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Dave Holt

  • 2014-08-18 9:08 AM | Dave

    Readers of The Urantia Book returning from IC’14, the International Conference in Amherst, MA, talked about the theme of “spiritual fragrance” that kept emerging in conversations. Ironically, the phrase only occurs once in The UB, in a description of Jerusem as “spiritually fragrant,” but there are a few similar quotes, one of which I’ll include later in this post.

    In a recent blog (August 4th), I explored the topic of love as a duty, the “greatest commandment” to be obeyed. There are other facets to that shining diamond. There is Joy in love. Some great pieces of music evoke a presence of tenderness that comes into a room and touches your heart, opening it to the good, to God. Mozart’s music opened a window into my spiritual emotions, sang out from the window ledge in a voice that expressed my inexpressible feelings of worship and reverence. I’ve felt this from other composers as well, Dvorak and Rutter being others. One morning my meditation found good companionship in the Kyrie of Mozart’s C minor Mass playing on the radio ( It captured a feeling of the Father’s presence, a source of love and tenderness that sweetened the vaults of space.

    The C minor Mass, a tapestry of music weaving together many meanings, taps into deep ancestral memory and profound emotions for me. The greatness of God is also in it, a greatness that does not overwhelm, dominate or crush one’s feelings or aspirations. Though we might find such loving tenderness from the First Source and Center overwhelming!

    In this music Mozart understood in full, perhaps by means of a revelation to his soul, the comforting care of a Creator for his children, a refuge from the confusion and cacophony of a strife-torn world. “Religion is a revelation to man's soul dealing with spiritual realities which the mind alone could never discover or fully fathom,” (146:3.1), as Jesus said to the Greek philosopher at Ramah. So too can music go beyond thought to make a revelation to the soul.

    Pope Francis is hearing the same music I’ve been hearing. In his seasonal message last December he emphasized the tenderness of God, “If the father and mother spoke to them normally, the child would still understand; but they want to take up the manner of speaking of the child. They come close, they become children. And so it is with the Lord.” … the father and the mother also say ridiculous things to the child: ‘Ah, my love, my toy . . .’ and all these things. … This is the language of the Lord, the language of the love of a father, of a mother. The word of the Lord? Yes, we understand what He tells us. But we also see how He says it. And we must do what the Lord does, do what He says and do it as He says it: with love, with tenderness …” (,_so_we_can_hear_the_tenderness_of_god/en1-755064)

    Above the din, the noise of warfare, voices come forward to meet our yearning for the triumph of love. I recently read Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder’s new book “Distances,” a collection of their correspondence. Wendell tells his friend, poet Gary Snyder, that he regrets how far he took adolescent rebellion in his youth. I think Berry’s late understanding in life of the hurt such an estrangement can cause recalled my own experiences of regret, pain I allowed, love I failed to give my family members. My love fell short of what I aspire to now in my spiritual or religious life, measured by my experiences of God’s love.

    When the curtains of sorrow are drawn back on a new morning, the sweet and tender affection of the Creator of our universe is revealed. I praise the greatness of the Divine whose love we sometimes stumble over where it lays in the road, where we neglected it, abandoned on the path as we rushed away in haste. Now inspired by God’s love, “the greatest thing in the universe” (56:10.20) we are led to name it God the Father. May people find his love behind the curtains they’ve closed on the world for self-protection, behind the memory of their own fathers who may have let them down.

    “Try my heart, Lord … for your loving-kindness is before my eyes,” (Psa. 26:2-3). Long before Jesus made a “new revelation” of the divine nature, the ancient Psalmist discerned the goodness of Jehovah, or the Most High (whatever name they knew God by at the time). Jesus quoted from the ancient scriptures, Psalm 92: “It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to the name of the Most High, to acknowledge his loving-kindness every morning and his faithfulness every night, for God has made me glad through his work.” (also The UB, 146:2.15)

    As we approach Jesus’ upcoming birthday, let us remember this loving-kindness in action as he lived and taught a life of service. “There was something gracious and inspiring about the personality of Jesus which invariably attracted young people. He always made them feel at ease in his presence. Perhaps his great secret in getting along with them consisted in the twofold fact that he was always interested in what they were doing, while he seldom offered them advice unless they asked for it.” (129:1.9)

    We sometimes find the most elevated and beautiful definitions in The UB.  Here for example, the word graciousness is defined: “graciousness is the aroma of friendliness which emanates from a love-saturated soul,” (171:7.1) a description of Jesus in the world. Not a love that was commanded (as described in my last post on love), but one that flowed out of him quite naturally. Perhaps by dutifully following the commandment to love every day, we too will arrive at a more natural state of joyful loving and relaxed giving.

    “Jesus spread good cheer everywhere he went. He was full of grace and truth. His associates never ceased to wonder at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth. You can cultivate gracefulness, but graciousness is the aroma of friendliness which emanates from a love-saturated soul.” (171:7.1)

    Many of these quotes were recently shared in an email conversation with readers who reported the recurring theme of spiritual fragrance at IC’14, a conversation that inspired this blog. “Genuine religion renders the religionist socially fragrant and creates insights into human fellowship.” (99:4.1)

    “My religion is kindness,” said Dalai Lama and such a love has the power to save the planet.

    “Love is infectious, and when human devotion is intelligent and wise, love is more catching than hate. But only genuine and unselfish love is truly contagious. If each mortal could only become a focus of dynamic affection, this benign virus of love would soon pervade the sentimental emotion-stream of humanity to such an extent that all civilization would be encompassed by love, and that would be the realization of the brotherhood of man.” (100:4.6)

  • 2014-08-09 9:06 AM | Dave

    Enrico Fermi was having lunch with Edward Teller, Herbert York, and another famous scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It was 1950. The newspapers and broadcast media were full of UFO reports at the time. The men were sharing their views about extra-terrestrial civilizations, when Fermi suddenly exclaimed, “Where are they?” He scribbled out a series of calculations on a napkin (well … maybe) to show that Earth should have already been visited.

    Since that moment, the Fermi Paradox has been defined as the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of evidence for, or contact with, such civilizations. (Professor Drygalski at

    Scientist Steven Soter of New York University examined this question in an essay for Astrobiology magazine in 2005. “Where are all those alien civilizations? Why haven’t we seen them? … Many answers have since been proposed, including (1) ours is the first and only civilization to arise in the Milky Way,” also known as “the First Come First Serve” hypothesis. A second hypothesis is the extra-terrestrials are here among us (also in The Urantia Book, The UB), and (3) they have already been here and we are their descendants.

    Fermi’s famous outburst in the Los Alamos lunchroom, “Where are they?” inspired the title of Stephen Webb’s 2002 book “Where is Everybody?” Webb considers fifty proposed solutions to the Fermi Paradox, but leaves out the explanation perhaps most interesting to readers of The UB, what Steven Soter calls “the Cosmic Quarantine Hypothesis.”

    In The UB we read, “With this broadcast of the fact of rebellion in Satania the system was isolated, quarantined, from her sister systems. There was "war in heaven," the headquarters of Satania, and it spread to every planet in the local system.” (67:3.1) The war in heaven, best known from the Bible’s Book of Revelation 12:7-13, was also described in vivid detail by British poet John Milton in “Paradise Lost” (Ch. 6).

    Soter’s article mentions cosmologist Edward Harrison’s conclusions (1981), “Any civilization [of] such an aggressive nature would be unstable in combination with the immense technological powers required for interstellar travel. Such a civilization would self-destruct long before it could reach for the stars. … The most evolved civilizations in the galaxy [Harrison] suggested, would notice any upstart world that showed signs of launching a campaign of galactic conquest, and they would nip it in the bud.”

    This is quite like the story told in the 1951 film, “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” a sci-fi tale about the mission of Klaatu and Gort, his “police” robot. Klaatu warns a gathering of world leaders that if they cannot persuade governments to end war and adopt a path of peace, “We have an organization for the mutual protection of all planets and for the complete elimination of aggression. …  Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration.”

    As Soter went on to say in his article, “Advanced intelligence might regard any prospect of the exponential diffusion throughout the Milky Way of self-replicating colonies very much as we regard the outbreak of a deadly viral epidemic. They would have good reason and the ability to suppress it as a measure of galactic hygiene.”

    Of course, Hollywood’s threat of “obliteration” in Klattu’s script is really our own Earth-bound cowboy and Indian fantasy projected as a pop-fiction battle between planets. It is a solution that would never be considered by the “universe government” as we understand it in The UB.

    Preventing aggressive missions of planetary conquest and colonization is also not like the reason The UB gives for the “cosmic quarantine,” but Soter’s thesis at least speaks metaphorically about the consequences of Lucifer’s rebellion and his attempted overthrow of the universe rulers that we live with every day. In truth, we can choose to be free of the rule of the Lucifer manifesto.

    Concerning God's presence in a planet, system, constellation, or a universe, the degree of such presence in any creational unit is a measure of the degree of the evolving presence of the Supreme Being: It is determined by the en masse recognition of God and loyalty to him on the part of the vast universe organization, running down to the systems and planets themselves. Therefore it is sometimes with the hope of conserving and safeguarding these phases of God's precious presence that, when some planets (or even systems) have plunged far into spiritual darkness, they are in a certain sense quarantined, or partially isolated from intercourse with the larger units of creation. And all this, as it operates on Urantia, is a spiritually defensive reaction of the majority of the worlds to save themselves, as far as possible, from suffering the isolating consequences of the alienating acts of a headstrong, wicked, and rebellious minority.” (3:1.10)

    Students of The UB learn, “The universe broadcast is extended to all inhabited worlds regardless of their spiritual status. Planetary intercommunication is denied only those worlds under spiritual quarantine.” (33:6.5, pg. 371) Some say the affairs of the Lucifer rebellion have been adjudicated, resulting in considerable debate about whether the universe broadcasts have been re-opened.

    There is an intriguing instruction Jesus gave to his apostles during questions that followed his discourse on prayer and worship: “As prayer may be likened to recharging the spiritual batteries of the soul, so worship may be compared to the act of tuning in the soul to catch the universe broadcasts of the infinite spirit of the Universal Father.” (144:4.8)

    In one sense then, in spite of the “spiritual quarantine,” and the termination of literal interstellar communication, we have never been isolated from the universe broadcasts emanating from the Isle of Paradise.
  • 2014-08-04 9:03 AM | Dave

    Abegunde Julius Taiwo, a Urantia Book (The UB) student and leader in Nigeria, once posed a good question on Facebook (used by permission): “Is loving God an emotion, a feeling, or a decision?” He followed it with his insights into the Bible and The Urantia Book texts.

    Jesus said the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (UB 174:4.2, Luke 10:27; Mark 12:30; Matthew 22:27) He was reaffirming teachings already found in Judaism, skillfully combining “Old Testament” teachings from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 with Leviticus 19:18.

    But can love be commanded? How can we make ourselves love someone? It requires work; it is something we “achieve” as this The UB passage tells us:

    “You cannot truly love your fellows by a mere act of will. Love is only born of thoroughgoing understanding of your neighbor’s motives and sentiments. It is not so important to love all men today as it is that each day or each week you achieve an understanding of one more of your fellows, and if this is the limit of your ability, then you are certainly socializing and truly spiritualizing your personality.” (100:4.6)

    As Abegunde went on to share with us in his Facebook post, “Since love is commanded, then it must be within our power, in Christ, to love. Love, therefore, is a decision we make. Yes, love will often be accompanied by feelings, but emotion is not the basis of love. In any given situation, we can choose to love, regardless of how we feel.”

    Psychologist and philosopher, Erich Fromm agreed, “Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.” (from 1956 book, The Art of Loving)

    “Some days there won’t be a song in your heart, sing anyway.” (Emory Austin)

    The story of Mother Theresa’s “dark night of the soul” became well known from letters published after her death. In the depth of her ministry to the poor of India she lost her faith, her emotional connection to God. Yet she continued. As was written, she “persisted in radiating invincible faith and love while suffering inwardly from the loss of spiritual consolation (Carol Zaleski in First Things,” She maintained loyalty to the commandment to love without the experiences of ecstasy and feeling, a determination to go on that ensured the love in her original vision was given to the world.

    “Though it may be good at times to think specifically of the kindness and excellence of God … it must be cast down and covered with a cloud of forgetting. And you must step above it stoutly but deftly, with a devout and delightful stirring of love, and struggle to pierce that darkness above you; and beat on that thick cloud of unknowing with a sharp dart of longing love, and do not give up, whatever happens.” (The Cloud of Unknowing, anonymous work of the 14th century)

    Next, Part II, will explore: what is the Truth about love?

  • 2014-07-09 9:00 AM | Dave

    I am almost always reluctant to talk about receiving divine guidance, especially when it appears to have come in a dream. It’s such a personal subject, and best kept that way. But I’ll avoid indulging in magic talk as I share something that happened a while ago. Any mystical tendency I have to view dreams as signs or prophecies I attribute either to my Celtic ancestry or my American Indian blood. Messages that come in dreams fascinate many cultures. The Urantia Book (The UB) makes the nature of dream guidance sound very straightforward in this passage:

    “During the slumber season the Adjuster attempts to achieve only that which the will of the indwelt personality has previously fully approved by the decisions and choosings which were made during times of fully wakeful consciousness, and which have thereby become lodged in the realms of the supermind, the liaison domain of human and divine interrelationship.” (110:5.3)

    In the recent dream I refer to, I encountered an old friend from my past. In real life, I hadn’t seen Bob in decades. And there he was sitting next to me in the car as we waited at a stop light. He was being my navigator. How appropriate! Bob was the first friend I met in Northern California after I’d traveled there many miles driving from Canada via a short stopover in the Los Angeles area. He was living in an old church converted to a house in the Redwood forest north of San Francisco with his wife who was pregnant and his best friend. Bob was my first guide, met in a foreign country at the end of a long journey.

    In the dream, he turned to ask me, “Where do we go next?”

    “How about home?” I replied. The light changed and the waves of traffic parted in front of us like the Red Sea, dividing to allow us an easy move forward onto the freeway onramp.

    “Mind is your ship, the Adjuster is your pilot, the human will is captain. The master of the mortal vessel should have the wisdom to trust the divine pilot to guide the ascending soul into the morontia harbors of eternal survival.” (111:1.9)

    I woke up wondering if Bob, my navigator on this journey, represented my relationship with God. Was it possible that my Adjuster had attempted contact to confirm our partnership in “the will and the way of God,” (118:7.8) all done through the person of Bob the hippie from the California redwoods?

    In the dream it seemed I made a decision to go home with God, or as The UB would put it, confirmed a decision I’d already made while fully conscious. This is a tool of communication that your spirit guide can or might use but we must be careful not to overstep ourselves. In another paragraph of the same Paper 111, the writer cautions, “A human being would do better to err in rejecting an Adjuster's expression through believing it to be a purely human experience than to blunder into exalting a reaction of the mortal mind to the sphere of divine dignity.” (110:5.5) 

    In the weeks that followed, more decisions were made following upon the event of the dream that reinforced the guidance as I saw it, a process I find The UB describes clearly:

    “The keys of the kingdom of heaven are: sincerity, more sincerity, and more sincerity. All men have these keys. Men use them—advance in spirit status—by decisions, by more decisions, and by more decisions.” (39:4.14)

    Speaking more sincerely now, I recognize that there are many other ways we are given help and direction. In moments of cosmic loneliness when I find I’ve wandered too far off course, and I get depressed to find myself so alienated, I have been able to recognize the need to be re-aligned with Truth, Beauty, and Goodness “the qualities of divinity” in oneself. I made another decision in favor of God to align myself firmly with those ideals.

    Any confirmation or guidance we receive in our spiritual life should be helping us to take some faltering plan that we’ve made, perhaps only half-heartedly, more seriously and whole-heartedly. In my case, the “guidance” or the nudge I received solidified my intentions to carry out God’s plan for my life.

    You can consciously augment Adjuster harmony by … choosing to respond to divine leading; sincerely basing the human life on the highest consciousness of truth, beauty, and goodness and then co-ordinating these qualities of divinity through wisdom, worship, faith, and love.” (110:3.6-7)

    This is a very appealing road map for the soul, a map I now keep in the glove box, ready to pull out and consult whenever I need some helpful guidance on my travels.

  • 2014-06-13 8:58 AM | Dave

       You’ve heard it asked, “What is the meaning of life?” A clichéd question you might say, sometimes asked flippantly, but still a good question. Perhaps more to the point: do we use a philosophy of living to find meaning, determine our purpose, and the goals of our existence? Almost all of us do, although possibly unconsciously. We may not be able to verbally articulate our philosophy, or maybe we haven’t closely examined it. Our inner life, the personal revelations, can be used as a guide. Adding philosophy to the mix helps determine what part of a revelation we can reasonably rely on, something wise within to save us from going off on a tangent.

       You are probably reading this blog about The Urantia Book (The UB) because you are curious; the same curiosity made you a spiritual seeker. You may have read that The UB calls the steps on the path to enlightenment, the ascension plan. “Mortal man earns even his status as an ascension candidate by his own faith and hope.” (3:5.16)

       Those who pursue such a course realize that the very idea of a place to ascend to is a gift in itself—dependent on the eyes of faith being opened, and spiritual insights honed to recognize the gift. “Religion is founded on the recognition of values and is validated by the faith of personal religious experience (The UB, 103:1.5).”

       Once you accept the gifts of faith and a new direction, what next? To choose to operate in a higher realm than the place you’re in now, to reach for a new level of spiritual maturity? We are given the freedom to make such a free-will decision, whether to reject or accept the ascendant adventure. “Your mission should you choose to accept it is …”

       Once a person is on the path, they’re going to cut themselves loose from anything they’ve heard about God before, and go meet him on their own terms, to explore the relationship, to refrain from entering into it in conventional ways defined by their tradition. Established religions want to provide safe havens, a refuge. Some seekers are able to stay in their church communities and handle the annoying questions that will come from the congregation while they explore a personal religion.

       Spirituality outside the church is likely to have a new basis in the scientific principle of “experiment and verification.” In the kind of personal or improvised religion I am advocating here, we experiment with a spiritual idea then verify it by seeing if it bears fruit in our lives, if it serves as a better explanation of our experience. Even St. Paul had an insight into this which he shared with the early church. “Do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21)

       When I left the church of my youth, I followed the Jesus principle I’d learned there and still found valuable, as if Jesus himself knew about the personal spiritual quest. “Ask and it will be given you. Knock and the door shall be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).” For me, the door opened onto a secret garden that had always been there. My experience confirmed Jesus was right.

       “To honor the God-knowing leaders of the past may indeed be worthwhile, but why, in so doing, should you sacrifice the supreme experience of human existence: finding God for yourselves and knowing him in your own souls?” (The UB, 155:6.7)

       What does finding God “for yourself” mean?

       It will be different for each one of us. “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So is with every one that is born of the spirit.” (John 3:8) My path to God will be far different from yours however a unifying vision, an ideal of human brotherhood, is there at the end of our converging roads.

       My cousin, who went to college to become a Catholic priest in his youth, ran away from the Abbey and later started his own successful business. He liked to call his experimental phase “trying out spiritual tricycles.” I rode on one or two for quite a while before I climbed onto a two-wheeler. I took some spills learning how to maneuver it.

       I have blundered my way into dead ends, dark corners, and tight spots, choosing to believe in things I later found out were foolish, delusional, or simply misconceived. But let us not underestimate the value of the mistakes. To become a hero on your own journey, like the mythologist, Joseph Campbell, taught us to do, you must dare to impose meaning on the chaos, both in the life events that surround you, and upon the inner turmoil that confuses you from within.

       Why is this kind of life, the spiritual adventure, like the hero’s journey Campbell wrote about? Because you have to be willing to wrestle with the big questions, be ready to discover something different than what you hoped to find, and be ready for answers that weren’t expected. False assurances that you won’t be afraid are just that--false. We must treat it as inevitable that there will be times we experience fear, loneliness, sometimes despair. Jesus forewarned the apostles of “the perils of intellectual discovery… effort, struggle, conflict,” fraught with, “mental uncertainties” and foretold an “uncertain and troublous future of proclaiming the new truths.” (155:5.10-13)

       Maureen Murdock, a student of Joseph Campbell’s, wrote about the differences for “the heroine’s journey.”  Though facing similar dangers, the protective and nurturing female hero may be more motivated to preserve the safety of others and support their success rather than have her own glory. The heroic woman must stop acting and doing at times, so she can reclaim, heal, and discover her true self underneath the heroic accomplishments (The Heroine’s Journey, by Murdock). Men can also learn much from the heroine’s example.

       One of the obstacles to making the choice to grow, heal, or improve is the fear of failure. When it’s an adventure in failure -- faith reassures the seeker that he or she is safe. God is there to catch you. Some of the consolations of the spiritual adventure are opportunities to grow closer to God, to learn how to trust, to form a deeper friendship with God, to experience the love of a Creator/Father. It does take courage, but your relationship with God gives you the courage. We must remind ourselves to rely on that source.

       “Do not be troubled with doubts of failure or by perplexing confusion, do not falter and question your status and standing, for in every dark hour, at every crossroad in the forward struggle, the Spirit of Truth will always speak, saying, "This is the way." (34:7.8)

       With the high premium put on material "success" in our society, men often find these feelings of failure the most paralyzing things to face. Combined with the male tendency to not discuss personal problems, a man may not make the hard choices to heal or grow. He may fear he isn’t keeping up with the Joneses in the chase for material achievement. I can speak about this issue because I was raised by men such as my father and grandfather who stayed inside their heads, or built fortresses around themselves in other ways. In my own therapy, I once had a profound experience of shedding armor that protected my stomach. In my psychic landscape, it was my mid-portion, my stomach that was protected as if I was being forced to eat food I couldn’t digest.

       A suit of armor is useful much of the time; so is a fortress.  But either becomes an obstacle to growth and progress if it keeps the outside world from bringing in new information needed for the inner world to thrive and grow. Men especially need to learn when openness and vulnerability are strengths.

       I wasn’t a naturally courageous man. I had to learn to overcome fears. I got a good lesson once when I was going into a public speaking situation representing my employer. I was very nervous, afraid my speech wouldn’t go over, or I wouldn’t speak authentically and convincingly. When I drove to the location, I passed a beautiful redwood tree illuminated by morning sunlight. As it caught my eye, I found myself meditating on my soul being like that tree, standing tall in its natural environment with the sun shining on its wide spreading branches, unconcerned about proving whether its existence had validity or not. The tree knew its value. At the meeting, I was able to confidently present myself to the room. The speech was a success and I went on to make many more speeches representing my company in the community. 

  • 2014-06-04 8:55 AM | Dave

       “Jesus said: The will of God is the way of God, partnership with the choice of God in the face of any potential alternative.” (The UB, 130:2.7)

       A unique feature of The Urantia Book (The UB) is the unusual emphasis on our partnership with God and other associated spiritual energies, angels, midwayers, etc., in the universe. We who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s remember what we learned from our religious training (when we got any) about God’s relationship with his people and how different it was then. God (or Jesus) was given the position of unquestioned authority. To act with wisdom, we waited for God’s will to be declared to us, to hear the call as if it was a proclamation from the throne. The Christian Church has grown much in its understanding of “the call” since I was young and often teaches it more wisely now.

       The UB, declaring itself to be an epochal revelation, “Revelation as an epochal phenomenon is periodic; as a personal human experience it is continuous,” (101:2.12) makes a thorough disclosure of the evolving Supreme, and how our decisions contribute to the growth of God the Supreme; “upon the steadfastness and wisdom of decision-actions the Supreme Being depends for the actuality of experiential evolution,” (112:5.5) experiential as in emerging, not perfected or complete.

       “And so, as we strive for self-expression, the Supreme is striving in us, and with us, for deity expression.” (117:4.6)

       In The UB there are repeated references to reciprocated actions, mutual interdependence.

       “All mortals who are indwelt by Thought Adjusters are potential worshipers; they have been "lighted by the true light," and they possess capacity for seeking reciprocal contact with divinity.” (52:1.7)

       The important idea about the reciprocal nature of the relationship is that our contribution to the partnership with God is equally important. Reciprocal means equivalent, complementary, balanced.

       “Do you not comprehend that God dwells within you, that he has become what you are that he may make you what he is!” (148:6.10)

       The episode of Peter’s confession in The UB (157:3), Mark 8:29, or Luke 9:20, changed the course of Jesus ministry. Here we see the power of a personal revelation in his confession. “You are…the Son of the living God,” was “a revelation of the Spirit of my Father to your inmost souls,” Jesus responded (157.3.3-7 and 4.1-5; pg. 1745). It was only after his human apostles experienced this revelation that Jesus changed the course of his ministry and openly announced his divinity.

       Why didn’t Jesus make it a part of his “epochal revelation” and declare it without waiting for their insight? Because it would have abrogated the partner relationship of God and man.

       Revelation as a reciprocal process from this new point of view found in The UB is also a way of assisting in the evolution of the Supreme, a key fact The UB wants us to understand, to experience the significance of this relationship.

       “You can consciously augment Adjuster harmony by: … honest recognition of your progressive obligations to the Supreme Being, awareness of the interdependence of evolutionary man and evolving Deity. This is the birth of cosmic morality and the dawning realization of universal duty.” (110:3.6-10)

       “One of the most intriguing questions in finite philosophy is this: Does the Supreme Being actualize in response to the evolution of the grand universe, or does this finite cosmos progressively evolve in response to the gradual actualization of the Supreme? Or is it possible that they are mutually interdependent for their development? that they are evolutionary reciprocals, each initiating the growth of the other? Of this we are certain: Creatures and universes, high and low, are evolving within the Supreme, and as they evolve, there is appearing the unified summation of the entire finite activity of this universe age. And this is the appearance of the Supreme Being, to all personalities the evolution of the almighty power of God the Supreme.” (117:2.9)

       “All experiential creations are interdependent in their realization of destiny. Only existential reality is self-contained and self-existent. Havona and the seven superuniverses require each other to achieve the maximum of finite attainment;” (117:6.20)

       If God is revealed in the UB to be more of a partner with the indwelt human being, less of an authority figure, do we still obey his commandments by subsuming our own desires to his will? I’d like to hear what you think on this question.

       “Ever bear in mind--God and men need each other.  They are mutually necessary to the full and final attainment of eternal personality experience in the divine destiny of universe finality.”


  • 2014-05-22 8:53 AM | Dave

       One morning while driving my daughter to school, we saw a coyote in the riverbed exploring and hunting. We were on one of the last bits of rustic roadside in our town, following our usual route alongside Pine Creek. The day, which had threatened the prospect of yet another dull task, that of sitting in a school classroom, suddenly got brighter. Her eyes lit up with excitement to see a wild animal in the middle of town, and I was seeing the world anew through a child’s eyes. Joy came barefoot to splash in the water, rediscovering the river of delight, seeing beauty and truth in nature, recovering the natural state of wonder.

       I first heard about the River of Delight from a musician, Lou Gottlieb, who had retired from the folk group, the Limeliters, and moved to Sonoma County. He became the spiritual leader of a commune at Morning Star Ranch on the Pacific coast. One evening in the early 70's, Lou came to one of my rock band rehearsals with the idea of teaching us meditation chants he’d composed. “Love Divine, thou art mine, I am thine, Love Divine.” I was struck by the beauty of one song in particular and it stayed with me for years afterwards:

       "Only Thou, O River of Delight, Only Thou, through endless day and night, Only Thou, assuager of all sorrow, Only Thou, oh giver of tomorrow."

       This chant seemed very Hindu or Buddhist to me. Later on I did some research to learn if the concept had any parallel in Christian sources. I discovered there was actually a reference to the River of Delights, its plural form, in the Bible (NIV), Psalm 36: 7-8. "O Lord … How priceless is your unfailing love! … you give them drink from your river of delights." Jesus in his times preached about the “river(s) of living water,” in the temple (John 7:38).
       The King James version, perhaps most familiar from baby boomer childhoods, translates Psalm 36 as the “river of pleasures,” an unfortunate word choice for Christians who think that pleasure equates to sin. The delight I am speaking about here is not carnal. Though it is a delight of both the senses and the mind, it is a more mystical experience of spiritual pleasure.

       This symbol, river of delight, uses a natural image to communicate a sensual energy, the flowing of the unseen spirit of joyfulness into our day-to-day life. It represents an innate harmony between matter and spirit, also metaphorical of the Supreme Being. "The Supreme is the beauty of physical harmony, the truth of intellectual meaning, and the goodness of spiritual value. He is the sweetness of true success and the joy of everlasting achievement." (The Urantia Book [The UB], 117:1.1, p. 1278)

    The River of Delight flows into the Sea of Joy

       Wordsworth’s famous sighting of daffodils blowing in the wind beside the lake, described in his poem, I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud, evoked a delight that stayed with him for years afterwards. The memory rewarded him with pleasure though he “but little thought what wealth the show … had brought” at the time he first saw them. Afterwards, when “recollected in tranquility,” he discovered the deeper meaning of true wealth, learning how such beauty and harmony were at the foundation of his well being.

       One might say the River of Delight transports us to a realization of God the Supreme. It facilitates our journey to Paradise: "If mortal man proceeds upon the Paradise adventure, he is following the motions of time, which flow as currents within the stream of eternity," (117:4.11)

       This broad and flowing metaphorical river is capable of carrying much freight, many cosmic meanings, truths and spirit realities. But the laughing waters particularly speak to one’s soul about the "inherent joy in free will existence (28:5.16)." In The UB this is a function of specialized beings called by the name The Joy of Existence. “In a more general manner and in collaboration with the reversion directors, they function as joy clearinghouses, seeking to upstep the pleasure reactions of the realms while trying to improve the humor taste, to develop a superhumor among mortals and angels. They endeavor to demonstrate that there is inherent joy in freewill existence, independent of all extraneous influences.”

       As we explore the River of Delight, we eventually come upon new and higher joys of worship. Through the ministry of agents of the Infinite Spirit, the Primary Supernaphim (Conductors of Worship), "the act of worship becomes increasingly all-encompassing until it eventually attains the glory of the highest experiential delight and the most exquisite pleasure known to created beings." (27:7.1)

    The Satisfactions Found in Knowledge, the Delights of Learning

       This is one landing place along the River of Delight that I have come to know very well because of my love for knowledge and learning. A branch of the Primary Supernaphim, the Masters of Philosophy, also teach the intellectual manifestations of "Delight." "Next to the supreme satisfaction of worship is the exhilaration of philosophy." (27:6.1, pg. 302)

       “The master philosophers of Paradise delight to lead the minds of its inhabitants, both native and ascendant, in the exhilarating pursuit of attempting to solve universe problems. These superaphic masters of philosophy are the "wise men of heaven," the beings of wisdom who make use of the truth of knowledge and the facts of experience in their efforts to master the unknown. With them knowledge attains to truth and experience ascends to wisdom.” (27:6.2)

       Each person of the Paradise Trinity has a separate project designed to help bring us to the Father, Son and Spirit. "The bestowal Sons reveal new ways for man to find ... the everlasting highways of progression which lead through the presence of the Supreme to the person of the Paradise Father." (116:4.10, pg. 1285)  Thus as our Creator Son Michael in the person of Jesus said to the Mithraic leader in Rome, “Revealed truth, personally discovered truth, is the supreme delight of the human soul; it is the joint creation of the material mind and the indwelling spirit.” (132:3.4, pg. 1459)

       Along the river highways of delight we travel to our destiny, if we so choose to take the journey.  

  • 2014-05-14 8:51 AM | Dave

       “The seed of God is in us. Given an intelligent and hard-working farmer, it will thrive and grow up to God, whose seed it is; and accordingly its fruits will be God-nature. Pear seeds grow into pear trees, nut seeds into nut trees, and God-seed into God.” (Meister Eckhart)

       We cannot cause spiritual growth, an expansion of meanings, an exaltation of value. But we are able to embrace an ideal that reflects true values, or as Eknath Easvaran puts it, “mold yourself in the image of the loftiest spiritual ideal (Conquest of Mind).” The Urantia Book (The UB) tells us. "Man cannot cause growth but he can supply favorable conditions." (100:3.7, p. 1097) We can definitely make plans such that growth will happen. We can be about the tasks of “organizing the soul for dynamic service,” (100:3.1) and mobilizing our faith.

    We can lay out plans for growth like we plot garden rows;

    with practice, becoming expert, we recognize the frailty

    of certain plants, how basil is subject to killing frost,

    if you’re impatient and put it in early,

    cyclamen who seem to love winter, can wilt

    in a freezing cold. Or late spring lettuce

    scorched by blasts of sun, is withered by a

    dessicating Diablo wind off the hills.

    We rake compost, dig fertilizer into the soil.

    It hurts our muscles; backs feel the strain.

    We can stop to decide where each vegetable

    and flower will have its most agreeable place,

    by analyzing the hours of sunlight,

    whether soil is acid or alkaline.

    While you rest from the back pain, draw up a schedule

    for activities of nurturing, watering, weed digging.

    We won’t get to the point of reward

    with ripe tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers otherwise.

    Because this ground is dense with weeds,

    we have to work at it many days, uprooting and hoeing,

    Every day I water in the hot season, pinch off dead leaves

    and prune branches, just like we try to remember to do

    when striving to enhance our own reach for maturity using techniques

    of meditation, prayer for the Spirit’s guidance as to the best way.

    After weeks of preparation, harvest time arrives.

    Help me to sharpen it, to feel the keenness of the blade

    that harvests these many blessings.

    Then the day when the fresh fruits of our labors go in the salad,

    everyone in the house savoring homegrown flavors

    makes oohs and ahs of pleasure.

    Remember how the Psalmist sang to us:  

    “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (Psalm 105)

    What better way to understand such continual striving

    than by making a garden.

       “This gospel of the kingdom is a living truth. I have told you it is like the leaven in the dough, like the grain of mustard seed; and now I declare that it is like the seed of the living being, which, from generation to generation, while it remains the same living seed, unfailingly unfolds itself in new manifestations and grows acceptably in channels of new adaptation to the peculiar needs and conditions of each successive generation. The revelation I have made to you is a living revelation, and I desire that it shall bear appropriate fruits in each individual and in each generation in accordance with the laws of spiritual growth, increase, and adaptative development. From generation to generation this gospel must show increasing vitality and exhibit greater depth of spiritual power. It must not be permitted to become merely a sacred memory, a mere tradition about me and the times in which we now live.” (The UB 178:1.15)

       “When there exists this living connection between divinity and humanity, if humanity should thoughtlessly and ignorantly pray for selfish ease and vainglorious accomplishments, there could be only one divine answer: more and increased bearing of the fruits of the spirit on the stems of the living branches. When the branch of the vine is alive, there can be only one answer to all its petitions: increased grape bearing. In fact, the branch exists only for, and can do nothing except, fruit bearing, yielding grapes. So does the true believer exist only for the purpose of bearing the fruits of the spirit: to love man as he himself has been loved by God—that we should love one another, even as Jesus has loved us.” (The UB 180:2.5)

  • 2014-04-15 8:49 AM | Dave

       The papyrus first discovered in Egypt in 2012 that came to be known as “the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife,” made the news again this week. The controversial Coptic text written by an early Christian and not a modern forger has been dated as being from between the 6th and 9th centuries. Karen King, a Harvard Divinity School historian and the original presenter of the papyrus, said she welcomed the debate over the text's ambiguities. For all we know, she said, the sentence fragment continued after the point where it’s missing with Jesus revealing his wife was in fact the church, or perhaps, as King suggested humorously, a la Shelley Berman, Jesus said, "My wife? Are you kidding? I don't have a wife!" What does The Urantia Book (The UB) reveal about the wife of Jesus? First there was never a wife of Jesus according to The UB and nearly all Christian scholars are in accord with that idea.

       The story of Rebecca, daughter of a wealthy Nazareth merchant, and how she falls in love with Jesus is told in 127:5 (pg. 1403). She “made bold” to declare herself to Jesus. “He sincerely thanked Rebecca for her expressed admiration, adding, "it shall cheer and comfort me all the days of my life." He explained that he was not free to enter into relations with any woman other than those of simple brotherly regard and pure friendship. He made it clear that his first and paramount duty was the rearing of his father's family, that he could not consider marriage until that was accomplished; and then he added: "If I am a son of destiny, I must not assume obligations of lifelong duration until such a time as my destiny shall be made manifest." (127:5.5)

       The UB shows Jesus took bold steps in his day by recruiting women as gospel teachers and evangelists. In the Bible, some such as Joanna “the wife of Cuza,” are described as financial contributors.

       “Jesus requested David to summon his parents back to their home and to dispatch messengers calling to Bethsaida ten devout women who had served in the administration of the former encampment and the tented infirmary. These women had all listened to the instruction given the young evangelists, but it had never occurred to either themselves or their teachers that Jesus would dare to commission women to teach the gospel of the kingdom and minister to the sick. These ten women selected and commissioned by Jesus were: Susanna, the daughter of the former chazan of the Nazareth synagogue; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, the steward of Herod Antipas; Elizabeth, the daughter of a wealthy Jew of Tiberias and Sepphoris; Martha, the elder sister of Andrew and Peter; Rachel, the sister-in-law of Jude, the Master's brother in the flesh; Nasanta, the daughter of Elman, the Syrian physician; Milcha, a cousin of the Apostle Thomas; Ruth, the eldest daughter of Matthew Levi; Celta, the daughter of a Roman centurion; and Agaman, a widow of Damascus. Subsequently, Jesus added two other women to this group—Mary Magdalene and Rebecca, the daughter of Joseph of Arimathea.” (150:1.1, pg. 1678)

       “Mary Magdalene became the most effective teacher of the gospel among this group of twelve women evangelists.” (150:2.3, pg. 1680) 

       The other men, including apostles and rabbis, were shocked by the Master’s moves to liberate the women. Here are some other notable women described in The UB.

       “Philip's wife, who was an efficient member of the women’s corps, became actively associated with her husband in his evangelistic work after their flight from the Jerusalem persecutions. His wife was a fearless woman. She stood at the foot of Philip's cross encouraging him to proclaim the glad tidings even to his murderers, and when his strength failed, she began the recital of the story of salvation by faith in Jesus and was silenced only when the irate Jews rushed upon her and stoned her to death. Their eldest daughter, Leah, continued their work, later on becoming the renowned prophetess of Hierapolis.” (139:5.11, pg. 1557) 

       “One of Herod's official family, Chuza, whose wife belonged to the women’s ministering corps, had informed him that Jesus did not propose to meddle with the affairs of earthly rule; that he was only concerned with the establishment of the spiritual brotherhood of his believers, which brotherhood he called the kingdom of heaven.” (154:0.2, pg. 1717) Her name is also given in the list of the ten devout women above and in Luke 8:1: Joanna, “the wife of the manager of Herod’s household.”

       “Perpetua, Simon Peter's wife, became a member of this new division of the women’s corps and was intrusted with the leadership of the enlarged women’s work under Abner. After Pentecost she remained with her illustrious husband, accompanying him on all of his missionary tours; and on the day Peter was crucified in Rome, she was fed to the wild beasts in the arena. This new women’s corps also had as members the wives of Philip and Matthew and the mother of James and John. (163:7.3, pg. 1808)

       In the Christian Bible, the women who labored in support of Jesus’ mission finally show up in the same spirit of devotion at the foot of the cross (Luke 23:49-56). After witnessing the horrific event, they then return to their homes to prepare “spices and ointments” for his anointing.

       Bible students know that Mary Magdalene was the first witness to Jesus rising on the third day. The UB beautifully portrays her courageous and tender role in the Easter Sunday resurrection of the Master, (189:4, Discovery of the Empty Tomb). “In viewing the prominent part which Mary Magdalene took in proclaiming the Master's resurrection, it should be recorded that Mary was the chief spokesman for the women’s corps, as was Peter for the apostles. Mary was not chief of the women workers, but she was their chief teacher and public spokesman. (190:0.5, pg. 2029) 

       Let us remember and honor these inspiring women this Easter season.

  • 2014-04-06 8:45 AM | Dave

       The topic of Noah and the Ark never vanishes from the public view for very long, though the Ark itself seems to have disappeared. Now Russell Crowe’s latest movie Noah is currently making a big splash (it’s hard to resist these puns!). A couple of years ago, archaeologist Robert Ballard, was in the news for his latest project, an exploration of the Black Sea. "We went in there to look for the flood," Ballard said. "Not just a slow moving, advancing rise of sea level, but a really big flood that then stayed ... The land that went under stayed under." But concerning this project, he hasn’t been heard from since the news report of 2012.

       In the 1990s, geologists William Ryan and Walter Pitman had presented evidence that showed a flood may have occurred in the Middle East region about 7,500 years ago. The theory, reported in the Guardian at the time, was that a rising Mediterranean Sea pushed a channel through what is now the Bosphorus, submerging the original shoreline of the Black Sea in a deluge flowing at about 200 times the volume of Niagara Falls, and extending out for 100,000 square miles. Following up on this evidence, Robert Ballard’s involvement, using his underwater robotic technology, began in 2000.

       The Urantia Book (The UB) gives an account of this geological event in paper 78:7, The Floods in Mesopotamia, dating this “period of unprecedented floods” to 5,000 B.C., a close correlation to Ryan and Pitman’s date of 7,500 years ago.

       The UB is also careful to point out the scientific facts in 78:7.4 (pg. 875). “The traditions of a time when water covered the whole of the earth's surface are universal. Many races harbor the story of a world-wide flood some time during past ages. The Biblical story of Noah, the ark, and the flood is an invention of the Hebrew priesthood during the Babylonian captivity. There has never been a universal flood since life was established on Urantia. The only time the surface of the earth was completely covered by water was during those Archeozoic ages before the land had begun to appear.”

       From my knowledge of Woodlands American Indian lore, I can attest to the fact that the tribes of the Eastern woodlands shared a creation story that began with a universal flood covering the surface of the earth, a story that definitely predated the influence of Christianity.

       Here is what The UB says about Noah. “But Noah really lived; he was a wine maker of Aram, a river settlement near Erech. He kept a written record of the days of the river's rise from year to year. He brought much ridicule upon himself by going up and down the river valley advocating that all houses be built of wood, boat fashion, and that the family animals be put on board each night as the flood season approached. He would go to the neighboring river settlements every year and warn them that in so many days the floods would come. Finally a year came in which the annual floods were greatly augmented by unusually heavy rainfall so that the sudden rise of the waters wiped out the entire village; only Noah and his immediate family were saved in their houseboat.” (78:7.5, pg. 875)

       We find a reference in the UB that confirms why the search is in the Black Sea/Mt. Ararat region (Turkey), not the ancient site of Babylon in Mesopotamia, present day Iraq (site of ancient Babylonian city, Erech).

       “Mount Ararat was the sacred mountain of northern Mesopotamia, and since much of your tradition of these ancient times was acquired in connection with the Babylonian story of the flood, it is not surprising that Mount Ararat and its region were woven into the later Jewish story of Noah and the universal flood.”  (77:4.12, pg. 860)

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