STEVEN HECHT: In the winter of 1969-1970, I left my home in Binghamton, New York, and set out on a solo hitchhiking trip across the United States. I had just dropped out of the state university there, in my first year. My explorations in religion up to that time had been Alan Watts's The Book, Ram Dass's Be Here Now, and the writings of Madame Blavatsky.
While in Berkeley, California, I wandered into Shambala, a metaphysical bookstore, and picked up the Urantia Book. It must have made some kind of impression on me, since a few months later, at the Edgar Cayce library in Virginia Beach, Virginia, I searched out the book again and read newspaper reviews of it from 1955.
During the next few months I had quite an exciting time. I ended up in a "cult" of white Rastafarians (in reality, college students from Michigan) who had spent time in the mountains of Jamaica with a Rastafarian priest named Baz. They had returned to Coconut Grove in Miami, where I met them. A nice Jewish boy from New York, I was temporarily swept away by a heady combination of apocalyptic Rastafarianism, ganja, and trips to the mountains of Jamaica. Its now clear to me that I was searching with determination (and sometimes wild abandon) for a rational and inspiring faith-basis for my life.
A month after ending that adventure, I saw the Urantia Book again in Samuel Weiser's metaphysical bookstore in Manhattan. I can vividly remember running my hand along a shelf of books and finding the Urantia Book right next to OAHSPE and The Keys of Enoch. I read one sentence from the UB and knew immediately that I had to read the whole thing. It was a relatively inconsequential sentence. It was not the spiritual meaning or significance of the sentence that convinced me, but the syntax and high level of intelligence of the language. Just to make sure, I opened the other two books and found absolutely no call there. Since I didn't have the $ 16 it cost, I had to borrow the money from my parents. I returned to Weiser's the next day and bought the Urantia Book. That whole summer I spent three to four hours a day reading the book. I went very slowly and carefully, trying to find contradictions and mistakes. I made sure that I did not move ahead until I understood (at some level!) what I had been reading.
The following summer I read St. Augustine's Confessions. In its own way, that book had almost the impact on me that the Urantia Book did. It was while reading that book that I was "baptized in the spirit." It was experienced as an unspeakably sweet sensation in the heart, filling my whole soul. This has been my only extrasensory spiritual experience - and it happened on the New York City subway. This experience is with me always, and is not held in my memory as such, because it docs not reside in my mind, but in my soul.
Nine years later I underwent the greatest trial of my life. In 1979 I was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure. I was immediately put on hemodialysis for the next four years. That experience was probably the turning point in my life, for at least two reasons: One, I experienced my mortality at a relatively young age (28); and two, I simultaneously experienced the depth of my faith status with God. I had no fear of death, although I knew I was at death's door. The faith lessons I had appropriated from the revelation allowed me to console my family through this difficult time.
ROBERT F. BRUYN: To tell you the truth, I don't feel that I found the Urantia Book. Rather, it feels as if the book found me through a conspiracy of circumstances that I believe was the work of angels and midwayers.
It was January 1970, a time of turmoil, risk, decisions, and changes. I was in my third year of graduate study in clinical psychology at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. I had just decided to separate from my wife of seven years. I was so unhappy in this relationship that I was willing to give up everything material and even live apart from my precious six-year-old daughter. My first task was to find a place to live. Since it was in the middle of the academic year, few inexpensive apartments were available. I finally found a room - actually a second-story, screened-in porch that had storm windows placed over the screens. The furniture consisted of a small cot, a desk, and a closet. I shared a kitchen and bath with two other students.
Coincidentally, the student living across the hall had discovered the Urantia Book during his four-year stint in the Navy. David Jones had just returned to college following his discharge. (He has his own amazing tale of finding the Urantia Book through a woman in the hills of California, but that's another story.)
One of the first evenings after moving in, while David was making popcorn and I was warming up a can of soup, he struck up a conversation with me. After discovering my field of study, he asked, "What do they teach about God and religion in psychology?"
"They don't!" I answered.
"Well, what do you think about God and religion?" he inquired.
"I'm not sure," I responded. "I think I believe there's a God but I just don't know...."
I had been raised in a very religious family in a small town in Iowa. From an early age I attended a conservative Protestant church where the Bible was interpreted literally. If a person were to doubt one part of the literal interpretation of the Bible, then "you might as well throw out the whole thing." The anatomy courses I had taken in college convinced me of the evolutionary process. Pow! Now what do I believe? Not the biblical Adam and Eve story. For about five years I had been living with this unresolved conflict between evolution and the Bible.
That evening, David took the opportunity to suggest that I might want to look at an interesting book he had found while in the Navy, the Urantia Book. He invited me to stop by his room sometime.
It didn't take long before I took him up on it, both of us being somewhat alone at the time. David had a large room compared to mine and he owned a stereo system! All I had were my clothes and books. He began to share some passages from the book. Of course, I was curious about what this book had to say about evolution. Immediately I was impressed. The Urantia Book unified science and religion. I could believe in God and in evolution. What a deal! My dilemma was forever resolved. And the book did so much more.
Little did I know that this was just phase one of the conspiracy. "They [angels] cannot fully control the affairs of their respective realms of action, but they can and do so manipulate planetary conditions and so associate circumstances as favorably to influence the spheres of human activity to which they are attached" (p. 1256)
With a new semester and a new set of classes, I met a student named Barbara Newsom. We became friends. One afternoon we were at a pizza shop and during our conversation I mentioned that my new friend David had shared a very interesting book that I had not heard of before. "I think it's called Uracia or something," I said.
"Not the Urantia Book?!" she inquired emphatically. Suddenly, I felt overwhelmed. The feeling was somewhat frightening. I stood up and walked out of the pizza place into the parking lot, somewhat dazed. What was going on here? Two new friends who both knew of a revelatory book that I had never heard of before?
I came to find out that Dr. Myers of Newton, Kansas, had introduced Barbaras family to the Urantia Book amidst a curious set of circumstances following the death of Barbara's sister. But that's another story as well.
I cannot begin to describe the many ways in which the Urantia Book has changed my thinking, my decisions, and my life. I am so grateful for this magnificent revelation of the nature of the universe and my heavenly Dad, and for the wonderful brotherhood of believers - individuals, couples, and families - that I have had the opportunity to become friends with.
LARRY GEIS: High August heat blankets the Southwest desert. The year is 1970. I'm 28 years old and probably the only white, ex-Southern Baptist, agnostic, gay CPA on this planet who's been somewhat psychedelicized. If there are others like me, they're probably in San Francisco, so that's where I'm headed. A two-week visit the year before has inveigled me into quitting my lucrative job at Arthur Andersen in New Orleans, leaving my French Quarter friends and my spacious Victorian flat.
Three of us guys are on the road in a VW bug with an ice chest and a portable 8-track blaring "It's A Beautiful Day," Crosby, Stills & Nash and, of course, the Beatles' Abbey Road. Trading off driving and sleeping, we make Albuquerque, where we crash with some friends. Our goal for the next day is the Grand Canyon, which none of us has ever seen. We opt for a detour to the North Rim, hoping to find some tourist-free solitude.
Arriving about 6 p.m. we find a few vehicles in the parking lot at Point Imperial (elevation 8,803 ft.). A prominent sign says "Danger: Beware of Violent Summer Thunderstorms!" As carefully planned, we ingest some slow-acting, mind-altering substances and prepare to groove on the sunset, spend the night under the stars communing with our inner beings and "come down" just in time to welcome the sunrise.
From where we park it's still a good quarter mile to the rim itself. A nature trail winds through some scrubby, weather-tortured growth that bears witness to fire damage, probably from lightning strikes. We are above the timber line and a few wild rose bushes are in bloom, but mostly there's just lots of barren rock.
Is anyone ever prepared for that first glimpse of the vast majesty of this most awesome natural wonder? Like a big cat, I find a place to perch on a small ledge on the very rim and just stare into the nearly limitless space. Vertigo is not in my vocabulary.
Wow! I notice a small plane flying a few thousand feet below me. Then I see a large thunderstorm forming in the distance, as the baking heat from the canyon floor 6,000 feet below rises into the crisp air. It's mind-boggling: the storm is actually inside the canyon, lazily moving in front of me. Now, both my inner and outer perspectives are expanding rapidly, rushing me into a state of blissful, timeless awe.
Suddenly the wind gusts, and a few raindrops begin to fly. The storm, still discretely discernible, seems to be drifting from right to left. I hear the familiar sound of thunder and the strange echo of that sound off the canyon walls - just too fascinating. My friends appear and suggest we head back to the car. "You guys go on," I say. "I don't mind getting a little wet." They leave me to my reverie.
Then - crack! - a lightning bolt strikes very near me. Despite my disassociated mental state, I have the good sense to realize I can't stand up and run to the safety of the VW I would be the tallest thing on that rocky plateau, a perfect lightning rod. (My first twenty-one years on Urantia were spent in Northern Oklahoma's tornado alley.) Climbing down from my little ledge, I assume a fetal position with my face to the ground and turn my back to the storm, just as the psychoactive potentials of those tiny micrograms begin peaking.
Obviously, I have misjudged the path of the storm; it is rapidly growing outward as well as drifting. That roaring maelstrom literally slams into the side of that Biggest Hole on Earth. Clinging to the scrabbly gravel, I struggle to hang on, barely able to breathe. The storm rages on, pinning me to that precipice.
"...fear can kill" (p.971).
The scene shifts inside: This is beyond fear, this is beyond desperation, this is beyond panic. This is final. I feel like a hosed-down fly on a wall, certain to be washed off into the abyss. "OK, God, so this is The End. There's no way out. I give up, I give in, I surrender. Let's get out of here." If you have read accounts of near-death experiences, or have had one yourself, you know that mere words are insufficient. Here I meet the hellfire-and-damnation God of my religious upbringing. Jealous Jehovah of the volcano. Thor of the thunderbolts. An archetype made painfully real. But wait! - there is something more behind the Wizards curtain, a vastness of Light and Love.
There are certain images I remember. For a brief moment, I am hanging on the cross with the Master, feeling the inexpressible sorrow (not pain) of benighted rejection. A voice inside me says: "Your life can mean as much. You must go back. There is work to do." You can't mean me. I'm just a nobody.
Who was Jesus, anyway? What about Buddha? The voice says: "Buddha was the most egoless man who ever lived; Jesus was the most perfect ego."
How long all this takes, I do not know. But, still trapped in the roaring rain, trying to keep my mind from completely disassociating, I call out for help. A new calm comes over me. Now, I wonder about my friends: Have they made it to the car? Are they all right? As suddenly as it began, the storm abates. Then, I know it is safe to run back to the VW How sweet the wild roses smell in the electrified air!
Leaving every stitch of my rain-soaked clothing in a pile outside, I wrap myself in a most welcome blanket and begin to calm down. There is little we can say to each other and my friends eventually go to sleep. I spend the night listening to the thousands of rivulets flowing into the canyon and (I now know in retrospect) my angels whispering in my ear. Alone, at dawn, I behold the sunrise from the very spot of my trauma.
Three days later, while staying with a friend in Southern California before hitchhiking to San Francisco, I meet another guy who is interested in spiritual realities. We discuss some books we have read: The Doors of Perception, The Varieties of Religious Experience, the novels of Hermann Hesse. "I just passed through Big Sur on my way back here to L.A.," he says. "I stayed with the cook at Nepenthe. His name is Peter Rabbit - really! He showed me this very intriguing, big blue book. I think you might be interested in it."
The next day, my host takes us over to meet someone he knows in the San Fernando Valley who is "into that kind of stuff." His friend isn't home, but his roommate lets us in. Sitting on the coffee table is the Urantia Book. Peter Rabbits friend says, "Oh, there's that book I was telling you about."
By October of 1970, I was settled in San Francisco's North Beach, rooming with a Tarot card reader, devouring that big blue book as fast as I could. Presumably by chance, I met some more new readers of this revelation. We formed a study group that has met weekly at some place or other to this day.
DAVID BRADLEY: In 1970, I purchased the Urantia Book after my wife had heard that it was a "high" (that's '60s jargon for "mind-expanding") book. At the time my library included books by Carl Jung, John Lilly, Aldous Huxley, Black Elk, Carlos Castaneda, Lynn Andrews, C. S. Lewis, and others. I put the UB on the shelf with my other spiritual adventure books. At this time I did not believe in God, and had had no religious training; but I had experienced good, inexplicable magic in my personal life and I loved synchronicity. I liked to go to rock music bars and power/spirit dance. While dancing, I would sometimes steer myself by imagining that I was moving harmoniously with the presence of Jesus. At this time I had begun to wonder if Jesus was a brujo, like Don Juan or Don Genero of the Castaneda books. I started reading the New Testament with this question in mind, and I found evidence of metaphysical events in Jesus' life, such as his turning water into wine and creating the loaves and fishes. At this time I noticed that the last part of the Urantia Book was also about the life and teachings of Jesus, and I started reading to find out more.
I read only a few pages of Part IV and found them to be intelligently and coherently written. I stopped, went to the front of the book, and began to read there. During that first reading I discovered that God was real and had personal relationship experiences.
I truly thank my guidance for leading me to God, the First Source and Center of that good, inexplicable magic and love. I'm very thankful that the Urantia Book is here. And I still like to dance, albeit more socially most of the time.
DENVER PEARSON: As a child growing up in Santa Fe, I spent many warm summer nights lying under the dark, clear New Mexican skies. I would stare up at the stars and wonder what they were all about and if there was life out there. Something was drawing me to seek for that information.
As a teen I was surrounded by Catholic friends. I had not been raised in any particular faith, and so I was free to think for myself and develop my own philosophy. It became easy to poke holes in my friends' theology. When they couldn't explain something to me, they would say, "It's a mystery." I had a difficult time accepting this answer. Something inside told me there was a real answer somewhere.
Years went by and in 1970, in my early twenties, I found myself working for the National Parks Service at the Grand Canyon. My first summer there, I was in the company of many young people of different faiths - Mormons and evangelical Christians - who were working for the commercial vendors at Desert View, on the South Rim. We all spent many nights in heavy discussions about why one religion might be right and another wrong.
When the summer ended and the others were gone for the season, I was left alone to ponder our discussions. Feeling ignorant and wanting to understand why people believe what they do, I found books on different religions and tried to educate myself. I did a lot of deep thinking that summer. I even came up with my own version of evolution and of the source of life and the human race. My mind was brewing. At night I would lie in bed craving to know what life was all about, sincerely asking for the power to know these things.
One day, near the end of my season, I was at a filling station when a couple drove up in a station wagon. I happened to notice they had two dark-colored Burmese cats, so I struck up a conversation with them, telling them about the black cat I had recently adopted. They invited me to the campground to talk. That evening I went to see them, and later we went back to my place to drink some wine and talk some more. I told them about my search.
As the night wore on the couple revealed that they were from the Chicago area, where a friend of theirs had discovered a mysterious book that had changed his life. They told me that this friend went to inquire about the origin of the book at a place called the Foundation, and that when he knocked on the door a person opened it saying, "We've been waiting for you." That was all it took for me to want to find this book. I asked them the name of the book and they said something like, "You Rancha" but they spelled it "Euranchia."
With the name of the book in hand, I proceeded to the libraries and bookstores in Flagstaff but couldn't find it. Did it really exist? This made me even more curious and determined. Instead I bought some books on astral travel and Buddhism, as well as some by Tuesday Lobsang Rampa. I put the "Euranchia" Book in the back of my mind.
The season finally ended for me, so I took my cat, my books and my quest for truth and went back home to Santa Fe. One day soon after arriving home I was riding in the car with my younger brother, and out of the blue I asked him if he had heard of the "Euranchia" Book. I was surprised when he replied that he had heard of it, and that we had a mutual friend from high school who had a copy of it. This friend was now a dope-smoking hippie, so I wasn't quite sure what kind of book he would be interested in, but I didn't waste any time getting to his house to see this mysterious book for myself. He agree to let me borrow it.
At last I had a copy of this heavy, big blue book with the strange name, Urantia. No wonder I hadn't been able to find it. I took the book home and began reading. I couldn't believe my eyes. This was it, the missing puzzle piece that matched perfectly with the pieces in my mind. It was such a strange experience that I became leery. Was this a Communist trick? Was this a deception of the devil? It took me a while to work through my doubts, but finally I had to accept the fact that my deep desires for truth had been satisfied by a revelation from on high. That year I went to France and immersed myself in the book's teachings about Adam and Eve, Thought Adjusters, Jesus, angels and life on other planets. It was such a wonderful experience reading it for the first time. After years of studying and living this revelation, it has not lost its freshness. The people I have encountered through this book are the most intelligent, alive and fun-loving people I have ever met and I will cherish their friendships forever.
JERRY MCCOLLUM: 1970, Marysville, Washington. I had dropped out of college and was hanging out in a commune made up of drop-outs and unemployed types. Boeings massive layoffs had impacted everyone in the region.
Both my partner and I said something like "Whoa!" and proceeded to ask questions. The cursor moved so fast that we had to have one person standing directly over us writing down the letters in sequence. When the cursor stopped we would pause to divide the letters into words. I was startled that all the words were correctly spelled, and that they formed coherent sentences.
An entity named Daljek, who called itself a "Fellowship Guardian" began answering questions. At one point, in response to someone's question, Daljek said, "Ask your Thought Adjuster."
"Thought Adjuster? Thought Adjuster? What the hell is a Thought Adjuster?" We were all looking at each other, wondering, "What is this nonsense?" All of a sudden, a guy who had been sitting nearby on the couch jumped up and said, "Wait, I just read something about that!" He ran upstairs to his bedroom and came back with the Urantia Book which he had bought the day before at the University of Washington bookstore in Seattle.
We put away the Ouija board, waited as he thumbed through the book searching for "Thought Adjusters," and listened as he began to read about them. I remember feeling as if I had tapped into something really significant.
I bought a copy of the UB for myself a month later. I still have it on my bedside stand. The spine has been repaired twice from abusive perusal of spiritual truth.
PHILIP GEIGER: It was 1970. The Vietnam War was raging, Nixon was lying about bombing Cambodia, and the National Guard was killing fellow war protestors at Kent State. I had just graduated from high school and was heading for Alaska to begin my adult life, far from the madding crowd. My first spiritual longings were being fueled by reading D. T. Suzuki and the novels of Hermann Hesse.
I never made it to Alaska, ending up in Hawaii instead. Broke, jobless, and friendless, I took up residence on a boat in noisy Ala Wai harbor in Waikiki. One day my starving stomach got the best of me and I allowed a local squad of Krishna devotees to spirit me away to their temple in the lush Manoa Valley. There they stuffed me full of vegetarian delights and introduced me to a lifestyle of serving and worshipping God. Most of them were recent arrivals from a commune on Molokai and had backgrounds similar to my own. After long hours of conversation, they talked me into joining the temple.
Our daily regime consisted of a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call by a monk shaking our shoulders as we slept on the hardwood floor, saying, "Krishna needs you now." We'd then trudge up a wet hill under the stars to take a cold shower under a garden hose. After dressing in a traditional orange dhoti, we'd drag our "skin-encapsulated egos" into the worship room and begin chanting Krishna. After breakfast and chores, we'd head into Waikiki to spread the good word, chanting and praising God for five hours nonstop in our bare feet on the skiddle-hot concrete in the scorching Hawaiian sun.
After three weeks I decided that this wasn't really my path in life. During a worship session in the temple, I remember saying, "God, I don't mind serving you, but get me the hell out of here." I left the next day and accepted an invitation to stay the night at a house on the shores of Waimea Bay. That evening, lost and confused, I headed out to a natural jetty to meditate, to seek some sort of purposeful direction for my life. Armed with a healthy dose of traditional American Indian sacrament, I sat in half-lotus and let the universe know in no uncertain terms I wasn't budging until I got some answers. Hours passed and absolutely nothing in the way of answers emerged. On an impulse, I got up and returned to the house. A young woman asked whether I was aware that it had been raining for the last couple of hours. I absently responded no, and headed over to the bookcase. The first book I put my hand on was Big Blue. Opening it up at random, my eyes alighted on the beginning of "Energy - Mind and Matter." I was enthralled. I turned back to the table of contents and read as much as I could of the dancing, rainbow-enshrouded letters. But it was enough to convince me that my prayer had been answered.
I rushed back outside, resumed my meditative position, and thanked the universe profusely. I had one further request: a place to read the book, hopefully uninterrupted. Suddenly a single word entered my consciousness: "Makenna." All attempts to elicit further information were fruitless. The next morning, I casually asked the other members of the household if they knew who or what Makenna was. Someone responded that he knew of a beach on Maui by that name, and that it was occupied by a loose community of a hundred or so hippies living naked in the kiawi trees. I thrilled to this information and, counting up my remaining funds, determined that I had just enough for a one-way ticket to Maui. I left the next day.
Having settled into a comfortable camp between two gorgeous beaches in southwest Maui, I began a daily regime of meditation, yoga, and reading. I read The Zen of Suzuki, Hui Hai and Alan Watts, perfect accompaniments to my simple lifestyle. A gem of a book written in the first person, The Impersonal Life, introduced me to the idea of an interactive God within.
Finally, after a couple of months my mother sent me $20 for my birthday, and I bought the only Urantia Book available on the island. I began reading it sequentially every day over the next three months. More than anything at the time, the book introduced me to my real spiritual family, my real place in the universe.
BILL SPANG: Although I grew up in many areas of the West Coast, I call Seattle home, as it is here that I have most of my adolescent and early adult memories. I started running away from home at 13. My friends were all older than I and having much more fun. The rock festivals of the era were in full bloom and I wasn't interested in getting an education at school, much to the dismay of my folks. It was more fun to travel. I was lost in my adolescent confusion and had nobody to turn to. I remember one night when I found myself alone in the rain, crying and praying. My life was soon to change.
In Seattle, as a 16-year-old in 1970, I first came in contact with the Urantia Book. I had attended a music festival and was staying with friends the New Age Foundation in Eatonville, Washington. Our host, Wayne Aho, talked about the Urantia Book, among other things. From there I traveled to Montrose, Colorado, where I met a woman who also had this book. It seemed that everywhere I went people were reading this big blue book.
After hitchhiking to New York and back twice I found myself living in a commune on The Hill in Seattle. There I became close friends with a guy named Woody, who also had the book and would often quote from it. As time went on I asked to borrow it from him. The following year we went to Wenatchee to pick apples, and there I met someone who sold me my copy of the Urantia Book. Although it was expensive for me at the time, it was the best $20 I've ever spent in my life.
I have since read the entire book, but have referred to "The Life and Teachings of Jesus" most. Although I strayed quite a bit from religion for about twenty years, I continued throughout to read Part IV and tried to hold on to my faith. Through many life challenges, our Father has always been patient with me. It is never too late to change one's path in life, and Jesus is ever ready to accept us back into his spiritual arms.
SCOTT BROOKS: It was the fourth of July, 1970, when I reached my bottom. My drug-filled life had brought me to my confused state of despair, but it would be a few more years before I realized that. I threw myself to the ground and pounded the earth. I considered suicide for a moment and the shock of even considering such an action made me realize I had to find a new way.
A friend of a friend was reading a big blue book which had impressed my friend. I thought I might visit this fellow, Ralph Smith, and ask him about God. When I told Ralph how troubled I had become he suggested I go to a mountaintop and meditate on some aspect of God.
I drove up the coast to Ventura County and headed for the mountains. I spent the day hiking and, at the summit, meditated on the triune God concept that Ralph had described from the Urantia Book. It was a wonderful day, but as I drove back down the coast highway for my home in Topanga, I realized nothing had changed. I was about to return to my same ragged life.
The next day I had an amazing experience. In the middle of a conversation with a friend, I suddenly announced, "I know what I'll do!" and proceeded to describe a short-term plan of action that would get me out of my bind. The amazing thing was that even as I spoke the words, I did not know where the ideas behind them were coming from. I was actually listening to the words as they poured out of my mouth. It was a fairly elaborate plan, yet during the minute or so that I spoke I was completely aware that I was not speaking these words in any normal way.
The plan that came forth was a good one, so I proceeded to act on it. I believed then that this experience was somehow related to my earnest prayers of the day before and perhaps was designed to show me the reality of God. This religious experience truly lifted me and propelled me towards recovery. The experience was then, and remains today, a mystery and one that has never occurred again.
I began reading the Urantia Book along with other texts on God, from St. Thomas Aquinas to the Bhagavad Gita. I was open-minded but skeptical of the Urantia Book for many years. I suspected that someday I would discover it to be a work of fiction or fantasy.
After years of intense scrutiny, I began to relax my defenses and allow it to work in my life.
JIM DOWNS: I first came into contact with the Urantia Book in November, 1970, when I was 21 years old and living in a little town near Vail, Colorado. I had recently befriended a local grade-school teacher. One day he told me he was going to Colorado Springs to visit his family and pick up a book that had been described to him as "amazing." Other than this vague but enthusiastic recommendation, he knew nothing about the book. I gave him $15 and asked him to buy a copy for me, too. To this day I do not know why I did that. He and I weren't close buddies, and I had no particular reason to trust his taste in literature.
But in light of what happened next, I wonder if some unseen helper influenced me to reach for my wallet. I got the book and began reading it. I was not the kind of person to read big books, but I was not put off by this one. Since it was obvious that the first part of the book was well over my head, I did as many others have done - I read the book backwards, Part IV first and Part I last.
I was an eager reader and was more than halfway through the Urantia Book when, in January of 1971, disaster struck. Jenny, the woman I was living with in common-law marriage, died in a freak accident. I was devastated. When such a crisis occurs, all but the core of one's essence is stripped away. I had to examine my reality in its purest state. (I had felt this before when I was 13 and almost died in a ditch. I had grabbed a live wire, was severely shocked, then passed out face down in shallow water and almost drowned.)
As I had just begun reading the Urantia Book, not as many of its teachings had been integrated into my universe as they now are. Yet, I did have an interesting experience. On the night of Jenny's death, as I grieved and prayed, thrown into a trance by the emotional crisis, I found myself in a void. There was no light or dark, no matter or substance. Whether it was purely mental, or whether I was being spiritually influenced, I do not know.
I asked (or, more accurately, I felt), "How can this be?" My plea was for answers from the foundation of primal reality; it spanned the complete void as well as total existence, including all of life and death. The answer came back from within and without: "Because I Am." It was then that I knew I would be fine. I knew that I would grow to understand, accept, and eventually deal with Jenny's death, and everything else for that matter, sooner or later.
Since then I have tried to live the teachings of the Urantia Book, to grow and become more than I am. I realized then, as I do now, that there is a future self that I will become. One can attach the mind to that more complete ideal of one's self which will, by one's choices and experiences, draw oneself forward to that new state of existence. That future self is, of course, the Thought Adjuster, as well as all of one's intermediate selves that occur before fusion.
The teachings of the Urantia Book, and my ever-expanding appreciation of beauty, understanding of truth, and living of goodness, are my religion.
GEORGE COUTIS: I was born and raised in a small Wyoming farm town at the foot of the magnificent Big Horn mountains. My parents came from Greek and English backgrounds. A rather shy, Catholic boy, I was definitely being groomed for the priesthood as I performed my altar-boy duties.
Right from the get-go I felt a deep personal relationship with Jesus. But by age 15, having endured much family turmoil and dysfunction, I said goodbye to Catholicism and began my search for personal identity and truth. I could not buy into that particular brand of religion, because I knew somehow, somewhere deep in my soul, that there was more to it than "We're the best and the one and only true religion." Besides, my nuclear family began to disintegrate and I became very confused. How could God allow so much pain in my life and in the lives of those I loved?
From the beginning my quest involved complete separation from the society that I had known up to that point. By 1970, having transferred to Idaho State University in Pocatello, I began taking drugs to get high. I was full of questions: Who am I? Where am I going? What is my purpose? My intellect was always at work questioning, but no answers quite "got it" for me.
One evening I was directed to someone's house to buy pot. I had no idea who this person was but I went with the flow. As we became acquainted and transacted our business, there was something about him, something in the steady gaze of his eyes, that attracted me. I went back to his place unannounced a few days later. We talked for a long time about life and what we thought we were looking for. As I prepared to leave, he handed me this big blue book, saying, "Here. Read this and come back and tell me what you think of it."
As I carried it home, the Urantia Book seemed to have a radiance of its own - it pulsated - and I knew, before I'd even opened the cover, that I had something very good in my 19-year-old hands.
I got home, climbed into bed, and excitedly opened the book. Although the names and terminology were foreign to me, as I skimmed through the pages, mini-lights went off in my head. It all simply and immediately rang true within my being. I knew I had a major tool to help answer those questions of identity and purpose. What relief I felt! What inner peace!
Now, thirty years later, I admit that I still have ups and downs as I captain my ship through both the calm and choppy waters of mortal life. But I have a wonderful pilot by my side; I am never alone. The UB is always close by to offer new insights, even from the same page or sentence that I may have read fifty times previously. And all I can say from my tippy-tippy toes to the toppy-top of my now nearly hairless head is: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
MARTY GREENHUT: I began searching for a revelation of God in my childhood, after finding out that the world was not exactly as it was presented in the Dick and Jane readers or in Sunday school lessons. I was very unhappy with the hypocrisy and jungle-like, survival-of-the-fittest society in which I found myself growing up during World War II and the subsequent Cold War years.
I went to high school and college at Yeshiva University where I also attended the Hebrew Teachers Institute for six years as a practicing and believing Orthodox Jew. By the time I got out of Yeshiva I was ready to spread my wings and try to change the world. I became a teacher, hoping to nurture the younger generations in brotherhood and love. This ended when I discovered that schools were forbidden to do anything but prepare the next generation for the workplace - for competition. The marketplace with its profit motive was in control and there was nothing I could do about it.
In the mid-'60s I became dedicated to the civil rights struggle and the peace movement. It was through the teachings of Martin Luther King that I became interested in non-violence, and it was in the Black churches that I was introduced to Jesus. Though I had been an activist against the war in Vietnam, part of me leaned in the other direction, toward the belief that violent revolution was the only option. When the moment of decision came - whether to follow the path of violence or non-violence - I had my first real contact with Jesus. When I decided to go his way, I found him by my side and pledged to follow him in my search for truth.
In 1970, while living in northern New Mexico as a hippie, I met someone who, after getting to know me, said, "Marty, you should read the Urantia Book." The book was not available in that isolated place, but one arrived with a person who was visiting our little village from San Francisco for a week and he loaned it to me. My wife Gloria and I spent the entire week reading aloud to each other. I knew that I had received the information that I'd been searching for.
I was given five full years to devote to its study and to work out the questions I had about revolutionizing the world. I found myself understanding Jesus in a certain way because his childhood culture was so much like mine. His education and parenting were things that I understood firsthand. I feel as though I met Jesus in Capernaum on the shores of Galilee and not at all through the introduction of Paul. I still relate to Jesus as a Jew and find my background to be a real advantage in understanding him.
I have been paid in excess for my labors and have since entered the kingdom and been enlisted in the Urantia corps of agondonters. It is the greatest privilege I can imagine to be in the receivership of the fifth epochal revelation for our world, and meeting my Urantia friends has been an unspeakable joy.
JOHN ROPER: My family was not the kind that openly talked about religion. We went to church on Sunday, but not much was said after that. It was expected that you believed in God, so no discussion was necessary. When I was about seven years old we moved from Portsmouth, Virginia, to Richmond, Virginia, and with the connections to our church gone, we were free to find a new church association. I began going to Sunday school at a little Episcopal church with my best friend. Eventually all the family, my parents and brother, went there.
This was the first place I remember hearing about Jesus. I was sitting around one of those very low children's tables with little chairs. The teacher was reading to us out of a book similar to Fun with Dick and Jane, but it was about Jesus. I felt a surge in my little heart unlike anything I had ever experienced. I couldn't explain it and it frightened me. I seemed to have a small understanding about God, but who was this Jesus person, and why did I feel so funny learning about him?
I continued going to the Episcopal church, was confirmed, and served in church services. But the story of Jesus' life as presented in the Bible, and the doctrines taught about him in church, just didn't seem right. I could never reconcile the death of Jesus as an act to save us from our sins. It just wasn't logical.
As I grew older, I moved away from organized religion. Science fiction became my source of universe philosophy. Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Smith, Herbert, and Clarke all expanded my perception of reality and allowed me to consider existence beyond the boundaries of this planet. College and my first marriage came along. I was still in a fog about Jesus, but at the same time God was still there. My wife and I looked into Eastern religions and astrology - the '60s kind of things – but nothing lit my fire like science fiction. Life on this planet seemed to be changing rapidly and there was excitement about the future - I just didn't know what that future was.
In 1970 we were living in the little town of Keego Harbor, Michigan. In September of that year I flew to San Francisco for a job interview. When I returned, my wife and a stranger named George Sammis picked me up at the airport. George was the friend of a neighbor in the apartment complex where we lived, and he was nice enough to drive my wife down to the airport. On the way home, George told me about a new book he had just gotten from his mother. The words he used to describe it were, "... and it is supposed to be written by people from outer space!" Whoa! The magic words: "outer space." I was hooked.
That evening George came over and opened the box containing a brand-new copy of the Urantia Book, and we began reading, the first time for us all. We started with the first Adam and Eve paper, and by the time we finished it I knew that this book was the book with the answers. The next morning George returned home to Clear Lake, Iowa. The book went with him. No bookstores in our area carried the Urantia Book and we couldn't find it in the library. I had no desire to read any of the four or five unread science fiction books sitting on my shelf. Then January came and George surprised us with a return visit and our very own copy of the Urantia Book. What an incredible gift!
My marriage was floundering and I thought a change of venue would help, so off to Colorado we went. The book came along, but other events in my life were taking precedence: The birth of a son, anti-war demonstrations at Colorado University in Boulder, difficulty keeping a job and rocky roads with my wife all led eventually to divorce and a return home to Michigan. My wife kept our original copy of the Urantia Book and I got my own. I read it nightly, keeping it on my night table, where coincidentally, Jane, my true love, first saw it.
Of all the times I have read the book, the most special was with Jane and our three children on our great 1976 odyssey to Alaska where we read it through together for the first time. Driving up the Alaskan Highway, listening to Beethoven, watching the unbelievable scenery and reading the Urantia Book - what an awesome way to finally find out about the matchless nature of our Creator Son/brother Michael! I am forever changed.
THEA HARDY: My earliest memories are of lights moving across the ceiling of my room at night as I lay in my crib under the window. They were only passing cars, but they were magical to me. When I found out about stars, I knew I wanted to be an astronomer. I didn't realize I was looking for God. I grew up mainstream Methodist, but the ideas of God and Jesus promoted by my family and church, while warm and fuzzy, didn't make a huge impression. To me, the feeling of God was mostly found singing Bach in the church choir, with the huge pipe organ thundering joy, and light streaming through the tall stained-glass windows. I ran for sheer joy on the hillsides above Boise, drinking in the sun and sky, but I didn't know that I knew God.
By high school, disgusted with the hypocrisy I saw around me, I was a defiant atheist. I enjoyed tearing down religion. But after a few years in college, I began studying philosophy and even tried inventing a world religion as a class project. I became aware that I was searching for meaning.
In the late '60s I moved to Berkeley and continued my pursuit of enhanced consciousness in the manner of the times. Initially, I was overjoyed by the celebration of diversity that I had never seen before. I felt that I had found my place at last. But over time, as happens in movements, codification and polarization changed things. Diversity shrank until there was a semi-uniform code even amongst the supposedly free. Peace and love were preached, but up close they were still not practiced. Disillusionment only spurred my pursuit. I moved out of the city and into the country.
In 1970, near where I lived in Sonoma, California, I encountered an unusual group of people who invited me to a study group where they read a big blue book. I went because I was attracted to the young man who asked me. At first, I was outraged. These people were obviously intelligent, but they believed such crazy stuff. The young man suggested I treat the book as science fiction. This let me suspend my disbelief enough to start reading. Within a few months, we studied Paper 100. The story of enlarging the picture on the snarling filthy hulk facing the saber-toothed tiger made a tremendous impression on me. The entire paper opened up my heart. Suddenly I knew something very important had happened to me and I had to have my own copy of this book.
I got my first (and still most beloved) copy that summer in Sausalito, and began to devour the incredible quantity of truth, beauty and goodness it contained. In short order, I attempted communication with my Adjuster, something I have continued to seek all these years. My search was being rewarded, and the real adventure began. Learning to understand more about God, the universe, people and myself started to satisfy the hunger for meaning that had been growing in me throughout my life. And yet it left me with a yearning for more. At last I had found the light my child-mind had been drawn to all those years ago.
My personal culture has undergone many changes over the years, but the basic values of the UB have only grown more deeply rooted, deeply felt, and more fully understood as time has passed and I have continued my study. The more I read the book, the more truth it seems to contain, and the more fascinating it becomes. Things I could not begin to understand in the beginning have become clearer and clearer, but more wonderful mysteries to solve always present themselves. In recent years, I have had the opportunity to begin more fully to live what the book has taught me, and that experience of attempting to live the truth is the supreme thrill of all. The book has been friend, companion, and counselor in both good and terrible times. It remains my touchstone for truth and reality. The adventure continues.
ED OWEN: I was born in 1934, in Spokane, Washington. Raised Catholic, I early learned the value of prayer and used it to my advantage to get what I needed to survive a less-than-average childhood. In 1952 I joined the army. From 1952 to 1955 I was stationed in Germany where I encountered the aftermath of World War II. I then bounced around the planet, experiencing various addictions, divorce, and other assorted failures. To be fair I must also admit that I usually carried a joyful outlook on life in general.
In 1970, I was going through some big changes in my life, having quit my job and being more or less homeless, searching for something but not really knowing what it was. I was reading many books on different religions and philosophies, but the only one that really held my attention was the New Testament. There was something magnetic about Jesus steady sayings: "Consider the lilies," "planting the seeds," "the lost sheep," and many others.
About this time I was hit by a car and thought I was surely going to die. While lying there waiting for the lights to go out, I asked God to forgive me for wasting my life. But I survived, and about six weeks later, while I was healing in shared living quarters, I met someone who was always reading a big book in the corner of our little one-room haven. One day I asked, "W.L., what are you reading?" He replied that it was quite an interesting book, and placed it on my bed so I could look at while he went out for a while.
I opened the book to page 1096, and the first thing I read was, "The goal of human self-realization should be spiritual, not material. "I closed it, my thumb marking the page, so I could keep reading right there. My thought was, "If it says that much in one sentence, what does the rest of this book have to say? I was fascinated. I couldn't read fast enough. Within a few hours I had visited the mansion worlds, the Garden of Eden, a neighboring planet - just to name a few first-day highlights. I had been given The Revelation.
I looked for a place to live where I could spend some time reading, and moved to Bisbee, Arizona. I realized God was giving me a vacation from all duties so I could align my priorities. I recall reading at the time how Jesus mingled with many different people, and I felt honored to do likewise, attending Urantia conferences in Colorado, Washington, Idaho, Illinois, Wisconsin, and California.
I now live in Sacramento and do volunteer work. I also play and teach the physics of the golf stroke. I look forward to meeting more travelers on our way to the outer space regions. Come and visit - we can talk about God 'n' golf!
RUSS GUSTAFSON: Raised a Catholic, I went to Catholic grammar school and Catholic high school. I took to heart the idea that God loves everyone, and freely questioned whatever teachings did not fit within that concept.
In 1965 I went off to college at UC Santa Barbara. My grandmother said I shouldn't go there because it was full of Communists who didn't believe in God. I was looking forward to college where I would see all points of view and judge for myself. I majored in biology, switched to philosophy and finally graduated in 1970 from UC Berkeley with a degree in bacteriology. The thing I learned was that nobody knew anything.
After college, without a job, I lived with my parents for a short time. My father handed me a big blue book that he had bought at the urging of an airline pilot friend. I glanced at a few pages and fell in love with the long sentences that flowed like poetry. For three months I read the book full time. It became the basis of my life. Thank you, Father!
BOB HUNT: In the spring of 1970 I was living near Monterey, California, and teaching mathematics at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. My brother Pat, a professor of speech communications at San Francisco State University, had recently given a hitchhiker a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. In expressing his appreciation for the ride, the hitchhiker, a young man described as having very peaceful, clear blue eyes, spoke of a book that he said was written by supermortal celestial beings. Knowing of my interest in such matters, Pat told me of the unusual encounter but confessed that he could not recall the name of the book, only that it sounded like "tarantula."
Curious about the story and the book, I began searching with the limited information that my brother had provided. At the renowned City Lights bookstore in the North Beach section of San Francisco, I inquired about "a book whose title sounded like 'tarantula' and was written by beings from other worlds." The clerk, without batting an eye, told me he didn't know whether they had such a book, but that I should search in their "extra-terrestrial section." Having no success, I proceeded to another well-known bookstore, The Tides, in Sausalito, a popular waterfront town in Marin County across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. There, the clerk replied that I must be looking for the Urantia Book, which they did have in the store.
Upon viewing the large book in a pale blue dust jacket and priced at $15, I was immediately struck by the opening words of the Foreword: "In the minds of the mortals of Urantia - that being the name of your world - there exists great confusion respecting the meaning of such terms as God, divinity, and deity? These words rang true and affirmed aspects of my lifelong spiritual search, beginning with positive experiences in the Methodist Church during my youth and continuing with my ongoing interest in world religions and philosophy.
So I purchased the book. It proved to be incredibly consistent with my faith and beliefs, as well as a fulfillment of my lifelong search for truth, beauty, and goodness.
I immediately shared my discovery with my friend and colleague, Phil Calabrese, with whom I was already having discussions about science, philosophy, and religion along lines strikingly similar to what this wonderful book was offering. Within the next two years, I read and studied the book and shared it with other close friends, including Dick and Cheryl Prince in San Diego. In 1972, Phil and I taught an experimental college course on the Urantia Book in Bakersfield, California, and became acquainted with Julia Fenderson, who was at the time the West Coast Field Representative of the Urantia Brotherhood. Julia had been a friend of Dr. William Sadler and a member of the group known as the Forum, who first viewed and read the Urantia Papers prior to their publication. Julia, often accompanied by members of the First Urantia Society of Los Angeles (FUSLA), attended every session of our course in Bakersfield.
In subsequent years, I attended FUSLA meetings and gatherings in Los Angeles, including the first West Coast Conference, which featured a memorable concert by Buffy Sainte-Marie, a long-time Urantia Book reader. I met many wonderful people, including Vincent Ventola, a visionary artist of the "spiritual renaissance," as he called it. By invitation, I introduced the book to a gathering of the World Future Society in Los Angeles in 1974, in a talk called "The Urantia Book - A Guide to the Future and Beyond." In 1981 I gave a talk on "Spiritual Mind Receptivity" at the Urantia Brotherhood's General Conference in Snowmass, Colorado; and another on "Time and Space" in 1988, at the first Scientific Symposium in Nashville, Tennessee.
I remain a dedicated and committed student of the Urantia Book, and I offer praise and gratitude for its appearance on our world at this time in our journey through time and space.
PHIL CALABRESE: Raised Roman Catholic and called "The Pope" by my fellow dorm residents in college, I realized at around age 23 that there is no certainty in Catholic dogma. The principle of papal infallibility was an error. Putting aside the regular practice of Roman Catholicism without losing sight of God, I decided to think about it all after some time had passed.
Six years later, married and finished with graduate school, I resumed my questioning. In college and after I had asked myself and others, "What is my connection to God? Is it the Church? the Pope? the Bible? tradition?" I returned to this question as a mathematician, but was willing to read anything that might be helpful. I thought I should read what Jesus, presumably a master of religious knowledge, had said about this question. This led me to read the four Gospels, skipping over any words not uttered by Jesus. I soon realized that Jesus was always talking about "the kingdom of God," and I determined to understand what he meant by this phrase. After several sessions of reading, I reached the Gospel of Luke where Jesus answers that "the kingdom of God is within you." It dawned on me that the certainty I was seeking about God could never come from outside my own mind; it had to be like an insight, like a mathematical theorem. It could not be through some outer confirmation; that could always be a magicians trick.
As soon as I had this realization I became aware of another mind in the room with me. I turned around in my seat but there was no one there. Although I could see no one, I was aware of a very strong feeling of being loved. My question had been, "What is my connection to God?" and here was more than an answer. It was a demonstration. After several minutes of this, my mind wandered onto some ideas related to the experience, and I momentarily forgot the smiling presence in the room. When I came back from my daydream I was a bit alarmed to realize that the experience was still happening. I thought, "How long am I going to be this way?" Back came the answer into my mind, "As long as you require it." So after several more moments basking in this presence, after there was no doubt whatsoever about what was happening, I thought, "Okay, now I can practice being as I was." Within ten or fifteen seconds I felt the mind move closer and then coalesce with my own mind, and I was back to normal.
For years I told no one about this experience, but soon I was talking about time and eternity, truth, justice, and other absolutes. One day I was discussing these concepts with Pat Hunt, a professor friend, when he said, "You are reminding me of a book I heard about from a hitchhiker. The name sounds like 'tarantula.'" Pat's brother Bob later found it - the Urantia Book - in a metaphysical bookstore. Bob told me that he'd decided to buy the book after thinking of me.
When Bob put it into my lap it was love at first sight. I devoured the book in four-plus months, beginning with thematic readings laid out in Clyde Bedell's Concordex, and then doing a complete sequential reading, including two readings of the Jesus papers.
I've been an enthusiastic reader and student of the revelation ever since. But I've never allowed the written word to supersede the living Spirit that we all carry as our personal connection to God.
Addendum: I heard recently from long-time reader Char Sneve that Sam, a guitarist for Janis Joplin, had hitchhiked up and down California in the late '60s with the purpose of telling people about the Urantia Book. Could it be . .. ?
LYN DAVIS LEAR: After graduating from college, I got married, found a job, and the realities of life set in. I worked long days, and my husband and I had almost no social life. It was at the end of the '60s and we were all caught up in the spirit of the times.
All my life I had been searching, but filling out my silhouette of God now became an all-consuming obsession. For two years I read everything I could find on religion, the occult, New Age and Eastern philosophies. I read Edgar Cayce at lunch and Teilhard de Chardin after dinner. Eventually I had pieced together a meaningful, somewhat coherent world view, but something was missing.
I had been brought up in an extended fundamentalist Presbyterian family. I remember arguing with the counselors and ministers about the poor children in India going to hell because they didn't believe in Jesus. I could not accept that kind of a God in my heart. Eventually I got kicked out of camp for questioning too much. But I always believed in some kind of loving God, and would have long discussions with my younger siblings about infinity and eternity. The philosophical and metaphysical world always fascinated me, but a real understanding of Jesus eluded me.
One day I was in a shopping mall during my lunch hour, exploring a bookstore I had been in a hundred times before. I had been praying to get to know Jesus better, to rid myself of any negative associations I might have had about him, when I looked up and saw the Urantia Book. I couldn't understand why I had never seen it before. I read the front and back flaps and started to cry. I just knew this book had the answers I had been searching for. I had to open a charge account because I couldn't afford the $25 it cost.
I read it every day for several months and strangely, every bit of it made sense, although I hardly understood it all. Eventually I moved to Los Angeles and met Julia Fenderson, became involved in FUSLA [the First Urantia Society of Los Angeles], and have been in and around the Urantia movement ever since.
Discovering the Urantia Book and its teachings has, without a doubt, been the single most important event in my life.
DENIE SCHACH: I was raised in a very Catholic Dutch family that immigrated to the United States when I was six. We were sponsored by Saint Peter's Catholic Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. My father loved religious philosophy and we would often discuss religion at length.
In 1968 my husband, John Schach, took a philosophy class at Indiana Tech from Dr. Meredith Sprunger. Dr. Sprunger often used the Urantia Book in his courses. John brought the book home and, although he never developed an interest in it himself, he left it out in plain view.
In January 1971 I was living in Jersey City, New Jersey. It was the time of the Vietnam War, and John had left to go into the National Guard. His parents, who had been living with us, were also gone; his mother had died the previous year and his father had taken a job in Canada. I was alone in the house, four months pregnant, and right in front of me was the Urantia Book. Once I began to read it, I couldn't put it down and it became my friend. It answered, and continues to answer, so many of my questions.
I kept on reading the book for twenty-five years without knowing that there were other readers like me out there. Then, in 1999, I gave the book to an acquaintance who looked it up on the Internet. There, to our surprise, we discovered a whole world of Urantia Book readers. Six months later I attended my first Urantia conference, in Vancouver, and was amazed by all the Urantia people there. I was going through a very difficult period in my life at that time, but I was strengthened by finding my Urantia family.
The Urantia Book has provided soil for growth as well as validation that there is an eternal adventure. It would take a book in itself to explain how my life has been affected by the Urantia teachings.
JAMAIL MCKINNEY: I was living in San Francisco in 1957 and a passing tourist was visiting a friend of mine. Over dinner, the visitor talked about the Urantia Book and I, as a compulsive reader of anything, asked to borrow it. I took it up to Kings Canyon National Park for a quiet weekend and only got as far as "The Seven Superuniverses" when I had to return the book. Hungry for more, I searched for another copy. For several years in my quest, I inquired at many bookstores for a book called Arancha. I never found it.
Then one day in 1971, while living in a commune in Portland, I found the Urantia Book in a small bookstore for $15. I bought it using money granted me by this communal group, although we were barely surviving at the time. In 1972 we moved to land in Aeneas Valley in Washington and there I finally finished reading it. Inspired, I began a campaign trail of hitchhiking and talking about the book all around America.
That spring, through an ad, I found another reader. Zabriel was the second person I'd met who had ever heard of the book. He came up to our land and we had many talks in my tipi. Together we spent the fall picking apples in nearby Okanogan County. That winter I met Burt King and Doris George of Urantian Research in Los Angeles. A communion of spirits ensued and they opened many doors for me. By then I was well into my third reading of the book.
In the spring of 1973, up on my land, I began teaching a class on the book with seven close friends as students. Deciding to have a larger group, I left for another tour of America and invited any and all to visit us the following July. That class - a group of seventeen - lasted for ten days and culminated in a fire-walking party. From it an enthusiastic group emerged to travel the national parks all summer spreading the word of the Urantia Book, love and peace. We wore white and conducted daily classes as we hitchhiked from park to park, having fun every step of the way.
In October eleven of us made our way from Washington to Yosemite to the Grand Canyon to Ocala National Forest in Florida. In Titusville we were joined by a turbaned person, and as twelve we moved up to Madison, Wisconsin, for the wedding of two of our number during the Christmas holidays. When we left there, we were eighteen in number and holding daily readings of the book.
In Salt Lake City, staying with the brother of a member of our group, we reached out to Mormons and hippies. Soon the people in the house next door joined with us. When both houses were sold we left Salt Lake twenty-four in number, and bought a large parcel of land in Southern Oregon which we called Ascendington. We spent the spring organizing and cleaning up the land and giving short teacher classes. That June I returned to Aeneas to hold a ten-day class for sixty. That class, and a few more that we conducted that fall and spring, flourished. However, problems eventually arose and the group scattered just before Thanksgiving Day.
I returned to Portland to seek guidance with other groups from Colorado and British Columbia. In the process I learned that to properly lead, you must first walk in the steps as a follower and wait upon Gods timetable.
The good seeds were planted; they sprouted, emerged, and slowly grew and began to thrive. Now, many years and many life experiences later, many of us are still connected and we continue to enjoy prosperity, peace and a family of good-seeking friends. Today we hold reunions, parties and gatherings and a few funerals. Living the faith of Jesus in this world, as it is, does make the difference.
JEFFREY WATTLES: When people become receptive to the Urantia Book, they are sometimes prompted to ask a special question. To respond adequately to this question, the person answering must introduce them to the Urantia Book. I asked such a question and received the answer I needed in 1971.
I was living just north of Chicago, finishing graduate study at Northwestern University. Since abandoning the Christianity of my youth, my spiritual quest had turned to Greek and German philosophy. I had recently begun Transcendental Meditation when I got a chance to discuss Hinduism with a visiting meditation teacher. In the course of the conversation I asked how the things we were discussing related to the teachings of Jesus. That was the question that triggered the mention of the Urantia Book.
He told me almost nothing of the book but said that his main reason for coming to the Chicago area was to visit the Urantia Foundation. He invited me to go with him, but I declined. My curiosity persisted, though, and a couple of days later I made the trip to the Foundation myself. Arriving just before the office was to close at five o'clock, I had time only to peruse the titles of the papers. I was not yet ready to buy the book, and returned home. That night, however, as I lay in bed, an odd vision of those titles floated into mind as I drifted off to sleep, and I determined to buy the book the next morning.
Once I got the book back home, I sat down, opened to page 21, Paper 1, and read, "The Universal Father is the God of all creation, the First Source and Center of all things and beings" Immediately I knew what I had in my hands.
I will not attempt to describe the wonders of the growing spiritual experience stimulated by the study of the Papers. I read the book in three months, began attending a study group, and have been as active as possible with the teachings ever since.
When I read the outlines on page 43 of "the new philosophy of living," I realized that I would have to begin constructing my philosophy all over again. Worship eventually replaced Transcendental Meditation. In 1973, I began a year of seminar study, intending to go on to some sort of missionary work. The following year I moved to Berkeley, California, to join a volunteer evangelistic organization proclaiming the revealed gospel. In 1986 I moved to Boulder, Colorado, to be director of a school for students of the Urantia Book. In 1988 I attended the University of Toronto for two years of study and teaching, mostly in religion. In 1990 I moved to Kent State University and published The Golden Rule, showing how spiritual teachings emerge in cultural history.
I am blessed with my God-knowing wife Hagiko and our son Ben, who completed his first reading of Part IV with me in 1997. Every day I experience joy in our Father and joy serving in the universal family. I am grateful to all who cooperated to bring this revelation to light, all who cooperate to promote the wise propagation of this book and its teachings and all who help us live in spiritual unity.
STACEY HARLAN: It was 1971 and I was 18 years old. My spiritual search had already been going on for years. It started in childhood with an intriguing book called The Mind of India, and continued with the study of works by such luminaries as Alan Witts, Krishnamurti, and Gurdjieff. I had experienced little affinity with the cultural-religion of my childhood, Judaism. Despite this interest in metaphysics, my spiritual development was hardly advanced, as evidenced by my initial contact with a young spiritual teacher named Bill whom I had met through a mutual friend. Bill had come over to my house; already present was a female acquaintance I was interested in.
Bill patiently endured my antics intended to impress this young woman, all the while inserting Truth into my psyche. At one point in the evening, somehow, someway I suddenly awoke to the fact that I was in the presence of a real spiritual teacher. Shortly after this fateful evening, while over at Bills house, I noticed a large blue book on his coffee table. "What's that?" I asked Bill. Without saying a word, he shrugged his shoulders and shoved the book toward me.
Leafing through it, I sensed almost immediately that this was, as I put it to myself at the time, "something from the Absolute." I was tremendously impressed by the clarity of the text and the amazing range of subject matter ostensibly dealt with. Even a brief perusal suggested the text was a masterful example of organizational genius and coherency. More than its content, the aspect of the Urantia Book that initially attracted me and got me hooked was its style of expression. I borrowed the book from Bill and, of course, soon bought my own copy.
At one point in the Urantia Book Rodan is quoted as saying about Jesus: "He is either what he professes to be, or else is the greatest hypocrite and fraud the world has ever seen."I believe that literate readers must come to the conclusion that the Urantia Book is indeed what it professes to be, or else is the greatest and most astonishing example of literary/artistic fraud and hypocrisy the world has ever seen.
The Urantia Book continues to provide a "universe framework" and inspirational guiding star, reminding me that there are worlds beyond this world.
KELLY ELSTROTT: I was living in a college dorm. It was a Saturday morning, and there was no weekend cafeteria service. My brother had invited me to his house for a breakfast of apple pancakes. His girlfriends big blue book was lying on the coffee table. I opened it and fell right in. It is now more than thirty years later and I am still exploring the universe of facts, ideas, and challenges presented in the Urantia Book.
The girlfriend cooking the apple cakes was Patti, now my sister-in-law - Patti the artist and truth seeker, painter of grand alien landscapes and mosaics of organic cellular wonderlands. She told me to take the book home.
For months I jumped about in the blue book. In school I was studying comparative religions, and the Urantia Book helped me piece together all the myths and ancient history, serving as an all-purpose Cliff's Notes for any test the teacher could dream up.
I was captivated by the sweeping story of mans attempts to build a civilization - the incredible 200,000-year struggle of Van the Steadfast to keep the idea of the one God alive, he alone pitted against a rebellion of powerful angels; Adam and Eve's disillusionment when faced with the primitive warring tribes; the steady hand of Machiventa Melchizedek to bring earth back into the fold; the succession of prophets and Pharaohs each pushing the envelope out further to evolve the concept of God from wrathful to forgiving to loving and eternal. I was mystified by this book and wondered what man or men could have dreamed up this wonderful saga.
I distinctly remember the day it dawned on me that this book was truth. Patti was painting and I was reading the paper on "The Resurrection of Lazarus" aloud to her as she worked. It was cool, the windows were open to a bright afternoon. The smell of herbal tea and honey filled the room. There was another guy there and we took turns reading. I felt a warmth sweep over me. This was really Jesus talking! This was what really happened two thousand years ago!
From then on the blue book changed from being just a history book to being a spiritual touchstone. I then discovered the papers on the Thought Adjuster. I read and reread them, savoring the idea that we each had a piece of God within us. But along with the sudden liberation from all the Catholic guilt came the realization that it was my responsibility alone to discern the Father's will.
A few weeks later I was lying down on a huge open field that the Louisiana State University Tigers band used for practice. It was after midnight. The only sound that could be heard was the distant whump of an industrial-size cooling fan. I lay there flat on my back, my arms stretched out, looking up for shooting stars. I began to imagine that I could feel the earth swiftly turning below me and I was holding on for dear life. The sound of that far-off machine was really the big engine underground thumping away to keep the earth in motion. I felt as if I were on a planet hurtling headlong through space. I then realized I really was a part of it now. I would never be alone anymore. My spirit was with me and we were traveling through the universe, through time. I had arrived.
LES TIBBALS: When I was young, people considered me a street-wise incorrigible, but there was a side of me that my dad and the other authorities didn't know or care about. Trying to be independent of my severely alcoholic dad, I left home at 15 and hitchhiked to Chicago with my girlfriend Luanna, a Menomonee Indian girl Yd met in Wisconsin. The year was 1968 - a rough time. The experience taught me that I could survive on my own. I had learned how to weave between the police, the riots, and the perverts who prey on young boys and girls. During this time I was also an avid reader of religious material, especially anything about Jesus, all the while dabbling in yoga and meditation. But none of this satisfied me.
At 18 I started out on a spiritual quest. I remember thinking that if God wanted me to find something - whatever it was - I was open to it. And so began the hitchhiking experience that culminated in my finding the fifth epochal revelation.
In 1971 a girl named Sandy and I were headed for Oregon from Oklahoma City. Our plan was to meet some friends at their grandmother's farm in Salem. At Grand Island, Nebraska, where hitchhiking was against the law, we were picked up by a highway patrolman. Unable to pay the fine, we spent six days in jail. There were no facilities for women, so Sandy was taken to the next county. It meant that when I got out of the pokey I had to hitchhike over to the next county to find her, all the while hoping I wouldn't get picked up and land in jail again.
While still in Nebraska, Sandy and I were waiting for a ride at an exit when I wandered away briefly from the road and found myself standing in a field of marijuana plants ten feet high. Excitedly I ran back to the roadside, shifted my clothes around, and stuffed my duffel bag full of big, bushy tops.
We scored a ride with some folks, and I let them try some of the smoke. After much thought, I said, "If we can ride with you all the way to the coast, you can have the whole duffel bag full." They accepted. We made it as far as Nevada when the car overheated and the engine blew up somewhere in the desert. The guy volunteered to leave his wife and all their belongings on the side of the road with us while he hitched a ride to California to borrow another car. We were camped in the sun next to that car for several days - hot, hungry and thirsty. He finally showed up and we headed for the California coast. Seeing the ocean and the giant redwoods for the first time was a religious experience in itself. When eventually we made it to our Oregon destination, our friends had already left. After a couple days of home cooking and wonderful hospitality, Grandma drove us into the beautiful Cascades where we found our friends living in a commune of hardcore hippies. Feeling awkward, I sat myself down in the living room and decided to bury myself in a good book - or any book for that matter. On a shelf I noticed a big book with a white cover and letters that said "The Life and Teachings of Jesus." Although I was only 18, I'd read plenty on Jesus, none of it exceptionally informative or terribly inspiring, so with a cynical attitude I thought to myself, "I wonder what they have to say about Jesus."
Reading the introduction to Part IV, written by the midwayer who was onetime assigned to the watchcare of the apostle Andrew, the authoritative tone struck a positive chord in me. And when I read about Jesus coming into the world like any other human - no immaculate conception - I was hooked. I headed for the barn and didn't stop reading for six hours. I remember saying to myself, "This is real; this is what it claims to be."
When I returned to the house I was on fire. I asked everyone, "Have you read this book? Do you know where it came from?" Nobody knew or was interested. I was disillusioned.
I hitchhiked back to Oklahoma alone without a penny in my pocket, eating out of orchards and vineyards through California. Back in Oklahoma I found the Urantia Book in a bookstore right off, but I had no money so I worked for a month until I could pay for it. In the phone book, under "Urantia," I found Berkeley Elliott and joined a study group, turned my future wife on to the UB and raised both my kids with the UB experience. My daughter has gone on to the mansion worlds and my son is still an avid reader.
I rambled my way across the States to find God and the UB, yet the book was right in my own back yard and God was inside me the whole time! I guess the angels thought I needed a little more seasoning before handing this revelation to me. My sincere thanks to our unseen friends for their consideration, protection and the continuing adventure.
STEPHEN ZENDT: The fact is, the Urantia Book found me. I was fortunate to be working as a volunteer on a small monthly journal called The Organic Morning Glory, whose editor, Larry Geis, was a new and enthusiastic reader of the revelation. My expressed need to tie together my convictions about Jesus and the universe, and for something that fused reality with religion, gave Larry the clue that I would be an appropriate candidate for introduction to the book. He simply went out to his car during a lengthy after-dinner discussion and brought the UB into my apartment, dropping it into my lap. I opened it to the first page of the Foreword, read to the end of the page, and simply knew that this book was what I had been searching for all these years.
Larry also introduced me to the local study group at the same time that he "hooked" me on the book. I've been involved in Urantia study groups for thirty years now, as a result of this double intro.
That took place in 1971, with all the frills of hippie culture and chemical intake that were so much a part of life in San Francisco. My friends in the local Urantia groups became my surrogate family. I was able to overcome many personal problems and dispense with a number of unnecessary habits thanks to my acquaintance with these people who were growing and showing forth the fruits of the spirit in their lives.
While nothing has moved and shaped me more than the influence of my parents (my father was the pastor of several Christian church congregations while I was growing up), the Urantia Book was the key to gathering all the scattered pieces of my life together into something sensible, and to my making responsible relationships with God and with Jesus. These relationships have held me up through my greatest trials, inspired me to grow in love and grace, and literally saved me at a time when I most needed to be saved.
JANELLE BALNICKE: It was 1971 and I was in my last year of high school. I was sitting, as I often did, on my family's front steps in Denver, Colorado, watching the sun set over the Rocky Mountains. I had lost my real father to cancer while I was still an infant, and I never knew him. For as long as I could remember, I had been praying to know what was really on the other side. That night, in a state of sadness and frustration, I declared in my heart that it seemed truly unfair for God to put us here and leave us without a clue. Why couldn't there be a user's guide to help us? After all, a lot of trouble had gone into creating the world... a little help would go a long way, especially for those of us mustering along with just one parent.
The answer to my prayer came within six months, when a high school buddy handed me the Urantia Book. I had always wanted to know the story behind the story, and I could see that the Urantia Book was leaving no stone unturned, from creation to Jesus. But the thing that truly "hooked" me was the statement that a loving God would never demand the sacrificial death of a son he loved. And although, as a Christian, I'd never stopped to consider how odd the belief in the crucifixion really was, the Urantia Book's firm negation of its necessity lifted a veil I hadn't even known was there. Suddenly, I was given permission to see and believe in a new way.
I bought my first Urantia Book with the money my grandfather - my father's father - had sent me as a graduation present. I believe I willed that Urantia Book into my hands, but I like to think it materialized in such a timely fashion thanks to some help from all my loving fathers - my living grandfather, my deceased father and my heavenly Father - who wanted to give me that user's guide I had asked for as I graduated into my adult life - the first of many gifts and many graduations to come.
NORMAN INGRAM: In 1971 the big change came into my life. I'd had several years of success as a sales mechanical engineer for a company that owned five of the thirteen working sugar plantations in Hawaii in those days. Flying was my hobby, and I owned an aircraft dealership/flight school at the Honolulu International Airport.
My new wife Lyn and I were expecting our first child. We were living in a big, old, beautiful two-story lava stone house on the beach in Waiminloa. It had a circular driveway and was surrounded by many coconut and ironwood trees. Inasmuch as we had a big house on the beach we never lacked houseguests, and this was fine with us because we liked their company. If you stayed up to two weeks, you were considered a guest; if you stayed longer, you were a housemouse.
One such housemouse was a young fellow named David Diggs. He had been staying with us for about four months when he came into my study one day and began to tell me about a book. "Knowing you," he said, "I know you will be interested in this." I asked him what the book was about. "Science and philosophy," was his answer.
He then handed me a big, stately, impressive-looking blue book. I began by carefully scrutinizing the table of contents. I could not believe what I was reading. I was amazed at the range of subject matter covered in this book. I got through the Foreword and was totally blown away. I lost track of time, reading day and night, not conscious of anything going on around me. After about four days, on a Sunday morning around ten o'clock, I flipped to the front of the book to see if there was any information about someone I could talk to about this marvelous revelation.
In fine print I found mention of the Urantia Foundation at 533 Diversey Parkway in Chicago. I called directory assistance, got their number, and made the call.
A sweet voice answered, "This is Christy."
I told her that I had received the Urantia Book three or four days earlier and that I had gone into a time warp, so fascinated was I by the truths I was finding in this book. She laughed and offered to send me some literature about the Foundation and the Brotherhood. Before we hung up I asked her if she knew of any other Urantia Book readers in Hawaii. Christy then told me about her friend Le'Ruth Ward Tyau, a Mormon and a mother with many children, who wrote children's books using UB concepts.
As soon as I finished talking with Christy, I called Le'Ruth in Honolulu and arranged to have lunch with her the next day. I had to meet her to give her a pinch to see if she was real. How could anyone read these truths, know the concepts of this revelation, and still exist on this planet? She was a real and a pleasant delight. As we parted I asked her if she knew of anyone else on the island who was reading the book, and she told me that there were about half a dozen women who regularly got together for a study group.
I raised my hand and volunteered our home for these studies. It was great meeting all the other people in the group. Not long after that, we opened a booth at Diamond Head Crater where we sold organic juices poured over shaved ice at rock concerts. With the profits we bought Urantia Books and donated them to local libraries in Hawaii. In those days Big Blue cost only $12.50. Occasionally we would check back with the libraries, and if a copy was missing we would replace it. Later I arranged for the Foundation to ship ten used Urantia Books to supply the prisons. Over the years I have bought at least twenty books a year to give away to those truth-seeking mortals whom our Father has brought across my path.
The Urantia Book has answered all the fundamental questions I've ever had and it has raised twice as many more. It has inspired me to spread its truths to the nations of our lonely planet, and I will continue to do so as long as God gives me the strength, the faith, and the courage to do his will. Such a life on such a planet!
GERALD HARRISON: Prior to finding the Urantia Book, I would describe myself as an agnostic whenever I was asked about my beliefs. Since the time I was bar- and bat-mitzvahed with my twin sister at 13, I had been totally uninvolved with my family's practice of Judaism.
In late 1970, when I was 25, a friend I had met through Peace Movement activities mentioned that he had been reading a big book with a more complete and modern portrayal of Jesus' life and teachings than he had found elsewhere. We didn't pursue the subject further at that time.
A few months later, in early 1971, my sister-in-law and the fellow she was dating came to visit. In the course of a wonderful conversation we were having, her friend (who had no connection to my other friend) brought out this big blue book and showed me page 1429 - Jesus' answer regarding free will and the reason for allowing both good and evil to coexist. I've been reading the book ever since.
I'm still in touch with both of these dear friends who independently and almost simultaneously introduced me to the Urantia Book.
I had been reading the Urantia Book less than a year when, one afternoon as I was waiting for a subway here in Philadelphia in a very busy underground station, a young man sat down next to me. As he arranged his packages, I saw that he held in his lap a brand-new copy of - guess what? - the Urantia Book! We struck up a conversation and he invited me to come along with him to the next meeting of the study group he was attending. To this day I still see some of the folks I met at that meeting.
CHERYL ASHIQA ZENTS: As a young wife and mother-to-be, I left the University of California at Santa Barbara and, together with my husband Richard and all our belongings in a pickup truck, we headed for Denver, Colorado, where Richard had grown up. We rented a small apartment in Northglen, Richard took a job at a grocery store, and we settled in to prepare for family life. In January 1971 the first of our three children was born, and with not much money, we frequented the public libraries for entertainment.
I had spent my high-school days enthralled by astrology, witchcraft, mediums, psychic phenomena, prophecy, and paganism. In college I believed that everything was relative and that there was no God. Then during my pregnancy my mother-in-law lent me Except for Thee and Me by Jessamyn West, and I was so intrigued by this story about Quaker life and their socially active yet peace-abiding ways that I began attending a Quaker "silent service." About this time I also started to wonder about Jesus, and bought Jesus, Son of Man, by Kahlil Gibran.
One day late in 1971 I was in the library browsing the titles in the Occult/Religion/Philosophy section when I noticed a very large book that I had never seen before. I opened it to page 167, which lists the number of superuniverses, constellations and local universes in the cosmos, and somewhat indignantly thought to myself, "By what authority do they number the universes? Oh well, I'll just take it home for a good laugh."
A few days later, I began to read about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. I always knew there must be more to the story than the snake and the apple, and even though the book seemed kind of strange, here was an account that made sense. The more I read, the more I was intrigued, and somewhat grudgingly I became convinced that it was all true . .. that this book really was the revelation that it purported to be. This all happened within a matter of days, and I began to skip around in the book as my interest led me. By this technique, it took me quite a while to piece together what a Thought Adjuster was, but I was thrilled and amazed to find that the beloved Jesus of my childhood was the actual creator and ruler of our local universe. I used my birthday money to order my own precious copy of the third edition in early 1972. At that time, $15 was a lot to pay for a book.
I tried to interest my husband and in-laws in the book but had no success whatsoever. We moved to Southern California, and after studying alone for two or three years, I finally wrote a dramatic letter to the Urantia Foundation in Chicago: "My family scorns me, my friends ridicule me. Is there anyone else in the world who reads this book besides me?" I got a very understanding and informative letter back from Christy, telling me all about the Foundation and the Urantia Brotherhood, and referring me to Julia Fenderson, who was the West Coast Field Representative. Through Julia I became active in the Urantia Society in Los Angeles and attended wonderful study groups.
The Urantia Book is a profound gift, but I have learned that a gift can only be given where it can be truly received; not everyone is ready or willing to receive a revelation of Gods love in this form. I also enjoy A Course in Miracles and The Dances of Universal Peace, which I've been able to share with others, some of whom are also open to the Urantia Book.
I feel that the book has provided a firm foundation for growth in all areas of my life, and I will always be grateful for the light that it has shed upon my path.
DOUG PARKER: The year was 1971. I had returned to Oregon State University to complete my undergraduate schooling which had been interrupted with a draft notice three years earlier. After my tour in Vietnam life held new meaning, and for the first time I found myself seriously thinking about the meaning of life and death. One evening as graduation approached my housemates asked if I would like to accompany them to a talk given by Baba Ram Dass. I passed.
Upon their return both carried a book titled Be Here Now, which I began to peruse in idle moments. From this initial reading I was filled with newfound hunger to read many more books and to eventually seek out a guru of my own. I left Oregon and headed south to California, my native state. I knew there were numerous places in the world to seek enlightenment but California was close, familiar, and had most everything imaginable happening either in San Francisco or in Los Angeles. My quest was to find personal guidance in some form, to experience God connectedness. How this would happen I had no clue, but the search was on.
I hitchhiked to Los Angeles, where I encountered a group of devotees of a 13-year-old Indian guru named Guru Mahara Ji. Within days I was sitting at the feet of a Mahatma seeking to become a devotee and to receive the young master's "knowledge" (secret methods of meditation). The desire for this knowledge led me to San Francisco, London, and back to San Francisco, where I joined nine other devotees known as "premees." Now that we had received "knowledge" we wanted to do something with it.
The majority of our group were formerly from the Northern California area near Chico, so that became our destination. As a group we returned to Chico as "blissed-out," drug-free premees, rented an old three-story fraternity house and opened a premee-style ashram. By day we hawked our organization's magazine And It Is Divine door-to-door and sold flowers on the college campus, while at night we held Satsang (holy discourse) about the wonders of Guru Mahara Ji and his special "knowledge." All went well for several months as we were on a communal high of living, speaking and doing God's - the Guru's - work.
In the big house we formed a makeshift: library. Devotees brought books accumulated along their spiritual paths and lined the shelves of what was formerly the fraternity house library. One day, while browsing this spiritual smorgasbord I spotted a large blue book high on the top shelf and inquired of someone standing nearby, "What is that big blue book up there?" He replied, "Oh, Kevin took that book as collateral on a hundred hits of acid from some guy up in Paradise, and the guy never came back." I was intrigued by the size of the book and also because Paradise, California, was the town I had grown up in. I took the book to my bedroll and skimmed the table of contents, then read the Foreword. From the first page of the Foreword I was mesmerized. Here at last was what I had been searching for, real information about God. For days, then weeks, I holed up in my room doing little other than read and eat. Nightly Satsang soon lost its luster for me, and people began checking in on me to see if I was all right.
I can clearly remember the day I asked myself, "Do I really believe this book?" I answered, "Yes, I do believe this is a revelation just as it says it is." From that moment on it was clear I had to leave the house. But what of the Guru? Could I follow both, and did I truly want to? To find the answer I hitchhiked that January to Denver, Colorado, to the headquarters of the Divine Light Mission and put the leaders to the test. Three days later I was on a bus heading back to Oregon, reading my Urantia Book. I finished the book and started it again. The rest has truly been divine.