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How I Found the Urantia Book—STEVEN HECHT (1970)

iN THE WINTER of 1969-1970, I left my home in Binghamton, New York, and set out on a solo hitchhiking trip across the United States. I had just dropped out of the state university there, in my first year. My explorations in religion up to that time had been Alan Watts’s The Book, Ram Dass’s Be Here Now, and the writings of Madame Blavatsky.

While in Berkeley, California, I wandered into Shambala, a metaphysical bookstore, and picked up the Urantia Book. It must have made some kind of impression on me, since a few months later, at the Edgar Cayce library in Virginia Beach, Virginia, I searched out the book again and read newspaper reviews of it from 1955.

During the next few months I had quite an exciting time. I ended up in a “cult” of white Rastafarians (in reality, college students from Michigan) who had spent time in the mountains of Jamaica with a Rastafarian priest named Baz. They had returned to Coconut Grove in Miami, where I met them. A nice Jewish boy from New York, I was temporarily swept away by a heady combination of apocalyptic Rastafarianism, ganja, and trips to the mountains of Jamaica. It’s now clear to me that I was searching with determination (and sometimes wild abandon) for a rational and inspiring faith-basis for my life.

A month after ending that adventure, I saw the Urantia Book again in Samuel Weiser’s metaphysical bookstore in Manhattan. I can vividly remember running my hand along a shelf of books and finding the Urantia Book right next to OAHSPE and The Keys of Enoch. I read one sentence from the UB and knew immediately that I had to read the whole thing. It was a relatively inconsequential sentence. It was not the spiritual meaning or significance of the sentence that convinced me, but the syntax and high level of intelligence of the language. Just to make sure, I opened the other two books and found absolutely no call there. Since I didn’t have the $16 it cost, I had to borrow the money from my parents. I returned to Weiser’s the next day and bought the Urantia Book.

That whole summer I spent three to four hours a day reading the book. I went very slowly and carefully, trying to find contradictions and mistakes. I made sure that I did not move ahead until I understood (at some level!) what I had been reading.

The following summer I read St. Augustine’s Confessions. In its own way, that book had almost the impact on me that the Urantia Book did. It was while reading that book that I was “baptized in the spirit.” It was experienced as an unspeakably sweet sensation in the heart, filling my whole soul. This has been my only extrasensory spiritual experience—and it happened on the New York City subway. This experience is with me always, and is not held in my memory as such, because it does not reside in my mind, but in my soul.

Nine years later I underwent the greatest trial of my life. In 1979 I was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure. I was immediately put on hemodialysis for the next four years. That experience was probably the turning point in my life, for at least two reasons: One, I experienced my mortality at a relatively young age (28); and two, I simultaneously experienced the depth of my faith status with God. I had no fear of death, although I knew I was at death’s door. The faith lessons I had appropriated from the revelation allowed me to console my family through this difficult time.

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