The Fellowship Forum
CROSS THE BRIDGE AND TOUCH THE WORLD
AS CHILDREN OF GOD
By Janet Farrington Graham
During the past week we have experienced the highest ideals of personal religion manifest within a community. We have touched each other with spontaneous love; held each other with captivating ideas; enriched each other with supernal ideals and shared a bountiful harvest of the fruits of the spirit. A feast for the heart, mind and soul. In moments of awe I have fully believed the morontial life has descended to meet me, here, where I stand, in a fleeting moment of mortal time that has become eternal within the Supreme. I can almost feel the Supreme unfolding, embracing, becoming with every encounter. My comprehension of my relationship with each of you is more than the passion born of heightened emotion; I am able to love you, my brothers and sisters, with the power of enlightened and spiritualized mind. I am able to enter into community with you and know that together we are building the Living Temple of Spiritual Fellowship because we have experienced it here. We have embraced heart-to-heart, mind-to-mind and soul-to-soul.
We will ask ourselves, "How can I create this level of relationship in my everyday life? How can I touch the world with the same transforming power that I have experienced here with my spiritual community? How can I bring this experience to the world?"
This is our challenge. We talk of Fatherhood and Brotherhood; we count the big blue book among our greatest blessings; we anticipate the power of the true religion of Jesus and long for the day when all the world will know, and we live imperfect lives. We harbor ill-will towards our brothers and sisters. We let emotions dictate our actions and allow intellect to rationalize the persecution of those who disagree with us. We are sometimes quick to anger and often slow to forgive. We are animals struggling to become human; humans struggling to become divine. We embody the best and, at times, the worst of the species.
We seem to exist in the world as a collection of diverse and competing compartments. We have one for the friendly neighbor, one for the struggling parent, one for the enlightened Urantia Book reader, one for the dependent child. The shift from one compartment to another is often instantaneous; we can speak of love in one breath and curse our neighbor in the next. This common human reaction is not the result of a split personality; it is the result of a fractured identity, an identity comprised of, among other things, varied defense mechanisms each housed in a separate compartment.
The character created from life experiences becomes the glue that holds all these compartments together, one to the other, like a pieced-together vase. The personality struggles to unify and integrate these various aspects of our being into an exquisite whole, but our outdated belief systems rebel--systems inherited from our parents, practiced with our partners and sanctioned by society. These beliefs are powerful and affect our behavior more than we know. "After all," the revelators tell us, "it is what one believes rather than what one knows that determines conduct and dominates personal performances" (P. 1090).
It seems that life is a constant struggle to progress beyond that which experience has taught us. Many of us have had painful childhood and adult experiences that have created layers of protective armor we no longer need. If we are to progress, we must examine our resulting beliefs with the magnifying power of spiritual insight. We must strip away the layers of guilt, shame and fear that create resistance to personal progress. We must be willing to discard all that serves our fear and accept only that which defines us as children of God. We must evolve, first as individuals, then as partners and parents, and finally as global religionists. We must learn to view human relationships as divine responsibilities.
This is not an easy task. A Melchizedek tells us: "Loyalties are not exercised in behalf of the great, the good, the true, and the noble without a struggle. Effort is attendant upon clarification of spiritual vision and enhancement of cosmic insight. And the human intellect protests against being weaned from subsisting upon the nonspiritual energies of temporal existence. The slothful animal mind rebels at the effort required to wrestle with cosmic problem solving."(P. 1097).
And yet wrestle we must. For we have played in the fields of the Lord this week. We have tilled the soil of cosmic potential and reaped a harvest of spiritual truth. We have consumed the fruits of the spirit created by our love for each other and now must learn to till the soil and harvest the fruits in our daily lives. The revelators have planted a garden on Urantia and we must bring these fruits to the world. How can a slothful animal mind, subsisting on the nonspiritual. energies of temporal existence, harvest such a garden? Is it possible for us to retain our dependency on outdated belief systems, destructive emotions and self-serving intellect on the one hand, and attain our potential for cosmic insight on the other? How can mere humans learn to live as divine beings?
There is a universe mechanism for bridging the gap between the material and spiritual duality that contributes to these difficulties and conflicts in our lives: the mechanism of the human mind. Mind is the bridge that can lead us from the self-serving ideas of material reality to the God-loving ideals of spiritual living; mind is the bridge that allows us to reach our inner spirit, to evolve our soul, to choose survival. And as we cross the bridge to discover divine mind, decisions are no longer made with blind passion or cold persuasion, but with the progressive realization that we must live as children of God.
A Solitary Messenger of Orvonton writes: "Material evolution has provided you a life machine, your body; the Father himself has endowed you with the purest spirit reality known in the universe, the Thought Adjuster. But into your hands, subject to your own decisions, has been given mind, and it is by mind that you live or die "(P. 1216).
Mind is the arena where the necessities of material life are tempered by the realities of eternal truth, where the perfect Thought Adjuster ministers to the imperfect ascendant being. And every decision we make contributes to the evolution of our own soul and to the evolution of the Supreme: every spiritually motivated act contributes to our welfare and to the welfare of all our brothers and sisters. "As moves the part, so moves the whole."
If we are to progress, to become beacons of light in a dark and desperate world, we must cross the bridge from human emotion and intellect to embrace the divine mind within us. And with this embrace comes the eventual realization of the fruits of divinity described in The Urantia Book.
A Mighty Messenger writes: "To finite man truth, beauty and goodness embrace the full revelation of divinity reality. As this love-comprehension of Deity finds spiritual expression in the lives of God-knowing- mortals, there are yielded the fruits of divinity: intellectual peace, social progress, moral satisfaction, spiritual joy, and cosmic wisdom "(P. 648).
Love-comprehension of Deity requires more than animal mind and human emotion; we must will ourselves into the realm of divine mind, transform our thinking and become spirit-led. And as we become spirit-led we become increasingly able to manifest the fruits of the spirit in our relationships with others.
But bringing forth the fruits of the spirit in daily life requires a great struggle. We understand the basic values of service, devotion, loyalty, fairness, honesty, hope, trust, ministry, goodness, tolerance and peace and are becoming proficient in the exercise of these values in our lives. The challenge for us is to add the adjectives that transform these human values into divine ideals-- to bring forth loving service, unselfish devotion, courageous loyalty, sincere fairness, enlightened honesty, undying hope, confiding trust, merciful ministry, unfailing goodness, forgiving tolerance, and enduring peace.
These divine ideals are the only proof of God-mindedness and love-comprehension accepted by the skeptics, men and women for whom the words of God hold no meaning. Perhaps these men and women are spiritually hungry and yet hampered by a legacy of misused religion. Perhaps she has spent a lifetime running from the shadow of God painted for her by unsympathetic and demanding theologians. Perhaps he has abandoned God in his hour of need because his parents abandoned him and, for the young child, parents define God.
Jesus says: "But do not make the mistake of trying to prove to other men that you have found God; you cannot consciously produce such valid proof albeit there are two positive and powerful demonstrations of the fact that you are God-knowing, and they are:
1) The fruits of the spirit of God showing forth in your daily routine life.
2) The fact that your entire life plan furnishes positive proof that you have unreservedly risked everything you are and have on the adventures of survival after death in the pursuit of the hope of finding the God of eternity, whose presence you have foretasted in time" (P.1733).
To bring forth the fruits of the spirit in daily life requires that we spiritualize our minds before we act. Often our actions are initiated by unreasoned animal fear and defended by unspiritualized human rationale; we react without thinking and think without feeling. As individuals we must evolve from dependence upon animal mind and human emotion. We must cross the bridge and become fully committed to the uplifting of mind in order to bring forth the fruits of the spirit and prove to the world that we are truly God-knowing. And it is by deeds alone that we express our God-mindedness, our words mean nothing. It is our whole life that speaks of God's presence, not any one part. It is response that defines a spiritualized mind, not theory or intent.
Our Adjuster struggles hard to get our attention, to remind us that we have access to a great resource of spiritual insight with which to make decisions on this planet. Together, my Adjuster and I can create a divine mind. Together we can approach a realization of a morontia intellect dominated by one will, "...a will, human in origin, which is becoming divine through man's identification of the human mind with the mindedness of God" (P.1205).
As our minds are uplifted we discover the fruits of divinity in our daily lives and the fruits of the spirit in our relationships with others. And this leads to the evolution of the soul and to the evolution of the Supreme. The Supreme does not evolve because a book appears on a planet; the Supreme evolves as the human mind becomes transformed by divinity concepts and the human being acts accordingly. The soul does not evolve through the emotion-decisions of animal mind; the soul evolves as a result of mind-expansion and spirit identification. "The survival of mortal creatures is wholly predicated on the evolvement of an immortal soul within the mortal mind" (P. 404).
Human mind has evolved dramatically from that first moment when Andon and Fonta decided they would live with and for each other. The Life Carriers remember it this way: "Imagine our joy one day--the twins were about ten years old--when the spirit of worship made its first contact with the mind of the female twin and shortly thereafter with the male. We knew that something closely akin to human mind was approaching culmination; and when, about a year later, they finally resolved, as a result of meditative thought and purposeful decision, to flee from home and journey north, then did the spirit of wisdom begin to function on Urantia and in these two now recognized human minds "(P. 709).
From such humble beginnings, over the course of a million years, human mind has developed and progressed. The revelators utilized over 1000 human concepts in the presentation of cosmology and religion in The Urantia Book. And yet we still suffer from unspiritualized thinking on this planet. We still make decisions based on fear, prejudice, outdated beliefs, mistaken ideas and short-sighted idealism. And we still seek miracles as a short-cut to God.
It is for this reason that I believe the Fifth Epochal Revelation has come to us in the form of a book authored by a diverse collection of celestial beings who were challenged to present divine truth in human terms. What better way to expand our minds than to present revelation in a unique package of human wisdom tempered by cosmic insight.
Each epochal revelation of truth to this planet was designed to accomplish a specific task. The first revelation was the normal assignment of a Planetary Prince to an evolving planet. The second, a timely biological and social uplifting. The third was an emergency mission to compensate for the failure of the first two, and the fourth, a mission of mercy to a world still very confused. We had two defaults and two rescues, which evens the score. The fifth, I believe, is a mindal uplifting, designed to help us apply spiritual standards to human affairs, to lift us beyond the influence of confused intellect and chaotic emotion into the light of divine mind.
This is a task, I might add, that would have been accomplished with less difficulty if the spiritual administration of this world had been more successful and, as a result, visible. As it is, we who believe without seeing must uplift our minds with the help of The Urantia Book and find ways to bring truth to the world. No wonder agondonters have such a glorious future waiting; our challenge on Urantia requires that we utilize mind to its fullest in order to build the family, evolve the soul, and transform the planet.
From this perspective, the Fifth Epochal Revelation is not a book; the revelation is an emerging network of human minds actively embracing the concepts of duality and manifesting the fruits of divinity in well-lived lives.
Once we cross the bridge and leave the old ways of thinking behind, once we will ourselves into the realm of higher mind, how then do we apply our spiritualized intellect to the challenges we face in daily life? How do we utilize the great resource of divine mind to touch the world in a meaningful way?
If your life is like mine, you are very much aware when the decisions you make and responses you give are rooted in immature emotions and self-serving intellect. When I face a problem, it takes but a moment to determine if my response is the outgrowth of repressed anger, pain, impatience or just simply self-service. I also know that when I take the time to cross the bridge, to shift my thinking to a higher plane, to require the application of spiritualized intellect to the material problem I face, the response is qualitatively different; instead of entering a destructive cycle I spontaneously find a creative solution. For example, as a parent, when I respond to my children from an emotional level, I can feel and project anger, frustration, fear, guilt, impatience, pride, longing and many other strong emotions that are normal and capable of being either instructive or destructive. When I respond to my children from an intellectual level, I become the teacher. I make decisions about schools, health, friends, and I often become authoritative, judgmental and dogmatic.
After I cross the bridge into the higher realm of mind, I see my children as spiritual brothers and sisters. I look at my son and know that we will spend an eternity travelling similar roads, not as mother and child, but as sister and brother. I listen to my young daughter playing house and marvel that in our spiritual Father's house we are already sisters. I hold my new baby and remember that the short time I have as her protector and teacher is but a fleeting moment of our mutual eternity and truly a gift from God.
And as my thinking is uplifted, so too do my actions change. It is not important that I control situations, only that I control my response. It is not required that I always highlight error, but that I sometimes illuminate truth. My task is not to win the game, but to model fair play. If I could consistently respond to my children keeping these few simple, yet divine attitudes in mind, I would achieve my parenting goals. As it is, I must constantly remind myself in times of stress and struggle to access divine mind. This, however, is progress. At least now I have an effective tool to overcome the legacy of poor parenting my parents unknowingly left with me.
And this legacy of poor parenting spills over into other aspects of daily living, including into our spiritual community. Many Urantia Book readers are troubled by the questions and conflicts that seem to divide rather than unify us. Some feel that in order to build a lasting community we must define a "new religion" and build an organization for worship. Others feel that translations and book distribution should be our priority. Some are engaged in difficult legal battles, others in alternative teachings.
Perhaps what we choose to do as believers in the Fifth Epochal Revelation is not as important as how we choose to do it. How do we honor the needs of brothers and sisters for organized worship without establishing unwelcome standards for all? How do we use conflict to learn the art of negotiation, consensus-building and tolerance without compromising our charter? How do we respond to legal challenges without inciting destructive passions? How do we allow others the freedom to experiment without judging them harshly and thus compromising relationships and thwarting community?
These are the questions we must ask ourselves: Have we applied spiritual standards to the material challenges within our own community? Have we learned to interpret without prejudice, to understand without judgment, to love without hesitation, to live without fear?
Mother Teresa says, "It is not so important that you do great things, but that you do ordinary things with great love."
We spend a lot of time debating what members of the Urantia Book readers' community should be doing, and perhaps not enough time asking how. And yet, it is how we do what we do that defines us as a spiritual community. I believe the focus on "what" roots us in the material world where we spend our days facing material challenges using whatever human values we can muster. But it is the "how" that transforms material challenges into spiritual opportunities; it is the "how" that transforms human values into divine ideals. The "what" is service, the "how" is loving.
The Apostle Paul, for all his faults, knew about love. He writes in I Corinthians 13, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not Love, I become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not Love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not Love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long, and is kind; Love envies not; Love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; Rejoices not in iniquity, rejoices in the truth; Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
Once we have learned how to bring forth the fruits of the spirit, divine ideals, in our relationships with each other, we will begin to see the fruits of divinity within our community. We will discover intellectual peace even as we share diverse ideas. We will experience true social progress and moral satisfaction as we minister to each other according to our ever-changing needs. And as we work side-by-side we will open our hearts with increasing spiritual joy and uplift our minds with expanding cosmic wisdom.
Once we cross the bridge and uplift our minds, and our community becomes truly spiritualized, we will know how to touch the world as children of God. We will touch the world not as materialists, nor as spiritualists, but as religionists who seek to harmonize our duality through the mechanism of higher mind. We will incorporate the teachings of The Urantia Book into the very fabric of our daily lives and use these higher standards of action and intellect to determine how to serve our community and our world in a meaningful way. Thus will we respond to our brothers and sisters with the progressive action of spiritualized mind instead of the stagnant trap of emotion or the stifling web of intellect.
This means we can no longer compartmentalize our beliefs and opinions. We must apply the same standards of spiritualized thinking to our relationship with our children, our partners, our co-workers, our neighbors, our enemies. We must overcome the legacy of belonging to partisan local religions and embrace the potential of becoming global religionists. We must become a living example of the religion we seek to create, a religion that acts instead of rules, a religion that excludes none and tolerates all who seek God.
For me, there is no greater challenge as a religionist than to learn and practice the art of peacemaking. We watch and experience conflict in the home, in the schools, on the streets, at work and in the world. As the global arms market expands, and the world economy contracts, these conflicts become increasingly violent and deadly, for there is great profit in the means of making war and seemingly little motivation to teach peace.
My emotions and intellect lead me to protest with anger against the arms sellers and the military interventionists; against the drug dealers and the gang members; against the gun lobby and the lawmakers. And yet, this is not the way of peace. I must cross the bridge to higher mind and "internalize disarmament," as the Dalai Lama puts it, before I practice peace with my brothers. In The Urantia Book a Melchizedek says: "Man will never accept peace as a normal mode of living until he has been thoroughly and repeatedly convinced that peace is best for his material welfare "(P. 786).
First we must convince ourselves. Can we afford to support the methods of war as a means to peace? Can we continue to deny drug addicts treatment and pay only for punishment? Can we justify the re-election of lawmakers who choose money before morals? These seem like purely social and political issues that have little to do with the Urantia movement, and yet I wonder how we can touch the world with spiritual insight while turning a blind eye to the decisions that lead to the world's suffering.
A Melchizedek of Nebadon states: "The religionist is not unsympathetic with social suffering, not unmindful of civil injustice, not insulated from economic thinking, neither insensible to political tyranny. Religion influences social reconstruction directly because it spiritualizes and idealizes the individual citizen. Indirectly, cultural civilization is influenced by the attitude of these individual religionists as they become active and influential members of various social, moral, economic and political groups "(P. 1088).
The attitude of the religionist must not reflect the usual defense mechanism of our species--that is, to draw lines in the sand and point proverbial or real weapons at the "enemy" on the other side. The attitude of the religionist must be to presence peace and resolve conflict for the benefit of every individual. We must learn to find the profit in peace not just for ourselves but for those who oppose us. Especially for those who oppose us.
There is a growing recognition of the benefits of resolving conflict so that both sides win. Our understanding of human nature and our history convince us that the loser will not suddenly adopt the beliefs and goals of the winner. The loser will harbor resentment and, when the time is right, seek revenge. The winner can never turn his back and assume the victory is complete. Whether retribution is immediate or occurs after several generations, if the loser feels punished, it will occur. Because where punishment leads, retribution is sure to follow. And this is true not only for races and nations but for parents and children. Current parenting theory recognizes that punishment creates an endless cycle of misbehavior, abuse and self-loathing, while negotiation with children leads to good behavior, responsibility and high self-esteem.
But the application of conflict resolution theory is not an easy task. It takes a diligent effort to learn new ways of thinking about conflict and new skills for dealing with those we are in conflict with. It takes courage to incorporate a new belief system in the place of our old blame and shame, might makes right, eye-for-an-eye upbringing. We must look at all our work in the world as a possible training ground for peacemaking. We must learn to turn the other cheek and recast a personal attack into a spiritual tool.
In my work as a coach for conflict resolution workshops, I have helped managers in large corporations learn that the cost of replacing disgruntled employees is much greater than the cost of learning to listen, accept, and encourage employee participation in the decision-making process. In my work as a family counselor, I have seen parents of teenagers realize that the battles they fight in order to impose their authority require great expenditures of emotional resources and accomplish little more than the escalation of resentment and rebellion. In my work as a volunteer for my son's third grade class, I have helped a seasoned teacher replace arbitrary discipline with problem-solving by consensus and transform a difficult classroom into a functioning community.
The principles at work in conflict resolution theory are very similar to the peacemaking skills employed by Jesus. A manager, parent or teacher listens without harsh judgment, seeks to find common ground, highlights areas of agreement, asks for clarification of confused thinking, suggests options, evaluates consequences, and has faith in the abilities of the participants. By these means do we negotiate fairly, build consensus and exhibit tolerance. In this way do we live our everyday lives as children of God. Jesus was a master at these techniques and The Urantia Book is an inexhaustible source of information regarding conflict resolution.
Imagine our impact in the world if Urantia Book readers became known as skilled peacemakers. Imagine the healing that would occur in our own community if we could work with each other to resolve conflict in this way. Imagine the transition in family life that would happen in a single generation if parents were able to create peace at home through principled negotiation with their offspring.
This is a worthy challenge for our community. We can build the Living Temple of Spiritual Fellowship by loving each other with divine ideals, by working together according to the teachings of Jesus and the universe model presented in The Urantia Book, by uplifting our minds.
We have gathered here this week to deepen our understanding of the revelation and to strengthen our bonds with each other. We have gathered to share the feast of love prepared for us by our Father. It is time now for us to prepare our minds--to glean from our beloved book the teaching for leaders and peacemakers, to transform our community, to travel the world as children of God.
We must cross the bridge to divine mind and then determine what our brothers and sisters in the world truly need. The higher our minds reach, the broader our perspective and the greater our impact in the world. We cannot simply produce and distribute books and assume our task is complete. We must live the revelation in our lives and teach by example the beautiful truth of the life of Jesus and the love of God.
We are a community of extremely capable people who have access to a revelation of truth that will enable the world to rise above a powerful legacy of default and dysfunction. We must rise to the challenge and commit all our resources to the task of uplifting Urantia from this present materialistic stage toward the future spiritual age of light and life.
But let us not charge ahead with passions aflame to set the world afire with the new truth; rather, let us emerge slowly with enlightened minds committed to transforming the world by illuminating example.
"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." A powerful statement with profound implications for our community and for every spiritually motivated person in this confused and conflict-ridden world. We can make a difference. I hope that in our work together as members of the Urantia Book readers' community we can always put our status as children of God ahead of our desires as mortal men and women. I hope that we are able to live together in peace and harmony as brothers and sisters who love each other with divine ideals. I hope that when we leave this world we will be remembered first as children of God because we lived our lives foremost as peacemakers.
This is a challenge worthy of our beloved revelation: Cross the bridge and touch the world as children of God.
A Service of
The Urantia Book Fellowship