© 1980 Eileen Laurence
© 1980 The Urantia Book Fellowship (formerly Urantia Brotherhood)
The URANTIA Book says that, “Harmony is the keynote of the central universe, and detectable order prevails on Paradise.” (UB 27:4.2) The word harmony is taken from the Greek word “harmos,” meaning a fitting, a joining. Interestingly, a synonym for harmony is “unison,” As a musician, I have often pondered this association between harmony and unity and have spent much time dealing with the creative experience that leads toward these ideals,
For example, it’s intriguing to note the similar patterns existing between the development of civilization on our planet and the evolution of music from around the 6th century to the present. When Andon and Fonta were rearing their family, they “… evinced a very marked clannish spirit; they hunted in groups and never strayed very far from the homesite. They seemed to realize that they were an isolated and unique group of living beings and should therefore avoid becoming separated.” (UB 63:3.3) The words clannish, isolated, and unique remind me of the monks living and working in the monasteries of medieval Europe. Listening to the Gregorian chants composed and sung then, I imagine a life of simplicity, plainness, a gentle flow of communication between the singer and the listener, the creator and the created. So it is between the newborn infant and his parents, a pure sharing, a sympathetic unity, a harmony. Food and shelter are necessary for physical sustenance, but in order for the soul to flower — love, guidance, and support must always be present. These elements fit together, harmonize, very efficiently as long as there is cooperation; cooperation between parents and children, between families, between God and man.
“But co-operation is not a natural trait of man; he learns to co-operate first through fear and then later because he discovers it is most beneficial in meeting the difficulties of time and guarding against the supposed perils of eternity.” (UB 68:1.4) Early musicians learned through experimentation that some intervals such as octaves, fifths, fourths, and thirds were consonant to the ear; that melodies cooperating with each other were more expressive than monody. Music developed from the unified undulations of Gregorian chant to two and three part songs and accompanied melodies. Musicmaking encouraged socialization simply because the songs required more than one person to perform. The composer worked with the performers who, in turn, communicated the musical ideas to an audience. The development of music and civilization progressed from the state of exclusion to the stage of inclusion.
“Throughout the earlier ages of any world, competition is essential to progressive civilization. As the evolution of man progresses, co-operation becomes increasingly effective, In advanced civilizations co-operation is more efficient than competition. Early man is stimulated by competition. Early evolution is characterized by the survival of the biologically fit, but later civilizations are the better promoted by intelligent co-operation, understanding fraternity, and spiritual brotherhood.” (UB 71:5.3)
Think of a fine chamber music group such as the Juilliard String Quartet. Each member of that august group is a superb technician, a sensitive artist. They each enjoy a brilliant solo career and have achieved a high state of the art through intense competition, but some of the finest music, specifically Mozart and Haydn string quartets, cannot be played by one instrumentalist. In order for them to function as a quartet, four individuals must be so firmly secure in their own sense of identity and technical proficiency that they have a desire, indeed an urge, to go beyond themselves to work together in creating a universe of sounds that is far beyond even the sum of their unique contributions. “The group potential is always far in excess of the simple sum of the attributes of the component individuals.” (UB 10:5.2)
With the picture and the sounds in your imagination of a string quartet rehearsing together, think of the relationship between harmony (unison) and chaos. To the unschooled observer, the black marks on the page of music would appear to be unintelligible. To the neophyte listener the rehearsal would seem chaotic, often even argumentative, as the players assert their individual interpretive ideas to the group. However, to an observer who is musically literate and who has watched or even participated in a chamber music rehearsal before, the process would be perfectly clear and predictable. “The attainment of completed spiritual insight enables the ascending personality to detect harmony in what was theretofore chaos.” (UB 118:10.19) There seems to be a discernable pattern between a chamber music group playing string quartets and Paradise administration. “All Paradise conduct is wholly spontaneous, in every sense natural and free. But there still is a proper and perfect way of doing things in the eternal Isle…” (UB 27:4.3)
As civilization becomes more complex, as communication becomes at the same time more possible and more difficult, we continue to struggle for a common language. We yearn for a clarity of understanding on our planet. We are told that “Forever, music will remain the universal language of men, angels, and spirits. Harmony is the speech of Havona.” (UB 44:1.15) Music has the power to convey ideas and emotions that are inexpressible in any other way.
“The maintenance of world-wide civilization is dependent on human beings learning how to live together in peace and fraternity.” (UB 81:6.36) In thinking about this statement and James Zebedee’s question, “Master, how shall we learn to see alike and thereby enjoy more harmony among ourselves?” (UB 141:5.1), I find guidance in my experience as a singer. The vocal sounds I produce are unique to me. Through study, practice, and competition my skills have been developed and refined.
When I join with other like-minded singers to create vocal chamber music we join our individual voices to create a myriad of sounds none of us could possibly produce alone. If we work together in happiness and harmony towards a unison idea of following the intent of the composer and enhancing that intent with our unprecedented blend of sound, musicality, and intellect we are indeed creating a spiritual likeness. As Jesus said to James, “I do not desire that social harmony and fraternal peace shall be purchased by the sacrifice of free personality and spiritual originality. What I require of you, my apostles, is spirit unity — and that you can experience in the joy of your united dedication to the wholehearted doing of the will of my Father in heaven. You do not have to see alike or feel alike or even think alike in order spiritually to be alike.” (UB 141:5.1)
Those of us who are musicians and who have worked together in chamber groups are aware that sometimes we achieve an unspeakable feeling of unity as we go about our business of making music. For URANTIA Book readers, the experience of being sons and daughters of God is very real. “The unity of religious experience among a social or racial group derives from the identical nature of the God fragment indwelling the individual. … A group of mortals can experience spiritual unity, but they can never attain philosophic uniformity.” (UB 103:1.1)
We have looked briefly at the relationship between harmony and unity and the creative experience of the search for, and attainment of, these ideals. How important is the attainment of this goal in our daily lives? I think it is a vital contribution to the growth of God the Supreme. Certainly in a personal, national, and global sense we have a long way to go before we achieve Light and Life; but the urge is relentless and unquenchable. As we meet and work with other like-minded individuals we have the privilege of reaching down while reaching up and out to other helping hands who are also struggling for evolutionary perfection.
— Eileen Laurence
Armonk, New York