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Unity Metaphysics: 16 The Twelve Powers of Man

Unity Metaphysics 1 (Tan Book)
16 The Twelve Powers of Man

Unity Metaphysics (Tan) Book 1 Cover


"When man begins to follow Jesus in the regeneration he finds that he must cooperate with the work of his disciples or faculties. Heretofore they have been under the natural law; they have been fishers in the natural world. Through his recognition of his relation as the Son of God, man cooperates in the original creative law. He calls his faculties out of their materiality into their spirituality. This process is symbolized by Jesus' calling His apostles." (The Twelve Powers of Man 50)

"In order to follow Jesus in the regeneration we must become better acquainted with the various phases of mind and how they function in and through the body." (Atom-Smashing Power of Mind 42)

Any person who makes a serious commitment to following the teachings of spiritual Truth immediately comes under the influence of higher and finer aspects of the law than before. Up to this point, most persons are almost entirely dominated by what we call the laws of nature, and also the most mechanical level of cause and effect. This changes after what Mr. Fillmore refers to as "his recognition of his relation as the Son of God." We also call it "making a commitment to Spirit." This is rather difficult to explain unless one experiences it for oneself. One of the first things that happens in this case is that life seems to become more simplified. And, as Mr. Fillmore has stated, the faculties begin expressing in cooperation with laws that are higher and finer than what we have previously regarded as natural law.


"Inherent in the Mind of Being are twelve fundamental ideas, which in action appear as primal creative forces. It is possible for man to ally himself with and to use these original forces, and thereby cooperate with the creative law, but in order to do this he must detach himself from the forces and enter into the consciousness of the idea lying back of them." (The Twelve Powers of Man 52)

"Man is a focal point in God consciousness and expresses God. Therefore he must understand the processes that bring about that expression. Infinite Mind is here with all its ideas as a resource for man, and what we are or become is the result of our efforts to accumulate in our own consciousness all the attributes of infinite Mind." (Charles Fillmore Prosperity 29)

This first paragraph is important in the history of the Unity movement. It is that point in the Unity teachings where Mr. Fillmore first shares his spiritual insight into the fact that "inherent in the Mind of Being (God) there are TWELVE FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS..." Here he has established the twelve powers as we list them today as the fundamental or basic divine ideas. Of course there are more than twelve ideas. But these are the true fundamental ones, the most basic, and in a sense the "parents" of all other ideas.


"The subconscious realm in man has twelve great centers of action, with twelve presiding egos or identities. When Jesus had attained a certain soul development, He called His twelve apostles to Him. This means that when man is developing out of mere personal consciousness into spiritual consciousness, he begins to train deeper and larger powers; he sends his thought down into the inner centers of his organism, and through his word quickens them to life. Where before his powers have worked in the personal, now they begin to expand and work in the universal." (The Twelve Powers of Man 15)

Until a certain level of spiritual consciousness is attained, our twelve powers serve mostly selfish purposes. But there are higher purposes in store for us. A commitment to Spirit results in many of those purposes being revealed. When this happens, if we so choose, our twelve powers begin to work to serve those higher purposes. It is then we say that we are "in Truth," or "on the path."


"The following outline gives a list of the Twelve, the faculties that they represent, and the nerve centers at which they preside:

  • Faith—Peter—center of brain.
  • Strength—Andrew—loins
  • Discrimination or Judgment—James, son of Zebedee—pit of stomach.
  • Love—John—back of heart.
  • Power—Philip—root of tongue.
  • Imagination—Bartholomew—between the eyes.
  • Understanding—Thomas—front brain.
  • Will—Matthew— center front brain.
  • Order—James, son of Alphaeus—navel.
  • Zeal—Simon the Cananaean—back head, medulla.
  • Renunciation or Elimination—Thaddaeus—abdominal region.
  • Life Conserver—Judas—generative function” (The Twelve Powers of Man 16)

Few persons have any quarrel with the listing of the twelve powers and the listing of the twelve disciples of Jesus who represent those powers. But some students do challenge the third phase of the listings in this paragraph—the body locations or nerve centers. The question is often asked if these are necessary. Mr. Fillmore did not teach that it was necessary to know about those body locations, but he did recommend it. This idea was not invented by Mr. Fillmore. It existed long before he discovered it and included it in his writings. Very little investigation will reveal that this idea is found in many systems of religion, esoteric schools, and branches of the more occult teachings. Mr. Fillmore simply updated the idea and connected it with his understanding of Christianity.


"Even physiologists, who regard the body as a mere physical organism, find certain aggregations of cells which they have concluded are for no other purpose than for the distribution of intelligence. To one who studies man as mind, these aggregations of cells are regarded as the avenues through which certain fundamental ideas are manifested. We name these ideas the twelve powers of man, identified in man's consciousness as the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, having twelve houses, villages, cities, or centers through which they act." (The Twelve Powers of Man 48)

Mr. Fillmore definitely sees the manifestation of the twelve divine ideas as "nerve centers" in the human body. He does not say that the body centers ARE the twelve powers, but that the powers express through the body from those centers. His choice of body center for each power was the result of his own prayer, meditation, and inner self-observation.


"These twelve powers are all expressed and developed under the guidance of Divine Mind. 'Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts.' You must keep the equipoise: You must, in all the bringing forth of the twelve powers of man, realize that they come from God; that they are directed by the Word of God, and that man (Jesus) is their head." (The Twelve Powers of Man 23)

'"I am the vine, ye are the branches.' In this symbol Jesus illustrated a law universal to organisms. The vineman's building law holds good in man’s body. The center of identity is in the head and its activities are distributed through the nerves and the nerve fluids to the various parts of the body. The Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ represent the twelve primal subcenters in man's organism. A study of man's mind and body reveals this law." (The Twelve Powers of Man 48)

Mr. Fillmore's concept of proper expression of the twelve powers is that of balance and integration instead of individual development and expression. In other words, he sees the twelve powers as a sort of "team" designed to work together instead of independently. A similar illustration would be that of twelve notes necessary to produce a beautiful chord. The absence of even one of the notes would also unbalance the chord. Our soul is like the chord. The notes producing the chord are the twelve faculties. In his quotation from Jesus, Mr. Fillmore likens the powers to the branches of a vine. Jesus is the symbol of spiritual awareness generated by the Christ within. The twelve powers (branches) express spiritual awareness.


"You are Spirit, the Son of God, and your place is at the right hand of the Father. To realize this is to call upon yourself the baptism of the Holy Spirit, after which baptism you no longer labor as a carpenter or as a fisher, but begin to gather together your disciples—powers of mind. This gathering together of your powers is an orderly process, and you will find that it proceeds right along the lines laid down in Jesus' choosing of His disciples, as recorded in Matt. 4:18 and Mark 1:16." (Talks on Truth 90)

It is obvious that Charles Fillmore sees Jesus as much more than a historical person whose life is literally recorded in the Gospels. He sees Jesus as a living symbol, a conscious symbol, unique in the history of human life. Everything Jesus said and did has more than historical and biographical meaning. It all has metaphysical meaning that applies to every person. Jesus calling forth the twelve disciples symbolizes a turning point in an individual's spiritual unfoldment. Jesus assuming leadership in a Christ ministry symbolizes that point where spiritual awareness becomes the guiding, motivating factor in an individual's life.


"We do not encourage those who still have worldly ambitions to take up the development of the 12 powers of man. You will be disappointed if you seek to use these superpowers to gain money ('turn stones into bread'), control others ('the kingdoms of the world... all these things I will give thee'), or make a display of your power ('If thou art the Son of God, cast thyself down'). These are the temptations of the selfish ego, as recorded in the 4th chapter of Matthew, which Jesus had to overcome, and which all who follow Him 'in the regeneration' have to overcome." (The Twelve Powers of Man 5)

Temptations come to everyone. There is no way to avoid them. They come from that mysterious level of human nature sometimes called "satan." Satan is a biblical symbol, not an actual "creature." Other names used for this same factor are: devil, false personality, egotism, exaggerated sense of self, etc. Impulses which arise from this level reach the level of conscious self-awareness and this is the "moment of temptation." We then have an opportunity for choice. If we succumb to selfish temptations, we lose out in the long run. If we allow our spiritual awareness (Jesus) to overcome the temptation, we gain immeasurably in the long run.

Transcribed by Sheri Owen on August 13, 2015.

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