Episode:Prayer—Nature and Evolution (Part 4)
In their early and primitive form, prayers were not addressed to anyone in particular. Prayer then evolved through many phases and during long ages before attaining the level of intelligent and truly ethical prayer. Enlightened prayer must recognize not only an external and personal God but also an internal and impersonal Divinity, the indwelling Adjuster.
Keywords: Urantia, Prayer, Cheerfulness, Calmness, Courage
Summary by Kermit
with final edits by Ann
Paper 91:3 Prayer and the Alter Ego
We spent some more time exploring the author’s use of the term ego and alter ego in terms of the hourglass analogy often used on this broadcast. The sense of the word ego here indicates the personalized self in the upper domain of the hourglass. This is in contrast to the not yet spiritualized, animal-origin adjutant self in the lower domain or alter ego. This quasi-separation leads to the inner dialogue. With maturation this budding ego becomes parent to this alter ego. This alter ego becomes a repository of the evolving ideals and virtues of the ego (self aware self) and allows for the top down mastery of the lower from the upper enabling spirit gravity to lift up the adjutant mind and transform the adjutant “energies” of intuition, understanding, courage, etc., to their corresponding “spirits” of intuition, understanding, courage, etc.
In this way the monologous prayers addressed to no one in particular evolved into the dialogues with the alter ego. Over time this alter ego idea becomes exalted to a superior status of divine dignity. Prayer as an agency of religion thus appears. But many phases and long ages must be traversed before prayer attains the level of intelligent and ethical prayer.
As the alter ego takes on higher notions, unless real transformation occurs, it becomes an exalted anthropomorphic phenomenon. At this point, instead of looking down from the upper domain, the transformation required is to look up from the upper domain to the realm of spirit. These changes are signaled in the developmental transition of the indwelling spirit from a Thought Changer to a Thought Adjuster, usually taking place around the age of twenty years [107:0.7, p. 1177].
The alter ego concept evolves by steps through ghosts, fetishes, spirits, and polytheistic gods eventually attaining the idea of the One God, a divine being embodying the highest ideals and the loftiest aspirations of the praying ego. In this way prayer functions as the most potent agency of religion in the conservation of the highest values and ideals of those who pray. From the alter ego concept to the idea of a divine and heavenly Father, prayer is always a socializing, moralizing, and spiritualizing practice.
Prayer serves as a yardstick for the evolutionary progress of man’s inner life with God, beginning with the ancient conversations with his alter ego of primitive religion, culminating in the communion with the spirit of the Infinite and a consciousness of the reality of the eternal God and Paradise Father of all. Note our author’s use of the capital “I” Infinite, suggesting contact with the Thought Adjuster as the individuation of the facet of Deity known as the Infinite Upholder.
We are reminded that ethical prayer is a splendid way of elevating one’s ego and reinforcing the self for better living and higher attainment. The use of the term ego here is in its more truthful reference to the self-aware self, and not its selfish egoistic aspect. Misunderstanding of this point has led religionists to attempt the abnegation of the ego, and by so doing, jeopardizing the integrity of personality. The author also presents here the value of prayer in accessing both the so-called lower or subconscious reservoir of mortal experience for material aid, as well as the more recognized higher or superconscious borders of contact with the indwelling spirit for inspiration and guidance.
Further regarding this higher vs. lower consciousness, we encounter the origins of the dualistic concepts of a good and bad self, where the animal origin self comes to be viewed as a negative actuality instead of a positive potentiality. The false world view of an objective negative force for badness represents a corruption of thought that continues to retard our evolutionary religious progress. This false view of the so-called lower nature deprives its adherents of the benefits of utilizing this differential to power personal development. Rather, the cultivation of the static phenomenon of bliss leads to stagnation and the equivalent of spiritual death, as the indwelling spirit patiently waits for a change of venue to renew his task of leading his subject Paradiseward.
We next considered the enduring twofold nature of prayer in human experience as a psychological procedure AND a spiritual technique. Careful examination of these two phenomena suggests that the psychological procedure of “self-reminding” can lead to self-forgetting—worship. Likewise, in the spiritual technique of using personality to engage spiritual insight (3rd Cosmic Intuition) the creature moves up to the level of spirit—communion, above the mind. This is the eventuality of the evolution of prayer—worship.
Enlightened prayer is cognizant of not only an external and personal God, but also an internal and impersonal Divinity. Note the capital “D” here refers to divinity directly stemming from Deity, in this case the Divine Adjuster. We are told that praying man should strive to grasp the idea of the Universal Father on Paradise. However, for practical purposes, it may be more effective to revert to the idea of a nearby alter ego, all the while recognizing that the previously conjured fictitious alter ego, is now in truth, God’s indwelling man. True enough God (personalized Deity) doesn’t in FACT indwell man, but the impersonal Adjuster is truly the very presence and essence of the Universal Father.
4. Ethical Praying
The practitioners of ethical prayer seek not for selfish advantage over their fellows. To pray for selfish and materialistic ends is incompatible with the ethical religions of unselfish and divine love. Neither should prayer become a substitute for action, rather should it be a stimulus to action as well as a guide to the progressive striving for idealistic goals of superself-attainment.
God is no respecter of person, thus expect no partiality from God. Prayer can be egoistic or altruistic. (Here we had a discussion on the distinction between egoistic and egotistic. In short egoistic is self-seeking, and egotistic is self-aggrandizing or exalting.) When prayer is neither egoistic, nor altruistic, that prayer tends towards the level of true worship. Egoistic prayer involves confessions and petitions and often fails to ascend past the materialistic (primitive) level. Even egoistic prayers are somewhat more ethical when they deal with forgiveness and seek wisdom and enhanced self-control. But the implication here is that the goal of ethical prayer is worship.
While materialistic prayers maybe somewhat efficacious in that they lead to a greater expenditure of effort contributory to achieving answers to such prayers, they frequently lead to disillusionment and disappointment.
Significant time was spent in discussing the implications of the admonition of the author contained in the sentence, “But the spiritually advanced person should exercise great caution in attempting to discourage the primitive or immature mind regarding such prayers.” Some of the implications discussed extended to the issue of introducing persons to the fifth epochal revelation.
Suffice it to say, prayer doesn’t change God, but it has been the ancestor of many fruits, including peace of mind, cheerfulness, calmness, courage, self-mastery, and fair-mindedness in the lives of those who pray in faith and confident expectation.