I usually have the best of eating experiences. There is nothing like picking fresh fruits from our orchards—like peaches, mulberries, figs, quinces, pomegranates, and apples—and eating some of them right then and there. Daily I eat meals prepared in our community kitchen, which are completely organic, made mostly with vegetables, tepary beans, fruits, and heritage wheat from Avalon Gardens and supplemented with other (mostly locally-sourced) foods that we acquire in bulk. I visit and laugh with various cosmic family members who join me for a meal, digesting good conversation along with healthy home-cooked, whole foods.
I experience the opposite when occasionally I eat in a chain restaurant owned by a large corporation. I feel like I am walking into the “zone of unraveling,” and for me so much is “unreal”—from plastic menus to servers working so hard at being “up” and polite to the numerous demands of their noisy customers. (As a former server in a busy chain restaurant for a short period of time, I can sympathize with servers reduced to a state of stress as they rush around trying to please restless, impatient people.) I feel like a “stranger in a strange land” and go through a type of “culture shock” from putting myself in a social environment that seems primitive and backwards in relation to my life at Avalon Organic Gardens and EcoVillage, which is the campus for The University of Ascension Science and The Physics of Rebellion.
I recall from a novel (which is full of truths) a commentary made by the main character, who was an immigrant from Iran. He was a middle-aged man who had been a high-ranking colonel at one time in the Imperial Air Force who, many years ago, had to flee with his family for their lives when the government in which he served fell to a coup. One day, after being in the United States for a couple of years, this Iranian man was sitting at an outdoor café on a southern California beach, watching the tourists and locals stroll by. He observed:
I sit and I regard these cows, these radishes, and I again think to myself, “These people do not deserve what they have.” When I first came to these United States, I expected to see more of the caliber of men I met in my business dealings in Tehran, the disciplined gentlemen of the American military, the usually fit and well-dressed executives of the defense industry, their wives who were perfect hostesses in our most lavish homes. And of course the films and television programs imported from here showed to us only successful people: they were all attractive to the eye, they dressed in the latest fashion, they drove new automobiles and were forever behaving like ladies and gentlemen, even when sinning against their God.
But I was quite mistaken and this became to me clear in only one week of driving my family up and down this West Coast. Yes, there is more wealth here than anywhere in the world. Every market has all items well stocked at all times. And there is Beverly Hills and more places like it. But so many of the people live in homes not much more colorful than air base housing. Furthermore, those late nights I have driven back home after working, I have seen in the windows the pale blue glow of at least one television in every home. And I am told that many family meals are eaten in front of that screen as well. And perhaps this explains the face of Americans, the eyes that never appear satisfied, at peace with their work, or the day God has given them; these people have the eyes of very small children who are forever looking for their next source of distraction, entertainment, or a sweet taste in the mouth. And it is no longer to me a surprise that it is the recent immigrants who excel in this land, the Orientals, the Greeks, and yes, the Persians. We know rich opportunity when we see it. (Excerpted from House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III, pp. 123-124)
Though this man’s idea of rich opportunity is purely materialistic, I have to agree with the observation he made so many years ago. Not much has changed in our country, except that it has gotten worse. We all have seen the diseases in cultures that are based on a “high consumption model.” I think of the increasing health problems for the citizens of this wealthy and prosperous country, the USA—the increasing cases of depression, bi-polar problems, attention-deficit-disorder, dementia, opioid addiction, eating disorders, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and the increase of mutating viruses that threaten regularly-occurring pandemics. All of these diseases are a result of living in a society that perpetuates materialism and over-consumption. Some have referred to the government and culture of the USA as “the consumer republic.”
When I think of the consumer republic, I recall what the Chief of Seraphim stationed on this planet Urantia had to say about the dangers of self-gratification in Paper 84, Section 8 of The URANTIA Book. “The great threat against family life is the menacing rising tide of self-gratification, the modern pleasure mania.” This angel goes on to explain how the normal evolutionary process of civilization and culture on this planet has been distorted and retarded due to the Lucifer Rebellion. Thus we have numerous cultures and societies that are still in the lower stages of development.
Seven Stages of Cultural Development
From Paper 50, Section 5 of The URANTIA Book, a Secondary Lanonandek Son of the Reserve Corps explains the seven stages of progress for a civilization, seven developmental epochs. These stages of evolution apply not only to an entire group of people, but to individual humans (ascending sons and daughters) in their personal development.
The first four stages are based on acquirement of food, because we humans need food and water in order to survive physically. These seven stages resemble psychologist and philosopher Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for an individual, which start with the physical level of “must haves” and moves on to the emotional needs after the physical have been met, then on to the intellectual and spiritual levels.
It is not until the fifth stage of cultural development that a society begins to be based on a foundation of unselfishness rather than ruled by self-gratification. At this stage the citizens and leadership are composed mostly of wise moral people who are capable of establishing human brother-/sisterhood, who are learning how to live in accordance with the golden rule.
Even at the fourth stage—which is based on the quest for knowledge and wisdom—food, security, pleasure, and leisure still provide the foundation for the society and still dominate it, but “many forward-looking individuals are hungering for knowledge and thirsting for wisdom.” Education is the watchword of these cultures.
I think the better aspects of current world civilization is at this fourth stage of development, though there is still so much of the previous three stages dominating, which focus on self-preservation and self-maintenance.
In the third stage called “the material-comfort era,” we are told that food and security problems have been partially solved, so additional leisure is utilized to promote personal comfort. “Luxury vies with necessity in occupying the center of the stage of human activities. Such an age is all too often characterized by tyranny, intolerance, gluttony, and drunkenness. The weaker elements of the races incline towards excesses and brutality.” The URANTIA Book goes on to say that gradually “these pleasure-seeking weaklings are subjugated by the more strong and truth-loving elements of the advancing civilization.”
The Persian colonel, who I referred to earlier, further comments that the culture in his world is based upon advancing materially. He states that much of what the leadership in the Iranian government he was a part of learned was from Americans, including the best of torture techniques.
To reiterate, I think the world’s “developed” societies (regulated by “Western” capitalism) are in the third stage, which has a foundation of values based on material comfort, but there are those values trying to take hold that are based more in the fourth era, “the quest for knowledge and wisdom.” What makes a society change and progress is the shifting within its individual citizens.
Corresponding with these seven stages of culture development are seven planetary mortal epochs, seven psychic circles of attainment for individual humans, seven mansion worlds of morontial learning, and so on. There are many multiples of seven within the cosmology and administration of the grand universe.
Ah, the beauty of divine pattern!
The Seven Psychic Circles in Individuals
The seven psychic circles introduced in The URANTIA Book are based on character attainment, which includes intellectual and spiritual development in individual humans. The seventh psychic circle is the lowest level and the first is the highest level of human attainment on this world (Urantia).
Most persons who come to investigate Divine Administration (here on the campus of The University of Ascension Science and The Physics of Rebellion) are beginning to move into the fourth psychic circle, which possibly corresponds with the fourth level of progressive civilization. These individuals are hungering and thirsting for more than the fast foods of manic mall shopping, indiscriminate television watching, and the compulsive eating and drinking of empty calories.
Almost everyone raised in the dominant culture of a fast-paced economy, which perpetrates over-consumption, has thinking and behaving disorders that need to be changed. When individuals fluctuate between the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh psychic circles, they are often in the process of breaking the habits and addictions formed in the seventh to fifth stages of psychic-circle consciousness, which are based more upon animalistic and lower-humanistic levels, more of a materialistic mind-set. While in this transitional stage, people fluctuate between levels of their higher and lower selves, their more mature and less mature selves.
What About Food?
A question that we should daily ask ourselves is: What psychic circle am I eating from? Maybe some days we are gobbling from the seventh psychic circle, or starving ourselves from the sixth, or from the fifth using a fad diet that is fanatical and fundamentalistic. On the fourth psychic circle, we begin to become more balanced in our eating patterns.
Every day when we begin to make choices about eating, we should ask this question: Am I eating to survive or surviving to eat?
Here in the culture of Divine Administration we are trying to build a society of reservists who are progressing steadily from the fourth to third psychic-circle stabilization and then on to the second and first circles. It takes time and conscious discipline. As those individuals in the culture of Divine Administration progress, so does the culture itself, moving into the fifth, sixth, and seventh epochal eras of consciousness—the epochs of brother-/sisterhood, spiritual striving, and eventually light and life. Those last three levels encompass healing, wholeness, increasing spiritual insight, increasing divine love and mercy. These levels bring peace to the individual and peace to the world.
Food in Some of Jesus’ Metaphors and Analogies
The URANTIA Book tells us that Jesus as a human being attained the level of light and life in his personal ascension on this planet.
. . . He labored, grew weary, rested, and slept. He hungered and satisfied such cravings with food; he thirsted and quenched his thirst with water. He experienced the full gamut of human feelings and emotions; he was “in all things tested, even as you are,” and he suffered and died. (Paper 128; Section 1; Paragraph 2)
Jesus often used food in metaphors and analogies when teaching spiritual truths.
The miller he [Jesus] taught about grinding up the grains of truth in the mill of living experience so as to render the difficult things of divine life readily receivable by even the weak and feeble among one’s fellow mortals. Said Jesus: “Give the milk of truth to those who are babes in spiritual perception. In your living and loving ministry serve spiritual food in attractive form and suited to the capacity of receptivity of each of your inquirers”. (Paper 133; Section 4; Paragraph 2)
Another time he said: “Happy are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Paper 140; Section 5; Paragraph 8)
In one of his sermons Jesus said:
My brethren, hanker not after the meat which perishes but rather seek for the spiritual food that nourishes even to eternal life; and this is the bread of life which the Son gives to all who will take it and eat, for the Father has given the Son this life without measure. . . .(Paper 153; Section 2; Paragraph 7)
Once when teaching his disciples, Jesus intimated that some parts of Scripture were more truth-containing than others and admonished them to feed their souls upon the best spiritual food. Five aspects of the best spiritual food were teachings that encouraged:
. . . The welfare of the soul is more than food and drink; the progress in the spirit is far above the need of raiment. When you are tempted to doubt the sureness of your bread, consider the ravens; they sow not neither reap, they have no storehouses or barns, and yet the Father provides food for every one of them that seeks it. And of how much more value are you than many birds! Besides, all of your anxiety or fretting doubts can do nothing to supply your material needs. Which of you by anxiety can add a handbreadth to your stature or a day to your life? Since such matters are not in your hands, why do you give anxious thought to any of these problems? (Paper 165; Section 5; Paragraph 2)
Jesus also said to some people who claimed to be spiritual leaders and healers and who were caught into the traditions of ceremony:
. . . How carefully you cleanse the outside of the cups and platters while the spiritual food vessels are filthy and polluted. You make sure to present a pious and holy appearance to the people, but your inner souls are filled with self-righteousness, covetousness, extortion, and all manner of spiritual wickedness. . . . (Paper 166; Section 1; Paragraph 4)
What food—material and mental—is important to you? What do you put in your physical body, which is a temple for the Spirit of God—food that acts as poison or food that nourishes? What ideas and thoughts fill your head? Are they trite thoughts? Are they mental poisons of resentment, competition, revenge, and self-degradation? Or are your thoughts “beatitudes” that bring encouragement, upliftment, and wisdom?
In closing, I would like to share something from Richard Smoley’s book Inner Christianity that, in a nutshell, describes the state of consciousness of most people in the USA, which is also an indication of the developmental stage of the dominant culture.
Few choose to go beyond the most basic levels of the spiritual path. People fall in love, get married, have children, get jobs, and pay bills. There’s not much time for spiritual work in life. Most people are happy with this situation, or at least resigned to it. It’s the rare person who looks deeper.
-Niánn Emerson Chase