The following talk is from an April 1971 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Bruce R. McConkie. A commenter named “Thomas” at TempleStudy.com mentioned this article and I have reposted here for oneClimbs readers.
When I was a mission president in Australia, I once said to those of my missionaries in Tasmania: “Tomorrow we shall climb Mt. Wellington and hold our missionary meeting on the top. We shall there seek to commune with the Lord and partake of his Spirit.”
We made the climb, and while on top of the peak we visited a television broadcasting station. A bright young man explained to us in words I had never heard, and using principles I could not and do not understand, how the sounds and scenes of television were broadcast into the valley below.
That night, back in the city of Hobart, my two young sons and I sat before a television set that was tuned to the proper wave band, and we saw and heard and experienced what had been described to us in words.
Now I think this illustrates perfectly what is involved in the receipt of revelation and the seeing of visions. We can read about visions and revelations in the records of the past, we can study the inspired writings of people who had the fullness of the gospel in their day, but we cannot comprehend what is involved until we see and hear and experience for ourselves.
This Tabernacle is now full of words and music. Handel’s Messiah is being sung, and the world’s statesmen are propagandizing their people. But we do not hear any of it.
This Tabernacle is full of scenes from Vietnam and Washington. There is even a picture of men walking on the surface of the moon. But we are not seeing these things. The minute, however, in which we tune Read Full Post
Man, I’m on a video kick right now. I’ve been coming across some pretty intriguing things in the last few days. I’m starting to like this guy, Emil Ihsan-Alexander Torabi and this particular video that addresses simple, practical approaches to meditation is very well done. Meditation is something that few people that I know do and something that I typically only use periodically because of the difficulty I find in staying focused.
I’m going to try some of the things that Emil recommends and feel free to post your own experiences and insights in the comments below.
The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity — thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith , p.137)
Steps to meditation, or stilling the soul:
- Be consistent
- Don’t worry about doing it right
- Dont fight your thoughts, as they arise, observe them and let them be and pass
- Make it a habit or routine; set time aside
- Stick with it – be mercifiul to yourself when you fail, start again
- Sit in a comfortable position
- Begin to relax
- Close your eyes
- Focus on your breathing, become aware of tense spots in your body and release the tension
- After you are done, give thanks.
- 5 minutes is perfect to begin
- Consistensy and not length is what is important
- You will learn by experience the rest, follow your instincts
Originally posted at TempleStudy.com
What is mysticism? That is the million dollar question.
It is incredibly difficult to define. Wikipedia defines it as the “pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, instinct or insight.” What? By combining all possible definitions into one, they have created an incomprehensible one.
Let’s turn to some closer associates. Hugh Nibley once defined it, quoting Eduard Lehmann, as “an intuitive and ecstatic union with the deity obtained by means of contemplation and other mental exercises.” Professor William Hamblin turns to oft-repeated definitions such as “a domain of religion that deals with the search for and the attainment of a profound experiential knowledge of God or of ultimate reality,” or, “mysticism is … a type of religious experience which involves a sense of union or merging with either God or an all-pervading spiritual force in the universe,” but finds even these lacking. In Kevin Christensen’s recent Interpreter review of Margarget Barker’s book Temple Mysticism: An Introduction he indicated that his “favorite LDS approach” to the topic has become Mark E. Koltko’s essay “Mysticism and Mormonism: An LDS Perspective on Transcendence and Higher Consciousness,” found in the April 1989 issue of Sunstone. We’ll come back to this shortly. Christensen notes that while Nibley’s view tends to be the more conventional definition, Margaret Barker’s own use of the term in her book is very different still, focusing on the experience of “seeing the Lord,” i.e. a temple theophany. While different, there is clearly overlap between the ideas of “a union with deity,” and “seeing God,” as Matthew Bowen also elucidates in his recent article in Interpreter. Koltko’s essay also perhaps helps bridge the gap.
But let me rewind for a moment. Why am I interested in mysticism? It sounds eerily like one of those occult things that Read Full Post
The following is taken from 2 Nephi 4:16-35, with some headings that I inserted to identify four key steps of transformation and if I were as awesome as President Monson I’m sure I could make them rhyme somehow ;)
Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.
It is easy to find fault in yourself and become overwhelmed
Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.Read Full Post
A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe is probably one of my favorite books in the whole wide world. Is it the be-all, end-all, of all things ever? Nope. So what’s the big deal about it? It is a “switch-flipper” an “ah-HA!” generator and an incredibly fun read!
Latter-day Saints are a people that are swimming in a world of symbolic meaning, especially those that attend the temple, but how many really ‘get it’? The problem is with the way that we think and author Denver Snuffer hit it right on the head:
“Exposure to the culture of ceremony and symbols is a priceless advantage to anyone coming from a secularized and demythologized society. The power in the temple’s rites and symbols, lies in the reorientation of the individual and their minds from what is in society today to a different setting and different world-view…one in which you are prepared for companionship with those who, behind the veil, live in a culture of symbols and ceremony where deep meanings and eternal patterns are seen endlessly.” (Denver Snuffer, The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord through the Veil, Millcreek Press, pps. 260-61; 374-75)
I love that quote. In our “secular and demythologized society” we are dense to anything beyond what we seeRead Full Post
For something new, I’m going to be posting insights from my personal notebook that I feel are not too personal to share and may be of worth to some out there. If you are new to oneClimbs, you might not have read a how-to article I posted a while back about keeping your own “Small Plates“. If you want to understand more about this practice that I’ve personally used for the past twelve years, check it out.
The primary reasons I am doing this are both to share and also to encourage this practice among any individual seeking to improve their personal revelatory insights and experiences.
- The priesthood is associated with signs; whenever ordinances are performed, signs are associated.
- Symbols guide our understanding and prepare us for experience.
- Symbols establish a framework in the mind that revelation can fill.
- Some things in life can seem as impossible to move as mountains, yet the scriptures testify that mountains are indeed movable.
- There is no full atonement without a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ. Tho know Him is to find salvation, to be a stranger to Him is to not know the atonement.
- In innocence we transgressed,
in knowledge we sinned,
in virtue we return.
- The temple is not the meaning, it is the context.
- “The repenting sinner must suffer for his sins, but this suffering has a different purpose than punishment or payment. Its purpose is change.” (The Lord’s Way, 1991, Spencer W. Kimball)
Begin keeping your own “Small Plates” today!
While pondering the blessings that surround us in our time, I also considered the many distractions and noise around us that pollute our thinking and our peace.
I thought about how many prophets lived and died over the course of millennia who saw through eyes of faith the future that was not yet, but would one day be. I found it easy to be envious of these prophetic powers, spiritual gifts and the grand visions of what was to be.
As I turned a corner, I looked out across the city where I live and saw the Las Vegas temple shining in the sun at the foot of a mountain. God was listening to my pondering and unveiled some truth to my understanding in His unique way. Seeing with new eyes, I was crushed at the realization that I was beholding with eyes of flesh the literal fulfillment of the visions of the past. There stands the work of God before my eyes and all around me and I stand as a living witness of promises fulfilled and can drink from those waters at my leisure.
They were privileged to behold what was to be while we are witness to what is.
The symbol of a mountain is a common archetype in religious traditions and is it any wonder? Their everlasting stability, their untouchable heights and the way the light paints them in quiet mornings and sets them afire in evenings have always inspired man.
Within the LDS faith, the mountain has a special meaning. I suppose that one of the most immediate correlations would probably be to the temples.
The same way that the Lord’s voice can be heard through scripture, he speaks to us through number, shape, color, light and movement in nature, in temples, in our dreams and visions and in many other circumstances. Everything in our perception can teach us if we have ears to hear, eyes to see, hands to touch and a heart that yearns for virtue.
The mountain; it is a striking visual symbol encompassing many ideas, sermons and truths. Perhaps the mountain peak represents the final destination of man or the ultimate height one can achieve with only God as a way to ascend higher. What I find especially fascinating isn’t the mountain itself, but the climb.
The climb teaches us, it requires strength and in turn makes us strong, it is brutal, unforgiving and perilous.
It seems safer to stay at the bottom, but is it? What if the point of life isn’t to make it safely to death? What if we spend our lives dragging our way to the top but never make it? What is at the top? Is reaching the top of the mountain really even necessary if the point is the climb?
Perhaps the climb begins with covenants. Under covenant, life and every experience of every moment are another rock, another precipice, another dreadful cliff, treacherous winds and a host of spectacular terrain.
Everything becomes the climb; what you do right after you wake up, how you treat your family, friends and enemies, what you do and think when you are alone, how you apply your talents, how you deal with fear, how you handle knowledge and what your attitude is concerning the things you encounter.
The climb; you will either discover what awaits you or you will spend eternity contemplating two words, “what if”.
Will you climb the rock
Or wait at the bottom for a free ride up
Will you look to the top
And wonder what it would be like
Or will you stand up and climb?
– (Lyrics from the song “Lemonade” by U-turn)
I enjoy Denver Snuffer’s books and his blog where you can glean some wonderful little nuggets from time to time. I thought the following quote was great advice:
“It is in the private, unobserved moments when you learn the most about yourself. What you think, what you do, how you act when you think you are alone reveals more about your heart than anything else. If you are distant from God, begin to return in those moments alone.” – Denver Snuffer (Emphasis Added) [source]
After detailing all of the places and situations in which we should cry out to God, Amulek adds “But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.” – Alma 34:26.
Indeed these moments alone are important. When free from the influence of others we have God as our audience, or is it the other way around? It is then that we really begin to understand ourselves but perhaps we don’t like what we see. If this is the case, we can cry out to the Lord without restraint or distraction.
I also like how Bro. Snuffer will sometimes ask searching questions along with the information he is presenting so perhaps I’ll include some in my posts from time to time. Finding truth is all about asking the right questions.
- What do we worship when we are alone?
- Do we believe that God does not see us just because others are not around?
- Do we believe that God cannot hear us in our solitude?
- Do we make time to be alone with God or are we too ‘busy’ for him?
- What would happen if we changed things today?
The veil was one of the core elements of the Hebrew temple. It was the dividing line between this world and the symbolic, or from time to time, literal presence of God. There are many meanings, doctrines, principles, types and shadows associated with the temple and what the veil may symbolize. For the purposes of this article, I will only be covering a few facets of this topic from a Latter-day Saint theological viewpoint.
Internalizing the Veil
The ancient temple and the modern temples alike share the common characteristic of being a model of both the macrocosmos and the microcosmos. The macrocosmos deals with heavenly bodies, systems and galaxies while the microcosmos deals with earthly bodies such as our own. Just as the heavenly bodies all orient themselves according to law, we as beings endowed with free will may orientRead Full Post
I submit that where symbolism is in use, there is an invitation to receive more knowledge via a revelatory experience.
The veil exists to ensure that we are not held accountable for that which we are not willing to receive.
When the disciples of Christ came to him and asked “Why speakest thou unto them in parables? (Matt. 13:10)” Jesus responded saying “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given… therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” (Matt. 13:11,13)Read Full Post
Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
For the sake of convenience, I’m going to break each part of this verse down into digestible elements. This will not be exhaustive by any means and I might use this as a starting point for later study.
Now, we will compare the word unto a seed.
As a letter in the alphabet of symbolism, “seed” has been used to convey the idea of posterity or faith, but in this case “the word” is being compared to a seed. What is “the word” then? Well, technically, the word can be anything, it’s whatever you want to know. The word comes to us in many ways. It is preached to us, we read it in the scriptures or we just simply come across it or it reveals itself to us in diverse ways.Read Full Post
After an Institute of Religion class, my teacher and I were having a discussion in his office. He asked if he could show me something; he grabbed a book and took his seat across the table from me. He asked me to close my eyes and focus on envisioning what he was going to be reading to me. What he read was a very descriptive narrative of a climb to the top of a mountain that was meant to be imagined from the perspective of the reader.
This simple narrative was amazingly effective at teaching a few important principles that I will cover later. With a few words, my paradigm had been shifted concerning how I approach my Father in Heaven in prayer.
Below is the text that was read to me and since you can’t read this with your eyes closed, I suggest possibly having someone read this to you or for the time being, read it slow and try and project what you are reading into your mind’s eye. Do your best to clear your mind, find a quiet place and simply focus; if you simply skim it, you will getRead Full Post