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The Religion of Personal Spiritual Experience

By Bob Ghen, Sr.

The Urantia Book teaches the universal, "Religion of Personal Spiritual Experience". An authentic, enlightened religion easily and readily accessible by every single human being on our planet who is willing, notwithstanding any and all other previous allegiances and affiliations. This is a planetary religion of God conscious human beings now living in the 21st century in spiritual and religious freedom from all man-made spiritual and religious authority.

This paper presents a brief overview for fully committed religionists of all stripes; for those who only pursue religion half-heartedly; for those who think of themselves as, “spiritual but not religious”; for the many agnostics who are simply not sure about religion; and perhaps especially, for committed Atheists who are absolutely positive that the whole religious proposition is pure hogwash.

A Nascent Worldwide Spiritual Migration is Underway

Given the current global, geo-political climate, so fraught with religious strife and its attendant rise in extreme fundamentalism, such a "Religion of Personal Spiritual Experience" is not immediately appealing. Religious ideologues and spiritually timid individuals who crave the transient security of group-think, or a fossilized belief system, or who prefer the perceived safety of the herd are slow to embrace the liberty and adventure of realizing in ones own personal experience ever deeper layers of true spiritual meanings and values. It does take courage.

Nevertheless, our "Religion of Personal Spiritual Experience" is slowly emerging among the people of earth. It is gradually finding its way into the hearts of intelligent, progressive, and open-minded individuals all around the globe. Already, there are many across the broad, cultural-social-political-spiritual-religious landscape who are either among our numbers, or spiritually migrating in this direction.

Presently, I will address more fully what it means to personally practice our religion. But first, it will be helpful if you will allow me to steer you away from what it categorically does NOT entail.

Our Religion

Since our religion is validated by personal experience, we do not require an authoritative stamp of approval by any other intermediating person, institution, agency, or body of work on earth for its authenticity. Each of us holds authority over our own, personal spiritual experience. Organized, institutional religion plays no role.

We practice a religion without dogma, freeing the creative flow of mind to follow Truth wherever it may lead. We are without impotent rituals and binding superstitions. There exists no hierarchy of power among us; no priests, no bishops, no infallible popes. There is no chain of command, nor gradations of rank - absolutely no pecking order. A particular dress code does not identify us. All individuals are respected as religious equals, as indeed we are.

No Rules, No Dogma, No Religious Conflict

Neither will you find “enlightened” gurus who have arrived, ascended masters, people with special powers, nor “anointed” ones among us. Our religion does not insult the intelligence with preposterous claims of superhuman capabilities that can never be empirically demonstrable. Nor do we have designated places of worship. Candles, incense, bells, crystals, and mysterious incantations play no part. Absent are the chanting, the secret mantras, the hypnotic repetition of meaningless formulas, all forms of prayer wheels, amulets, fetishes, sacred relics, and every other form of childish, spiritual gadgetry. We have no list(s) of rules. And we claim no sacred places of spiritual power, nor so-called holy vortices (whatever they are). Also, we do not perform miracles, and neither do we expect them. Sound, rational science frames our understanding of the natural, material environment.

Yet we are, each one, personally and intimately in an authentic, experiential relationship with the inner spirit of God, the conscious, intentional maintenance of which is the very essence of our religion. For many of us, The Urantia Book provides a common language and frame of reference with which to discuss and thereby socially share these highly intimate, personal experiences. But it is certainly not a prerequisite to the "Religion of Personal Spiritual Experience".

Even though we all share in this same, ongoing spiritual experience, at the same time, our beliefs and opinions are as varied as our personal histories. But we are not attached to our beliefs and opinions. We know they merely serve as transient, intellectual scaffolding upon which our understanding of true spiritual meanings and values is growing (and therefore changing), and we experience them as such. We relish the opportunity to share our diverse understandings, and its rich potential for mutual, spiritual edification. Being open to a variety of intellectual and philosophical interpretations provides fertile soil for enhanced creative thinking. Every single personality is a wholly unique, finite expression of the infinite Personality. Each of us is living out a unique life and identity in the world. Therefore must the interpretation and description of our experience be thus conditioned and personally expressed. This kaleidoscopic array of human expression when sincerely shared with others nourishes the truth hungry soul.

Emphasis here on individual, personal spiritual experience and sharing should not, however, be interpreted to preclude, usurp, or in any way discourage participation in any group of our choosing, religious or otherwise. We are not reclusive, mystical hermits. Most of us, whether formally or informally, do embrace the camaraderie and social benefit of belonging to a particular group with whom we share fellowship. We are in fact, strongly encouraged by The Urantia Book to participate fully with others, all kinds of others.

Despite our interpretive differences, there can be no religious conflict among us. This is because it is so highly personal, with each of us immersed in our own personal, subjective, spiritual-religious process, progressing at our own rate, in our own way, and within the context of our own personal relations with the divine, inner Spirit. One can only honor and respect the actual, living content of religious experience in the lives of others. ALL religious sovereignty is invested in God.

The Religion of Jesus

This "Religion of Personal Spiritual Experience", The Urantia Book teaches us, is the religion of Jesus. It is the religion he personally practiced, and the religion he taught his Apostles, disciples, and all other followers who could comprehend his simple message. It should not be conflated with Christianity, the institutional, multifaceted, organized religions about Jesus, and created by men. Neither is it in conflict with Christianity, nor any other religious group.

Specifically, the practice of our religion initially involves adopting a sincere attitude of spiritual receptivity, a desire and willingness to share the inner life with God as He is present in the inner, spiritual fragment of His bestowal. This is the actual “presence of God” that literally resides within the most refined level of our human minds, in the superconsciousness (consciousness of consciousness).

Personal Experience Transcends All Interpretation

Genuine, living FAITH is that ineffable, personal, spiritual experience by which we maintain our relationship with this inner spirit of God. Whomever is thus spiritually engaged is in truth (and in fact) actively practicing the "Religion of Personal Spiritual Experience", quite irrespective of one’s religious beliefs and affiliations. Authentic, spiritual faith has no organic connection with the interpretive beliefs we may attach to this experience. Let this be abundantly clear: The spiritual experience of living faith is NOT a matter of subscribing to, or even wholeheartedly believing in, some arbitrary list of dogmatic assertions that some group (ANY group) of religionists has been able to agree upon. One may or may not agree with specific doctrine, but personal experience transcends all interpretation.

We have found that the inner spirit nucleus never rests. Always it seeks to register its divine influence within our meager and naturally resistant human minds. We therefore know that, it is up to us, from our side, to remain open to its unerring guidance and direction.

We know from personal experience that persistent sincerity in the honest pursuit of Truth always yields increased comprehension of Reality. It is only limited by our inherent, personal spiritual capacity, and up to the fullness of our present, individual, spiritual receptivity — our willingness to cease resisting.

We Ascend Step by Step by Faith

Thus we persist in our efforts, personally ascending (spiritually growing) increment by increment, as our commitment, courage, stamina, and will to stop resisting ebbs and flows. And we don’t expect to finally “arrive” in some euphoric state of perpetual ease and bliss. But we do enjoy the satisfaction of intermittent goal attainment as we ascend the steps and stages of intellectual-spiritual growth and personality unification. We humans become more “real”, more authentic and genuine, as we progress in personality unification, as we actualize more of who we are intended to be, by God.

Regarding goal attainment: Generally, we modern humans are conditioned to spend most of our time, energy, effort, and creative purpose accomplishing our material needs and desires. But why not apply a portion of that life investment toward actualizing spiritual potential? Why not intentionally advance spiritually, along with a rewarding material career? Both are achieved by similar means, i.e., by investing time, energy, effort, and one’s creative purpose toward achievable goals. Nothing is achieved materially, or spiritually, without persistent, intentional effort. As is true of all relationships, if we will not give the time and attention it takes to become familiar with this inner, spiritual relationship we can not expect, or even hope, to progress in spiritual intimacy.

While the means of accomplishing both our material and spiritual goals is similar, beyond that, they completely diverge. Material goals are known, and we accomplish them by formulating an actionable plan that is adapted to unfolding conditions until the goal is achieved. Material goals are motivated by the desire for more, or bigger, or better. And we decide what they will be.

The central ideal motivating The "Religion of Personal Spiritual Experience" is the overarching spiritual purpose to live ones life in unbroken communion with God’s inner spirit, even as we are fully engaged in the work and play of the material world. Also unlike material goals, there is but a single, primary spiritual goal, and it is not specifically foreknown. It is to actualize whatever spiritual potential is up next for us personally. And that is decided by God, not us. Thus, we are wholly and completely willing to trust the safekeeping of our personal souls to the unerring spiritual guidance so generously provided by our divine Creator.

Genuine living faith is the technique that moves us incrementally through the steps and stages of our primary spiritual goal of actualizing whatever is next. Thus it is, we approach ever closer to the central ideal of unbroken communion. All of which is accomplished (with true faith) by the continuous maintenance of a living, spiritual connection with the ever present, inner spirit of God. Absolutely nothing separates us from experiencing this direct relationship except our unwillingness to participate - by choosing to resist.

What is Enlightenment?

The Urantia Book teaches that “intelligent prayer” and “sincere worship” are the most potent things we can choose to do to stimulate our spiritual growth and enhance our personal enlightenment.

And for us, “enlightenment” is simply the ongoing process of living a truly progressive spiritual life, each day recommitting our ordinary, incomplete, human selves to our highest spiritual values and ideals. It does not take place later, at the end of a given set of spiritual procedures or tests. This enlightenment is available now.

Intelligent prayer, we are taught, is that prayer which is consistent with the divine principles that govern such spiritual communications. It is NOT about getting God to do stuff for us, or give us stuff, or perform miracles, or disappear the consequences of our foolish actions. It is not magic. Among other things, intelligent prayer is about offering sincere gratitude; petitioning for the spiritual blessings that will enable us to carry on nobly in the face of present difficulty; seeking to know more of the divine plan for us; and for the will, clarity, and courage to carry out whatever is next on the spiritual journey.

Sincere worship is about offering oneself completely to the inner presence of God. It can be summed up affirmatively in the phrase, “My will is that Your will be done.” It is about being intentionally available for whatever God intends, and with absolutely no personal agenda. It is time spent in effortless attention with the inner spirit. It is the wholehearted willingness to be in the divine embrace. And it is the single most effective choice we can make to “know God”.

Social Concomitants

There is a profound, and inevitable, social corollary in the "Religion of Personal Spiritual Experience". While the subjective aspect of the experience we have been discussing is so highly personal, its social concomitants are expressed as the natural response to an ever increasing urge to serve other people. The sincere desire to be useful to others intensifies as one progresses in spiritual intimacy. This truth is demonstrably observable when one self-imposes positive modifications in one’s personal and social behavior. People do actually become more ethical, it is true. But more than that, we become more loving in our relations with others. We increasingly come to experience our fellow humans as family, as brothers and sisters.

Although all are respected as religious equals in the family of God, we are not blind to the reality that there is a differential of spiritual progress and personality unification among us. This is a positive development in that it provides all with the opportunity to serve, even mentor, those who may be a little behind one in the process.

We do well to seek the sensible council and guidance of those who have preceded us in the spiritualization process. But we err greatly when we confer them with divine authority. We are not ourselves separate from divinity, and therefore we require no intermediaries of any kind. Nor do such intermediaries even actually exist except in the wishful minds of those who have projected such divine authority upon another; and in the self-deluded minds of those who have deified themselves.

Service contact with others does not involve sacrifice. Duty may, but sacrifice is never an element of true service. One serves others with a full heart, with no sense of forfeiture and no desire for recompense. Service is its own reward. Profound satisfaction permeates the lives of those who serve freely. The more willing we are to share the inner life with God and incorporate divinity into our daily awareness, the more insistent is this urge to serve. And this in turn eventuates increased opportunity for service, the natural concomitant to a life of devotion.

Summary

At the core of all true religion there is a subjective, genuine personal, spiritual experience, as undeniable as a toothache. The only thing blocking one from this experience is the unwillingness to cease resisting. To claim otherwise, for whatever reason, is only to admit that one is, in fact, unwilling to participate. For all who are sincerely willing are included. None are turned away.

Living faith is not the product of being intellectually convinced of anything. It can not be substantiated by scientific method (the valid means by which we explore the material facts of our physical environment) because it is not a material phenomenon. Science can not, and will never, reveal spiritual reality. Only spiritual methods can disclose spiritual truth. Our "Religion of Personal Spiritual Experience" presents the most direct and immediate action one can take to gain entrance into the spiritual realm, irrespective of what it is called. If anyone is in a direct, experiential relationship with the inner spirit of God, then that person is practicing our religion, whether they know it as such, or not. The "Religion of Personal Spiritual Experience" warmly welcomes all, and every human being on the planet is invited to participate.

Afterword

I would be remiss if I did not fully credit The Urantia Book as the source of the descriptive insights I have presented here, albeit in my own words. I am not an “official” representative of The Urantia Book, and in my 50 year association with it I have not been aware that anyone is. Any other reader could very well describe these same insights through their own personal lens.

But let me here declare: This Urantia Book is unlike any other among the wisdom literature of our world, bar none. As a divine Revelation, it is the most current presentation available on the planet exquisitely elucidating the most intelligent answers to the most profound questions of humankind. The vast, cosmic creation of things and living beings, and their functional interrelationships, is portrayed with stunning clarity and detail. It weaves a fascinating and comprehensible synthesis of science, philosophy, and religion. And it reveals a brilliantly compelling new paradigm of what a human being is, and what it means to be a human being.

If these are matters of more than passing interest to you, please, allow me to encourage you to spend a little time pawing through The Urantia Book’s 2000 plus pages, and see what happens.