Unity Spiritual Center of Charlotte
Unity & ACIM connections
Both Unity and A Course in Miracles interrelate closely with the Eastern Teachings that evolved in ancient India. Charles and Myrtle Fillmore read and studied the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson who was a devoted student of the Bhagavad Gita and other Eastern writings. Emerson's influence can be found in their writings as well as in their metaphysics. Early publications by the Fillmores included articles on Brahma, Buddhism and other Eastern themes. In 1893 the Fillmores traveled to Chicago to attend the first Parliament of World Religions during which Swami Vivekananda gave several talks. Vivekananda’s books were even advertised in one early edition of Unity magazine. Early Fillmore books contain references to Hindu traditions and stories from Baird Spalding’s book “Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East.” I (Rev Jim) often refer to Unity as a way of "looking at Christianity through Eastern eyes." This seems an appropriate perspective since both Judaism and Christianity are products of middle-Eastern not European thought.
The connection between A Course in Miracles and Eastern thought is less direct but clearly present. An Indian friend, Mr. Gupta, who studied the Course with us in the early 90’s commented that the teaching seemed very similar to the Vedic teachings he had grown up with. Another Course student, a former devotee of Swami Rama, made similar comments. In Carol Howe’s biography of William Thetford (co-scribe of the Course) she recalled Thetford referring to the Course as “pure Christian Vedanta” (Vedic or Indian teaching). Although the Course arose directly from the mind of Jesus and was not based on other writings or theologies the correlation with core Eastern teachings is notable. At one point the Course notes that it is only one form of a “universal course”, so perhaps it should not be surprising to find this same message arising in numerous times and places.
We (Revs. Jim & Kay) have found that utilizing Eastern meditation practices helps quiet our minds allows us to be more open to subtle understandings that underlie the teachings of both the Course and Unity. Unity has always encouraged meditation, often incorporating Eastern forms. We also love devotional chanting in Sanskrit and English. We use chants to help quiet of the chattering mind and to open the spiritual heart. We utilize these Eastern techniques because we find ourselves drawn toward them and because they have been effective tools in our spiritual lives. It is worth noting that very similar forms exist within the Judaeo-Christian faiths and other "Western" traditions. We encourage each person to notice and work with the practices that open their heart, bring peace to their mind, and increase the joy and well-being in their life.