In the vision of the tree of life that Lehi and Nephi witnessed, a “great and spacious building,” prominently juxtaposed the righteous seeking to find their way to the tree of life.
The tree had a path and an iron rod, everything you needed to get there if you really wanted to. You just had to hold to the rod and keep moving, and anyone could get there.
The building, on the other hand, was less accessible, “it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.” (vs.26) There was no clear path to get there, and those inside were too busy pointing their fingers and mocking to help others get where they were.
While the elite sat in their privileged positions, many perished down beneath them, and they didn’t even seem to notice.Read Full Post
I was reading Elder Uchtdorf’s Three Sisters talk from this past General Conference and something he said prompted me to look at Lehi’s vision again. I went looking for a particular verse that illustrated the moment the people went from holding the rod to grasping the fruit of the tree.
“…they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.” (1 Nephi 8:30)
Notice that the iron rod in this vision has a beginning and an end. I don’t think that means that God’s word has a beginning or an end so why use this as a metaphor? There could be many reasons, but I’ll focus on what comes to my mind.
First, consider what hands represent.Read Full Post
In Lehi’s vision, there are 18 references to the fruit of the tree of life with only 9 references to the tree itself. (1 Nephi 8)
In Nephi’s vision, there is a larger focus on the tree of life with 9 references to the tree and only 1 reference to the fruit. (1 Nephi 11) When Nephi is explaining the vision to his brothers, he mentions the tree 5 times and the fruit 2 times. (1 Nephi 15) That would make a total of 14 references to the tree and 3 references to the fruit by Nephi in the context of his vision.
Lehi > fruit: 18, tree: 9
Nephi > tree: 14, fruit: 3
Symbolism can convey numerous meanings depending on how the context shifts; herein lies its power.
The tree of life bears a white fruit that captured Lehi’s attention. Immediately following the vision of this tree bearing fruit is a virgin holding a child. The implication is that the tree is synonymous with the virgin, and the fruit is synonymous with the child, or in other words, the tree is Mary, and the fruit is Jesus.
Nephi’s vision tells us that the tree also represents the love of God, as does the fountain of living waters. On another level, however, I believe that Mary may potentially represent Jesus’ spiritual mother as well — our Heavenly Mother (more on that in the future).
What does this all mean? I’m not entirely sure yet; I just found this to be an interesting observation, and I’m certain that it is significant.
If the focus of Lehi and Nephi in these visions carries over to their teachings, it makes me wonder if there is more in Nephi’s writings that could lead to a greater understanding of our Heavenly Mother.
1 Nephi 10
17 And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God–and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come–I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.
18 For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.
19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.
20 Therefore remember, O man, for all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment.
21 Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, ye must be cast off forever.
22 And the Holy Ghost giveth authority that I should speak these things, and deny them not.
1 Nephi 11
1 For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.
2 And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, what desirest thou?
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