Today we begin our series on healing – ourselves, our communities, and our world. We’re going to explore how, individually and collectively, we can live fuller lives from the wholeness that is at our center.
Wholeness Comes From the Center
I believe a good place to begin is with the story of Unity co-founder Myrtle Fillmore, who was forced by circumstances to find that center and live from it, if she was to live at all. Diagnosed with tuberculosis, usually incurable at that time, she literally had to choose life or death. Indeed, her first amazing accomplishment was in realizing that she even had a choice.
As you may have heard, in addition to tuberculosis Myrtle suffered terribly from various other illnesses, including stomach problems. She had a family history of disease and early death, and she was told that she also was destined to die young. Everyone thought her decline was inevitable and shared that with her. In her letters, she described herself before she began her healing journey as “an emaciated little woman.”
However, when she was about 41, a Christian Science practitioner from Chicago, Dr. E.B. Weeks, was presenting a series of lectures in Kansas City. Myrtle attended, and her life changed entirely. She left the lecture with the realization that, “I am a child of God, therefore, I do not inherit sickness.” She wrote:
There is nothing in human language able to express the vastness of my possibilities, as they unrolled before me. . . . The physical claims that had been considered such a serious nature faded away before the dawning of this new consciousness, and I found that my body temple had been literally transformed through the renewing of my mind.
In another letter she wrote, “It was such a wonderful time for me when I awakened to the Truth that God is my Father and that I inherit from him only that which is Good.”
Wholeness Is a Way of Thinking and Can Be Learned
So what did Myrtle do? She began thinking, and believing, differently. She no longer accepted as true the idea that she was ill and would soon die. She began to, as she called it, “teach” her body that it was well, vibrant and alive. She focused on her liver, and told it that it was full of vigor and energy. She told her stomach that it was vibrant, intelligent and alive. She wrote,
I went to all the life centers in my body and spoke words of Truth to them — words of strength and power. I asked their forgiveness for the foolish, ignorant course that I had pursued in the past, when I condemned them and called them weak, inefficient and diseased. I did not become discouraged at their being slow to wake up, but kept right on, both silently and aloud, declaring the words of Truth, until the organs responded.
Myrtle began to teach others this transformative way of thinking that had worked so well for her. She wrote later that when someone would come to her with the doctor’s diagnosis of an illness, she would ask him or her to turn away from the doctor’s opinion, to stop focusing on that scary diagnosis. She said that doctors dealt with effects only, not the truth of our being. Then she would counsel the person to reject the common wisdom that the diagnosis was unchangeable, saying:
. . . just as one would refuse to hold to and think of some unworthy and untrue thing . . . He is to begin at once to rejoice that he is the offspring of God, that the life and the substance of his body and the perfect pattern of that life and body are gifts of God, gifts that are in reality inseparably one with His own being, the very essence of God life and God substance and God intelligence.
She taught that “we must see the life of God in our flesh.”
Myrtle’s story is legend in New Thought. Indeed, she recovered and went on to live another 45 years, always teaching about the power of our own ability, in faith, to access this healing energy that originates in the power she called God, but that we can call many names.
We Exist In a Healing Stream Of Wholeness and Life
Myrtle Fillmore, and those who came after her, taught that whether we know it or not, feel it or not, believe it or not, we exist in a healing stream of wholeness and life. We can’t remove ourselves from it any more than we stop the stream from flowing. It surrounds us, sustains us, invites us to wholeness and health.
Eric Butterworth describes this healing stream as:
. . . an eternal reality. . . . The whole universe is within you, and its flow is ever the reality of you in a fundamental sense, no matter what the incidentals may be. And it is this reality of wholeness that is the key to the constancy of the healing and renewing process within the body – even when we do nothing or know nothing about it.
The healing stream is constant – it does not arise only when we notice it, or affirm that it is true. It is simply true, like gravity. Gravity does not wait for us to acknowledge it to work. It simply works.
The creative power of the universe is expressing as us, and health is our natural state. The healing stream is an eternal reality, and we are surrounded by it and carried along in it. When we become aware of this truth, we can align our consciousness with it, lifting ourselves up with energy, joy, and vitality.
Prayer Is Not Enough to Attain Wholeness and Healing
Myrtle Fillmore declared words of strength and truth and then acted on them. She taught that prayer is not enough – we must think of God, whom she called that all-powerful Healer, as already being in every part of us. When we internalize that knowledge, we live from that truth and our life changes. We treat our bodies better – we eat better, we sleep an adequate amount, we get the exercise we need. We look at our body as the wonderful creation that it is, constantly alive and growing, creating health in every cell and organ.
Living in this energy is the difference between knowing about truth, and knowing truth. I can read books all day long, quote wisdom teachers continually, but until I internalize this knowledge and live from it, I’m simply carting around a bunch of books. I am not changed, and that is the goal. This is a job each of us must do for ourselves. Teachers can only tell us what truth looks like for them – we each need to come to know it ourselves.
When we live from this truth as it appears to us, we keep the channels to Spirit open. We declare our willingness for the healing power of the universal creative mind to work in us. We live in the knowledge that we are, as Butterworth wrote, “in the ceaseless flow of transcendent life.” We simply say yes to the gift that is always being offered to us.
Wholeness and Health Are Gifts Given Freely To Us
So, like any inheritance, this healing power is a gift freely given for us to do with as we wish. We can use it to our good, or ignore and squander it. How do we do that? Focusing on fear, lack, judgment, failure – these are ways we fail to value this inheritance of good.
How do we take this inheritance and use it to our good? We celebrate the gift, regardless of the circumstances surrounding us. We do not focus on illness, but keep our sights on wholeness. We move toward health, and do not waste our time resisting illness. As I’ve heard it said, we are pulled by vision rather than pushed by pain. We remain positive, affirmative, energetic, clear eyed and optimistic. We continue to move toward life.
As I was preparing this talk I came across a story from author Dr. Richard Bartlett, who wrote a book called Matrix Energetics about using our own creative power to transform and heal. He tells of the time he was trying to learn how to ride a motorcycle, and was supposed to be navigating figure eights around those large orange cones. He kept looking at the cones and as we might expect ended up piled on top of them. When he finally stopped looking at the cones and focused on the road, he stopped crashing into the cones. As he wrote it, he learned, “don’t look where we don’t want to go.”
Let’s think about this in our own lives. How often do we focus on what we want to avoid, instead of bringing into our consciousness where we want to be? When we are faced with a serious diagnosis or undergo a life event that upends us, this is a difficult principle to follow; it may take a while for us to make the choice that leads us to a life-affirming course. However, we need to remember always that we are not victims, and we do have a choice.
Wholeness Is a Growth of Consciousness
Do you see the difference between focusing on what we claim rather than what we seek to avoid? One is a positive wellspring of vitality and health, the other is a quagmire based in fear from which we can’t drag ourselves. It’s a void that swallows us up. We anxiously hunt for health while consciously affirming that we are sick. How much better is it to affirm that our truth is wholeness and health? Feel how different the energy is.
Everybody gets sick, and if we are lucky to live long enough, we decline. We have all seen instances of loving, authentic, connected, and giving people suffer illnesses from which they don’t recover. We’ve seen young people die. But, if we contract a disease and do not get well, it doesn’t mean that we did anything wrong, or that we have failed to remain in the flow of universal love. We all die.
I find that my life is much improved when I apply these principles, and so I believe them to be true. However, I have an issue with how I’ve seen these principles practiced, and this is where we need to be careful. We must fight the urge to turn them into intractable dogma, complete with judgments and instructions. This is not a contest in which we need to measure up.
Moreover, I don’t think these teachers were focusing on physical cures or health, even though when I read some of these passages it sounds like that’s what they’re saying. For example, in Healing Letters Myrtle Fillmore wrote: “We know very well that God would not create a person with imperfections and shortcomings and disease.”
That one brought me up short because all we need to do is look around and we’ll see imperfections, and shortcomings, and disease. I’m sure she saw them as well, so what was she saying?
I think she was saying that wholeness is something else. In a later letter she wrote:
. . . we have the faith and the cooperation of those for whom we pray and to whom we give instruction. After all it is not the physical and mental relief that means most to the persons receiving treatment, and we are not so much concerned with the results as we are with the growth in consciousness that will make the results abiding.
Living From a Consciousness of Wholeness
Myrtle Fillmore speaks of this growth in consciousness, a change in our emphasis and focus to our eternal connection with Spirit, even when we become ill, decline and die. She treated death very lightly, as the next phase. She wrote:
You will learn that those who go through the change called death are passing through a transition, the soul giving up the body temple, which for some reason or other it can no longer express through or bring into health. Your dear one has not gone away. He is abiding in the heart of the Father, and you have learned that the Father is omnipresent. So all His children are just where their consciousness draws and holds them, whether they are functioning in the physical or have temporarily laid aside the flesh body.
Likewise, Emilie Cady wrote in Lessons in Truth that wholeness is “the fundamental and ultimate reality of each person’s being.” It’s a truth that doesn’t change, and whatever our physical circumstances we can live in that truth. Living from a consciousness of wholeness doesn’t mean achieving physical perfection, or even lifelong physical health. Wholeness is living our connection to God throughout all the circumstances of our lives.
We are beings in physical bodies that age and decline, and if we didn’t life on earth would be intolerable and unsustainable. In the biological mix along with all other life forms on the planet, we share about 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees and bonobos. We may be smarter and better dressed, but biologically, we are subject to the same vagaries of cell formation, mutation, and decline.
Wholeness — Accepting and Living in the Healing Stream Of Universal Energy
We are meant to be born, live for a time and move on, so that those who come next may eat the food, drink the water, enjoy the air.
But that doesn’t mean we cannot remain in a consciousness of love, connection, and gratitude. We are grateful for all of it – the wonderful, often messy and confusing ride that is this world and our lives. Regardless of the particulars of our lives, we remain in Spirit’s healing stream of love and strength, and we live fuller and more joyous lives when we are aware of this truth.
What I would hope is that we use these teachings to enliven and encourage us, not judge us for falling short.
I accept that I cannot always see over each horizon and answer each question. Easy answers are not always right answers, no matter how much we want to hear them. However, accepting that we are all in the flow of spirit enables me to walk toward those horizons with courage and hope, no matter what they hold. I cannot see how my story runs, or yours. Accepting the joy of living in the healing stream of universal energy doesn’t mean we are free from sickness or aging – we’re not. It does mean that wherever the stream takes us, it’s a place we were meant to go, bringing us to a greater awareness and ultimately bringing us home and to a new life.
Watch Rev. Melanie’s talk now