesses of the over-emphasis on prosperity.

137 We begin to control thought with words

Fillmore placed a tremendous emphasis on the power of the spoken word. This, of course, was one of the points [Charles Fillmore] used to quote Mary Baker Eddy in her thought that we mentioned a few weeks ago where she says, "Stand porter at the door of your thought." To actually guard the thoughts that are going on in your ... Well he carried this to a great extreme, and I think this was very vital part of the evolution of Unity's concept of affirmations and denials, constructive speech and so forth. He says,

"Every word man utters every word man utters energizes the ether with a creative impulse that induces and brings forth it's image and likeness." [Teach Us To Pray, chapter 14, Thou Shalt Decree]

"Every time we speak the speak we cause the atoms and cells of our bodies to tremble and go through certain changes." [Christian Healing, p.65]

138 Wee Wisdom magazine and the Good Words Booster Club

Under the influence of Myrtle Fillmore there was the development many years ago of a little magazine that some of you might have had exposure to in your youth and that was Wee Wisdom. Wee Wisdom has been a magazine that has certainly touched people all across religious lines and many folks were never aware that they had any contact with unity at all suddenly discovered, "Well goodness, that's the magazine my mother used to buy me when I was a child."

One of the things that Wee Wisdom stressed, this influence of Charles Fillmore's emphasis on words, was a little group called The Good Words Booster Club. Any of you who have read Wee Wisdom years ago remember this. It was belonging to a little club that you did in the magazine and you committed yourself to speak good words. You'd think good thoughts, speak good words everywhere. The Good Words Booster Club. This was that emphasis of the positive power of words and you will find this all the way through the writings and teachings of Charles Fillmore.

It's been a very vital thing that's a very fundamental part, it's a very simple part. His thought was that certainly mind is all, but it's not always easy to control your thoughts, but you can begin to take hold of your thoughts by taking hold of things that you can control, and that's your words. You may have to button your lip. You may have to bite your tongue before you say things, but you can keep from saying certain things, and thereby begin to reshape the words that you actually utter. He felt that by doing this indirectly then you gradually begin to discipline the thought process, which of course is the heart and root of it all.

139 Emphasis on the Christ instead of Jesus

There is a very important point I think that you find in Fillmore. He dealt with Christian thought as metaphysically interpreted. The emphasis is on the Christ as distinguished from Jesus. Now, this has created great confusions. I must say that when I wrote my book, Discover the Power Within You, it started out answering the question, "Would you please tell me the difference between Jesus and the Christ?" I think I did a radio broadcast on it a few years ago, and I had an overwhelming response of mail that came as a result of this.

People said, "I've read Charles Fillmore and I've never been able to glean this from his teachings." This, of course, is because Fillmore wrote on so many subjects at so many different times, many different levels of consciousness. Sometimes, as you read, because you find inconsistencies in his own expression because though his ideas have been put together in books, all of these were originally talks and writings of earlier periods. It would be a service to Unity people if these things would be dated as to when they were written, but you never know, and you assume this is what Fillmore stood for.

Sometimes there are contradictory statements. In the Unity movement, itself, there is a great deal and has evolved, a great deal of confusion about Jesus and the Christ because it has been strongly Christian oriented and many people have so accommodated Truth principles to their Protestant or even Catholic Christian background that they've accommodated without realizing that this old idea of the Christ as being Jesus. Quite often, as a matter of fact, I used to make myself, I'm sure, obnoxious. Because I would forever ... I know the editors of the Daily Word, my very close friends, and quite often I would take the magazines and I would take red lines and underscore this and this and this, send it back to them and say, "This is terribly confusing." Of course, I'm sure I was not very popular as a result of it.

Eventually, I wrote to several people at Unity and I said, "I really think that somebody should do something about clarifying this matter of Jesus and the Christ." Nothing was done, and finally, I got these letters, so I give this radio broadcast, had a great response to it, so I thought, "Well, I'm going to write an article for the Unity magazine." I started writing on it first I knew, I wrote a whole book and that's Discover the Power Within You. It was written basically without any real desire originally to write a book, but maybe that's the way books should be written, I don't know.

140 Metaphysical interpretation of the Bible

I think the interesting thing is that Fillmore gave a clear emphasis on metaphysical interpretation of the Bible. The Metaphysical [Bible] Dictionary, I think, is one of the most important works of Fillmore. Many of his writings are somewhat abstruse, deeply profound if one can take the time to wade through the verbiage that was so common in those days, and which was the result of a man without the formal education of learning the sophistication of word flow and simply picking up words that interested him, excited him and jumbling them up with interested in science, interested in religion and theosophy, a little bit of everything. Sometimes, it creates kind of different reading. Profound ideas if one takes the time to read through them.

The Metaphysical Bible Dictionary is one of his greatest works. Not original, as we pointed out previously, Swedenborg first began to experiment with the idea of metaphysical interpretations of scriptural symbology, but Fillmore put together the Metaphysical Dictionary, which has become a classic source book in Truth and is used by people inside and outside of the whole metaphysical stream.

He says, and this is the approach that he takes to the Bible, he says,

"The Bible is, in it's inner or spiritual meaning, a record of the experiences in the development of the human soul and of the whole being of man. Also, it is a treatise on man's relation to God. Every human being commences in Adam and within every person also lies the potentialities of the Christ. The Bible teaches that existence is for the purpose of developing these potentialities to actuality and the whole of life is embraced in the states that lie between Adam and Christ." [Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, Preface]

This is his position on the Bible. All the Bible, then to Fillmore, had relevance. All of it was important to be studied metaphysically and it was all dealing with one person, you. Every story, every place, every mountain, every rock, every crevice, everything that is referred to in the Bible refers to certain states of consciousness in the individual. This was his metaphysical approach to the Bible, which I think was quite unique and probably one of his great contributions.

141 Subconscious mind as gateway to superconsicous mind

Fillmore followed the New Thought practice of dealing with a great deal with subconscious mind. The mental scientist and the mental healing practice worked primarily with subconscious mind. Fillmore felt that the idea of the subconscious mind often was taken out of context. This was a natural thing because after all, the mental scientists were not always spiritual scientists. Quimby was not essentially a religious man, although eventually he did embrace a kind of religious dimension to his concept, yet basically it was sort of a philosophical, metaphysical, mental approach to human consciousness.

Dealing with the subconscious mind was like dealing with the brain. It was almost a mechanical thing. It was much in the same way as some of our modern exponents of mental science, notably Maxwell Maltz and his Psycho-Cybernetics, which has been very popular dealing with what he calls the servo-mechanism of the subconscious mind. That you say certain things, the subconscious mind takes them up and feeds them back.

Another very prolific and very fine, as a writer and as a person, I know him well, Joseph Murphy, who's written so many things on the subconscious mind. He too, deals with the subconscious mind in the mental science concept. The subconscious mind is a workshop you inject certain things in the subconscious mind, it will take them up and repeat them back. If you build images of success and of prosperity and of health into your subconscious mind, your subconscious will faithfully reproduce them in your life. This is very much a part of the mental science approach to metaphysics.

Charles Fillmore felt that there was a dimension that was lacking. He says, and let me just quote a little here, and I think you will begin to catch a very subtle shade of difference. He says,

"The subconscious mind is the vast, silent realm that lies back of the conscious mind and between it and the super conscious mind. To one who does not understand it's nature, and it's office, it becomes the great gulf fixed between his present and the attainment of his highest desire, his good. The subconscious may be called the sensitive plate of the mind. Its true office, the office of the subconscious mind is to receive impressions from the super conscious mind and to reproduce them upon the canvas of the conscious mind. [He says,] Man, however, having lost the conscious of the indwelling father, as an ever-present reality, has reversed the process and simply impresses the subconscious mind from the conscious mind." [Keep a True Lent 87]

142 How mind control does not lead to knowing ones true self

This is a very important thing, you see, because he would say that in the kind of application of subconscious work that is so often fundamental in metaphysics today, that a person may work constantly to program his mind and the mind control people have simply carried this on into another dimension, dealing with the same principle, that to program the mind in a certain way to enable you to do certain things to remember things or to follow certain characteristics and so forth, is actually to make of yourself inadvertently the kind of automaton, self-automated.

You begin with the conscious mind, and the conscious mind is a sense looks about and says, "Hey, I would like to be like that." Quite the result of Madison Avenue. You see in the magazine somebody driving a Cadillac or now the ad is the Continental is better than the Cadillac, so you get rid of your Cadillac and you buy a Continental, but you see these pictures. There's the thought, prosperity is right, it's a sin to be poor, so I should have a Continental. You program your mind to have a Continental.

Treasure map, a term that's been used in Unity. Build into your consciousness, get the image of wealth, of success, of affluence. Build this into your conscious to the extent that eventually you see yourself as successful and affluent in every way and you see yourself driving a Continental, first thing you know, you're driving a Continental. That's the whole metaphysical thing.

Now, the interesting thing is don't knock it, it works, you see. However, and this is the point that is not always dealt with, that one can deal with the subconscious mind in this way, beginning with the conscious mind and it's desires and ideals and interests and work continually to reprogram the mind to become the kind of person you want to be, to have the kind of life you want to have, to experience the kind of relationships that you feel are right for you.

One can do this for years, and never really come to know himself, because he's dealing totally with what other people think. Influences that have come from the outside. The conscious mind, therefore is working, impressing the subconscious mind, losing the important dimension of the super conscious mind, which is the divine dimension of man.

143 Superconscious mind, God's will and the divine desire

In other words, it really gets back to, in a modified metaphysical sense, to the old traditional thought of God's will, but not in a sense of God's will as being that which is all predetermined and which whether you like it or not is going to lead you here and there, and after all you can't have everything and you should suffer sometimes and it's good for your soul to be poor and to be sick and so forth.

But rather considering the fact that there is within every person a divine relationship with the infinite process, that in you which knows you better than you know yourself, and which is you at the level of God.

Which is seeking constantly to unfold your nature and to draw to you all that which is a part of this nature unfolding, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." And will then direct you not necessarily to the Continental, to the Cadillac, or whatever but will direct you to the awareness of yourself which then will bring things and possessions and people into your life, but always as the supplement of your life rather than as the goal, you see.

It doesn't mean that one should stop working for things, but it means that you should work first of all for the realization of your oneness. The realization of yourself as a spiritual being. Fillmore felt very strongly that often the mental science approach eliminated this divine dimension, so that we're dealing purely with they kind of science that says you can be healed, you can be prospered, you can be successful, you can overcome, and you can. But often times nowhere along the line has the clear teaching be directed to the individual, helping him to be himself or to know himself, or to release himself at the highest level of his life.

Actually, a person can be very successful in the art of demonstration, and to use a term that I've applied in this sense, he can become a "metaphysical hypochondriac." Because you see he is constantly involved in working with the subconscious mind to do all the things that he wants to do in his life, and without knowing it, he takes the responsibility and the creativity away from the super conscious depths within his life, takes it in his own hands.

He says, "I can heal my stomach ulcers. Here's an affirmation on treatment, program your mind with it. I can overcome my job problems. I can take the relationship problems." He's always affirming for this, treating for that, affirming, demonstrating, dadadadah, he's going all the time, trading affirmations, putting statements on the wall. He's always working at it and what he doesn't know is a simple realization that I have emphasized so often in Jesus, when he says the Father knows what things you have need of even before you ask, and it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.

There is a divine desire to take you at where you are and to unfold the true flower of your life in terms of love in your consciousness and the attracting power of love that will draw to you the kind of friends that will make your life rich, that will flow through you in terms of healing which will overcome the ills, in terms of substance and affluence, which will direct you not just to the kind of jobs that make the money and have the name and the recognition in life, but to the kind of creative experiences which fulfill your innateness as a person, as a unique expression of the infinite.

All this is built in as a part of the super-conscious dimension of our own life and so much effort working with the subconscious mind in sense inadvertently ignores it and thus actually denies it. This was a point that was very important with Charles Fillmore, and I think one that all of us as students of his need to take a good look at.

144 The legacy of Charles Fillmore

Well Charles Fillmore died in the year 1948, at the age of 94, after a very full life. Certainly his lengthened shadow lives on in many ways through the influence that has reached out and abroad in many ways. I like to feel at least in myself, it lives on as a great influence in my life. At the age of 90, Fillmore made a statement. He says it came to him one morning as he awoke in the morning. I think I would like us to close on this thought, here was a man over 90 years old that suddenly blurted out, "I fairly sizzle with zeal and enthusiasm and I spring forth with a mighty faith to do the things that should be done by me." 90 years old. This was just something of the spirit of Fillmore.

Now, mind you, I'm in no way glorifying the life of Fillmore. He was a man, he was a person, he had weaknesses like everyone else and a lot of strengths. As I say, some of the weaknesses have turned out to be strengths and some of the strengths might even be weaknesses, we never really know. We can only really measure the influence in terms of what the teachings are doing. As a matter of fact, there's a certain degree, if I can say so without making any issue of it, there's a certain degree of confusion as to Fillmore's influence even in the Unity movement today, as expressed by the fact that there are many, many teachers and ministers in Unity who would like Unity to be more like Christian Science, be strong, authoritative, have specific positions, build a big movement, build big churches on the corner and so forth.

That influence has become a part of Unity. There are a few of us, and a diminishing number, I might say, who feel that that is not Unity's position. That, therefore, is the evidence of the lengthened shadow of Fillmore is not quite as long in a perceptible sense as some would like to see it. I believe, however, that the shadow is very long because it reaches across denominational lines has had a tremendous influence on the world if Unity ceased to be tomorrow. I believe this was the thinking of Fillmore.

As a matter of fact, my dear friend Irvin Seale a few years ago, when he gave up his work here in New York City and turned it over to someone else, people said, you know, we've got to desperately hold on to this thing. We've got the church of the Truth. What do we do? How are we going to keep it going? His thought was, and I thought it was a very, very remarkable thought, certainly it is the kind of thought that Fillmore would have expressed that, If the word dies when I leave, then it should die."

That's kind of the consciousness I think that Fillmore had. There was no intent in his part to build a great big movement to go on through all time, but rather to ignite a few sparks to turn people on, to get people involved in the spiritual quest and with the full faith that in their own spiritual quest they would find the guidance within themselves. He always said, "The Holy Spirit within every person is the only authority of Truth." He always said, "Don't listen to anybody as the authority of Truth, the authority is the spirit within you." I suspect that if Fillmore never said another thing, that certainly would set him up as one of the great teachers of all time in metaphysics. Anyway, that's Charles Fillmore.