Questions along the way
Questions and Answers about Unity Principles and Unity Temple from Rev. Duke Tufty
You know, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore when they began Unity, one of the primary principles that they based the movement on, was that every single person has the truth within them. And that means that you have the truth within you, the spiritual truth, the divine truth, the God consciousness within you, to make decisions on how you want to live your life, and how you want to be, the kind of personality you want to have, and the different objectives you want to aspire to; it’s all within you.
And just because I’m the one standing up here on stage this morning answering questions, doesn’t mean that I’m the one who has arrived, or I’m the enlightened one; I am no different than all of you. I am a fellow student, I am on the path, searching for answers, sometimes finding them, sometimes continuing to search – but it’s a wonderful, wonderful process of life that keeps us all moving forward.
So this morning we are just going to answer a few questions that you have and the ones that we don’t have time to answer, we’ll answer them throughout the week. They’ll be posted on the website, or if you would like, you can call us up and we’ll send you a transcript of them.
So I’ve asked Ms. Heidi to join me. Since the last time I did this somebody questioned me as to whether I was really reading the question on the card, or if it was one I was making up in my head.
Do you think each person has only one soul mate?
Actually, I do not believe that, and some of the answers I am going to give this morning would be from a person basis and not from an absolute truth basis because there’s many things we don’t know. But I think there is a realm of consciousness in which we can all find a sense of oneness with another person.
And sometimes that soul mate takes years to unfold because we have to move through the different issues that we build up over a lifetime. But I think when we arrive to that place of true, unconditional love, and we find a compatibility with somebody, that person can become a soul mate and there is absolutely no limitation to the number of soul mates we can have.
How does one cope with external events such as possible job loss, at close to retirement age, and know that abundance will always be there?
Well, that is a good question. Prosperity literally defined means having whatever we desire to the degree that we wish. And our well-being isn’t dependent upon anything else but peace of mind, and sense of harmony and love in our lives. God will provide. God doesn’t provide with money, but God does provide with Divine ideas. And I don’t believe there is going to be a single person in this room that is ever going to move to a point that they get stuck, and they cannot continue moving forward to their higher good.
Sometimes it seems like we are stuck in a problem, or a challenge, or we face devastating fears about the future, but life moves on. And no matter what happens in our lives, nothing can permanently impair our peace of mind and our sense of well-being.
How many lives do we have?
Nobody knows. I can say what I believe, that life goes on; we know that the energy within us, the Spirit within us, it never, ever decreases. It never, ever dissolves. It is eternal. It has been around for 14 billion years, it will be around for another 14 billion years. That is the God energy, the God Spirit within us.
I also know this: that each and every one of us is never, ever, going to exist again in the bodily dress that we have now. When we move on, the Spirit moves on and the body is laid to rest. I believe that we do reincarnate someplace, where, I don’t know, but there is another dimension beyond this one; and I also believe that we are able to communicate and come into contact with those people that we have loved previously.
Who is Jesus Christ in this church?
Jesus Christ is a teacher, he is a spiritual brother, he is a Way-shower, he is the one that lived up to the highest level of human potential that we know of, but we also recognize that there are other spiritual masters as well; some that Jesus learned from. Many people believe that Jesus traveled to
So Jesus is an example of what we can do and how we can live, and he in his own words said that he was not the exception; that we all have this God power, this God presence this potential within us.
Where do you believe you go when you die?
Some place. Other than that, I have absolutely no idea, other than the fact that it is some place good. It’s some place good.
What is the main purpose to life?
I believe that the main purpose to life is progressive, creative expression; and what I mean by that is that we all have potential, and when we creatively draw on that potential to progress forward to higher levels of love, to higher levels of peace, and higher levels of oneness with God, that that fulfills our purpose for being here.
From a spiritual standpoint, I think the primary purpose for life is to treat other people they way that we would like to be treated. And when we mastered that, we’ve mastered life.
What do you or Unity think about “angels,” or “guides” or “protectors?” I think that there is a spiritual energy; that angels exist; that guides exist; that protectors exist. I know there’s many times when I have been faced with incredible challenges, and messages come to me that solves my problems, and helps me move beyond my challenges, and it usually has a sense of wisdom to it that I feel was provided for me by somebody in the spiritual dimension that is watching over me.
A guardian is another issue. I think that we are all guardians. We’re all here to help other people, to support other people in a spiritual way; to watch over them just as a parent watches over their young children. We are here to be guardians for those people that we love, and that doesn’t necessarily mean interfering in their lives, but it means always being there with our love. That’s the only responsibility we have for other people. We don’t have responsibility of supporting them financially or solving their problems, but we do have the responsibility to always be there with an open heart and love them.
I have a difficult time in understanding the balance between co-creating with God and letting go, letting God. When do we co-create and when do we let go?
Well, letting go and letting God involve both situations and circumstances that are unchangeable. If we lose somebody that’s very dear to us and we’re extremely troubled by it, there’s nothing that can reverse that, and that is something that we can let go and let God. Many times parents come to me and they are very worried about their children - adult children. They are living their lives in ways that the parents don’t approve of; sometimes its addiction problems and my answer to them is, ‘They are on their path, moving towards their higher good, and you just need to let go and let God be the driving influence in their lives.’
Co-creating with God is personally what we desire to have in our lives. And God is the energy within us, our imagination, our creativity, our stamina, our strength, our power – all those beautiful attributes that allow us to create what we want in our lives. Now that can be a long-term objective--perhaps I want to co-create with God to accrue vast amounts of money--but also is co-creating in every single moment.
When we walk out of this church today, and we move into the world around us, we can co-create with God the experience that we have from every situation and circumstance that we face. If there’s something that angers us and we fly into a rage, we’re co-creating with God. God provides with energy, we channel it into thoughts and feelings and attitudes and perceptions; the experience of that situation. If we step back, calm down, bless it, and bless the situation or person that caused it, we’re co-creating with God a sense of harmony in our lives.
It’s like God is the power, the power source. God is the electricity so to speak, and we are the ones that determine what to do with that power. When it comes to electricity, we can use it to electrocute somebody, or we can use it to enlighten the room. It’s up to us; we have that choice.
What do you say when someone says that ‘This is not Christianity?’
I usually say, ‘What is?’ We actually had this 15 years ago when we started Spirituality and all that Jazz in this room, and somebody wrote a letter to me and said that that kind of music wasn’t spiritual. And my only response was that everything is spiritual, whether it is jazz or whether it’s on our knees praying. We live in a vast spiritual sea of activities, and anything that helps increase the sense of well-being for one, without deterring the well-being for another, I see as a spiritual activity.
How do you pray to God and simultaneously know that you already have the answers to your questions?
Well, when we pray to God, we don’t pray to God to give us something. We don’t pray to God to give us the solutions to our problems, or to give us the way around a challenge, or to give us a winning lottery ticket, or whatever it might be. God is not out there to be petitioned to answer our prayers. God provides for us, everything that we need to solve our problems and move beyond the challenges.
So when we pray, we pray in an affirmative way. It is a prayer of gratitude. It is ‘Thank you God, for the wisdom you have given me, that will surface and provide me with the solutions I am looking for.’ So instead of feeling like we’re behind this brick wall, unable to do something ourselves, and we’re depending on somebody out there to intervene and do it for us, we are saying, ‘I have the wisdom, and power and strength within me, to move beyond this. And thank you.’
It is that very affirmation of realizing that we have that, and affirming it, that allows higher levels of consciousness to kick-in, and find ourselves around that which is troubling us.
Is there such a thing as evil? If God created everything, did God create evil?
Definitely, there is evil. All we have to do is pick up the morning newspaper and we see horrendous things that have happened, and evil things that have been done by people. God doesn’t create evil. God is the power of life. And once again, we have been given the power to choose what we are going to do with that life power. We can do good, or we can do bad. It’s all God, but once again, back to the co-creation of it, we’re determining what we do with the God power within us.
How does Unity reconcile the concepts of free will and God’s will?
Well, I think God’s will is our will if we are aligned with our spiritual nature. Every single person in here came into the world the same way. We came in pure; we came in innocent; we came in good; we came in beautiful; and then life shaped us. A series of events and circumstances and the environment in which we grew up in, shaped us into a person who had certain beliefs and certain attitudes, some which benefit us and some which don’t. And when we move forward on the spiritual path we take a look at those attitudes, and those thoughts and feelings that really don’t feel good to us. And any sense of hate, any sense of rage, any sense of self-condemnation or self-criticism or feelings of unworthiness – they don’t strengthen the soul; they weaken the soul. So we take what God has given us, and we move forward as students of life on the path, and continually learn, and continually progress.
Why do some people say, ‘Oh, that’s not church,’ when I say I attend
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their recognizing a higher truth to the matter. They cannot accept it; they cannot see it; they are so immersed in what they believe that they can’t recognize anything that might prove them wrong. That goes for us as well as anybody else.
When it comes to Unity, Unity is very different. Unity isn’t a fundamental religion. We don’t take the Bible literally, and it is about increasing our well-being; every one of us. When people come in the door, increasing that person’s well-being for some might be a sandwich and a cup of soup, because they haven’t eaten for a couple of days. For some it might be a person that just lost his or her job, and they just need to have somebody sit down and pray with them in competent manner that things will be OK. So it is ‘feel good.’ There’s no doubt about that.
That doesn’t move us to a point where we turn our head to our problems, or we ignore our challenges, or we don’t have those mood swings where we feel sad, because sadness is a vital part of life as well. But, moving up to higher levels of well-being means discovering those things in life that are really joyful. If somebody discounts that, I believe, going back to my first statement, its because they so firmly believe, in the church that they go to--in the religion that they have pledged their allegiance to--,that they’re not willing to accept anything else.
And I bless them, and I honor them for their choices, but, there’s really, really nothing wrong with walking out of here with a smile on your face.
So how is it that we are one and individuals at the same time?
We all sit here today in different packages. We’re dressed differently; our bodies are different; our personalities are different; we’re unique individuals. And if you go within the body, you find cells, and those cells are very unique to you, and you alone. Beneath the cells they are made up of molecules; and the molecules are made up of atoms; and the atoms have an energy with them. They’re 95% energy and that energy, that’s Spirit within the atom, and in each and every one of us it is exactly the same as it is in you and in me. When we go to that spiritual level there is a oneness between us, where my love is your love, and all love is our love. And my life is your life, and all of life is our life; all of it, God given.
So we have every blessing of being individuals, being able to go into the world and live our lives, and what a sad, mundane world it would be if we were all the same. If I was sitting here talking to 700 ‘Dukes,’ 700 ‘Dukes’ would be dozing off. But the fact that we are individuals, yet we are one with God, it’s difficult to grasp; you can’t define it; but you can feel it.
When Jerome [Johnson] was singing earlier, [You know the answers to your questions] all of us became one listener, and we forgot about our individuality, we forgot about our uniqueness, we forgot about our problems that we had; we were just one together in that experience. And that’s one of the greatest glories of life, that we can merge together with a sense of oneness, and yet move out and follow our individual paths.
Has the mission or message of Unity changed over the years, and how?
Yes it has. It’s changed greatly. One of the biggest problems I have with fundamental religion--and this isn’t a complaint or criticism, but it led me to find something else--is that much of their belief system is based on information and perceptions that are 6,000 years old. And a lot of those perceptions haven’t changed. There is still, one God. That hasn’t changed.
But, as science has moved forward, and technology has moved forward, and psychology has moved forward, we’ve come to discover much, much more about who we are and the universe that we live in. Charles Fillmore, one of our founders, once gave a lecture and somebody in the audience raised their hand and said, ‘Now wait a minute. I was here two weeks ago and you answered that question totally differently.’ And he said, ‘In two weeks, I have learned, differently.’
And Unity is an evolving message. We can’t get stuck. And there’s even a struggle within the Unity movement that everything should stop when Charles Fillmore died in 1947; that we should hold to what he believed. If he would have lived, Unity would have continued to progress like it is. But if you think of all the things that happened since 1947 - with the Hubble Telescope, and the incredible electro-microscopic abilities we have to explore the body, and the cures…Any message has to have a foundation of traditional beliefs that are unchangeable, yet at the same time be able to move, and to grow and to discover more things about our world and who we are.
In the 20 years that you’ve been here at
It’s been absolutely incredible. Many of you remember, because you were here 20 years ago, and it was 25 years ago that I was secretary here; and at that time women were frowned on for wearing pants to church. The ushers could only be male. There were no cells phones, there was no internet, the communication was much slower, and we depended on letters, and that is one thing that has allowed us to expand our rate of knowing. We learn much faster today then we did then.
But another thing is the spirituality; how that has advanced in the last 20 years. And I see science and spirituality, from both sides, building this bridge where someday they’ll be looked on as one and the same. Science is not the enemy. It if disproves certain beliefs we have, then we have to say, ‘Well, great, what is the spiritual essence of that?’ Our spirituality holds on to faith, which science can’t recognize because there is no physical evidence of it; or it holds on to spirit or to love…that is great. But science is also discovering that. They are discovering that 95% of this universe is made up of something that we don’t know what it is. And as they discover that, I feel like they are discovering God; that God is this everywhere present, Spirit, power, life force…and science is moving toward admitting that, and saying, ‘Yes, that we can’t detect all that there is,’ but spirituality has a real strong influence on what that can be - and they call it God.
How do you respond to those who say Unity is a cult?
I would say, ‘What’s a cult?’ You know, when I looked up at the balcony earlier, I forgot that the seats had been taken out, and there’s this whole group hovered over there, and I said, ‘God, is that a cult building up, up there check?’
But, in my understanding, a cult is something that overpowers people. It dictates that they follow a particular line of thought, and line of action. Unity is the exactly the opposite. It empowers people. You will never hear anything from this stage, or from that lectern, that overpowers your free will, or overpowers your freedom of choice, or overpowers your right to choose how you think. It’s all about empowering you. I mean, go within and find your answers. And if there’s disagreements in this church about certain things that are said, I applaud that. Because anytime there is a disagreement, it allows us to search out, perhaps a higher understanding that both sides can agree upon.
So, a cult we are not. A wonderful, spiritual source of empowerment we are.