(Presented at the 2022 ANZURA Conference in Tasmania)
Coming through customs the other day, the custom’s officer asked me if I had any criminal convictions? “What, is it still a requirement to enter Australia” I replied? “Trying to be a smart arse, are we?” “No, not at all officer” I replied. “It’s just that I’ll be staying at Port Arthur, and I wanted to make doubly sure.” ☺
Apologies for there being no power point presentation, white boards, charts etc. I’m afraid you are just going to have to listen to me ramble on for the next 20 minutes or so – so let’s get on with it.
Before we get underway, I’d like to start with a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. QE2 was an amazing woman. To me she was an exemplar of service to her subjects around the world. Something about her that most people overlook is the fact that she was a deeply religious person. She had a deep personal faith in God. She was after all the head of the Church of England and this was a role she took very seriously. Her life was devoted to service and bringing people together. What a privilege it was living under her reign and the consistency, devotion, and loyalty she brought to our lives during 70 years of turbulence, upheaval, and constant change. In a BBC radio presentation recently, they spoke about how she was so impressed with the evangelist Billy Graham when he held crusades in Britain back in the 1960’s & 70’s, that she invited him for an audience at Buckingham palace. Two great people of faith who left an indelible impression on our world for good, and for God himself.
The annual celebration of Christmas is here upon us once more, and students of The Urantia Book are possibly asking themselves that perennial question generated by the knowledge that the actual date of the birth of Jesus is August 21st, not December 25th – ‘what should we do about Christmas?
In New Zealand, Christmas for Christian families/communities continues to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus, but for most of the non-religious people (48.6% of the population as declared at the 2018 census) it is a public holiday with a special emphasis on the family. The way that people celebrate this event for the most part has very little to do with the birth of Jesus – lights, Christmas trees, gifts, decorations around the home and garden, special food at various times of the day, Christmas crackers – but for many people these aspects represent ‘Christmas’.
There have been occasional moves over the years to de-winterfy the celebration here – my daughter learned a song at primary school called “Christmas at the Beach”, but the Northern Hemisphere traditions retain their strong hold on the celebrations here, and so fake snow still abounds in shop windows, along with all the other songs that stem from Christmas observed in the heart of winter.
The vastness of the master universe is almost beyond measure, yet the revelators describe it as within a boundary. Does infinity then extend beyond that dimension, out into a fathomless darkness? Could there be other master universes located beyond the power, communication, and travel capabilities of the one presented to us?
Such musings are in good company, as on numerous occasions in the quotations below, the revelators say effectively (as on page 642): ‘We do not know, but we speculate much concerning these and related matters.’
The ideas expressed here are purely speculative. They have no basis in revelation and are merely a personal observation. These concepts in no way compare with the scholarly astronomical research and deductions being made by professional analysts of the Urantia revelation. [My thanks to Nigel Nunn for his invaluable interest and comments about this article.]
Also on the ANZURA website under Topical Index/Study Aids you can find an excellent description, with diagrams, for the Master Universe. (Or you can click on this link to go straight to it: An Artist’s Conception of the Master Universe)
My goal for this presentation was first to summarise Jesus’ teachings about the Religions of the Mind and Spirit and then explore religious and spiritual beliefs and practices in the world today – necessarily from my own perspective. While I was preparing the presentation, I had two very meaningful interactions that strongly influenced my thinking about this topic.
I was discussing spirituality with some friends and one of them, Julie, shared how she used to be a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation, and recalled lining up to meet the Maharishi Yogi when he visited Auckland. She vividly remembered the jolt of spiritual energy she experienced when she touched his feet. Many years later, with very little religious life, she was attending a Catholic funeral, and was minding the grandchild of one of her friends. The child was taken up to the altar during the Mass and at the exact same moment that the priest put his hand on the child’s head to bless her, Julie felt exactly the same jolt of spiritual energy, which seemed to come out of nowhere.
The second experience I had was at the place I work, which is a state funded tertiary institute. It is our practice in New Zealand to welcome new students in our Maori meeting house, with a traditional welcome ceremony, which is conducted almost entirely in the Maori language. At the end of this ceremony, the Maori in charge explained to the students, who were all from other countries and studying English with us, that although the students had not understood anything that had been said, that didn’t matter, because they weren’t talking to them, they were talking to the spirits of their ancestors and inviting them to feel at home in the meeting house and the institute. Many students commented afterwards on how much comfort this gave them.
These were two examples of spiritual experiences/beliefs, quite distinct from religious beliefs, which strongly influenced the focus of my presentation. It is very much an unfolding journey which each of us must walk individually.
Click on this ‘Read More’ link to view a PDF of Power Point presentation:
Cecilia chose quotes from The Urantia Book and read them out slowly, giving enough time for the listeners to contemplate each message.
There were some comments made afterwards relating to the quotes. One of the passages was especially touching:
There dwells within the human mind a fragment of God, and (that) there sojourns with the human soul the Spirit of Truth; and we further know that these spirit forces conspire to enable material man to grasp the reality of spiritual values and to comprehend the philosophy of universe meanings. But even more certainly we know that these spirits of the Divine Presence are able to assist man in the spiritual appropriation of all truth contributory to the enhancement of the ever-progressing reality of personal religious experience—God-consciousness. [Paper 0:12.13, page 17.2]
Cecilia responded: You make the decision to survive – with the brain, with your mind and with your intellect: “there is a God”, “I want God in my life”, “I believe there is a God”. But it is in our Soul that we are led into our personal truth. By knowing Jesus he sojourns with us, leading us into our own personal truth – which is different from any other person’s. And that leading is done by someone who walked the earth, he knows what fear is, he knows the human limitations.
Geri and Rob traveled from Hawaii to be amongst us and together presented some deeper insights into the early years of Jesus – the child.
There is no better inspiration or example of one’s growing personal relationship with God than the life of Jesus.
In our spiritual growth, we are not asked to experience anything that Joshua –Jesus – did not also experience. As we read about his early years, there are numerous incidents that stimulated his growth and development, some with significant detail and other events that were casually mentioned and left for us to ponder.
Rob: What did he say to the heavenly Father during his little chats?
Geri : What kind of questions did he ask his family, the chazan, friends, and even strangers, that left his parents thinking he was a “walking question mark.”
Rob “…But his real education—that equipment of mind and heart for the actual test of grappling with the difficult problems of life—he obtained by mingling with his fellow men…” [Paper 123:5.8, page 1363.1] What did that look like?
Geri: As he became aware of his mission in life and pondered the nature of this mission, how did he handle being an adolescent with his newfound awareness?
We celebrated the Remembrance Supper on Sunday morning by reading out some prayerful quotes and sharing ‘ bread and wine’.
“When I give you this new commandment, I do not place any new burden upon your souls; rather do I bring you new joy and make it possible for you to experience new pleasure in knowing the delights of the bestowal of your heart’s affection upon your fellow men. I am about to experience the supreme joy, even though enduring outward sorrow, in the bestowal of my affection upon you and your fellow mortals. [Paper 180:1.2, page 1944.5]
The Title of this Presentation is ‘DOing God’s will: sharing our inner life’ [Paper111:5.1] and focuses on what is this DOing of the will of God to encourage readers to share their inner life with God. To encourage readers to put into action what they have been reading in The Urantia Book. As Walt Disney said: ‘The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.’
The ANZURA national conference will be held very soon—it’s less than three months away! Have you registered and booked your tickets yet? We have so much planed—Julian McGarry has organised a great program which you will see further on in the conference article. We currently have a good number of attendees booked for the entire weekend and we will see quite a few day-trippers from Tasmania. It will be good to get together once again after the last two years of lockdowns.
We’ll be staying at the Stewarts Bay Lodge, which is a short walk to the historic Port Arthur. I can personally attest to the Port being a very worthwhile site to visit; there are a few surprises in our history, and it was not what I expected.
During the conference we will be holding ANZURA’s Annual General Meeting with the usual elections. Both mine and the Secretary’s first 2-year terms will be coming to an end but as we are allowed to do two consecutive terms, I will be nominating for a second term if the members will have me.
Time is running out to register for this year’s Annual Conference being held in Port Arthur, Tasmania 21 to 24 October. Treat yourselves to this special event by dusting off those unused travel bags and making the trek. If you haven’t made up your mind yet about coming, there’s still time to book, but to secure the accommodation we need to know by the middle of August so please hurry so we can finalise our booking with the venue.
After two years of virtual conferences, we are excited about meeting up with everyone again face-to-face. There’s no substitute for in-person contact while discussing in-depth our favourite book!
Stewarts Bay Lodge is set in a stunning waterfront location and is nestled in a world heritage listed national park. It’s in walking distance to Port Arthur’s Historic Site and offers a variety of quality self-contained cabin and chalet accommodation with restaurant, function rooms and recreation facilities all surrounded by a white-sand beach, crystal clear ocean waters and beautiful woodlands.