Let me first express my deep gratitude to those anonymous benefactors, who have made my participation in this Conference possible.
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The title of this talk is Worship in Isolation – Touching the Source. It is structured so that –
– we’ll first touch the fact-meaning-value sequence as applied to this topic, that is, we’ll consider the facts of isolation, we shall try to extract different meanings from this fact, and we’ll look at its spiritual values;
– then we shall look at faith in an adverse planetary environment: we’ll see how easy it is to lose faith, and we’ll consider what it takes to regain it;
– and last, we’ll look at the sinuosities of our attitude towards the Source of all true and lasting values: from the state of complete ignorance of the Source, to the first attempts to touch it, to finally becoming one with it.
At different times, the fact of isolation was perceived differently.
It must have been shocking to all those present on the planet 2,000 centuries ago, when Andovontia unplugged this world from the universe spiritual circuits. His decision was swift and wise: Urantia rebels were cut off from access to the system and universe at large; they were left face-to-face with their own evil, immaturity, and iniquity – and as every iniquity, it was doomed, for, in the words of Manovandet Melchizedek, “within every sin is concealed the seed of its own destruction”.
But at the outbreak of the rebellion that destruction seemed to be so desperately far away. The state of mind of creatures in isolation is well portrayed by Solonia – the seraphic “voice in the Garden”: “the tremendous sense of loneliness bore down upon them… Slowly their courage weakened, their spirits drooped, and sometimes their faith almost faltered”.
The lower the order, the more crushing were the consequences. Humans were led into self-destruction, midwayers were lost by a large majority, and the lower orders of angels suffered considerable loss. Destruction and confusion – these were the facts at the dawn of the planetary isolation.
But the meaning of all this was not black-and-white. We can single out three major reasons for isolating an affected sphere, and these are: to expose, to prevent, and to foster.
What is exposed? Obviously, the evil-doers and their agenda. Without isolation, they would carry on, business as usual, mingling with other creatures, high and low, so that their motives, goals, and actual deeds would be hard to single out, analyze, criticize, and neutralize.
What is prevented? Obviously, further evildoing. When someone contracts a disease, doctors try to quarantine its focus.
But what is fostered? It may not be so obvious, but it is experiential growth that is being fostered in isolation – the very experiential growth that the evil-doers try to undermine. How does it happen?
We know that we grow by choosing. In the environment of isolation, the choice becomes both harder to make, and more rewarding. For it is one thing to make a choice under a careful and ever-present guidance – and it is quite another thing to make a choice in the absence of such guidance. And so the making of a choice is attended with great risks – and great rewards.
Implied risks are in the differential of status, where rebels, beings of high universe origin, oppose lower orders of creatures, including men. Lucifer, who was “perfect in all his ways”, demonstrated his outstanding talent of swinging and winning souls – and a great number of souls.
But rewards are still the more valuable, because isolation provides for unique experience – the experience of seeing evil face to face and taking the upper hand here and now, during one’s own life-time.
Every trial offers an opportunity. We understand its meaning. But to extract a value, we need to live it through. So the value is contained within, and is acquired through, experience. Experience is a way of turning potentials into actuals. Isolation is a crash course where experience is the chief learning technique. We get plenty of experience – physical, mindal, and spiritual.
Isolation was a great trial – and a great opportunity. Some could not meet the challenge while others rose to the occasion. Isolation is a roll call of trial and tribulation. It’s Judgment Day here and now. Because what otherwise takes millenniums to find out and clarify, is achieved almost instantaneously in an environment of rebellion and default. And what emerges from such trials triumphantly, is well tested.
The period of isolation is not a homogeneous time span. From many points of view, the time of the outbreak of the rebellion and the present time are incomparable: since then we have had four epochal revelations, and each of them to some extent dealt with the problems of isolation. The concept of Deity has been introduced, progressively modified, and enlarged. The level of protection has been upgraded, the most recent event being the triumphant pouring out of the Spirit of Truth. We are much better off than our distant predecessors in the time of Van.
Still, regardless of the age, the values mastered in isolation are the same throughout, and these are courage, hope, faith, loyalty, idealism, unselfishness, and love:
One has to be courageous to face the manifold hardships of our experiential growth.
One has to hope, because without hope courage is short-lived.
One has to be loyal to eternal truths and temporal obligations, because without loyalty courage has no moral bearing, and hope has no argument.
One has to have faith, because without it hope is but a day-dream.
One has to be idealistic, because without ideals we lose hope, forsake courage, and scarify loyalty.
One has to love, because without love everything else becomes pointless.
And so we may conclude that the values revealed in isolation are the same values brought about by any growth in a challenging environment: these are endurance, stamina, perseverance, loyalty. The only difference is that these qualities are acquired in a record time.
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In isolation, all we can really have is faith. It becomes the ever-precious possession – and the most vulnerable one.
When an immature soul is isolated, theodicy is in great demand.
If God is omnipotent, why am I so helpless?
If He is just, why is there so much injustice?
If He is merciful, why is my destiny so cruel to me?
If He is love, why can’t I feel any?
Time and again, inability to find the right answers to these questions leads to losing faith. An accusing finger is pointed at God, who is pronounced guilty of all misfortunes – God who is not worthy of any trust, much less faith.
And so faith is abandoned for something else – and this something else is at best deplorable and pretty often just plain ugly. If the Just does not exist, we have license to do whatever we choose. If the Merciful isn’t out there, we can push others over the edge. If the Source of Love is rejected, we can ride on hate.
An immature soul retreats, and the mind – which has lost the guidance of faith – is on the offensive. It offensively rejects ideals taking them for lies, and discards visions interpreting them as illusions. Why does it happen? A Melchizedek of Nebadon offers his insight into immaturity, teaching that “the time unit of immaturity concentrates meaning-value into the present moment in such a way as to divorce the present of its true relationship to the not-present–the past-future”. To divorce means to disrupt a unity. And the past-present-future continuity is not the only type of unity that is disrupted by an unrestrained mind; but the most painful of all is to reject faith.
The mind rejects, but the soul collects. It collects sensations of a different kind, utterly foreign to the state of the rejecting mind. They come from within, born in the spiritual nucleus of our personality. And they come from without. For in fact, we are never alone, and there is always something and someone to lean on and to learn from. Adjutant mind-spirits, the Holy Spirit, the seraphim – they were always here to guide and to help. We don’t see them, but that does not mean that we are isolated from them. Unless we choose to…
These spiritual agencies of ministry and guidance remain unseen, but every now and then they are supplemented by revelation.
We are told that humanity has had 5 revelations of epochal significance. They serve multiple purposes, but they all touch on faith. Revelations bring in, encourage, and elaborate the idea – and the truth – of faith as the natural bond between creatures and their Creator. From the days of Dalamatia, it became an outgrowth of the Father idea of God, present in all subsequent revelations.
The vehicle of revelation had to make its way through a rough terrain and bumpy roads. The slow evolution of 300,000 years was cut short by rebellion; almost all progress was lost; the savage who had just learnt to look up, drooped his head, again.
But the universe did not give up on Urantia. They sent in new teachers. Adam and Eve “portrayed the concept of the Father”, and Machiventa Melchizedek “placed emphasis” upon his teaching of a heavenly Creator, a divine Father. And of cause, the crowning effort was that of Jesus – the living embodiment of both the fatherhood and the sonship ideas.
…What has been taken apart by the rejection of faith is being brought together. What has been lost is being recovered. Those who dwelled in the dark are being taken to the sunny side of the street.
This takes a lot of time which is counted in millenniums. It requires patience, the absence of which is so treacherous, that it becomes a synonym for default. It is punctuated with great achievements and great setbacks.
But in the end of the day, it serves its purpose: it revives faith. The spiritual bond is restored.
And faith is so much more than just a bond! It is the primary tool for climbing from the “lonely isolation of experiential depths” to the glorious heights of spiritual achievement.
Here again, the planetary history is both a curse and a blessing. On the one hand, where others have at their disposal the whole array of evolutionary tools – exact number depending on the status of a sphere and its past history – we, on our experiential, rather young and rather confused Urantia, have just one survival tool, which is faith. On the other hand, having just one tool, we are given a chance to master it to the best of our abilities.
This instrumental quality of faith is not clearly seen in the earlier stages of its mastering; still, encouraged by the first breaks-through, the mind tends to rely on it, to relinquish more and more authority to it, to respect its value and – finally – to accept it as something much more powerful. If faith is the only thing needed for survival, what could be more powerful?
This understanding paves the road to worship.
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Setting the stage for worship, we cool down emotions and slow down the mind in order to create that silence which is required for spiritual contemplation and insight – which, in turn, paves the way for new mind activity and provokes new emotions on a higher and more sublime level.
What does it take to worship in isolation?
In short, it takes mastering of the agondonter skills: to believe without seeing, to persevere when isolated, and to triumph over insuperable difficulties even when alone.
As with every evolutionary adventure, it starts at the bottom. The road to worshiping the Source begins with a complete ignorance of this Source. The savage knew nothing about his Creator, and his animal fears filled the vacuum with superstitions and bizarre notions.
The more advanced teachers and leaders were visionaries who could see over the horizon. Every evolutionary race of color was blessed with prominent figures: Onamonalonton of the red people, Porshunta of the orange tribes, Singlangton of the yellow race, Fantad of the green, Orlandof of the blue men, and Orvonon of the Indigo race – all these leaders brought about periods of cultural and spiritual awakenings, and several of them taught specifically some higher form of worship: the Great Spirit was worshiped among the red, the Supreme Chief – among the blue, and the God of Gods – among the Indigo peoples.
So gradually, through advances and retreats, through eternal victories and temporal defeats, humanity was embracing the First Source and Center. But it took another form of guidance to reveal the truth about the Universal Father. The 5 epochal revelations – and untold number of others – were undertaken to bridge the gap between material and supreme minds.
But can we go further than that? Can we go all the way? Can we become one with our Creator? And if yes, then how?
Seeking the answer, we can move in different directions. But let us take the most familiar one. Let us look at the Son of Man.
In the final part of his incarnation, Michael chose to forsake his creator powers and to finish his life as Joshua ben Joseph. Looking at his last days on earth, we can learn all we need to understand about worship in isolation. The superhuman channels of communication were voluntarily abandoned, but Jesus continued to believe in the unbreakable bond with his Father in spite of the cruelty and humiliations. He continued to perceive each and every event from a higher perspective. And – he triumphed over insuperable difficulties. So all the requirements of a true agondonter were fulfilled to the highest standard.
Let us consider just one episode which strikingly reveals the human nature and its potential. On the verge of the inevitable crucifixion, left alone in the garden, Jesus passed through intense pain and anguish. For a moment he felt isolated and abandoned – but that moment didn’t last for long.
Let us switch to slow motion.
Jesus prays 3 times. The first time he speaks to his Father with the following words:
I know that the hour has come to lay down this life in the flesh, and I do not shrink therefrom, but I would know that it is your will that I drink this cup. Send me the assurance that I will please you in my death even as I have in my life. In other words he is saying: I need to be sure.
There is no immediate answer to this prayer.
Then he addresses the Father for the second time:
Father, I know it is possible to avoid this cup–all things are possible with you–but I have come to do your will, and while this is a bitter cup, I would drink it if it is your will.
This time the Master asks for no assurance – and there is an immediate answer: a mighty angel comes by his side, touches Jesus and strengthens him.
And there is a third prayer – this time it contains an assurance from Jesus: O Father, if this cup may not pass, then would I drink it. Not my will, but yours, be done.
Throughout the remaining hours of his earthly life his spirit remained uncrushable.
Those who watched him then, and those who have looked at him ever since, know the meaning of true worship. To worship is to become one with Creator.
In isolation – as if it never happened.
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“The law of the universe is: Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find.” So we ask for help and we seek guidance – and we are offered both. Like everything that comes from God, it comes in abundance. But to give abundantly does not mean to waste. What is left unclaimed, will be welcomed on another world, in another universe, in a different universe age. Sooner or later, every new potential will be turned into an actual – sometime, somewhere.
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The further we continue our eternal journey, the more we appreciate one of the truths that Jesus taught in Athens: “The real universe is friendly to every child of the eternal God.” This profound truth should be taken for granted by each universe child – whether he or she dwells on an isolated world or on the sphere of light and life, on the far edges of the organized creation or on a Havona circuit. We all have the divine parent who loves us, enjoys our worship, and responds to our prayers – inviting us to move on in love, by worship, and with prayer.
And it is with such a prayer that I will end my talk. This is one of the prayers Jesus recited to the twelve. I would like to blend it with music, which is defined in the Papers as “the universal language of men, angels, and spirits”.
[p. 1622 – singing a capella]
Our perfect and righteous heavenly Father,
This day guide and direct our journey.
Sanctify our steps and co-ordinate our thoughts.
Ever lead us in the ways of eternal progress.
Fill us with wisdom to the fullness of power
And vitalize us with your infinite energy.
Inspire us with (the) divine consciousness
Of the presence and guidance of the s(e)raphic hosts.
Guide us ever upward in the pathway of light;
Justify us fully in the great judgment day.
Make us like yourself in eternal glory
And receive us into your endless service on high.