Friday, August 17, 2012

#39: This posting will be quite different from previous entries because I have not visited any new and exotic spaces and have certainly not visited any study groups here in the Urantian desert of Southwestern New York State.  Instead there will be a condensed version of a new presentation titled “The Urantia Book and Perfection Hunger.”  I would be glad to give the full presentation to study groups when I hit the road again starting next month.  I must confess that copies of the presentation text were sent to a couple of individuals and so far the response has been a resounding “Ho Hum.”  The photographs in this blog, taken over the past couple of years or so, are used in the presentation to enhance the spiritual feelings that are being discussed.

Spiritual progress is predicated on intellectual recognition of spiritual poverty coupled with the self-consciousness of perfection-hunger, the desire to know God and be like him, the wholehearted purpose to do the will of the Father in heaven. (Emphasis added) The Urantia Book (1095.5) (100:2.1)

Field of Buttercups, Northwest PA

The above quote states that perfection hunger based on recognition of spiritual poverty is the basis of spiritual progress.  The presentation discusses this perfection hunger, gives suggestions for enhancing our perfection hunger and briefly describes the changes I have observed in myself as a result of the “spiritual exercises” described in the presentation.  The importance of having beautiful places for meditation is also stressed.

The presentation begins with the statement that I recently read the Book of Mormon as well as the Quran and wondered how such vital and vibrant religions could arise out of these religious texts.  My observation of both books was that they do not have the depth of meaning of even the Bible, let alone The Urantia Book.

All religions have some story to capture the interest of believers, such as the story of Jesus, or Mohamed or Buddha, but the beauty of their places of worship is an important factor in enhancing the worship experience.  Beautiful places to worship and meditate are important factors to spiritual growth; we as students of The Urantia Book need such places to enhance our perfection hunger.

So how do we cultivate this hunger, make it stronger?  Given the epochal revelation we have received how should we proceed?

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Jamestown, NY

Indeed, how should we study and use The Urantia Book?  The Urantia Book is an intimidating body of revelation and one hardly knows how or where to begin the study of it.  The easy approach is to start with Part IV and learn about the life of Jesus, whereas some might start with Part III and learn the history of our planet.  I suspect the revelators would desire us to start with the Forward and plunge ahead trusting our Thought Adjusters to assist us in understanding difficult concepts, that way our perspective would be broader, not focusing on one particular aspect.  However the very best way is whatever way works for you because in the final analysis we study it and use it as individuals.

It does take a while, reading and studying and thinking about the many new concepts and how they all fit together.  Study groups can be of great assistance in this, but the burden of understanding falls on each individual.  Eventually we begin to get an overall picture of the revelation and some idea of what it means.  But there will come a time, perhaps after many years, when any further increase in understanding is incremental, miniscule.  I have attended study groups where many are at this point, they appear to be just doggedly plunging ahead reading it over and over, but some vital spark is missing.  We know we must live these teachings, but how do we do this and is that enough?  Does The Urantia Book give any clues on this subject?

The schools on the mansion worlds where we first regain consciousness after our life in the flesh are organized under three general headings: thinking, feeling and doing (The Urantia Book (551.1) (48:5.6)).  Perhaps this should be a guide in our application of the teachings of the revelation.  The thinking part is easy to understand; if anybody has studied the epochal revelation for any length of time then that person knows how to think.  We have begun to understand it somewhat and to correlate the different aspects.  But what do we DO with this revelation?

Middleton Gardens, near Charleston, SC

Truly, how is it possible to feel these teachings?    

The presentation describes what are called “spiritual exercises.” These are accomplished by recalling the spiritual longings observed while visiting beautiful places and then later attempt to recall them constantly as we go about our daily lives.  First go to a cathedral or other beautiful place of worship when it is empty of worshipers and experience the spiritual emotions of this space.  The purpose is not meditation for its own sake; rather the purpose is to reach out toward spiritual values.  Carefully take note of the emotions and while these spiritual longings are being experienced, remember them, sort of like taking an emotional or a spiritual photograph.  Capture these feelings for later recalling.

Subsequently recall these spiritual longings, the emotional feelings; constantly recreate them, using our “hunger and thirst after righteousness” to give them full intensity.  The idea is to unceasingly seek these emotions, using them to reach out toward increasingly spiritual regions.  This reaching out toward spiritual values can be done while doing other things, this seeking, and this perfection hunger must always with us.

These beautiful spaces encourage our spiritual longings, our urge to become perfect, even as God is perfect; they are vital to our spiritual growth.  Could this be the reason that the Mormons and the people of Islam with their meager books can each generate a vital and vibrant religion while we who study The Urantia Book are stuck on merely reading it over and over again? 

This spiritual hunger and thirst does not stop this side of Paradise.  We need to be always aware that He is constantly with us and we need always to be reaching out toward Him.  When praying I do not say “Amen” at the end, because that seems so final, as is we were saying to God, “OK you can go away now, we are through talking to you, goodbye.”  We absolutely need to keep Him always with us.

Sunset, Santa Rosa Beach, FL

Many of us appear to consider The Urantia Book to be a collection of words; we read it over and over attempting to understand each phrase.  We read about spiritual things but become stuck in a quicksand of words.  Because of this it is imperative that we constantly strive to increase our perfection hunger, our faith. 

I must have heard a sermon about Saul and the road to Damascus when young because for many years I had this mental image that Saul was just walking down the road minding his own business going toward Damascus when suddenly God went ZAP! and all at once he had a powerful faith and became the disciple Paul.  Faith rarely works that way.  Faith is something we must strive toward, work for; we must constantly exercise our free will in such a way as to increase our faith.

As a result of the “Spiritual Exercises” mentioned above I have noticed changes in my being.  I have been privileged to receive a brief spiritual experience that has changed my life; I have seen a light surrounding me after prayer and observed positive changes in my character afterwards.  The message of The Urantia Book is real, it is Truth and it can truly change your lives, your being.

It is literally true, “Human things must be known in order to be loved, but divine things must be loved in order to be known.” But honest doubts and sincere questionings are not sin; such attitudes merely spell delay in the progressive journey toward perfection attainment. Childlike trust secures man’s entrance into the kingdom of heavenly ascent, but progress is wholly dependent on the vigorous exercise of the robust and confident faith of the full-grown man.  The Urantia Book (1118.4) (102:1.1)