I recall having, at a certain period of my life, discussions with my friends on what perfection is. We concluded that it consists in possessing the totality of knowledge and experience. I retained this definition until I read The Urantia Book which, need I say, constantly refers to the attainment of perfection. This concept is a main topic for thought in regard to the 5th revelation. It is important to well understand it so as to set forth the mechanisms which will allow us to respond to our celestial Fathers’ invitation: “Be you perfect even as I am perfect”. But what does this mean for us who live on Urantia? I will try to answer this in this topic which is meant to be a reflection on the search of perfection within our evolutionary status as incarnated beings.
I will begin by disproving the definition I supplied within my introduction. Perfection cannot be the acquisition of total knowledge and experience. God is infinite – and thus has no limit – and this means that we can never extinguish his divine creative potential, we will never fully know him and he will always have something new and exciting for us to discover. It’s a bit like walking towards the horizon, we see it in a glimpse but we can never reach it. We will always know more on God but never in totality.
Urantia mortals can hardly hope to be perfect in the infinite sense, but it is entirely possible for human beings, starting out as they do on this planet, to attain the supernal and divine goal which the infinite God has set for mortal man; and when they do achieve this destiny, they will, in all that pertains to self-realization and mind attainment, be just as replete in their sphere of divine perfection as God himself is in his sphere of infinity and eternity. Such perfection may not be universal in the material sense, unlimited in intellectual grasp, or final in spiritual experience, but it is final and complete in all finite aspects of divinity of will, perfection of personality motivation, and God-consciousness. [Paper 1:05; page 22:2]
So then what is perfection and how do we define it? The Urantia Book speaks of 3 types and 7 phases of manifestation of perfection (see introduction – Deity and Divinity – p.3 paragraph 6). I will not make an analysis of this at this point so I will only say that absolute perfection exists only in Paradise and that at our level, as ascending creatures, it is relative and partial, it depends on our degree of accomplishment.
According to The Urantia Book, the quest for perfection is recorded in the deepest regions of our being, in our cells.
There is original endowment of adaptation in living things and beings. In every living plant or animal cell, in every living organism — material or spiritual — there is an insatiable craving for the attainment of ever-increasing perfection of environmental adjustment, organismal adaptation, and augmented life realization. These interminable efforts of all living things evidence the existence within them of an innate striving for perfection. [Paper 65:6.2; page 737:2]
The circumstances of everyday life and the inner urge for achievement that God has instilled in us are sufficient to thrust us on the path of perfection and this, on all levels of reality: material, mental and spiritual. Here are a few examples to illustrate my point.
- Our immune system must have means to struggle against viruses in constant mutation. In doing so, it adapts itself while improving its defense strategies, gaining in perfection; likewise for all living organisms.
- When the circumstances of life force us to change trade and learn other working techniques, as in the case of a layoff or a company restructure, we adapt ourselves by learning a new trade. Such a situation favors growth in our personal abilities and constitutes perfection of thought, intellect.
- In our relationships with hard headed colleagues, we must by exercising patience and tolerance, while cultivating self mastery and love for our fellow men; we perfect our spiritual nature by learning to love.
Becoming perfect means adapting and transforming ourselves, greeting change and demonstrating flexibility.
The answer to the challenges which crop up in our everyday life is found within our capacity to adapt ourselves. The environmental adjustment as mentioned in the preceding quotation is the mechanism through which we can gain in perfection. This requires good physical, mental and spiritual capacities. We can be the performers of our own improvement through our development on the following levels.
Keep our body and brain in good condition: for our body to sustain our mind and soul, we must feed it with what it takes to fulfill its task. It is likely the simplest thing to comprehend but at the same time, the most difficult to put in practice since it requires discipline. Proper nutrition and regular physical exercise are different ways of maintaining a healthy body; it will be better equipped to fight disease. Exercising our brain (memorizing, lecture, practicing arts such as painting, singing or acting, etc.) allows us to preserve acute intellectual capabilities, a must for the expansion of consciousness: the growth of mind and soul. Our physical shape is the base on which progress is rendered possible and this one must be strong.
Acquiring knowledge in various domains of expertise: knowledge allows us to settle the problems of current life. The more we are knowledgeable, the more we are tooled to face the hard times we encounter. With the building up of knowledge we can tackle problems under different angles and find diversified and inventive solutions. Furthermore, having knowledge in varying domains allows us to savor life more intensely. Learning a new tongue, a new trade, knowing the different spiritual views existing on our planet, investing ourselves in sociology and psychology are different ways of expanding our intellectual horizons. Expressed otherwise, we must cultivate our curiosity and learn to appreciate knowledge.
The progression of eternity does not consist solely in spiritual development. Intellectual acquisition is also a part of universal education. The experience of the mind is broadened equally with the expansion of the spiritual horizon. Mind and spirit are afforded like opportunities for training and advancement… [Paper 37:6.6 page 412:6]
The knowledge of God: acquiring an ever increasing vision of God, learning to better know him with increasing friendship is our premier first responsibility. Meditation, prayer and sharing our experiences are different ways of approaching our creator. Knowledge of God also implies that the concepts we develop must be coherent. Coherence is the intellectual basis on which our faith can lean on for its development and growth. Here is an example. At a certain epoch I had difficulty with the concept of redemption as presented in Christianity (Christ’ agony and death on the cross to eradicate the divine wrath), because I found it to be inconsistent with the concept of a God of love.
How could God love and at the same time demand that his loving son be tortured for humanity’s redemption? This apparent contradiction generated doubt in me, abraded my faith and in time, would have turned me away from God. The Urantia Book, while discarding these erroneous ideas, introduces Christ’ incarnation as a disclosure of God’s love for his creation as well as a revelation of what the creature can become when choosing to live in association with God. This fact re-established in me the harmony between the mission of Christ on Earth and the emerging concept of a God of love. No more was God this wrathful being sending his only begotten son to suffer and atone for man’s alleged fault. Rather, He was acting with a true and intelligent love. The consistency within the spiritual concepts as presented in The Urantia Book allowed me to better understand my creator, strengthen my faith and favor the growth of my soul.
Of course, gaining experience is a must on the road to perfection. It allows us to validate our knowledge through study and reflection. Facing and resolving the problems of life allow us to transform our theories into practical knowledge.
The methods employed in many of the higher schools are beyond the human concept of the art of teaching truth, but this is the keynote of the whole educational system: character acquired by enlightened experience. The teachers provide the enlightenment; the universe station and the ascender’s status afford the opportunity for experience; the wise utilization of these two augments character. [Paper 37: 6.3 page 412:3]
These methods also apply to our apprenticeship on Urantia. The master humans who teach us may not fully be enlightened on the best way to fulfill our duty, but we must retain that the resolution of current problems has the effect of developing character, self-mastery. At our level, this means transforming animal nature into human nature. We have many common traits with animals and this natural inheritance is expressed in many ways. For example, when we toil under pressure with a deadline and lose patience, get anxious and become aggressive, we are in lack of control and in doing so we incline towards our animal nature. Seeking self-mastery, promoting tolerance, peace and faith humanizes us. This is what our spiritual growth is consisted of down here; it is the first step in our progression towards the Father. Moreover, the whole period spent on the mansion worlds, the one immediately following our journey on Urantia, is aimed at eradicating these animal tendencies of our terrestrial life inheritance.
One of the purposes of the morontia career is to effect the permanent eradication from the mortal survivors of such animal vestigial traits as procrastination, equivocation, insincerity, problem avoidance, unfairness, and ease seeking. The mansonia life early teaches the young morontia pupils that postponement is in no sense avoidance. After the life in the flesh, time is no longer available as a technique of dodging situations or of circumventing disagreeable obligations. [Paper 48:5.8 page 551:3]
This excerpt should give us a fair idea of what we can accomplish as of now during our short but intense passing on Urantia. So let’s stop stalling, let’s take a leg up and start working on it as of now.
Personally, I find it great that The Urantia Book enables us to unify the practical aspect of our terrestrial life with the spiritual dimension.
We have spoken about three levels of perfection: physical, mental and spiritual, and the necessity to accumulate knowledge and experience. We have concluded that this allows us to better adapt to the ever-changing conditions of life. Adapting means learning from arising situations. Adaptation is the mechanism through which we learn to react with fairness and equity; this is what perfecting our human nature is consisted of. When we do so, we start to resemble God as he also has to modulate with the changing conditions of his creation. He demonstrates flexibility in the management and administration of a universe in constant change.
It should be made clear, however, that, if, in the divinity of any situation, in the extremity of any circumstance, in any case where the course of supreme wisdom might indicate the demand for different conduct — if the demands of perfection might for any reason dictate another method of reaction, a better one, then and there would the all-wise God function in that better and more suitable way. That would be the expression of a higher law, not the reversal of a lower law. [Paper 12:7 Page 137:6]
This ability to favor the expression of a superior law indicates that God knows and perfectly understands the meaning of a given situation. This knowledge allows him to implement perfectly adapted laws in regard to his creatures. God is the obvious source of all knowledge; He knows without limit and his comprehension is absolute. He is the giver of justice; in such matters, He is changeless. Thus, knowledge of the facts and understanding our life events will allow us to adopt the most appropriate attitude also. Here is another example of God’s capacity to adjust himself to the choices of his multiple creatures in the universe.
And the Deities are ever true to the ebb and flow of their spirits in meeting and satisfying the conditions and demands of this differential of creature choice, now bestowing more of their presence in response to a sincere desire for the same and again withdrawing themselves from the scene as their creatures decide adversely in the exercise of their divinely bestowed freedom of choice. And thus does the spirit of divinity become humbly obedient to the choosing of the creatures of the realms. [Paper 13:4 page 150:4]
God, having granted free will to imperfect creatures, must necessarily adjust himself to the choosing of these creatures. When rebellion broke out within our system, he had to react to the decisions of his depraved sons and remedy the situation in this part of the universe to which our planet belongs by sending some of his sons to the rescue to restore normality, and in many other ways too numerous to mention here. He had to deviate from the normal flow of universe affairs; he adapted himself to this circumstance. Jesus of Nazareth also demonstrated flexibility and adaptation while incarnated on Urantia.
Jesus had sought to live his life on earth and complete his bestowal mission as the Son of Man. His followers were disposed to regard him as the expected Messiah. Knowing that he could never fulfill their Messianic expectations, he endeavored to effect such a modification of their concept of the Messiah as would enable him partially to meet their expectations. But he now recognized that such a plan could hardly be carried through successfully. He therefore elected boldly to disclose the third plan — openly to announce his divinity, acknowledge the truthfulness of Peter’s confession, and directly proclaim to the twelve that he was a Son of God. [Paper 157:5 page 1748:2]
Jesus had to restructure his plan several times so as to adapt it to the needs of humanity. He demonstrated flexibility in his teaching methods so as to give the people of his time a vision of God adapted to their degree of consciousness.
The success of our quest for perfection is established within the development of our ability to adjust ourselves to the occurrences of life; in other words, to be able to find the best adapted solutions to our daily problems. Knowledge and experience are the tools needed to get there. Presently, it consists in living on Urantia, and further ahead, it will concern life on the mansion worlds, the local universe spheres and so on up to Paradise. I would thus define perfection, in the manner of God, as being able to handle any given situation rightly.
Candidates for eternal life are practitioners of an invigorating and constructive technique for meeting all of the vicissitudes and harassments of mortal living. Every day a true believer lives, he finds it easier to do the right thing. [Paper 156:5 page 1739:8]
Adapting ourselves is possible when we demonstrate willingness to learn from daily situations. Why not recognize growth opportunities in the obstacles we encounter? In any given situation, we can elect to learn from it or remain subjective; I think this attitude truly represents cooperation with God. When our Master Michael incarnated on Earth, he did receive his lot of attenuated circumstances throughout his lifetime. The heavy family burden which befell upon his young shoulders – Jesus was 15 years of age at this time – when his father died in a work accident is a good example of his capacity to meet up with the abrupt changes which intervened in his life. The dignity he portrayed during his unjust trial facing misled and wicked minded men is another inspiring example of adaptation. Toward evil he opposed calmness, faith and compassion. The goodwill he reflected is the frame of mind which can allow us also to adapt with easiness. Jesus was an inspiration for a whole universe, and moreover, he was a splendid human example of resilience.
The First Rendezvous with Perfection
All this research is aimed at reaching the first level of perfection which will take place on the 7th circle of attainment of Havona (the outer circle), when we will have mastered the cluster of knowledge and experience required by the superuniverse to which we belong. It concerns the perfection of purpose. It is the first stage to attain, the first of many meeting places with perfection.
When, through and by the ministry of all the helper hosts of the universal scheme of survival, you are finally deposited on the receiving world of Havona, you arrive with only one sort of perfection — perfection of purpose. Your purpose has been thoroughly proved; your faith has been tested. You are known to be disappointment proof. Not even the failure to discern the Universal Father can shake the faith or seriously disturb the trust of an ascendant mortal who has passed through the experience that all must traverse in order to attain the perfect spheres of Havona. By the time you reach Havona, your sincerity has become sublime. Perfection of purpose and divinity of desire, with steadfastness of faith, have secured your entrance to the settled abodes of eternity; your deliverance from the uncertainties of time is full and complete… [Paper 26:4 page 290:3]
The dictionary offers, as synonyms for purpose, terms related to intention: enterprise, idea, plan, mission, resolution, as well as terms related with desire: ambition, motive, aspiration, reason, determination, end, goal, intent, aspiration, quest, and so on. Intention and desire are complementary aspects that allow us to attain perfection of purpose. It is easier to understand the idea of desire, this insatiable hunger which urges us to constantly know more about God and to love him.
Intention concerns more than simple desire. We are told that, as of the seventh mansion world, we will be required to ponder on the path we will choose to use to approach the Paradise Deities once we commence our sojourn on the seven preparatory circles of Havona.
Immediately upon the confirmation of Adjuster fusion the new morontia being is introduced to his fellows for the first time by his new name and is granted the forty days of spiritual retirement from all routine activities wherein to commune with himself and to choose some one of the optional routes to Havona and to select from the differential techniques of Paradise attainment. [Paper 47:8 page 538:3]
Choosing an optional route to reach Havona and selecting different techniques to attain Paradise means that there are various ways of approaching the Deities. For this reason, we will have to decide which method is most fit to get there – perhaps we can say, ‘’most fit to do the right thing’’ – and that constitutes the ascension plan for us to elaborate. It is difficult to know what it will consist of but I imagine it should resemble the plans we work out for our professional career during our terrestrial life.
But let us leave these presumptions aside since we are not there yet. The perfection of purpose is thus this insatiable hunger for God which urges us to know more about him, combined with unfaltering faith, sincerity and the formulation of a plan to reach the Paradise Deities.
The first three constituents just mentioned – desire, faith and sincerity – are the characteristics we can develop as of now, to advance on the road that will lead us toward this first stage of perfection while working on the 3 levels developed at the beginning of this text – material, mental and spiritual. The ascension plan I mentioned above cannot be elaborated down here on Urantia. It must await our arrival on the second to last spheres of the mansion worlds when fusion with the mortal soul and the Adjuster will have been consummated.
I believe that being perfect consists in making the right moves and to this end it is preferable to develop our capacity to adapt to all incoming situations. We have tools for this: goodwill in taking up challenges, building up knowledge and experience. The more we are knowledgeable and experimented, the more our choices are accurate, and as they grow in accuracy we grow in perfection. This perfection will never be absolute; it will forever remain a quest for the Grail, something inaccessible. It is precisely this that makes attainment of perfection a thrilling and exciting adventure, a stimulus for our curiosity making us crave to see what God has in reserve for each of us.
Fortunately, there will always be something to discover. He, at the helm of the immense creation, is the master-weaver whose inexhaustible creativity weaves the woof of an eternally renewed reality. This sole idea is breathtaking and I am stunned in face of the infinite panorama extending ahead of me. I don’t want to reach the end of this adventure, I want it to go forever on, somewhat like a movie whose ending isn’t wishful because it captivates us with passion and suspense.