by Chuck Thurston
Part 2 of 4

This post is the second of four, published serially over the course of a few weeks.

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Photo by Chuck Thurston. Brooklyn NY mural by Tristan Eaton.

Two Kinds of Feeling

The idea that God’s spirit speaks within the “human heart,” saying “this is the way,” suggests that this guidance is felt as an experience of value realization and inner conviction. Spirit feeling, in Urantia Book terms, is not the same as emotional feeling:

…The feeling of religious assurance is more than an emotional feeling. (Paper 101:0.3, page 1104:3)

Material feelings, human emotions, lead directly to material actions, selfish acts. (Paper 102:3.3, page 1121:5)

Spirit feeling refers to value sensing:

…quality—values—is felt. (Paper 111:3.6, page 1219:5)

You cannot perceive spiritual truth until you feelingly experience it… (Paper 48:7.18, page 557:2)

These differing definitions of “feeling” explain the apparent contradictions in statements like these:

The divine spirit makes contact with mortal man, not by feelings or emotions… (Paper 101:1.3, page 1104:6)
vs.
…it is the indwelling Thought Adjuster that attaches the feeling of reality to man’s spiritual insight into the cosmos. (Paper 102:3.12, page 1122:8)

…It is your thoughts, not your feelings, that lead you Godward… (Paper 101:1.3, page 1104:6)
vs.
…The religion of the spirit does not demand uniformity of intellectual views, only unity of spirit feeling. (Paper 155:6.9, page 1732:2)
Sensitivity to spirit feeling means that we are able to receive spirit guidance directly from within, without waiting for signs or messages, or a voice to speak that is not our own. This guidance is not a replacement for our own efforts to find our way. Instead, it enlightens our efforts with spiritual insight and a higher value perspective.

This helps me in at least two ways:

1) Finding the best choice from the options I have already identified

2) Inspiring my thinking in new creative directions that offer better choices

Our upreach for spirit guidance is met, in other words, not with dictated thoughts that replace our own, but with a downreach of increased spirit feeling into the inner arena of our own thoughts and decisions.

Jesus 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. (Paper 146:2.17, page 1641:1)

Here, Jesus is describing an experience that The Urantia Book otherwise refers to as Adjuster communion, which has the following characteristics:

The entire experience of Adjuster communion is one involving moral status, mental motivation, and spiritual experience… (Paper 5:2.6, page 65:12)

If we combine this comment about Adjuster communion with Jesus’ teachings, above, we can conclude that when the indwelling spirit “speaks” to the “listening soul,” saying “this is the way,” this sense of certainty and direction can be felt on three levels of soul development:

1) Moral certainty (moral status)

2) Desire for new understanding (mental motivation)

3) Increasing awareness of God’s presence (spiritual experience)

Jesus’s teaching about prayer is also telling us that our access to spirit guidance is largely determined by two factors:

1) Our willingness to pray (talk to God)

2) Allowing time for silent spirit receptivity

But what exactly does he mean by “spirit receptivity”? In the same passage, Jesus goes on to say:

…The spirit of the Father speaks best to man when the human mind is in an attitude of true worship… Worship, taught Jesus, makes one increasingly like the being who is worshiped… (Paper 146:2.17, page 1641:1)

From this, we can see that our greatest and most transforming experiences of spirit receptivity will occur during true worship. While worship does not involve telepathic communication of thoughts, open-hearted reception of the Father’s presence does inspire our own thinking to function on a higher level that is more helpful, both to ourselves and to others.

Prayer… has been wrongly emphasized… much to the neglect of the more essential communion of worship. The reflective powers of the mind are deepened and broadened by worship. Prayer may enrich the life, but worship illuminates destiny. (Paper 102:4.5, page 1123:5)

Worship is intended to anticipate the better life ahead and then to reflect these new spiritual significances back onto the life which now is. Prayer is spiritually sustaining, but worship is divinely creative. (Paper 143:7.5, page 1616:7)

Human Mind: Who’s in Control?

Human mind, with its unceasing proposals and suggestions, is a living gift that is designed to support the development of our inner voice. But it is up to us to evaluate and control this mental activity, and choose only those ideas that are consistent with our inner guidance.

This is why our ability to feel the presence of God is so important. Human mind is trustworthy only when it is directed by spirit-guided choices and decisions. This also explains the danger in Lucifer’s seductive sophistry that “mind is infallible.” (Paper 53:4.4, page 605:1)

In the evolutionary superuniverses energy-matter is dominant except in personality, where spirit through the mediation of mind is struggling for the mastery. (Paper 116:6.1, page 1275:1)

…with mortal man, only that mind which freely submits itself to the spirit direction can hope to survive the mortal time-space existence… (Paper 42:12.15, page 484:3)

And when such a life of spirit guidance is freely and intelligently accepted, there gradually develops within the human mind a positive consciousness of divine contact and assurance of spirit communion… (Paper 34:6.12, page 381:6)

Jesus fully demonstrated the human capacity for unbroken communion with God. Even so, he found solutions to his problems through purposeful thought and the mastery of his human mind, not by waiting or listening for God (or anyone else) to tell him what to do.

On this Mediterranean journey Jesus made great advances in his human task of mastering the material and mortal mind… (Paper 129:3.9, page 1424:4)

Jesus possessed the ability effectively to mobilize all his powers of mind, soul, and body on the task immediately in hand. He could concentrate his deep-thinking mind on the one problem which he wished to solve… (Paper 127:3.15, page 1400:7)

This year Jesus made great progress in the organization of his mind. …and he accomplished all this organization of intellect by the force of his own decisions and with only the aid of his indwelling Monitor… (Paper 127:2.12, page 1398:4)

Even as Jesus approached the final day of his human life, as he prayed three times for guidance in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Father did not speak as a voice within his mind, but instead sent a “mighty angel” to speak to him, confirming the Father’s desire that the impending events must take their natural course. (Paper 182:3.2 & 182:3.6, page 1968:3 & page 1969:1)

When considering The Urantia Book’s teachings about human mind and the inner life, we must remember that the definition of “meditation” has changed almost completely since the 1930’s when the Urantia papers were put into the English language. The older meaning, intended by the revelators, is deep, reflective, purposeful thinking.

Most people today associate “meditation” with Eastern religious practices that quiet the mind into non-thinking states of relaxed attention, thought observation, and altered states of consciousness. Awareness of the 1930’s meaning is essential to our understanding of the midwayers’ descriptions of Jesus and his “seasons of deep meditation” (Paper 128:6.10, page 1416.3)

One of the clearest examples of the older meaning is found in this passage about Judas. He was obviously not in a state of mental silence!
…Judas was becoming increasingly nervous as he meditated how the eleven loyal apostles would detest him, and he feared they would all seek to destroy him. (Paper 183:2.2, page 1972:3)

The references to “meditation” in the following passages are likewise about deep, reflective thinking:

That night Jesus did not sleep. Donning his evening wraps, he sat out on the lake shore thinking, thinking until the dawn of the next day. In the long hours of that night of meditation… (Paper 137:5.3, page 1532:1)

”…Let experience teach you the value of meditation and the power of intelligent reflection.”  – Jesus (Paper 192:2.2, page 2047:6)

To be continued…