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What Does It Mean Spiritually to be a High Achiever?

Monday, February 25, 2013    

   “The great achievement of mortal life is the attainment of a true and understanding consecration to the eternal aims of the divine spirit who waits and works within your mind.” (Urantia Book [UB], p. 1206; 110:3.4)

   It is interesting how a few key phrases out of a great heft of scripture can stay with you, like the one I quote above that became a useful guide to my own day to day living. Of the many teachings we encounter in our best loved spiritual books, perhaps only a handful become truly motivational, an “emotionally activated knowledge.” (UB, p. 1090, 99:4.5)

   My mind, at times, is on the hamster wheel of success. Am I succeeding? Did I succeed? What was it in me that prevented me from succeeding? In such moments, the mind often never stops to inquire more deeply: what is success? What do I truly want to succeed at?

   Section two of the same Paper 110 features this opening remark, “When Thought Adjusters indwell human minds, they bring with them the model careers, the ideal lives… for the intellectual and spiritual development of their human subjects. (p. 1204, 110:2)”

   Thus we find the ideas of “career” and “achievement,” deliberately connected in the same paper about our indwelling divine helpers. By the time I first read these UB passages in the late seventies, I was certain the UB authors were not using the terms career and achievement in the same conventional sense employed by career counsellors at our community colleges. In another paper, they point out that the Thought Adjuster’s mission “chiefly concerns the future life, not this life,” (p. 1191, 108:5.5), so I understood that we are cautioned not to apply these ideas too rigorously to earth careers.

   If you have departed widely from the ideal model career, whatever you believe it may have been, we learn that our Adjusters “adapt, modify, and substitute in accordance with circumstances.” (pg. 1183, 107:7.3)

   The motivation to achieve is likely to fire up an average American in our modern society. I believe the U.S. is more achievement oriented than other societies historically. I know that it’s a driver and a lure for those who emigrate to the West. They come to America with high expectations of achieving their dreams (usually economic).

   The true, or “great achievement” that I aspired to certainly seemed elusive in my experience. At times I found Thomas Edison’s famous quote reassuring: “I have not failed. I’ve just found another one of the ten thousand ways that won’t work.”

   To counterbalance an instinctive aggression to achieve, we must develop mechanisms to deal with failure, loss, and unexpected change. Much of spiritual life requires dealing gracefully with disappointment and the failure to be materially rewarded. We get an archangel’s advice early on in our reading of the Urantia Book, “You will learn that you increase your burdens and decrease the likelihood of success by taking yourself too seriously.” (48:6.7, p. 555)

   Eventually, we are motivated to learn about service to others, rather than to solely cherish our own goals.

   In Sidon, Jesus spoke forthrightly about achievement and he set a higher bar for his followers, asking them “to strive for the attainment of the full stature of divine sonship in the communion of the spirit and in the fellowship of believers.” (156:2.6, p. 1736)

   In section five of Paper 156, more clues concerning the “universe expansion of your career,” are offered when he further advises his followers to, “lighten your burdens of soul by speedily acquiring a long-distance view of your destiny.”

   Jesus was by that time dropping low in the polls. He would’ve been considered by the ordinary Jewish citizens of his day to be at the bottom of the social ladder, even a criminal by some. A warrant was issued for his arrest and he fled Galilee pursued by King Herod’s soldiers.

   The quote I used at the beginning of this article is from Paper 110, Relation of Adjusters to Individual Mortals, (page 1206). I memorized it so I could use it as a mantra in my meditations. For me it was a clear answer I’d been seeking throughout my life to that point. It became a window into an end to the struggle and confusion of my younger years, a new start at what true and noble achievements might look like.

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