The Urantia Book Fellowship

Life Changes—Practice Makes Perfect

By Brent St. Denis
General Conference 1990
Snowmass, Colorado


One of the miracles of our relationship with the heavenly Father is that in barely one hour of space-time in this room we can together comprehend a little of the potential of our eternal and infinite loving parent-child relationship with the Creator of all things. (I recently read Guy Murchie's book called The Seven Mysteries of Life and when he describes, in relative terms, some of the fabulously unimaginable numbers which scientists have discovered in their measurements of astronomical and subatomic occurrences, the mind boggles. It can be downright intimidating.) Like the love and nurturing provided us by our earthly parents to help us over the fears of childhood, no less is the love of our Father also with us in an embrace which can render us fearless and powerful in the ascent to him in Paradise.

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I want to focus on a few practical attitudes of daily living which can constantly remind us of the miracle of our existence and of the endless possibilities which are consequent upon our individual choosing to do his will. I will begin by listing a few things I have learned in the midst of my own struggles.

  • C" -- Chances
    • There is nothing that can "happen" to us during this earthly life that, of itself, can in any way impede our spiritual progress. In fact, it's the other way around. The events of life are opportunities for growth. It is our attitude toward the so-called problems of life which determine their growth potential for us. Spiritual progress is entirely in our hands. Can you imagine making any headway without challenges?
  • "H" -- Habits
    • Habits, even unconsciously done, can be used to assist us in the quest for personal spiritual fulfillment. I believe we can establish neural pathways of positive response to external stimuli that will promote growth. Our heavenly Father has not designed an ascension plan that has negative feedback loops built into it. The opposite is true if we choose to look for them.
  • "A" -- Alert
    • We can ask our Thought Adjuster to help us to be alert to those opportunities in which growth is possible. We are taught that it is our own free will which reigns supreme in the making of spiritual choices, but I have concluded we can each make a pre-fusion choice to grant our Thought Adjusters the right to intervene in order to remind us of what is really important at that moment.
  • "N" -- Now
    • I cannot find God tomorrow, nor shall I find him in yesterday. I can only find him as a living reality today, at this moment.
  • "G" -- God's Will
    • I am convinced that The Urantia Book is right when it declares that "The doing of the will of God is nothing more or less than an exhibition of creature willingness to share the inner life with God--with the very God who has made such a creature life of inner meaning-value possible." (*1221) I want to emphasize for you the words creature willingness.
  • "E" -- Ego
    • Our egos can severely impair our ability to see the light which shines forth constantly from the First Source and Center. I liken the ego to the mindal equivalent of the material body. It does serve a purpose during this life, but its current essence is material; nonetheless it can be transmuted.
  • "S" -- School
    • The Urantia Book teaches us that the mansion worlds are more like training schools. It occurs to me that the earthly sojourn is no less a school, too! I have found it helpful to look at life's events as assignments designed to serve a purpose in this life and the next as educational opportunities and experiences. Assignments ignored or done half-heartedly are lost opportunities which we may regret having forgone when at some future time we are part of a team of ascenders charged with fulfilling some project in Orvonton.

Before continuing, I would like to summarize these C.H.A.N.G.E.S.:

  • C(hance)--Life's events are growth opportunities.
  • H(abits)--Growth habits can be developed.
  • A(djuster)--Thought Adjuster can help us be alert to spiritual opportunities.
  • N(ow)--You can only find God in the present.
  • G(od's Will)--Doing the Father's will = willingness to share the inner life.
  • E(go)--Ego can be transmuted.
  • S(chool)--Earth is a school for mortals.

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The Urantia Book begins and ends with reference to the fatherhood of God. Jesus teaches us that the brotherhood of man is a consequence of this fact. Both of these realities require the existence of individual God-seeking mortals for their fulfillment as fact in time and space. There can be no father without children, there can be no brotherhood without brothers and sisters. Each of us has a responsibility to do our part as best we can as children of God. Our responsibility starts within our own minds wherein are bred the attitudes of life which will make us increasingly more conscious of our important place in the cosmic plan. After all, there is no other personality quite like any of us who can interpret God's love to others in exactly the same way. While God is no respecter of persons in that he puts no one of us ahead of the other in his love, there is, nonetheless, something special about each of us that no other can provide. I want to emphasize that we do have a responsibility.

We begin our mortal careers as potentially perfect unconscious beings. As we grow into consciousness, we begin the adventure of becoming consciously perfect even as the Father is perfect. We have not been abandoned in this task. We have the tools we need to achieve this perfection, including an eternity within which to accomplish it. In keeping perfection as our goal, we need only keep the next curve in the road in our sight. We are not expected to become perfect now or even tomorrow. It is only required that we desire that perfection. It therefore makes sense to develop practical attitudes which can assist us in maintaining an orientation towards the Father.

Let us examine more closely the attitudes I outlined a few minutes ago which I have found to be helpful to me in my practical day-to-day living. I would like to be "on track" at all times, but as these attitudes pass through my consciousness at various times and in seemingly random order, they do bring me back to that place where I can more readily remember that this life is a truly wonderful adventure and let's be on with it. Let's not waste any more time with pointless trivialities.

As I prepared for this session with you, I wondered what impact, if any, there might be on its content, because I was approaching my fortieth birthday. Frankly, it added an air of anticipation to my thinking. What would the effect be on my thinking when my Thought Adjuster became my Thought Controller? My conclusion thus far is that the change in phase passes with the same notice by self that was the case when our Mystery Monitor first arrived around the age of six. Over time, however, I fully expect that this quiet experience will manifest itself in a more complete list of attitudes. But for now, here is what I know.

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Growing in Life Changes

All too often we seem to consider the events of life as problems. As we mature spiritually, I believe we can learn to look at all the events of life as "learning situations." The Urantia Book teaches us that there is no challenge that we will face that is beyond our mortal capacity to cope. I believe the secret here is that every one of life's events contains a lesson that we can learn. As surely as the treasures of this world cannot accompany us beyond this life except that they be spiritual treasures, then just as surely there can be no material problem that can detract from our progress in spirit. In fact, the contrary is the case. The degree to which we face the events of life with a joyous willingness to learn something new, then, shall be the measure of the growth potential contained in that event.

This is not stoicism. This is simply accepting life for what it is, one of the best chances we will ever have to face faith challenges which it is doubtful are available on any other planet in all of Nebadon. As agondonters we should rejoice at having this chance to really test our faith. I am willing to wager that many ascenders from other worlds would gladly trade places with any of us. This is not to suggest that we should go out looking for problems because there are ample opportunities for each of us in our daily lives if we will only look. We can learn what we need to learn!!

A corollary of this particular point is that nothing can be achieved by avoiding the problems of life, but there is most assuredly something of infinite value in every test.

Spiritual Habits

Generally we do not associate habits as being helpful in developing our spiritual selves--our souls. I suggest to you that we can develop habits which can widen our mind's door to spiritual thoughts which can then lead us to spiritual action. After all, we cannot serve/love our fellows without first thinking about it and deciding to do so. Nonetheless we can predispose our minds to spiritual action by using simple techniques of autosuggestion. I'm not talking about mystical phenomenon here, merely the same type of trick you would use to wake yourself at a certain time each morning. The mind is a vast reservoir of power, and we can employ this to our spiritual advantage as readily as we do for material gain and pleasure.

From personal experience I can tell you that the year which preceded my discovery of The Urantia Book was a year during which I was required to say the Lord's Prayer each morning. As homeroom teacher in a public high school in Jamaica, it was my responsibility to lead my class each morning in a few moments of prayer as this was the cultural practice in Jamaican public schools at that time. Outside of this requirement, my life was spiritually quite bereft of much pleasure and devoid of prayer. But this few minutes of required form prayer five mornings each week over ten months did have an impact. Even though it has been fifteen years since that period, I can clearly recall an awakening of spirit consciousness that year that has been a watershed experience for me. I have not looked back since. This morning habit seemed to act like a small hammer on my mind which eventually cracked open an otherwise stubborn refusal to wake up and smell the spiritual coffee brewing right under my nose.

A simple habit you might try is this one: just prior to closing your eyes at night, possibly, but not necessarily as a part of your internal "wake-up call," simply ask that your first thoughts of the next morning be very positive. Be specific. Choose something like a beautiful scene or phrase such as "thanks for another day of school."


One of the problems our human minds appear to have difficulty with is one of remaining alert to subtle things when there are so many macro events occurring around us all the time. Too often we miss loving opportunities because we are preoccupied with the big things. The perspective of our minds assumes--in default of instructions to the contrary--that something must be big and complicated to be good. We have many good examples of situations in which an alertness to the apparent little things can lead to some spiritually big events. Just remember when Jesus took time from his sermons to stop and spend a few moments with a nearby child. Normally we wouldn't do that, but his actions time and again demonstrated the spiritual value of the little things as he went by. I believe we are not naturally alert as mortals to these opportunities. I believe we must train ourselves to be alert for these seemingly small events.

I have no doubt that our Thought Adjusters can and will help us with the problem of alertness to spiritual opportunities. We must only ask. It does not require eternal fusion with the Thought Adjuster to seek cooperative undertakings. You only need to give your Adjuster the right to intervene at any time and place to point out that an opportunity for loving service is at hand. While it is a fact that our individual wills reign supreme in matters spiritual, it must be obvious that we have a resource available to us which can assist in circumventing the tendency of mind (as driven by ego) to ignore the spiritually obvious.

God Now

Should it be obvious that one can only find God in the present? After all, is there anything wrong with planning to do something tomorrow? No, of course not! But the fact is, your plan is no more than that until tomorrow arrives to become today and you put your plan into action. You've no doubt all heard the expression, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." I suggest that our plans for tomorrow are within the material realm and that it is the current moment that is important. I'd rather say, "Procrastinate tomorrow."

Your experiences of a spiritual nature which you lived yesterday will constitute valid and important memories which you can recall for encouragement and pleasure as the moments pass by. But even as memories it is their recall in the present which provides spiritual pleasure and refreshment.

Even if we do not agree on the merits of past and future spiritual experiences, I believe you will accept that without there being the search for God in the present, it is doubtful that past and future experiences are of much value to you as a continuum until they are joined as a single life experience by the search moment-by-moment as we go about our daily affairs.

The search for God now does not imply a life devoted to silent meditation; rather it is a life bathed in trust and confidence that, when all is said and done, things will always work out for the best. It is a life of conscious faith.

Willingness to Share the Inner Life with God

I think we are often confused in our thinking about the Father's will. We wonder if we are doing his will at this time or that and worry whether we actually know what it is. I say, "Don't worry, be happy!" It is simply your desire to do his will as demonstrated in your desire to share the inner life with him. It would require infinite wisdom to consciously know the fullness of the Father's will at each moment. His will is infinite; to know it in its fullness at each moment would mean knowing the outcome of your action/spiritual response for the eternity to follow. For our heavenly Father, the I AM, who contains time and space, this is an easy matter but not one possible for us. The trick is to not try to understand the moment with the rational mind but rather to simply give the moment to him and leave comprehension to follow in the fullness of time.

Our gift to the Father as ascending mortals is the first step of faith. I am not aware that we must understand his will in order to do his will. It is usually our fear of the unknown which demands to know the consequences of any given undertaking. I suggest that in matters spiritual it is sufficient to know that the outcome in eternity is to find oneself in the presence of God. In the short-term, trust the spiritual intuition which is your heritage.

Transmuted Ego

I believe ego serves a useful purpose during the mortal career. I am not certain how long we carry our egos with us, but I suggest that the ego may in fact be an integral part of our identity which will be a part of our conscious selves throughout eternity. At this point in our universe careers, ego has earned itself a bad name. If we imagine that ego embodies our own will, then because our will does not always agree with the Father's will, there results confusion. I believe our egos can subsume to the Father's will and still exist as a positive element of mind. The difficulty, though, is that ego is quick to respond to time-space stimuli and therefore too often gets the upper hand in our dealings with people and events. I see ego preoccupied with our material existence because it may be that element of mind most closely related to our animal-origin selves. If you think about it, ego does act to protect. The problem is that it's like keeping a vicious guard dog around your house which keeps the neighbors away, too.

I believe we make a mistake in trying to bury our ego. It exists as fact, so I suggest we work to transmute it instead. This is where good spiritual habits can come into play. Our egos like to feel good, like to feel wanted and loved, to feel important and special. Well, these are all things that can be derived from spiritual living if such things can be seen from a broader perspective. After all, does God not love us, is he not thrilled when we are found after being lost, are we not special in that what we bring to the growth of the Supreme is very special, indeed, unique? I am convinced that if the ego is fed spiritual fruit rather than material food it can serve a higher purpose and will continue as a functioning part of mind throughout the universe career serving to protect us spiritually.

When we observe that one of our fellows appears to live "with his/her ego in their back pocket," so to speak, it seems they have no ego. I suggest their ego has been commissioned for higher service.

Earth as School

It would appear to follow naturally that our time on this planet Urantia is really time in school. It makes sense to me that if the next stages of our universe career involve participation in the schools of the mansion worlds, why would our lives here be any less a schooling experience? This idea is further supported by the fact that the departure that most Urantia mortals will make in transit to the mansion worlds will be in the company of thousands of earthmates with whom we will advance through the morontia worlds. It is even common knowledge that we "learn from our experiences." Remember the School of Hard Knocks?

Why look at the earth life as time in school? Simple! It can alter one's attitude toward life's experiences to consider oneself a "student." One is more apt to be more open to learning, more willing to try in spite of possible failure, more open to new ideas and perspectives, more generous to fellow students who also struggle with life's lessons, and more likely open to prodding and leading on the road to spiritual knowledge.

I believe that when I have eventually regained consciousness on the mansion worlds, and when I have rekindled by memories of the earth life, I will feel some regret at not having taken greater advantage of the learning opportunities afforded by life in the flesh. This is a natural feeling that many of us can relate to when we remember our own high school days. We ask: what if I had switched courses when it was suggested to me? why did I spend so much time in the pool hall after school? We seldom dwell negatively on these memories, but there is sometimes a quiet sense that a little better use of time might have proven to be very helpful indeed. We'll not utilize our time here in an ideal way, but it is important to remain conscious of the value of time in the flesh as providing endless beneficial chances to refine our spiritual skills.

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In my sharing with you today, I wanted to emphasize a few practical things which any of us could use to spiritual advantage. I hope you will keep the handout I've given you and that you will each seek your own set of unique life attitudes which will help you optimize the spiritual opportunities this short time on earth provides. I like to dub this set of attitudes as "Be-Attitudes." Because the search for God must be undertaken in the present, if we can each live our lives humbly, bravely and joyously aware that by being conscious:

  • That this moment has great potential value in eternity;
  • That a willingness to share the inner life with God is his will;
  • That ego has its place;
  • That growth opportunities abound each day;
  • That this life is a soul school;
  • That some habits can be good; and
  • That we can be alert to spiritual events.

Then we'll likely not have too many regrets when we awaken on the mansion worlds.

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The Urantia Book Fellowship