by Chuck Thurston
Part 3 of 4
This post is the third of four, published serially over the course of a few weeks.
Feeling the Presence of God
As we’ve seen, the authors of The Urantia Book are encouraging us to develop our own powers of purposeful thinking, while discouraging the practice of listening for “voices” that are not our own. At the same time, the development of our ability to “feel the presence of God” is given highest priority.
Why is this so important? How can we feel the presence of a divine personality who is invisible, and does not speak to us in a voice that is distinct from our own?
I think we can look to our experiences with each other to find clues to these questions. I’m sure we’ve all noticed how our engagements with different people bring out different aspects of ourselves, for better or worse. Engaging with God is the most challenging and inspiring relationship we can have. It will bring out the very best in us, if we can figure out how to strengthen our experience of God’s presence.
In the list of “things which are known about personality” in Paper 112, we find this intriguing statement, which has profound implications:
11. Personality responds directly to other-personality presence. (Paper 112:0.13, page 1226.1)
The next time you’re with someone who is willing, give this experiment a try:
Stop talking for a few minutes and simply try to feel each other’s presence. Relax and focus your attention exclusively on this feeling of presence. Does the feeling become stronger over time with focused attention? Do you feel the other person’s presence any less if you close your eyes?
My hope with this simple exercise is that it will provide an experience that confirms the truth of the above passage from the book—that we can somehow sense each other’s presence directly, even during a pause in communication and without physical sensory input.
I’ve also noticed this with phone conversations, video chat, and other forms of electronic communication. I can feel the presence of the other person, even during breaks in the conversation, as long as we are directly engaged with each other. This feeling of the other person’s presence is very distinct and palpable, even at distances of thousands of miles!
This observation, along with the passage above, suggests to me that personality has a “presence field” that is non-physical. It may involve mind and spirit, but it is not a physical phenomenon. Our “direct response” to the personality presence of others is independent of our physical senses, even when our senses are involved.
With this insight in mind, it becomes much easier to understand how we are able to “feel the presence of God.” It is simply a matter of focusing our attention on engaging with God, just like we would do with any other person. I think we can safely assume that God’s attention will be focused on us, if we do this!
“God consciousness” is functionally no different from our personality consciousness of each other, except that God is invisible to our physical senses. The personality presence of deity can be just as real to us as the presence of anyone else, if not more so! The fact that God is greater than us in so many ways does not put the contactable presence of his personality beyond our reach.
During Jesus’ life on this world, the experience of his personal attention—and the look on his face—would often have a transforming effect on the lives of the people who met him, even apart from the words he may have spoken! We can have the same experience, via the Spirit of Truth!
…He inspired profound self-confidence and robust courage in all who enjoyed his association. When he smiled on a man, that mortal experienced increased capacity for solving his manifold problems. (171:7.6)
Jesus …was a charming listener. He never engaged in the meddlesome probing of the souls of his associates. …the recipients of his mercy did not so much feel that they were confessing to him as that they were conferring with him… (Paper 171:7.5, page 1874:8)
…It was not so much what he said that touched this man’s heart as the kindly look and the sympathetic smile which Jesus bestowed upon him at the conclusion of his remarks… (Paper 133:2.1, page 1470.2)
…But Nathaniel was not obstinate, even if he was proud. He was quick to reverse himself when he once looked into Jesus’ face. (Paper 139:6.3, page 1558.4)
The bestowal of the Spirit of Truth gives us 24/7 access to Jesus’ attention, and the inspiring personality companionship that he offers, if we are willing to “open the door” and invite him into our hearts and lives:
“Behold, I stand at the doors of men’s hearts and knock, and if any man will open to me, I will come in and sup with him and will feed him with the bread of life; we shall be one in spirit and purpose, and so shall we ever be brethren in the long and fruitful service of the search for the Paradise Father.” – Jesus (Paper 166:3.7, page 1829:4)
“…As I have lived with you in person, then shall I live in you; I shall be one with your personal experience in the spirit kingdom…” – Jesus, referring to the Spirit of Truth (Paper 180:4.2, page 1948.3)
The presence of Jesus is unlike any other deity presence in that he has lived among us in a physical body, just like ours, and has fully mastered the experience of being human, from childhood through adulthood. He offers the understanding sympathy of one who truly knows what we are feeling and going through. He also knows our true potential in any situation, and will inspire us to reach this potential through our inner association with him.
In a very real sense, the Spirit of Truth can be thought of as Jesus’ (or Michael’s) “presence field.” Like cosmic wi-fi, his presence is everywhere on this world. All we have to do is ask, and we can have a direct experience of personality fellowship with him, in keeping with the quote above (112:0.13) about the nature of personality.
From the beginning Jesus taught that the spirit would not speak of himself. The proof, therefore, of your fellowship with the Spirit of Truth is not to be found in your consciousness of this spirit but rather in your experience of enhanced fellowship with Michael. (Paper 194:2.4, page 2061.2)
The presence of the Creative Mother Spirit of our local universe, the Holy Spirit, is also freely given to us:
…The Spirit of Truth works as one with the presence of the spirit of the Divine Minister. This dual spirit liaison hovers over the worlds, seeking to teach truth and to spiritually enlighten the minds of men… (Paper 34:5.4, page 379:4)
…subsequent to the elevation of the Creator Son to the sovereign authority of a Master Son, the Creative Mother Spirit becomes so augmented in personal qualities as to be personally recognized by all contacting individuals. (Paper 34:2.1, page 375:4)
Along with these divine presence circuits of our local universe creator-parents, our Paradise Father’s personality circuit gives us direct access to his personal attention. At any time that we wish to speak with him, he will hear us.
The personality circuit of the universe of universes is centered in the person of the Universal Father, and the Paradise Father is personally conscious of, and in personal touch with, all personalities of all levels of self-conscious existence. (Paper 5:6.10, page 71:5)
The Father desires all his creatures to be in personal communion with him. (Paper 5:1.8, page 63.6)
While all of these divine presence circuits are fully available to us, our conscious awareness of deity presence is limited by at least several factors:
– Anything less than complete trust and whole-hearted love for the Father
– Our worshipful capacity for feeling the Father’s presence
– Our willingness to share our inner life with the Father
– Our willingness to be self-expressive in our personality communion with deity
The last factor brings the importance of our “inner voice” clearly into focus. It is in recognition of this essential need for development that the Father has wisely chosen, I believe, to manifest his indwelling presence as a prepersonal influence. In this way, our Thought Adjusters give us the opportunity to discover and speak directly with a higher ”alter ego” version of ourselves that is uplifted, transformed, and spiritualized by the Father’s divine presence within us.
…the idea of this alter ego has evolved from a mere fiction to the truth of God’s indwelling mortal man in the factual presence of the Adjuster so that man can talk face to face, as it were, with a real and genuine and divine alter ego that indwells him and is the very presence and essence of the living God, the Universal Father. (Paper 91:3.7, page 997:5)
Regardless of the difficulty we may have in distinguishing these gifts of divine presence, one from another, we can depend on the coordinating personality presence of our guardian seraphim to help us derive the greatest good from our efforts to know and grow closer to our divine Creators.
…These divine endowments are unified and co-ordinated on the lower levels of human spiritual experience by the ministry of the guardian seraphim. (Paper 113:3.3, page 1244.4)
The ministering personality of the guardian seraphim, the God presence of the indwelling Adjuster, the encircuited action of the Holy Spirit, and the Son-consciousness of the Spirit of Truth are all divinely correlated into a meaningful unity of spiritual ministry in and to a mortal personality. (Paper 113:4.6, page 1245.6)
When you deal with the practical affairs of your daily life, you are in the hands of the spirit personalities having origin in the Third Source and Center… And so it is: You worship God; pray to, and commune with, the Son; and work out the details of your earthly sojourn in connection with the intelligences of the Infinite Spirit operating on your world and throughout your universe. (Paper 5:3.5, page 66.1)
Our angels are always with us, through all of our experiences.
Angels… are of spirit nature and origin. Though invisible to mortals, they perceive you as you are in the flesh without the aid of transformers or translators; they intellectually understand the mode of mortal life, and they share all of man’s nonsensuous emotions and sentiments. They appreciate and greatly enjoy your efforts in music, art, and real humor. They are fully cognizant of your moral struggles and spiritual difficulties. They love human beings, and only good can result from your efforts to understand and love them. (Paper 38:2.1, page 419.1)
To be continued…