Sunday, April 19, 2015

#62: Toward a Philosophy of Life

Since my recent travels have generally covered familiar territory, any further descriptions of them will be repetitious.  Until I visit someplace new (wait till you hear about our plans for June!) there will be more commentary on various subjects.  The main topic for today is “Toward a Philosophy of Living,” a collection of thoughts about developing a personal roadmap toward our spiritual goals.  This will be an outline only since each of us is unique and therefore have different spiritual starting places.  Each of us require our own spiritual growth pathway.  First there will be a brief description of an interesting store in the Florida panhandle.  In addition to pictures of the store, there will be a photo of an interesting little critter in a Louisiana State Park. 

The Little Big Store, Defuniak Springs, FL

Materialism reduces man to a soulless automaton and constitutes him merely an arithmetical symbol finding a helpless place in the mathematical formula of an unromantic and mechanistic universe. But whence comes all this vast universe of mathematics without a Master Mathematician? Science may expatiate on the conservation of matter, but religion validates the conservation of men’s souls — it concerns their experience with spiritual realities and eternal values. Urantia Book (2077.4) (195:6.8)

The Little Big Store is on 8th street in downtown Defuniak Springs, Florida.  It looks tiny on the outside but inside it is crammed with goods and artifacts reflecting a simpler bygone era.  One can certainly get a full dose of nostalgia here.  We were there a couple of years ago and bought some tupelo honey; I (travelling alone this time) was hoping to get some more but on this trip was told they had none.  It was a bit early in the season and also large companies from up north have been invading the region and buying up all the tupelo honey so that local people have difficulty getting any.  The proprietor went into a long discussion about greedy materialistic companies taking out the honey and shipping it away.  As we know, The Urantia Book has a lot to say about our materialistic society; a full posting and more could be done about the evils of the rampant materialism of today, perhaps another time.  There are however quotations above and at the end covering the topic.

Toward a Philosophy of Life
The world is filled with lost souls, not lost in the theologic sense but lost in the directional meaning, wandering about in confusion among the isms and cults of a frustrated philosophic era. Too few have learned how to install a philosophy of living in the place of religious authority.  Urantia Book (1098.4) (100:5.1) (Emphasis added)

Instead of blindly following what “religious authority” might dictate for us, we could think for ourselves and design a life plan for our own particular needs.  What then would this “Philosophy of Living” look like?  How could one construct this personal philosophy?  It would be of great spiritual assistance for each of us to formalize our thoughts on this subject so that we can have a better idea of where we stand and where we are going spiritually.  Jesus carefully planned each aspect of his life, recall for example how he educated and nurtured his brothers and sisters after Joseph died.  In a similar manner we would do well to organize our own thoughts and plans in a systematic manner.  This philosophy must be personal and different for each of us but perhaps we can outline what it may consist of.
There should be four main aspects of this philosophy: what do we believe as an individual, what is our goal in this life and beyond, what is our current situation, and how do we go from where we are to our goal.  This plan must be flexible, continually updated to account for changing conditions, but most of all we must be honest with ourselves in our self-assessment and our plans for the future.  This plan need not even be written down but we would do well to ponder our personal plan for spiritual growth from time to time to evaluate our progress and to make adjustments as necessary.

Post Office in Little Big Store

A parenthetical comment first.  While The Urantia Book is an important revelation for our times, it is only a tool to be used in our efforts at spiritual progress.  If we concentrate on obtaining spiritual guidance solely from printed sources, regardless of how illuminating they may be, we will hinder the efforts of our indwelling fragment of God as it seeks to guide us toward greater spiritual awareness.  We must allow our spiritual guides to lead us in ways that are designed for each of us as an individual.  Since we truly have God within we do not necessarily need external sources if we are courageous, sincere, honest of heart, and deeply desire to follow the plan God has prepared for us.  Besides, how could any printed source know what you as a unique individual needs to do to progress, what issues you must overcome, what strengths you have?  We certainly use our spiritual guide books as references in our efforts at growth but the vital step is how we apply them to our own situation.

Personal Beliefs:  Most religions have some doctrine that outlines the believer’s faith.  “I believe in… (insert statement here)” is sometimes even part of the worship service.  Would it not be more useful if it were stated in a way that fully satisfies you?  Something in your own words, your personal Nicene Creed if you will.  You may truly believe the faith statement in the worship service, but might wish to add something or use a different emphasis on the various components.  Go ahead and make a statement of what your beliefs are.  We are not expecting something of publication significance; rather it will be something meaningful to you as an individual, something that can guide your spiritual growth.  As we progress and become more spiritually aware this statement will naturally expand.

Spiritual goals:  I am certain that few people, after they have become settled in their life work, consciously think about what their goal in life is beyond the obvious, beyond family goals, retirement planning and other material issues.  If we truly have faith then we know we will certainly attain eternal life, but how can we enhance this faith, strengthen it and apply it in this life in the flesh?  By this I mean what are your spiritual goals for now and for the eternal future?  After all, when we leave this life we will embark on our preliminary spiritual adventure.  What can we do here and now to get a head start on this upcoming quest?  These goals should be specific but not very easily attained.  A meaningful goal must push us to reach beyond what we may think of as being possible, it should inspire us to attempt the seemingly impossible.

Answering the phone (but the cell phone under the apron is before its time)

Current situation:  This should be a spiritual self-assessment.  The key to this appraisal is total honesty.  It is imperative that we are always open and fully honest with God and with ourselves.  Honesty with God is necessary because otherwise our communication with Him becomes strained.  Honesty with ourselves is necessary because we must have an accurate picture of our current situation before a pathway to our goals can be devised.  Honesty is vital in these matters not only because it is the right thing to have, but also total honesty opens up the lines of spiritual communication.  God, as well as His helpers, has great difficulty breaking through the barriers of our self-delusions or our walls of shame and fear.  When we attempt to hide personal emotions and thoughts from God (“He wouldn’t want to know about that!”) this does not affect God or our Guardian Angels except to push them away from us, rather these efforts to hide embarrassing thoughts from God make true spiritual progress nearly impossible for us.  Also our heavenly helpers fully respect our free will decisions, so if we choose to close off part of our being and keep them out, they will stay out.  Personal honesty becomes the certain defense against spiritual isolation and stagnation because when we are fully open with our spiritual guides they can better assist us in dealing with our difficulties.

The description of our current situation would include how we judge ourselves in various aspects that have an impact on our spiritual nature.  The most obvious one is our faith, how strong is it, do we truly believe without seeing.  Next would be our truth hunger, how strongly do we want to improve ourselves and take the next spiritual step or are we content to sit back and wait for events to unfold.  True spiritual progress only comes to those who strongly desire it.  Also important is do we have genuine brotherly love for each of our brothers and sisters.  Finally do we have that spiritual peace within, because no matter how strongly we “Hunger and thirst after righteousness” we absolutely must await His guidance.  This spiritual peace enables us to balance our hunger for spiritual growth with the need for patience in awaiting developments.  It also assists us in dealing with everyday events, frustrations and incidents that may challenge our spiritual equanimity and our quest desire.

The roadmap:  Now we come to the heart of this exercise, however for this discussion it would be futile to attempt to go into any specific detail because there is no way of knowing where you as an individual are starting from and exactly where you want to go.  You cannot obtain a roadmap if you have no idea where you are and where you are going.  Another issue is the different nature of spiritual reality.  If we wish to achieve a certain material goal we can reason out a procedure to reach that goal, for example we go to the store for a loaf of bread.  Spiritual reality is more about values than reason, faith rather than facts, what you wish to become rather than what you are.  Our roadmap will be useless unless we take this into consideration.  This is a spiritual quest and therefore our efforts are spiritual in nature.

It is certainly easy to pray to do God’s will, but each time you make any decision, consideration must be given to what God would realistically expect you to do.  At each choosing it is His will that must be actively chosen.  I would even suggest that saying “May God’s will be done” might not be good enough because it is passive, expecting somebody else to do all the choosing, all the work.  It might be better instead for us to pray that “Each of us choose to do God’s will.”  For each of us who sincerely desire to progress spiritually the most vital consideration is our own personal choice to do God’s will at each opportunity and accepting the consequences, even eternal ones, of these choices.  

Showing off in Tickfaw State Park, LA

When devising your roadmap toward spiritual goals it is imperative to balance the desire for growth with wisdom; do not expect a sudden leap into full spiritual reality.  Our goal should be progression by evolution and not revolution by revelation. Urantia Book (750.1) (66:6.6)  Finally we need to remember we each have a perfect guide within and if we follow this guidance we cannot fail to reach the goal of the ages, spiritual awareness and eternal life in our Father’s magnificent creation.

Do you desire to attain this spiritual goal of the ages?  Are you as an individual willing to make the effort to attain this eternal goal?  Then you must get to work and develop your personal philosophy of life to assist in the quest, develop your own roadmap.  Who should you trust your eternal future to: philosophers and theologians who may burry their heads in dusty books of yore but have no clue about your situation in life and where you wish to go or will you trust it to your own fragment of God within?
We close with another quotation about materialism.

If man is only a machine, by what technique does this man come to believe or claim to know that he is only a machine? The experience of self-conscious evaluation of one’s self is never an attribute of a mere machine. A self-conscious and avowed mechanist is the best possible answer to mechanism. If materialism were a fact, there could be no self-conscious mechanist. It is also true that one must first be a moral person before one can perform immoral acts. Urantia Book (2079.8) (195:7.13)

All photos by Doug Cable