REFLECTIONS ON SHARING THE TEACHINGS
Printable version of "Reflections On Sharing the Teachings"
Urantia Foundation hosted and the education committees of the Foundation and the Urantia Book Fellowship co-sponsored and organized an educational seminar on March 23-26, 2017 in Chicago. The topic of the seminar was "Giving of the Truth of Heaven: Using Our Talents." The seminar focused on different ways that students of The Urantia Book could share the book's teachings without necessarily referencing the book itself.
Twelve individuals, eleven of whom were present and one of whom participated on Zoom, considered three modes of education for those who are sharing the teachings of The Urantia Book:
Approach 1."Teaching to the Choir and Attempting To Help It To Sing Better"
We can help other readers who want to understand the book better in venues such as study groups, conference workshops, seminars, and online classes. While this approach is not the focus for the seminar, it has and will continue to be the emphasis of our committees.
Approach 2. "Sharing the Teachings Without Name and Number"
We can introduce teachings of the book into other lives in formal, structured situations, such as a classroom teacher who infuses both his or her objectives and the content from lessons with ideas from The Urantia Book. It is not hard to touch on the positive lessons of the book without being so specific or detailed that such an endeavor becomes the book itself. Methods for sharing the teachings without sharing The Urantia Book itself is the centerpiece for this seminar.
Approach 3. "As We Pass By"
We can be ready to manifest sincere and spiritual attitudes, the fruits of the spirit, and meanings we garner from the book's teaching to more informal or spontaneous interactions with people if we are prepared by our study and technique. "When Jesus Passed By," he did so with resources borne of a life full of learning and deep interaction with people. He was spontaneous but not haphazard or mindless. Seminar participants instead can choose to write of this Approach to sharing the book's teachings if they wish.
Each presenter was asked to consider methods of sharing the teachings of the book with those who have not read the book. This was based on the desire to help the Fifth Epochal Revelation begin to have a more far-reaching impact on the well being of Urantia given the reality that in the near future, perhaps ever, only a small percentage of people will read the book. Yet an epochal revelation is given to help a planet, especially one as wayward as Urantia.
Though the seminar was based on Approaches 2 and 3, focusing on those not studying the book, the need to keep improving one's understanding and study of the book was always kept in the forefront: to share the teachings, one must know and live the teachings.
The participants' papers themselves can be read on the website. Each presenter shared her or his paper ahead of time with the other presenters. During the seminar, each participant shared her or his ideas and then followed questions and discussion. At the end of the meeting, on Sunday morning before departure, concepts and principles for sharing the teaching were generated. All of the presenters gave ideas to this discussion, and observers both in the room and on Zoom also offered suggestions.
Here is an overview of important principles identified as emerging from this seminar that can be used when we all are trying share the teachings:
I. I and Thou: Be Mindful and Respectful of Your Audience, Who They Are, and What They Bring to Your Encounter
Most important in the dynamic of sharing the teachings is the individual with whom you are sharing them. Whatever ideas may emerge, it is the relationship that matters first.
"Every true relationship of mortal man with other persons—human or divine—is an end in itself." 112:2.8
- Be genuine. Be personal in relationships.
- Get to know others. Need to build trust.
- Love first.
- Build relationships that will be a bridge when you want to share more deeply.
- Use feelings and emotions, not only thinking, to inform what we do.
- Listen empathetically; be interested in person to whom you are speaking.
- Choose your words carefully: --for the audience
--to be clear
--being mindful of the audience's culture.
- Try to understand what the other person believes, and then embellish it.
- Know when to keep The Urantia Book separate from the relationship.
- Be inclusive.
- Mota 14. Whet the appetites of your associates for truth; give advice only when it is asked for.
- Mota 26. Knowledge is possessed only by sharing; it is safeguarded by wisdom and socialized by love.
"When Ganid inquired what one could do to make friends, having noticed that the majority of persons whom they chanced to meet were attracted to Jesus, his teacher said: "Become interested in your fellows; learn how to love them and watch for the opportunity to do something for them which you are sure they want done," and then he quoted the olden Jewish proverb—"A man who would have friends must show himself friendly." 130:7.2
II. Don't Neglect Your Personal Lives, Your Personal Growth, and Honor Your Family
We take ourselves too seriously if we forget that living the best life we can on Urantia is our current primary task. Spreading the teachings is important, but not to the exclusion of our personal lives, our responsibilities, and, most importantly, our families and other relationships.
"Nothing can take precedence over the work of your status sphere—this world or the next. Very important is the work of preparation for the next higher sphere, but nothing equals the importance of the work of the world in which you are actually living." 48:6.37.
- It is God's work: it's not about us.
- Let your entire life embody teachings
- Seek the Spirit first; the rest will follow.
- Be a Practitioner "Walk the Talk"
- Honor your family as you prioritize your activities.
"The all-consuming and indomitable spiritual faith of Jesus never became fanatical, for it never attempted to run away with his well-balanced intellectual judgments concerning the proportional values of practical and commonplace social, economic, and moral life situations. The Son of Man was a splendidly unified human personality; he was a perfectly endowed divine being; he was also magnificently co-ordinated as a combined human and divine being functioning on earth as a single personality. Always did the Master co-ordinate the faith of the soul with the wisdom-appraisals of seasoned experience. Personal faith, spiritual hope, and moral devotion were always correlated in a matchless religious unity of harmonious association with the keen realization of the reality and sacredness of all human loyalties—personal honor, family love, religious obligation, social duty, and economic necessity." 196:0.7
III. Seek Spiritual Readiness & Fragrance To Bring to Each Encounter.
Not only should we strive to be spiritually ready to effect our spiritual growth, doing so enhances our effectiveness when spreading the teachings.
" ...those who are born of the spirit will immediately begin to show forth the fruits of the spirit in loving service to their fellow creatures. And the fruits of the divine spirit which are yielded in the lives of spirit-born and God-knowing mortals are: loving service, unselfish devotion, courageous loyalty, sincere fairness, enlightened honesty, undying hope, confiding trust, merciful ministry, unfailing goodness, forgiving tolerance, and enduring peace." 193:2.2
- Don’t diminish the power of the celestials in supporting us.
- Acknowledge divine presence within. Use that powerful tool wisely.
- Be spiritually fragrant: Inspire!
- Keep the Power of Revelatory Truth in your message.
- Find dynamic peace and bring it into your actions.
- Teach what you do.
- Be a spiritual practitioner. Share your life.
- Mota 16 You cannot perceive spiritual truth until you feelingly experience it, and many truths are not really felt except in adversity.
"The Master's entire life was consistently conditioned by this living faith, this sublime religious experience. This spiritual attitude wholly dominated his thinking and feeling, his believing and praying, his teaching and preaching. This personal faith of a son in the certainty and security of the guidance and protection of the heavenly Father imparted to his unique life a profound endowment of spiritual reality." 196:0.9
IV. Be Prepared When You Meet with Others; Preparing Ourselves Appropriately: Ready for the Moment--Using Our Talents
We can each serve in different ways. We must utilize our talents and be prepared when the opportunity arises.
"In the next world you will be asked to give an account of the endowments and stewardships of this world. Whether inherent talents are few or many, a just and merciful reckoning must be faced. If endowments are used only in selfish pursuits and no thought is bestowed upon the higher duty of obtaining increased yield of the fruits of the spirit, as they are manifested in the ever-expanding service of men and the worship of God, such selfish stewards must accept the consequences of their deliberate choosing." 176:3.8
- Be prepared with a short, well-worded, cogent response when one is needed.
- Use YOUR talents and expertise.
- SHARE your experiences.
- Try to make "Urantia" normal.
- Always go back to The Urantia Book and know the material. Keep learning.
- Ask the question “who is teaching you.” It is not about us.
- Note who your teachers are, as well.
- Learn about other cultures and other languages. (52:6.2-7)
- Build a bridge between best of UB teachings and evolutionary teachings.
- Learn from experiences and make them better.
- We can use origin and history to teach in the present. The results will be in the future.
- Mota 16. You cannot perceive spiritual truth until you feelingly experience it, and many truths are not really felt except in adversity.
"Jesus could help men so much because he loved them so sincerely. He truly loved each man, each woman, and each child. He could be such a true friend because of his remarkable insight—he knew so fully what was in the heart and in the mind of man. He was an interested and keen observer. He was an expert in the comprehension of human need, clever in detecting human longings." 171:7.4
It is easy to plan but harder to act. We need to take our well-considered ideas and act on them.
- It's all right to start small; just start.
- Mota 8. Effort does not always produce joy, but there is no happiness without intelligent effort.
- Mota 9. Action achieves strength; moderation eventuates in charm.
- 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. Let entire life embody teachings.
- Mota 17 Ambition is dangerous until it is fully socialized. You have not truly acquired any virtue until your acts make you worthy of it.
- Mota 22. The evolving soul is not made divine by what it does, but by what it strives to do.
- >Mota 24. The destiny of eternity is determined moment by moment by the achievements of the day by day living. The acts of today are the destiny of tomorrow.
- Mota 25. Greatness lies not so much in possessing strength as in making a wise and divine use of such strength.
- "If I had known then what I know now, I would have done more."
"When you study the career of the Master, as concerns prayer or any other feature of the religious life, look not so much for how he taught as for what he did." (2088.5) 196:0.10
VI. Use Teamwork
We are social beings. While much of our work will be done alone, when we can effectively work together, we can accomplish great things. 133:5.6. A social group of human beings in co-ordinated working harmony stands for a force far greater than the simple sum of its parts.
- Pursue new and continuing teamwork.
- We are not alone; rely on others.
- "Buddy up" for mutual support.
- Observe (Spot) the revelation around you, and share it with others.
- Embrace collective consciousness.
- Create a network of study groups.
- Emphasize that strong study groups are our base support and empower them.
- Meet with other educators regularly (i.e., quarterly) even via Zoom.
- Seek service opportunities and build service networks
- Foster leadership.
"Jesus gave a talk to this company each morning. Peter taught methods of public preaching; Nathaniel instructed them in the art of teaching; Thomas explained how to answer questions; while Matthew directed the organization of their group finances. The other apostles also participated in this training in accordance with their special experience and natural talents." 163:0.2
VII. Use Strong Educational Pedagogy
Being prepared, whether for a formal setting or a spontaneous "as we pass by" moment, for groups or individuals, includes knowing educational principles and pedagogical skills that will make us more effective.
- Note strong pedagogy as described in the UB. Apply it.
- Be aware of strong pedagogy held in secular education.
- Apply good questioning techniques. Listen.
- Use different modalities of learning as needed.
- Use good symbols. Find good tools and apply them.
- Align the arts of the system.
- Form should follow creation; structure should reflect function.
- Change either/or to a combination of many things. Avoid simplisticism.
- Align all the parts of the system.
- Integrate the best of evolutionary culture.
- Cosmic-a-size:Internationalize; deAmericanize.
- Keep your eye on technology and use it.
- Create "Cym-posia" (Symposia a la Cymboyton).
"Though Jesus’ public teaching mainly consisted in parables and short discourses, he invariably taught his apostles by questions and answers. He would always pause to answer sincere questions during his later public discourses." 1546.1
These ideas are hardly exhaustive. They are the thoughts that emerged after twelve presentations and three days of stimulating discussion.