The Five Principles: A Guide to Practical Spirituality

By Ellen Debenport

A principle is a rule or law that never changes. It applies to all people, everywhere, all the time. We learned this as children. Two plus two equals four, anywhere, all the time. It's a mathematical principle. If you get an answer other than four, the mistake is yours, not the principle's.

… Spiritual principles work the same way. They are laws of the universe that govern all people, all the time. We can learn how to use them to great advantage, like mathematical principles, or we can ignore them and continually get answers that don't work for us.

Suppose you didn't understand the law of gravity, didn't have a name for it or know what was happening. You might wonder, Why do my feet stick to the ground? I can lift them, but it takes effort. The faster I try to move, the more tired I get. Why do I fall down if I step off a cliff? Why does an object drop to the ground when I release it? Why doesn't it float?

… Such a person would be laughable—ignorant of the way the world works and needlessly frustrated by life. Once we know that gravity will always pull things toward the ground, we can work within it, adjust for it. Despite gravity, we build ever-taller skyscrapers and fly ever farther into space. The principle of gravity does not limit us but gives us parameters to work within. And it is constant, at least on the earth plane.

… Spiritual principles are the same—constant, unchanging, impersonal. They work with or without our understanding and hold no opinion of our behavior. What a relief it would be to understand what they are and how we can work within them.

… The Five Principles were first written in this specific form for the Unity spiritual movement, but they reflect laws of the universe. The laws apply to everyone, all the time. The Unity movement claims no corner on spiritual truth; these principles show up in every major religion.

Unity was founded in 1889 by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore in Kansas City, Missouri. Because Unity has a Christian base, this book [The Five Principles: A Guide to Practical Spirituality] reflects Christianity, the Bible and Jesus as a model for spiritual living. But the Fillmores, who began exploring metaphysics as a means of healing themselves physically, drew ideas from all the world's religions, found what worked for them, and shared it through their publications, prayer and teaching. They also saw the principles clearly revealed in the words of Jesus.

A century later, the Fillmores' great-granddaughter Connie Fillmore Bazzy, an ordained Unity minister and then president of Unity School of Christianity, was asked to summarize Unity's teachings in an article for Daily Word® magazine. This article was later incorporated into a booklet titled The Keys to the Kingdom: Five Fundamentals of Truth, published in 1990 to be used as a month-long study of Unity principles. She condensed the teachings of Unity into five essential points.

“My basis for the way that I framed it was out of what I had studied in ministerial school,” said Connie, now retired in Florida. She credits in particular Martha Giudici, who taught generations of Unity ministers, for explaining universal principles in a way people could grasp. “She was a really good teacher with the fundamentals. My mind resonated with her mind, just the idea of making them not too difficult to understand—not too wordy, not too high-falutin'. Just make them so people who might not know anything at all about Unity or metaphysics would be able to say, ‘Oh, that makes sense.' This was my stab at it.”

Within the Unity movement, the Five Principles caught on and are now used in most churches. … They are the basis of sermons, classes, debate and discussion.

… I arrived at ministerial school several years after Connie's article was published, and I memorized the Five Principles as required. They didn't begin to grow on me until I was ministering in a church. I used them as a teaching tool, found myself referring to at least one of them in every Sunday lesson, and found myself using them in my daily life. They worked for me in the most ordinary situations and also addressed some of the great questions of humanity. Their truth reaches far beyond the Unity movement because principles, remember, are the same for everyone, all the time. I have come to believe Connie was divinely inspired the day she wrote these five statements of principles.

A great deal has been offered about spiritual principles in recent decades. Books and seminar leaders cite principles of prosperity, love, health, business and so on. For me, the Five Principles comprise them all. I believe they can be applied to any situation that shows up in our world.

The Five Principles

  1. God is Absolute Good, everywhere present.
  2. Human beings have a spark of divinity within them, the Christ spirit within. Their very essence is of God, and therefore they are also inherently good.
  3. Human beings create their experiences by the activity of their thinking. Everything in the manifest realm has its beginning in thought.
  4. Prayer is creative thinking that heightens the connection with God-Mind and therefore brings forth wisdom, healing, prosperity and everything good.
  5. Knowing and understanding the laws of life, also called Truth, are not enough. A person must also live the truth that he or she knows.



The Five Principles: A Guide to Practical Spirituality is a new book from Unity House®. This excerpt is from the introduction. To learn more about the Five Principles, click here.



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