What Does the Future Hold for Study Groups?

In the mid-1970s, guided by our spiritual mentor, a number of like-minded friends and I entered into a new journey of spiritual awakening based on the revelations of The Urantia Book. Our mentor, who had received his copy of the “Urantia Cosmology” directly from a French reader in the 1960s, tailored the guidance he offered us to the sociological reality of Senegal at the time. In the year 2000, some twenty-five years later, we discovered and began working with several other study groups worldwide.

Two years earlier, in December of 1998, we spoke by telephone with a Trustee of Urantia Foundation. A Fellowship member had contacted the Trustee around that same time in an effort to find a local Dakar contact to assist with his Fellowship mission to Africa. He had planned a short stopover in Dakar, along with his companion to pick up a shipment of English copies of The Urantia Book that had just arrived from the Port of Marseille. These books were destined for distribution throughout English-speaking African countries (Senegal is French-speaking) and, together, they had planned to crisscross Africa to carry out their mission.

Because his health precluded his own visit to Dakar, the Trustee arranged for the Fellowship member to visit us. After meeting with our mentor and study group, this man interrupted his plans so that he might spend more time with us. In fact, he stayed as a guest in my Dakar home for a month. While our guest, he joined in the daily study group meetings led by our mentor. Before continuing with his mission, he made us aware of other study group activities throughout the world and left each of us a copy of The Urantia Book.

Since his visit to my home, our study group has hosted visitors from France, Belgium, Holland, Canada, and America. Such visits continue to this day. In turn our mentor, as well as some of our study group members, have traveled to Dourdan (France), Cape Town (South Africa), Chicago (America), Montreal (Canada), Medellin (Columbia), and more recently Amsterdam (Holland) and Accra (Ghana). The experience of these visits, coupled with the many and varied discussions I’ve enjoyed with French and English-speaking readers of The Urantia Book during the past two decades, leads me to share in this article a vision of what may very well be the mission of Urantia Book study groups.

Before I share this vision with you it is important that I first share a little more about Senegal and our Dakar study group.

Senegal is a predominantly Muslim country with Christians, including members of the newly emerging Evangelical orders, comprising about 10% of the population. The peaceful coexistence of religious communities and the practice of confrère Islam, which espouses the social tradition of acceptance of the other, characterizes Senegalese society.

As for our study group, we first encountered our mentor as university students. Our background was Muslim but being Muslim or Christian was unimportant. The recognition of the “God Consciousness” that characterized our teacher was the important thing.

Over the course of several years we engaged in question and answer sessions with him in an effort to understand that “something more.” Ultimately, those sessions led to our request that he more fully explain the beliefs he practiced. And so, it was that our professor became our spiritual mentor and our introduction to the revelations of The Urantia Book began. That was 1981. By the time we received our visitor from the Fellowship our study group numbered over fifty.

Our mentor tailored his teachings to Senegal’s predominantly Muslim character as he led us step-by-step through the messages of The Urantia Book. He offered newcomers to our study group about three years of the same guidance before entrusting their spiritual development, always under his watchful eye, to more long-standing group members.

Over the years since we began our study of The Urantia Book, thousands of like-minded people beyond our study group have received the same spiritual guidance from both our mentor and members alike. This guidance took the form of seminars, thematic studies, question and answer sessions, as well as testimonials. The lessons were always based on the teachings of The Urantia Book and were organized to show how spiritual consciousness can lead man to God (the book presents God to man in three parts and concludes in its fourth part with a presentation of the “Man-God or God-Man.”) Once prepared by personal experience, mentorship, and the spiritual strength of the group, each student would receive their own copy of The Urantia Book.

This approach facilitates the understanding of The Urantia Book while avoiding the difficulties that seem inevitable at times for those who receive it without being prepared for its truths. For many of us, it also cultivated a spiritual vocation.

The introductory study group session always addresses the individual’s personal relationship with God. This presentation is especially designed so that, should a student choose not to continue with the group, he would nevertheless be sufficiently prepared to pursue his spiritual search independently under the guidance of his Adjuster.

Our group’s presentation on prayer has always been voluntary. If students wish, they can participate in weekly collective prayers (which have since become daily.) These prayers follow an in-depth examination of themes that members suggest particularly as they pertain to society and humanity. This examination is always grounded in God’s underlying plan for Urantia. By the time we arrive at the presentation on the Supreme, students can choose to lead the discussion if they so wish.

Currently those members of our group who have discovered a spiritual vocation work with their students to develop ongoing study plans. For the past fifteen years, these experienced teachers meet weekly to review their activities, plan meetings for the major group, and organize our interaction with readers from other countries, often using the convenience of internet technology. Many of us also participate in Urantia Association activities including international meetings, as well as The Urantia Book Internet School and Urantia Foundation events.

Given this account of our group experience of some forty years, coupled with the enriching experience that our twenty-year collaboration with study groups from different continents provides, we would like to share our vision for a “Second League” that study groups might follow. But first things first.

Study groups must follow a “First League” that necessarily hinges on the message of the Fifth Epochal Revelation—The Urantia Book. This stage can last several years, particularly so when we consider the ever-changing make-up of study group membership. During this “First League,” we must always bear in mind that the contribution of revelation goes well beyond understanding the intellectual and spiritual concepts of The Urantia Book. This first stage, illuminated by the divine fruits of the spirit, leads us through all reality levels of not only our “being” but also of all “beings of good will.” These spiritual fruits transmute our human nature towards the divine by progressively connecting it to the example and teachings of the revelatory personalities who authored The Urantia Book. It has been our experience that the true understanding of spiritual concepts is firstly the result of an inner personal experience and The Urantia Book teachings give us the keys that assure our success. Consider the example conveyed in Part IV—The Life and Teachings of Jesus. It provides the inspiration to illuminate the God-consciousness within each of us that serves as a pole of attraction for others.

Through the message of The Urantia Book, we learn how we can and must believe in God with a more profound understanding. We learn that God never fails to reveal himself in our daily lives and the experience of this truth demonstrates how God relies on us and our ability to know him. The revelators also remind us of the responsibilities that arise from this experience: our responsibility of duty to mankind and duty to God; as well as a third and sacred obligation of service to the brotherhood of God-knowing believers. This reminder is important and vital for study group survival and we need to live and share it more fully.

Beyond any other consideration, we must always keep in mind that, in the Thought Adjuster, we all have a divine fragment in our lives that guides us daily. Together with our Adjuster, the Spirit of Truth makes us realize that our human consciousness unites us in our consciousness of God in more ways than we imagine. Step-by-step we must give ever more importance to study groups, for they awaken a new vision of the world through their truly spiritual, transformative, and practical activities.

Because this vision can be very personal at the beginning, it starts within ourselves and continues with service to our neighbor. This process begins within study groups through three activities that illuminate our spiritual consciousness and cultivate a conscious collaboration with our Adjusters. They are worship, prayer, and service. Together they activate the spiritual influences that nourish our soul and feed our higher consciousness. Large sectors of humanity often neglect these three important activities and they do so for many reasons. Urantia Book teachings outline and clarify those reasons and help us to reintegrate worship, prayer, and service into the center of our spiritual experience of man’s relationship with God.

We believe no particular prerequisite exists that bars our entry into this step-by-step process. The experiences we share with others within the Urantian community, regardless of cultural, racial, or religious differences, only reinforce this belief. To become aware of the divine origin and spiritual finality that we all share it is sufficient to ground our quest and our initiatives within a framework of love for our neighbor and service to our fellows. In the effused spirit of the Master Son and in our soul, the love of neighbor and service to our fellows are in reality one and the same truth.

Let us simply recall the following: Worship reflects our spiritual nature in today’s world. Prayer connects us with powerful objective realities on the spiritual levels of human experience and can change entire families and nations. Service reveals our relationship with God through the Supreme. The inner light, which is the way, the truth, and the life, equips us well and stands ready as our guide.

We believe that study groups already have the diversity necessary to prepare for the spiritual awakening of humanity. By adding a dimension of coordination and harmony to our current study group activities, based on the transformative spiritual exercises guaranteed of success by the Spirit of Truth, we can fulfill the promise of the Master Son who assures us that we can all do it, and even more.

To this end we have renamed our Dakar study group the “Progressive Divine Wisdom Research Group.” This name better reflects our goal, which is to grow our divine natures through our relationship with the Adjuster on the one hand and the manifest will of the Supreme on the other.

Together with the Master Son, the God within us, and Supreme all around us, let us all recognize our Father’s Divine Plan. Let us take on the honor, privilege, and joy of living and sharing his plan in these modern and often troubled times. Let us take on the third and sacred obligation of service to the brotherhood of God-knowing believers. We believe the free-will choice to do these things opens the “Second League” door to study groups. This vision may very well be the mission of Urantia Book study groups going forward.