In the foreword of The Urantia Book, the Revelators inform us of their main objective: to expand cosmic consciousness and enhance spiritual perception. In the Publication Mandate, we are instructed to create thousands of study groups and train leaders and teachers.
Today, most if not all of us here are part of this worldwide association, Urantia Association International (UAI), who has for its mission To foster study of The Urantia Book and to disseminate its teachings and UAI shall create opportunities for the development of teachers and leaders through the natural evolution of learning through doing.[UAI Charter 2006]
Little did we realize when we found The Urantia Book the importance it had for our world and accordingly the role we could play in its mission. Since the Urantia movement began to organize itself in 1955, with the creation of the Urantia Brotherhood, a few serious attempts have been initiated to train teachers; out of these initiatives not many survived the test of time. There have been other local initiatives or Internet sites dedicated to teaching, but so far we have not witnessed enough tangible results to satisfy our expectations.
In our present day world and cultures, the concept of teaching and teachers is very much a specialized domain, reserved exclusively to those who have made it their life work and are accredited as such by the establishment in place. When it comes to religion or spirituality, our minds naturally turn to organized religions and priests or pastors acting as guides, counselors, or teachers. We have naturally evolved our view of educational responsibilities and concepts based on our own experience with education, whether secular or spiritual.
Today and in the following days we will be teachingthat you are a teacher and that you have been teaching for a long time. This might be an unsettling thought for some, but be reassured: we all have within us the ability to teach. In fact, if we can learn we can teach. God has given all that is needed to be good teachers as well good students; already we have learned many things that we have passed on to our families, friends, and co-workers. Does it not say in The Urantia Book that we have not learned something until we have taught it well to someone else?
There are many ways to teach, but I am not here to talk about these, others after me will be doing that; in fact, they will be teaching you about different ways to teach and disseminate. What I want to talk about is the significance of the word teacher and teaching, mostly in relation with The Urantia Book. There are many readers who believe that teaching should be left to other generations of readers, others that we are not yet ready to teach and more time should be spent on reading and studying. Some are strictly opposed to any kind of training of teachers probably believing it would create some kind of priesthood. A few believe that teaching should be left in the hands of experienced teachers or to such peoples who hold academic degrees.
In the Publication Mandate, the Revelators instruct us that an early publication of The Urantia Book has been provided so that it may be in hand for the training of leaders and teachers. They go on to say that the book is being given to those who are ready for it long before the day of its worldwide mission and thousands of study groups must be brought into existence. Some might not believe in those directives, finding them too restrictive or dogmatic, but for many of us they make a lot of sense because they give real and profound meaning to our mission, while providing the wisdom necessary to build something much greater than we can ever imagine.
The future is not open to your mortal comprehension, but you will do well to diligently study the order, plan, and methods of progression as they were enacted in the earth life of Michael when the Word was made flesh. [Publication Mandate 1955]
If those who are ready for this Revelation are not us, than who are they and where are they? What would be the use of our organization if not to build the foundation necessary to support and disseminate this Revelation? If we were to achieve our mission by other means than training leaders and teachers and creating study groups, than what would be those other means? UAI is not a social club, we are a lot more than that, we are an organization on a spiritual and intellectual mission to expand cosmic consciousness and enhance spiritual perception through the orderly and organized dissemination of the teachings of The Urantia Book. We have to define new meanings for the word teacher and teaching; we have to find new and better ways to disseminate the teachings; we have to reclaim our responsibilities to share those teachings in a personal manner one-on-one instead of relying on mass media and the Internet.
If we could all agree that we need to define and create better ways to teach and to share what we have learned instead of disagreeing among ourselves about the meanings of training teachers and what to do with The Urantia Book and its teachings, we would probably be more resourceful and ingenious about finding ways to train ourselves and others as teachers and disseminators. In my understanding, a good teacher is a good disseminator and a good disseminator is a good teacher. What is so hard or scary about teaching? We do it every day of our lives whether we realize it or not. I am not referring to teachers teaching in front of a class but the simpler form of teacher, the one who by example influences their family, friends, co-workers, and attract hungry or lost souls.
And all those who know the way of truth and enjoy the assurance of knowing God should esteem it a privilege, not a duty, to offer guidance to their fellows in their efforts to find the satisfactions of living. [Paper 130:2, page 1430:2]
We are the sowers. If not us, then who? We’re not just any kind of sowers; if we read the parable of the sower, we might focus mainly on where the seeds fall and not on the sower himself. In our present day and age, we cannot go about and preach like Jesus and the Apostles did, we have to adjust our ways of teachings to the present situation of the world. Most of our initiatives to teach and disseminate should be one-on-one or with the help of presentations given in study groups, or in conferences like this one, or by way of the Internet such as the UBIS School. Not only can we teach to the regular people we meet every day, but we must not forget to teach ourselves.
The pride of unspiritualized learning is a treacherous thing in human experience. The true teacher maintains his intellectual integrity by ever remaining a learner. [Paper 130:2, page 1430:2]
I would like to read you a modified version of the Parable of the Sowers that I found in my search and that I find appropriate for us who must learn to become better teachers. It is called What Kind of Soil Are You? By Linda Sue Pochodzay Edwards.vIt is the story of a mother and her three children.
“I want to help!”
“Me, too! Me, too!”
“Can I? Please?”
The children gathered around excitedly as Mom took the seed packets out of the shopping bag.
“I want the carrots.”
“Then give me the pumpkins.”
“But I don’t want to plant onions.
With a laugh, Mom divided the seeds among the children. “This year, each of you will have your own garden. You will get to choose where you want to plant your seeds, and you will be responsible for weeding and watering your own plot. So before you get started, you need to go outside and search carefully for the perfect spot.”
With that, the children went outside. They looked around the front yard and the backyard. They considered things like where the sun would come up in the morning and how far the water hose would reach. Each child chose the perfect place for planting a garden.
Jerry took great care to dig the soil properly. He removed all the weeds and rocks he found and read the back of the package to make sure the seeds were planted deep enough. He faithfully tended his garden all summer long. On the hottest days, when the others didn’t want to work in their gardens, he could be found working diligently outside.
Sally started off right. She also made sure her garden was planted in good soil and removed the weeds and rocks. However, as time went on, she lost interest in her plants. Other things became more important to her. Instead of working in the garden on those hot summer days, she preferred to spend her time talking on the telephone to her friends. It didn’t take long for weeds to grow up and take over her garden. Soon it became difficult to tell exactly which were weeds and which were the plants.
Billy didn’t think he needed to go to all the trouble. He didn’t realize how important it was to have good soil. He didn’t want to dig deep because the rocks were in the way, and it was hard to dig them out. So he just left them there and tried planting his seeds around the rocks.
Then there was Jill. She took her seeds and just scattered them around on the top of the ground. She quickly lost interest and didn’t bother to even try to take care of her garden the rest of the summer.
Now take a few minutes to think about what kind of harvest each of the children was able to get from his garden when summer was over and it was time to pick the ripe vegetables.
If you guessed that Jerry had a good harvest, you are absolutely right. He had plenty of vegetables. In fact, he was able to set up a table in front of his house and sell some to the neighbors. Sally had some good vegetables, but most of them were small because the weeds grew up.
and took the nutrition out of the ground. She wasn’t able to sell any of her vegetables because people were buying Jerry’s.
Billy didn’t have much to pick. His plants had a little soil around them, and at first they looked like they were going to grow, but when the really hot days came, the poor plants just couldn’t live. They wilted and died.
Unfortunately, Jill didn’t have any plants by the end of the summer. Remember how she scattered her seeds on the top of the ground? Well, the birds came along and had themselves quite a good lunch. They didn’t leave any seeds to grow into plants.
Let us THINK! What kind of Sower are we? What kind of Sower do we want to be? What would we need to do to become a good Sower?
So maybe we should we start by looking at the life of Jesus as we are instructed to do. The papers in The Urantia Book on the life of Jesus are full of extraordinary examples on how we could become very effective teachers. Why not explore and practice with the help of study groups what we could learn in them? Even Jesus in his own time trained the Apostles as teachers, so what are we waiting for? If we were instructed to create thousands of study groups, would it not be the ideal place in our present day society and culture to effectively train teachers? There are some among us with specialized skills in teaching that could very well elaborate programs that could be used in study groups to self-train; in today’s world, self-training with the help of a good program can be very effective. I know because I have, in an area devoted to healthcare, been involved in a self-training program administered in a group that was very effective.
If we reflect on how Jesus taught, he always used natural methods of teachings that could easily be replicated and accessible to any one motivated by faith and a strong desire to share. He never resorted to mystical or obscure methods to teach; he always using the positive method.
In his home and throughout his public-teaching career Jesus invariably employed the positive form of exhortation. Always and everywhere did he say, “You shall do this — you ought to do that.” Never did he employ the negative mode of teaching derived from the ancient taboos. He refrained from placing emphasis on evil by forbidding it, while he exalted the good by commanding its performance. [Paper 127:4, page 1401:2]
Not only do we need to become good intellectual teachers but spiritual teachers as well; this will require us to be coherent with what we will teach. In simple words, we have to be and live what we teach if we want to become efficient teachers and disseminators. To improve oneself is part of the work that is probably the hardest and most difficult to do, for we rarely see ourselves with objectivity. We tend to think of ourselves as very spiritual because of the intellectual and spiritual knowledge we possess, but spirituality is a lot more than just knowledge, it is a dynamic way of life that produces many fruits.
Here is what Jesus taught to his Apostles and disciples during his tour at Tyre and Sidon:
Spiritual living mightily increases true self-respect. But self-respect is not self-admiration. Self-respect is always co-ordinate with the love and service of one’s fellows. It is not possible to respect yourself more than you love your neighbor; the one is the measure of the capacity for the other. [Paper 156:5, page 1740:1]
As the days pass, every true believer becomes more skillful in alluring his fellows into the love of eternal truth. Are you more resourceful in revealing goodness to humanity today than you were yesterday? Are you a better righteousness recommender this year than you were last year? Are you becoming increasingly artistic in your technique of leading hungry souls into the spiritual kingdom? [Paper 156:5, page 1740:2]
Are your ideals sufficiently high to insure your eternal salvation while your ideas are so practical as to render you a useful citizen to function on earth in association with your mortal fellows? In the spirit, your citizenship is in heaven; in the flesh, you are still citizens of the earth kingdoms. Render to the Caesars the things which are material and to God those which are spiritual. [Paper 156:5, page 1740:3]
The measure of the spiritual capacity of the evolving soul is your faith in truth and your love for man, but the measure of your human strength of character is your ability to resist the holding of grudges and your capacity to withstand brooding in the face of deep sorrow. Defeat is the true mirror in which you may honestly view your real self. [Paper 156:5, page 1740:4]
As you grow older in years and more experienced in the affairs of the kingdom, are you becoming more tactful in dealing with troublesome mortals and more tolerant in living with stubborn associates? Tact is the fulcrum of social leverage, and tolerance is the earmark of a great soul. If you possess these rare and charming gifts, as the days pass you will become more alert and expert in your worthy efforts to avoid all unnecessary social misunderstandings. Such wise souls are able to avoid much of the trouble, which is certain to be the portion of all who suffer from lack of emotional adjustment, those who refuse to grow up, and those who refuse to grow old gracefully. [Paper 156:5, page 1740:5]
Avoid dishonesty and unfairness in all your efforts to preach truth and proclaim the gospel. Seek no unearned recognition and crave no undeserved sympathy. Love, freely receive from both divine and human sources regardless of your deserts, and love freely in return. But in all other things related to honor and adulation seek only that which honestly belongs to you. [Paper 156:5, page 1740:6]
The God-conscious mortal is certain of salvation; he is unafraid of life; he is honest and consistent. He knows how bravely to endure unavoidable suffering; he is uncomplaining when faced by inescapable hardship. [Paper 156:5, page 1740:7]
The true believer does not grow weary in well-doing just because he is thwarted. Difficulty whets the ardor of the truth lover, while obstacles only challenge the exertions of the undaunted kingdom builder. [Paper 156:5, page 1740:8]
We can see by those teachings from the Master that to become good teachers is a lot more than just being intellectually knowledgeable. We have much work to do, not only as an organization but also as individuals. Could it be that the Revelators knew what could be achieved by creating thousands of study groups? Could they help us achieve the personal growth that we need to become good teachers and disseminators of this Revelation?
You will become like the light of life to those who sit about you in darkness, showing all who so desire the way to reach the harbor of salvation in safety. [Paper 130:2, page 1430:2]
Today with the advent of computers and the Internet, we want to move fast, we want to change the world in one day or at least part of it during our lifetime. We often forget that we are the children of evolution and that it took us years to become who and what we are; many more years were needed to learn all we know. We might have forgotten the long hours reading many philosophical, religious and science books, the meditation that followed, and the prayers we made to find our way through the jungle of facts and innuendos.
While being the natural offspring of evolution, culture and education, we have and still are influenced by the concepts of self-liberty left to us by our defaulted Planetary Prince. Those concepts have been ingrained in the early cultures of our planet for more than two hundred thousand years and it will take countless years and maybe Millennias to eradicate them from our society and education. One of my friends calls this Lucifer’s way of thinking.
I will not expand on this but just want to emphasize the immensity of the task that is at hand. We are the builders of a new garden. If we remember the many years it took Van to prepare the first one (83 years), we should be patient about our work of building the next garden for the coming of a new age and probably a new teacher. Cosmic consciousness also means the acquirement of the time perspective when evolution is concerned.
“You must again study the times of Jesus on earth. You must carefully take note of how the kingdom of heaven was inaugurated in the world. Did it evolve slowly and unfold naturally? Or did it come with sudden show of force and with spectacular exhibition of power? Was it evolutionary or revolutionary?” [Publication Mandate, 1955]
Looking at everything that has and is happening on our planet, we might conclude that revolution is the way of evolution, but is it the good way? If we want to share The Urantia Book and its teachings, do we want to revolutionize society or help the individuals to participate in the natural evolution of our world ? Do we want to do things the way they were done in the days of Caligastia and Adam and Eve, or do we want to be a bit wiser by taking the counsel of the Revelators? As individuals we are free to choose our own ways; as an organization we must be wise and patient about how we do things.
“You must learn to possess your souls in patience. You are in association with a revelation of truth, which is a part of the natural evolution of religion on this world. Over rapid growth would be suicidal.” [Publication Mandate, 1955]
After having found an important truth, we might have realized that it was always more than what we could have imagined or expected. We might later reflect that the truth we found was always there within us but scaffolding was needed to reach it. As a famous sculptor once said, “To sculpt the body of a beautiful woman I need to remove everything from the block of stone that is not that woman.” We probably understood that the truth we found contained within itself moral and spiritual responsibilities such as changing our lives to accommodate new meanings and values.
If we reflect on how we found what we were searching for, we will gain some insight about how we can become better disseminators or teachers. We might find we had a strong desire to know more, that we were thirsty for truth and meaning. We might also realize that it took years to discover what we were searching for. Was not the process of searching as important as the result of our search? Did not the process of searching in some way help our Thought Adjusters adjust our minds for the truth we were looking for? Could we have recognized the truth on the lower level of our scaffolding if someone had showed it to us?
So it will be with most peoples we will meet for the rest of our lives, as we try to share what we know. Let us not deprive them of the immense satisfaction and pleasure of discovering the truth for themselves, let us be respectful of who they are, let us remember that to whom Jesus taught the most he said the least.
Dissemination is an art, an art that require patience and respect for the other, an art that understands the nature of the mind of men and the nature of the Indwelling Spirit inhabiting it. We have found The Urantia Book and in it there is probably everything we need to learn to become good disseminators, and by doing our studies in groups we will certainly find better ways of doing this. When three or more of you meet in my name I will be among you, said Jesus, which is another very good reason to study in groups.
Not often in the life of a planet is it given to its inhabitants to participate in the enfoldment of a revelation. We have been given this privilege because of our sincere desire to search and find the truth, but many of us do not realize this fully, and so we are letting other means of communication and contact take over the responsibility that came with the discovery of this revelation. Personal contact with others will always remain the most effective form of dissemination, for it involves partnership with God in the presence of the Thought Adjuster, the Spirit of Truth, and the Holy Spirit.
As The Urantia Book says:
You cannot reveal God to those who do not seek for him; you cannot lead unwilling souls into the joys of salvation. Man must become hungry for truth as a result of the experiences of living, or he must desire to know God as the result of contact with the lives of those who are acquainted with the divine Father before another human being can act as the means of leading such a fellow mortal to the Father in heaven. [Paper 132:7, paper 1466:2]
Remember, not only are we the light of the world and the salt of the earth, but we are also the Sowers of the seeds of truth that will help elevate this world spiritually. Make the most of your time on this planet; join us in the efforts of training teachers and becoming better disseminators.
When man goes into partnership with God, great things may, and do, happen.[Paper 132:7, page 1467:5]