"It is in the consideration of the technique of receiving God's forgiveness that the attainment of the righteousness of the kingdom is revealed … the reception of the forgiveness of God by a kingdom believer involves a definite and actual experience and consists in &hhellip; four steps, the kingdom steps of inner righteousness:" UB (170:3.3)
There have been several revelations of what The Urantia Book calls the Seven Psychic Circles, some that happened before The UB’s publication, including a couple of poets we’ll consider. “The psychic circles are not exclusively intellectual, neither are they wholly morontial; they have to do with personality status, mind attainment, soul growth, and Adjuster attunement. The successful traversal of these levels demands the harmonious functioning of the entire personality, not merely of some one phase thereof.” (110:6.3, The UB)
For the Anishnabek (Ojibwe Indians) and other indigenous people’s groups, the medicine wheel, an ancient circle symbol, evokes their history, old trade relations (stone medicine wheels were areas set aside for negotiations), tribal memory, the covenant with Creator to protect the Earth, the loss of a peaceful empire. The journey around the wheel is one of spiritual healing, seeking cultural roots for the restoration of identity, learning the art of storytelling. This passing along of personal accounts of the journey to others is highly valued. Acknowledging pain and sharing it is part of a healing path to self-mastery for all peoples. This is one reason the medicine wheel is so compatible with twelve step programs. On an individual level, the wheel can be used to symbolize covenants or agreements we’ve made with ourselves. Have we been loyal to our decisions? How can we do better?
At the center of the 4 directions on the medicine wheel is the seventh direction “the fire within,” (up and down being the 5th and 6th directions). It represents the kingdom of heaven within you, the spirit guide, our Thought Adjuster.
You may be on the linear track, life in the fast lane; it’s one way to measure progress. However, if overemphasized, you could get caught up in the accumulation of possessions, or the choosing of outer goals that have little or no foundation on an inner life. This linear direction is highly respected in our society, but we criticize those we perceive to be going ‘round in circles.
Those living on the linear path are tempted to move away, not deal with “insignificant” challenges, and leave difficulties behind. Just like those oil and mining companies who don’t clean up the pollution and toxic waste left after they complete the extraction process. Rather than face such problems, we go down a “Lost Highway” both personally and as a society. Portia Nelson’s poem portrays the journey of the addictive personality as one of several traversals of the same recurring challenges/problems in our psychic landscape. The person in the poem is rescued from the destructive pattern by recognizing the higher orbits that can be traveled, such as no longer blaming others:
Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson: “There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk”
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in. I am lost . . . I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault . . .
It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
I see it there.
I still fall . . . it’s a habit . . . but,
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
I walk around it.
I walk down another street.
Although the medicine wheel symbol is often used for therapeutic purposes in twelve step programs, for healing, I’ll take it further and connect it to a cosmic future. There are overlapping aspects with Carl Jung’s wheel of personality types. Jung also presented his wheel, usually seen as a graph or map of psychological outlooks rather than an action plan, to help patients understand how one aspect of their personality dominates the rest of “the quadrants.” In his therapy he helped them develop the usually unconscious, repressed or sublimated part to achieve balance, “harmonious function” as The UB calls it. For example, for a person whose intuition into the invisible realities is highly developed, it is important to face the reality of physical facts (shown in the opposite quadrant) with intellectual honesty, grasp those realities that may even contradict what he or she has learned from the invisible spiritual realities, for true spiritual health.
The famous singer and actor, Paul Robeson, had everything: wealth, fame, artistic gift and integrity. At one point, he even owned a mansion in England with a staff of servants. But he hadn’t achieved equilibrium, balance, in his life. Was it because he hadn’t developed a philosophy of mind, “a philosophic technique for meeting disappointment” as The UB describes it (193:4.7), a rational, critical thinking approach? Blinded by his political and emotional passions (the feeling side) for Socialism and communism, he may have been unable to accept the factual reality of Stalin’s Reign of Terror in the 1930’s, and this may have led to his several suicide attempts.
Our healing here on Urantia is the first stepping stone we’ll take to an ascension career on the mansion worlds. “The co-ordination of idea-decisions, logical ideals, and divine truth constitutes the possession of a righteous character, the prerequisite for mortal admission to the ever-expanding and increasingly spiritual realities of the morontia worlds.” (101:6.7)
The Medicine Wheel and Jung’s Wheel of Intelligences (also found in the Upanishads) are pre-Fifth Epochal Revelation attempts to grasp the reality of the Seven Psychic Circles (110:6).
In a passage about the assignment of guardian angels, we read, “You start out in your mind of mortal investment in the seventh circle and journey inward in the task of self-understanding, self-conquest, and self-mastery; and circle by circle you advance until (if natural death does not terminate your career and transfer your struggles to the mansion worlds) you reach the first or inner circle of relative contact and communion with the indwelling Adjuster.” (113:1.6)
“Every decision you make either impedes or facilitates the function of the Adjuster; likewise do these very decisions determine your advancement in the circles of human achievement. It is true that the supremacy of a decision, its crisis relationship, has a great deal to do with its circle-making influence; nevertheless, numbers of decisions, frequent repetitions, persistent repetitions, are also essential to the habit-forming certainty of such reactions.” (110:6.6)
We can visualize the seven circles as successive spirals of development imposed upon the original pattern, our starting point—the seventh circle, of our medicine wheel. We grow, progress, climb higher if you will, ascend, but it is upon the foundation of original experience symbolized by our human models of “the wheel.” We can look back and see where we’ve been; indeed, since growth is unconscious, we more easily recognize in retrospect that it took place.
The symbol of the wheel with higher orbits superimposed upon the first is a model of understanding more conducive to our personal growth than the linear track of achievement favored by the West (which is perhaps a feature of the Andite mind.) So in growth and progress we ascend to new orbital pathways. As Don Beck might say we approach, “the less recognized vertical aspects” of a problem (http://www.spiraldynamics.net/dr-don-beck.html) The poet Rainier Maria Rilke appeared to have been given a revelation of the Seven Psychic Circles when he had this amazing insight into the process which he then described in a poem.
“I live my life in growing orbits that move out over the things the world. Perhaps I can never complete the last but I give myself to it.
“I circle around God, around the primordial tower. I’ve been circling for a thousand years and I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm, or a great song?” (Rilke was a Bohemian-Austrian born in the Czech Republic)
Sometimes I have fallen back into old positions of servitude to those old masters “depression and defeat” (130:6.3) who are cruel and punishing and promote an old unprogressive reality. At such moments, I repledge myself, if I have the strength and resolve, to the task I had agreed to undertake, revisit the place on the medicine wheel, the seventh circle, where I started out. It may require therapeutic help to end our slavery. Once again, we should remember we don’t necessarily begin to learn “self-government for the benefit of all concerned,” until the mansion worlds and then we are happy to have the assistance of those fourth order seraphim (administrator seraphim) known as the Quickeners of Morality. (39: 4.10).
We can call upon even higher assistance, beyond and above using our minds and the help of seraphim or therapists, “it is entirely possible for the indwelling spirit to make direct contact with the decision-determining powers of the human personality so as to empower the fully consecrated will of the creature to perform amazing acts of loyal devotion,” (67:3.7)
I always encourage my piano students to practice, as I know all music teachers surely do, so that the kids will make progress with their natural gifts. I ask them to set aside some of the time they devote to video games (often hours) and spend it enjoying the beauty of piano music. This is the typical music teacher’s lament, of course. “If they could just apply themselves a little every day,” the pieces would be played more smoothly, and the moments of stopping to search for the right note would be few and far between.
All my students are gifted, although in different degree, with a bit of talent. I use this metaphor of piano practice to show how we can also progress with a little spiritual culture every day. By training the fingers to play scales, arpeggios, and cadence chord patterns, the gift of talent can emerge and express itself. But do they experience growth? “Man cannot cause growth, but he can supply favorable conditions. Growth is always unconscious, be it physical, intellectual, or spiritual” (The Urantia Book, The UB, 100:3.7).
As the technical skills increase (making progress), I hope for an increase (spiritual growth) in soul expression and depths of emotion in their playing. Making progress strikes me as a more conscious process, growth being “unvaryingly unconscious," as The UB says (100:1.8). We can resolve to do a service project, impose self-discipline, meet the challenge, achieve progress. With a little faith in the spirit guide within (the gift of talent and creativity), some time spent in communion, our lives would go smoother and we’d make beautiful music.
Thomas Merton had an insight into the interplay of progress and growth, how the regular practice of prayer would lead to episodes of growth, gifts of God. “All through the life of faith one must resort constantly to prayer, because faith is not simply a gift which we receive once for all in our first act of belief. Every new development of faith, every new increment of supernatural light, even though we may earnestly work to acquire it, remains a pure gift of God,” (Life and Holiness, 1963).
Jesus also reassured his followers about the certain result of their efforts to grow and progress. “My children, if there exists a true and living connection between the child and the Father, the child is certain to progress continuously toward the Father's ideals. True, the child may at first make slow progress, but the progress is none the less sure. The important thing is not the rapidity of your progress but rather its certainty. Your actual achievement is not so important as the fact that the direction of your progress is Godward. What you are becoming day by day is of infinitely more importance than what you are today.” (147:5.7)
The UB has refined the interrelationship between growth and progress in this way: “growth is not mere progress. Progress is always meaningful, but it is relatively valueless without growth. The supreme value of human life consists in growth of values, progress in meanings, and realization of the cosmic interrelatedness of both of these experiences. And such an experience is the equivalent of God-consciousness.” (100:3.6, pg. 1097)
When someone in the village or the tribe had an important dream with strong medicine in it, the medicine doctor interpreted it as a guide for the people. The Urantia Book, published in 1955, which purports to restore lost knowledge and forgotten history, arrived in the night through a “sleeping subject,” with what a Native American person might call his dream visions, with an episode of Earth’s history referred to as the war in heaven in the Bible’s Book of Revelation (12:7). It is called the Planetary Rebellion in Paper 67 of The Urantia Book (The UB). The story, already known and recorded in other sources: Paradise Lost by John Milton; a 5th or 6th century poem by Eleazar Qualliri; Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis, just to mention a few, has been forgotten by many, perhaps most people I meet.
The authors of The UB frame the legend in Paper 67.0 in this way: the “problems associated with human existence on Urantia are impossible of understanding without a knowledge of the occurrence and the consequences of the planetary rebellion.” For a planet so nearly completely unaware of even the paltry remaining knowledge of the rebellion, hearing this admonishment shocks us awake.
Ancient texts have named the “ruler of this world,” “one of Satan’s most venerable demons,” as Belial, the Prince of Darkness, (The Martyrdom of Isaiah, also appearing several times in the Bible). He is possibly the being named in The UB as Caligastia, prince of this world (I will refer to Belial as an alternate name of the Planetary Prince in the rest of this blog). For 300,000 years of the Prince’s rule that began 500,000 years ago, all seemed to be going well. We can hear the echoes in American Indian teachings, a memory of those they call, “the Star People,” or “the Star Nations.” In the Lakota tradition, the supernatural hero-being who gave them the Original Teachings is named Fallen Star. To the Anishinaabe, he is the Original man lowered to the Earth by Gichi Manidoo as if by a rope. This origin story perhaps confuses the Planetary Prince with the later appearing Adam.
Then about 200,000 years before the present, Caligastia (Belial) endorsed the Manifesto and the “Declaration of Liberty,” of his superior, Lucifer, the system ruler, and his assistant, Satan (53:3.1). Helpless Urantia, along with 36 other worlds in our system of Satania (53:7.1), was drawn into the rebellion. These evolutionary worlds were immediately cut off from the universe broadcasts of the system headquarters.
The UB tells us, “at the outbreak of the rebellion,” Dalamatia, the city of the prince and his staff of one hundred, “had a resident population of almost six thousand; this number includes the regular students” (66:7.20). The red race, along with the 6,000 citizens and visitors who usually numbered up to an additional 1,000, witnessed the visible outer effects of the war in heaven. Because it was not a battle fought with swords and chariots, not much could actually be seen outside of the council meetings. But it was felt, sometimes understood, and they grieved the defection of their “extraplanetary teachers” (66:4.2). That much they could clearly see. And it was not long before the remaining Dalamatians were defending their walls from invading “semi-savages.” Eventually, the students would have learned of the city’s loss of the tree of life which had sustained their teachers and they experienced the default of the Caligastia program of upliftment, the abrupt termination of lessons in animal husbandry, agriculture, crafts, pottery, religion, and more.
The groups being trained by the Prince’s staff of one hundred, divided into 10 councils, were Andonites, mostly primary Sangiks, the red, blue and yellow races, and some of the orange race who were present. (67:7.7) They had been recruited to receive instruction, had left their homes and families to dwell in Dalamatia. Very little is said about the response of these early humans to the outbreak of rebellion among their marvelous teachers. At the beginning of the conflict, loyalists led by the heroes, Van (of Belial’s or the Prince’s staff) and Amadon, his human assistant, moved out of the headquarters of the Prince to “an unwalled and poorly protected settlement a few miles east of Dalamatia,” taking with them the tree of life, (67:3.4) a tree they would preserve until the coming of Adam and Eve, the Material Son and Daughter assigned to uplift our planet.
The entire “college of revealed religion” followed Van and Amadon whereas only some members of the other nine councils stayed loyal, probably the result of the Lucifer Manifesto’s first war cry of the rebellion, “the Universal Father did not really exist. (53:3.2)” Those of the Prince’s staff immersed in earth’s religious traditions, and committed to the revelations of the universe’s creator and ruler undoubtedly found this a repugnant doctrine. Today we still deal with this heritage, the persistent teachings of atheism and assertion of the self first declared at the time of the rebellion against the rule of Michael the Creator and God the Father.
The UB’s concentration on the war between “superhuman personalities” (67:6.4) tends to eclipse the effect it had on the children of the Earth caught in the whirlwind. Four pages into The UB story, we read that the Caligastia (Belial) rebels found it “easy to win the support of the primitive-minded evolutionary mortals.” (67:4.6) The support was short lived. Before long, “the misled and mistaught tribes,” shouting their hair-raising war whoops, swept down on the Prince’s city and drove the remaining staff and their associates northward where they settled in the “land of Nod.” The primitive humans who invaded Dalamatia converted the Father's temple into a shrine dedicated to Nog, the false god of light and fire (67:5.5). We can imagine some idea of this evil apparition, by recalling to mind Tolkein’s vision of the Balrog in The Lord of the Rings.
With dismay, we view this picture of the world’s races: in disarray, set adrift in the cosmos, under the rule of a new dictator, Caligastia/Belial, “God of Urantia” (67:2.4) After the Rebellion of her high sons, midwayers, and angels, Urantia’s central locus of a world culture with its teachings of peace, good will, and cooperation among diverse peoples, had collapsed. Dalamatia was overrun by those who had not completely learned how to substitute ideals of peaceful co-existence for natural animal aggression. A new unrestrained freedom never before promulgated by the respected leaders of the Caligastia one hundred along with accompanying savage emotions were unleashed by the premature teachings of liberty, a rebellion fueled by the Lucifer doctrine of “self-assertion” and “personal liberty” (53:2.2; 53:3.6). The world’s capital was soon abandoned. Meanwhile, Van and his followers moved their headquarters an even greater distance from the scene of carnage, withdrawing to the highlands west of India (67:6.1).
With the loss of heroic superhuman direction, what were “the emissaries of uplift” (66:6.4), the student delegates of the red race to do? What message would they carry back to their tribes and families at home? Though we’ve never had any details of this prehistoric era, The UB tells us that some aspects of a regime of peaceful coexistence were achieved during the first 300,000 years. Within a one hundred mile perimeter of the city, beyond the forty-foot walls of Dalamatia, some farms had succeeded. There were mostly animal husbandry projects underway (66:7.11). We can be certain that with the eruption of rebellion, these communities could no longer confidently depend on former protections. Some may have held on for a while. Most fled to safety. One hundred and sixty two years after this great spiritual battle, the land on which Dalamatia stood sank beneath the sea.
Not surprisingly, after the fall of the Planetary Prince, and the resulting isolation of Urantia, warfare raged between the yellow and the red races. During the long period of warmer climate we call the Eemian Interglacial (130,000 to 110,000 years before the present), both Sangik groups pushed northeastward as the ice retreated. This is probably when the red Sangiks began to gather in their winter lodges, learning to weave their great storytelling skills, explaining and recording the tragic events, tales of the Prince and the wondrous city that was submerged by a tidal wave; stories that were told and retold then forgotten as eons passed.
Over the next 20,000 years during the Eemian, forests expanded, extending their reach into the lands above the Arctic Circle. The yellow Sangik peoples followed the red race into Siberia, as they battled each other in a competitive struggle for resources and territory. No one was studying to be a farmer any more. They chased each other across the tundra; nomadic hunting became the natural adaptation, a way to survive the rough and tough environment, the conflicts and raids by enemy tribes. When not hunting each other, they hunted wooly rhinoceros, reindeer, and wild horses.
Warfare with the yellow race and continued migrations eastward ultimately led to the forced departure of a group of Sangik peoples across the Bering Strait land bridge. They were headed into the unknown, the uninhabited Americas, a group mostly made up of the eleven tribes of the red race, “a little over seven thousand men, women and children (64:7.5).” But the brave pioneers included “three small groups of mixed ancestry, the largest of these being a combination of the orange and blue races.”
“One hundred thousand years ago the decimated tribes of the red race were fighting with their backs to the retreating ice of the last glacier, and when the land passage to the west, over the Bering isthmus, became passable, these tribes were not slow in forsaking the inhospitable shores of the Asiatic continent” (79:5.6).
Of the four colored races, remembered by American Indians today as red, yellow, black and white, it was prophesied they would, one day, come together again to live as a united people. The four are commemorated in the Pan-Indian teaching of the four-spoked medicine wheel, a widespread and universally recognized symbol among Native American peoples.
Native American philosophy begins from the perspective of “Mother Earth” spirituality. This is not surprising once we find out in The Urantia Book that worship and wisdom are adjutant mind spirit bestowals of the Creative Daughter/Divine Minister, partner of the Creator (Son). She is the first bestower of mind. “Man's first supermind endowment is that of personality encircuitment in the Holy Spirit of the Universe Creative Spirit; and long before either the bestowals of the divine Sons or the universal bestowal of the Adjusters, this influence functions to enlarge man's viewpoint of ethics, religion, and spirituality.” (The UB, 103:0.1)
Natives in their rituals of “worship” and “wisdom” return naturally to their source, Mother Earth. “The Great Spirit is in all things: he is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us; that which we put into the ground she returns to us.” (Big Thunder [Bedagi], Wabanaki Algonquin.)
The Navajo, in ceremony, when they’re about to blow tobacco smoke and incense to the six directions, sing a song of the corn and growth, like this one:
“Ha-o, my mother, ha-o, my mother,
Due west, blue corn ear, my mother,
Due eastward, blooming blue-bird flower,
Decorate our faces, bless us with flowers,
Thus being face-decorated,
Being blessed with flowers,
We shall be delighted, we shall be delighted.
Ha-o, my mother, ha-o, my mother.” (sung by Agnes Mary Shattuck Dill, 1913 – 2012, , Isleta Pueblo)
I was inspired by October’s women’s retreat in San Mateo that was sponsored by the Golden Gate Circle Urantia Society, to put behind me for a time the greedy machinations of the world, to reconnect with the mercy and compassion of the Creative Daughter of the Infinite Spirit, to re-explore relationship with the Creative Holy Spirit, Corn Mother, Divine Minister.
“There are many spiritual influences, and they are all as one. Even the work of the Thought Adjusters, though independent of all other influences, unvaryingly coincides with the spirit ministry of the combined influences of the Infinite Spirit and a local universe Mother Spirit.” (The UB, 8:5.4)
Mother Earth appears in many cultures. In Mexico she is Tonantzin, an Aztec earth goddess who appeared to a Nahuatl man, Juan Diego, as the Virgin Mary in December 1531. According to tradition, the Virgin appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill, north of Mexico City, where there was a shrine dedicated to the female Aztec earth deity, Tonantzin. To this day, in Nahuatl-speaking communities, and in others as well, the Virgin continues to be called Tonantzin, “Our Sacred Mother” in the Nahuatl language. A new structure was built over the remains of the ancient Aztec shrine—a Catholic Church, The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
One night recently, my Korean student and I discussed Kwan Yin, or Guanyin, the Buddhist bodhisattva, another manifestation of the divine mother who came to China from India in the first century. An unusual kind of quiet seemed to pervade the room as if a scent of blossoms wafted in on the wind. Her spirit of kindness and compassion hovered around us and later lingered in the car on my drive home. Did the students feel it? Was it the presence of seraphim, or maybe it was a higher ideal that was highlighted in our minds?
We call her name, Kwan Yin, Chinese saint,
Bodhisattva who enters the room soundlessly,
as my student and I are caught up in an epiphany
in our pursuit of wisdom.
An unusual quiet that consoles, brings calmness,
strength, settles around us, scent of cherry blossoms
wafted on a sweet wind of spirit.
Her kindness, compassion embraces us,
a visiting seraphim hovering
and later lingering, even as I’m driving home
on the busy freeway where there is fear,
no happiness, her presence abides
like a faint perfume, bringing joy, reborn hope.
If you’re looking up Mother God references in The Urantia Book, Creative Daughter is mentioned 5 times, Divine Minister 39, Mother Spirit 79, mother earth 1 time (by Jesus to a rich man), earth mother once (in regards to the Chaldeans religion), Creative Spirit (local universe daughter of Infinite Spirit, known on Urantia as the Holy Spirit) 66 times.
"We are the unconquered aboriginal peoples of this land our mother; The creator has given us our mother, to enjoy, to manage and to protect; We the first inhabitants, have lived with our mother from time immemorial; Our Okanagan Governments have allowed us to share equally in the resources of our mother; We have never given up our rights to our mother, our mother's resources, our governments, our religion; We will survive and continue to govern our mother and her resources for the good of all for all time." - Okanagan Nation Declaration
What is it about the season? How Christmas inspires such expressions of good cheer? As we attend holiday gatherings, even with our knowledge of their roots in midwinter pagan celebrations of Yule and Saturnalia, they still work their magic. Our merriness and mirth make resentments melt away. In conversations around the feast table, creativity spontaneously blossoms and emerges.
“How can a creative imagination produce worthy children when the stage whereon it functions is already preoccupied by prejudice, hate, fears, resentments, revenge, and bigotries?” (The Urantia Book, The UB, 111:4.9)
This winter solstice is the time of year when all that, the prejudices, hate and fears, fades away. We may even wake up like Mr. Scrooge on Christmas morning, "I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! (A Christmas Carol, Dickens)
Jesus also understood how his apostles who “had hardly become accustomed to living and working together,” (143:3.1) would benefit from diversion and reversion. While in Samaria, he took them up Mount Sartaba away from the difficult relations with John the Baptist’s disciples. Also “the contact with the gentiles and the Samaritans was a great trial to these Jews.”
“While attaining satisfactory socialization of the personality on intellectual and vocational levels, further perfect the ability to live in intimate contact with similar and slightly dissimilar beings with ever-lessening irritability and ever-diminishing resentment. The reversion directors contribute much to this latter attainment through their group-play activities.” (43:8.9)
Tensions that have accumulated over the passing year slip away. Once again we enjoy revived fellowship with old friends and companions. We understand difficulties and disagreements in a more sympathetic, accepting way. “If someone irritates you, causes feelings of resentment, you should sympathetically seek to discern his viewpoint, his reasons for such objectionable conduct. If once you understand your neighbor, you will become tolerant, and this tolerance will grow into friendship and ripen into love.” (100:4.4)
We begin to enjoy our differences, learn to love each other more, as we lift our glasses, make toasts, and reminisce about the days of old, “those were the days, oh, yes, those were the days.”
“When partially exhausted by the efforts of attainment, and while awaiting the reception of new energy charges, there is agreeable pleasure in living over again the enactments of other days and ages.” (48:4.10)
Christmas is a time for nostalgic reflection. “The future signifies struggle and advancement; it bespeaks work, effort, and achievement; but the past savors of things already mastered and achieved; contemplation of the past permits of relaxation and such a carefree review as to provoke spirit mirth and a morontia state of mind verging on merriment.” (48:4.12)
Reversion and rest greatly changed the apostles’ state of mind while in Samaria. Starting down the mountain back to camp, “Their return from this holiday marked the beginning of a period of greatly improved relations with the followers of John. Many of the twelve really gave way to mirth when they noted the changed state of everybody's mind and observed the freedom from nervous irritability which had come to them as a result of their three days' vacation from the routine duties of life. There is always danger that monotony of human contact will greatly multiply perplexities and magnify difficulties.” (143:3.7)
“They never forgot the day going up the mountain. Throughout the entire trip hardly a word was said about their troubles. Upon reaching the top of the mountain, Jesus seated them about him while he said: "… You must realize that the best method of solving some entangled problems is to forsake them for a time. … Again, many times your problem is found to have shrunk in size and proportions while you have been resting your mind and body." (143:3.3) …
And so our holiday time offers a break from day-to-day routines and struggles, a celebration of the past, an opportunity to be with each other, and have fun. Here’s to a recharged spirit to face anew the trials of social brotherhood ahead!
Do you read with anticipation in The Urantia Book about the “student visitors” like I do, imagining how you’ll look forward to your own opportunities to visit another world? Several mentions of these visitations intrigue me. Here’s a few:
“Morontia mortals are student visitors only within the confines of the local universe of their origin. … These personalities may be executing a universe assignment, or they may be enjoying a period of leisure—freedom from assignment. The privilege of intrauniverse travel and observation is a part of the career of all ascending beings. The human desire to travel and observe new peoples and worlds will be fully gratified during the long and eventful climb to Paradise through the local, super-, and central universes.” (The Urantia Book, The UB, 30:3.12)
Let’s review how travel is arranged to these places for us.
“5. The Transporters.These are the transport seraphim who function in the local systems. In Satania, your system, they carry passengers back and forth from Jerusem and otherwise serve as interplanetary transporters. Seldom does a day pass in which a transport seraphim of Satania does not deposit some student visitor or some other traveler of spirit or semispirit nature on the shores of Urantia,” (39:4.15)
Shores? Surfing beach? Pacific coast maybe? Sometimes I think: no wonder my UFO-following friend sees so much going on in the sky!
These daily visits happen even though our planet is not only isolated from the broadcast circuits but also doesn’t have the ideal landing platform, a sea of glass (which makes its first appearance on second mansonia, 47:4.3). Here is how it’s described on Jerusem. And perhaps there’s “pearly gates” at the observatory entrance like we’ve heard about before:
“Transports arrive on the crystal field, the so-called sea of glass. Around this area are the receiving stations for the various orders of beings who traverse space by seraphic transport. Near the polar crystal receiving station for student visitors you may ascend the pearly observatory and view the immense relief map of the entire headquarters planet.” (46:2.9)
As we can readily see in the section about Transporters, our status as a quarantined planet presents no obstacle to the comings and goings of what I think of as anthropological observers. “You will have ample opportunity to visit within any realm you have experientially attained. Student visitors are allowed on all inhabited planets, even those in isolation.” (48:3.10)
Some visiting students even get an invitation to attend a meeting of the planetary government. “Each administrative day on Urantia begins with a consultative conference, which is attended by the governor general, the planetary chief of archangels, the Most High observer, the supervising supernaphim, the chief of resident Life Carriers, and invited guests from among the high Sons of the universe or from among certain of the student visitors who may chance to be sojourning on the planet.” (114:5.5)
I once told my study group about a extraterrestrial landing that I witnessed in West Marin. I was living in Valley Ford, an isolated area, mostly dairy farms, with beautiful clear starry skies when the fog isn’t rolling in. Upon returning from a club performance in Santa Rosa about 2 am, not inebriated, I saw a round white light descending straight down, quickly and steadily, not as fast as a falling star, and landing somewhere to the south. A ship of space—a transport! It could have been landing on Marin County’s highest peak, Mount Tamalpais, probably a pretty good choice for a transporter landing.
As a musician, I observe with fascination and wonder how we can glean the feelings of an era from its music. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) expressed the cultural triumphs of European civilization during the Enlightenment, the era between the 1620s, when the scientific and philosophic revolutions began, and 1815, when attempts to put down the resulting revolutionary movements were undertaken. Mozart lived to see the French Revolution, but he died just before the Reign of Terror instituted by Robespierre in 1793; thus he did not witness what many saw as the complete unraveling of the Age of Enlightenment.
Robespierre himself was felled by the guillotine a little over a year later, and the “Terror” was ended. However, the dissident passions did not diminish. What followed was an era of pitched battles, increasing revolutionary fervor. But those forces that sought to restore old traditional authorities, the ancien regime, triumphed. The monarchies were restored by the Congress of Vienna in 1815. In France, the Catholic Church regained the status it lost to the “Cult of Reason” in the French Revolution, although Napoleon reinstated it in a reformed, less powerful form. American colonial civilization became the repository of hope that Enlightenment values might prevail.
I started out on this train of thought mulling over the times of my youth, the brash confidence in the rock and roll music of the 1970s, British acts such as “The Who,” “Pink Floyd,” and “The Rolling Stones.” These bands were, and still are, examples of an assertive youth movement (though old folks now) that represented the triumph of the counterculture and the working class. They were male, almost exclusively; only a few girls were allowed. The expression was coarse, vulgar, more violent than the music of the Age of Reason; they were defiant of God and manners, condemned Christianity (but accepted Eastern religions), and they offended conservatives who came to resent an era dominated by liberal thinking that had gone too far. I tried to be like my heroes, those working class, hard ass, smooth talking, rocker mockers.
The Enlightenment fight for the ideals still cherished in our time: the “natural” rights of mankind, religious tolerance, personal freedoms, a government based on consent of the governed, etc., continues to be fought. These were hard won from a resistant established aristocratic order. European confidence in this victory was perhaps misplaced as some historians have said. The expansion of rights and freedoms was un-supported, not matched by equivalent achievements in spiritual growth, faith, or righteousness—character development. The World Wars of the twentieth century, ushering in a host of evils, were the disappointing ultimate outcome of an Age of Enlightenment.
“Disappointment and sorrow attend upon error because, not being a reality, it cannot be realized in experience.” (The Urantia Book, The UB, 2:7.6) “Science, morality, religion … these cosmic gifts, socialized, constitute civilization.” (16:9.4) Our planet cries out for moral leadership, leaders with ideals.
The rock and roll generation’s confidence in their power to remake the world was also premature. That an achievement in the arts equivalent to that of the European Enlightenment might come out of the rock music of our day is doubtful, but only time will truly tell.
The UB cautions us to beware of confidence based on self-admiration and self-assertion, a doctrine introduced by our deposed System Sovereign, Lucifer (53:2.3). “Pentecost was designed to lessen the self-assertiveness of individuals, groups, nations, and races. It is this spirit of self-assertiveness which so increases in tension that it periodically breaks loose in destructive wars. Mankind can be unified only by the spiritual approach, and the Spirit of Truth is a world influence which is universal.” (The UB, 194:3.18)
“Only religious confidence—living faith—can sustain man amid such difficult and perplexing problems,” such as those we witness in our own time. (111:6.8)
The historical panorama stretches back into the mists of time, cultural achievements followed by precipitous declines, and the crash “of all things earthly.” Now that we’ve entered an age of terror in our own day, a “terror” that might be avoided, we could rally to work together and achieve spiritual maturity. Our mission should include the encouragement of spiritual living in others, whether by the example of our service, or through our teachings.
Assurance is defined in our dictionaries as “confidence or certainty in one’s own abilities.” Unlike the naïve belief professed by some religionists that “God will take care of everything,” use his divine Superman cape-ability to save us from ourselves, we must grow in confidence in our faith, knowing our gifts when consecrated to the outworking of God’s will are certain to be used.
In The UB, Jesus teaches a definition of faith as becoming self-conscious of the assurance of the divine presence, or the self-consciousness of that assurance. “When my children once become self-conscious of the assurance of the divine presence, such a faith 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.” (159:3.12)
During such times of rising fear as our own, we can, we must, minister to our fellows on Earth, encourage each willing, receptive person we meet to seek a personal discovery of this empowering faith. “Religion, true religion, is the indispensable source of that higher energy which drives men to establish a superior civilization based on human brotherhood.” (79:4.9)
“The determiner of the differential of spiritual presence exists in your own hearts and minds and consists in the manner of your own choosing, in the decisions of your minds, and in the determination of your own wills.” (The Urantia Book, The UB, 13:4.5)
What is the presence of God? What does it feel like? Is it a plateau of tranquility? That’s what the hippie yogis of the 1970’s looked for, bringing peace and love to the planet through meditation. But if we matured in our spiritual search, we began seeking a partnership with God. Maybe together we could move these stuck wheels out of the mud.
I have often had only passing moments of contact, call them theophanies—God’s manifestations. Or I made ecstatic proclamations of prayers of gratitude that lit up the sky like a Roman candle, then quickly came back to earth, to my normal materialistic concerns, daily routines, and worries.
I’ve realized I didn’t rejoice often enough in recognizing, “the ever-present possibility of immediate communion with the bestowal spirit of the Father.” (The UB, 5:1.3)
Lately, feeling I could use some help in taking advantage of these “ever-present” possibilities, I picked up and re-read, “The Practice of the Presence of God,” (PoPG) by Brother Lawrence, a book I was given back in the 1970’s. A French soldier who took vows as a Carmelite monk after being wounded in the Thirty Years War (1640), he taught, “That we should establish ourselves in a sense of God’s Presence, by continually conversing with Him. That it was a shameful thing to quit His conversation, to think of trifles and fooleries.” Very much like the Master in the UB, where we learn, “Jesus was in constant communion with this exalted Adjuster.” (136:2.5)
“There is no mode of life in the world more pleasing and full of delight than continual conversation with God … let us do it, motivated by love and because God wishes it.” (PoPG, 60)
This unbroken communication is quite a different mode from the momentary epiphanies or spontaneous outbursts of prayer that I had more commonly experienced. Perhaps many spiritual seekers, including UB readers like me, don’t fully grasp how ever-present and constant a friend we could have in God.
“When the mind is untrained from the beginning, it has acquired bad habits of wandering and dissipation which are difficult to overcome … if [your mind] sometimes wanders and withdraws itself from Him … do not let it upset you … the will must bring it back calmly …” (PoPG, 76)
A true knowledge of the nature of God can be had by allowing oneself to personally experience his presence, whether in meditation, prayer, on a long hike in the woods, or “frequent journeys to the hilltop,” as Jesus did. I encourage people who are searching for a real experience of the divine presence to simply begin at whatever point you can begin having a conversation. I don’t usually advise the inexperienced to look for it in a church because there’s usually a prepackaged version of God being sold to the parishioners. Although many from traditional faiths and religions have written beautifully about their experiences of the nature of God, inspired works which I too have consulted and benefited from, personal experience is the only reliable way.
“It is not necessary to be always in church to be with God, we can make a private chapel of our heart where we can retire from time to time to commune with Him, peacefully, humbly, lovingly; everyone is capable of these intimate conversations with God, some more, others less; He knows what we can do. Let us begin—perhaps He is only waiting for a single generous resolution from us.” (The Practice of the Presence of God, 65)
Rodan the philosopher spoke of the practical applications of a daily relationship with God the Father. He observed how Jesus showed that frequent communion was the greatest of all methods of problem solving, “In this habit of Jesus' going off so frequently by himself to commune with the Father in heaven is to be found the technique, not only of gathering strength and wisdom for the ordinary conflicts of living, but also of appropriating the energy for the solution of the higher problems of a moral and spiritual nature.” (160:1.10)
“We will find in Him all the virtues we ourselves lack.” (PoPG, 103)
Sometime after years of building a closer relationship with Spirit, we will likely discern results in our lives, the fruits of spiritual living. Then we can enjoy speculating and wondering what differences it made to center our wandering will on daily seeking the presence and friendship of God.
Maybe it’s time to check the map; make sure we’re headed in the right direction. Going through fire, flood, our ideals being trampled, a lot of things to grieve over, I made up a little rhyme to get me through the hard days: “Father help me with my fear, lend me courage and good cheer.”
In the days before I had The Urantia Book (The UB), I found inspiration in the King James Version of the Bible, “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it.”
I was impressed with this wise spiritual guidance when I discovered it in the Book of Isaiah. “Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher. Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30: 20-21)
Such a stirring promise! We could know, experience, and be comforted by God in the midst of our struggles. I also discovered it in Jeremiah 6:16, “This is what the Lord says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Later, I saw the same wisdom attributed to the Spirit of Truth when I read in The UB, “Do not be troubled with doubts of failure or by perplexing confusion, do not falter and question your status and standing, for in every dark hour, at every crossroad in the forward struggle, the Spirit of Truth will always speak, saying, "This is the way." (34:7.8)
I wondered how did Isaiah, whose era was 740 to 681 BC, know the Spirit of Truth’s encouraging words? The Spirit was bestowed at Pentecost after the Crucifixion 700 years later (30 AD)! He was making prophecy, telling an eternal truth.
Jesus quoted it when he spoke to John privately about the ancient story of Job: “Job was ever ready to admit that God is righteous, but he longed for some soul-satisfying revelation of the personal character of the Eternal. And that is our mission on earth. No more shall suffering mortals be denied the comfort of knowing the love of God and understanding the mercy of the Father in heaven. While the speech of God spoken from the whirlwind was a majestic concept for the day of its utterance, you have already learned that the Father does not thus reveal himself, but rather that he speaks within the human heart as a still, small voice, saying, 'This is the way; walk therein.'” (148:6.10)
The UB reminds us how all these ministries are co-ordinated. “Thought Adjusters appear to come and go quite independent of any and all other spiritual presences; they seem to function in accordance with universe laws quite apart from those which govern and control the performances of all other spirit influences. But regardless of such apparent independence, long-range observation unquestionably discloses that they function in the human mind in perfect synchrony and co-ordination with all other spirit ministries, including adjutant mind-spirits, Holy Spirit, Spirit of Truth, and other influences.” (108:4.3)
Notice how Jesus clarifies the import and relevance of the saying, though known to us first as the prophet Isaiah’s verse, then famously attributed to the Spirit of Truth in another The UB passage, finally revealed as the voice of the Father speaking to us from within our hearts. We are guided, watched over, cared for, the Lord is my shepherd—if I was hoping for a miracle of grace and mercy, here it is!
“The purpose of all education should be to foster and further the supreme purpose of life, the development of a majestic and well-balanced personality,” (The Urantia Book, The UB, 195:10.17).
When I set out a few years ago to make a career change, and began tutoring middle and high school students (some adults), I chose this quote above as my guide for the voyage into the world of learning, my pole star.
There are some who just want the grade points, the numbers, to get an “A” no matter how they do it. But I’ve discovered some kids have strong ideals crying out to be nurtured. I strive to help them learn to co-ordinate their ideals with their “idea-decisions” about their practical goals, to transform their “ideas into increasingly practical but nonetheless supernal ideals.” (101:6.7)
A. Campbell Garnett, source author of Paper 103, wrote, “The completely integrated self is an ideal.” (A Realisitic Philosophy of Religion, pg. 54)
Doc Sadler also wrote about this process in 1912 before The UB was published, “The powers of imagination take our ideas and fashion them into our ideals. This is the higher or creative imagination.” (William S. Sadler, M.D., The Physiology of Faith and Fear, urantiabooksources.com)
“I don’t have a creative side,” one boy told me, but I thought to myself, one day he may discover the source of the authentic self he is seeking and gradually finding, his divine spirit guide, and then he may not have occasion to say that again.
The UB is careful to say the goal is not to dispense altogether with the “personality values of the ego,” that part of us which might desire to get the highest Grade Point Average.
“Moral choosing is usually accompanied by more or less moral conflict. And this very first conflict in the child mind is between the urges of egoism and the impulses of altruism. The Thought Adjuster does not disregard the personality values of the egoistic motive but does operate to place a slight preference upon the altruistic impulse as leading to the goal of human happiness and to the joys of the kingdom of heaven.” (The UB,103:2.7)
A. Campbell Garnett, whose thoughtful writing contributed to the above paragraph, commented “Even when [the altruistic or social interests] have called for sacrifice and there has been hesitation, even when it has required a fight to overcome the original ego, it is usually felt as worthwhile, in later reflection, to have been true to the higher self. Gradually new ideals of unselfish devotion to causes of social value thus take firm hold.” (A Realisitic Philosophy of Religion, pg. 55)
What would you say are “the personality values of egoism?” Perhaps the ego provides the leadership, seeking the good for oneself as the individual sets out to make discoveries in life, eventually learning to seek the good for others.
This learning to balance ego needs with the needs of others is the path of character progression, a path I hope I’m able to guide these young students along, helping them nurture their natural altruism. “Even secular education could help in this great spiritual renaissance if it would pay more attention to the work of teaching youth how to engage in life planning and character progression.” (195:10.17)
I discover my kids’ enthusiasms as they become involved in ideas, guided into the obscure world of poetry for example, where they find the treasures that are hidden there, or following a curiosity about the teaching of the Dalai Lama, his religion of kindness. My Asian students are especially interested in his story, his exile from Tibet. In helping them recognize the value of kindness, I confirm it in myself, learning even more about how to “act justly … love mercy … walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8; The UB, 126:4.5),” teacher becoming student. As Jesus told Ganid, “The true teacher maintains his intellectual integrity by ever remaining a learner.” (130: 3. 7)
Ponder this observation of human psychology, “When the growing child fails of personality unification, the altruistic drive may become so overdeveloped as to work serious injury to the welfare of the self.” (103:2.10) Jesus pointed out that even a whole racial group can make such an error, “Consider the Greeks, who have a science without religion, while the Jews have a religion without science. And when men become thus misled into accepting a narrow and confused disintegration of truth, their only hope of salvation is to become truth-co-ordinated—converted.” (155:1.4)
“Although the average mortal of Urantia cannot hope to attain the high perfection of character which Jesus of Nazareth acquired while sojourning in the flesh, it is altogether possible for every mortal believer to develop a strong and unified personality along the perfected lines of the Jesus personality. The unique feature of the Master's personality was not so much its perfection as its symmetry, its exquisite and balanced unification.” (100:7.1)
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