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Solving Spiritual Problems: Guidance From The Urantia Book

2015-10-06 10:00 AM | Dave

It is common these days to think we must solve our material problems first, supposedly the more practical approach. Then, when we have the spare time, we can put our spiritual lives in order, take up a search for spiritual values, find God. Jesus in The Urantia Book (The UB) reversed this order of priorities. In a private conference with Nathaniel, instead of our modern term psychological problems, he called them spiritual problems. “Nathaniel, it is our mission to help men solve their spiritual problems and in this way to quicken their minds so that they may be the better prepared and inspired to go about solving their manifold material problems.” (The UB, 148:5.4) He set out to train his followers to share the inner life in communion with the Father, to have a healthy psychology; “he was concerned only with the principles of man’s inner and personal spiritual life.” (140:8.9) He was helping them build a foundation for personal spiritual experience, true religion the first priority. True religion requires good psychology.

One of the great inspirations of the Pope’s address to the U.S. Congress was his choice of “four individuals, and four dreams,” from among the “great Americans” who “were able by hard work and self-sacrifice … to build a better future.” One was Thomas Merton. For him, the contemplative life was fundamental, the most real, what the UB prefers to call “the inner life.” (111:4) As Pope Francis said, Merton was “a man of prayer who … opened new horizons for souls.” This Cistercian monk taught “the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.”

Before Jesus began his public ministry, he ministered to many individuals during the tour of the Mediterranean world with Ganid and Gonod. To Fortune, the young man he met in the hills of Crete, he gave a lesson in self-mastery. “Your mind should be your courageous ally in the solution of your life problems rather than your being, as you have been, its abject fear-slave and the bond servant of depression and defeat.” (130:6.3) Jesus pointed out to him that “your potential of real achievement is the spirit that lives within you.”

Apostolic Therapy—Part of the Training

He gave the apostles equivalent teachings. In Caesarae-Philippi, “They learned that … True religion is designed to lessen the strain of existence; it releases faith and courage for daily living and unselfish serving. Faith promotes spiritual vitality and righteous fruitfulness.” (155:3.7) His training included the acquiring of psychological strength, where possible. They still continued to suffer various emotional maladies such as Thomas with his recurring depressions.

All the apostles experienced many fears and anxieties during the harrowing flight through Northern Galilee from Sidon to Phoenicia, pursued by the Sanhedrin who had authorization from Herod to arrest Jesus. The Master was not gentle with them on this occasion but boldly critiqued their childish reactions to the rage of “the heathen.” They were “guilty of too much chronic yearning … regretting the past, whining over the present.” It was a moment of tough love. (155:1.3)

Following an unproductive two week period at Chorazin, “a baptism of adversity,” the apostles were taking stock of their souls; “they were well-nigh depressed.” He taught the apostles another goal of the work, to achieve transformation of their emotions through prayer to the Father. “The Master said … all of you should pray the Father to transform your emotions of mind and body into the higher loyalties of mind and the more satisfying experiences of the spirit." (155:5.15)

Sometimes spiritual problem solving is as simple as taking a vacation. “Jesus seated them about him while he said: "My brethren, you must all learn the value of rest and the efficacy of relaxation. You must realize that the best method of solving some entangled problems is to forsake them for a time. Then when you go back fresh from your rest or worship, you are able to attack your troubles with a clearer head and a steadier hand, not to mention a more resolute heart. Again, many times your problem is found to have shrunk in size and proportions while you have been resting your mind and body." (143:3.3)

“If Jesus were on earth today, living his life in the flesh, he would be a great disappointment to the majority of good men and women for the simple reason that he would not take sides in present-day political, social, or economic disputes. He would remain grandly aloof while teaching you how to perfect your inner spiritual life so as to render you many-fold more competent to attack the solution of your purely human problems.” (140:8.17)

I think Jesus well understood the courage and strength required to leave the religions of authority, to seek the joy found in personal religious experiences. The UB comments, “Prayer induces the human ego to look both ways for help: for material aid to the subconscious reservoir of mortal experience, for inspiration and guidance to the superconscious borders of the contact of the material with the spiritual, with the Mystery Monitor.” (91:3.5)

I’ve discussed before how being perfect is to become “whole-hearted.” The motivation, when one responds to the religious impulse, is also called all-encompassing. One becomes apostolic, able to serve, “The self has surrendered to the intriguing drive of an all-encompassing motivation which imposes heightened self-discipline, lessens emotional conflict, and makes mortal life truly worth living. The morbid recognition of human limitations is changed to the natural consciousness of mortal shortcomings, associated with moral determination and spiritual aspiration to attain the highest universe and superuniverse goals.” (100:6.4)                                                                                                            

Do We Have the Capacity for “New Horizons,” Further Spiritual Growth?

“Worshipful problem solving,” is one of the “habits which favor spiritual growth.” (100:1.8)

There are many sub-sets to the idea of doing the will of God. I have thought that praying to increase our capacity for spiritual experience is a sub-set of the larger doing of the will of God. “The experience of God has no limits save those of the creature's comprehension capacity, and this very experience [of God] is itself capacity enlarging,” (117:6.9)

Jesus taught that “prayer is a factor in the enlargement of one’s capacity to receive the presence of the divine spirit,” (146:2.14) and further “taught his followers that, when they had made their prayers to the Father, they should remain for a time in silent receptivity to afford the indwelling spirit the better opportunity to speak to the listening soul.” (146:2.17)

We wrestle with guilt that pulls us down, lowers our self-esteem to the point where we don’t feel we deserve God’s mercy. But we do. If the sparrows deserve it, even more so do we. (150:4.3) Jesus’s astonishing revelation to the world was that we were already forgiven and did not require his or anyone’s sacrifice. The rocks in our road, the stones in our pathway are removed upon our acceptance of this gift of mercy. But many of us may have unhealed emotional scars from childhood, a persistence of childish traits as a result, negative, even violent ones, such as jealousies, resentment, vengefulness, injured pride, the urge to retaliate when experiencing a perceived injustice. All can be cured by loving that part of us as the Father would, the part still in pain from old hurts. We love ourselves compassionately by inviting God’s love to come into our hearts and heal by means of prayer and worshipful communion. It can then flow through us out into the world, becoming an act of service to all.

What other obstacles might there be to experiencing the presence of God? When prayer doesn't work, the person dealing with mental illnesses in any form feels like a failure or blames him or herself for not having enough faith. Sometimes for me it’s just plain forgetfulness, forgetting to pray for guidance, which easily happens if I’m in a period of low self-esteem, embarrassment, unable to face others, not feeling fed by friendships, or the support of community. When I do remember to make a short prayer to my spirit guide to help with “the morbid recognition” of my limitations, things go better and I can overcome the regressive tendencies of the lower self, the “animal nature,” as it’s referred to in The UB (34:6.9).

Jesus told the crowd at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, “If you could all be healed of your physical afflictions, you would indeed marvel, but it is even greater that you should be cleansed of all spiritual disease and find yourselves healed of all moral infirmities.” (147:3.3)

My rural family members had a country maxim, “God helps those who help themselves,” so I’ve smiled to myself when I read one of the men at the pool of Bethesda, “afflicted by the infirmities of his mind … [who] had waited all these years for somebody to help him … was such a victim of the feeling of his own helplessness that he had never once entertained the idea of helping himself which proved to be the one thing he had to do in order to effect recovery—take up his bed and walk.” (147:3.5) Jesus words, the gospel, awakened his will and courage just as it had done with Fortune, the young man in the hills of Crete.

“Personal, spiritual religious experience is an efficient solvent for most mortal difficulties; it is an effective sorter, evaluator, and adjuster of all human problems. Religion does not remove or destroy human troubles, but it does dissolve, absorb, illuminate, and transcend them. True religion unifies the personality for effective adjustment to all mortal requirements.” (196:3.1)

This blog represents a first attempt, a somewhat brief and expeditious overview of the spiritual guidance that is available in The Urantia Book. For example, I have not included Rodan’s philosophical advice found in Paper 160. My summary may not represent the best “how-to” get guidance from our spiritual helpers but hopefully points you in a right direction.

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