Unity teachings then and now
Weakness, or sickness, or inharmony,
or imperfection in the organism, is
the result of failure to identify oneself
with God, the divine source, and
understanding how to lay hold of and
express one’s inheritance of spiritual
powers; some limitation in the soul’s
development of its riches; some
ignorance of the body’s requirements
and disregard of the divine law of life
Excerpted from Healing Letters by Myrtle Fillmore (Unity
Hold on there, Myrtle. Are you saying sick people just aren’t
What about birth defects? Or massive injuries from an
accident? Do you believe that those people aren’t right with
God? That somehow they disregarded the divine law of life
Myrtle Fillmore’s absolutism around sickness and healing
is one of the reasons New Thought is a hard sell to people
who can’t imagine they have any responsibility for the
conditions of their lives. It’s also a conundrum for students
who want to accept everything Myrtle said as gospel but
find passages like these a little, well, cold.
Myrtle did indeed say—and meant—that physical
ailments are a spiritual problem.
Some context might help.
In this letter, Myrtle was explaining her concept of
threefold healing—spirit, soul, and body, or spiritual,
mental, and physical. All three demand attention in order
for the body to return to its natural state of balance, she said.
She wasn’t simply theorizing here. This had been Myrtle’s
Myrtle grew up sickly—just like her father, the family told
her—and declined until doctors warned her at age 40 that
she had only six months to live. The answer she found was
spiritual, embodied in a single affirmative sentence: “I am
a child of God, and therefore I do not inherit sickness.” She
lived to be 86.
The secret to her healing, Myrtle wrote later, was
understanding her oneness with the Source of all things.
“We must get at the causes of inharmonies, remove them,
and establish a new and perfect pattern and plan of action,”
In other words, God isn’t out to get us. Illness isn’t
punishment or random fate. And our healing lies in
recognizing our divine identity.
I’ve often wished I could invite Myrtle to my fantasy
dinner party and ask her the questions we hear so often.
What about those with birth defects or dying children?
What about people who appear deeply spiritual but spend
their lives dealing with illness?
I’d ask her about the possibility of soul contracts or the
plans we made before we came into human form. Maybe
illness is intended to teach compassion or patience or
gratitude. It certainly did for her.
If she seemed open to hearing me, I might suggest that
illness is not always a mistake, nor is death always a tragedy.
Many of us have learned that healing is not a “battle” to be
fought, and the health of our inner being is more important
than the outer.
She might argue that anything can be cured with the
right spiritual alignment. After all, her husband Charles
regrew a withered leg!
But the God-light I see in Myrtle’s eyes, especially in
pictures taken of her in her old age, tell me she would
also understand the profound life lessons to be gleaned
from illness, and she would agree our healing comes in
REV. ELLEN DEBENPORT, THE AUTHOR
OF THE FIVE PRINCIPLES (UNI T Y BOOKS,
2009) AND HELL IN THE HALLWAY, LIGHT AT
THE DOOR (BALBOA PRESS, 2015), IS A VICE
PRESIDENT AT UNITY WORLD HEADQUARTERS.
Myrtle’s Hard Line on Healing
CLASSIC AND CONTEMPORARY
“I AM A CHILD OF GOD,
AND THEREFORE I DO NOT