What is Morontia?

Definitions

Though it may be premature to forecast wide acceptance of The Urantia Book, it’s clearly rising in visibility due to decades of wise dissemination efforts and, of course, the internet. The first page of the Foreword, however, carries four statements calling attention to the serious problem of confusion on Urantia. We are notified—and warned—that progress on our world will depend on the evolution of human wisdom and revelation. Our own community of reader / believers is also confused about certain terms and definitions found in the teachings. We ought to resolve this confusion among Urantia Book devotees as we continue to take the advanced messages out into the mainstream. It is in that spirit that I advance my personal theory: morontia is akin to supermorality.

Evolving mortal creatures experience an irresistible urge to symbolize their finite concepts of God. Man’s consciousness of moral duty and his spiritual idealism represent a value level—an experiential reality—which is difficult of symbolization. 0:2.1 (3.14) [all bold indicates author’s emphasis]

We are offered here an early hint of the big news the authors will expand on throughout the book. Due to their difficulty in using human language, they invent a new word-symbol to describe that value level: morontia, a previously unrevealed reality “between the material and spiritual levels of creature existence.” (541.4)

The term morontia and its various forms are much used in the book. Despite over 800 references and many detailed revelations, some of our understanding remains unclear, the meaning even misunderstood. Respected Urantia Book teachers have rendered astute opinions, mostly based on etymology. Because the word conveys a dual meaning the lack of consensus is understandable. But the revelators, as always, are clear on what they intend; they present definitive meanings in context, spread across many papers and pages.

First a note: There is meaning in our etymology of morontia, but we should not attempt to define this complex term solely upon the origin / meaning of human words. That results in a monocular understanding. We are reminded that the upgrade to morontia mind brings a stereoscopic perspective: “Mota is more than a superior philosophy; it is to philosophy as two eyes are to one; it has a stereoscopic effect on meanings and values” (554.2). The stereo meaning of morontia is fully revealed via etymology and revelation context. Language is important. The Urantia Book’s stunning revelations could not be given until the human intellect became cosmically teachable. And then, to impart advanced truths, human words were carefully selected—some redefined, some new ones invented. We grow intellectually and spiritually by adopting the narrator’s use of language and meanings, especially when they weave coined terminology with our best words in order to enlighten us.

Most morontia references refer to semi-physical realities, but it’s a multi-faceted word symbol; like a polished crystal it reveals vibrant colors when we gaze upon it. Regarding the mind and soul of man, the link between morality and morontia cannot be overlooked. Witness the cosmic magnitude of the birth of one’s soul—a new personal reality and the baptism into morontia life, triggered by our first moral choice. Morals and morality—and morontia—are woven into very meaningful teachings: “The soul of man cannot exist apart from moral thinking and spiritual activity” (1478.4). We are taught that the soul is a morontia reality and this is a clear connection to morality. Our morontia career is devoted to acquiring wisdom: “and since wisdom is superknowledge” (1776.1), and mota is: “superphilosophic sensitivity” (1121.4), this suggests supermorality: the essence of the cosmic teaching of fact, meaning, and value; truth, beauty, and goodness, etc. This thesis proposes that morontia, when not referring to semi-physical realities, denotes supermorality (my word), synonymous with postmoral, an interesting “once word” we shall visit.  

Supermorality may be associated with mota in the stereoscopic and superadditive sense of combining elements (superknowledge and superphilosohy) to achieve nonpredictable outcomes. Maybe that is why an Archangel informs us, “The higher levels of mota join directly with the higher levels of human philosophy” (556.1). The author, however, was not permitted to share “the full mota” but only the human parallels; not “the higher levels of cosmic insight and morontia mota” (557.15). Only the experience of death can fully prepare us for some things.   

An analysis of morontia by etymology connects the ‘mor’ to moral (as the book clearly does); the ‘ont’ may be connected to ontology or being / existence. The ‘ia’ or ‘tia’ creates a noun, which can be a person, place, thing, or idea, but in Urantia Book nomenclature our task is complicated because the suffix is also used for a newly revealed reality. Etymology leads us into the word salad, even sustains illusions as in linking morontia with moron, but context throughout the text gives the cosmic meaning our teachers wish to convey. Our understanding about morontia must perforce be that it describes both an advanced semi-material reality and an advanced sensitivity in our mind arena (e.g. superphilosophic, see 1121.4). We are informed about morontia bodies and structures on next-life worlds, as well as a progressive level of mind that fully encircuits us post-Urantia. We are also informed that morontia mind—thinking above the human level—can be achieved during our first life, that in fact we become “morontia newborns” with our first moral choice. The degree of reality difference between material and morontial could be compared to, say, larvae and butterflies.

Morality and Morontia

The most straightforward links between moral and morontia are:

Moral will embraces decisions based on reasoned knowledge, augmented by wisdom, and sanctioned by religious faith. Such choices are acts of moral nature and evidence the existence of moral personality, the forerunner of morontia personality and eventually of true spirit status. 101.6 (1111.7)

Morality is the essential pre-existent soil of personal God-consciousness, the personal realization of the Adjuster’s inner presence, but such morality is not the source of religious experience and the resultant spiritual insight. The moral nature is superanimal but subspiritual. Morality is equivalent to the recognition of duty, the realization of the existence of right and wrong. The moral zone intervenes between the animal and the human types of mind as morontia functions between the material and the spiritual spheres of personality attainment. 196.3 (2096.1)

These statements are very concise; etymology can be interpretive, but context states the case clearly. Here’s another link between moral and morontia:

And then, climax all of these procedures of multisocialization with the concurrent enhancement of spiritual insight as it pertains to the augmentation of all phases of personal endowment through group spiritual association and morontia co-ordination. Intellectually, socially, and spiritually two moral creatures do not merely double their personal potentials of universe achievement by partnership technique; they more nearly quadruple their attainment and accomplishment possibilities. 43.8 (494.10)

One of the grand concepts of the fifth revelation is spiritual insight, the invaluable technique by which we perceive supermeanings and supervalues. Sometimes our teachers use the technique of “defining by dash.” This reference defines spiritual insight with dashes, further illuminating the deep significance of morality:

Moral evaluation with a religious meaning—spiritual insight—connotes the individual’s choice between good and evil, truth and error, material and spiritual, human and divine, time and eternity. 196.3 (2095.1)

Personal moral discernment as to spiritual ideals not only triggers the birth of our morontia soul, but according to the above quote, it may also elevate us to divinity and into eternity.

Here is another teaching where the revelators expand definitions to include moral thinking, morontia existence, and supermortal function on post-Urantia worlds. The earlier citation already affirms that our moral nature is superanimal. They continue to establish the link between moral and morontia:

You should understand that the morontia life of an ascending mortal is really initiated on the inhabited worlds at the conception of the soul, at that moment when the creature mind of moral status is indwelt by the spirit Adjuster. And from that moment on, the mortal soul has potential capacity for supermortal function, even for recognition on the higher levels of the morontia spheres of the local universe. 48.6 (551.7)

The following quotations further establish the connection between morality and morontia:

True religion is that sublime and profound conviction within the soul which compellingly admonishes man that it would be wrong for him not to believe in those morontial realities which constitute his highest ethical and moral concepts, his highest interpretation of life’s greatest values and the universe’s deepest realities. And such a religion is simply the experience of yielding intellectual loyalty to the highest dictates of spiritual consciousness. 101.9 (1115.4)

Moral consciousness is just a name applied to the human recognition and awareness of those ethical and emerging morontial values which duty demands that man shall abide by in the day-by-day control and guidance of conduct. 101.9 (1115.6)

Faith becomes the connection between moral consciousness and the spiritual concept of enduring reality. Religion becomes the avenue of man’s escape from the material limitations of the temporal and natural world to the supernal realities of the eternal and spiritual world by and through the technique of salvation, the progressive morontia transformation. 101.9 (1116.1)

The revelators cleverly draw our attention to the moral / morontia connection with two passages far removed from each other, emphasizing the need to study the entire revelation. They trade on a popular human term so we can better understand the root of their new word:

I may inform you that on Uversa we teach forty-eight reasons for permitting evil to run the full course of its own moral bankruptcy and spiritual extinction. 54.5 (618.3)

Spiritual (soul) death. If and when mortal man has finally rejected survival, when he has been pronounced spiritually insolvent, morontially bankrupt… thereupon do the rulers of Orvonton order the immediate release of the indwelling Monitor. 112.3 (1229.9)

The sly juxtaposition is intentional. They are familiar with our idiom and a key teaching is further expanded; morality (morontia) is central to both soul birth and soul death!

Here is an interesting “once-word,” a single use in the text. Though morontia is not specifically mentioned it can be inferred, tied to an enlightened definition of religion:

Religion is not grounded in the facts of science, the obligations of society, the assumptions of philosophy, or the implied duties of morality. Religion is an independent realm of human response to life situations and is unfailingly exhibited at all stages of human development which are postmoral. 5.5 (68.5)

The morontia state is postmoral. Righteousness, ethics, virtue, and morality are all related in Urantia Book teachings, though not interchangeably. But here is an example that supports this notion:

The co-ordination of idea-decisions, logical ideals, and divine truth constitutes the possession of a righteous character, the prerequisite for mortal admission to the ever-expanding and increasingly spiritual realities of the morontia worlds. 101.6 (1112.3)

The following key passage doubles down on the foundational importance of morality, a reality level described as duty, along with the other two innate cosmic intuitions of causation and worship:

Intelligence alone cannot explain the moral nature. Morality, virtue, is indigenous to human personality. Moral intuition, the realization of duty, is a component of human mind endowment and is associated with the other inalienables of human nature: scientific curiosity and spiritual insight. Man’s mentality far transcends that of his animal cousins, but it is his moral and religious natures that especially distinguish him from the animal world. 16.7 (192.8)

The following passages suggest that the most recent revelation “unfailingly expands” on the moral obligations of earlier revelations—the new concept of morontia is not merely morality expanded—it qualifies as cosmic morality. Also, the Supreme is added to the morality mix:

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. 110.3 (1206.8)

No professed revelation of religion could be regarded as authentic if it failed to recognize the duty demands of ethical obligation which had been created and fostered by preceding evolutionary religion. Revelation unfailingly enlarges the ethical horizon of evolved religion while it simultaneously and unfailingly expands the moral obligations of all prior revelations. 101.9 (1115.2)

The temporal relation of man to the Supreme is the foundation for cosmic morality, the universal sensitivity to, and acceptance of, duty. This is a morality which transcends the temporal sense of relative right and wrong; it is a morality directly predicated on the self-conscious creature’s appreciation of experiential obligation to experiential Deity. 117.4 (1284.4)  

Human morality may recognize values, but only religion can conserve, exalt, and spiritualize such values. But notwithstanding such actions, religion is something more than emotionalized morality. Religion is to morality as love is to duty, as sonship is to servitude, as essence is to substance. 102.5 (1124.2)

Here is more about the connection, perhaps the synthesis, of morality and our relationship with the indwelling Adjuster (Father), the cosmic mind bestowed by Mother, and the moral character of the Creator Son:

Moral evolution is not wholly dependent on revelation. High moral concepts can be derived from man’s own experience. Man can even evolve spiritual values and derive cosmic insight from his personal experiential living because a divine spirit indwells him. 95.3 (1045.5)  

Material evolution has provided you a life machine, your body; the Father himself has endowed you with the purest spirit reality known in the universe, your Thought Adjuster. But into your hands, subject to your own decisions, has been given mind, and it is by mind that you live or die. It is within this mind and with this mind that you make those moral decisions which enable you to achieve Adjusterlikeness, and that is Godlikeness. 111.1 (1216.5)

Moral self-consciousness is true human self-realization and constitutes the foundation of the human soul, and the soul is that part of man which represents the potential survival value of human experience. Moral choice and spiritual attainment, the ability to know God and the urge to be like him, are the characteristics of the soul. The soul of man cannot exist apart from moral thinking and spiritual activity. A stagnant soul is a dying soul. But the soul of man is distinct from the divine spirit which dwells within the mind. The divine spirit arrives simultaneously with the first moral activity of the human mind, and that is the occasion of the birth of the soul.

The saving or losing of a soul has to do with whether or not the moral consciousness attains survival status through eternal alliance with its associated immortal spirit endowment. Salvation is the spiritualization of the self-realization of the moral consciousness, which thereby becomes possessed of survival value. All forms of soul conflict consist in the lack of harmony between the moral, or spiritual, self-consciousness and the purely intellectual self-consciousness. 133.6 (1478.5)

The Spirit of Truth is concerned primarily with the revelation of the Father’s spirit nature and the Son’s moral character. 194.3 (2062.10)  

The adventure into new discoveries of fact, meaning, and value, are the delight of a truth-seeker’s soul. This exercise was designed to stimulate thinking on a very important topic. When disseminating the advanced teachings of The Urantia Book we ought to be in sync with each other… and with our superhuman teachers.

Note: Recently Urantia Foundation completed its translation of The Urantia Book into Simplified Chinese. According to project leader Richard Zhu, “The translation for “morontia” was indeed very challenging, I didn’t use transliteration, instead I followed the methodology revelators used to translate, I picked the Chinese concepts of spirit (属灵) and material (物质) and use a character “灵” from “属灵” and a character “质” from “物质” and form a brand-new concept “灵质” which means a vast level intervening between the material and the spiritual.”