By Lauri Boyd, MDiv, Unity Minister, ordained 2009
In this time of financial uncertainty for so many, it is important to embrace a practice that is relevant to today’s consciousness. Of course, it is useful to look to history for wisdom and strength. We are not the first generation to experience financial hardship, and we will not be the last. Myrtle Fillmore was one of the co-founders of the Unity movement. Together with her husband, Charles, she helped to create a whole new approach to spirituality at the beginning of the 20th century. There is a story about Myrtle that is famous in Unity circles.
In the 1930s, during the height of the Great Depression, there was a time when Unity was in serious financial straits. Bills were piling up and there did not seem to be enough money to meet the next payroll. Turning to their trusted spiritual practices, the Fillmores call their staff together to pray about the matter. As they gathered, one of the staff is reported to have said, “Let us pray that the money holds out.” Myrtle immediately responded, “Oh, no. Let us pray that our faith holds out.”
Myrtle understood the foundational truth about prosperity, and that truth is — Money is not the source of our supply. God is. Prosperity is a state of consciousness in which we know, and we know that we know, that God is the source of all that we need, and that we are expressions of God. Myrtle also understood that it takes practice to establish such a state of consciousness. Specifically, it takes spiritual practice. One of the most effective practices for establishing a consciousness of prosperity is the practice of giving.
And in the 21st century, it is just as important to apply this foundational truth in a way that is in alignment with our current values and world-view.
Evolving our Language
Before we dive deeper into these ideas, let us consider the word “prosperity”. In our culture, this word has become closely tied to the concept of money. Though we can learn to broaden our definition, our first thought upon hearing the term “prosperity” is usually financial well-being. It is also unfortunate that the term has become inextricably linked with the Prosperity Gospel, causing further confusion. (see Afterward)
Language is a living thing, and, like all living things, it evolves. In Unity, we have seen this evolution of language as people have begun to substitute the word ‘abundance’ for ‘prosperity’. This term broadens our understanding of the experience of prosperity beyond a focus on money. However, it still evokes a feeling of lavishness, of having more than enough. As we have become more skillful at understanding and addressing the effects of inequality and how to be better stewards of our planet’s natural resources, our collective values are shifting away from a desire for lavishness and toward a desire for a fair share for all.
In his work on Inclusivity, Shariff Abdullah has coined a term that better evokes the concept behind Unity’s teachings around prosperity in conjunction with our evolving sensibilities. This term is “Enoughness”.