This method of studying The Urantia Book in groups, while being very effective in enhancing perceptions of the Indwelling Spirit in the realm of the super-consciousness does not pretend to be better or replace any other methods that may be in use throughout the many study groups of The Urantia Book now in existence.
This method has evolved with the help of many and through actual experiences during the long years of research to find ways to perceive the spiritual truths that lie in the writings of The Urantia Book, in the understanding of others and most importantly in the realm of the super-consciousness where the Indwelling Spirit manifests itself.
This way of having a study group, while it enhances spiritual perception, has the merit of improving teaching and leadership abilities. Those abilities can be improved by sharing the role of the facilitator with other participants when they are ready to accept such responsibilities and understand the underlying principles well enough to be experienced. One needs to know before one can teach; it takes many sessions before anyone can become comfortable with this method, so be patient.
This method also improves harmony and spiritual growth in the participants as long as they put into practice what they learn. Action is the necessary ingredient for growth and no amount of knowledge, even spiritual, can replace genuine experience. The outlook of each participant in using this method has to be focused on the practical side of life. Unending discussions on the sometimes hypothetical and unrealistic exploration of spiritual meanings detached from the reality of daily living is at worst detrimental to the study group experience and to its participants.
The leader of the study group needs to be focused on three very important aspects and goals:
- The promotion of intellectual and spiritual understanding of the teachings of the Urantia Book.
- The spiritual growth of the participants
- The training of teachers and leaders
The underlying principles of this method are very simple and easy to understand. They rely mainly on spiritual truths and teachings contained in The Urantia Book. They make use of the higher aspects of the functioning of the human personality and have great respect for its potential. Those principles also take into account the inward working of the Indwelling Spirit that inhabits our being and its relentless efforts to spiritualise our minds.
- Participant’s sincere willingness to know and experience spiritual truth.
- The recognition that the truth we perceived is relative to our own personality and life experiences.
- The recognition that our spiritual brothers and sisters have different views and perspectives of the same truth which we perceive.
- The recognition that the Thought Adjuster needs our full cooperation to impress upon our super consciousness any truth we are trying to perceive.
- The recognition that in a group dedicated to spiritual understanding and perception of truths, the Adjusters can coordinate the efforts of each participant to enhance group harmony.
Certain papers in The Urantia Book are more suitable to such a technique. Papers concerned with the evolution of the planet and its life might be more suitable to a different approach. Any papers having to do with God, the Indwelling Spirit or spiritual growth might better benefit by this approach.
The leaders of study groups interested in this method should be careful when new readers are present. It is more beneficial and proper if each participant has previously read the Urantia Book entirely and has arrived at a desire for deeper comprehension. This method does not rely only on intelligence or intellectual acuity. Other methods might be more suitable for new readers where the leader is capable and knowledgeable in different ways of animating study groups.
Leaders in study groups need to understand group dynamics, while big groups might be encouraging; they tend to be harder to coordinate. Look at the example of Jesus; he many times taught small groups. A group of seven is a very good group and we should always limit the number to twelve.
The dynamics and working
When a study group adopts this method of functioning, every participant should be aware of its rules. This method is dedicated to spiritual understanding and growth so it would be quite natural to start a session by a short silent prayer to the Indwelling Spirit.
- The leader chooses a paper that is consistent with the group’s spiritual maturity.
- The leader determines who will start reading; he will decide how many paragraphs should be read by each participant based on the complexity of the subject. (Usually 2 or 3 at the most)
- After a participant has read his part, he is welcomed to share with the group his own understanding of the text. He should strive to understand the spiritual as much as the intellectual meanings.
- The participants can use real life experiences as a way to share their understanding of what they have perceived.
- Discussion should always stay factual and focus on real life applications.
- While a participant is sharing his own understanding, other participants are encouraged to listen attentively to what is being shared and not disturb the flow of reflections.
- After the reader has shared his view, other participants are welcomed to share their own understanding of the read paragraphs. No one is allowed to criticise, only to augment on what others have shared.
- Only one person at a time is allowed to speak. Others must respectfully listen and wait their turn.
- No arguments are allowed to take place. This is not a debate. Debates or arguments are the realm of the intellectual ego; they are not favourable to spiritual insight and Adjuster’s influence.
- After every participant has shared his perception, the leader can augment or summarize the ideas that were expressed. Usually if ample opportunities are given to everyone to share their view, the leader will have the final word and ask another participant to continue the reading.
- No one should be forced to share his understanding. Some people at the beginning are very timid and lack confidence, but with time and respect they will grow and share.
- The leader is responsible for the harmony and discipline of the group and should, when necessary restrain participants in their desire to expand on other areas of interest.
- Distractions should be kept to a strict minimum; even the pouring of water can stop the flow of perception in one’s mind. The Adjuster needs the mind in a receptive state to impress meanings on the super-conscious level.
If some participants have questions concerning certain passages or meanings, the leader can ask if anyone would be willing to answer the questions or he could, if he judges otherwise answer them at the end of the round.
It is a good practice for the leaders of such a group to prepare themselves in prayer before the meeting. It could be suggested to members to do the same thing and be encouraged to read the paper before they come to the group.
If every participant is in the right attitude within their minds and fully focused on the spiritual goal of the group, then everyone will be able to have a very profound experience of spiritual awareness of truth. This is as much for the leader of such groups as well as for the participants.
This method of having a study group can be greatly enhanced by choosing specific subjects with specific goals in mind. It can also be used as a medium to organize workshop conferences by having every participant prepare short speeches on a predefined subject that would be explored in such a group. The speakers at such workshops would than be invited to facilitate a workshop based on their speech. Such workshop conferences could accommodate as many as 5 to 6 speakers with similar workshops. This is a complement to the training of leaders and teachers.
Another way to further explore this kind of method is to have once in a while the participants make a summary of a whole chapter within a predefined paper that was read previously in the group and present this summary as a short speech to the others within the group. This will help in focusing the mind and improving the work of the Adjuster. Remember, the Adjuster always needs an action on our part to actualise the growth potential of our soul.
Nothing is better than the actual experience, so have a lot of joy exploring and adapting this method to your study groups. Be patient, it took me more than a few sessions before I could witness any significant results.