An Objective of Enhancing In-depth Study:
Introductory Talk to Summer Study Session 2013
by David Kulieke, Education Committee Chair
Let me read something from one of my favorite books:
“It's not books you need, it's some of the things that [are]… in books. … The magic is only in what books say, how they stitch the patches of the universe together into one garment.”
This reference is not from The Urantia Book, although it’s perfectly consonant with its teachings. It’s from the science fiction classic Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In the novel’s dystopic future, books are outlawed because the cause conflict and thereby unhappiness. The significance of this reference is what it is telling us about what better knowledge and thinking skills can do for us: that we can increase meaning by being able to discern true relationships among facts, ideas, and systems of ideas.
The Urantia Book, among many other things, is about enlarging our perspective and putting things in
In Paper 112 the book states: … the concept of the personality as the meaning of the whole of the living and functioning creature means much more than the integration of relationships; it signifies the unification of all factors of reality as well as co-ordination of relationships.
Relationships exist between two objects, but three or more objects eventuate a system, and such a system is much more than just an enlarged or complex relationship. This distinction is vital, for in a cosmic system the individual members are not connected with each other except in relation to the whole and through the individuality of the whole. P. 112:1.17 (p. 1227.7)
Recently our study group was taking a year-long stroll through the “Foreword” when a relatively new student of The Urantia Book, or at least of the “Foreword,” posed an oft-asked, but still interesting question. In discussing “The three Absolutes,” the author, a Divine Counselor, who is pretty smart individual, uses phrases like “seems to be” and “we are convinced” and “we do not fully perceive.
“Well, if he’s not sure, how does he expect me to understand it?” asked our newer reader.
A more common quandary occurs is generated by our own limitations. Throughout the book we encounter statements such as this one from Archangel of Nebadon: “But I almost despair of being able to convey to the material mind the nature of the work of the celestial artisans.” P. 44:0.20 (p.499.1)
Another problem is acknowledged in the second paragraph of the book and many, many times after that: the limitations of human language. So how does one approach The Urantia Book with such seeming constraints?The key is that one must prepared to study the book in depth.
This means that, while there may be facts in the The Urantia Book, we cannot read the book literally. We must accept that we are given frameworks for understanding, and, as we are told on p.1260 in one of the most important references in the book, “while such universe frames for creature thought are indispensable to rational intellectual operations, they are, without exception, erroneous to a greater or lesser degree.”
We must be willing to read the book figuratively and philosophically, which requires a rigorous approach to study. Despite the limitations of the form, we must acknowledge that the Revelators gave us a book, a form that involves the process of mind mediation. Among other things, this means that we should study human wisdom outside of The Urantia Book. Was there ever such an inspiration for educating one’s self as The Urantia Book? We must be willing to read things several times, often in preparation for a group. And we must be willing to cross-reference. Here’s a practical application, using an idea that is stated twice.
- (Mota 11): “The weak indulge in resolutions, but the strong act. Life is but a day's work—do it well. The act is ours; the consequences God’s.” P. 48:7.13 (p.556.3)
- Man does not unite with the Supreme and submerge his personal identity, but the universe repercussions of the experience of all men do thus form a part of the divine experiencing of the Supreme. "The act is ours, the consequences God’s” P. 117:5.5 (p.1286.3) I believe that the first use of “The act is ours; the consequences God’s” is one of the most often misinterpreted ideas in the book. It suggests that once we have acted, we can wash our hands of the consequences and give them to God. But the second use of the idea shows that while the consequences do indeed reside in God the Supreme, we must share in the responsibility of the consequences of our decisions as well. So often does The Urantia Book require the context of several references to gain perspective.
We must try to study in groups. Besides the even more important aspects of socialization, of creating relationships with other personalities, group study enlarges and leavens understanding. How many of us have experienced the “When we read ahead, it answers what we were just discussing” phenomenon? This is not an accident. It is not a redundancy. It’s an enrichment.
And we must know that understanding a little better is not an end in itself.
Knowledge deals with facts; wisdom, with relationships; truth, with reality values..
But truth can never become man’s possession without the exercise of faith. This is true because man’s thoughts, wisdom, ethics, and ideals will never rise higher than his faith, his sublime hope. And all such true faith is predicated on profound reflection, sincere self-criticism, and uncompromising moral consciousness. Faith is the inspiration of the spiritized creative imagination. P. 132:3.5 (p. 1459.5).
The Education Committee’s mandate is to “foster the in-depth study of The Urantia Book …” So we are a little biased. But we also recognize the value of balancing study with service and with relaxation. We are told that on Jerusem “The activities of such a world are of three distinct
varieties: work, progress, and play. Stated otherwise, they are: service, study, and relaxation. …” P. 46:5.29 (p. 526.4).
We hope that your experience at the Summer Study Sessions will enhance all three!