by Denver Pearson
Whether we are a long time student or a new reader of the Urantia Book, the most often asked question and the most difficult to satisfactorily answer is, “Who wrote it and how?” We all eventually come up with some unsure and therefore uncomfortable answer we have rehearsed over and over again to make it sound intelligently authoritative. But the answer we have devised has been derived from what we’ve heard from others or have read in Urantia apocrypha and as soon as it leaves our lips we feel a little empty. It was because of this feeling I decided to go back to the small amount of information available about the early days and to the revelation itself to see if I could come away with a clearer idea about the origin of the papers.
I fully understand that even if we could know the exact process we would still not understand it because in the final analysis it was a spiritual and mental process on a celestial level that resulted in a material phenomenon. Much of what I am saying here is expressed elsewhere with some variations, but I have also introduced what I think are a few new angles and clarifications to the story. I am not claiming to be right in anything I suggest but what I have discovered has made it easier to visualise and understand how the Urantia Papers may have come into being. I satisfied that empty feeling for myself and decided to share my findings in hopes of satisfying the feelings of others.
In writing this article I am assuming that the reader is fairly familiar with other records on the subject and with the Urantia Book itself. I am not so concerned with the details of the early history and the people involved although I will discuss them at times. I am more interested in the technique or the process of bringing the papers into physical existence. I have always been reluctant to talk much about the origins of the revelation because it seems to detract from the revelation itself. It is the problem of someone being more interested in the messenger than the message itself. There are those who refuse to accept the revelation because they cannot uncover the source of the information. Focusing on the messenger more than the message happened with the fourth epochal revelation as you know. It became the religion about Jesus rather than the religion of Jesus.
The first point I would like to make is that there are many written accounts concerning the early history and origin of the revelation. Some of the authors are Dr. Sadler himself, Larry Mullins, who wrote a history based on the memories of Meredith Sprunger and probably the more accurate and most thorough account, Harold Sherman, a so-called psychic and late-comer to the Forum, Martin Gardner, a science writer who wrote the best failed attempt to discredit the Urantia Book, Urantia: The Great Cult Mystery, and the writings of Earnest Moyers. Except for the writings of Dr. Sadler, all accounts of the origin of the papers are second-hand at best and are therefore questionable for they may be factual or partly factual, or distorted, misunderstood, misinterpreted and invented. It is really impossible to say. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and use them if necessary, especially for a timeline of events. Although exact dates are in doubt, it really doesn’t matter for my purposes.
The first question that came to my mind decades ago when I realized the significance of this revelation was why was a human contact personality needed to bring this information into the English language in the form of a book? Why didn’t these authors just write the book themselves or “poof” it into existence? I actually spent many years pondering this subject without coming to any great conclusions. I was aware of the accounts that said his body was used to speak and write. I had difficulty with the possessed body idea because it seemed to contradict statements in the revelation itself.
If you remember the movie “Ghost” where the deceased guy possesses or enters the psychic and performs through her body you will have an idea of how the contact person was not used. In 1929, Dr. Sadler published a book called The Mind at Mischief. In his account of a strange case he was investigating involving a man in a deep, unusual sleep, he refers to the written and spoken words of the subject. I believe it is from this statement that all other references derive the idea that the subject’s tongue and hands were literally used to convey communications from beyond. But when we read in the UB about the functions of the Midwayers, there is a definite statement indicating that they do not possess people. It is my belief that even rebel Midwayers did not harass feeble mind souls in this manner before Pentecost. They could aggravate a weak mind but not affect them like the girl was tortured in the “Exorcist” when devilish voices came from her mouth and her head turned around. That’s Hollywood imagination at its best.
To support my claim we have only to read what Dr. Sadler said about the subject. When he was asked how the celestials did it his reply was always, think of a way and that’s not it. I remember reading a list he made of how it wasn’t done and automatic writing and automatic speaking were two on that list. Also, in response to the same question of how it was done his answer was “It’s in the book” and it is (more on this soon).
But yet in 1929 he wrote in the Mind at Mischief about the written and spoken messages of the subject. There is no account in any of the histories about these times which say Dr. Sadler claimed he saw the subject writing. Dr. Sadler’s son, Bill Jr., claimed that nobody ever saw information being written and no matter how hard they tried to discover the source of the material they could never do it. Some accounts say the first papers appeared all at once in response to questions Sadler compiled. The story goes that he thought the information was in the handwriting of the subject because the wife of the subject said it was. Sadler apparently checked the man for evidence of having written all night long but there was none. I think we can safely say that Sadler and everyone else did not know how the written information came about. Supposedly the handwriting was eventually analyzed and determined not to be that of the subject or anyone else involved. We do know that Midwayers can make contact with material things and would have no problem writing papers.
What about the spoken information? Did Midwayers get into the subject’s brain and make his tongue move and use his vocal cords? When we become familiar with the Midwayers and their abilities this seems like an inefficient and silly way to communicate higher concepts. But yet we know that somehow celestial beings were communicating with the contact commission, Dr. Sadler, his wife Lena and a few others. The written word came later so we know that there must have been verbal communications in the early stages. The story goes that during one of the earliest night sessions with the subject, the Sadlers noticed him wetting his lips as if wanting to speak. They asked him a question and he seemed to speak but it was not his voice.
This gives us the impression that his mouth was moving like in normal conversation. Remember that this is a story told by someone who claims that Sadler said this. There is no way of knowing whether it is accurate. Also, remember that a Midwayer would be able to speak and be audible and do it as if out of thin air. I imagine the loyal Midwayers are under a mandate to not frighten humans or give them heart attacks by speaking out of thin air.
As you are reading this just imagine a strange voice coming from behind you and no one is there. Your heart would stop. I would say in the early night sessions the Midwayers might have spoken near the subject or even opened his mouth to make it less frightening to have a sleeping man appear to talk. After the contact commission became used to the situation and accepted the fact that they were in communication with celestials, they could probably handle a voice in the corner of the room. Many years ago I met a man who said he met Dr. Sadler who told him the Midwayers had different accents in English depending on what part of the world they worked in.(another hearsay)
In this first part I am trying to get away from the idea that the physical body was used in anyway. Midwayers did not need to use the body because they are very capable of writing and speaking for themselves. So, that brings me back to my original question. Why was a human being necessary to manifest the papers that eventually came to be known as the Urantia Book?
Before discussing why a human being was used and how, we might ask why our world was given an epochal revelation in book form and why at that time and place. Chicago in the early 1900s was one of the main commercial hubs of the world and remains so to this day. Ironically, with all the gangsterism and political corruption that has tainted that city, one might very well ask the same question that Nathaniel asked when referring to Jesus and his illustrious hometown, “What good could come out of Nazareth.” If, on the other hand, the revelators had picked Dr. Sadler to be their main contact person, then that is a more conclusive reason for the revelation to take place in that location. Even at that early date, the celestials knew English was going to be the language of world business and politics. The US would soon be taking its consumerism to the world and with it the English language and books in English. Even though there may have been more people who spoke French or Spanish, English was chosen because of its versatile nature, its width and depth of usage. The revelation would be conveying concepts that would need words that could be shaped to fit high spiritual concepts.
This brings up the question when did the celestials decide to give us a new revelation. It had been two thousand years since the last epochal revelation, Jesus of Nazareth. Christianity, the result of the last revelation, was losing its momentum and becoming stagnant. The industrial revolution was winding down and the world was soon to be transformed into a modern society of mass communication and technology. We would soon be a world of air travel, space exploration, TV and computers, life saving medicine and over population. The celestials could foresee the changes coming and that the religions and philosophies of the past would not satisfy the minds of the future. Future generations would be hungry for higher truth.
“Mortal man lacks the concept of morontia mind and material; and revelation is the only technique for atoning for this deficiency in the conceptual data which man so urgently needs in order to construct a logical philosophy of the universe and to arrive at a satisfying understanding of his sure and settled place in that universe.”
We can see there was a need for new revelation so what would be the method. All other epochal revelations were done by personalities but we live in an age that idolizes individuals which would detract from an epochal message. The day of the printed word was here and books were fast becoming the fastest mode of spreading information. The celestial mandate is given to put the revelation into the English language in the form of a book. There is a statement in the Urantia Book that gives us an idea of the process. When speaking of the Midwayers they say:
“Their chief work today is that of unperceived personal-liaison associates of those men and women who constitute the planetary reserve corps of destiny. It was the work of this secondary group, ably seconded by certain of the primary corps, that brought about the co-ordination of personalities and circumstances on Urantia which finally induced the planetary celestial supervisors to initiate those petitions that resulted in the granting of the mandates making possible the series of revelations of which this presentation is a part.”
We might interpret it this way. Conditions were becoming ripe for a revelation and the Midwayers petitioned the celestial supervisors for their approval. The Midwayers were told that once they had the personalities and circumstances in place the petitions would be initiated that would result in the mandates being granted. The personalities and circumstances were the bringing together of Dr. Sadler, his wife and the man who would be used for the communication process. This is where things become interesting.
The divine personalities who would be narrating the revelation, particularly part I and part II, are not able to make contact with material things, not able to write a book. The spiritual world is not real to us who live in a material world. The reverse is also true. The Midwayers and lower angelic orders who work on evolutionary worlds are able to see us as we are and how we live, but this is not true of higher celestial personalities like a Divine Counselor, Perfector of Wisdom or Universal Censor. There is a statement in the paper on Celestial Artisans that reveals this fact. The Archangel who narrates this paper says:
“All these activities of the morontia and spirit worlds are real. To spirit beings the spirit world is a reality. To us the material world is the more unreal. The higher forms of spirits freely pass through ordinary matter. High spirits are reactive to nothing material excepting certain of the basic energies. To material beings the spirit world is more or less unreal; to spirit beings the material world is almost entirely unreal, being merely a shadow of the substance of spirit realities.”
He goes on to explain what he perceives and says that the Divine Counselor with him perceives even less:
“I cannot, with exclusive spirit vision, perceive the building in which this narrative is being translated and recorded. A Divine Counselor from Uversa who chances to stand by my side perceives still less of these purely material creations. We discern how these material structures appear to you by viewing a spirit counterpart presented to our minds by one of our attending energy transformers. This material building is not exactly real to me, a spirit being, but it is, of course, very real and very serviceable to material mortals.”
So, if the celestial personalities had a mandate to reveal truth to Urantia in English in book form and they are not able to make contact with material things, then how were they to accomplish their task? How was the gap between the spiritual realm and the material level to be bridged? We already know that the Secondary Midwayers are able to make contact with things material but are they able to speak directly with higher personalities? The answer is no. There would need to be a process in place for a Divine Counselor to communicate with a Secondary Midwayer. One way might be to have a chain of personalities who could communicate with a being higher up or lower down to transmit information back and forth. There are quotes that suggest this idea.
“The gap between the material and spiritual worlds is perfectly bridged by the serial association of mortal man, secondary midwayer, primary midwayer, morontia cherubim, mid-phase cherubim, and seraphim. In the personal experience of an individual mortal these diverse levels are undoubtedly more or less unified and made personally meaningful by the unobserved and mysterious operations of the divine Thought Adjuster.”
“Primary midwayers resemble angels more than mortals; the secondary orders are much more like human beings. Each renders invaluable assistance to the other in the execution of their manifold planetary assignments. The primary ministers can achieve liaison co-operation with both morontia- and spirit-energy controllers and mind circuiters. The secondary group can establish working connections only with the physical controllers and the material-circuit manipulators. But since each order of midwayer can establish perfect synchrony of contact with the other, either group is thereby able to achieve practical utilization of the entire energy gamut extending from the gross physical power of the material worlds up through the transition phases of universe energies to the higher spirit-reality forces of the celestial realms”
The key information above is this. “The primary ministers can achieve liaison co-operation with both morontia- and spirit-energy controllers and mind circuiters. The secondary group can establish working connections only with the physical controllers and the material-circuit manipulators.”
A Divine Counselor from Paradise would speak the language of Paradise and most definitely the language of the superuniverse in which he is assigned, but he probably would not have a need to know the languages of the local universes of that superuniverse. At the other end of the equation a Secondary Midwayer would be fluent in English and the tongue of Satania and perhaps the local universe language but definitely not the superuniverse language because they don’t work on that level. But the Primary Midwayers work with higher spiritual beings and would most certainly know the language of Uversa. There may be more entities involved in the process such as morontia- and spirit-energy controllers and mind circuiters as well as physical controllers and the material-circuit manipulators. In a quote above we find this phrase, “this narrative is being translated and recorded.” Translated from what language to what language and how many translations before being recorded in English?
You might ask why they didn’t just sit around a table and translate back and forth. In a sense they did but the table used was not what we might think. As I have pointed out, it wasn’t the contact personality’s hands and tongue that were used or even attributes of his brain such as his vocabulary. There is a statement in the revelation which gives us our best insight into how the contact personality was used.
“On many worlds the better adapted secondary midway creatures are able to attain varying degrees of contact with the Thought Adjusters of certain favorably constituted mortals through the skillful penetration of the minds of the latters’ indwelling. (And it was by just such a fortuitous combination of cosmic adjustments that these revelations were materialized in the English language on Urantia.)”
Some Midwayers are able to make some sort of contact with Thought Adjuster by penetrating the mind of the human indwelt by the Adjuster. They make the profound statement that it was by this process the revelations were materialized in the English language on Urantia. There are two distinct ideas here. One is making contact with the Thought Adjuster and the other is skillfully penetrating the mind of the human subject. If the Thought Adjuster was part of the revelatory process, then we must assume that Personalized Adjusters were engaged somehow because the communication was between personal beings and Thought Adjusters are not personal. Personalized Adjusters have been known to act in the affairs of a local universe, but there is nothing in the revelation itself that indicates that this was the case in bridging the gap between high and low beings.
The following quote explains how the Thought Adjuster may have been involved or not involved as you may see it. In much the same way a rebel Midwayer could affect the feeble minded before the Thought Adjusters readily came to indwell mortals after the bestowal of the Spirit of Truth, loyal Midwayers, when working with the Reserve Corps of Destiny, can work through the mind of a Reservist when the Thought Adjuster is detached for some reason. In both situations the Adjuster is absent from the personality leaving the mind vulnerable to mischievous acts or ready for planetary duty.
“On no world can evil spirits possess any mortal mind subsequent to the life of a Paradise bestowal Son. But before the days of Christ Michael on Urantia—before the universal coming of the Thought Adjusters and the pouring out of the Master’s spirit upon all flesh—these rebel midwayers were actually able to influence the minds of certain inferior mortals and somewhat to control their actions. This was accomplished in much the same way as the loyal midway creatures function when they serve as efficient contact guardians of the human minds of the Urantia reserve corps of destiny at those times when the Adjuster is, in effect, detached from the personality during a season of contact with superhuman intelligences.”
That leaves the penetrating of the mind, not the brain, of the subject. The brain is the instrument that connects with the mind circuits, or rather the mind rest gently on the brain, at which point the Thought Adjuster might reside. It was in the arena of the mind circuits that the revelation took place. It is a crude illustration, but if we think of the subject as a telephone or a switchboard and the Thought Adjuster as the operator allowing the connection to take place and the phone line as the mind circuit where the communications are made, we can see how a Divine Counselor could speak to a Primary Midwayer who then speaks to a Secondary Midwayer. This is surely oversimplified because the true mechanics of the transaction transpires in the spiritual realm in the arena of cosmic mind. It would be impossible for us to fully discover and understand the process.
So, we might say the contact personality was an involuntary apparatus, but you might ask why the mind of a sleeping man and not the mind of a Midwayer? It is because the mind of the Midwayer is always active with an actively engaged personality. I might add here that the human mind would be very compatible to the Midwayer mind as they share the two highest adjutant mind spirits, wisdom and worship.
But what about the free will of the human subject? Has the sanctity of the human mind been invaded? No, not really because the Midwayers are not accessing the physical brain and its memory, the soul or the personality. They are only accessing an unimpeded mind circuit. We can be certain that if the subject had been disturbed by the process he would have been exchanged for one more cooperative. The following quote reveals perfectly the nature of the situation.
“The Adjuster of the human being through whom this communication is being made enjoys such a wide scope of activity chiefly because of this human’s almost complete indifference to any outward manifestations of the Adjuster’s inner presence; it is indeed fortunate that he remains consciously quite unconcerned about the entire procedure. He holds one of the highly experienced Adjusters of his day and generation, and yet his passive reaction to, and inactive concern toward, the phenomena associated with the presence in his mind of this versatile Adjuster is pronounced by the guardian of destiny to be a rare and fortuitous reaction. And all this constitutes a favorable co-ordination of influences, favorable both to the Adjuster in the higher sphere of action and to the human partner from the standpoints of health, efficiency, and tranquillity.”
The revelatory process, I noticed something in the timeline that I had not considered before. We know that Dr. Sadler informed us that the first encounter with the contact personality was in 1911. It has also been recorded that the forum was organized in 1923. That was a twelve year period. The dates we have for the completion of the first three parts of the Urantia Book are 1934 and 1935, another twelve year period. Why are these two twelve year periods important? They are significant because what took place in each was different.
Before doing my research I, like many others, thought that over all those years up until 1935 the celestials were dictating information through the sleeping subject while someone was writing it down. Nothing could be further from the truth. The period between 1911 and 1923 seems to have been a time of testing the process, expanding the minds of the contact commission, and a period for the celestials to research human records, formulate, compile, and even write the first three parts of the revelation before ever involving the forum members in 1923.
Even before 1911 there was activity and preparations being made. Remember that the Midwayers needed to bring about the co-ordination of personalities and circumstances which induced the initiation of the petitions that resulted in the granting of the mandates making possible the series of revelations we now have as the Urantia Papers. It is impossible to say how long that process took. My feeling is that Dr Sadler was the key person in the equation. He had the experience and background needed as well as an objective, investigative mind. He was probably guided to move to Chicago because of its strategic location or perhaps because the chosen contact personality lived there. It is hard to say, but somehow they were brought together.
Another thing we don’t know is how long the Midwayers worked to perfect the communication technique. As far as we know, this was the first and only time on Urantia the approved processes was attempted. How many links to the higher personalities were made before Dr. Sadler was called to the scene? We do know from personal accounts that the earliest sessions had no communications at all.
In 1929 Dr. Sadler wrote that there were about 250 of the night sessions. Over an eighteen year period that averages out to around one per month. We are also told that a stenographer made voluminous notes. Were these notes part of the revelation? No. We already know that the Midwayers can write and produce entire first draft versions of the papers. The human notes have since disappeared. What were they? Perhaps they were a result of an exercise to expand the minds of the contact commission and others who may have been called in to witness and evaluate the strange happenings. We have to remember that the state of the most advanced minds on the planet at that time did not have clear concepts in astronomy and the other sciences and were almost totally void of any high concepts of God, divinity, and the structure and administration of the spiritual realms. The enlightenment of an entire world would have to start with a few well rehearsed individuals. Even at that, Dr. Sadler was in doubt for many years until he read the paper on the twelve apostles, so we are told. I don’t find this too surprising because Dr. Sadler, in 1929, didn’t seem to have a good grasp some simple concepts because he said he was dealing with extra-planetary personalities from other planets. This makes it sound like he was communicating with extra-terrestrials. Furthermore, the revelation never refers to architectural worlds as planets. Planets are always evolutionary worlds.
Another reason we might conclude that the early communications, verbal and written, were not the proto-papers, the first drafts, is because Dr. Sadler says that it was student visitors who were coming and going. None of the authors of the final papers were student visitors. One more thing that was probably taking place during the first twelve years was research and compilation of the more than one thousand human concepts representing the highest and most advanced planetary knowledge of spiritual values and universe meanings. We learn this in the acknowledgment at the end of the Forward. We know how beautifully the human concepts were uplifted and woven into the pure revelation. We can rest assured that a project of this magnitude takes a great deal of planning and preparation. It is only after reading it for many years that I have come to appreciate the artistry of these wordsmiths.
I have no doubt that before the Forum was involved around 1923-1924, the first three parts were completed in a first draft form. There are some accounts that say complete papers appeared in response to questions the contact commission provided. It could be that a simple question such as where does God live could have produced the Isle of Paradise paper. The mandates for the revelation contained guidelines for what could or could not be revealed so we know that the information to be included was known from the beginning. The forum was perhaps necessary to stimulate a paper, but the basic information was probably completed before 1923. I will go out on a limb and suggest that the Jesus papers were also completed long before they were given to the contact commission in 1935 according to some accounts. I personally knew two forum members who said the forth part of the book came all at once. I have heard it said over the years that there was some question among the revelators as to whether or not to include the life and teachings of Jesus, but reference is made to him as early as the first paper. It would be impossible to imagine the book without his life’s story even if you took all references of him out. Urantia is his hometown, we are a part of his creation, and the first three sections of the book are a fantastic backdrop for the play.
So, what other purpose did the forum serve? What happened between 1923 and 1935 and even into the forties by some accounts? These are much simpler questions to answer. We don’t know how many, if any, proto-papers were in the possession of the contact commission before the forum was formed. We do know that new papers were brought forth as questions were asked by the forum during these years. The questions were not the reason a paper was written, and we know this because there were pre-existing mandates stating what and what not to reveal, but rather signals indicating which paper to bring out. As papers were read before the members more questions were raised for clarification and then refinements were made. These years seem to have been a time of fine tuning the revelation to make it understandable to the human mind. The process was continued until the day came when the revelators said the mandates were fulfilled.
We were left with an amazing collection of information that deeply affects the transformation of the minds and souls of those who dare to engage it while the revelatory commission from Uversa moved on to perhaps repeat the process on another isolated world.