FROM PHILOSOPHICAL FRAGMENTATION TO UNITY OF THOUGHT

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PREFACE


A long time ago, I participated in a discussion of what happened to the soul/identity after physical death. There were a wide range of answers, with some of my New-Age friends believing that identity is lost at physical death and that their individual consciousness would merge into a universal consciousness. Others believed that as spirit beings having a human experience, they would first return to “their divine origin” and then move again into another physical incarnation. And there were those who believed that they would “ascend” - consciously step into a higher level of light and simply disappear into a higher dimension. My Christian friends also shared their own perspectives; belief that their soul would go to “Heaven” and live forever, or that they would receive immortality only when Jesus returned to resurrect them from the dead! My personal opinion was a blend of Catholic/Christian doctrine and New Age beliefs! However, no one could share any deeper insights into the process of survival - there simply was no concern about the many contradictory perspectives.


This was not the first time that I had run into such opinions. It was, however, the first time that I struggled with such a plethora of perspectives. I remember thinking: “The universe is orderly and operates according to laws. The process of survival (after physical death) must likewise be orderly, consistent, and deliberate.” The more I pondered on the various viewpoints, the more ambiguities emerged, and the more determined I became to discover if these perspectives had any commonalities. My tenacity compelled me to begin a long journey of intellectual discovery that would exhilaratingly result in a comprehensive and consistent model of reality which superbly reconciled and illuminated all seemingly contradictory perspectives. My challenge: where to start!


I decided to begin this journey by researching the creation myths of the different cultures worldwide. They all addressed the how, the when and the why, but their interpretations of each were relatable to their own culture. In general: 


· The how embraced their perception of equality in terms of sexuality and their relations to animals and god(s).

· The when brought to light the place the culture believed it held in the world’s order.

· The why defined the culture’s purpose.


The question that emerged was: What were the master events that gave origin to the creation myths? Finding the answer would provide the foundation for a shared worldview. 


My strong commitment to expand my own comprehension combined with many desperate prayers for guidance eventually led me to a book purported to be a planetary revelation to humankind - The Urantia Book[1].  


With a sizable portion of skepticism, I began to explore The Urantia Book. Mixed emotions greeted the fact that some of the Papers were way beyond my comprehension. As I progressed in my studies the rational consistency of the blue tome, coupled with the harmonious blending of new concepts and existing knowledge, filled many gaps in understanding and gave me the assurance that I was on the right track! I also experienced the inevitable conflict that comes when we challenge our intellectual comfort zone. It is one thing to discover new knowledge that answers questions you have raised, but another to embrace new knowledge that challenges doctrines you have never questioned! My reaction to this mental anguish was to close The Urantia Book, not to open it again for six years! I continued my research, searching for new information but arriving at the same familiar dead ends, but this time there was a difference. Armed with the strong intention to gain greater understanding, the elusive patterns became more defined and this enabled more precise questions. A pivotal moment in my life came when the bishop from my church shared his wisdom. He explained that beliefs should always leave room for clarification and expansion; that releasing my fears and letting go of the familiar would result in faith leading me to greater truth, thereby widening and enriching my existing worldview. Those profound words gave me the encouragement to move forward in my quest, despite my reservations. I approached my research with a fresh objectiveness that eventually led me back to The Urantia Book and the writing of my first book, Heaven Is Not the Last Stop (HINTLS)


By the time I finished writing HINTLS, I had experienced the intellectual discomfort, emotional turbulence, and sometime despair that comes when we challenge our cognitive biases to expand and widen our perspective. The Urantia Book hadfilled in vital historical and philosophical gaps and advanced existing concepts of God and the universe. As these were integrated into my existing perspective, the confusion that had initially driven me to search for answers was dispelled. While my connection with God felt more vibrant, what made the greatest impact on my everyday life was initially the deep humbling realization that as human beings, we have the amazing opportunity to become an eternal spirit being. Secondly, the profound empathy for my fellow human beings that emerged during the writing process.


As I was writing HINTLS, I came across a brilliant monograph entitledWorldviews: From Fragmentation to Integration, the result of the philosophical and academic research of a group of thinkers led By Belgian philosopher Leo Apostel. This monograph excited me because I could relate to his work and purpose which I vaguely envisaged as formulating a coherent and comprehensive philosophical worldview that supported the sciences without conflict. Further search of progress in Apostel’s work, proved fruitless. For years after publishing HINTLS, the monograph would progressively stimulate my thoughts. Eventually I learned that Leo Apostel had passed away and that his work was being used to build value-free frameworks that are practical in every day communication. In my opinion, however, there was deviation from what I envisioned was Apostel’s enlarged philosophical vision.  The constant recalling of this monograph led me to the realization that I was to write a book with this theme.


Eventually, the thoughts solidified and the direction of my book emerged: “Humanity is at the point of a major expansion of philosophy and the task to revamp our models of reality with wisdom is now critical.” But what did this mean? It took months before I would perceive the breadth and depth of the statement: 


  •              The mission of philosophy is to attain unity in the intelligent comprehension of the universe.
  •               In human experience, unity is best found through philosophy.
  •              Therefore, the attainment of unity of thought amid diverse traditions and worship must be the   highest goal  of the human mind; building a comprehensive and consistent perspective of reality that can be shared must be the highest achievement of world religions. 


Such an accomplishment would elevate religious pluralism to its highest level of expression and foster a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world.


However, the methodology to achieve this mighty goal, remained elusive.


As I continued my research, I came upon a study that illuminated the way. This study found that if 10 percent of the population hold an unshakable belief, the rest of the society would eventually adopt it.[2] Placed in the context of world religions, members of the Abrahamic religions – Jews, Christians, and Muslims - account for more than half of the world's total population. It would therefore take only 20% of Abrahamic faithful sharing a common model of reality to build a critical mass for world peace; to jump-start a large-scale religious and cultural cohesiveness that would foster meaningful and peaceful progress worldwide. Indeed, joint efforts by the Abrahamic religions towards attaining a shared worldview (NOT shared traditions and rituals) would have the greatest impact on Peace in the relatively shortest amount of time. 


It was with this thought that I realized that my new book was to be addressed to the Abrahamic faithful. My first book, Heaven Is Not the Last reconciled my Catholic, Liberal Christian, and New Age beliefs with the teachings in The Urantia Book; its approach being most significant to Christians who have incorporated Indian philosophy into their worldview.  Now, the urgency for common understanding called for unprecedented measures: appealing to the three main monotheistic religions, that have differing views of God, to come together with the intention to build a worldview that can be shared!


It became evident to me that my approach to this assignment had to duplicate the same neutrality that ran through my first book, Heaven Is Not the Last Stop. If the future generations of leaders assimilate and integrate these new insights, they will be planting the seeds that will eventually break the monotonous cycle of philosophic chaos and spiritual stagnation gripping our world today. Two numbing realities, philosophic chaos and spiritual stagnation, have together become reflected in today’s society not only as bigotry, persecution, and narrow-minded intolerance, but personally as prolific materialism, indifference, and narcissistic self-glorification.  The fruits of loyalty to crystallized doctrines devoid of the spiritual power to transform are evident steadily in declining attendance in traditional houses of worship, the emergence of the entertainment worship model that characterizes many mega-churches, the rise of the “Prosperity Gospel, and the presence of multi-million-dollar self-improvement empires profiting off of the emotional pain of people seeking quick fixes.


When the first step towards unity of thought is taken and genuine efforts are put forth to achieve this goal of shared understanding, the floodgates of Heaven will open to assist in accomplishing it. Whether leaders from the Abrahamic Religious Institutions take up this challenge or not, only history will tell. If they do not, if they ignore the challenge, it may ultimately mean the demise of the institutions as they fade into the archives of history. It will take strong, visionary leaders from each religion eventually to take up the challenge - to vanquish hate by love and destroy fear with a courageous living faith in truth. These leaders mustdare embark on a cooperative journey to build a comprehensive worldview that can be shared and courageously be opento using The Urantia Book as a resource. Their efforts, supported by faith, will attract adherents drawn to the critically corrective philosophy that will awaken faith, activate emotions, and elevate spiritual insight; they will be drawn to the consolation and stabilization of sound religion. It is the objective of my two books – Heaven Is Not the Last Stop and From Philosophical Fragmentation to Unity of Thought to serve as a resource and gateway in the process. For the open-minded, discerning reader, committed to the enthralling pursuit of truth wherever it may lead, these books will speak volumes! The importance of assimilating and passing on these concepts to future generations cannot be underestimated or overstated.


Note to the Atheists and Agnostics reading this book


Years ago, when I began reading Atheist and Agnostic writings, their totally logical arguments against religious doctrines seemed brilliant! I loved the logic behind their arguments! I might have become an Atheist myself had it not been for the various personal experiences at a young age that left me without a doubt that God exists, that there was more to this universe than matter and dark space. 

What surprised me most during the process of writing Heaven Is Not the Last Stop, was that as I reconciled my existing perspective with the teachings in The Urantia Book, my understanding of my place in the universe deepened and so did my appreciation for God and my fellow human beings. I came to personally appreciate the words of the 17th century Dutch philosopher, Benedictus de Spinoza: “The mind's highest good is the knowledge of God, and the mind's highest virtue is to know [understand and assimilate] God.” 

My challenge to you as you read this book is to be open to the possibility of two things. First, the possibility that there is more to the universe than the 4% that astronomers can see, detect or even comprehend. Second, the possibility that the understanding of God and the universe is much more than is expressed in the stagnant doctrines you may have understandably argued against. My purpose in this challenge is not to convince you that there is a God, for personal experience of God is the only positive proof of God’s existence. My goal is that as you internalize the information you are reading, your arguments will be relevant, not obsolete. I dare predict that a healthy skepticism will enrich your perspective in very unexpected ways and make for even more stimulating arguments!


PS:

This book is generally written for an audience that knows and accepts the existence of God and that has some knowledge of God’s workings.


It is not my intention in this book to repeat the work that I have completed in my first book, Heaven Is Not the Last Stop. HINTLS stands on its own as a comprehensive resource to help readers grasp complex concepts presented in The Urantia Book as they relate to current knowledge. However, when necessary, I will be quoting directly from Heaven Is Not the Last Stop and for easier reading, sometimes without quotes. In addition, when a concept or term requires more than a few lines to explain and is well presented in Heaven Is Not the Last Stop, I will add a footnote with Chapter and page so that the reader can refer to it for deeper understanding.

  

    

[1]A detailed account of my discovery of The Urantia Book can be found in the Preface of my first book Heaven Is Not the Last Stop.


[2] Minority Rules: Scientists discover tipping point for the spread of ideas; phys.org, July 25, 2011. Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to make this discovery. Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2011-07-minority-scientists-ideas.html#jCp

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