Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What Science Should Have Known

In an earlier post entitled Space, Time, Dimension, and Law I wrote this:

“I find there is a gap between the language of the scientist and the language of the theologian. I believe Jewish Mysticism can work as a bridge to provide a scientific answer to the theologian in terms he can apply, and perhaps theological descriptions that a scientist can use.”

Which some may disagree with, and I understand why. What I am suggesting is that if science wishes to take some leaps forward they may need to seek answers from unexpected place, then, subject the results to scientific scrutiny.

Jewish Mysticism has long taught us that there are ten worlds, dimensions, or glories. Dr. Sanford L. Drob tells us:

“The Kabbalists hold the total number of sefirot to be ten. Like the "super-string" theorists of contemporary physics, they view the world as being comprised not of four, but of ten dimensions, and they regard each thing in the world, whether spiritual, psychical, or material to be composed of varying combinations of these ten dimensions or structures.”[1]


String theorist now tell us the same thing. They could have gotten that information four thousand years ago.

In Cabalistic terms these ten dimensions are called Sephiroth. Abraham told us in the Book of Creation:

“Ten are the numbers (of the Sephiroth) out of Nothing, ten--not nine; ten--not eleven. Comprehend this great, wisdom, understand this knowledge and be wise. Inquire into the mystery and ponder it. Examine all things by means of the ten Sephiroth.” [2]

What if we “examined” the world in this way?

The world was made by these ten Sephiroth and balancing them, resolving the conflict between them, is the “covenant” or the “Plan of Salvation” that was instituted from the pre-existence.

“The ten numbers (Sephiroth) out of Nothing are analogous to the ten fingers and the ten toes: five over against five. In the center between them is the covenant with the Only One God.”[3]

Which exactly what Nephi was speaking about in 2 Nephi 2: 11.

The truth of science will only be fully understood through this understanding.

-David


[1] Dr. Sanford L. Drob, Cross Currents, Spring 1997, Vol. 47 Issue 1.
[2] Sefer Yetzirah (MPH).
[3] Sefer Yetzirah (MPH).

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mormon-Masonic Clang

Detractors of the church have often raised the point of “clanging” words in an attempt to disprove the Book of Mormon or the Book of Moses.

A “clang” word is a word that sounds like another word, that may or may not have an associated meaning. The argument is that liars in an attempt to create use similar sounding words, which is done out of sloppiness or an attempt to confuse. If you look-up “Clanging” it will be found in the psychological disorder sections of reference material (regarding people who associate words that have simular sounds but are not related).

One of the foremost claims of clanging is “Master Mahan” [1] being a clang of “Master Mason.” This idea causes a lot of discontentment with some, not being able to quite put their minds around the whole situation.


An etymology study of the word Mahan could be an interesting and even fun exercise, clanging words together to imply associations like "Mormon," “Mahan,” “Mason,” “Mayhem,” “Man,” ”Ham,” OK, even “Sam I am.”

So, I pose this question; does anyone really believe that Joseph Smith thought, in his mind, that the Book of Moses was talking about Masonry when it mentioned Master Mahan?

For the non-believers, if Joseph Smith meant Mahan as an association clang, why would he associate their own fraternity with the enemy of the church?

The Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses clearly spell-out that “Mahan” is associated with the “Secret Combinations.” And what this meant.

Did Joseph and the early brethren think they were entering the “Secret Combinations” when they entered the Masonic Lodge? Of course not.

It seem that the early brethren were clear on the meanings of Mahan and Mason. But, latter-day detractors appear to suffer from a “Clang Disorder.”

- Brethern & Sisters, adieu.

[1] Moses 5:31-49

Monday, August 27, 2007

Space, Time, Dimension, and Law


The Doctrine and Covenants tells us:

“All kingdoms have a law given; And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom. And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions. ” [1]

In other words, there is a thing called space, which is made up of dimension. The most common dimensions we can sense are, up and down (1), forward and back (2), and side to side (3). These make up three-dimensional space. This is where we live.

We can also sense another dimension, time. But we’ll get back to time later.

And since there is “ no space in the which there is no kingdom ” and there is “ no kingdom in which there is no space ” we can see that space and this thing called kingdom are closely linked, and are interdependent.

We also see that some kingdoms (space), are greater and some are lesser. Is left greater than right, or is up and down lesser than side to side? No, this is speaking of whole other realms of space not visible in our three-dimensional reality.

These other dimensions are graded as greater (higher) and lesser (lower). So, what makes one dimension of space higher, and another lower?

I find there is a gap between the language of the scientist and the language of the theologian. I believe Jewish Mysticism can work as a bridge to provide a scientific answer to the theologian in terms he can apply, and perhaps theological descriptions that a scientist can use. Clearly these two worlds are ready to collide.

Here are some links regarding space and kingdoms:

[NOVA] [Wikipedia] [Superstings] [Flatland] [Truth] [Big Bang]

[1] Doctrine and Covenants 88: 36-38

Jacob's Ladder (Rungs of Perfection)

The idea of three kingdoms (Telestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial) is well established in Mormon theology. What may be less established is the fact that these kingdoms of glory exist as “rungs” right now in the world in which we currently live.

What creates these rungs is law.[1] The law you live is the rung of the ladder you have reached. The rung you cling to determines which kingdom you shall inherit. The Prophet Joseph Smith said:

“Paul ascended into the third heaven, and he could understand the three principal rounds of Jacob's ladder-the telestial, the terrestrial, and the celestial glories or kingdoms, where Paul saw and heard things which were not lawful for him to utter. I could explain a hundred fold more than I ever have of the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in the vision, were I permitted, and were the people prepared to receive them.”[2]

Jacob’s Ladder is an illustration of the ascent of man, by the law he keeps. The Doctrine and Covenants tells us:

“[speaking of the resurrection] That bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it [the earth] forever and ever; for, for this intent was it made and created, and for this intent are they [the meek] sanctified. And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom. For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory. And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory. And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.” [3]

So, if we keep a Celestial law now, can we enter the Celestial Kingdom now?

What say ye?

[1] Doctrine and Covenants 88:38
[2] Joseph Smith Jr., Messages of the First Presidency, vol. 1, James R. Clark, The Prophet's Discourse from II Peter, May 21, 1843, Deseret Book.
[3] Doctrine and Covenants 88:20-24

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Cyril of Jerusalem (on the mysteries)

My personal journey into what I have called Mormon Mysticism I suspect began at my conversion. But there was an acceleration at the reading of Hugh Nibley’s books including The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment, and Temple and Cosmos. And clearly these books along with many others gave me a base to understand the things I would later learn.

I remember a most profound stepping-up of my understanding when I read a document by a fourth century Bishop named “Cyril of Jerusalem.” Some may argue that he was alive during the falling away, or what Mormons call the “apostasy.” It is beyond the scope of what I am writing now to determine when what stages of the apostasy were happening; I leave that to the reader to decide. But what I will suggest is that Bishop Cyril was close enough in time to the original church to possess very insightful views of higher ordinances.

Even if Cyril is wrong on everything else, taking what he said in these lectures by themselves, they will start you thinking in fantastic ways!

He tells us what we will learn from these lectures:

“… in the succeeding lectures on the Mysteries we have entered into the Holy of Holies, we shall there know the symbolic meaning of the things which are there performed. Now to God the Father, with the Son and the Holy Ghost, be glory, and power, and majesty, forever and ever. Amen.”

He tells us what it means to be anointed:

“Having therefore become partakers of Christ, you are properly called Christs, and of you God said, Touch not My Christs, or anointed.”

No study of mysticism is complete without a study of these lectures.

Here are links to an html on-line version: [First Lecture on the Mysteries] [On the Mysteries. II] [On the Mysteries. III] [On the Mysteries. IV] [On the Mysteries. V]

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Sepher Yetzirah




The Sepher Yetzirah is also known as the Book of Creation, or The Book of Formation. Its authorship is most widely attributed to Abraham, but there is some disagreement and speculation as to who the true author is.

This much we do know, it is very old. Comparing it to the bible, whose first book was authored by Moses, The Book of Creation is generations older. This short book speaks of the creation of heaven and earth, by God, using His powers and emanations. It is the basis of Jewish Mysticism; its teachings to one degree or another have influenced most of the world, even to our modern day. It may not be too much to say that it is one of the taproots of our religious and cultural heritage.

The Zohar commonly thought to be the basis of Jewish mysticism is a much later (medieval), expanded, and allegorical commentary on The Sefer Yetzirah, the books of Moses, and the oral traditions of the Jews.

Becoming accustomed to the imagery used in the Sefer Yetzirah, the very way of thinking, can help Latter-Day Saints grasp concepts that may otherwise evade them. But trying to read this great book without some training can be overwhelming. On the other hand only a well-trained saint can read the book for all it’s worth.

This book goes right to the “great and terrible questions.” It describes the pre-existence, spiritual creation, physical creation, the powers God uses to bring about His purposes, the degrees of glory, and the final state of things. What more could you want?

It tells how the letters of the Hebrew language correspond to the powers or emanations of God, and that by combining these powers in different combinations all things are brought into existence.

The concept taught in the Book of Mormon of “opposition in all things” is at the heart of the book.

There are a number of variations of the book, and translations floating around. Of course, to get a good variation and commentary, you need to download Mormon Mysticism, by yours truly.

Here are a few others:

4 compared - IEE
W.W. Wescott
Original Hebrew
Short Version (Kaplin)
The Work of the Chariot
Saadia ben Joseph
Leo Baeck
Scott J. Thompson
Manley P.Hall

Still seeking the best books? I highly recommend The Sepher Yetzirah.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Zohar


Nephi said that he made his “record in the language of …[his] father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.”[1]

What did he mean by the learning of the Jews? If we understood this Jewish knowledge would it enrich our understanding of the Book of Mormon and the gospel generally?

For example, the discovery of chiasmus (a Jewish learning) in the Book of Mormon has greatly increased our understanding of the text and has proven to be one of our best apologetic tools for defending the faith.[2]

There are levels upon levels in the Book of Mormon that go unnoticed by the casual reader. There are symbols, figures of speech, and concepts being deployed that could add depth if we can see them.

I would submit that a most valuable tool that a modern day Mormon can have in understanding the “learning of the Jews” is the Zohar.

The word Zohar means Splendor or Radiance. First published by Moses de Leon (13th. century), and is purported (with many differing views) to be the work of a second century rabbi named Simeon ben Yohai. Most authorities believe De Leon to be the actual author. The Zohar is comprised of a group of books, originally written in Aramaic and medieval Hebrew.

The Zohar is given in story form, mostly of groups of Rabbis walking from place to place, meeting interesting people. The conversations are the lessons. It is a fascinating and wonderful book. If you take the Doctrine and Covenants admonition seriously to seek out the best books,[3] you should seek out the Zohar.

The backdrop for the Zohar is the Tree of Life, just like Genesis and 1 Nephi.

I suggest Daniel C. Matt’s translation, 3 volume set, found here at Amazon.

ADDITION - HERE ARE A COUPLE ON-LINE LINKS FOR THE ZOHAR: [ZOHAR.COM and [LAITMAN]

[1] 1 Nephi 1:2
[2] Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, Chapter 7, Noel B. Reynolds, Deseret Book.
[3] Doctrine and Covenants 109:7,14; 88:118

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Two Trees

In the Garden of Eden were two trees, “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” and the “Tree of Life.” A knowledge in some form of these trees has survived in many civilizations, with varying degrees of corruption. When we examine these tree motifs we most often see them associated with an “ascension ritual.”

In LDS thinking, these trees were present in the great archetype and example of all ascension motifs, which is the life of Adam. These trees existed in the Garden of Eden representing certain powers or forces. How Adam interacted with these forces drove the drama Adam lived, that is depicted in scripture, and in the temple.

We can see the symbolism of the two trees being carried forward to the Temple of Solomon. When an initiate participated in the initial ordinances in Solomon’s temple he found himself between two pillars, Jachin (he establishes) and Boaz (in strength).

Following Adam pattern, how we interact with the forces of the two trees largely determines our life, and our eternity.



(From Ryrie Study Bible)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Masons, Friends of Foes?

If we accept that “Mysticism” is the study of ordinances you can’t avoid discussing “Masonry.” [Hugh Nibley, Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present, Deseret Book, pg. 28.]

Hugh Nibley said: “Latter-day Saints believe that their temple ordinances are as old as the human race and represent a primordial revealed religion that has passed through alternate phases of apostasy and restoration which have left the world littered with the scattered fragments of the original structure, some more and some less recognizable, but all badly damaged and out of proper context.” (Hugh Nibley, Mormonism and Early Christianity, Deseret Book, pg 369).

I suspect Nibley had Masonry foremost in mind when he gave the above quote, but where does that put Masonry in a modern setting? More importantly, what should we think of Joseph Smith, and the early brethrens involvement with Masonry? These questions have sent some Mormons packing, some screaming, but most just settle into a cognitive dissonance.

I see Masonry as the fragmented remains of earlier dispensations. These remains were the intellectual frameworks that provided (or assisted) Joseph Smith with understanding of how to structure modern temple worship, with ordinances being provided against a theatrical backdrop. The same could be said of Joseph Smiths life that was set in a protestant society where he learned the bible. In an English speaking America the intellectual frameworks existed to read the bible, study history, and use logic. These all made Joseph as sharper tool in the Lord’s hand.

Ultimately, the real question is did Joseph Smith restore the ascension rites under the direction of God, or did he borrow it from Masonry – and it is just dead quaint philosophy? If we answer that, the questions of did he use this from Masonry, and that from the Baptist becomes irrelevant.

I participated in a discussion about Masonry and Mormons at TheBackYardProfessor.com that I think discussed these issues pretty well; Masonry Discussion.

I vote friend.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Kingdoms That Clash

Upon converting my old web site to this blog, I did not include a section to download (for free) or purchase my first book “Kingdoms That Clash.”

I have to admit this book is not written very well. I began writing it as a missionary and added to it over the years. I like to think my writing has improved since then, some may disagree 8-). My family did do a lot of editing on it to try and make it readable, but you can't make a work horse into a race horse.

But if you don’t care about writing style and want to understand the “last days” I think Kingdoms That Clash is a good resource.

Here is how you can get it:

DOWNLOAD FREE PDF

VIEW ON-LINE

BUY FROM LULU

- David

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Purpose of Mysticism

The function of mysticism is to heal us.

Those who profess to be mystics, yet have little or no healing or sanctification in their lives, have missed the whole point. So, just what does this healing consist of? We know at the resurrection our bodies will be healed and restored to their perfect frame [Alma 11:43-44, 40:23, Doctrine and Covenants 138:17], but it is the spirit that seems to be the hard part. What makes people act the way we do?

The righteous take no pleasure in the sins of others. The spiritually mature understand the underlying causes of sinful behavior. Behaviors are the physical acts of men, what we see on the surface, but the spiritual roots go much deeper. Why does one person act one way, and another person act in an opposite way, when presented with the same circumstances? It is because their behaviors are based upon their values.



If a person values his family, he will be kind to his family and try to provide for them. Most of us have mixed and competing values. This life is where we sort out what is of value to us. If a person places value on the things of God, he respects God, and Godly things. This valuing of God causes a state of holiness [Holiness: “ According to the O.T. things or places were holy that were set apart for a sacred purpose; the opposite of holy is therefore common or profane…” LDS Bible Dictionary.].or the setting-apart of things, people, places, and time to God. One who puts little or no value in God becomes profane and tends towards blasphemy. If a person beats his children, he has a values problem, no matter what excuses he may proffer. A mystic sees the nature of a thing, and the root becomes revealed.

If behaviors come from values, where do values come from? Values are based upon beliefs. Not professed beliefs, but the true beliefs down in a person’s heart. If a person does not honor his parents, he has a diminished value for them. This diminished value has a source. It springs from the person’s inner-most beliefs. Perhaps the person believes the parent does not care for them, or that the parent is a bad parent. Perhaps the parent mistreated the child, and the child has built a psychological structure devaluing the parent, as a protective device and a copping method. Whatever the thinking is, the person has developed a belief that diminishes the value of the parent. Whatever values we have, they are based upon our true beliefs. We all have a fa├žade that we use to interact with in society, and we have our true beliefs hidden deep. Our actions almost always eventually betray our true beliefs.

Where do beliefs come from? Beliefs come from relationships. In mortality, our first relationships become a type for the rest of our relationships, and the rest of our life. Good, early relationships with our parents can almost not be separated from a happy life. An abusive parent scars a child with wounds that may never be healed in mortality.

(This problem is precisely the reason for the healing that comes through the sealing of people to their families in the temple. Sealing is healing, re-uniting, and bring back of relationships. “ Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children , and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse .” Malachi 4:5&5. Also see Joseph Smith History 1:38-39 “And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.”)

In this life, families are our first relationships and we take what be learn in these relationships and incorporate them as beliefs. This is why it is imperative to forgive all, deserved or not. Until, at least our side of our relationships are resolves we will harbor ill feelings and resentment. These feelings will bring bad beliefs, bad values, and bad behaviors. And since we can’t be forgiven in our sins, we must forgive others to be forgiven.

As we interface with others, including God, we continue our good or bad relationships.

In the most primal level our relationship with our parents become a most overwhelming archetype for our relationship with God.

The nature of sin is a broken relationship with God. When we sin we have broken an allegiance to God and family, and have aligned ourselves with other enticements.

Mental illness results from a person’s inability to reconcile (an-one-ment) two or more, real or perceived, facts of reality. The gospel contains the tools necessary for people to see the truth and reconcile themselves to it. Forgiveness and repentance are the stuff of mental and spiritual health.

This micro-personal dynamic is played out in all facets of our lives. In modern politics there are many influences and pressures that drive the landscape. Underlying them all is personal relationships to God and family, or the lack thereof. How people respond (behaviours) to the calls of action depend on their values (family values, liberal values, conservative values, etc.). These values are based upon individual beliefs, such as what makes right and wrong, the proper role of government, altruism verses self interest, and so on. And all these beliefs are generated from our relationships, God, family, and society. Until these relationships are healed, and people understand and accept their proper relationships, the concept of Zion will never be realized.

Adam found himself at a point of a broken relationship with God when he was cast out of the garden (which is a pattern for every person’s life). This broken relationship brings bad beliefs, bad vales, and bad behaviors.

These are the wounds of mortality. The at-one-ment restores the relationship, and this is the only true healing. It is therefore appropriate that one of the final acts of at-one-ment process (The “returning” to God portion of the creation) is the final embrace between father and child.

WELCOME

Welcome to the new home of Mormon Mysticism.

The phrase “Mormon Mysticism” brings all kinds of images to the minds of readers. The problem is almost none of those images are of the same thing. The topic of Mormon Mysticism has a large problem with nomenclature. Even the words used to describe “mysticism” mean different things to different people.

When I speak and write about Mormon Mysticism I am using it in the context that Hugh Nibley described:

“...[B]ut that is what Christ meant by the mysteries of the kingdom. He meant ordinances, which were necessary; and these he revealed to the apostles during his very confidential teachings of the forty days after the resurrection. The purpose of such ordinances is to bridge the space between the world in which we now live, the telestial world, and that to which we aspire, the celestial world.” [Hugh Nibley, Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present, Deseret Book, pg. 28.]

From antiquity “mysteries” have been associated with the temple. The study of the fragmented and corrupted remains of earlier gospel dispensations has sparked an almost endless speculative debate about the meaning of mysteries.

Some equate mysteries with seeking some unobtainable and forbidden knowledge, but that is not what is meant in scripture. In scripture we are invited to the mysteries, and they are an obtainable worthy goal.

“Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.” [D&C 6:7]

I invite you my readers to participate in this discussion that is meant to further understand the things of God.