Last month I spent the weekend outside of Portland, Oregon with young leaders in our Urantia movement. Events like this one, sponsored by the Urantia Book Fellowship have been a central focus of the Youth and Young Adult committee from about day one. We’ve always felt committed to the value we receive from spending quality time together, which otherwise wouldn’t be possible without these types of sponsored gatherings. Over the last five years the YaYA committee has used these gatherings to foster youth and young adult relationships and I can say with sincerity that we have been successful in our collective efforts!
As someone who has been going to Urantia gatherings regularly for some time now, I will share a few things I thought were special about this gathering in Portland.
The first thing that comes to mind is the level of commitment each individual attending had for their various ideas and projects. Everyone seemed very in-tune with our collective purpose. We spent most of the first day in 15-minute presentations, sharing our current, individual projects and vision for the future. This process was a great way to sift out our common goals. By the end of this process, we had figured out five different areas where there was consensus and passion to get things done.
The second day we each person chose two of these projects and broke into small groups to brainstorm and create action steps. We then returned with our notes and presented our ideas to the group. This stimulated new insights and connections. I was in groups (1) planning gatherings and events and (2) defining who we are beyond the Urantia Book.
Some of our discussion in the ‘gatherings’ group focused on ideas for helping foster and support more local events. I was inspired to help create more local events and plan on working to make this happen.
In the ‘Defining who we are’ group, we talked about how we identify as students of the UB. In general, it seems that students of the UB normally identify as “readers” and that is how we are known. We wondered if this is how we want to be known, which led to some introspection.
In contemplating this a UB quote came to mind, that “every generation must develop a philosophy of living that is based on the highest truths of that generation”. Maybe this is how we should be known, by a shared commitment to a philosophy of living? And so, I had to ask myself, what is a philosophy of living?
A NEW PHILOSOPHY OF LIVING
“The religious challenge of this age is to those farseeing and forward-looking men and women of spiritual insight who will dare to construct a new and appealing philosophy of living….” 2:7.10
I think of a philosophy of living as a mode of living, a basic checklist of how we live our daily lives. As a group we overcomplicate it. We seem to think we must distill down the entire 196 papers into a moonshine-quality set of steps that let us live in God’s will. I believe a philosophy of living should be simple.
For example, Alcoholics Anonymous has twelve simple steps. These steps are a philosophy of living. They are simple enough to remember and profound enough to change one’s life while leaving personal religion to one’s self. This is what I believe we are being called to create within the Urantia community.
I see the keys to a philosophy of living as starting with a commitment to simple daily practices. For me, this means:
• Clean and clear thinking
• Healthy eating
• Quality time with friends
• The pursuit of knowledge
When we don’t have a philosophy of living that incorporates these seemingly simple (buy actually difficult to maintain) daily practices, I believe we dampen our ability to grow our inner life.
As someone who did Bikram yoga 4-5 times a week for many years, ate healthily and did service work regularly, I can tell you it made an unimaginable difference in my life. I reached a place of clarity I had never known before.
Truthfully, I’ve let my philosophy of living get weak. Justifying not exercising as much by telling myself I’m busy with other important things like work, my house, whatever. And when I do less yoga I don’t eat as healthily and when I don’t eat as healthily I don’t think as clearly and I don’t have as much energy. It all starts to go downhill and we sink back into the “normal” and out of the extraordinary.
I discovered when I was about 27 that life is a pyramid of living. Only when all three corners are strong do you truly thrive physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
I had the spiritual corner down and the life career corner down but had never been able to find the answer to the physical corner. And when I finally did it was like the feeling of putting on a pair of nice sunglasses on a really sunny day. I could see! My eyes relaxed and I was able to look around at my life with patience and clarity. Things started to make sense in that moment and I started to live in a new reality.
What is important for me to share, from my own experience, is that it takes a well-rounded lifestyle to really progress in our personality.
What I realized in Portland was that I believe it’s time to work together to develop a philosophy of living based on what we now know from the 5th Epochal revelation.
“And if man becomes so ingenious that he more rapidly adds to the complexities of society, the art of living will need to be remastered in less time, perhaps every single generation.” 160:1.3
Let’s give ourselves something to be accountable to. This has long been missing and might be the key to long-term success. Belonging to a group that calls you to be a better you. It is not a practice of judgment, but of partnership; no expectations; but coaching and accountability.
I took a lot away from Portland. I was reminded I have a group of peers just as committed to this work as me and that gives me great hope!
Share with us your ideas for what a philosophy of living might look like in your life.