Teacher-Brother Dave's initial comments: I am presenting some of my Topical Studies from the fully public domain, 2097 page, Fifth Epochal Revelation of Truth and with my added comments. The Revealed text is free of copyright, so you may freely share individually these supernal quotes with your friends and relatives. But my order of selections, font types for emphasis and my added comments are Copyright 2018 by Dave@PureChristians.org All Rights Reserved. Contact me first about using the whole Study or group of Studies.
[My added comments of explanation below are in these square brackets]
Topical Study 114 ""Prayer, Meditation, Reflection, Worship", Part 5"
Compiled Jan. 06, 2020 by Dave@PureChristians.org
The Urantia Book
PAPER 76. The Second Garden
3. Life in Mesopotamia
76:3.4 The religious rulers, or priesthood, originated with Seth, the eldest surviving son of Adam and Eve born in the second garden. [The first Garden of Eden was destroyed during the default] He was born one hundred and twenty-nine years after Adam’s arrival on Urantia. [38,000 years ago to biologically uplift the human race] Seth became absorbed in the work of improving the spiritual status of his father’s people, becoming the head of the new priesthood of the second garden. His son, Enos, founded the new order of worship, and his grandson, Kenan, instituted the foreign missionary service to the surrounding tribes, near and far.
5. Death of Adam and Eve
76:5.5 Adam lived for 530 years; he died of what might be termed old age. His physical mechanism simply wore out; the process of disintegration gradually gained on the process of repair, and the inevitable end came. Eve had died nineteen years previously of a weakened heart. They were both buried in the center of the temple of divine service which had been built in accordance with their plans soon after the wall of the colony had been completed. And this was the origin of the practice of burying noted and pious men and women under the floors of the places of worship.[If our biological uplifters, Adam and Eve, did not default, they would not have died. Jesus Christ resurrected and rehabilitated them back up on a higher Heaven.]
PAPER 79. Andite Expansion in the Orient
6. Dawn of Chinese Civilization
79:6.10 #3. Spiritual. During the age of Andite migrations the Chinese were among the more spiritual peoples of earth. Long adherence to the worship of the One Truth proclaimed by Singlangton kept them ahead of most of the other races. The stimulus of a progressive and advanced religion is often a decisive factor in cultural development; as India languished, so China forged ahead under the invigorating stimulus of a religion in which truth was enshrined as the supreme Deity.
79:6.11 This worship of truth was provocative of research and fearless exploration of the laws of nature and the potentials of mankind. The Chinese of even six thousand years ago were still keen students and aggressive in their pursuit of truth.
8. Later Chinese Civilization
79:8.3 Consciousness of past achievements (somewhat diminished in the present), the conservatism of an overwhelmingly agricultural people, and a well-developed family life equaled the birth of ancestor veneration, culminating in the custom of so honoring the men of the past as to border on worship. A very similar attitude prevailed among the white races in Europe for some five hundred years following the disruption of Greco-Roman civilization.
79:8.4 The belief in, and worship of, the “One Truth” as taught by Singlangton never entirely died out; but as time passed, the search for new and higher truth became overshadowed by a growing tendency to venerate that which was already established. Slowly the genius of the yellow race became diverted from the pursuit of the unknown to the preservation of the known. And this is the reason for the stagnation of what had been the world’s most rapidly progressing civilization.
79:8.5 Between 4000 and 500 B.C. the political reunification of the yellow race was consummated, but the cultural union of the Yangtze and Yellow river centers had already been effected. This political reunification of the later tribal groups was not without conflict, but the societal opinion of war remained low; ancestor worship, increasing dialects, and no call for military action for thousands upon thousands of years had rendered this people ultrapeaceful.
79:8.7 Soon developments in writing, together with the establishment of schools, contributed to the dissemination of knowledge on a previously unequaled scale. But the cumbersome nature of the ideographic writing system placed a numerical limit upon the learned classes despite the early appearance of printing. And above all else, the process of social standardization and religio-philosophic dogmatization continued apace. The religious development of ancestor veneration became further complicated by a flood of superstitions involving nature worship, but lingering vestiges of a real concept of God remained preserved in the imperial worship of Shang-ti.
PAPER 80. Andite Expansion in the Occident
7. Andites of the Mediterranean Isles
80:7.7 It was during this age in Crete that the mother cult of the descendants of Cain attained its greatest vogue. This cult glorified Eve in the worship of the “great mother.” Images of Eve were everywhere. Thousands of public shrines were erected throughout Crete and Asia Minor. And this mother cult persisted on down to the times of Christ, becoming later incorporated in the early Christian religion under the guise of the glorification and worship of Mary the earth mother of Jesus. [Mary was just like all other normal humans: God the Universal Father gives us unique personality and God's Spirit Adjusting will within each of these humans; and Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit Partner give life and mind to these humans. Mary is no different. Jesus Christ is her Creator Father God; Mary is not "the Mother of God" !!!]
8. The Danubian Andonites
80:8.5 The Danubians became mother worshipers as the result of the work of the missionaries from Crete. These tribes later amalgamated with groups of Andonite sailors who came by boats from the coast of Asia Minor, and who were also mother worshipers. Much of central Europe was thus early settled by these mixed types of the broad-headed white races which practiced mother worship and the religious rite of cremating the dead, for it was the custom of the mother cultists to burn their dead in stone huts.
9. The Three White Races
80:9.13 These were the times of the New Stone Age overlapping the oncoming Bronze Age. In Scandinavia it was the Bronze Age associated with mother worship. In southern France and Spain it was the New Stone Age associated with sun worship. This was the time of the building of the circular and roofless sun temples. The European white races were energetic builders, delighting to set up great stones as tokens to the sun, much as did their later-day descendants at Stonehenge. The vogue of sun worship indicates that this was a great period of agriculture in southern Europe.
80:9.14 (899.1) The superstitions of this comparatively recent sun-worshiping era even now persist in the folkways of Brittany. Although Christianized for over fifteen hundred years, these Bretons still retain charms of the New Stone Age for warding off the evil eye. They still keep thunderstones in the chimney as protection against lightning. The Bretons never mingled with the Scandinavian Nordics. They are survivors of the original Andonite inhabitants of western Europe, mixed with the Mediterranean stock.
PAPER 81. Development of Modern Civilization
2. The Tools of Civilization
81:2.2 You who now live amid latter-day scenes of budding culture and beginning progress in social affairs, who actually have some little spare time in which to think about society and civilization, must not overlook the fact that your early ancestors had little or no leisure which could be devoted to thoughtful reflection and social thinking.
PAPER 83. The Marriage Institution
6. True Monogamy—Pair Marriage
83:6.3 The Chaldean tribes recognized the right of a wife to impose a premarital pledge upon her spouse not to take a second wife or concubine; both the Greeks and the Romans favored monogamous marriage. Ancestor worship has always fostered monogamy, as has the Christian error of regarding marriage as a sacrament. Even the elevation of the standard of living has consistently militated against plural wives. By the time of [Jesus Christ] Michael’s advent on Urantia practically all of the civilized world had attained the level of theoretical monogamy. But this passive monogamy did not mean that mankind had become habituated to the practice of real pair marriage. [normal marriage of one man and one woman, united to co-create more sons of God or our Father, and to raise and train them to strive to be more Godly must not collapse, or that nation or world will collapse into anarchy and more deadly wars !]
PAPER 84. Marriage and Family Life
4. Woman’s Status in Early Society
84:4.8 The so-called modesty of women respecting their clothing and the exposure of the person grew out of the deadly fear of being observed at the time of a menstrual period. To be thus detected was a grievous sin, the violation of a taboo. Under the mores of olden times, every woman, from adolescence to the end of the childbearing period, was subjected to complete family and social quarantine one full week each month. Everything she might touch, sit upon, or lie upon was “defiled.” It was for long the custom to brutally beat a girl after each monthly period in an effort to drive the evil spirit out of her body. But when a woman passed beyond the childbearing age, she was usually treated more considerately, being accorded more rights and privileges. In view of all this it was not strange that women were looked down upon. Even the Greeks held the menstruating woman as one of the three great causes of defilement, the other two being pork and garlic.[That was so terrible, stupid, barbaric; but it shows us clearly that, since things are better now, mankind continues to slowly improve over time -- ever evolving towards eventual perfection.]
84:4.9 However foolish these olden notions were, they did some good since they gave overworked females, at least when young, one week each month for welcome rest and profitable meditation. Thus could they sharpen their wits for dealing with their male associates the rest of the time. This quarantine of women also protected men from over-sex indulgence, thereby indirectly contributing to the restriction of population and to the enhancement of self-control.
7. The Ideals of Family Life
84:7.19 Ancestor worshipers view the failure to have sons as the supreme calamity for all time and eternity. They desire above all else to have sons to officiate in the post-mortem feasts, to offer the required sacrifices for the ghost’s progress through spiritland.
PAPER 85. The Origins of Worship
85:0.2 In the evolution of the human species, worship in its primitive manifestations appears long before the mind of man is capable of formulating the more complex concepts of life now and in the hereafter which deserve to be called religion. Early religion was wholly intellectual in nature and was entirely predicated on associational circumstances. The objects of worship were altogether suggestive; they consisted of the things of nature which were close at hand, or which loomed large in the commonplace experience of the simple-minded primitive Urantians.
85:0.3 When religion once evolved beyond nature worship, it acquired roots of spirit origin but was nevertheless always conditioned by the social environment. As nature worship developed, man’s concepts envisioned a division of labor in the supermortal world; there were nature spirits for lakes, trees, waterfalls, rain, and hundreds of other ordinary terrestrial phenomena.
85:0.4 At one time or another mortal man has worshiped everything on the face of the earth, including himself. He has also worshiped about everything imaginable in the sky and beneath the surface of the earth. Primitive man feared all manifestations of power; he worshiped every natural phenomenon he could not comprehend. The observation of powerful natural forces, such as storms, floods, earthquakes, landslides, volcanoes, fire, heat, and cold, greatly impressed the expanding mind of man. The inexplicable things of life are still termed “acts of God” and “mysterious dispensations of Providence.”
1. Worship of Stones and Hills
85:1.1 The first object to be worshiped by evolving man was a stone. Today the Kateri people of southern India still worship a stone, as do numerous tribes in northern India. Jacob slept on a stone because he venerated it; he even anointed it. Rachel concealed a number of sacred stones in her tent. [Today, many humans pay more money for natural (impure,inferior) diamonds and other gems than the lower priced laboratory-made diamonds and other gems that are more perfect and can be manufactured in more wanted colors.]
85:1.2 Stones first impressed early man as being out of the ordinary because of the manner in which they would so suddenly appear on the surface of a cultivated field or pasture. Men failed to take into account either erosion or the results of the overturning of soil. Stones also greatly impressed early peoples because of their frequent resemblance to animals. The attention of civilized man is arrested by numerous stone formations in the mountains which so much resemble the faces of animals and even men. But the most profound influence was exerted by meteoric stones which primitive humans beheld hurtling through the atmosphere in flaming grandeur. The shooting star was awesome to early man, and he easily believed that such blazing streaks marked the passage of a spirit on its way to earth. No wonder men were led to worship such phenomena, especially when they subsequently discovered the meteors. And this led to greater reverence for all other stones. In Bengal many worship a meteor which fell to earth in A.D. 1880.
85:1.3 All ancient clans and tribes had their sacred stones, and most modern peoples manifest a degree of veneration for certain types of stones — their jewels. A group of five stones was reverenced in India; in Greece it was a cluster of thirty; among the red men it was usually a circle of stones. The Romans always threw a stone into the air when invoking Jupiter. In India even to this day a stone can be used as a witness. In some regions a stone may be employed as a talisman of the law, and by its prestige an offender can be haled into court. But simple mortals do not always identify Deity with an object of reverent ceremony. Such fetishes are many times mere symbols of the real object of worship.
85:1.4 The ancients had a peculiar regard for holes in stones. Such porous rocks were supposed to be unusually efficacious in curing diseases. Ears were not perforated to carry stones, but the stones were put in to keep the ear holes open. Even in modern times superstitious persons make holes in coins. In Africa the natives make much ado over their fetish stones. In fact, among all backward tribes and peoples stones are still held in superstitious veneration. Stone worship is even now widespread over the world. The tombstone is a surviving symbol of images and idols which were carved in stone in connection with beliefs in ghosts and the spirits of departed fellow beings. [Today, more humans will want online memorials of persons' lives, rather than just having graves and tombstones in cemeteries.]
85:1.5 Hill worship followed stone worship, and the first hills to be venerated were large stone formations. It presently became the custom to believe that the gods inhabited the mountains, so that high elevations of land were worshiped for this additional reason. As time passed, certain mountains were associated with certain gods and therefore became holy. The ignorant and superstitious aborigines believed that caves led to the underworld, with its evil spirits and demons, in contrast with the mountains, which were identified with the later evolving concepts of good spirits and deities.
2. Worship of Plants and Trees
85:2.1 Plants were first feared and then worshiped because of the intoxicating liquors which were derived therefrom. Primitive man believed that intoxication rendered one divine. There was supposed to be something unusual and sacred about such an experience. Even in modern times alcohol is known as “spirits.”
85:2.3 The cults of tree worship are among the oldest religious groups. All early marriages were held under the trees, and when women desired children, they would sometimes be found out in the forest affectionately embracing a sturdy oak. Many plants and trees were venerated because of their real or fancied medicinal powers. The savage believed that all chemical effects were due to the direct activity of supernatural forces.
85:2.4 Ideas about tree spirits varied greatly among different tribes and races. Some trees were indwelt by kindly spirits; others harbored the deceptive and cruel. The Finns believed that most trees were occupied by kind spirits. The Swiss long mistrusted the trees, believing they contained tricky spirits. The inhabitants of India and eastern Russia regard the tree spirits as being cruel. The Patagonians still worship trees, as did the early Semites. Long after the Hebrews ceased tree worship, they continued to venerate their various deities in the groves. Except in China, there once existed a universal cult of the tree of life.
85:2.5 The belief that water or precious metals beneath the earth’s surface can be detected by a wooden divining rod is a relic of the ancient tree cults. The Maypole, the Christmas tree, and the superstitious practice of rapping on wood perpetuate certain of the ancient customs of tree worship and the later-day tree cults. [On my medium- and large-size drum-sets, I have from one to five woodblocks that I play in some music styles; but I never consider that "worship". Ha ha]
85:2.6 Many of these earliest forms of nature veneration became blended with the later evolving techniques of worship, but the earliest mind-adjutant-activated [from our Holy Spirit] types of worship were functioning long before the newly awakening religious nature of mankind became fully responsive to the stimulus of spiritual influences.
3. The Worship of Animals
85:3.1 Primitive man had a peculiar and fellow feeling for the higher animals. His ancestors had lived with them and even mated with them. In southern Asia it was early believed that the souls of men came back to earth in animal form. This belief was a survival of the still earlier practice of worshiping animals.
85:3.2 Early men revered the animals for their power and their cunning. They thought the keen scent and the farseeing eyes of certain creatures betokened spirit guidance. The animals have all been worshiped by one race or another at one time or another. Among such objects of worship were creatures that were regarded as half human and half animal, such as centaurs and mermaids.
85:3.3 The Hebrews worshiped serpents down to the days of King Hezekiah, and the Hindus still maintain friendly relations with their house snakes. The Chinese worship of the dragon is a survival of the snake cults. The wisdom of the serpent was a symbol of Greek medicine and is still employed as an emblem by modern physicians. The art of snake charming has been handed down from the days of the female shamans of the snake love cult , who, as the result of daily snake bites, became immune, in fact, became genuine venom addicts and could not get along without this poison.
85:3.4 The worship of insects and other animals was promoted by a later misinterpretation of the golden rule — doing to others (every form of life) as you would be done by. The ancients once believed that all winds were produced by the wings of birds and therefore both feared and worshiped all winged creatures. The early Nordics thought that eclipses were caused by a wolf that devoured a portion of the sun or moon. The Hindus often show Vishnu with a horse’s head. Many times an animal symbol stands for a forgotten god or a vanished cult. Early in evolutionary religion the lamb became the typical sacrificial animal and the dove the symbol of peace and love. [The many types of angels never have wings, or feathers; and thus they never molt ! They are purely Spirit beings. The lowest angels, such as seraphim, can travel up to three times the speed of light; the higher angel types can travel all the way up to infinite speed ! Physical wings and feathers would immediately burn up.]
85:3.5 In religion, symbolism may be either good or bad just to the extent that the symbol does or does not displace the original worshipful idea. And symbolism must not be confused with direct idolatry wherein the material object is directly and actually worshiped.
4. Worship of the Elements
85:4.1 Mankind has worshiped earth, air, water, and fire. The primitive races venerated springs and worshiped rivers. Even now in Mongolia there flourishes an influential river cult. Baptism became a religious ceremonial in Babylon, and the Greeks practiced the annual ritual bath. It was easy for the ancients to imagine that the spirits dwelt in the bubbling springs, gushing fountains, flowing rivers, and raging torrents. Moving waters vividly impressed these simple minds with beliefs of spirit animation and supernatural power. Sometimes a drowning man would be refused succor for fear of offending some river god. [!]
85:4.2 Many things and numerous events have functioned as religious stimuli to different peoples in different ages. A rainbow is yet worshiped by many of the hill tribes of India. In both India and Africa the rainbow is thought to be a gigantic celestial snake; Hebrews and Christians regard it as “the bow of promise.” Likewise, influences regarded as beneficent in one part of the world may be looked upon as malignant in other regions. The east wind is a god in South America, for it brings rain; in India it is a devil because it brings dust and causes drought. The ancient Bedouins believed that a nature spirit produced the sand whirls, and even in the times of Moses belief in nature spirits was strong enough to insure their perpetuation in Hebrew theology as angels of fire, water, and air.
85:4.3 Clouds, rain, and hail have all been feared and worshiped by numerous primitive tribes and by many of the early nature cults. Windstorms with thunder and lightning overawed early man. He was so impressed with these elemental disturbances that thunder was regarded as the voice of an angry god. [Today, some children and adult jokers say that the thunder sounds are "God moving his furniture around."] The worship of fire and the fear of lightning were linked together and were widespread among many early groups.
85:4.4 Fire was mixed up with magic in the minds of primitive fear-ridden mortals. A devotee of magic will vividly remember one positive chance result in the practice of his magic formulas, while he nonchalantly forgets a score of negative results, out-and-out failures. Fire reverence reached its height in Persia, where it long persisted. Some tribes worshiped fire as a deity itself; others revered it as the flaming symbol of the purifying and purging spirit of their venerated deities. Vestal virgins were charged with the duty of watching sacred fires, and in the twentieth century candles still burn as a part of the ritual of many religious services.
5. Worship of the Heavenly Bodies
85:5.1 The worship of rocks, hills, trees, and animals naturally developed up through fearful veneration of the elements to the deification of the sun, moon, and stars. In India and elsewhere the stars were regarded as the glorified souls of great men who had departed from the life in the flesh. The Chaldean star cultists considered themselves to be the children of the sky father and the earth mother.
85:5.2 Moon worship preceded sun worship. Veneration of the moon was at its height during the hunting era, while sun worship became the chief religious ceremony of the subsequent agricultural ages. Solar worship first took extensive root in India, and there it persisted the longest. In Persia sun veneration gave rise to the later Mithraic cult. Among many peoples the sun was regarded as the ancestor of their kings. The Chaldeans put the sun in the center of “the seven circles of the universe.” Later civilizations honored the sun by giving its name to the first day of the week.
6. Worship of Man
85:6.1 Having worshiped everything else on the face of the earth and in the heavens above, man has not hesitated to honor himself with such adoration. The simple-minded savage makes no clear distinction between beasts, men, and gods.
85:6.2 Early man regarded all unusual persons as superhuman, and he so feared such beings as to hold them in reverential awe; to some degree he literally worshiped them. Even having twins was regarded as being either very lucky or very unlucky. Lunatics, epileptics, and the feeble-minded were often worshiped by their normal-minded fellows, who believed that such abnormal beings were indwelt by the gods. Priests, kings, and prophets were worshiped; the holy men of old were looked upon as inspired by the deities.
85:6.4 The ghost gods, who are of supposed human origin, should be distinguished from the nature gods, for nature worship did evolve a pantheon — nature spirits elevated to the position of gods. The nature cults continued to develop along with the later appearing ghost cults, and each exerted an influence upon the other. Many religious systems embraced a dual concept of deity, nature gods and ghost gods; in some theologies these concepts are confusingly intertwined, as is illustrated by Thor, a ghost hero who was also master of the lightning.
85:6.5 But the worship of man by man reached its height when temporal rulers commanded such veneration from their subjects and, in substantiation of such demands, claimed to have descended from deity.
7. The Adjutants of Worship and Wisdom
85:7.1 Nature worship may seem to have arisen naturally and spontaneously in the minds of primitive men and women, and so it did; but there was operating all this time in these same primitive minds the sixth adjutant spirit, [of worship] which had been bestowed upon these peoples as a directing influence of this phase of human evolution. And this spirit was constantly stimulating the worship urge of the human species, no matter how primitive its first manifestations might be. The spirit of worship gave definite origin to the human impulse to worship, notwithstanding that animal fear motivated the expression of worshipfulness, and that its early practice became centered upon objects of nature.
85:7.2 You must remember that feeling, not thinking, was the guiding and controlling influence in all evolutionary development. To the primitive mind there is little difference between fearing, shunning, honoring, and worshiping.
85:7.3 When the worship urge is admonished and directed by [the seventh and highest adjutant mind spirit of] wisdom — meditative and experiential thinking — it then begins to develop into the phenomenon of real religion. When the seventh adjutant spirit, the spirit of wisdom, achieves effective ministration, then in worship man begins to turn away from nature and natural objects to the God of nature and to the eternal Creator of all things natural.
Topical Study 114 ""Prayer, Meditation, Reflection, Worship", Part 6"
Compiled Jan. 08, 2020 by Dave@PureChristians.org
The Urantia [Earth] Book
PAPER 86. Early Evolution of Religion
86:0.1 The evolution of religion from the preceding and primitive worship urge is not dependent on revelation. The normal functioning of the human mind under the directive influence of the sixth and seventh mind-adjutants [worship and wisdom] of universal spirit bestowal is wholly sufficient to insure such development.
1. Chance: Good Luck and Bad Luck
86:1.1 Aside from the natural worship urge, early evolutionary religion had its roots of origin in the human experiences of chance — so-called luck, commonplace happenings. Primitive man was a food hunter. The results of hunting must ever vary, and this gives certain origin to those experiences which man interprets as good luck and bad luck. Mischance was a great factor in the lives of men and women who lived constantly on the ragged edge of a precarious and harassed existence.
6. The Ghost-Spirit Environment
86:6.4 As evolution progressed, good luck became associated with good spirits and bad luck with bad spirits. The discomfort of enforced adaptation to a changing environment was regarded as ill luck, the displeasure of the spirit ghosts. Primitive man slowly evolved religion out of his innate [mind-spirit of] worship urge and his misconception of chance. Civilized man provides schemes of insurance to overcome these chance occurrences; modern science puts an actuary with mathematical reckoning in the place of fictitious spirits and whimsical gods. [God never changes; prayer is only to help you to become more Godlike and strengthen you as a soul. Physical prayer requests are almost never granted. Humans must learn to ever better control physical realities. Your physical body is designed to be a briefly living cosmic interaction tool for your higher Spirit-led soul and mind.]
86:6.5 Each passing generation smiles at the foolish superstitions of its ancestors while it goes on entertaining those fallacies of thought and worship which will give cause for further smiling on the part of enlightened posterity. [Most humans today are very dumb in Theology, philosophy and science; but our Father God loves and cares for the souls, spirits and personalities of all beings -- highest to lowest.]
PAPER 87. The Ghost Cults
2. Ghost Placation
87:2.1 In religion the negative program of ghost placation long preceded the positive program of spirit coercion and supplication. The first acts of human worship were phenomena of defense, not reverence. Modern man deems it wise to insure against fire; so the savage thought it the better part of wisdom to provide insurance against ghost bad luck. The effort to secure this protection constituted the techniques and rituals of the ghost cult. [Note: the word "cult" is not always negative; there are also good, positive cults. Cult just means a small group of religionists, or others who share common goals. Jesus and his followers was a very good cult !]
3. Ancestor Worship
87:3.1 The advancing ghost cult made ancestor worship inevitable since it became the connecting link between common ghosts and the higher spirits, the evolving gods. The early gods were simply glorified departed humans. [Today some Catholics still do the spiritual abomination of "praying to 'glorified ascended human saints'. There are no 'saints"; God loves all humans and higher beings equally ! There should be no human intercessors between God and you; God's pure Spirit Essence indwells you continuously !]
87:3.2 Ancestor worship was originally more of a fear than a worship, but such beliefs did definitely contribute to the further spread of ghost fear and worship. Devotees of the early ancestor-ghost cults even feared to yawn lest a malignant ghost enter their bodies at such a time.
87:3.5 The ghost cult was in continuous evolution. As ghosts were envisioned as passing from the incomplete to the higher phase of existence, so did the cult eventually progress to the worship of spirits, and even gods. But regardless of varying beliefs in more advanced spirits, all tribes and races once believed in ghosts. [Sadly, many humans still do today !]
5. The Advancing Ghost Cult
87:5.2 And now the simple ghost cult is followed by the practices of the more advanced and relatively complex spirit-ghost cult, the service and worship of the higher spirits as they evolved in man’s primitive imagination. Religious ceremonial must keep pace with spirit evolution and progress. The expanded cult was but the art of self-maintenance practiced in relation to belief in supernatural beings, self-adjustment to spirit environment. Industrial and military organizations were adjustments to natural and social environments. And as marriage arose to meet the demands of bisexuality, [two different sexes, male and female, to co-create more sons of God for our Father God ! Not the modern distorted "bisexuality" definition of liking both "straight" and "gay" sex,] so did religious organization evolve in response to the belief in higher spirit forces and spiritual beings. Religion represents man’s adjustment to his illusions of the mystery of chance. Spirit fear and subsequent worship were adopted as insurance against misfortune, as prosperity policies.
87:5.4 Human prosperity was supposed to be especially provocative of the envy of evil spirits, and their method of retaliation was to strike back through a human agency and by the technique of the evil eye. That phase of the cult which had to do with spirit avoidance was much concerned with the machinations of the evil eye. The fear of it became almost world-wide. Pretty women were veiled to protect them from the evil eye; subsequently many women who desired to be considered beautiful adopted this practice. Because of this fear of bad spirits, children were seldom allowed out after dark, and the early prayers always included the petition, “deliver us from the evil eye.”
6. Coercion and Exorcism
87:6.14 It was long believed that by reverting to the usages of the more ancient mores the spirits and demigods could be forced into desirable action. Modern man is guilty of the same procedure. You address one another in common, everyday language, but when you engage in prayer, you resort to the older style of another generation, the so-called solemn style.
87:6.16 Next came the practice of ritual vows, soon to be followed by religious pledges and sacred oaths. Most of these oaths were accompanied by self-torture and self-mutilation; later on, by fasting and prayer. Self-denial was subsequently looked upon as being a sure coercive; this was especially true in the matter of sex suppression. And so primitive man early developed a decided austerity in his religious practices, a belief in the efficacy of self-torture and self-denial as rituals capable of coercing the unwilling spirits to react favorably toward all such suffering and deprivation.
PAPER 88. Fetishes, Charms, and Magic
88:0.1 The concept of a spirit’s entering into an inanimate object, an animal, or a human being, is a very ancient and honorable belief, having prevailed since the beginning of the evolution of religion. This doctrine of spirit possession is nothing more nor less than fetishism. The savage does not necessarily worship the fetish; he very logically worships and reverences the spirit resident therein.
1. Belief in Fetishes
88:1.2 The first fetishes were peculiarly marked pebbles, and “sacred stones” have ever since been sought by man; a string of beads was once a collection of sacred stones, a battery of charms. Many tribes had fetish stones, but few have survived as have the Kaaba and the Stone of Scone. Fire and water were also among the early fetishes, and fire worship, together with belief in holy water, still survives. [Today, there are terrible fetishes of "Holy places" and "Holy Days" and many others !]
88:1.3 Tree fetishes were a later development, but among some tribes the persistence of nature worship led to belief in charms indwelt by some sort of nature spirit. When plants and fruits became fetishes, they were taboo as food. The apple was among the first to fall into this category; it was never eaten by the Levantine peoples.
2. Evolution of the Fetish
88:2.5 Moses, in the addition of the second commandment to the ancient Dalamatian moral code, made an effort to control fetish worship among the Hebrews. He carefully directed that they should make no sort of image that might become consecrated as a fetish. He made it plain, “You shall not make a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or on the earth beneath, or in the waters of the earth.” While this commandment did much to retard art among the Jews, it did lessen fetish worship. But Moses was too wise to attempt suddenly to displace the olden fetishes, and he therefore consented to the putting of certain relics alongside the law in the combined war altar and religious shrine which was the ark. [The old Hebrew "Law" was of mostly human origin, and not up to the Revealed Law of God as taught and lived by Jesus Christ Michael Incarnate here to A.D. 30 and then and now fully here as He the Father-Son Union Spirit of All Truth: GOD ]
88:2.9 But it does represent real evolutionary progress to advance from the fetish fear of a savage chief’s fingernail trimmings to the adoration of a superb collection of letters, laws, legends, allegories, myths, poems, and chronicles which, after all, reflect the winnowed moral wisdom of many centuries, at least up to the time and event of their being assembled as a “sacred book.” [Today, Christians and other Spirit-discerning humans know that much in the Old Testament is not "the full and inerrant Word of God !" Read in the (better, but not all-perfect) New Testament, John 1:1-18 to know that the Word of God is Jesus Christ here always in Spirit and not the Bible. I choose to believe and share only about 2% of the Old Testament and about 25% of the (less Old) New Testament. Of the 800,000 words in the whole Hebrew and Christian Bible, Jesus' unique, authoritative words number only about 1024 words !! Jesus Incarnate said around one million important words of Living Truth ! Most of the words in the New Testament are from the later apostle Paul, which are vastly inferior to Jesus' Supernal Truth Teachings ! We are so thankful to have now about 1000 pages on the actual Nature, Life and Teachings of Jesus Incarnate as Creator Son of God and Son of Man in the Fifth Epochal Revelation of Truth -- The Urantia Book", no copyright in original English to allow worldwide sharing.]
88:3.1 Fetishism ran through all the primitive cults from the earliest belief in sacred stones, through idolatry, cannibalism, and nature worship, to totemism.
88:3.2 Totemism is a combination of social and religious observances. Originally it was thought that respect for the totem animal of supposed biologic origin insured the food supply. Totems were at one and the same time symbols of the group and their god. Such a god was the clan personified. Totemism was one phase of the attempted socialization of otherwise personal religion. The totem eventually evolved into the flag, or national symbol, of the various modern peoples. [National flags are okay; but we should pledge allegiance to God our Father, and not to a mere symbol of a nation - not to a flag.]
88:3.3 A fetish bag, a medicine bag, was a pouch containing a reputable assortment of ghost-impregnated articles, and the medicine man of old never allowed his bag, the symbol of his power, to touch the ground. Civilized peoples in the twentieth century see to it that their flags, emblems of national consciousness, likewise never touch the ground. [Then why are humans allowed to walk barefoot on the ground ? Death penalty ? Ha ha]
88:3.4 The insignia of priestly and kingly office were eventually regarded as fetishes, and the fetish of the state supreme has passed through many stages of development, from clans to tribes, from suzerainty to sovereignty, from totems to flags. Fetish kings have ruled by “divine right,” and many other forms of government have obtained. Men have also made a fetish of democracy, the exaltation and adoration of the common man’s ideas when collectively called “public opinion.” One man’s opinion, when taken by itself, is not regarded as worth much, but when many men are collectively functioning as a democracy, this same mediocre judgment is held to be the arbiter of justice and the standard of righteousness. [Ha ! Meritocracy and personal responsibility must soon replace communism and socialism and the dominance of mediocrity ! Voters must be tested and qualified to vote, or a nation will soon collapse ! "One man, one vote" must be changed to "One adult human, zero to 10 votes each by merit." Prisoners and other illegal humans get zero votes.]
88:4.5 The objects of science are identical with those of magic. Mankind is progressing from magic to science, not by meditation and reason, but rather through long experience, gradually and painfully. Man is gradually backing into the truth, beginning in error, progressing in error, and finally attaining the threshold of truth. Only with the arrival of the scientific method has he faced forward. But primitive man had to experiment or perish.
6. The Practice of Magic
88:6.3 Word combinations, the ritual of chants and incantations, were highly magical. Some early incantations finally evolved into prayers. Presently, imitative magic was practiced; prayers were acted out; magical dances were nothing but dramatic prayers. Prayer gradually displaced magic as the associate of sacrifice.
PAPER 89. Sin, Sacrifice, and Atonement
89:0.1 Primitive man regarded himself as being in debt to the spirits, as standing in need of redemption. As the savages looked at it, in justice the spirits might have visited much more bad luck upon them. As time passed, this concept developed into the doctrine of sin and salvation. The soul was looked upon as coming into the world under forfeit — original sin. The soul must be ransomed; a scapegoat must be provided. The head-hunter, in addition to practicing the cult of skull worship, was able to provide a substitute for his own life, a scapeman. [The Bible teaches "original sin" and the "fall of man". Totally false ! God has decreed the continuous perfection of all mankind. Lucifer, Satan and others rebelled and fell from power, but not mankind as a whole. Today, this planet is in a great, new Spiritual Renaissance ! But you must see that with Spirit Vision, not the negative, secular humanistic news media.]
3. Renunciation and Humiliation
89:3.6 It was only natural that the cult of renunciation and humiliation should have paid attention to sexual gratification. The continence cult originated as a ritual among soldiers prior to engaging in battle; in later days it became the practice of “saints.” This cult tolerated marriage only as an evil lesser than fornication. Many of the world’s great religions have been adversely influenced by this ancient cult, but none more markedly than Christianity. The Apostle Paul was a devotee of this cult, and his personal views are reflected in the teachings which he fastened onto Christian theology: “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” “I would that all men were even as I myself.” “I say, therefore, to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them to abide even as I.” Paul well knew that such teachings were not a part of Jesus’ gospel, and his acknowledgment of this is illustrated by his statement, “I speak this by permission and not by commandment.” But this cult led Paul to look down upon women. And the pity of it all is that his personal opinions have long influenced the teachings of a great world religion. If the advice of the tentmaker-teacher were to be literally and universally obeyed, then would the human race come to a sudden and inglorious end. Furthermore, the involvement of a religion with the ancient continence cult leads directly to a war against marriage and the home, society’s veritable foundation and the basic institution of human progress. And it is not to be wondered at that all such beliefs fostered the formation of celibate priesthoods in the many religions of various peoples.
4. Origins of Sacrifice
89:4.1 Sacrifice as a part of religious devotions, like many other worshipful rituals, did not have a simple and single origin. The tendency to bow down before power and to prostrate oneself in worshipful adoration in the presence of mystery is foreshadowed in the fawning of the dog before its master. It is but one step from the impulse of worship to the act of sacrifice. Primitive man gauged the value of his sacrifice by the pain which he suffered. When the idea of sacrifice first attached itself to religious ceremonial, no offering was contemplated which was not productive of pain. The first sacrifices were such acts as plucking hair, cutting the flesh, mutilations, knocking out teeth, and cutting off fingers. As civilization advanced, these crude concepts of sacrifice were elevated to the level of the rituals of self-abnegation, asceticism, fasting, deprivation, and the later Christian doctrine of sanctification through sorrow, suffering, and the mortification of the flesh. [Paul's Jewish "blood atonement -- sacrifice of the Lamb of God" must be fully abandoned ! God is not a savage vampire needing innocent blood to change it from terrible, deadly wrath to being nice, kind, loving, merciful again !! What blasphemy ! But God also does forgive that, as taught by Jesus !]
89:4.7 Gifts and bribes are given to men; but when tendered to the gods, they are described as being dedicated, made sacred, or are called sacrifices. Renunciation was the negative form of propitiation; sacrifice became the positive form. The act of propitiation included praise, glorification, flattery, and even entertainment. And it is the remnants of these positive practices of the olden propitiation cult that constitute the modern forms of divine worship. Present-day forms of worship are simply the ritualization of these ancient sacrificial techniques of positive propitiation. [The only gift a human can give to God is to try to learn and to do His will above your will, until you finally become all Spirit-perfected and ARE the will of God in your finite domain of activity.]
7. Modifications of Human Sacrifice
89:7.4 Many of the peculiar associations of sex laxity with primitive worship had their origin in connection with human sacrifice. In olden times, if a woman met head-hunters, she could redeem her life by sexual surrender. Later, a maiden consecrated to the gods as a sacrifice might elect to redeem her life by dedicating her body for life to the sacred sex service of the temple; in this way she could earn her redemption money. The ancients regarded it as highly elevating to have sex relations with a woman thus engaged in ransoming her life. It was a religious ceremony to consort with these sacred maidens, and in addition, this whole ritual afforded an acceptable excuse for commonplace sexual gratification. This was a subtle species of self-deception which both the maidens and their consorts delighted to practice upon themselves. The mores always drag behind in the evolutionary advance of civilization, thus providing sanction for the earlier and more savagelike sex practices of the evolving races. [When Jesus was Incarnate here on earth, the Jerusalem temple had prostitutes for the 'religious leaders'. Today, that continues somewhat, but they try to keep it secret.]
8. Redemption and Covenants
89:8.6 But the idea of making a covenant with the gods did finally arrive. Evolutionary man eventually acquired such moral dignity that he dared to bargain with his gods. And so the business of offering sacrifices gradually developed into the game of man’s philosophic bargaining with God. And all this represented a new device for insuring against bad luck or, rather, an enhanced technique for the more definite purchase of prosperity. Do not entertain the mistaken idea that these early sacrifices were a free gift to the gods, a spontaneous offering of gratitude or thanksgiving; they were not expressions of true worship.
89:8.7 Primitive forms of prayer were nothing more nor less than bargaining with the spirits, an argument with the gods. It was a kind of bartering in which pleading and persuasion were substituted for something more tangible and costly. The developing commerce of the races had inculcated the spirit of trade and had developed the shrewdness of barter; and now these traits began to appear in man’s worship methods. And as some men were better traders than others, so some were regarded as better prayers than others. The prayer of a just man was held in high esteem. A just man was one who had paid all accounts to the spirits, had fully discharged every ritual obligation to the gods. [No matter how you pray or sacrifice, God never changes His perfect, all-Knowing, Fatherly will ! True prayer is only to help you conform to his perfect will.]
89:8.8 Early prayer was hardly worship; it was a bargaining petition for health, wealth, and life. And in many respects prayers have not much changed with the passing of the ages. They are still read out of books, recited formally, and written out for emplacement on wheels and for hanging on trees, where the blowing of the winds will save man the trouble of expending his own breath. [Sad ... Maybe we should try a high-tech, electric-powered, prayer wheel that spins at 5,000 rpm ? Ha !]
PAPER 90. Shamanism—Medicine Men and Priests
90:0.2 In the advancing concepts of primitive man the spirit world was eventually regarded as being unresponsive to the ordinary mortal. Only the exceptional among humans could catch the ear of the gods; only the extraordinary man or woman would be heard by the spirits. Religion thus enters upon a new phase, a stage wherein it gradually becomes secondhanded; always does a medicine man, a shaman, or a priest intervene between the religionist and the object of worship. And today most Urantia [Earth] systems of organized religious belief are passing through this level of evolutionary development. [No mere human intermediaries are between God in Jesus in Spirit here and you ! Practice true personal religion - personal God-consciousness at all times and in all places !]
5. Priests and Rituals
90:5.2 Ritual is the technique of sanctifying custom; ritual creates and perpetuates myths as well as contributing to the preservation of social and religious customs. Again, ritual itself has been fathered by myths. Rituals are often at first social, later becoming economic and finally acquiring the sanctity and dignity of religious ceremonial. Ritual may be personal or group in practice — or both — as illustrated by prayer, dancing, and drama.
90:5.3 Words become a part of ritual, such as the use of terms like amen and selah. The habit of swearing, profanity, represents a prostitution of former ritualistic repetition of holy names. The making of pilgrimages to sacred shrines is a very ancient ritual. The ritual next grew into elaborate ceremonies of purification, cleansing, and sanctification. The initiation ceremonies of the primitive tribal secret societies were in reality a crude religious rite. The worship technique of the olden mystery cults was just one long performance of accumulated religious ritual. Ritual finally developed into the modern types of social ceremonials and religious worship, services embracing prayer, song, responsive reading, and other individual and group spiritual devotions. [That must further evolve to dispense with all ecclesiastical "authorities" intervening between God and you ! True Spirit Religion is each human son of God being personally God-conscious directly at all times and in all places. That Spirit Awareness is now starting to be practiced by a small, but growing, percentage of humans. We are all in the Family of God the Universal Father in our local universe Creator Father-Son Jesus Christ Michael and in Their One combined Father-Son Union Spirit of All Truth, Who is ever around all humans and living in the minds and souls of all sincere truth-seekers and Living Truth-Finders !]
90:5.4 The priests evolved from shamans up through oracles, diviners, singers, dancers, weathermakers, guardians of religious relics, temple custodians, and foretellers of events, to the status of actual directors of religious worship. Eventually the office became hereditary; a continuous priestly caste arose.
90:5.5 As religion evolved, priests began to specialize according to their innate talents or special predilections. Some became singers, others prayers, and still others sacrificers; later came the orators — preachers. And when religion became institutionalized, these priests claimed to “hold the keys of heaven.”
90:5.6 The priests have always sought to impress and awe the common people by conducting the religious ritual in an ancient tongue and by sundry magical passes so to mystify the worshipers as to enhance their own piety and authority. The great danger in all this is that the ritual tends to become a substitute for religion.
90:5.7 The priesthoods have done much to delay scientific development and to hinder spiritual progress, but they have contributed to the stabilization of civilization and to the enhancement of certain kinds of culture. But many modern priests have ceased to function as directors of the ritual of the worship of God, having turned their attention to theology — the attempt to define God. [A profound statement, author unknown: "If God were small enough for our finite human understanding, He would not be Big enough for our Real Needs !]
Topical Study 114 ""Prayer, Meditation, Reflection, Worship", Part 7"
Compiled Jan. 10, 2020 by Dave@PureChristians.org
PAPER 91. The Evolution of Prayer
91:0.1 Prayer, as an agency of religion, evolved from previous nonreligious monologue and dialogue expressions. With the attainment of self-consciousness by primitive man there occurred the inevitable corollary of other-consciousness, the dual potential of social response and God recognition.
91:0.2 The earliest prayer forms were not addressed to Deity. These expressions were much like what you would say to a friend as you entered pon some important undertaking, “Wish me luck.” Primitive man was enslaved to magic; luck, good and bad, entered into all the affairs of life. At first, these luck petitions were monologues — just a kind of thinking out loud by the magic server. Next, these believers in luck would enlist the support of their friends and families, and presently some form of ceremony would be performed which included the whole clan or tribe.
91:0.3 When the concepts of ghosts and spirits evolved, these petitions became superhuman in address, and with the consciousness of gods, such expressions attained to the levels of genuine prayer. As an illustration of this, among certain Australian tribes primitive religious prayers antedated their belief in spirits and superhuman personalities.
91:0.4 The Toda tribe of India now observes this practice of praying to no one in particular, just as did the early peoples before the times of religious consciousness. Only, among the Todas, this represents a regression of their degenerating religion to this primitive level. The present-day rituals of the dairymen priests of the Todas do not represent a religious ceremony since these impersonal prayers do not contribute anything to the conservation or enhancement of any social, moral, or spiritual values.
91:0.5 Prereligious praying was part of the mana practices of the Melanesians, the oudah beliefs of the African Pygmies, and the manitou superstitions of the North American Indians. The Baganda tribes of Africa have only recently emerged from the mana level of prayer. In this early evolutionary confusion men pray to gods — local and national — to fetishes, amulets, ghosts, rulers, and to ordinary people.
1. Primitive Prayer
91:1.1 The function of early evolutionary religion is to conserve and augment the essential social, moral, and spiritual values which are slowly taking form. This mission of religion is not consciously observed by mankind, but it is chiefly effected by the function of prayer. The practice of prayer represents the unintended, but nonetheless personal and collective, effort of any group to secure (to actualize) this conservation of higher values. But for the safeguarding of prayer, all holy days would speedily revert to the status of mere holidays.
91:1.2 Religion and its agencies, the chief of which is prayer, are allied only with those values which have general social recognition, group approval. Therefore, when primitive man attempted to gratify his baser emotions or to achieve unmitigated selfish ambitions, he was deprived of the consolation of religion and the assistance of prayer. If the individual sought to accomplish anything antisocial, he was obliged to seek the aid of nonreligious magic, resort to sorcerers, and thus be deprived of the assistance of prayer. Prayer, therefore, very early became a mighty promoter of social evolution, moral progress, and spiritual attainment.
91:1.3 But the primitive mind was neither logical nor consistent. Early men did not perceive that material things were not the province of prayer. These simple-minded souls reasoned that food, shelter, rain, game, and other material goods enhanced the social welfare, and therefore they began to pray for these physical blessings. While this constituted a perversion of prayer, it encouraged the effort to realize these material objectives by social and ethical actions. Such a prostitution of prayer, while debasing the spiritual values of a people, nevertheless directly elevated their economic, social, and ethical mores.
91:1.4 Prayer is only monologuous in the most primitive type of mind. It early becomes a dialogue and rapidly expands to the level of group worship. Prayer signifies that the premagical incantations of primitive religion have evolved to that level where the human mind recognizes the reality of beneficent powers or beings who are able to enhance social values and to augment moral ideals, and further, that these influences are superhuman and distinct from the ego of the self-conscious human and his fellow mortals. True prayer does not, therefore, appear until the agency of religious ministry is visualized as personal.
91:1.5 Prayer is little associated with animism, but such beliefs may exist alongside emerging religious sentiments. Many times, religion and animism have had entirely separate origins.
91:1.6 With those mortals who have not been delivered from the primitive bondage of fear, there is a real danger that all prayer may lead to a morbid sense of sin, unjustified convictions of guilt, real or fancied. But in modern times it is not likely that many will spend sufficient time at prayer to lead to this harmful brooding over their unworthiness or sinfulness. The dangers attendant upon the distortion and perversion of prayer consist in ignorance, superstition, crystallization, devitalization, materialism, and fanaticism.
2. Evolving Prayer
91:2.1 The first prayers were merely verbalized wishes, the expression of sincere desires. Prayer next became a technique of achieving spirit co-operation. And then it attained to the higher function of assisting religion in the conservation of all worth-while values.
91:2.2 Both prayer and magic arose as a result of man’s adjustive reactions to Urantian environment. But aside from this generalized relationship, they have little in common. Prayer has always indicated positive action by the praying ego; it has been always psychic and sometimes spiritual. Magic has usually signified an attempt to manipulate reality without affecting the ego of the manipulator, the practitioner of magic. Despite their independent origins, magic and prayer often have been interrelated in their later stages of development. Magic has sometimes ascended by goal elevation from formulas through rituals and incantations to the threshold of true prayer. Prayer has sometimes ecome so materialistic that it has degenerated into a pseudomagical technique of avoiding the expenditure of that effort which is requisite for the solution of Urantian problems.
91:2.3 When man learned that prayer could not coerce the gods, then it became more of a petition, favor seeking. But the truest prayer is in reality a communion between man and his Maker.
91:2.4 The appearance of the sacrifice idea in any religion unfailingly detracts from the higher efficacy of true prayer in that men seek to substitute the offerings of material possessions for the offering of their own consecrated wills to the doing of the will of God.
91:2.5 When religion is divested of a personal God, its prayers translate to the levels of theology and philosophy. When the highest God concept of a religion is that of an impersonal Deity, such as in pantheistic idealism, although affording the basis for certain forms of mystic communion, it proves fatal to the potency of true prayer, which always stands for man’s communion with a personal and superior being.
91:2.6 During the earlier times of racial evolution and even at the present time, in the day-by-day experience of the average mortal, prayer is very much a phenomenon of man’s intercourse with his own subconscious. But there is also a domain of prayer wherein the intellectually alert and spiritually progressing individual attains more or less contact with the superconscious levels of the human mind, the domain of the indwelling Thought Adjuster. In addition, there is a definite spiritual phase of true prayer which concerns its reception and recognition by the spiritual forces of the universe, and which is entirely distinct from all human and intellectual association.
91:2.7 Prayer contributes greatly to the development of the religious sentiment of an evolving human mind. It is a mighty influence working to prevent isolation of personality.
91:2.8 Prayer represents one technique associated with the natural religions of racial evolution which also forms a part of the experiential values of the higher religions of ethical excellence, the religions of revelation.
3. Prayer and the Alter Ego
91:3.2 The early and primitive form of prayer was much like the semimagical recitations of the present-day Toda tribe, prayers that were not addressed to anyone in particular. But such techniques of praying tend to evolve into the dialogue type of communication by the emergence of the idea of an alter ego. In time the alter-ego concept is exalted to a superior status of divine dignity, and prayer as an agency of religion has peared. Through many phases and during long ages this primitive type of praying is destined to evolve before attaining the level of intelligent and truly ethical prayer.
91:3.3 As it is conceived by successive generations of praying mortals, the alter ego evolves up through ghosts, fetishes, and spirits to polytheistic gods, and eventually to the One God, a divine being embodying the highest ideals and the loftiest aspirations of the praying ego. And thus does prayer function as the most potent agency of religion in the conservation of the highest values and ideals of those who pray. From the moment of the conceiving of an alter ego to the appearance of the concept of a divine and heavenly Father, prayer is always a socializing, moralizing, and spiritualizing practice.
91:3.4 The simple prayer of faith evidences a mighty evolution in human experience whereby the ancient conversations with the fictitious symbol of the alter ego of primitive religion have become exalted to the level of communion with the spirit of the Infinite and to that of a bona fide consciousness of the reality of the eternal God and Paradise Father of all intelligent creation.
91:3.5 Aside from all that is superself in the experience of praying, it should be remembered that ethical prayer is a splendid way to elevate one’s ego and reinforce the self for better living and higher attainment. Prayer induces the human ego to look both ways for help: for material aid to the subconscious reservoir of mortal experience, for inspiration and guidance to the superconscious borders of the contact of the material with the spiritual, with the Mystery Monitor.
91:3.6 Prayer ever has been and ever will be a twofold human experience: a psychologic procedure interassociated with a spiritual technique. And these two functions of prayer can never be fully separated.
91:3.7 Enlightened prayer must recognize not only an external and personal God but also an internal and impersonal Divinity, the indwelling Adjuster. It is altogether fitting that man, when he prays, should strive to grasp the concept of the Universal Father on Paradise; but the more effective technique for most practical purposes will be to revert to the concept of a near-by alter ego, just as the primitive mind was wont to do, and then to recognize that the idea of this alter ego has evolved from a mere fiction to the truth of God’s indwelling mortal man in the factual presence of the Adjuster so that man can talk face to face, as it were, with a real and genuine and divine alter ego that indwells him and is the very presence and essence of the living God, the Universal Father.
4. Ethical Praying
91:4.1 No prayer can be ethical when the petitioner seeks for selfish advantage over his fellows. Selfish and materialistic praying is incompatible with the ethical religions which are predicated on unselfish and divine love. All such unethical praying reverts to the primitive levels of pseudo magic and is unworthy of advancing civilizations and enlightened religions. Selfish praying transgresses the spirit of all ethics founded on loving justice.
91:4.2 Prayer must never be so prostituted as to become a substitute for action. All ethical prayer is a stimulus to action and a guide to the progressive striving for idealistic goals of superself-attainment.
91:4.3 In all your praying be fair; do not expect God to show partiality, to love you more than his other children, your friends, neighbors, even enemies. But the prayer of the natural or evolved religions is not at first ethical, as it is in the later revealed religions. All praying, whether individual or communal, may be either egoistic or altruistic. That is, the prayer may be centered upon the self or upon others. When the prayer seeks nothing for the one who prays nor anything for his fellows, then such attitudes of the soul tend to the levels of true worship. Egoistic prayers involve confessions and petitions and often consist in requests for material favors. Prayer is somewhat more ethical when it deals with forgiveness and seeks wisdom for enhanced self-control. [True prayer and worship helps you to better know, and better DO, GOD'S will indwelling you and all normal, slightly or better, moral humans. "It is my will, our loving Father God, that your perfect will be done, and not any of my will that might deviate from Your Will ...]
91:4.4 While the nonselfish type of prayer is strengthening and comforting, materialistic praying is destined to bring disappointment and disillusionment as advancing scientific discoveries demonstrate that man lives in a physical universe of law and order. The childhood of an individual or a race is characterized by primitive, selfish, and materialistic praying. And, to a certain extent, all such petitions are efficacious in that they unvaryingly lead to those efforts and exertions which are contributory to achieving the answers to such prayers. The real prayer of faith always contributes to the augmentation of the technique of living, even if such petitions are not worthy of spiritual recognition. But the spiritually advanced person should exercise great caution in attempting to discourage the primitive or immature mind regarding such prayers.
91:4.5 Remember, even if prayer does not change God, it very often effects great and lasting changes in the one who prays in faith and confident expectation. Prayer has been the ancestor of much peace of mind, cheerfulness, calmness, courage, self-mastery, and fair-mindedness in the men and women of the evolving races.
5. Social Repercussions of Prayer
91:5.1 In ancestor worship, prayer leads to the cultivation of ancestral ideals. But prayer, as a feature of Deity worship, transcends all other such practices since it leads to the cultivation of divine ideals. As the concept of the alter ego of prayer becomes supreme and divine, so are man’s ideals accordingly elevated from mere human toward supernal and divine levels, and the result of all such praying is the enhancement of human character and the profound unification of human personality.
91:5.2 But prayer need not always be individual. Group or congregational praying is very effective in that it is highly socializing in its repercussions. When a group engages in community prayer for moral enhancement and spiritual uplift, such devotions are reactive upon the individuals composing the group; they are all made better because of participation. Even a whole city or an entire nation can be helped by such prayer devotions. Confession, repentance, and prayer have led individuals, cities, nations, and whole races to mighty efforts of reform and courageous deeds of valorous achievement.
91:5.3 If you truly desire to overcome the habit of criticizing some friend, the quickest and surest way of achieving such a change of attitude is to establish the habit of praying for that person every day of your life. But the social repercussions of such prayers are dependent largely on two conditions:
91:5.4 #1. The person who is prayed for should know that he is being prayed for.
91:5.5 #2. The person who prays should come into intimate social contact with the person for whom he is praying.
91:5.6 Prayer is the technique whereby, sooner or later, every religion becomes institutionalized. And in time prayer becomes associated with numerous secondary agencies, some helpful, others decidedly deleterious, such as priests, holy books, worship rituals, and ceremonials. [A careful reading of John 1:1-18 in the Bible proves that "The Word of God" is Jesus Christ here in Spirit and not a mere 800,000 word book (bible) that has only about 1024 unique words of Jesus in red letters ! Far too much on Paul's dim views and not the Brilliant Life and Teachings of Jesus ! Part four of The Urantia Book has about 775 pages on the actual supernal Life and Teachings of Jesus. There are also about 300 pages in the rest of this Epochal Revelation on the nature of Jesus. That is what this confused world most needs to know and to do !]
91:5.7 But the minds of greater spiritual illumination should be patient with, and tolerant of, those less endowed intellects that crave symbolism for the mobilization of their feeble spiritual insight. The strong must not look with disdain upon the weak. Those who are God-conscious without symbolism must not deny the grace-ministry of the symbol to those who find it difficult to worship Deity and to revere truth, beauty, and goodness without form and ritual. In prerful worship, most mortals envision some symbol of the object-goal of their devotions.
6. The Province of Prayer
91:6.1 Prayer, unless in liaison with the will and actions of the personal spiritual forces and material supervisors of a realm, can have no direct effect upon one’s physical environment. While there is a very definite limit to the province of the petitions of prayer, such limits do not equally apply to the faith of those who pray.
91:6.2 Prayer is not a technique for curing real and organic diseases, but it has contributed enormously to the enjoyment of abundant health and to the cure of numerous mental, emotional, and nervous ailments. And even in actual bacterial disease, prayer has many times added to the efficacy of other remedial procedures. Prayer has turned many an irritable and complaining invalid into a paragon of patience and made him an inspiration to all other human sufferers.
91:6.3 No matter how difficult it may be to reconcile the scientific doubtings regarding the efficacy of prayer with the ever-present urge to seek help and guidance from divine sources, never forget that the sincere prayer of faith is a mighty force for the promotion of personal happiness, individual self-control, social harmony, moral progress, and spiritual attainment.
91:6.4 Prayer, even as a purely human practice, a dialogue with one’s alter ego, constitutes a technique of the most efficient approach to the realization of those reserve powers of human nature which are stored and conserved in the unconscious realms of the human mind. Prayer is a sound psychologic practice, aside from its religious implications and its spiritual significance. It is a fact of human experience that most persons, if sufficiently hard pressed, will pray in some way to some source of help.
91:6.6 Prayer has been an indispensable factor in the progress and preservation of religious civilization, and it still has mighty contributions to make to the further enhancement and spiritualization of society if those who pray will only do so in the light of scientific facts, philosophic wisdom, intellectual sincerity, and spiritual faith. Pray as Jesus taught his disciples — honestly, unselfishly, with fairness, and without doubting.
91:6.7 But the efficacy of prayer in the personal spiritual experience of the one who prays is in no way dependent on such a worshiper’s intellectual understanding, philosophic acumen, social level, cultural status, or other mortal acquirements. The psychic and spiritual concomitants of the prayer of faith are immediate, personal, and experiential. There is no other technique whereby every man, regardless of all other mortal accomplishments, can so efectively 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. [God's pure Spirit Essence within your mind; and God's Personal Presence in Jesus Christ Michael in Combined Spirit Union within you as the higher soul you ! The Adjuster and Jesus work as One in Spirit.]
7. Mysticism, Ecstasy, and Inspiration
91:7.1 Mysticism, as the technique of the cultivation of the consciousness of the presence of God, is altogether praiseworthy, but when such practices lead to social isolation and culminate in religious fanaticism, they are all but reprehensible. Altogether too frequently that which the overwrought mystic evaluates as divine inspiration is the uprisings of his own deep mind. The contact of the mortal mind with its indwelling Adjuster, while often favored by devoted meditation, is more frequently facilitated by wholehearted and loving service in unselfish ministry to one’s fellow creatures.
91:7.2 The great religious teachers and the prophets of past ages were not extreme mystics. They were God-knowing men and women who best served their God by unselfish ministry to their fellow mortals. Jesus often took his apostles away by themselves for short periods to engage in meditation and prayer, but for the most part he kept them in service-contact with the multitudes. The soul of man requires spiritual exercise as well as spiritual nourishment.
91:7.13 But prayer has no real association with these exceptional religious experiences. When prayer becomes overmuch aesthetic, when it consists almost exclusively in beautiful and blissful contemplation of paradisiacal divinity, it loses much of its socializing influence and tends toward mysticism and the isolation of its devotees. There is a certain danger associated with overmuch private praying which is corrected and prevented by group praying, community devotions.
8. Praying as a Personal Experience
91:8.1 There is a truly spontaneous aspect to prayer, for primitive man found himself praying long before he had any clear concept of a God. Early man was wont to pray in two diverse situations: When in dire need, he experienced the impulse to reach out for help; and when jubilant, he indulged the impulsive expression of joy.
91:8.2 Prayer is not an evolution of magic; they each arose independently. Magic was an attempt to adjust Deity to conditions; prayer is the effort to adjust the personality to the will of Deity. True prayer is both moral and religious; magic is neither.
91:8.3 Prayer may become an established custom; many pray because others do. Still others pray because they fear something direful may happen if they do not offer their regular supplications.
91:8.4 To some individuals prayer is the calm expression of gratitude; to others, a group expression of praise, social devotions; sometimes it is the imitation of another’s religion, while in true praying it is the sincere and trusting communication of the spiritual nature of the creature with the anywhere presence of the spirit of the Creator.
91:8.5 Prayer may be a spontaneous expression of God-consciousness or a meaningless recitation of theologic formulas. It may be the ecstatic praise of a God-knowing soul or the slavish obeisance of a fear-ridden mortal. It is sometimes the pathetic expression of spiritual craving and sometimes the blatant shouting of pious phrases. Prayer may be joyous praise or a humble plea for forgiveness.
91:8.6 Prayer may be the childlike plea for the impossible or the mature entreaty for moral growth and spiritual power. A petition may be for daily bread or may embody a wholehearted yearning to find God and to do his will. It may be a wholly selfish request or a true and magnificent gesture toward the realization of unselfish brotherhood.
91:8.7 Prayer may be an angry cry for vengeance or a merciful intercession for one’s enemies. It may be the expression of a hope of changing God or the powerful technique of changing one’s self. It may be the cringing plea of a lost sinner before a supposedly stern Judge or the joyful expression of a liberated son of the living and merciful heavenly Father.
91:8.8 Modern man is perplexed by the thought of talking things over with God in a purely personal way. Many have abandoned regular praying; they only pray when under unusual pressure — in emergencies. Man should be unafraid to talk to God, but only a spiritual child would undertake to persuade, or presume to change, God.
91:8.9 But real praying does attain reality. Even when the air currents are ascending, no bird can soar except by outstretched wings. Prayer elevates man because it is a technique of progressing by the utilization of the ascending spiritual currents of the universe.
91:8.10 Genuine prayer adds to spiritual growth, modifies attitudes, and yields that satisfaction which comes from communion with divinity. It is a spontaneous outburst of God-consciousness.
91:8.11 God answers man’s prayer by giving him an increased revelation of truth, an enhanced appreciation of beauty, and an augmented concept of goodness. Prayer is a subjective gesture, but it contacts with mighty objective realities on the spiritual levels of human experience; it is a meaningful reach by the human for superhuman values. It is the most potent spiritual-growth stimulus.
91:8.12 Words are irrelevant to prayer; they are merely the intellectual channel in which the river of spiritual supplication may chance to flow. The word value of a prayer is purely autosuggestive in private devotions and sociosuggestive in group devotions. God answers the soul’s attitude, not the words.
91:8.13 Prayer is not a technique of escape from conflict but rather a stimulus to growth in the very face of conflict. Pray only for values, not things; for growth, not for gratification.
9. Conditions of Effective Prayer
91:9.1 If you would engage in effective praying, you should bear in mind the laws of prevailing petitions:
91:9.2 #1. You must qualify as a potent prayer by sincerely and courageously facing the problems of universe reality. You must possess cosmic stamina.
91:9.7 #6. Your prayer will be directed exclusively for divine wisdom to solve the specific human problems encountered in the Paradise ascension — the attainment of divine perfection.
PAPER 92. The Later Evolution of Religion
92:0.1 Man possessed a religion of natural origin as a part of his evolutionary experience long before any systematic revelations were made on Urantia. But this religion of natural origin was, in itself, the product of man’s superanimal endowments. Evolutionary religion arose slowly throughout the millenniums of mankind’s experiential career through the ministry of the following influences operating within, and impinging upon, savage, barbarian, and civilized man:
92:0.2 #1. The adjutant of worship — the appearance in animal consciousness of superanimal potentials for reality perception. This might be termed the primordial human instinct for Deity.
92:0.3 #2. The adjutant of wisdom — the manifestation in a worshipful mind of the tendency to direct its adoration in higher channels of expression and toward ever-expanding concepts of Deity reality.
92:0.4 #3. The Holy Spirit — this is the initial supermind bestowal, and it unfailingly appears in all bona fide human personalities. This ministry to a worship-craving and wisdom-desiring mind creates the capacity to self-realize the postulate of human survival, both in theologic concept and as an actual and factual personality experience.
92:0.5 The co-ordinate functioning of these three divine ministrations is quite sufficient to initiate and prosecute the growth of evolutionary religion. These influences are later augmented by Thought Adjusters, seraphim, and the Spirit of Truth, all of which accelerate the rate of religious development. These agencies have long functioned on Urantia, and they will continue here as long as this planet remains an inhabited sphere. Much of the potential of these divine agencies has never yet had opportunity for expression; much will be revealed in the ages to come as mortal religion ascends, level by level, toward the supernal heights of morontia [soul reality] value and spirit truth.
1. The Evolutionary Nature of Religion
92:1.1 The evolution of religion has been traced from early fear and ghosts down through many successive stages of development, including those efforts first to coerce and then to cajole the spirits. Tribal fetishes grew into totems and tribal gods; magic formulas became modern prayers. Circumcision, at first a sacrifice, became a hygienic procedure.
92:1.2 Religion progressed from nature worship up through ghost worship to fetishism throughout the savage childhood of the races. With the dawn of civilization the human race espoused the more mystic and symbolic beliefs, while now, with approaching maturity, mankind is ripening for the appreciation of real religion, even a beginning of the revelation of truth itself. [!! Yes, we are now well into a "Spiritual Springtime"; and an even greater worldwide Spiritual Renaissance is now arriving within some God-seeking humans !]