In his famous Divinity School Address in 1838, Ralph Waldo Emerson inflamed the religious community when he asked: "Why should we not have a first-hand and immediate experience of God?" Today a growing number of individuals are asking the same question. Why should we not discover the Presence and Power of God in ourselves today, as Jesus discovered the Presence in himself in his day? Jesus said, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." [John 14:12]
Religion should be a unifying force among people. It should create harmony and peace. It should be a bridge between languages and nations, a bond between the searchers for Truth in all fields of life. When Jesus was asked to sum up his concept of religious law, drawing upon the basic truths he had learned in the synagogue as a child, he said: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self." Jesus knew that love is that which harmonizes, integrates, and unites.
Love is unity. Love breaks down all barriers, destroys all walls, fills in all gulfs, wipes out all sense of separation and isolation. Love makes possible the awakening of the higher consciousness in humankind and leads all to a "first-hand experience of God." The world of today desperately needs this unifying force upon which to build a new civilization. The world needs the unifying, harmonizing, healing Principle of Love. The word is "UNITY".
In the "American Dream," it matters not whether we are conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, Catholic or Protestant, Jewish, or Islamic. There is a UNITY that holds us together. It is the democratic ideal of "e pluribus unum," (one unity composed of many parts). There is something in the word "UNITY" that is wonderfully alluring to an age so sadly rent by divisions of every kind.
It is an amazing word, this word UNITY. What does it mean? To understand it in the widest application — the universe — we must think of it in the most personal sense: the unity of the individual with God. Jesus said, "I and the Father are One." [John 10:30] He did not mean to imply that he was God or that God was living for a while in the form of a man. Jesus was referring to his relationship with the Infinite. He was saying that there was a point of contact where the Divine became human, and the "Word became flesh," where Eternal Life became the animating force of his body temple, where Divine Love became his loving heart, where Infinite Intelligence became his intelligent mind. The key to the great power of Jesus was his relationship with God “ — "I and the Father are One."
No one could tell where man left off and God began in Jesus. Perhaps we cannot tell this in any person. Everyone must ultimately emphasize his or her own unity with God by proclaiming as Jesus did, "I and the Father are One." Unless we understand Jesus' concept of unity, we have lost the key to his teachings. It is the Unity Principle that explains the true meaning of "The Christ." Christ is not a person, but a level of the particularization of God into the person, the focal point through which all the attributes of God are poured out into livingness. It is humankind's true "hope of glory" and the key to a fulfilling and abundant life. Perhaps the word "Christ" can only be defined by the word "UNITY" — the unity of God and the individual.
In the first chapter of the Gospel of John there is a reference to the Divine Life that dwelt in Jesus: "That was the true light, which lighteth every man, coming into the world." In other words, this point of Light in the heart of man which Paul referred to as The Christ was also in Lao-tzu, in Confucius, in Buddha, in Plato, in Emerson...and, in a very real sense, is in you and me. Two thousand years ago Jesus discovered this unity with God within himself and the Divine Depths within all persons—this was "the secret of the ages." Sharing this secret with all humankind was what Jesus' mission was all about. The word is UNITY!