WORSHIP AND THE ART OF LIVING
Today's discussion will center on the admixture of two important topics: worship and the art of living, both of which have been presented as separate areas of discussion in the past. Bear in mind, friends, as you proceed with your individual learning, that the areas of spiritual growth that you may consider to be discreet and separate topics are actually parts of a continuum, not separate and apart at all, but rather parts that are inseparable and inextricably intertwined with the whole fabric of what is. This, of course, applies to spirituality in general and the art of living and with worship.
As we have mentioned before, worship is that which glorifies the Father, not merely singing His praises, but all activities which express the will of Father, in other words, the art of living. You have been endowed with the gift of life, a gift of love from Father, but if you wish to elevate yourselves above the level of animal life, it is necessary to work at worship. Sometimes the work is easy, but very often it is difficult, taxing, challenging. It will take you to the edge of your capacity to perceive that which is right, and it will test your ability to do that which is right despite almost overwhelming - temptation is not the right word, but I shall use it for want of better - temptation to behave in a different fashion.
In thinking of the art of living, you may, in your mind, have a vision of a leisurely existence with comfort and pleasure in abundance. And this may indeed come about if you have truly mastered the art of living, and in your actions - each and every one of these - express worship for Father. However, it is quite rare for mortals of animal descent to ever reach the level of proficiency in spiritual expression where such a comfort level is attained. Rather, most who aspire to the art of living and improved worship find their lives to be difficult, arduous, and full of struggle, not without pain, a continuing test. And this is what you, yourselves, are most likely to experience should you choose this mode of existence.
Look into yourselves, my friends consult with your indwelling Adjuster and you will have a willing and helpful guide along the road that will lead you to the art of living. Along the way of this path, you will find that fear, pride, anger will diminish as you work and struggle, and greed, of course, will fall by the wayside leaving you lighter and stronger. But make no mistake, this is a rocky, uphill path, and lonely, if you define loneliness as prolonged endeavor without the company of your fellow mortals. It will not be lonely in the sense of lack of spiritual company for you all have many who stand by you to help, to advise, and to observe this great experiment on Urantia.
How does one take the first step? The first step is to make a freewill decision that this is what you truly and sincerely wish to have for yourself, no matter what the cost may be. To put aside fear, to realize that some material goals you hold dear may be slower of attainment, or may never be realized at all - for attainment of goals, both spiritual and material, requires expenditure of time and energy. One cannot divest energy toward more than a few major goals simultaneously and achieve success. You all know that. In fact, part of your decision to take that step must be to take the decision that your spiritual mission supersedes all others. Are you ready for that, my friends? Are you truly ready? Are you ready to give up some of your comfort? Are you ready to step out of the world of man the animal and walk toward the world of the future man, the spiritual, the fulfilled, the world of your children, grandchildren, great great grandchildren? Look into yourselves and decide if it is something you cannot do now. You will be offered the opportunity beyond this life and far more information will be available to you at that time. To take the step now is far more an act of faith than it will ever be at any future time in your existence. And it is that faith, my friends, that marks you on Urantia and on the other planets of the rebellion as being so very special in the universe.
Worship of Father is not an activity that is confined to a particular time of the day on a particular day of the week with a particular group of people. Rather, worship is expressed in every breath that you take, every word that you utter, and every move that you make. It is particularly evident in your interactions with fellow beings, all fellow beings.
When you express worship of Father in your connection to another being, your spiritual light increases ever so slightly in its intensity. The day will come when you will be able to perceive this much more clearly than you do now. There are some among you who can, even now, see this light, or feel it. And I am certain that all of you here today can sense it. Truth, beauty, goodness and love, such simple sounding concepts, these are the essence of worship and the essence of Father's love for you and all His creation.
The universe is all of what is. It is not a collection of individual egos, each crying out for expression. It is the wave that ensues when beings act in concert for the good of all, and the non-participants are not heard. It does not matter, really, except as a brief flicker on the surface. The wave breaks on the shore not because one water molecule is particularly strong, but because all the water molecules act in concert. So too with the progress of this universe, or any universe, or in fact all of creation.
And you, my friends, as mortals created with free will capacity are not just carried along as are those created perfect. You, in fact, can help to create your own wave, not your own individual wave, but your own collective wave that adds such a beautiful voice to the choir. You are not created perfect, and perfection is not demanded of you. Instead it is asked that you strive toward that which is perfect which you have an inner realization of. It is your striving that adds to the voice, and when you fail to strive, that is when your voice is silent.
In the grand scheme of the universe the recognition goes to that which is correct. That is the motivation beyond the material life for the strivings of creatures, because the sense of being right, of worshiping Father, is so wonderful. And to not have that feeling, by contrast, seems so empty, not necessarily painful, but rather not wonderful, not good. You can get a sense of that when you are on the right path, worshiping in your lives and working toward the achievement of the art of living. If you lose the thread and feel you cannot find your way, think about Michael and His life in the flesh. What would He do? How would He conduct Himself?
You are all to be congratulated for your diligent efforts and your personal progress. More than ever there is the sense that things are going well with this mission. It will not be a perfect adventure because you are not perfect beings, but it will be a wonderful adventure because Father's ways are wonderful. I will stop at this point and receive questions, if you have any.
Q: I've been concerned that I wasn't efficient in worshiping our Father well enough. I read from your lesson that probably none of us are, but we gain some comfort from the words that you said. Is love a prerequisite for worship?
A: Yes, but again, you will not experience perfect love, so do the best that you can. (S), you are much loved and you are doing quite well, and there is no reason to feel remorse. Continue on your path. You know when you are doing well, do you not?
S: Well, yes, only sometimes. I want to do better. Most of the time I want to do better.
R: Patience is a part of love. Is it not?
S: It seems to me that it is. I set aside times for worship and in those times I try to mentally say that I love the Father and that I actually worship the Father. But I haven't any real meaning to the idea. It gives me some pleasure and satisfaction to say it, but I really don't know what I'm saying.
R: Do you say it in isolation, or do you say it when you are among others?
S: Well, both, but I don't say it aloud when I'm among others.
R: What markers of success are you looking at?
S: That is what I was going to ask you. I don't know what the markers of success are. I feel supported, full, loved, but then I don't feel that I'm doing enough.
R: The feelings that you have are the markers of your success. The response of others to you is the marker of your success.
S: I hear you talking about problems and travail that are blessings. I really haven't been blessed with any of those. I have everything it seems that life can offer: a loving family, very close friends, and a good relationship with God. I wonder if this is a test: no hardship?
R: You have had your hardships, but the human mind is quite remarkable in that, with the passage of time, pain is forgotten in its fullest intensity. This helps to protect you, for you are a creature of flesh and blood, and if you were to continue to experience the pain of every difficulty, life would be intolerable.
S2: (S) is expressing some of the same feelings I've been having that I am not spending enough time in worship. Yet, I feel like I have Father with me all the time. Yet I regret I'm not spending enough time alone with Him, solely with Him. And today I feel like I made a connection and a commitment during our lesson that will help me to do better at this. And I thank you very much for your lesson.
R: You are most welcome. Perhaps, (S) & (S2), the anxiety you experience with regard to your own spiritual growth has to do with the fact that you are looking for material signs of spiritual effectiveness. You will never see those. That is where your faith comes in. It is worship enough at the end of a long and successful life to wake up in the morning, to care for oneself, to not be a burden to others, to maintain one's health, and to be loving in one's interactions on a social level. You both do that quite well. Neither of you engage in the practice of castigating your offspring for failures of your own health or finances, nor do you spend time in regret over what may have been. Those activities would be the opposite of worship.
It would not be in your best interests to conduct your worshipful lives in the same fashion as you did when you were twenty or thirty years old. My sense is that you are handling it quite well, and it may help you to know that your living example is very important to the other participants of this mission who are younger than you are. Does that help?
S2: Yes, it helps, and it seems that the absence of unloving behavior is a form of worship. I think that's a beautiful thought.
R: Yes, is it not paradoxical that what you perceive in the material is the negative, not the positive, and what you perceive in the spiritual is the positive, not the negative. Is that not true? (S: Yes.)
R: Just a bit of mota.
Q: Along the lines of worship, I feel that worship is something that flows in and out of my life. For example, (S) and I were surfing this morning, and just to sit out there and see what God has made. And in those moments just know that He hears how grateful I am, that's worship too, isn't it?
R: Yes, and certainly your fellowship with (S) is most worshipful.
S: So I'm thinking along the lines of (S2) and (S3) who to me epitomize worship. No one could be more loved and more respected. If I could just become like them when I grow up, I would think everything I did was right.
R: Yet, you hear their doubts. It is good for you to speak your feelings along these lines, and remember, my dear, worship means doing the right thing at the right time. You were right to attend to your families' need rather than to attend Michael's party. God has no need of your food, but He needs your loving interaction with your relatives, and through that you help to spread His teachings. Do you see?
S: I believe that. I don't always do it, but if I could just do good always, I couldn't do any better than that. So, if I think I'm doing good, I feel OK about what I do. I seem to have a pretty good reality checker inside me, so if I just follow my inner promptings, I know that it will be OK. I feel like I'm getting better, and I know you know what this means. So thanks.
R: You are most welcome.
Q: With regard to your lesson today, these are requests for confirmation to see if I understood the lesson correctly. We worship not just in solitude, but in our communion and truck with our fellows every day?
A: More so.
Q: More so. So, doing Father's will in relation to our brothers and sisters is a form of worship.
A: That is absolutely correct. In fact, it is the main form of worship.
Q: And as far as markers are concerned, those times when we feel most connected, (S2) and (S3)'s questions prompted this, but I've been wondering myself, too. Interesting, we're all wondering the same thing. We've all felt it. We've known that we were in loving communion with the Father. It's unmistakable. It's completely reciprocal. And, most of the time we only feel that when we're in solitary communion, worship. But now and then it seems we feel it when we're in everyday life, just regular activity, and we've made a good choice, and we've been able to do a good thing not just for someone else but to tell ourselves, or to reinforce better behavior, God's will in our own actions. Am I right? Are those markers? Are those little guideposts that say Yes, this is the direction, follow this?
A: Yes, and to elaborate on that, the sense of being correct and being in communion that you experience in solitude is actually the glowing reflection of correct behavior when you are engaged in activity. However, your blunted awareness while you are active is mostly due to the fact that you have a brain and body of animal origin and that talking voice in your brain is babbling too loudly for you to be able to hear, in a sense, the rightness, the spiritual perception, that you get when you are in a quiet mode. Does that make sense to you?
S: It does.
R. If your actions while engaged with others were incorrect, then during your periods of solitude you most likely would experience either discomfort, pain, or a neutral feeling, rather than a sense of well being and goodness, such as you express. The evil man cannot stand his own company.
Q. So, there necessarily has to be a cleansing period, I would guess.
A: Well, it is certainly a useful reinforcement of your faith to have periods of solitude during which you can quiet the mind and perceive your own spiritual level. It is not absolutely necessarily, in the strictest sense, but there are very, very few humans on Urantia who have been able to dispense with this device as an adjunct to the spiritual journey. So, the answer to your question is yes.
Q: When you say worshipful activities I presume you mean service, because one can have activities which are based on error which would not be worshipful. I would think that service would be equivalent to worship or maybe even better. When I relate to others, if I try to relate to the God within them, their Thought Adjuster, I think in that case I would be approaching worship because I would be serving them. I can't say, for instance, if service is better than worship or worship is better than service because sometimes service will make me worship better and sometimes worship will make me serve better. But worship seems to me like it's more of a one on one situation where I can talk directly to the Father within me whereas when I'm serving there is a third party involved. Is that correct?
A: There is no difference between worship and service, (S).
S: The Urantia book says there is.
A: Well, worship in the sense of doing the will of the Father is service. As far as a third party being involved, when you interact in a social way with another being, in a loving and serving way, you extend the connection between yourself and God to that third party.
Yes, that is somewhat different from a private session with the Father, but it is only a difference in degree. If one were to spend one's life in solitude reading spiritual materials and attempting through the Thought Adjuster to contact the Father, the spiritual life would be incomplete and unfulfilled because the connection to other beings is a vital part of a proper worship existence.
Much confusion about worship arises from ancient times in the history of man on Urantia when superstitions and fear lead to the enactment of ritual behaviors designed to appease the mysterious forces that were thought to be responsible for good luck, good weather, good health and general well being. This idea has existed to the present day in the persistent belief that worship can only be undertaken in solitude or even in a particular setting, such as a church, temple, mosque, and even in particular position, such as the kneeling position, or the prostrate position.
It is unfortunate that this pigeon holing of the notion of worship has occurred, but my personal understanding of worship is that it encompasses all activities in which one extends one's link to the Father through the Thought Adjuster which has been achieved through conscious effort and freewill decision to another being or other beings in an active fashion. Does that answer your question?
S: Yes, it does. I think a lot of this is based on a frame of reference whence we take the meaning of worship as we apply it to ourselves. I think (T/R), whose mind you are using or speaking from, has that ideational confusion between worship and service. I was never related to a church when I was a child so I don't relate worship to any specific temple or any church or any archaic concept of worship. I just think worship as I get is straight from the Urantia book and from Jesus' example. He did service with others and for others, but He also took time to go out on His own to be by Himself so that He could talk to the Father. I think it's very good for you to inform people that worship can be accomplished not just by oneself but also in doing service. I just wanted to bring the point up because I talk to some people who would just worship with others but not by themselves. In other words, they wouldn't go out by themselves to be alone with God. I think that both service and worship is necessary and not one at the sacrifice of the other.
R: If you wish to consider them as separate activities, that is your choice. The life of Michael, which is the example lovingly provided by Father as the model for ideal human existence on Urantia, was one of unending service and was the ideal for human endeavor on Urantia. Never once did Michael cease to worship Father.
S: I have no qualms about that. It's just a matter of semantics. We tend to use the word worship, I do anyway, to distinguish it from service, and that when one talks directly to the Father it's not a matter of action. Service - to me - is action, whereas worship is being with the Father. In other words, it's the difference between the first person and the third person. Service is action, the third person, having to do with Infinite Spirit, whereas to me worship is the first person, being with the Father. It's an existential kind of thing. That's how I differentiate the two, and I think there is a definite difference.
R: Was Michael not with Father when He served?
S: Yes, but I'm just saying when He served there was an act. I mean, there is a difference between action and being. When He served, He acted. I think when He worshiped He was with the Father, in other words, just being, existing with the Father.
S2: May I interject here?
S2: I have located a page in the Urantia book in a paper on the life of Jesus, on page 1616, teachings about career and worship. It says at the evening conferences on Mt Gerazim Jesus taught many great truths and in particular He laid emphasis on the following: He said that worship, contemplation of the spiritual, must alternate with service, contact with material reality. And it goes on to say that work should alternate with play. Religion should be balanced by humor. Jumping a few lines again to say, another distinction, worship is the technique of looking to the One for the inspiration of service to the many.
So that sentence right there, to me, points out the interrelatedness of worship and service. They're separate in terms of defining them for our human minds, but they're absolutely connected things.
S3: They're made of the same stuff, but they're expressed differently.
S: Yes, that's what I wanted to say.
S2: So I think actually we're probably all in agreement here.
S3: Yes, one can worship through service, but not all worship is service. I'm sure that Rayson was correct when he said that you can worship through service.
S: I agree with that. I have no difference of opinion about that.
Q: If we practice the art of living, isn't that just walking worship?
A: That is the point that I was attempting to make through the lesson.
S: I like that very much. I will never forget that word, the art of living. You're right, living is an art. Worship, I feel, flows through all of that whether it's just seeing again a heron rise out of the creek bed, or sitting on the ocean thanking the Lord for this incredible beauty, or seeing a light in somebody's eyes because you've extended some help. It's all points of worship, ultimately, yes?
R: That is true.
S: This line about worship being the technique of looking to the one for the inspiration of service to the many makes me think about how they're interrelated, as you're doing service. I know for me I'm constantly having to check back in with the Father. Is this what I should be doing? So there's worship taking place at the same time.
R: That is true.
S: This says our thoughts precede our actions. Worship precedes the service, but it's happening milliseconds apart. (S2: It's commingled.) It's commingled, thank you.
R: Exactly, that has been the point of the lesson.
S: We finally got it. Thank you, Rayson. (08/28/93) See also WORK ex rel Worship (11/21/93) See also WORK ex rel Worship and Service (10/08/93)
© 11:11 Progress Group.
"Michael est toujours au Volant."
(Michael is always at the Steering Wheel.)