Long ago, the Buddha declared that the true nature of the self is unknowable. He called it one of the “imponderables.” In a similar sense, the Urantia Revelation would agree that the question of selfhood or personhood unanswerable. It’s imponderable unless and until clues about its reality are revealed to us. The living revelation of authentic selfhood—the Urantia revelators declare—can be seen in the person of Jesus. He is the “icon” of personhood. His life was the ultimate disclosure of the potentials of human personality. His event-filled story and his relationships with ordinary men and women were a revelation of the transcendental principle of “personalness.” The Christian claim is huge: The truth of the divinity of human selfhood was unavailable to us until the fact of Jesus’ incarnation. We can know the truths of the personal self by studying the life and teachings of Christ, and by communing with him as divinity personified. And he is the source, “with the Father,” of our abiding human personalities.
Such was the mission of biblical Christianity—at least that’s one way to put it. This mission is now mercifully restated for the modern world, we are told, in Part IV of the Urantia Revelation. But the Urantia text also goes a big step further than offering this expanded narrative about Jesus. In its theology (in Parts I and II of the text), it also offers an original and unprecedented philosophic teaching about the divine source and nature of personhood.
It begins by coining and redefining the human word “personality.” Personality is utterly unique and gifted by divine fiat upon each individual, conferring powers of reflective awareness, self-determination, and relative freewill. This description may seem to fall within the Western idea of separate self, but such is not the case. The UB’s notion of personality is rich, deep, and paradoxical, as we are about to see. While personhood is unique in eternity, we learn when reading the Urantia text that it has no identity. There is no separate self in any conventional sense. No special “me.” A crucial function of personality, we learn, is only to focalize or unify one’s existing psychological sense of identity or partial identifications. Yes, human personality operates out here in time and space, and this fact makes many of its attributes observable; yet, its essence abides outside of evolutionary space-time. We can’t ponder it. Further, while each person is absolutely unique, each of us is also utterly equal before God, and therefore nothing special. Here’s yet another paradox.
We are each adorable in the eyes of God, much as a child would be to a human father or mother; we are loved for our irreplaceable and unique personality, which we are taught was gifted upon us at birth; but we are also learn in the UB that we are not ultimately who we think we are. We have a false sense of self that we leave behind as we mature, after we are “born of the spirit.” Typically, our self-concept is contaminated by some degree of egotism or mistaken identity. Our depths of selfhood are veiled. Our self-knowledge is impaired by the way in which we habitually identify with lesser versions of self, with behaviors that are self-centered to the extent that they are limited to geographical, religious, professional, racial, or class identifications. Our true self is an impersonal entity that is a fragment of the Absolute, one with it in essence. Our ultimate goal is to lend personhood to this true self by letting go of all limiting self-concepts. As it states in the text: “Real trouble, lasting disappointment, serious defeat, or inescapable death can come only after self-concepts presume fully to displace the governing power of the central spirit nucleus, thereby disrupting the cosmic scheme of personality identity.” [UB: 12:9.5]