JESUS STYLE MEDITATION

by Peter Holley

 
 

Meditation in The Urantia Book

(Jesus-style meditation)

by Peter Holley

[All bold words throughout indicate emphasis added by the author.]

 

Words Change Their Meaning

 

The URANTIA Book tells us that Jesus meditated – a lot! What it doesn’t say is that the word “meditation” has evolved away from its original meaning during the years following the revelation’s final inditing in the mid 1930s. Such evolution of words was, of course, anticipated by the revelators, who tell us that the expression of religion “must be restated every time the dictionary of human language is revised” (1). Likewise the meaning of each affected teaching needs to be renewed when necessary.

 The problem with changed words is that they can give us an altered picture if we aren’t careful. The fact that Jesus used and taught meditation as a means to communicate with one’s Thought Adjuster makes it vitally important for us to understand what is meant, if as The URANTIA Book states on the last page, the “great challenge for modern man is to achieve better communication with the divine Monitor that dwells within the human mind.”

 A dictionary contemporary with the reception of the finalized Urantia Papers (as later originally published in The URANTIA Book) provides the following definition of the word “meditation”:

 

“… close or continued thought, the turning or revolving of a subject in the mind, serious contemplation; mental reflection; often specifically, thought devoted to religious subjects.” (2)

 The type of “meditation” often associated with Eastern religions which requires an altered state of consciousness had not yet at that time migrated into the dictionary. It became a secondary definition of “meditation” sometime after Yogi Paramhansa Yogananda came to the West and brought about what has been called a religious revolution with the publication of his book Autobiography of a Yogi in 1946. Yet a look at a 1955 desk dictionary shows that the more intellectually passive type of meditation had not even appeared by The URANTIA Book’s publication date. Neither is it included in my 1982 “College” dictionary. Some modern dictionaries, however, now place it as the preferred definition. The following definition of the intransitive use of the verb is from an online dictionary (3):

 meditate:

   1.

         A. Buddhism & Hinduism. To train, calm, or empty the mind, often by achieving an altered state, as by focusing on a single object.

         B. To engage in devotional contemplation, especially prayer.

    2. To think or reflect, especially in a calm and deliberate manner.

 This is not to say, however, that the Buddhism and Hinduism style of meditation was unknown in the middle thirties in the West, or that the word “meditation” was never used to denote it. It was, but it appears to have needed qualification. Apparently the Buddhism and Hinduism type is what the revelators meant when they referred to “mystic meditation” (see also “mystic trances,” “mystic communications,” “mystic experiences,” “mystic phenomena,” “mystic communion,” “mystic status,” and “mystical state”). The root of “mystic” is a Greek term meaning “belonging to secret rites” or “priest of mysteries,” and the word itself in the middle of the 1930s referred to things which were secret or obscure. The fact is that Buddhist and Hindu meditators at that time still kept their traditional techniques as highly guarded secrets, passing them on only to followers whom they considered to be qualified to receive them. And their meditative-techniques seemed even more “mystical” because they revolved around altered consciousness and brought about – to the Western way of thinking – extraordinary experiences. Some few Europeans living in the East had, however, submitted to yogis or to Buddhist masters and applied themselves to their esoteric teachings, and then, later, brought the practices back home with them.

 One instance of such early, non-dictionary-defined use is found in a then-contemporary publication that is believed to have furnished the source for much of the Rodan material in The URANTIA Book (4). This example which is found in the book, Issues of Life, by Henry Nelson Wieman (5), demonstrates a need for the word “meditation” to be modified in order to indicate something akin to the Buddhism- and Hinduism-style technique. Wieman speaks of  “a kind of worshipful, meditative waiting, in which one quietly hearkens until the call of the world and the deepest desire of his own heart merge into a single demand. Waiting before the Highest,” he writes, “fosters inarticulate aspiration.” (6) Rather than simply calling it “meditation,” as many might today, Wieman had to coin the term “inarticulate aspiration” and link it to “a kind of worshipful, meditative waiting.”

 But what is most illustrative by this example, however, is the fact that the revelators took Wieman’s passive “kind of worshipful, meditative waiting”  and turned it into the dynamically active, reflective type of meditation in the above definitions, that is, the style of meditation that Jesus used and taught. The midwayer author of Part IV compared such deep-thinking meditators with “high-climbing souls” who reach a “mountaintop of intellectual thought” where they can “attain consciousness of the higher currents of spirit concept and celestial communication.” (7). Elsewhere The URANTIA Book laments, however, that it is “sad to record that so few persons on Urantia take delight in cultivating these qualities of courageous and independent cosmic thinking.” (8)

 Rodan

 Rodan gives us what is perhaps the best view in The URANTIA Book of the type of meditation that Jesus both taught and practiced himself. Rodan had “become a disciple of Jesus through the teaching of one of Abner’s associates who had conducted a mission at Alexandria” (9). And Abner, of all of Jesus’ disciples, apparently had the best grasp on Jesus’ teachings. At least we are told that “during the later years of Abner and for some time thereafter, the believers at Philadelphia held more strictly to the religion of Jesus, as he lived and taught, than any other group on earth.” (10) In any event the Rodan material certainly was not placed in The URANTIA Book to mislead us.

 Rodan spoke of what Jesus “so consistently practices, and which he has so faithfully taught . . . the isolation of worshipful meditation . . . this habit of Jesus’ going off so frequently by himself to commune with the Father in heaven.” Jesus was, Rodan said, even as he spoke “out in the hills taking in power. . . .” (11)

 Rodan went on to say that the “secret of all this problem is wrapped up in spiritual communion, in worship. From the human standpoint it is a question of combined meditation and relaxation. Meditation makes the contact of mind with spirit; relaxation determines the capacity for spiritual receptivity. And this interchange of strength for weakness, courage for fear, the will of God for the mind of self, constitutes worship.” (12) He observed that on “every mountaintop of intellectual thought are to be found relaxation for the mind, strength for the soul, and communion for the spirit.” And he indicated how the lower, egoistic thinking is to be overcome by higher thoughts:

 “From such vantage points of high living, man is able to transcend the material irritations of the lower levels of thinking – worry, jealousy, envy, revenge, and the pride of immature personality. These high-climbing souls deliver themselves from a multitude of the crosscurrent conflicts of the trifles of living, thus becoming free to attain consciousness of the higher currents of spirit concept and celestial communication.” (13)

 The Greek philosopher-turned-disciple added:

 “When these experiences are frequently repeated, they crystallize into habits, strength-giving and worshipful habits, and such habits eventually formulate themselves into a spiritual character, and such a character is finally recognized by one’s fellows as a mature personality. These practices are difficult and time-consuming at first, but when they become habitual, they are at once restful and timesaving.” (14)

Notice that for Rodan the relaxation associated with Jesus’ dynamic, thinking type of meditation is a result of having reached the “mountaintop of intellectual thought” and “spiritual communion” rather than being part of the means to attain it – that is, a more or less stand-alone part of the technique – as it is in Hinduism and Buddhism (and in auto-hypnosis).

 Rodan’s most profound statement is, “Meditation makes the contact of mind with spirit.” In other words, spirit is contacted by the actively thinking mind. And this is entirely consistent with what we are taught elsewhere in The URANTIA Book about the nature of the Thought Adjusters vis a vis the mortal mind.

Thought Adjuster

 We are told quite clearly and in a number of ways that the Thought Adjusters dwell and interact within “the thinking centers of the individual’s mind” (15):

 “If one is disposed to recognize a theoretical subconscious mind as a practical working hypothesis in the otherwise unified intellectual life, then, to be consistent, one should postulate a similar and corresponding realm of ascending intellectual activity as the superconscious level, the zone of immediate contact with the indwelling spirit entity, the Thought Adjuster.”(16)

 “Human consciousness rests gently upon the electrochemical mechanism below and delicately touches the spirit-morontia energy system above. Of neither of these two systems is the human being ever completely conscious in his mortal life; therefore must he work in mind, of which he is conscious.”(17)

 Notice how closely this idea of “ascending intellectual activity” parallels Rodan’s image of meditation being intellectual mountain climbing. Notice also that it is not the lower area of consciousness which is involved, but the upper “spirit-morontia energy system.”

 “The chief difficulty you experience in contacting with your Adjusters consists in [your] very inherent material nature. So few mortals are real thinkers; you do not spiritually develop and discipline your minds to the point of favorable liaison with the divine Adjusters. The ear of the human mind is almost deaf to the spiritual pleas which the Adjuster translates from the manifold messages of the universal broadcasts of love proceeding from the Father of mercies. The Adjuster finds it almost impossible to register these inspiring spirit leadings in an animal mind so completely dominated by the chemical and electrical forces inherent in your physical natures”(18)

 Here the assumption is that thinking both contacts and “hears” the Thought Adjuster, since nothing is being said about passive “listening.” The Thought Adjusters do not speak to our minds but must use our minds to speak for them. They do this with our own thinking processes:

 “The Thought Adjuster has no special mechanism through which to gain self-expression; there is no mystic religious faculty for the reception or expression of religious emotions. These experiences are made available through the naturally ordained mechanism of mortal mind. And therein lies one explanation of the Adjuster’s difficulty in engaging in direct communication with the material mind of its constant indwelling.

 “The divine spirit makes contact with mortal man, not by feelings or emotions, but in the realm of the highest and most spiritualized thinking.” (19)

 [The Thought Adjuster] ‘‘is the higher and truly internal spiritual stimulus of thought . . . .’’ (20)

 “The Adjuster is not trying to control your thinking, as such, but rather to spiritualize it, to eternalize it. Neither angels nor Adjusters are devoted directly to influencing human thought; that is your exclusive personality prerogative. The Adjusters are dedicated to improving, modifying, adjusting, and co-ordinating your thinking processes . . . .” (21)

 The divine indwellers adjust our thinking until it speaks for them, until the content of our thoughts coincides with higher truth and their translations of the universal broadcasts from the Paradise Father. What we experience in the perfecting of Jesus-style meditation is at the same time their thinking and our own! Also, Rodan likewise spoke of the need for the mental discipline found in the frequent repetition of the practice of worshipful, dynamic-thinking-coupled-with-relaxation, that is, Jesus-style meditation, in order to develop the mind for spiritual communication.

It is plain to see that in Jesus-style meditation the “worry, jealousy, envy, revenge, and the pride of immature personality” of which Rodan spoke are to be to be harnessed and used by us rather than being emptied from the mind at the start as both the yogis and the Buddhists do. It is we who must take our thoughts – as we find them – and aim them Godward. Jesus said:

 “Be not constantly overanxious about your common needs. Be not apprehensive concerning the problems of your earthly existence, but in all these things by prayer and supplication, with the spirit of sincere thanksgiving, let your needs be spread out before your Father who is in heaven.” (22)

 At the same time Jesus exhorted “his believers to employ prayer as a means of leading up through thanksgiving to true worship” (23).  And Rodan speaking of these same things wrapped up meditation, relaxation, and spiritual communion into the same ball of wax as constituting “worship” or “worshipful meditation.” So from this we see that there is really only a difference in degree between all of this God-directed thought: prayer, cosmic thinking, thanksgiving, meditation, and worship. They are like different members of a family rather than different species. For instance, in some of its aspects meditation differs little from prayer, and in others it is the same as worship. It may, likewise, be productive of great outpourings of thanksgiving.

 Prayer, The URANTIA Book reveals, is the only “technique whereby every man, regardless of all other mortal accomplishments, can so effectively and immediately approach the threshold of that realm wherein he can communicate with his Maker, where the creature contacts with the reality of the Creator, with the indwelling Thought Adjuster.” (24) Also, “Prayer will lead the mortals of earth up to the communion of true worship.” (25) But “meditation makes the contact of mind with spirit,” and the “moment the element of self-interest intrudes upon worship, that instant devotion translates from worship to prayer” (26) – the same is no doubt true concerning the higher and lower aspects of Jesus-style meditation. Its lower aspect is commonly a quest for knowledge and understanding of a subject or problem, a factual elucidation. The higher aspect – transcendent, worshipful meditation – is a type of self-forgetful cosmic thinking, and it is here that knowledge and understanding, or spiritual elucidation, is likely to be found.

 “Thinking surrenders to wisdom, and wisdom is lost in enlightened and reflective worship.” (27)  – “wisdom  [is] meditative and experiential thinking” (28); “worship is self-forgetting – superthinking.” (29) 

 Or restated:

 “Ordinary thinking ascends to meditative and experiential thinking, and it, in turn, transcends into enlightened and reflective worship.”

 And again:

 “Why do you not aid the Adjuster in the task of showing you the spiritual counterpart of all these strenuous material efforts? Why do you not allow the Adjuster to strengthen you with the spiritual truths of cosmic power while you wrestle with the temporal difficulties of creature existence? Why do you not encourage the heavenly helper to cheer you with the clear vision of the eternal outlook of universal life as you gaze in perplexity at the problems of the passing hour? Why do you refuse to be enlightened and inspired by the universe viewpoint while you toil amidst the handicaps of time and flounder in the maze of uncertainties which beset your mortal life journey? Why not allow the Adjuster to spiritualize your thinking, even though your feet must tread the material paths of earthly endeavor?” (30)

 It was in this sense that Jesus told Peter:

 “Let experience teach you the value of meditation and the power of intelligent reflection.” (31).

 Also Jesus-style spiritual meditation is an essential factor of spiritual growth:

 “Habits which favor religious growth embrace cultivated sensitivity to divine values, recognition of religious living in others, reflective meditation on cosmic meanings, worshipful problem solving, sharing one’s spiritual life with one’s fellows, avoidance of selfishness, refusal to presume on divine mercy, living as in the presence of God” (32)

 Jesus Meditating

 In almost every instance of examples in The URANTIA Book wherein Jesus meditated, the context clearly shows that he was engaged in thought (see list below). In those few in which it is not abundantly apparent it may be assumed that he was since nowhere is any contrary notion maintained. In fact in The URANTIA Book the meditative doctrine of “thinking nothing” (along with “seeing” and “doing” nothing), which was derived from the teaching by Lao T’su on “nonresistance and the distinction which he made between action and coercion” (and which can still be found in the teachings of Buddhism) is called “perverted” by the revelators (33). And cultivation of the “mystical state” (or “trancelike state of visionary consciousness”) which is described of consisting in part of a “comparatively passive intellect” – we are warned – should be in all circumstances shunned as a means of religious experience because it “gravitates consciousness toward the subconscious rather than in the direction of the zone of spiritual contact” (34), that is, toward the lower, animal level rather than the upper, morontia-spiritual level of consciousness. Whether or not this warning speaks directly to the meditation practices of Hindus and Buddhists is problematical (but see below). In the final analysis it is up to the devotees of the more passive intellect styles of meditation to make such discernments for themselves. Personally, as a follower of Jesus, I prefer to align my meditation practices with those of my Master and Elder Brother, Jesus of Nazareth:

 1. As early as his eleventh year Jesus engaged in “profound meditation and serious contemplation.” The content of this mental discipline, we are told, was his “thinking about how he was to carry out his obligations to his family and at the same time be obedient to the call of his mission to the world.” (35)

 2. When Jesus was thirteen he visited the temple in Jerusalem for the first time. When he first saw the throngs gathered together for Passover, he “meditated deeply on how these Jews had assembled here from the uttermost parts of the known world.” (36) During this visit his family stayed at Bethany and he spent “much of the time alone in the garden meditating.” (37) And we are told that at least some of this meditation in the garden “was concerned with the contemplation of weighty problems.” (38)

 3. In Jesus fourteenth year “he made frequent trips to the top of the hill to the northwest of Nazareth for prayer and meditation.”  During this time he “would gaze upon Megiddo and recall the story (thought) of the Egyptian army winning its first great victory in Asia; and how, later on, another such army defeated the Judean king Josiah. Not far away he could look upon Taanach, where Deborah and Barak defeated Sisera. In the distance he could view the hills of Dothan, where he had been taught Joseph’s brethren sold him into Egyptian slavery. He then would shift his gaze over to Ebal and Gerizim and recount to himself (thought) the traditions of Abraham, Jacob, and Abimelech. And thus he recalled and turned over in his mind (thought) the historic and traditional events of his father Joseph’s people.” (39) Notice that the revelators used almost the precise mid-1930s definition of “meditation”: “the turning or revolving of a subject in the mind”!

4. When Jesus was fifteen, we are told that his “profound periods of meditation, his frequent journeys to the hilltop for prayer, and the many strange ideas which Jesus advanced from time to time, thoroughly alarmed his mother.” (40) And again this is directly related to his thinking, although this is not quite as clear as in some other examples:

 “Jesus was learning not to speak of all his thoughts, not to present all his ideas to the world, not even to his own mother. From this year on, Jesus’ disclosures about what was going on in his mind steadily diminished; that is, he talked less about those things which an average person could not grasp, and which would lead to his being regarded as peculiar or different from ordinary folks.” (41)

 5. At the age of twenty-five, Jesus’ “seasons of deep meditation were often broken into by Ruth and her playmates.”  And we are informed that the content of this deep meditation was, again, the “contemplation of his future work for the world and the universe” (42)

 6. Immediately after Jesus’ baptism he went into the hills for forty days because “he desired to be away for a season of quiet meditation so that he could think out the plans and decide upon the procedures for the prosecution of his public labors in behalf of this world and for all other worlds in his local universe.” (43) During this period of meditation he went without food for two days because “he was so engrossed with his thinking that he forgot all about eating” (44). And the “results of this momentous season of meditation demonstrated conclusively that the divine mind has triumphantly and spiritually dominated the human intellect.” (45). And it should likewise be the goal of our own Jesus-style meditation to identify ourselves more and more with our “divine mind,” the mind of our Thought Adjuster, accepting its spiritualized version of our thoughts as being our own!

 7. Sometime later Jesus spent a whole “night of meditation” on the shore of the Sea of Galilee “thinking, thinking until the dawn of the next day” (46).

 8. Whether Jesus’ season of meditation was over a month in length, overnight, or compressed into a fleeting moment, he was engaged in thinking: “And when Jesus had bowed his head a moment in silent meditation, he suddenly spoke, ‘Return to your home; your son will live.’ . . . this was not a miracle of curing physical disease. It was merely a case of preknowledge concerning the course of natural law, just such knowledge as Jesus frequently resorted to subsequent to his baptism.” (47) Knowledge, of course, is indivisible from the thoughts and concepts which contain and express it.

 9. And later we see Jesus sitting in an old boat where he “meditated on the next move to be made in the work of extending the kingdom.” (48) Again, look at the content of his “meditation.” It clearly implies thought.

 We can be assured that in all of these instances of  meditation (at least after he was grown) Jesus was engaged in transcendent thinking in his higher mind and/or with direct or indirect communication with his Thought Adjuster, or as Rodan put it, his “consciousness of the higher currents of spirit concept and celestial communication.” Jesus meditated and came away with knowledge of the Father’s will. And so can we all! That is Jesus-style meditation’s most obvious purpose.

 Hearing God

 I have pointed out that it must not be assumed that thoughtful meditation is a one-way street. We “hear” our Thought Adjuster’s communication within our minds by the very higher-level thoughts with which we access the area of mind in which the Monitor indwells. God speaks to us with what to all intents and purposes are our own thoughts:

 “You are quite incapable of distinguishing the product of your own material intellect from that of the conjoint activities of your soul and the Adjuster.” (49)

 Here is the way that Jesus’ Thought Adjuster communicated with him when he was thirteen:

 “It was about the middle of February that Jesus became humanly assured that he was destined to perform a mission on earth for the enlightenment of man and the revelation of God. Momentous decisions, coupled with far-reaching plans, were formulating in the mind of this youth, who was, to outward appearances, an average Jewish lad of Nazareth. The intelligent life of all Nebadon looked on with fascination and amazement as all this began to unfold in the thinking and acting of the now adolescent carpenter’s son.” (50)

 We are also told that “worship may be compared to the act of  tuning in the soul to catch the universe broadcasts of the infinite spirit  of the Universal Father” (51), and worship, as we have seen from Rodan, is part of the same ball of wax as meditation. Worship is defined in one place in The URANTIA Book as “superthinking,” that is, egoless or “self forgetful” thought. And again reflecting what happens on Rodan’s “mountaintop of intellectual thought,” it is “effortless attention, true and ideal soul rest, a form of restful spiritual exertion.” (52)

 What happens is that somewhere along the line during worshipful meditation (after sufficient practice and personal growth – the need for this cannot be stressed enough) our own thought-producing effort more or less ceases and that of the Adjuster mind takes over and directs our thinking, providing a spiritualized counterpart. But as we have seen above, what we perceive in our mind cannot be in any way distinguished from our own thinking. It is in fact our own thinking! There is no real difference in this sense between what happens in worshipful meditation and what takes place during worship:

 “The worship experience consists in the sublime attempt of the betrothed Adjuster to communicate to the divine Father the inexpressible longings and the unutterable aspirations of the human soul – the conjoint creation of the God-seeking mortal mind and the God-revealing immortal Adjuster. Worship is, therefore, the act of the material mind’s assenting to the attempt of its spiritualizing self, under the guidance of the associated spirit, to communicate with God as a faith son of the Universal Father. The mortal mind consents to worship; the immortal soul craves and initiates worship; the divine Adjuster presence conducts such worship in behalf of the mortal mind and the evolving immortal soul. True worship, in the last analysis, becomes an experience realized on four cosmic levels: the intellectual, the morontial, the spiritual, and the personal – the consciousness of mind, soul, and spirit, and their unification in personality.” (53)

 The distinction between prayer, worship, and Jesus-style meditation seems to be quite fine:

“Subsequent to the baptism of Jesus and the forty days in the Perean hills, it is hardly proper to speak of these seasons of communion with his Father as prayer, nor is it consistent to speak of Jesus as worshiping, but it is altogether correct to allude to these seasons as personal communion with his Father.” (54)

And that was precisely how Rodan defined the meditation which Jesus “so consistently practices, and which he has so faithfully taught . . . the isolation of worshipful meditation . . . this habit of Jesus’ going off so frequently by himself to commune with the Father in heaven.”

 “Silent Receptivity”

 It is true indeed that “Jesus taught his followers that, when they had made their prayers to the Father, they should remain for a time in silent receptivity to afford the indwelling spirit the better opportunity to speak to the listening soul.” (55) But in determining its relationship to meditation we should first of all note that this concerns a communication to the soul rather than to the conscious mind; the latter which is, of course, the goal of meditation.
































 

This is research of Peter Holley into what The Urantia Book says about how Jesus prayed and meditated.  I have often thought about it and now Peter’s research tells us that the meaning of meditation has changed, even since 1930’s when the Revelation was given.  Jesus’ way of meditation is not like the meditation that we hear about in India or the Asian countries.  Read this and Peter’s research will reveal how we are to pray and meditate in our communication with our Father in Heaven.  I am going to copy paste about a third of the paper and then will give the PDF that you can click on to read the whole paper.

   

PDF OF 
MEDITATION IN THE URANTIA BOOK
BY PETER HOLLEY
(who is now in the mansion worlds)How_to_meditate_files/Jesus%20style%20Meditation.pdf
How_to_meditate_files/Jesus%20style%20Meditation_1.pdf