In this week’s blog, Licensed Unity Teacher, Rick Busby continues our series on “The Twelve Powers” by exploring Charles Fillmore’s presentation on the power of spiritual strength and its connection to Unity Principles.
This month, I complete a year long study of Charles Fillmore’s The Twelve Powers. Each of the past 11 months, I have focused on one of the twelve powers in my writings and in my Sunday talks at Unity churches throughout Texas. In November, I spent the month exploring the power of spiritual strength. I must confess that I had not revisited Fillmore’s chapter on spiritual strength since my S.E.E. class on The Twelve Powers way back in 2008. So, for me, the month of November brought new insights and understanding into this vital creative power, how it supports the functions of the other eleven powers and how Fillmore’s discussion foreshadows the articulation of Unity Principle #3 more than fifty plus years later.
Physical Strength or Spiritual Strength?
What exactly is the power of strength, according to Fillmore? How does the power of strength work together with the other powers? The first bit to keep in mind is that Fillmore is focusing more on the power of spiritual strength than on physical strength. Still, as if to emphasize the physical aspects, Fillmore locates the power center of strength in the lower back, which emphasizes its supportive nature to the other powers.
In addition to the word strength, Fillmore also synonymously associates the words stability and steadfastness to this essential creative power. As described by Fillmore, the power of strength also implies endurance. I have come to view the power of strength as the persevering power, facilitating our capacity to stand steadfast in the face of challenge or adversity, to endure and persevere over the longer term towards our creative and spiritual goals.
Spiritual Strength Does Not Work Independently
Like all other spiritual powers, strength does not work well independently. In such cases, there would be a tendency to exercise strength exclusively in the physical realm, independent of a spiritual context. This would be more like force than true power. Spiritual strength works in concert with the other eleven powers as a supporting power. For example, it is the power of zeal or desire that gives us the intuitive “impulse to go forward,” but it is the power of strength that provides the fuel or creative energy needed to persevere and endure over the long-term.
Strength is the essential fuel that fires the body, mind and spirit to be steadfastly diligent and persevering in the development of our spiritual consciousness and the manifestation of our creative dreams. It provides support in overcoming the inevitable resistance we encounter when we are moving towards the realization of our highest good, among other things. Sheer desire or passion will get us moving to begin with, but, without the supportive power of strength, our energies will burn out, especially in the face of adversity or longer term challenges.
A Strong and Enduring Faith
Fillmore associates the power of strength with the Apostle Andrew. In Greek, the name Andrew means “strong man.” Andrew, metaphysically symbolizing strength, was the brother of Peter, who represents the power of faith. Together, they symbolize a strong and enduring faith, one capable of persevering through perceived adversities and challenges. Faith separated from strength would be unstable and deficient in its capacity to endure and persevere through adversities.
Likewise, strength decoupled from the perceiving power of faith would have no vision to facilitate and support. Since faith is for the most part an invisible power, the steadfastness and perseverance implied by the power of strength are required to see that which is “perceived” through faith through to its complete manifestation in the physical realm.
The Parable of the Strong Man
As Jesus taught in the parable of the strong man, a house divided against itself inevitably falls. Fillmore uses this parable to frame his discussion on the power of strength. This particular parable appears in three of the four Gospels underscoring its fundamental importance in Jesus’ teachings. Jesus uses the parable defending himself against charges of exorcising demons. His accusers charge him with casting out demons by the power of “Be-el’zebul, the prince of demons.” Turning the logic of their own charges against them, Jesus counters: “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?”
Jesus merely points out how ludicrous the charge is by stating the obvious. Why would Be-el’zebul give charge to Jesus to cast out the demons Be-el’zebul sent in the first place? It would be counter intuitive and would undermine Be-el’zebul’s own plans for dominion. It would, in effect, set a house up to be divided against itself. Jesus further challenges the arguments of his accusers by telling the parable of the strong man. From Mark 3:27:
“A man cannot enter the house of a mighty one and rob his valuables, unless he first binds the mighty one, and then he shall plunder his house.”
Fillmore reaches the metaphysical conclusion from the parable that spiritual strength is stronger than physical strength. It takes a greater power to overcome a mighty one. Physical strength is one thing, but it cannot stand against the immeasurable power of spiritual strength. The classic Bible story that underscores this truth is the tale of David and Goliath, where David uses his “spiritual” sight to detect the “physical” vulnerability of Goliath’s armor to fell him. What otherwise looked like an inevitable defeat for David turned into one of the most powerful tales of victory and overcoming in all of recorded history.
The Potentialities of Humankind
Fillmore reminds us that our spiritual powers are powers in potential only. They do not develop on their own. We must consciously engage and take responsibility for “developing, refining and transmuting our spiritual and creative potentials.” Like all spiritual gifts, everything begins as a divine idea sourced from Divine Mind. Everything humankind has ever created is an expression of these divine ideas, or potentials. In their totality, they tell the tale of the spiritual unfoldment of humankind.
Inside of every man, woman and child on the planet, there are a multitude of potential versions of themselves they will manifest over the course of their life times. As Fillmore says, there are “a thousand other…active personalities, occupying the consciousness of every human being.” These potentials run the gamut of dualistic tendencies, like wise man and foolish man, kind man and cruel man, loving man and hateful man, just to mention a mere few.
Physical strength is more times than not completely powerless and altogether useless in helping us to realize those potentials. It is rather mental and spiritual strength that is required. Like all things under the sun, all manifestations of strength originate in Spirit, as a divine idea sourced in the realm of Divine Mind. It is our thoughts, feelings, words and actions spiritually expressed that determine the outcomes of our demonstrations, expressions and manifestations of our potentials. As Fillmore writes:
“We grow to be like that which we idealize. Affirming or naming a mighty spiritual principle identifies the mind with that principle; then all that the principle stands for in the realm of ideas is poured out upon the one who affirms.”
This is where Charles Fillmore begins to foreshadow the link between the power of strength and Unity Principle #3: “We create our life experiences through our thoughts and feelings.” This is another way of saying, “As a man thinketh, so is he.” Or, “As you sow, so shall you reap.”
Spiritual Law Is Primary
Humankind is a mass bundle of contradictory potentials. If not for the power of spiritual strength, we would be unable to consistently move towards the development of our highest potential. Our efforts would be ramshackle without the steadfast stability that the persevering power of spiritual strength provides us.
Once liberated from the limitations of mere physical strength, we really begin to claim the creative power of spiritual strength. Charles Fillmore reminds us time and again that our lives are governed by spiritual law and that these laws “must be observed by both creator and created.” More importantly, he reminds us of the primacy of spiritual law over physical law when he writes:
“The physical law is secondary and subordinate to the primacy of the spiritual law. We begin our existence as ideas in Divine Mind; those ideas are expressed and developed and brought to fruition, and the expression of that is the most important part of the soul’s growth.”
So, the next time you feel tempted to simply power through a problem with simple brute strength, remember that your spiritual and mental strength is way more powerful. Applied correctly and in concert with your other spiritual powers, it will not only get you further down the road towards the realization of your goals, but most likely will do so with a feeling of empowerment, not to mention a whole lot less fuss.