On Studying The Foreword to The Urantia Book
By Bob Ghen, Sr.
During my first several years of study with The Urantia Book, I repeatedly returned to The Foreword to see what I might grasp of its intended, yet daunting meanings. And each time I found my understanding slowly increasing. Until that is, I got to the second page. Here, no matter how intense my intellectual purpose and focus, I was always soundly stymied. Inquiries posed to other readers assured me that I was not alone in my ignorance.
Nevertheless, I continued my studies of the ensuing Papers with near rabid fascination. And yet, I was becoming acutely aware of how much meaning I was actually missing. Ironically, I was becoming increasingly familiar with terms, paragraphs, sections, and even whole papers that almost completely escaped me. I simply did not have an intellectual "leg-up" on much of this material; and during those first early years, I never met anyone else who did.
With virtually no understanding of many of the intended meanings of the heady concepts outlined in The Foreword, much of the integrity and continuity of the Papers is interrupted by this intellectual vacuum. Unfortunately, we often fill in these blanks with our personal speculation, which we know going in, always falsifies its object.
Thus, our sincere effort to grasp The Urantia Book teachings becomes contaminated with our own self-created speculation as a result of the mind's inherent unifying propensity to connect all the dots, to "make sense" of it all. On the other hand, how often have you, as I have, mentally earmarked an incomprehensible sentence or passage with, "I'll have to get back to that" - simply choosing to leave the blank, blank? When we don't have a clear grasp of key terms, how will we ever follow the intended meanings of whole passages that contain those terms?
First Things First
The Chief of Divine Councilors (a Paradise origin personality) indited The Foreword. Divine wisdom dictated that it be placed before the first paper of The Urantia Book. We would do well, it seems, to heed the obvious intention of the revelators.
By providing us with this, "explanation of the meanings which should be attached to certain word symbols as they may be hereinafter used in those papers which the Orvonton corps of truth revealers have been authorized to translate into the English language of Urantia" the revelators are abundantly clear. We are to use the meanings provided in The Foreword to make clear our study of the intended meanings in the Papers that follow. In this way, our growing and integrated grasp of The Papers will flow in the intellectual channels intended by the Truth Revealers. One's grasp of new and true meanings grows. But it has to actually start somewhere. One must somehow get a valid leg-up on these weighty concepts to initiate and facilitate personal comprehension consistent with the intention of the revelators.
My personal leg-up presented itself when a series of dusty, old audio tapes surfaced of Bill Sadler Jr. informally discussing The Foreword, and I took up the task of transcribing them. Bill's, "Simplification of The Foreword" also found its way into my life about this same time. What a blessing!
Finally, here was someone who apparently did comprehend The Foreword and was able to speak about it in terms I could deal with, a valid, intellectual starting point. Finally, I was enabled to embark on the progressive quest to grasp some of the most (humanly) difficult and complex concepts ever revealed to mortal man. Never forget that our sincere pursuit of true, higher meanings is always divinely augmented by our indwelling Partner. When once we approach enlightened meanings in the higher reaches of thinking, we can depend on those who foster our growth to enhance our efforts to comprehend.
In this context and for our discussion, we will highlight an important distinction between "understanding" and "comprehension".
- Dictionary Definitions:
- understanding: to perceive the intended meaning of words; to be informed
- This is a purely intellectual phenomena; the organization of data into one's existing mental bank of information.
- comprehension: L.comprehendere, to seize; lay hold of; to include; to take in
- For our purpose, this word represents an augmentation of one's soul, the complex, living, growing, morontia energy system that is the embryo of our impending new life. A morontia matrix of concept comprehension exists within the soul which has structure and literally grows with progressive comprehension. These are the spiritually rich concepts that we will take with us into the morontia life because they have survival value; they have become incorporated into the soul.
- understanding: to perceive the intended meaning of words; to be informed
We are in fact, encouraged by the revelators to make every effort to comprehend. I offer here a few relevant quotes:
- (2094.2) 196:3.3 The progressive comprehension of reality is the equivalent of approaching God.
- (1105) 101:2.1 The divine spirit makes contact with mortal man, not by feelings or emotions, but in the realm of the highest and most spiritualized thinking. It is your thoughts, not your feelings, that lead you Godward.
- (1211.1) 110:6.16 Perhaps these psychic circles of mortal progression would be better denominated cosmic levels - actual meaning grasps and value realizations. . .
- (1295.1) 118:1.1 It is helpful to man's cosmic orientation to attain all possible comprehension of Deity's relation to the cosmos.
- (1162.1) 106:0.1 It is not enough that the ascending mortal should know something of the relations of Deity to the genesis and manifestations of cosmic reality; he should also comprehend something of the relationships existing between himself and the numerous levels of existential and experiential realities, of potential and actual realities. Man's terrestrial orientation, his cosmic insight, and his spiritual directionization are all enhanced by a better comprehension of universe realities and their techniques of interassociation, integration, and unification.
- (290.5) 26:4.15 Ability to comprehend is the mortal passport to Paradise.
Inspiring New Horizons Revealed
Allow me again to emphasize how valuable it is for earnest Urantia Book readers to make every effort to study The Foreword and learn to comprehend its mind and soul expanding revelatory concepts. And to do it now. We don't need to be afraid of it. Let this be your next Urantia Book challenge. Once you get that initial leg up and begin to actually grasp the meanings intended there, you will be so greatly encouraged in your personal progress as you study the ensuing Papers.
Whole new cosmic perspectives, expanded levels of meaning, and a greater appreciation of values begin to unfold that were previously not even suspected. The mental blanks we filled with speculation (and those we skipped over) are gradually replaced with the authors' intended meanings. All of those previously scattered bits and pieces of understanding begin to expand and appropriately fit themselves into a coherent pattern of ever larger perspective. And as this far-seeing perspective gathers into a critical mass of understanding, one often experiences one of those light bulb, aha! moments of true comprehension as new meaning is grasped by the soul.
It is self evident that in-depth study of The Urantia Book is a lifetime project. So much more of the revelators' intended meaning can reveal itself with even a fledgling grasp of The Foreword. It all starts with that first leg up; an intellectual boost that initiates the understanding scaffolding upon which ever higher concepts can grow. One that soon opens into an enlightening new, experiential sphere of progressive cosmic comprehension.
Profound Discoveries Await in The Foreword
For me, Bill Sadler Jr.'s work opened the door into that first glimpse of real meaning revealed in The Foreword. But what really matters is that you find your own way to get your own leg up. A process of profound significance is thereby established in the soul. The artful beauty of intellectual symmetry begins to reveal the stupendous wholeness of the sublimely interwoven spiritual concepts presented in The Urantia Book. Even the reality of one's cosmic citizenship becomes increasingly experiential as the soul matures and actually begins to comprehend its own nature. Only good can result from the sincere and persistent effort to comprehend the meanings and appreciate the values so generously afforded us by our incomparable, epochal revelation.
Most assuredly, a focused study of The Foreword is one of the wisest investments of time and effort possible in this life.