When our California poet, Robinson Jeffers, wrote Carmel Point (1951), his perspective was ecological. “We must uncenter our minds from ourselves; we must unhumanize our views a little.” I was influenced by his protest against the suburban development threatening his home town, a message that urged fellow human beings to live in greater harmony with the natural world. He envisioned,“This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses,” and expressed fear of what seemed sure to come. The “beautiful place” where he lived was Big Sur.
In our planet’s history, we started out earth-centered, then, after Galileo and Copernicus, solar-centered. We have a spiritual goal of becoming less self-centered, as mapped out in The Urantia Book (The UB). But perhaps the ultimate task before us is to become universe centered, cosmic citizens. In Ken Wilber’s 4 major stages of moral Growing Up that all humans go through: stage 1 is selfish—also called “egocentric,” also meaning self-centered or narcissistic; stage 2, care extended from self to an entire group, from a “me” to an “us”—family, clan, tribe, nation, members of a religious family or political party, a stage called “ethnocentric,” or group-centered; next major stage, stage 3, universal care—a stage also called “worldcentric,” global or all-humans-centered. Finally, stage 4, called integrated, producing a full and complete human being—what we also call “kosmocentric (from A Revolutionary Spirituality: Waking Up and Growing Up).
The scientist E. O. Wilson once commented, “just how far from the center has been hard to imagine …It would be becoming of us to speak modestly of our status in the cosmos.” (The Meaning of Human Existence)
Neither Jeffers’ “uncentering” nor Wilson’s comment on “our status” refers to the kind of selflessness Jesus taught. However Jeffer’s poem reminded me to heed the call to a deeper and broader citizenship that was begun by the ecology movement, one that may find its natural completion in cosmic citizenship.
“I come with a new message of self-forgetfulness and self-control. I show to you the way of life as revealed to me by my Father in heaven.” (143:2.2)
This self-forgetfulness, leaving the self out (48:6.26), allows one to know oneself as a Son of God, not, of course, what the unreligious poet, Jeffers, meant about unhumanizing ourselves, but his poem does help me grow closer to the true self I am becoming.
“The three apostles were shocked this afternoon when they realized that their Master's religion made no provision for spiritual self-examination. All religions before and after the times of Jesus, even Christianity, carefully provide for conscientious self-examination. But not so with the religion of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus' philosophy of life is without religious introspection.” (140:8.27)
I always had trouble with this passage from The UB because I was so influenced by the famous adage, “the unexamined life is not worth living,” (Socrates). I was much too Greek in nature and orientation to understand Jesus’ perspective. When Jesus taught Nabon, a Greek Jew, Nabon did seem to meet him halfway in acknowledging that, “true faith is predicated on profound reflection, sincere self-criticism.” (132:3.5)
“Achievement is the child of imaginative adventure. But inherent in this capacity for achievement is the responsibility of ethics, the necessity for recognizing that the world and the universe are filled with a multitude of differing types of beings. All of this magnificent creation, including yourself, was not made just for you.” (28:6.18)
We can grow into this truth about not putting ourselves at the center of human community, even though our egos may fight back, resist the surrendering of our self-importance. Many have already learned to come unstuck on ourselves, have let our attachment to the self go, at least some of the time.
If we are brave in our self-exploration, we find out that what we’ve defined as the self doesn’t even seem to be enough, or match our spirit guide’s plan for “our career (44:8.4),” the Thought Adjuster’s vision of who we are to become.
Prayer and worship life reveal the possibility of a higher, better self, one way in which Jesus has been “exemplary” for mortals. He taught his followers, “Guard against the great danger of becoming self-centered in your prayers… pray more for the spiritual progress of your brethren,” (146:2.10) a technique I’ve been happy to learn, the shift from self to others in my own prayer life. I continue to be happy with the results.