The Ojibwe Indians of Canada have a tradition of prophecies given by the elders known as the Seven Fires. I discovered I was a participant in these prophecies—they were an instinctive part of my being. One of the Grandfather Prophets accurately foretold what I stumbled over in my life journey: The cup of life will almost become the cup of grief. This was the stage known as the Sixth Fire in our Ojibwe “American Indian” tradition.
The Christian church tried to teach me that spiritual liberty lay within my reach but in my church the Christian God was also authoritarian and judgmental. I felt I was wrong to feel unhappy and I didn’t feel forgiven for it, as if it was a sin to be in pain when the joy of Jesus was so close at hand. Knock and the door shall be opened, they said, but it slammed shut in my face somehow.
I came to California as a 21 year old man who believed his life was based on a huge and insurmountable grief. I felt drawn to seek help in Asian sacred books. I found that Buddhism described my life experience up to that point. Not surprising then that my early spiritual search was influenced by Buddha’s first “noble truth of suffering.” I accepted his teaching that undertaking the Eight-fold Path would lead to the extinction of suffering. But as circumstances would have it, this was not the path where I found salvation.
It was the teachings of Hinduism that first saved me from suffering as if the god Ganesha himself removed the stumbling blocks, the obstacles in my pathway. I responded to the promise contained in the techniques of Yoga and meditation and learned that the suffering could be brought under my control. I had the power to choose to extinguish it. The Hindu disciplines were the first doorways to open to freedom and peace in my mind and soul. I was also combining Bible teachings I remembered like “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” which I used as a mantra in my meditations.
It was later, after I was given the Urantia Book (UB) in 1978, that I learned how Jesus had used these scriptures in his life, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me … He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives” (Luke 4:18-19). I discovered my relationship with Jesus and began our conversation. I was shown the way to change my life from its basis in grief to a foundation in faith through his words and his Spirit guidance. Although, like the Biblical Jonah, I’d been swallowed by a whale of selfishness, there was a way back to the shore of new service opportunities. With Jesus’ offer of creative freedom, I was free to realize myself and my destiny if I could shake off the burdens of sin, guilt and sadness.
I learned about forgiveness of myself and others.
“The escape from the service of light and life can only result in those distressing conflicts with the difficult whales of selfishness which lead eventually to darkness and death unless such God-forsaking Jonahs shall turn their hearts, even when in the very depths of despair, to seek after God and his goodness. And when such disheartened souls sincerely seek for God -- hunger for truth and thirst for righteousness -- there is nothing that can hold them in further captivity. No matter into what great depths they may have fallen, when they seek the light with a whole heart, the spirit of the Lord God of heaven will deliver them from their captivity; the evil circumstances of life will spew them out upon the dry land of fresh opportunities for renewed service and wiser living." (UB 130:1.2, pg. 1428)
From these words, I also learned to not stay stuck in disappointment. Always move ahead seeking the next horizon of possibilities. Never take anything personally, or turn your disappointments into personal offenses taken.
Old habits can persist as most of us know, and there are times I sink into the mire. I fall backwards into grief. The Jesus path takes courage, self-discipline, self-mastery, what I believe was meant by virtue in the old classical sense. “Fidelity was a cardinal virtue in his estimate of character, while courage was the very heart of his teachings. "Fear not" was his watchword, and patient endurance his ideal of strength of character.” (140:8.20, pg. 1582)
Not only his death, but his life demonstrated this very courage he spoke about. If our father/brother, the human Jesus, did this, we know we can walk that walk too.
Encourage yourself to form a “favorable liaison” (110:7.6, p. 1213) with the gift of spirit that dwells within you. There is perhaps no better collection of passages describing the fruits of our attempted contacts with indwelling spirit than what is found in the Urantia Book (UB). These are concrete, literal experiences, no longer mere symbols of an all-pervading “Force,” or the personifications of poetic metaphors other texts may have provided.
The UB authors encourage us to be proactive in our relationship with the indwelling spirit fragment. We can, “rejoice in the ever-present possibility of immediate communion with the bestowal spirit of the Father.” (5:1.3, p. 63)
“All mortals...have been ‘lighted by the true light,’ and they possess capacity for seeking reciprocal contact with divinity.” (52:17, p. 590)
“...the ..spirits of fusion potential...”, “...draw the nearest to you...in the spirit touch of inner communion with the very souls of his mortal sons and daughters.” (40:5.3, p. 445)
“...the heavenly helper [can] cheer you with the clear vision of the eternal outlook of universal life ...” (111:7.3, p. 1223)
“...the presence of the divine Spirit, the water of life...prevents the consuming thirst of mortal discontent...you may be strengthened with power through His spirit...” (34:6.8, p. 381)
“...the Adjuster translates…the universal broadcasts of love proceeding from the Father of mercies.” (110:7.6, p. 1213)
“the divine Monitor”...”endow[s] the personality partnership with the meanings and values ... carried forward from the eternity of the past.” (110:7.5, p. 1213)
Enable the indwelling spirit, “...to register his picturizations of destiny with augmenting vividness and conviction ...” (110:6.5, p. 1209)
Faith in “the assurance of the divine presence ... will expand the mind, ennoble the soul, reinforce the personality, augment the happiness, deepen the spirit perception, and enhance the power to love and be loved.” (Jesus, 159:3.12, p. 1766)
“... as you progress in harmonizing with the Adjuster's spiritual leadings...”, “you can...more fully..discern the presence and transforming power of those other spiritual influences that surround you and impinge upon you...” (5:2.4, p. 64)
“...every honest attempt of the material mind to communicate with its indwelling spirit meets with certain success.” (Jesus, 133:4.10, p. 1475)
UB reader, Cristina Hutchins, once shared an insight with our study group: “It struck me that in our personal ministry, we may enter discussions where the concept of the Thought Adjuster arises, and we may feel uncomfortable using it.” She shared a list of alternate descriptions of the Thought Adjuster and Mystery Monitor that she’d assembled. Since she welcomed us to add to it, I went ahead and added more below, including some from other traditions. If you come up with more, I encourage you to join in the fun and please add your discoveries to the project. Here, in alphabetical order, is our list so far:
A capacity for the infinite, (from W. Clarke, Roman Catholic), the Atman (Upanishads),
the Buddha nature (94:11.5),
Divine gift, Divine indweller, Divine lover, Divine presence, Divine spark,
Father fragment, Fire Builds Inside (American Indian Blackfoot teaching), Fragment of infinity,
Guardian spirit or spirit ally (American Indian), Great Mystery (Wakan Tanka in Lakota Sioux)
Immortal germ (UB 132:3.6), Inner Self (Upanishads), the indwelling spirit,
The Kingdom of Heaven within you (UB 108:6.2, Luke 17:20),
Pilot light, the Pilot Supreme (Sri Chinmoy), the Purusha (India),
Spark of infinity, Spirit guide, Spirit that dwells within you, Spirit teacher of man’s soul (149:4.2), Spirit of the Universal Father, Still small voice within, the Spirit in a (hu)man (Upanishads/India), the Supreme Mystery beyond thought (Maitri Upanishad), Qi or Chi (Chinese), True light which lights every person, the Water of Life
As the list seems to confirm, it doesn’t seem to matter overmuch what term or title we use for the indwelling spirit. “God of many names, gather us in. We come together from different places around the world to share our faith and to learn from one another. Allow us to learn from your children who are different than us,” as said in a prayer from Sojourner Magazine.
There have been many times I myself did not feel comfortable with using the term, “Thought Adjuster.” I preferred “spirit guide” though I can see the imprecision of that phrase, how it could just as easily apply to the way the Spirit of Truth operates. Over the years I’ve grown more comfortable with the term predominantly favored by the UB authors as I learn and experience its reality. Thought Adjusters don’t fix things that are wrong, or provide answers right away. They adjust our attitude to the oftentimes difficult situations we encounter in day to day living.
For this reason, I enjoy Tabamantia’s speech where we hear the Mystery Monitor described as one who adjusts more than our thoughts. These Father fragments adjust for our mistakes and “compensate for [our] shortcomings”:
"I come to express admiration and profound respect for this magnificent group of celestial ministers, the Mystery Monitors, who have volunteered to serve on this irregular sphere. … You have helped to adjust the mistakes and to compensate for the shortcomings of all who labor on this confused planet.” (108:3.6)
These remarks mirror Rodan of Alexandria’s commentary on what he believed Jesus derived from “contacting with divinity.” (160:1.11) Rodan was impressed with what Jesus found, “better methods of adjusting oneself to the ever-changing situations of living existence, to effect those … readjustments of one’s personal attitudes … so essential to enhanced insight into everything worthwhile and real.”
May you be blessed in your efforts to build a relationship with the “Thought Adjuster” under whatever name or term appeals to your soul.
One evening in a poetry workshop, I said the spiritual insight in my poem was the result of “a divine invasion.” I didn’t share that it was a phrase I’d read in the Urantia Book (UB). One of my fellow poets, an avowed atheist, asked me what a divine invasion was. I found myself a little tongue-tied, and didn’t want to quote the Urantia Book in my poets group. I’d never done so before, especially because none of the others were familiar with it. I think Joe wanted me to demonstrate that this “invasion” was observable in some way. Like many nonbelievers, he was looking to logic and reason to validate my idea of the reality of God. But as the philosopher, Kant, reminded us, “Religion cannot be proved by theoretical reason.”
Here are a couple of instances where the UB uses the term invasion. “Every time man makes a reflective moral choice, he immediately experiences a new divine invasion of his soul.” (2095.4; 196:3.20)
“In the days of the mortal flesh the divine spirit indwells you, almost as a thing apart, in reality an invasion of man by the bestowed spirit of the Universal Father.” (48:1.6)
This seems to imply that the Thought Adjuster has to force its way in at times, although many UB passages confirm the spirit indweller never enters our minds against our will (p. 753; 66:8.6). Perhaps the phrase “divine invasion” describes what happens at an early stage in our relationship with God where there is still a lot of personal noise in the mind to overcome, a stage where we have not yet acquired much ability to listen to the still small voice within.
I am personally biased to describe spiritual insights as a feeling of “being elevated,” or “transported” but I realize that could be misleading. Enlightenment can come with an emotional content, but it also arrives without such feelings. “There is no mystic religious faculty for the reception or expression of religious emotions.” (101:1.2)
“The divine spirit makes contact with mortal man, not by feelings or emotions, but in the realm of the highest and most spiritualized thinking.” (pg. 1104; 101:1.3)
We UB readers describe discovering God through faith, an idea we share with Christianity. And sometimes it is an emotional experience. Our unreasoned, unreasonable faith tells us the emotions are real.
I might have quoted Thomas Merton, the Catholic contemplative, to answer Joe the poet’s challenge. Merton wrote, “The soul … is penetrated from time to time with vivid intuitions of God’s action,” (Bread in the Wilderness.)
A well-known Christian pastor of the Lakota Indian people once wrote, “You have experienced, like me, being at the divine intersections of time and space where amazing new realities appear.” (Lakota Christian minister, Richard Twiss)
Once we’ve had an experience of the “divine invasion,” or a soul penetration, we then reach out to the Spirit (our spirit teacher, the Thought Adjuster, the divine spark) seeking further experiences of enlightenment.
“You would not seek me, had you not found me.” (Blaise Pascal) We begin to experience the reciprocal nature of personal revelations:
… “Mortal existence must be visualized as consisting in the intriguing and fascinating experience of the realization of the reality of the meeting of the human upreach and the divine and saving downreach.” (102:6.10, p. 1125)
“… when there exists perfection of the human motivation of loyalties to the divine idea, then there very often occurs a sudden down-grasp of the indwelling spirit …” (pg. 1098; 100:5.4)
When we discover how certain the Spirit is to respond to a knock on its door, this becomes a proof of God’s existence for us—the personal faith experience. I wouldn’t be able to successfully express, demonstrate or justify these discoveries to my atheist friend Joe. He would have to experience the “sudden downgrasp,” for himself.
The UB also cautions us about errors in our understanding that can happen: (100:5.7) “Altogether too much of the uprush of the memories of the unconscious levels of the human mind has been mistaken for divine revelations and spirit leadings.”
Is there a way to verify that our divine invasions are genuine insights, not simply unconscious memories? In a later discussion, we’ll talk about developing and using a truth filter.
Next time: more on the Thought Adjuster.
The revelations in the Urantia Book (UB) are truly mind expanding and we are encouraged to learn an expanded language to accommodate them. “Today, there is a great need for further linguistic development to facilitate the expression of evolving thought.” (81:6.16; p. 908, Old Ed.)
Almost the very first issue the author raises on page one of the UB is the use of language. Many new UB readers encounter the complaint expressed by the author of the Foreword, a Divine Counselor from Orvonton, that is, if they begin the book at the Foreword (some do!) Of course a new reader also encounters unfamiliar information about the hierarchy of the universe, Orvonton being our Superuniverse, one of seven. These UB descriptions occur alongside modern astronomy’s ongoing discoveries of over fifty new habitable planets in our lifetime. We are learning to live in a larger universe than we were used to. Conceptual categories accrue, and therefore the sheer number of personalities needed to run the universe must also increase.
Returning to our Divine Counselor’s comment, “It is exceedingly difficult to present enlarged concepts and advanced truth, in our endeavor to expand cosmic consciousness and enhance spiritual perception, when we are restricted to the use of a circumscribed language of the realm. But our mandate admonishes us to make every effort to convey our meanings by using the word symbols of the English tongue. We have been instructed to introduce new terms only when the concept to be portrayed finds no terminology in English which can be employed to convey such a new concept partially or even with more or less distortion of meaning.” (0:0.2)
The improvement in the English language’s capacity for portraying divine values and presenting spiritual meanings will also improve our personal relationship, our friendship with God. There has been a tendency in theology for the last few decades to reduce references about God and indwelling spirit to the level where we are speaking symbolically or merely metaphorically. The Urantia Book purposefully sets out to reverse that trend. When the text informs us the divine spirit indwells us, it is meant literally, concretely, expressing it as a “fact that an actual fragment of the living God resides within the intellect of every normal-minded and morally conscious Urantia mortal” (5.0.1).
The UB also gently steers us into adopting more carefully nuanced and discriminated definitions of our terminology. In several places, the book points out where terms specific to the local universe of Nebadon have been used on our planet to designate what are actually Central and Superuniverse personalities. The Holy Spirit of our Christian Trinity is a local universe bestowal of the Mother Spirit (8:5.3, Pg. 95 OE), and does not refer to the Infinite Spirit, “the Third Person of Deity,” of the Paradise Trinity in the UB.
The version of the Trinity I grew up with in the Christian Church also continues to portray Jesus as the Son, one of the three persons of God. However the UB is careful to make a distinction between Jesus/Michael as a Creator Son (with origins in time) and the Eternal Son, the 2nd person of the Trinity. I realize that it will be a long time before these UB depictions may find understanding acceptance among world religions.
Here’s just a few of the many other new uses of language in the UB that will be future topics I’ll deal with separately in this blog:
Our modern dictionaries often present sin, evil, and iniquity as synonymous, but the UB carefully distinguishes sin from evil, error, and iniquity. Whereas evil is an “unconscious transgression,” “Sin is the conscious, knowing, and deliberate transgression of the divine law, the Father’s will.” (148:4.3)
A UB student learns that the Supreme (Being) is not just a synonym for, or another word for God as might be believed from comparing sacred texts around the world.
UB clarifies distinctions between soul and spirit, spiritual growth and progress, faith and trust, will and volition, and more.
Language will be an ongoing issue we will revisit in our discussions on this site. When we eventually come to speak about the Celestial Artisans, for example, we’ll once again encounter the urgent qualification, “Your comprehension is incapable of grasping, and your language is inadequate for conveying, the meaning, value, and relationship of these semispirit activities.” (44:0.13; p. 499)
An Introduction to the Blog:
How did I end up where I am today, a Urantia Book reader, conference organizer, Urantia Society officer (Golden Gate Circle), blogger, and essayist publicly sharing thoughts and ideas with you?
In Toronto, Ontario, (Canada) where I was born, I was involved as a young man with a few different groups, classical music students, blues-rock musicians, and the student radical-political community. I’d left the United Church of Canada. My political friends helped start experimental communes, organized strikes, labored for worker’s rights, and socialist ideals in government. My best friend in college was jailed a couple of times for his labor union activities.
Even while I was still in that scene, I knew my perspective was changing. I was making decisions to get involved with spiritual solutions, and was less interested in political answers to social problems. Eventually my gradually evolving idea was that a ruling kingdom of the spirit (I didn’t have these words for it then) had to be established, not necessarily a new and more just power structure for the worker. Many of us had grown up watching the rule of labor devolve into a rule of tyrants in the Russian experiment.
My language back then also did not include terminology for describing growth of the spirit or soul, but I began to believe in the spiritual transformation of the individual. This was the real requirement that would lead to social improvements. I wanted transformation for myself, and I admired a song the Beatles sang, “You tell me it’s the institution, you better free your mind instead.” (John Lennon’s hit, Revolution)
When I arrived in California in the early 70's, it was the spiritual ferment of the San Francisco Bay Area that I found irresistible, its atmosphere of excitement and discovery that made me want to live here. I explored many paths: The Fourth Way (Gurdjieff/Ouspensky), psychedelics, yoga, Hinduism, Jesus Freakism, psychic readings, astrology and more. Northern California was criticized for its “salad bar” approach to spirituality. Critics say the exposure to so many spiritual traditions that is encouraged here will not ultimately provide an enduring haven, true sustenance for the soul. Of course, for some, it was true their New Age religious phase was just a passing fad. They left religions and got jobs in San Francisco’s financial district or Silicon Valley’s computer industry.
The era of 1967 to 1980 is when the Urantia Book gained a larger audience and an enthusiastic readership among the spiritual orphans and adventurers. After 1985, the appeal of the Urantia “movement” and new age spiritual groups in general seemed less attractive to younger generations. The appeal of the UB declined further when the conflicts of the 80’s happened between the Urantia Foundation and the Fellowship. Efforts undertaken to overcome the old conflicts are having some success.
In addition to that, there seems to be less overall interest in spiritual movements and religious messages currently. Atheism is more present. It speaks with a more strident voice. Some of the reason for this is undoubtedly economic—the modern business ethic that draws our creative youth is centered more on goals of getting rich, less on ideals of service to the community. Spiritual activities were discredited in the past by episodes of cult behavior that would be considered immoral by any genuinely spiritual or religious person. Sexual indiscretions, financial irregularities, crimes, even murder plagued New Age communities and the New Thought churches. A faith in God founded on personal experience will have a more certain chance of surviving such episodes. I believe the credibility of The Urantia Book stands because it is such a strong advocate of the religion of personal experience “founded” by Jesus (196:2.6).
I hope you will enjoy following the themes and ideas in this blog. The “religion of personal experience” is one of the topics I will be talking about, along with explications of the Urantia Book’s difficult texts, its unusual ideas, unfamiliar history, unknown personalities, and new language. I often like to compare what we read in the book with traditional sacred texts, when possible, as a way of enhancing interfaith understanding, relationships and communities. I will share the leadings of my spirit guide, and those of my master teacher, Jesus, as I continue to grow in my understanding. I’ve pursued these worthwhile activities for many years so I hope I’ve learned some things of value along the way that you will also enjoy as I share them with you. Cheers and blessings on the path!
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