Q & A: SOUL EVOLUTION AND THE URANTIA REVELATION
With Byron Belitsos, author of Your Evolving Soul
Why do you speak of the Urantia Book as a revelation?
Sparks of genuine divine revelation are contained in all the great religions and in many esoteric and philosophical systems. According to the thesis of my newest book, Your Evolving Soul, we are being graced by new revelation suitable for our time. This teaching provides what I believe is a revolutionary new picture of the human soul and self. It also offers a profound new portrayal of the nature of the evolving cosmos, of life on this planet and other planets, and of Deity itself.
Isn’t The Urantia Book (or “UB”) more like a new revelation to Christians, rather than a teaching suitable for other religions of the world?
The Urantia Revelation has, in my view, set in motion a futuristic stream of new wisdom for all of humanity. I see it as meeting the needs of the entire modern world, that is, all of the living religions of today. Even though this mysterious text is chiefly seen as pertinent to Christianity, it also goes far, far beyond the Bible or any ancient teaching on Earth.
What does The Urantia Book actually say about the soul?
Among the many vital teachings presented in the Urantia Revelation, and the one that has stood out most prominently for me, is the description of the soul’s nature, origin, evolution, and destiny. In particular, The Urantia Book states that a “sacred triad” (a simplifying phrase I have coined) comprises the human self. This threefold endowment is the spiritual core of our God-given human design. The soul is at the center of this inner triad, but the human self also has two other crucial parts.
What parts comprise this sacred core of the self as you understand it?
The most evident parts of the self, as understood by many of the sages of the past, are the evolving soul and the Indwelling Spirit; I show in my book that some spiritual teachers of the past truly did distinguish these first two components. Unfortunately, many did not! They confused the soul with the inner spirit—but my book clarifies this issue. Finally, the third component is harder to grasp and it is uniquely revealed in the UB. I call it the unique personality or personhood. In the UB each of these three elements is depicted as a distinct substance or “ontological” reality. Yet these three elements also operate as one unified self.
According to your research, how is the soul distinguished from the rest of the human self?
It is best understood as the only part of the self that is under our personal control, and the only part of us that actually changes and grows. The other two parts, the Indwelling Spirit and the personality, do not change in their essence; they are actually divine and perfect from the time they are gifted upon us. From the human point of view, our evolving soul is the heart of the inner triad, and its growth is largely under our control because of our precious endowment of free will, which is an integral feature of our God-bestowed personhood. You’ll recall that unique personality or personhood is a new revelation provided in the UB. It’s an advanced new teaching that describes how it is that we are self-aware and how we are able make truly free choices.
What is so special or important about understanding the human soul?
According to the account offered in the Urantia Revelation, our soul is a nonphysical transcript of the valuable and salvageable elements of the experiences we choose to have. These soul-making experiences are literally preserved in their own container, and are not to be found the physical brain (which is mortal and perishes with death); you might call this special container of the soul the soul-brain. By contrast with the material brain, the soul-brain is potentially immortal. Our soul is that part of us that is “saved” on the “hard-drive” of the self. It is the very essence of who we are after death.
How exactly does the soul evolve during our Earth life?
It is slowly co-created on a daily basis by virtue of our spiritually significant thoughts, feelings, decisions, and subsequent actions, as these are recognized by the Indwelling Spirit. This Indwelling Spirit-entity literally saves these experiences because they are worth saving eternally. They are preserved, immortalized, in and as our soul by this divine action operating from within. In other words, these elements of real human experience get converted to personal soul memories and become a potentially eternal possession of the individual.
In what sense does the soul survive death?
Our soul is not only able to survive death, but—at the moment of death—it is the only purely personal asset that we possess going forward into the afterlife. But according to the UB, we must personally choose to ascend to higher realms after the initial resurrection we experience after death. Ascension is not automatic; it is up to us, not up to God or the angels. But God and the angels are very much concerned with our soul evolution on Earth and into our eternal life.
How are these higher worlds of the afterlife described?
These higher domains are described in the UB as a nested, sequential series of increasingly more advanced worlds upon which we sojourn. Our afterlife involves ever-more-rich education, socialization, and spiritualization of the self and soul. According to the Urantia account—which is easily the most detailed description of the life after death in world literature—in this afterlife journey we eventually achieve God Fusion. This Fusion status assures us an eternal life and qualifies us for even more advanced challenges and cosmic experiences in our continuing ascent.
How do we grow as persons and enrich the soul to prepare for the afterlife?
Here on Earth our chief evolutionary duty and, more important, our highest joy, is to engage in two core practices or activities that lead us to this goal. The first of these I like to call soul-synthesis or soul-making, and the second I call circle-making or self-perfecting—phrases that stand for balanced personality integration, or what the UB sometimes calls personality unification. In short, we make choices that grow the soul—and the better and more sane and balanced these choices are, the more progress we will be able to make toward perfecting our soul. The activities of soul-making and self-perfecting are, in my view, the core practices of the cosmic spirituality of the Urantia Revelation.
What is the ultimate purpose of the soul-making efforts you describe?
Through such spiritual endeavors we each contribute toward what Teilhard de Chardin called “the omega point”—the exhaustive realization of all possible human experience in collective human life, throughout the universe. We can speak of this as the “actualization of all cosmic evolutionary potentials available to evolving humanity.” And we mean total cosmic evolution not just here on Earth, but on all inhabited planets. This is a big concept, but in the UB, we are taught that humans truly are perfectible beings, both as individuals and as the collective of all of humanity on all inhabited worlds. This journey to perfection described in The Urantia Book is far more complex, inclusive, engaging, and lengthy than anything conceived of in any previous evolutionary cosmology.
Can you say more about the ultimate purpose of soul evolution in light of this vision?
Our soul growth and self-perfecting continues into our eternal future. And this reality—this phenomenon of the collective evolution of trillions of evolving humans, from our world and from planets like ours—is the secret of what the UB calls the Supreme Being or the Finite God, the so-called evolving Deity of time and space.
Are you saying that there is an aspect of God that is incomplete and evolving, but will one day become complete?
The idea of “God the Supreme” is that, in addition to the eternal and all-knowing Creator God at the center of all things, there is also a God of cosmic evolution. “As we view the ceaseless struggles of [human] creatures. . . these unending efforts bespeak the unceasing struggle of the Supreme for divine self-realization.” [117:4.1] The UB reveals that the grand evolution of the Supreme is (in part) constituted by—and is a cosmic summation of—the accumulated evolutionary growth of all beings on all worlds, including the angels and Deities of the evolving realms.
How then does this whole picture add up?
This reality of experiential evolution, when combined with the physical evolution of the universe itself, is the stupendous story of the Evolving God who eternalizes at the end of time, just as our soul personalizes and immortalizes within the very heart of this evolving Deity. And this face of the absolute—one of many facets of the divine—should be regarded as the space-time complement to the changeless, eternal, Creator Deity that we worship as God, the Universal Father and Mother. God is infinitely more than a person, but cannot be anything less than a self-aware personality who is the Creator of a far-flung cosmic family of evolving personal beings destined for perfection in eternity.