Back in 2011, I wrote a post about the Word of Wisdom. I had some things that were bothering me personally and decided to face them head on. I did a lot of study and research combined with soul-searching and prayer and out of all that came some powerful insights that propelled me down an unexpected, and to be honest, undesired path.
I’ve written a little about that back-story recently but now I’d like to share some things I have learned since then. While you may not agree with some of the conclusions I have come to, I think there are still some principles that are universal in nature.
First I’d like to emphasize the importance of not becoming a judgmental fascist because of your particular views. Next, are some other interesting and unexpected ideas that unfolded to me over time. Finally, I’d like to share some pictures of some of the tasty meals I prepare, because if there is anything I love as much as symbolism, it’s cooking!
Don’t be a Nazi
The revelation we know as D&C 89 was, “To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint,” so I’ve never felt that it was right to shame, scold, force, command or constrain my interpretations in any way upon those who apply the principle of D&C 89 differently than I do. I believe that doing so violates the spirit in which the revelation was given.
I’m all too aware (and maybe you are too) of those that are passionateRead Full Post
“but just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him.” For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-16 NASB)
What are we? Are we matter, coarse or refined? What is God? What makes us what we are, what is consciousness? Whether gods or men, are we not ultimately minds? Minds piloting matter?
A man cannot transform his flesh into an immortal, glorified state, but where are the limits on the mind? Can a human mind (not the brain) learn to see as the mind of God sees? What happens when the mind of a person begins to operate more and more like the mind of God? What does it mean to be one with God; not the same as God, but one with him?
In what ways does God share his mind with man and how can we increase our capacity to receive it?
Does one know the will of God because he tells them directly, or do they know because their mind is like God’s?
Does one know they are clean and redeemed because they are told, or because they see themselves through God’s eyes and the answer is clear?
What is the gift of the Holy Ghost?
I was doing a search today in the Gospel Library app for the word “mind” because I was looking for particular themes related to the mind in the Book of Mormon. As I looked at Alma 19:6, the repetition of the word “light” was clued me in that there must be some literary structure at work.
In ancient Eastern languages without punctuation, you painted pictures through repetition, emphasis, contrast, and many other techniques. I have broken down Alma 19:6 based on various patterns, the most obvious being an overarching chiasm and various sets of parallelisms. There are a couple of different ways you can read this depending on the theme being emphasized.
- A1 – he knew that king Lamoni was under the
- A2 – power of God; he knew that the
- B1 – dark veil of unbelief was being
- B2 – cast away from
- B3 – his mind, and the
- C1 – light which did
- C2 – light up his
- C3 – mind, which was the
- D1 – light of the glory of
- E – God, which was a marvelous
- D1 – light of his goodness–yea, this
- C1 – light had
- C2 – infused such joy into his
- C3 – soul, the
- B1 – cloud of darkness having been
- B2 – dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in
- B3 – his soul, yea,
- A1 – he knew that this had overcome his natural frame, and he was
- A2 – carried away in God–
The entire thought presented here is surrounded by the name of God, who appears at the beginning and the end (how appropriate). Next is this Read Full Post
Any “spiritual experience” I have ever had doesn’t feel theatrical or disconnected from reality. While many such experiences are not part of what can be considered possible in general experience, when they happen they are as real and tangible as anything else.
It seems that the degree we understand something is related to what we can compare it to.
Maybe you are familiar with the example where someone is asked toRead Full Post
Consider the origins of the word “profane”:
Profane: late 14c., from L. profanare “to desecrate,” from profanus “unholy, not consecrated,” from pro fano “not admitted into the temple (with the initiates),” lit. “out in front of the temple,” from pro- “before” (see pro-) + fano, ablative of fanum “temple” (see feast). Related: Profaned; profaning. The adjective is attested from late 15c.; originally “un-ecclesiastical, secular;” sense of “unholy, polluted” is recorded from c.1500.
Temples are sacred spaces and there are prerequisites for entry; one must be “consecrated” but what does that mean? In Hebrew we have the word qadash which means:
For some other interesting insight on the word consecration, this article from TempleStudy.com is enlightening.
Qadash: a primitive root; to be (causatively, make, pronounce or observe as) clean (ceremonially or morally):–appoint, bid, consecrate, dedicate, defile, hallow, (be, keep) holy(-er, place), keep, prepare, proclaim, purify, sanctify(-ied one, self), X wholly.
Here’s the simple pattern for study that leads to change:
- Determine content & context
- Discover doctrines & principles
- Ponder to reveal personal applications
- Record what you receive
- Change your behavior
Yep, that’s it! You probably want a little background and explanation though, huh? I mentioned this process in an article back in August but didn’t elaborate on it.
The original pattern was given to me by my good friend and former institute instructor, Mike King, who I often refer to in other articles as “Brother King”. After studying and pondering this process, Read Full Post
The scriptures often talk about having a broken heart, but what does that mean? Does God want us to be sad? I believe that many of the problems we experience in understanding the ancient concepts contained in the scriptures is because we understand things in a modern way.
Words and their meanings change over time. Today, having a broken heart might mean something like the following:
A broken heart (or heartbreak) is a common metaphor used to describe the intense emotional pain or suffering one feels after losing a loved one, whether through death, divorce, breakup, physical separation, betrayal, or romantic rejection. (via Wikipedia, emphasis added)
In the profane world, a broken heart is an emotional response to unpleasant events surrounding other people. In the sacred world, a broken heart is a catalyst to wonderful things. Read Full Post
The Lectures on Faith is a fantastic addition to the doctrinal knowledge base of the Latter-day Saints. They were part of the Doctrine and Covenants for almost 100 years and were separated from the canon on the grounds that they were not specific revelations to the Church. It’s a complicated story that I’m going to have to address at another time.
What I’m going to be presenting is from the Fifth Lecture that contains teachings about the Godhead that may at first seem foreign to our traditional views as we have come to understand them. When we are seeking to learn eternal truths through the insufficient languages of man, we can often encounter things that puzzle us.
As inconvenient as this is, I believe that it plays an important role in our quest for truth. It causes us to question, to stretch our understanding and ponder deeply upon things. So let’s look into one of these teachings and see what profound truths that we can draw from it.
The mind of the Father and the Son
In Lecture Five we read:
“And he being the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fullness of the glory of the Father – possessing the same mind with the Father; which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son;”
If you read this literally or within a different paradigm it will sound confusing to you. It almost sounds as if the Holy Spirit is nothing more than some kind of shared consciousness. It might seem that way, but I don’t believe that this is the right interpretation. First of all, in translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith would be well aware of what Nephi said when he conversed with the Holy Spirit in a vision:Read Full Post
For those who have seen the original Karate Kid movie you’re probably familiar with the famous “wax on, wax off” lesson that Mr. Miyagi taught Daniel. I like the updated version of this lesson presented in the new Karate Kid movie starring Jackie Chan. You might be wondering what this has to do with ordinances – bear with me.
In the first scene, Dre (updated Daniel) enthusiastically approaches Mr. Han (updated Miyagi) and begins by trying to show Mr. Han how “good” he is and what “skills” he already possesses. Go ahead and watch this first clip:
Do we approach God thinking that we have it all figured out? Are we overly-impressed with our own wisdom and skill like Dre who felt like he had to validate himself somehow to Mr. Han? There is a verse in the Book of Mormon that I think is related to this idea:
“And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.” (2 Nephi 9:42)
It is easier to fill an empty vessel than a full one. Are we willing to make ourselves that vulnerable? Are we willing to sell all that we have acquired for the pearl of great price?
Dre thinks that Mr. Han is going to show him all these incredible kung fu moves, but Mr. Han has him do a seemly mundane task over and over again. Dre responds almost immediately with frustration, “Can you just tell me why I’m doing this?” while Mr. Han just keeps ordering him to continue through his routine.Read Full Post
A few years back I wrote an article about how to keep your own “small plates” and why it is important. I even started posting excerpts of my own “small plates” that I deemed appropriate for the public to offer suggestions and ideas on possible applications of the principle.
The Basic Rules for Small Plates From Jacob 1:1-4
“For behold, it came to pass that fifty and five years had passed away from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem; wherefore, Nephi gave me, Jacob, a commandment concerning the small plates, upon which these things are engraven.” (1:1)
- Write only what is considered to be most precious, keep personal histories elsewhere
- Find ways to preserve the records from generation to generation
- Record the following and touch upon the following things “as much as it were possible, for Christ’s sake, and for the sake of our people” (1:4)
- Preaching that is sacred
- Revelation that is great
1. What is Most Precious and What is History
Typically, I keep my personal history journal in another place like Evernote (I’ll come back to this later) while that which I deem “most precious” for my “small plates” constitutes preaching, revelation or prophecy that comes through the Holy Spirit.
This one has been pretty tricky for me to deal with over time. Read Full Post
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
In the what is today the first book of the New Testament we have an interesting account at the very end of Matthew. Here, it appears that Matthew is attempting to debunk an anti-Christian rumor that was going around concerning the resurrection of Christ.
Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. (Matthew 28:11-15)
According to Matthew a common explanation for the missing body of Christ was attributed to fraud committed by his followers.
Is it really that far of a stretch to believe that among Jesus’ closest confidants and hundreds of followers that someone might have stolen his body in an attempt to somehow “prove” the resurrection? Or that the remaining apostles could have fabricated the story of the resurrection in order to keep the movement going and save face? Isn’t this the simplest explanation if you don’t accept the reality of miracles or the existence of God?
In the case of the Latter-day Saint claim that God restored his Church to the earth, a skeptic might ask 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 bread prepares us for the cup, signifying the way that the earthly prepares us for the heavenly. The resurrection fuses the two while grace purifies the whole.
- Revelation comes to us not only as fast as we are able to hear it, but as fast as we are able to bear it and hearken unto it.
- Revelation is not just the transmission of knowledge, but grace and glory as well. It is receiving and being transformed by what lies on the other side of the veil.
- Desire is the most important component of revelation; desire opens veils.
- Re – meaning “again” or “backward” to indicate withdrawal or backward motion.
- Velare [latin] “to cover; a veil.
- Reveal – to make known something before unknown or concealed.
- The level at wich God communes with us personally parallels not only our worthiness but our desire.
- It is one thing to know and another to understand.
- Evil can speak through that which God has already made. When evil men use symbols, they must hijack them from the sphere in which they reside.
- Faith, worthiness, purpose and service create holy places; they may be permanent or temporary.
- If we are not changing, we are not repenting. There is a difference between sin abhorrence and sin avoidance. The greatest change comes through revealed knowledge and encountering and embracing the divine.
- Receiving the Holy Ghost is not a one-time event, it is a choice we make at every moment we live.
- The Church is built upon the rock of revelation, meaning that the ability to experience truth unveiled, to commune with the divine is essential or the existence for a church of God upon the earth.
- “[Christ] went about doing good and healing…” – Acts 10:38
- The priesthood holds the entire universe together from one moment to another. Seeking blessings by virtue of the priesthood doesn’t have to be a rare event, it should feel as appropriate as drawing a breath from the air around us.
Just for kicks, I thought I’d include this thoughtful journal entry from my 7 year old daughter. She’s picked up the journaling kick like a champ and started off with a small notebook where she would just write questions like “Why do you [God] love us so much?” it was really cute.
She recently asked for a new notebook since she filled the other up, now she seems to be trying to comprehend doctrines and develop frameworks for understanding Just goes to show you that it’s never too early to start and you can make it anything you want it to be. So below are some of the ideas she was working on during sacrament meeting today. My five year old daughter has started to follow the example as well and I’ll get her a nice notebook once her writing develops more. Right now she has a sketchbook and just works on visual concepts.
Maintaining a spiritual record is a powerful tool for meditation and an invitation to revelation; truly a lost practice in the modern age.
First off, let’s start with the word “worry”, it actually doesn’t appear anywhere in the King James Bible. In Matthew 6, however we see the phrase “take no thought” which is often translated as “don’t worry” or something along those lines. The Greek word used as the source of these translations is “merimnao” which means “to be anxious about”.
If we take the word “anxious” and look it up in the good ‘ol 1828 Dictionary it can mean that one is “Greatly concerned or solicitous, respecting something future or unknown; being in painful suspense;” What purpose does worry serve? I can understand worry because I often find myself plaguedRead Full Post
I have been thinking about priesthood service; what it means and the principles upon which it operates.
D&C 121:36 reveals a simple truth:
…the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
We also learn that “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood (vs. 41).” While it is true that man may hold the authority, or in other words the potential, to act in the name of God, the power of the priesthood is only in effect when certain conditions are present.
What are those conditions?
Having pondered on this subject, I have concluded that the conditions required for the power of the priesthood to be in effect can be summed up thus:
“Be worthy, be there.”
The principles of worthiness are based off of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the covenants that man has made in relation to it. Worthiness is “To be personally righteous and to stand approved in the sight of God and his appointed leaders” (The Guide to the Scriptures).
To be “there” means to be where God desires you to be. On any given day, you go about your duties to provide for your family and attend to other services and activities. If you are living worthy of the Spirit then God will often direct you toward someone in need of his blessings; you have your agency to respond or ignore these directions. If you respond and are where God desires you to be then you will be a conduit for the power of the priesthood.
These two simple conditions provide a simple vision for any priesthood holder to understand his role and obligation toward his family and fellow man.
If one ponders this simple vision, they will observe that these two principles are not limited to priesthood holders. Whether we are men or women, whether we hold the priesthood or not, the path that each of us must walk is the same.
There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated – And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. (D&C 130:20,21)
I’d like to expound a little on some thoughts that were expressed in an email exchange with a friend of mine this morning (Thanks, Chris!).
Attend any LDS sacrament meeting on the first Sunday of the month and I can almost guarantee that you will hear the phrase, “I know the church is true”. I’m pretty sure that this is an expression derived from Doctrine and Covenants Section 1 verse 30:
And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually—
I’m not doubting that some believe, have strong convictions or even “know” that “the church is true”, but what does that mean? Does simply knowing something change you? If so, how does knowledge change you?
Consider the common knowledge that exercise is important, yet how many people are overweight?
How does ‘knowing that the church is true’ change your life? What do you do with that knowledge? Do you repent? Do you expel anger and hatred from your life? Do you allow the love of Christ to fill and change you? Have you found redemption in Jesus Christ? Has he come to you? Do you know him?
Some are so sure that God exists while others are so sure that he doesn’t and then there is a vast spectrum of those in-between. Over thousands of years, where has all of the debating got us?
If God does not exist is there a purpose to the existence of the universe? Does purpose necessitate a God? Is purpose necessary? The elements we observe in the universe behave with predictable results along discernable laws and mathematics. Do these laws constitute order? Can order come from chaos? Is the universe really chaotic? Can the universe be “chaotic” when order is observed almost all throughout it?
If God exists, then he is hidden from us. If God desires to be hidden, can man reveal him? If God desires to be foundRead Full Post