How does the individual organise the soul for dynamic service? That’s the topic of this morning’s pre-morning tea presentation. When I first started to ponder this topic about organising the soul for dynamic service I thought that perhaps we should begin by taking one step back and ask the question: why would one even want to organise the soul for dynamic service? I thought about changing the title to read “why should the individual organise the soul for dynamic service?” What are we trying to get at here by dedicating an entire conference to this theme of individual preparation for service?
Well, I figured that before we can seriously consider the merits of organising the soul, it may be useful to ponder what drives us—what factors come into play that cause us to ponder this idea of organising our souls for service. As Rex has explained, we’ll be taking a two-pronged approach to this theme this weekend—today we’ll be dealing with the individual aspect. We’ll be looking at ideals and philosophical concepts as they relate to the individual’s spiritual quest, and tomorrow we’ll be exploring the more practical aspects of service—projects, group activities, networking, outreach etc.—good gutsy stuff like that.
My presentation will be dealing with the broader picture—an idealistic and philosophical view of the individual’s inner life quest for God. After morning tea William will take us on a, no doubt, entertaining journey of what we’re up against as we try to put our ideals into practice on a consistent daily basis. If I know William well enough it will be entertaining and very valuable I’m sure. He’ll look at the realism of being religious idealists living in a confused, messed up world. (I’m glad I don’t have his job 🙂
Let’s start by taking a good look at the quote that inspired this theme:
Religion is not a technique for attaining a static and blissful peace of mind; it is an impulse for organizing the soul for dynamic service. It is the enlistment of the totality of selfhood in the loyal service of loving God and serving man. [Paper 100:3.1, page 1096.6]
This quote is talking about religion. First it says what religion is not –it’s not a technique for attaining a static and blissful peace of mind—and then it says what religion is: it’s an “impulse … for organising the soul for dynamic service.” So if we want to explore what this phrase, “organising the soul for dynamic service” means, we need to explore something about the impulse that leads us there—about the term religion as defined in The Urantia Book.
Throughout The Urantia Book religion is defined over and over again. Let’s take a look at a few—note the action words. (The emphasis is mine.)
Religion is not a specific function of life; rather is it a mode of living. [Paper 100:6.1, page 1100.3]
True religion must act [Paper 102:2.8, page 1121.1]
There is no real religion apart from a highly active personality [Paper 102:2.7, page 1120.4]
The religion of Jesus was the most dynamic influence ever to activate the human race. [Paper 99:5.3, page 1091.2]
The experience of dynamic religious living transforms the mediocre individual into a personality of idealistic power. [Paper 100:0.1, page 1094.1]
But true religion is a living love, a life of service.[Paper 100:6.5, page 1100.7]
“A living love, a life of service.”—Good stuff. It’s alive. As students of The Urantia Book we should be familiar with the fact that Jesus’ teachings—Jesus’ religion—the gospel if you like, is all about action for the benefit of our fellow man—living, loving, giving, serving. Through our study of The Urantia Book we know that to serve God is to serve our fellow man, and the reverse may also be true—to serve our fellow man is to serve God.
I just need to add a qualifier here to make a distinction between service that has spiritual value, and purely humanitarian service that may or may not have spiritual value. Both may be the result of an inner drive or some kind of passion, but both may not be of spiritual value. I don’t want to go into that now—perhaps this notion can be explored in the workshops or over lunch—but I do want to emphasise that for this presentation I’m talking about the kind of call to service that comes as a direct result of one’s desire to do the will of the Father in heaven.
With that said, before we can contemplate service and worry about serious soul decisions to get ourselves organised to be effective, I’d like to take a look at what happens to an individual that makes him or her become a true believer and to embrace this true and living religion that causes this impulse to serve and to freely give.
In simplistic terms, if we don’t have some kind of sincere inner relationship with God happening—if we don’t have a desire to do the will of God—then the notion of service is just a duty really. Our conscience may tell us we should be altruistic and service minded, and we may even feel that God may frown upon us if we’re not being of service, but our natural impulses and desires to serve may not get sparked sufficiently to drive us to that point where we make important choices about service, where we decide to devote ourselves to some worthy cause for the spiritual enlightenment of humankind. This kind of service is a fruit of the spirit—it’s an outworking of our personal religious living—our very faith in God. Once the motive is right the spiritual fruits flow, and then we need to manage that flow of energy—that’s what organising the soul for service is all about—harnessing the energy of spiritual outflow and putting it to effective, practical use.
But what brings an individual believer to that place where he or she has a burning desire to serve God? What does it really mean to believe in God? What happens to us to make us come to that conclusion where we can honestly say—“yes, I believe in you, Lord and I want to do your will.” Because unless we feel that way with a whole heart, our religion isn’t really alive and meaningful.
Perhaps for many of us we start out on our spiritual quest by first experiencing a kind of restlessness, an increasing awareness of discontent, a need to know more, to find more meaning in life. We feel a kind of emptiness that gradually becomes more of a discomfort, or an irritation, and eventually becomes a conscious awareness of a kind of hunger, like a dying thirst.
This yearning to know more becomes a kind of an impulse that takes over the entire being. It stimulates the human mind to ponder and to analyse the situation and to make some vital decisions about what to do to satisfy this hunger and to fill the emptiness, to search for the water of life, to embark upon the quest for truth.
The mind slowly recognises that there is possibly a higher force at work here. This is an impulse coming from a higher realm that can’t be seen or heard with the physical senses—yet the hunger is real—it’s just as real as physical hunger yet—somehow different.
So what is this force we ask ourselves. Where is this powerful drive coming from? How do I find its source? We finally realise that we can’t figure this one out alone. It goes beyond the limitations of our reasoning ability. We realise that we need help.
We figure that nothing comes from nothing, therefore this all-encompassing drive must have a source—and we know that it’s not human or material. We deduce therefore that there must be a higher mind, a greater intelligence— dare we even say God—at work here? So we decide to take a risk. We decide to reach out and ask this intelligence for help. We don’t know who or what we’re reaching out to but we know it’s something or someone.
We don’t know it yet but we’ve just taken that first leap of faith—we’ve made the vital decision to knock on the door of uncertainty. Of our own free will, we have actually asked God to come and help us in our quest. Now, this is the moment the spiritual forces have been waiting for—the creature has now reached out and asked, it’s made an important decision and by doing so has assisted the spirit to work more effectively in the mind arena.
Gradually we start to feel a subtle change. The decision to reach out has taken a huge load off our minds. We feel at peace, we feel an inward glow, we feel good about our decision. As a matter of fact it feels so good, we decide to increase the dialogue—we learn to pray! We learn that to be still and to make the conscious choice to invite God into our life changes our inner equilibrium somehow. We decide to form the habit of making prayer a regular part of our lives. Prayer is an essential key to the effective development of this relationship.
As an aside I can’t emphasise this point hard enough— The Urantia Book says about the doing of the Father’s will:
The doing of the will of God is nothing more or less than an exhibition of creature willingness to share the inner life with God. [Paper 111:5.1, page 1221.2]
So, by making regular decisions to pray—to attempt to share the inner life with God, we start to have actual experiences—we experience a peace that passes all understanding, we start to experience a knowingness that runs too deep for words, we experience a powerful presence that we recognize as being true, beautiful, and good. We may get moved to tears by an all-powerful feeling of love, safety, peace. We’ve experienced the power of the spirit—the love of God. We’ve become a believer! Right—well we’ve just made it to first base.
So this is what it means to be a believer. It’s to know God in your heart as a reality, as a vital part of your life, as a necessary component to the development and well-being of your soul. And through faith, you have come to trust this God explicitly. But this is only the beginning. Now a new question arises: What’s the value or the purpose of being a believer? Why are we given this remarkable experience, this precious gift? Surely the purpose can’t merely be just to feel good about having that hunger satisfied. Surely it’s not just so we can feel a nice inward glow and peace when we talk with God.
Remember the first part of our quote: Religion is not a technique for attaining a static and blissful peace of mind…Another stirring begins to take place within our being. We become aware that this new found gift can’t be contained within. It needs to be shared; it needs to be given away.
To keep it to one’s self just doesn’t make sense. The new found love you’ve been given has made you fall in love with God. You feel so grateful to the Father for the joyful experience of this new spiritual birth that there develops a desire to reach out to God and to say: “Father, you’ve given me so much, what can I give in return?” When you fall in love with someone you usually want to do something for them—it’s an innate quality of love.
By this statement you’ve just taken the first step along the path of selflessness. You’ve embarked on the journey of selfless, loving service. The altruistic urge has been born! So now you’ve now made it to second base—we’re making real progress here. Now this is the stage where you’d better hang on because when you reach this stage of your journey this is where you get the opportunity to show what you’re really made of.
Why? Because suddenly you’re confronted with a vast, rich array of choices—of service opportunities. In fact the choices are so great it becomes a real challenge to decide just how best you can serve the endless needs that confront you. This is where you begin to organise your soul. Remember the second part of the quote …[religion] is an impulse for organizing the soul for dynamic service.
This is decision making time—remember when it started to dawn on Jesus that he had a special mission to undertake, he took himself away and did some serious pondering with God (my husband likes to call this “factual mediation”). He had to take into account all the practicalities of his life—finances, family etc. as well as the knowledge of his culture, politics, established religions, limitations of human beings—the whole gamut. He laid the whole lot out before God and pondered and explored all aspects, always seeking the Father’s will in the process—sharing his inner life with the Father while making decisions about his practical life in the flesh.
Because the choices are so great and because you know you want to do this God’s way, your regular prayer life becomes key to this process of decision making. It becomes like a dialogue with a senior partner. You enter into this factual meditation, or a problem-solving style of communion where you and your spirit are working in partnership to decide how best you can serve God.
Your relationship with God has become like that of an ideal parent/child kind of relationship. You’ve long recognized the all wise, merciful, loving nature of God, and that your own nature, by comparison, is like a child’s who looks to the father for guidance and security. You know beyond any doubt that you can trust this Father to take care of your every need and to be with you at all times. Your faith is strong by now. You start to feel a healthy self-respect and a new confidence in the security of being anchored by faith.
So you start to look around you, you become more aware of your fellows, you begin to realise that your fellow human beings and you are all in the same boat—that each and every one of your fellows is struggling with all the same impulses and problems that you’ve had to endure. You realise that God, being a parent, wants for all his children, that which he wants for you. This can be quite an inner revelation—that all my fellow men and women are just like me—we’re like a family living under the loving watch-care of our Heavenly Father—my Father, my new found saviour of my soul, is also their Father! We are, in truth, a family.
Then you may think; “Why has it taken me so long to realise this incredibly simple truth? I’ve been so wrapped up in myself and in my own desires to satisfy the thirst and hunger of my own inner life, I’ve failed to see that everyone else is suffering and struggling also.” As you begin to understand the nature of your fellow man, that your fellows hold all the same kinds of strengths and weaknesses as you yourself hold, you begin to like people more because you’ve become a little more understanding—which then makes you a little more tolerant. You know that the same spirit that indwells you also indwells each and every one of mankind.
You realise the human race is, in potential, the Brotherhood of Man living under the Fatherhood of God. And because of the fabulous attributes of God—the entire universe must be friendly! This new awareness that we’re actual a family of God is causing, once again, subtle changes within the believer. You start behaving differently towards your fellows without even knowing it. You begin to be a little more friendly and loving in your attitude.
You begin to understand that each and every one of us possesses a gemstone that lies underneath the rubble of our imperfect natures—it’s called the soul. And because the soul is an evolving, growing thing it’s easy for it to get hidden under the rubble. We all have the choice about what to look for in life and what to look for in our fellows. We can choose to see just the outside rubble of the imperfect nature and relate just to that when we deal with our fellows, or we can look for the gemstone—the soul— the true child of God, and relate to that. But like discovering most gemstones, it requires effort and determination to uncover the glorious wonders of the spirit. It requires a motive for persevering—it requires love, which, as stated in The Urantia Book on page 648, is the desire to do good to others.
You start to take more of a genuine interest in your fellow men and women. You take time to befriend them, to get to know them. Once you get to know them you begin to understand them. Once you understand them you begin to forgive them their failings and imperfections, you begin to look for truth and value within their personality, you begin to detect glimmers of their spirit to varying degrees, you begin to have increased tolerance and patience of their shortcomings—and low and behold—you find yourself growing to love them! You’ve reached third base. This is an important ingredient as love is in and of itself, the most powerful motivator for spiritual service. As I said before—when you love someone you want to do things for them.
This experience of love for your fellow men and women and for the human race holds infinite potential for service. The love for God from within your being spills over to become a love for mankind without. Gradually it all starts to meld into one, it all starts to come together, to make sense. You’re starting to understand that the love you hold for your fellow man is one and the same as your love for God. Therefore, to serve God is to serve mankind.
The Urantia Book tells us a lot about the spiritual fruits, about how life is devoid of meaning and value unless we’re growing spiritually and sharing our spiritual fruits with our fellows. Valuable quotes on this important lesson can be found on pages 1946.3, 2054.3, 1091.5, 1095.3, 2090.4.
It’s all there in The Urantia Book. If we read and study it enough and internalise the amazing truths and make decisions to act upon what we glean to be true, beautiful, and good, we can’t go wrong. But while the book gives us some wonderful stuff to ponder, it’s only a means to an end. It’s only a tool. The real work gets done as a result of our decisions, and it’s by our decisions that we get our souls organised for service.
Now this can be a really tricky phase in our journey. Everything I’ve said so far has really just been an analysis of the process that takes place within the religionist to bring him to this place. All that’s happened so far is just the setting of the stage—preparatory work. It’s now time to get the soul organised for service—this is where the very theme for our conference kicks in. I asked the question in my introduction what we were trying to get at by devoting an entire theme to this topic of the organisation of the soul for service. Well, because it’s such a crucial time in the journey of the religionist, we figured it was worthy of detailed examination. We figured it was worthy of setting up a platform for the sharing of ideas with one another—our friends and fellows on this same journey— to help to stimulate our thinking and examine the problems as well as the opportunities that confront us.
When considering how best to serve, we may need to make some important decisions about our lives—many factors need to be considered—things like what can I do, what am I able to do, where are my strengths and weaknesses, what material responsibilities do I have— family and economic considerations are big ones—what talents and skills do I have, what do I need to do to get these things accomplished, what’s standing in the way, how will I fund this work, how and where will I live. In other words you’re figuring out a plan for your life. Just as we make career decisions or other material kinds of decisions for our physical maintenance and wellbeing, so do we need to make plans and decisions in similar ways for our spiritual service life. And of course, if we’re talking about organising the soul, then by the very nature of the term soul, must God be involved in the decision-making process.
No one can ever presume to tell another what he or she should or should not be doing—we all have to figure it out for ourselves with our indwelling spirits, but we can be of assistance to one another—especially if you choose an avenue of service that requires group activity and teamwork. Tomorrow we’ll be discussing more about this aspect. For now I’d just like to wind this up by pointing out a few things on how Jesus went about figuring out his life and his mission. While his mission was obviously much greater than any calling any us would have, his methods for figuring out his earthly life can be studied and reviewed as a model for our service lives.
Ever since his Father died he had to juggle his family and economic commitments with his future plans in accordance with his growing awareness of his mission to become a great teacher. He had to decide whether to go down the road of rabbinical teaching or be independent of man-made institutions. He spent a lot of time studying. As he grew older he gradually planned for the exchange of family responsibilities by carefully training his siblings and, when they were ready, would gradually hand over the reins of the family to their care. When he went off for 40 days after the baptism at the Jordan, he did some serious decision making—we can read all about the process he went through by studying his plans for future work and the 6 great decisions. It says on page 1515:
The forty days in the mountain wilderness were not a period of great temptation but rather the period of the Master’s great decisions. During these days of lone communion with himself and his Father’s immediate presence—the Personalized Adjuster …he arrived, one by one, at the great decisions which were to control his policies and conduct for the remainder of his earth career. [Paper 136:4.10, page 1515.4]
As a child he accumulated a vast body of knowledge; as a youth he sorted, classified, and correlated this information; and now as a man of the realm he begins to organize these mental possessions preparatory to utilization in his subsequent teaching, ministry, and service in behalf of his fellow mortals on this world and on all other spheres of habitation throughout the entire universe of Nebadon. [Paper 127:6.14, page 1405.6]
So I think we have a lot ponder this weekend. I’ve tried to give a fairly broad, philosophical and perhaps rather simplistic view of the process and condition of the religionist as he develops spiritually to the point where he needs to make important decisions about how best to give—how best to harness and direct that flow of spiritual fruit. With all that said, however, if it was as simplistic and straightforward as this, why don’t we see more evidence of the fruits of the spirit from the millions of professed believers?
When I look into my own soul I must ask: Well if I believe all of what I’ve just said to be true, why do I still get impatient and intolerant? Why do I still get angry sometimes? Why do I still suffer from mood swings? Why is it so hard to stay consistent and positive in the day-to- day struggle of everyday life?
Well, I’ve left it up to William to solve those riddles— I’ve done the easy bit—after morning tea he’s going to tackle the real hardcore issues. Thanks for listening everyone. God bless.
For full report of Conference and other Articles go to:
Arena Summer 2001