"We are made wise not by the recollection of our past,
but by the responsibility for our future."   George Bernard Shaw

 

The following excerpt provides a relatively thorough explanation of the sequence of events leading to the materialization of the Urantia Papers. There are links to two other sources at the bottom of this page.

From "The Birth of a Divine Revelation" (2000) by Ernest P. Moyer:

(p.100) "Here I wish to concentrate on the episode which caused Sadler to describe his first contact with the Sleeping Subject.  [Harold Marrow] Sherman published this account in his 1976 book he called "How to Know What To Believe."

This was Sadler's account, as recorded by Sherman [excerpts]:

"About thirty-five years ago [1911] when Lena and I were young physicians together, we decided to move, but the place we had in mind was not yet available. We were directed to a furnished apartment in the neighborhood, which we took for several months until our place was ready.

We had been there about two weeks, and some of the tenants had apparently learned we were physicians, because one of them, a woman living directly below, rapped on our door about 11:00 PM as we were in the act of retiring. She said: 'Will you please come downstairs with me? Something has happened to my husband. He's gone asleep; he is breathing very strangely; I can't wake him up.'

We slipped into our bathrobes and went down to her apartment, where I saw a medium-sized man, approaching middle age, asleep in bed, breathing very fitfully. He would take couple of short, quick breaths, for a time, and then he would hold his breath for a long time, long enough for any normal human to have gotten black in the face, but nothing happened. I took his pulse and was surprised to find it normal. I then tried to arouse him with every known method, even to sticking pins in him - but failed.

We sat around and waited for him to return to consciousness, during which time his body gave several violent jumps and starts. Finally, after about an hour he looked around and saw us. We had propped him up on pillows, and he now turned to his wife and asked, pointing at us, 'Who are these people?' She explained that we were doctors she had called in when she found she couldn't awaken him, and he said, 'What's wrong? What happened? I asked him, 'How do you feel?' He said, 'Fine.' I said, 'What have you been dreaming about?' He said, 'I haven't been dreaming at all.'  I said, 'You have been jumping about on the bed.' He said, 'I don't know anything about that. I can't understand it.' I told him I would keep him under observation, to which he readily agreed.

.... Nothing happened for several weeks, and then, one night, about the same time, his wife called us and said he was having one of those spells again. We went down, and gave him some more tests and tried to rouse him - all to no effect. His labored breathing; his sudden breathing off and then no breathing at all would have been alarming had not his pulse remained strong and even throughout. The whole affair was baffling. When he awakened, he was, as before, unconscious of anything having transpired.

(p.101)This sort of experience was repeated at different times at night, until the fall of the year, when we were able to move to the residence of our choice. This man's lease expired the same fall, and he moved into an apartment house in the same block so he could be near us (1).  One night, when we were called to his new address, as we sat by the bedside, Dr. Lena noticed that he was moistening his lips as though he was preparing to speak. She said, 'Perhaps he wants to talk to us.  Maybe if we ask him a question we will get an answer.'  (p.236) She did so, and to our great astonishment he did reply; but it was not his voice. It was that of what we later learned was a student visitor on an observation trip here from a distant planet!  This being apparently conversed with us through this sleeping subject and expressed ideas and philosophies which struck us as entirely new." 

(p.237)"I had been led to believe, through previous study and research, that all such manifestations, however phenomenal, were the work of the subconscious. I therefore got this man into my office several days later, since other entities were apparently coming through him, and secured his permission to submit to hypnotism that I might explore his subconscious. It was difficult to get him under, but when I finally did so, I was amazed to find no consciousness whatsoever of the subjects discussed by these purported beings, which we had all, by this time, started to record in long hand and later combined.  I now felt that I needed help in solving the causes of this mysterious phenomenon, and I called on other doctors and scientists, friends of mine, as well as Houdini and Thurston. They were equally unable to furnish any explanation. Finding by now that we could communicate by direct voice with different student visitors and other beings, we began to look forward to each 'contact,' as we came to call them, and enjoy the opportunity of asking questions, which always brought the most stimulating and unexpected answers.  We took to writing questions in advance about the universe and asking them verbally whenever given a chance. Finally, as a test, I worked out fifty-two questions privately and had them in my own mind, deciding to wait and see whether those so-called student visitors might be able to divine what was in my own consciousness.

(p.238) One night, a particularly electrifying personality seemed to be present from a distant planet and had greatly excited us by his comments. As he was about to go, I addressed him saying, 'How can you prove that you are who you say you are?' He replied, 'I cannot prove it - but you cannot prove that I am not.' He then stunned me by continuing, 'However, I have just received permission to answer forty-six of the fifty-two questions you have been holding in your mind.'

Dr. Ruth [Lena Sadler] spoke up and said, 'Why Henry, [William Sadler] you haven't had such questions, have you?' And I had to admit, " Yes, Ruth, the exact number.'  This personality then proceeded to give me the answers to the forty-six questions as promised. When he had finally finished he said, 'If you people really knew what you had here, you would not take up our time asking silly, trivial questions like this. You would ask something really significant and important.'  We got home around one-thirty that night, but there was no sleep... We stayed up the rest of the night discussing and formulating questions so that we might be prepared for the next contact.

At this point I must go back and tell you that a few months previously I had made a lecture trip to the University of Kansas; and while there, I wrote a letter to my son, Henry, suggesting that since we seldom went to church, though I often talked in churches, I thought it would be a good idea if he and his mother would consider inviting others in regularly for Sunday afternoon tea, about twenty or thirty friends with whom we might discuss religion or any other subject of mutual interest, and perhaps I would give them a little talk to stimulate these discussions. When I returned home the following Sunday noon, I found Dr. Ruth and Henry had already acted upon my suggestion and were having about thirty people that afternoon. This was about October, 1923, as I recall.  (p.239) It was in November that I was asked by some members of this little social group, which we had come to call the Forum, if I wouldn’t tell some of my experiences in abnormal psychology. And since we had not been prohibited from talking about the phenomena we had been witnessing, I related to them my encounter with the sleeping subject and the strange communications we were receiving through him, and told of our being challenged to ask real questions.

It suddenly occurred to me as I got to this point - why not enlist the service of this group in the asking of such questions, and I called upon them to help me. I said, 'Come back next Sunday with all the profound questions you can think of, having to do with God and the Universe, and we'll see if these intelligences can answer them.'

The following Sunday the group arrived with over four thousand questions! Dr. Ruth and I spent several days sorting and classifying them. Then we held them in readiness, hoping for the opportunity of 'calling the bluff' of the higher intelligences. We were, as we thought, 'loaded for bear.'  Some weeks went by and nothing happened. We thought we had them stumped, and then one morning at 6:00 A.M., the phone rang. It was the man's wife calling, 'Come over quick!' she said. 'What happened?' I asked. 'Is he still asleep?' 'Yes, but that's not it,' she replied. 'Please get over here - hurry!'  We dressed like volunteer firemen and arrived out of breath. She led us to the desk in his study and picked up a voluminous manuscript of 472 pages, written in his own hand. I said, 'Where did this come from?' She said, 'I don't know. He made some strange noises in his sleep and woke me up, and I saw it there on the desk.'  I asked, 'Has he been out of bed?' She said, 'Not to my knowledge. I don't see how he could have gotten out without waking me - and he is not awake yet.' I said, 'Is this his handwriting?' She said, 'It's his handwriting all right - but I don't see how he could have done it.'  (p.240) I took a look at the manuscript and saw to great astonishment that it was in answer to all of the questions that had been formulated by ourselves in the Forum group.  I couldn't wait any longer. I took this bulky manuscript into the bedroom and wakened up the subject. I said, 'Do you know what you have been doing in your sleep?' He said, 'I haven't been doing anything.' I said, 'Oh, yes, you have - and look at this! Isn't this your handwriting?' He stared at the manuscript. 'Yes, it's my handwriting, but I didn't do it.'  I estimated it would take a normal individual seven to eight hours, writing at top speed, and the subject matter was so profound and yet so intelligently set down that I knew it was beyond human capacity to achieve. I phoned Cindy and told her to bring over at once a 'grip device' for testing muscular fatigue. I reasoned, if he had physically written all this, his right arm would give evidence of it - but the device registered no fatigue what-so-ever.  We took the papers home and had them typed. They concerned the Universal Father, the Supreme Being, the Central and Super Universes, and the Isle of Paradise. It was an unforgettable occasion when I appeared before the Forum group and announced, 'Well, we got the answers to our questions all right,' and they were awestruck and speechless as we read the papers to them. This was all we needed. Reading these papers led to hundreds and thousands of more questions, and more papers commenced coming through.

We found there seemed to be an organized group of high intelligences on 'the other side,' prepared to present us the whole astounding story of the universe, leading from God, the Universal Father, down to the origin of the human creature, man, and his ultimate glorious destiny beyond the reaches of time and space.  This continued for perhaps seven or eight years when what we considered the first edition of papers was finished. At that time, the Forum received its first direct message, and its members were advised that now, since their knowledge had been expanded, they should be able to ask more intelligent questions and if they would do so, as they commenced a rereading of each paper, these intelligences would completely revise the entire, tremendous manuscript."

Part I, II and III were given to the Contact Commission in their final form in 1934; Part IV in 1935.

Equally informative accounts of the story are available and can be researched through these links:

from UrantiaBook.org: The Meredith J. Sprunger Archive - The Historicity of The Urantia Book
from SquareCircles.com: Urantia Movement History
from FreeUrantia.org - A History