Spiritual Value in the Peru Conference

What is of survival value for the soul in a conference? Here’s my current harvest from the conference on Cosmic Citizenship hosted by Urantia Peru Association April 24-25, 2021. 

First story. The opening prayer by Collins Lomo of Ghana showed a striking maturity of spiritual concept and spiritual leadership.

Second story. International Conference organizers were encouraged to share something of their local culture as part of a conference. This was done to a high degree. I was struck by the effectiveness of the presentation on the traces of the violet race in the Incas and the videos that supported this theme. The presenter was the head of the conference organizers, lawyer, educator, and mother, Lourdes Burgos-Cisneros. Her presentation beautifully wove threads of connection between the papers on Adam and Eve and papers that describe ten aspects of civilization, using video clips for each aspect to illustrate the extraordinary achievements of the Incas. After the presentations we saw videos portraying Machu Picchu, a number of stunning archaeological sites, aerial views of the Andes that included the region of Cusco, Peru, where the conference was originally planned to take place. I was deeply moved by the brilliant artistry of the assembly of quotes, and the outstanding quality of supporting visuals. On that basis, after the presentation was over and I was watching video footage taken from an airplane above the Andes, I could identify with the perspective of planetary supervisors who planted and nurtured civilization there: a soulful thrill!

Third story. For my soul, the most inspiring presentation was that of Emeka Anazoda. He brought the most advanced faith-contact with God and his unseen friends to deal with career challenges, family responsibilities, and poverty in Nigeria. He is an engineer who worked as a taxi cab driver and a product designer. His taxi was in such bad condition that it emitted so much smoke and smelled so bad that nobody wanted to travel in it. One day, in an extreme moment, he asked his guardian seraphim to fix that problem long enough for him to earn the money to have the cab fixed. And that is exactly what happened.

His next job situation also became desperate. He was working with a company to design an intricate machine for copper extraction. In order to continue the research, the company needed outside funding which it could not attract. For five months he worked without pay, confident he was following the will of God, who was going to work out everything. Then he was hired to continue working on the same design problem by another company that had plenty of money to support the project. They were pleased with the skills that he had developed by persisting with the previous employer.

As an engineer, he is capable of complex scientific thinking. He knows The Urantia Book very well; he would have read the cautions in the book about going out on a limb. And yet his faith insight and relationship with God and the seraphim was so strong that he could cooperate with the Third Source family and persevere with unchallengeable insight in the will of God. He could truly say, “My life is a holy scripture still being written.”

Some quotes from Emeka in his presentation: “Jesus understood truth so well that he could express it in a thousand ways without diminishing its value.” “Spiritual power is a gift.” “How to discern spiritual power as distinct from lower energy manipulation?” “When the soul recognizes real thinking, it easily rejects that which is lower.”

How can one develop and responsibly exercise such faith? After a month of living in the wake of the waves of Emeka’s spiritual pressure from above, I have begun to understand the answer to my question.

Fourth story. There was a special presentation of the new translation of The Urantia Book into Spanish followed by a panel and moderated discussion. To guide the labor of the group in its work for the past ten years, Victor Garcia-Bory functioned as the leader. There were four translators: Olga Lopez, the late Carmelo Martinez, Raúl Pujol, and Anibal Pacheco. An introductory video included film footage of meetings at Urantia Foundation and then we saw these people interacting live. In attempts at high-level collaboration, nothing is easier to predict than the noticeable presence of ego in one or more of the players. In this group, what struck me most—both in the film clips and in the discussion afterwards—was the flavor of palpable, spiritual fruits in every one of them: a quality of humility and love that I had never seen before. My soul saw in these five the setting of a new standard in the spiritual foundation of teamwork.

Fifth story. I particularly appreciated the intelligent and efficient way in which the moderator, Luis Garcia-Bory, conducted the discussion that concluded the meeting on the Spanish translation. It would have been easy for him to insert personal comments, but he made not the slightest gesture in that direction. Each time, his words were brief, and completely relevant to his assigned function. We are destined to become administrators. I am tucking this memory into my soul for future inspiration.

Sixth story. As part of the Program Committee, I was able to help the organizers to articulate their emerging vision—a major thrill. I had the privilege of helping two persons with their presentations and one with a workshop; I will not mention names, but the quality of collaboration was extraordinary. I will also mention that it took a lot of work to bring my own presentation to the required standards—a wholehearted and sustained effort. These tasks took my soul up to a new level of teamwork. In the end, conferences are about relationships. I cherish those with my fellow organizers, Lourdes, Jeannie Vasquéz, Mairam Durand, and Cecelia Barrteo. The same applies to all those fellow presenters and workshop facilitators mentioned here.

Seventh story. We heard the announcement of Urantia Association’s next international conference to be held in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A., March 28-31, 2024, on the topic, “The Nature and Nurture of the Soul.” Having learned how to get (give) the most from a conference, I have begun preparing for the next one.

Eighth story. The closing ceremony was outstandingly brief and marked by an unforgettable personal story from the new Urantia Association President, Enrique Travers from Brazil. He told the story of when he was nine years old and disobeyed his father. He was punished; but judging that the punishment was unfair, the boy ran away from home. He put some clothes into a bag and walked away. His dad allowed him to do so. His father stood at the home gate and stayed there looking at him until the boy could see him no more. Then the boy realized he had no place to go, and that home was really wonderful. As he retraced his steps, he saw his father, who walked toward him, knelt down, smiled, embraced him, picked him up, and carried him back home. Enrique said that he had done that at various times with our Father in heaven, and that our adventure as cosmic citizens teaches us to trust our Father’s love and mercy. Hearing that story, my soul was moved to help Enrique in any way I could.

Ninth story. The conference organizers attempted much, and not everything worked smoothly. Knowing hardly any details of what went wrong, I pondered it and recalled that a week after the Nazareth rejection, Jesus spoke to the apostles about “The Mission of Adversity and the Spiritual Value of Disappointment.” Jesus would often bring the apostles through significant disappointment following a success. He warned the seventy evangelists to beware of pride as they returned from their first preaching tour, which had been graced by a number of deeds of spiritual power. One more lesson for mind and soul.

Tenth story. With utter humility and love, Alejandro Ampudia told us how he had been consistently bullied by an older boy during his years in school—all the way through high school—despite his constant efforts to return good for harm in a loving and friendly way. After more than ten years of apparently fruitless efforts to love this bully, the older boy finally changed and told Alejandro that it was Alejandro’s friendship during those years that finally changed him. They became good friends and continue to get together.

Eleventh story. I had never studied the topic of cosmic citizenship before. My focus on the philosophy of living and the gospel movement had left me with the impression that cosmic citizenship was a high topic for Urantia Book students that went beyond my calling. But the workshop of Jinwoog Kim from Korea transformed my concept. He put cosmic citizenship (with its obligations to the Supreme Being) in its broadest possible frame—the framework of gospel themes about God and fatherly love. One of the quotes he selected was from Paper 141:2, “God’s Law and the Father’s Will.” When I first encountered this change of perspective, I walked around in a daze for quite a while. I began to live with themes of cosmic citizenship that I had been studying in earnest during the last couple years preparing for this conference—but as part of living all the truths to which I have struggled to devote my life during the past fifty years.

Professor of Political Science and head of the Korea Research Institute for Military Affairs, Kim is an inspirational leader who likes to get everyone actively involved. Once we met, he asked me to lead a segment of the workshop.

In case you are interested, the text that follows is a portion of what I used in my segment of the workshop.

In the document that Professor Jinwoog sent to workshop participants, he described two feasible cosmic principles and seven practical virtues, or qualities of character, which are part of cosmic citizenship. Feasible means doable. Practical implies down-to-earth, here and now. In order for these principles and virtues to be effective in our lives, we need to apply them in experience.

For this segment of the workshop, we had 30 minutes. For the first 10 minutes, we considered these principles and qualities—in preparation for practicing cosmic citizenship in breakout groups of two as randomly arranged by Zoom. In the second 10 minutes, we had conversations. We listen to and support the other person and share from our thoughts and experience. After the conversations, we shared in the chat for 5 minutes about what difference it makes in conversation to be aware of cosmic citizenship. Then I concluded with a few comments and returned the leadership to Professor Jinwoog.

Both cosmic principles are included in this next quote. As we read and listen to this quote together, look for what you might be able to use in your one-to-one conversation as you listen, support, and share.

You must not regard co-operation with your Adjuster as a particularly conscious process, for it is not; but your motives and your decisions, your faithful determinations and your supreme desires, do constitute real and effective co-operation. You can consciously augment Adjuster harmony by:

1. Choosing to respond to divine leading; sincerely basing the human life on the highest consciousness of truth, beauty, and goodness, and then co-ordinating these qualities of divinity through wisdom, worship, faith, and love.

2. Loving God and desiring to be like him—genuine recognition of the divine fatherhood and loving worship of the heavenly Parent.

3. Loving man and sincerely desiring to serve him—wholehearted recognition of the brotherhood of man coupled with an intelligent and wise affection for each of your fellow mortals.

4. Joyful acceptance of cosmic citizenship—honest recognition of your progressive obligations to the Supreme Being, awareness of the interdependence of evolutionary man and evolving Deity. This is the birth of cosmic morality and the dawning realization of universal duty.  [Paper 110:3.6-10, pages 1206.4-8].

What does the interdependence of man and the Supreme Being mean? As we evolve, we are in the domain of the Supreme Being, who is evolving with us. The Supreme is like a chef making a great salad, who depends on farmers like us to provide the vegetables. The chef is incomplete without the farmers. 

The Supreme is in charge of the growth of the whole, and we need to do our part. The Supreme blesses us by providing the potentials of evolving truth, beauty, and goodness which we actualize as cosmic citizens. And as God is our divine Father, the Supreme is our divine Mother.

One more thing. There is a necessary sequence: vegetables have to be on hand before making the salad. In other words, certain things have to be present before other things can be done. Eternal wisdom establishes laws of cosmic sequence. For example, “When physical conditions are ripe, sudden mental evolutions may take place; when mind status is propitious, sudden spiritual transformations may occur; when spiritual values receive proper recognition, then cosmic meanings become discernible, and increasingly the personality is released from the handicaps of time and delivered from the limitations of space” [65:8.6].  In other words, our obligation to the Supreme Being is to discern what we need to do next and do it joyfully.

You can write to me at jwattles@kent.edu

Also you can view my website from which this article was taken at: https://UrantiaBookProjects.org

For Professor Jinwoog’s document, you can write him at kimjinwoog@gmail.com