Monday, October 27, 2008

By The Power Of His Word


I would like to pose a few questions to my readers:

Established in LDS theology is the idea that before this world, we lived as spirits in the pre-earth life. There, we did not have physical bodies, but we were spirits. We also know that all spirit is actually matter, but more fine or pure.

We have some limited knowledge of what went on there. There was a plan put forward, some accepted it, and some rejected it. There was a great council, and so on.

For all of this to happen, we would have had to been able to communicate with each other. In this life a large part of our communication is spoken. We take air and modify it into varying waves or patterns. We can do this in our throats, or by machine. These spoken patterns have meaning. Our written words indicate, symbolize, or even attempt to mock our spoken words.

Speaking is placing intelligence into discernable and transferable patterns.

In the pre-earth life, how did we communicate? Did we breath a finer air and make intelligent patterns similar to what we do here?

What kinds of patterns of intelligence would we expect to see there? Light? Sound? Something else?

Christ is known as the “Word.” The “Logos.” He was the creator of the world. Was it by the patterns of intelligence that He created? Did these patterns make up the “spiritual creation” that is the foundation of physicality?

The Sepher Yetzirah teaches that all things that exist are founded upon “letters” or parts of speech, along with the numbers.

“Ten are the numbers, as are the Sephiroth, and twenty-two the letters, these are the Foundation of all things. Of these letters, three are mothers, seven are double, and twelve are simple. “(Chapter 1:1)

What say ye?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Built Upon a Foundation


In my earlier post Is God In The Spirit World?, I unilaterally decided that:

1. The (what we used to call) Pre-Existence (pre-mortal life) is not the Celestial Kingdom.

2. The Spirit World is not the Celestial Kingdom, or the Pre-Existence.

If you accept this, there is a Pre-Existence, Mortality, Spirit World, and kingdoms of glory in the resurrection. These are all different places.

I present two questions:

* Did God create the earth from Celestial Kingdom where He resides, or from the Spirit World?

* From an ancient Jewish Mystical point of view, looking at the Cabalistic Tree of Life, does creation come from Malkhut, or from Keter?

I see these as the same question.

I propose one answer to both questions.

As I have proffered many times before, the terms “glories,” “worlds,” or “spheres” (intelligences, Pre-Existence, Mortality, Spirit World, Celestial Kingdom, Terrestrial Kingdom, Telestial Kingdom, Outer Darkness) are just another way of saying different dimensions. Just like we know the spirit world is here on earth, but we can’t see them, they are in a different dimension.

We are taught in LDS theology that our world was created spiritually before it was created physically. But these descriptions mention the Pre-existence, and not the Celestial Kingdom.

Cabalist always have a problem with Malkhut (kingdom), and Yosod (foundation) coming before higher worlds. The foundation is created last? So they flip the tree upside down, and do all kinds of other gyrations in an attempt to make the teachings of the Tree of Life flow logically.

So, I ask: What kingdom (dimension) is “Higher,” The Pre-existence, or our current physical world?

I suggest that God directed the creation of our physical universe from the Celestial Kingdom, by directing those in the Pre-Existence. Christ was the leader of that work, in that kingdom or dimension.

Further, that God dwells in the Celestial Kingdom, but all lower kingdoms are before Him, He can traverse not only time, but dimensions themselves. He has had all Kingdoms added unto Him.

“And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory [dimensions] added upon their heads for ever and ever.” (Abraham 3:26)

This is how God is both a caporal being, and still all things are before him. How He is in the Pre-Existence, and the Spirit World without leaving Celestial Realms.

Monday, October 6, 2008

How Prop 8 Protects Rights
















Here is a very good video about how gay marriage will infringe on our rights:

LINK TO VIDEO

See my earlier post regarding rights and Prop.8.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008








I am usually a bit leery of such things. But I received an email about this Tool Bar for Firefox.

I tried it, and I like it. Give it a shot, I think you will like it too.

Check it out at LDSToolbar.net.

Here is the LINK to take a look.

The Great Secret

I will herein use a couple quotes by the Prophet Joseph Smith, in his great King Follett Sermon (KFS) (LINK), and discuss them a bit,

Joseph said about God that He is “…not trifling with you or me.” This is all very serious, we are not on vacation, nor should we be preoccupied with feeding our bellies. There is a real plan from the beginning, and this is our time on stage.

Joseph quotes the New Testament, "This is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." But Joseph goes further and teaches that not only must we know God, we must understand our true relationship with God. If we miss this, we really know nothing.

“There are but a very few beings in the world who understand rightly the character of God. The great majority of mankind do not comprehend anything, either that which is past, or that which is to come, as it respects their relationship to God. They do not know, neither do they understand the nature of that relationship; and consequently they know but little above the brute beast, or more than to eat, drink and sleep. This is all man knows about God or His existence, unless it is given by the inspiration of the Almighty.”

So what was our relationship with God in the “past,” and what will our relationship be in that which is “to come?” What do we know?

We know that we always existed like God:

“The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end. …That which has a beginning may have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal with our Father in heaven.” (KFS)

What made Him our Father is that He reached back into eternity, to bring us forward.

“The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with Himself, so that they might have one glory upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence, which is requisite in order to save them in the world of spirits.”

This ability to be “exalted,” to receive “knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence” is the promise of God, from before creation, through the atonement, otherwise known as the Abrahamic Covenants, or our inheritance.


We know that before this world was created there was a grand council, made up of the Head (rosh) God, Eloheim, and the other Gods in the council. These are the noble and great ones that Abraham saw (LINK), the priesthood holders of this life. Some of these achieved the rank of god before the world was, as Christ did. The Hebrew word “El” means God. The Hebrew “im” is the plural suffix.

“In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it. When we begin to learn this way, we begin to learn the only true God, and what kind of a being we have got to worship. Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach Him, and how to ask so as to receive an answer.”

So we existed forever like God. He is our Father because He brought us forth from intelligences, to spirits. He is our Father because He created our physical bodies, as planned in the Council of the Gods. This is the present or the past. What is our relationship “to come?” If worthy:

“…[A]lthough the earthly tabernacle is laid down and dissolved, they shall rise again to dwell in everlasting burnings in immortal glory, not to sorrow, suffer, or die any more, but they shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. … To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a god, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before…”(KFS)

This is all a family affair. Parents passing on an inheritance to the children. Elijah said:

“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.” (JSH 1:39)

And modern prophets said it this way:

“All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

“In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.” (LINK)

The Prophet Joseph said “That [this] is the great secret.”

Saturday, September 6, 2008

More on California Proposition 8




I wanted to clarify a couple last things regarding the California Proposition 8. I am urging a YES vote.

In the year 2000 the people of California passed Prop 22 by a 61% voice of the people, which made the following words the law, this is the entire law:

"Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California."

Recently the California Supreme Court overturned the law (prop. 22) and the voice of the people. Proposition 8 will restore the law that was already past by making the above words part of the state Constitution.

Here a link to the official web site: ProtectMarriage.com. You can donate there, or download fliers and other materials.

One of the reasons I home schooled my children was because of Project 10 in the Los Angeles City Schools. Where the schools were mandated to teach homosexuality to ALL grade levels. And they had mandatory meetings with junior high schools kids and informed them that ten percent of them were homosexual, that they should consider if they may be homosexual, and provided information how to integrate into the homosexual community.

In California we have domestic partnership laws, that give homosexual couples the same rights as heterosexual couples regarding medical benefits, medical rights, property and inheritance rights, and so on. I don’t know anyone opposing these rights. Because hurting homosexuals is not the point of Prop. 8. What is at issue is third parties rights in relation to homosexual marriages. Please see my last post.

If Proposition 8 does not pass there will be a devastating effect on schools, adoption agencies, churches, and some businesses. No matter where you live, we need your help.

By the way - this is my 100th. post!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Proposition 8 - The Fight is On!



I don’t usually share my political opinions on this blog, I reserve it for spiritual concerns. However, I am going to make an exception in this case. Perhaps it is not really an exception at all, because this topic strikes at the heart of eternal pursuits, the topic of this blog.

Let me state here that these are solely my opinions; they do the represent the church’s views, or the views of any political group.

For those of you outside of California, let me inform you, the fight is on! The fight for what we politely call “Traditional Marriage.” For clarity, what it really is over is if the state will issue marriage licenses to same sex couples and force third parties to honor those marriages. Something is wrong about this whole paradigm, people can sense it, but not put their finger on it.

First, homosexuality is sin (Rom. 1:27). And while that sin may have some more exotic twists, it will get a person to hell about at the same speed as straight fornication, and a list of other bad behaviors. Gender is a part of us from the preexistence and is central to our eternal progression. Gender confusion, is one of the wounds of mortality that must be healed to receive our full spiritual inheritance ( Healing).

All people are children of God. We are all born with certain unalienable rights (Declaration of Independence, D&C 134). Rights are some of the rules we are given to play by. Without rights, there is no objective right and wrong; we are ultimately just spiders eating one another with no moral consequence. In LDS theology we believe the Light of Christ will tell us if something is right or wrong.

As individuals or nations, we have no right to stop anyone from having sex with anyone they want. We all have agency, and as long as we do not interfere with anyone else’s agency and rights, what we do is not rightfully subject to control by anyone else. God still says it is sin, and prophets and ministers can still call it sin, but the perpetrators of the sin can choose to hear or not hear the calls of repentance. [1]

Another right we have is to believe what we want is sin and choose to associate or not associate with whomever we want, or to limit our associations in whatever way we want. This is called freedom. A thing found less and less in our growing socialist state.

One of the rights we were born with is the right to marry. If it is a right, we don’t need to ask for permission (license) from government or anyone else. And when the government started licensing marriage this fight was lost. If something is rightfully licensed, it is not a right. Joseph Smith nor Brigham Young ever got a marriage license, they refused to do so.

In a fair and just society, people can marry by what means they desire. They could marry in the Holy Temple, or by jumping the broom. They could choose to record those marriages for public notice, like a deed. And people would be free to accept or reject those marriages as they choose (plural marriage included). If people wish not to rent a house to an LDS couple because they reject a temple marriage, so be it. The house is the landlord’s to do with as he pleases, and he should be free to refuse to rent to those he deems as living in sin. Agency is central to the plan of salvation.

Truly, my view is we should not interfere with homosexuals marrying, except to preach repentance to them. The problem is that the state is granting a license that should not be given to anyone. By giving these licenses to homosexuals, they force the rest of us to honor these marriages, which is an infringement of our rights. This infringement will grow in society in un-imagined ways.

In a socialist state you may as well take the free cheese, you paid for it to begin with. Meaning, we need to deal with the real situation we are in. We need to fight the fight where we are, not where we would like the fight to be. If I had my rathers we would be joining ranks with homosexuals to defeat marriage licenses altogether.

We have a sick society; government does grant licenses to heterosexual couples, which is bad enough. If proposition 8 does not pass, homosexual marriage will sweep the land. Further rights will be taken from the rest of us exponentially, and we will look back on this as a milestone of the destruction of the family and of America.

------------------------

YesOnProposition8.com

[1] “We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.” [ The Family: A Proclamation to the World

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Is God in the Spirit World?


This last week’s Gospel Doctrine lesson was on the Plan of Salvation. It covered Alma 40 - 42, which is a great section for understanding the Plan of Salvation. But, for Latter-Day Saints it may settle some questions, and raise a few more. For example:

“Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.” (Alma 40:11)

The chapter goes on to explain more about the spirit world, all of which aligns nicely with most LDS people’s views. In my Sunday School class, I asked:

“If we are taken “home” (sounds like a returning) to be with God, is the spirit world the same place as the pre-existence (pre-earth life)?”

The class was adamant that they are not the same place, but offered no explanation of how we go home to God, but only that it is not the same place as the pre-existence.

Our teacher, always prepared, was ready with a commentary on the topic. But frankly, all of the arguments in the commentary fell flat in my opinion. The commentaries basically said that God is not in the spirit world, that the spirit world is really just a place where you prepare to see God, a concept that I reject.

I believe that our usual shallow views on the Plan of Salvation pose many unavoidable questions, just from Alma 40.

We are taught that God was in the pre-existence. But for many, they are still in the pre-existence, is God there? Or has He left there and went to the Spirit World?

Is the spirit world the same as Kolob? Has He left Kolob for the Spirit World?

Is our pre-existence home the same as Kolob? Is the pre-existence a celestial glory?

If we are fortunate enough to go to the celestial kingdom, will God be there, or will He still be in the Spirit world, or the pre-existence? When will He come to the celestial kingdom?

Where is the Spirit World?

“When you lay down this tabernacle, where are you going? Into the spiritual world…Where is the spirit world? It is right here. Do the good and evil spirits go together? Yes they do…. Do they go beyond the boundaries of the organized earth? No, they do not…. Can you see it with your natural eyes? No. Can you see spirits in this room? No. Suppose the Lord should touch your eyes that you might see, could you then see the spirits? Yes, as plainly as you now see bodies.” [Brigham Young, quoted by Widtsoe, pp. 376-77]

And in the resurrection, if we inherit the celestial kingdom, we are told we will reign forever on earth. But what about if we inherit the terrestrial, or telestial kingdom? Where will we reside?

I believe that all existence is stacked, one sphere, or dimension upon another. They all exist at the same time (relatively). I would also say at the same place, but dimension or glories divide space.

Of course the temple is the template of this whole thing of multiple glories or dimensions in creation.

I submit a couple of my prior writings towards the answers: HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mark Paredes - Fireside

Announcement!

Mark Parades will be speaking at an LDS fireside this coming Sunday evening. This should really be good!

TOPIC: Mormons and Jews in the Last Days: A Zion Relationship.
WHERE: Thousand Oaks Stake Center
ADDRESS: 1600 Erbes Road, Thousand Oaks
DATE: Sunday, July 27th.
TIME: 7:00 p.m.
COST: Free

Mark is a great speaker! This will be a treat. The public is invited. It is especially appropriate for Mormon and their Jewish friends.

See you there!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ryan is Home


On a personal note. My son Ryan just returned home from his mission. He served in the Manchester, New Hampshire Mission, but was in Maine and Vermont the whole time. It is a great thing for a young man to serve in this way.

His Brother Mark is currently serving in the Columbia, South Carolina Mission. We missed him for the get together.

Jamie and Sterling are in Provo, Luke has a year to go (just finished the work for his Eagle and Duty to God), and he will be ready to go serve also.

And of course Mary keeps them all marching forward.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More Knots

I would like to continue on with the concepts of an earlier couple of posts. In my post Tying The Knot I said:

“Some ancients thought of the plan of salvation as three worlds or kingdoms stacked one above the other. Spanning these three worlds was a rope descending from the highest kingdom bringing connection to the lower worlds. Each of the three worlds is tied to the rope by a knot, and the knot is fastened with a nail (Vav). The temple is a knot symbolizing the connecting place between the worlds. Each level of temple worship has an altar which represents the Vav or nail in that world.” and

“The knot alludes to covenants. When people are married, the have tied the knot, they have made promises that bind them. In the case of the temple the knot or covenant is made binding by the nail or Vav, which represents the atonement.”

Now there is in reality no physical rope hanging from the heavens that is fastened to the altar in each kingdom of glory by a nail, nor is it physically tied by a knot. These typify some “other thing” that actually does span these kingdoms and fastens a connection between the worlds. This “other thing” is symbolized by knots and nails.

The symbolic use of knots and nails clearly trace back to the temple. Adaptations of these symbols have permeated Jewish culture and to lesser degrees Mediterranean and Western cultures. Usage of these symbols appear to be authorized by God in some cases. They may be cultural uses accepted by deity, or even inappropriate applications of earlier teachings. Where the excesses being is beyond the scope of this post.

In a theological macrocosm the rope of the heavens (Tree of Life - Vine) is tied to the altar of each kingdom of glory by the nail (vav). In a microcosm each justified person is tied to the rope of the heavens symbolized by his belly button. This belly button connection is the source of all life, including the resurrection (As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. John 15:4). Recently Bryce Haymond over at Temple Study did a series of fantastic posts about the Egyptian “ankh” also known as the symbol of life (and knot of Isis). Haymond quotes Nibley discussing the possible origins of the ankh describing it as a “...knotted cord, [it] was a naval sting.” and further saying that the word “...ankh also means “oath,” the idea being, as Jan Bergman suggests, that one swears by one’s life, so that if the oath is broken, so likewise ‘the cord of life’ - the umbilical cord - is broken. (Hugh Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, Deseret Book,Page 454)"

So in the ankh we see an association of knots and covenants, and in this case they are fastened to the individual by the knot. Another nuance of the ankh is the tie of family relation. This is an allusion of tying families together, by this “other thing.”

The idea of wrapping mummies appears to be an application of the symbol of knots. But, with regards to the wrapping mummies, it appears to also be connected to the final embrace by the gods. Which is thought of as the culmination of all initiation. When an initiate is embraced by the gods, he is thereafter identified with them, it is a family embrace. This embrace is the final act of the atoning, the lost child has become one with his family again.

“Rich meaning is found in study of the word atonement in the Semitic languages of Old Testament times. In Hebrew, the basic word for atonement is kaphar … Closely related is the Aramaic and Arabic word kafat, meaning ‘a close embrace’—no doubt related to the Egyptian ritual embrace. References to that embrace are evident in the Book of Mormon. One states that ‘the Lord hath redeemed my soul . . .; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.’… Another proffers the glorious hope of our being ‘clasped in the arms of Jesus …’ I weep for joy when I contemplate the significance of it all. To be redeemed is to be atoned—received in the close embrace of God, with an expression not only of His forgiveness, but of our oneness of heart and mind.” (Perfection Pending, and Other Favorite Discourses, Elder Russell M. Nelson, Deseret Book)

Mummies are wrapped in knotted linnen. Some Jews wear, and are eventually buried in an undergarment with four corners (tallit katan. See Haymond’s post HERE), at the corners are specially tied knots called “Tzitzit.” You may recall Jesus condemned ancient Jews for enlarging the fringes of their garments. What they were doing was showing off the tokens of their covenants. Some Jews also wear a larger garment as an occasional outer garment called a “Tallit Gadol” which is a prayer shaw, if large enough it can be used to cover the canopy for marriage. It also has Tzitit or knots on the corners. These Tallits appear to be a symbol like the panther skins worn by Egyptian priests.

Some Jews wear leather straps called “Tefillin.” One on the head to hold a box containing the verses of scripture, with a knot tied afresh daily. There is also a Tefillin tied onto the arm and hand.The knots are tied to form Hebrew letters (Dalet, Shin, Yod). On the hand the traps are arranged to form the letter Shin (resembling a “W” bringing to mind El Shaddai).

Again, Bryce Haymond recently did two good posts on related topics. He discussed a Jewish practice of tying the hands of a bride and grom (Handfasting). I suspect this practice arose when the children of Israel did not have access to have their hands fastened together, and to the altar with a vav, they made a likeness with a knot. He also posted about crowns (HERE). He discussed how strings or ribbons are used to secure the crowns. It is clear that where the string is tied depicts the glory (degree) of the crown.

““…[T]he crown of sanctification… is added (the round linen cap was to act as a cushion for a metal crown during a long ceremony). Later the cap alone would suffice, since it showed that the owner was qualified to wear the ‘crown of justification.” (Hugh Nibley, Don E. Norton, Temple and Cosmos, Deseret Book, Pg#55)

“The culmination of all initiation is coronation… every individual person may experience his own coronation… [t]here is a fusion of personalities in the coronation situation, he who assumes the crown being identified with whoever else wears it.” (Hugh Nibley, The Message of The Joseph Smith Papyri, Deseret Book, Pg. 353)

This family identification Nibley is referring to can also be called “sealing,” which is associated with the ideas of nails and knots. Most of modern Christendom sees salvation as individual thing, but we see it as a family affair.

When we kneel upon any of the three altar of the temple, one for each glory represented therein, our covenants need to be tied there in the knot that binds the heavenly rope to that kingdom. This is done by that “other thing,” the atonement. The knot is the covenant of creation and redemption made before in the pre mortal life.

“Whatever the blessed Holy One does is intended to revolve revolutions to fulfill the covenant of existence” (The Zohar, Matt,Vol 3, pg. 200, Mi-Qets)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Abraham’s Knot of Faith


A while back a wrote a post titled “Tying The Knot.” In that post I wrote:

“Some ancients thought of the plan of salvation as three worlds or kingdoms stacked one above the other. Spanning these three worlds was a rope descending from the highest kingdom bringing connection to the lower worlds. Each of the three worlds is tied to the rope by a knot, and the knot is fastened with a nail (Vav). The temple is a knot symbolizing the connecting place between the worlds. Each level of temple worship has an altar which represents the Vav or nail in that world”

The Zohar is a medieval attempt to pass on the oral teachings of the Jews in story form. It teaches about Abraham preparing to go down into Egypt, a sinful place. Abraham was fearful that it was like a spiritual pit from which he would not be able to escape. We read:

“So Abraham cleaved to faith when he went down to Egypt and when he went to the land of the Philistines. This can be compared to a person who was about to descend into a deep pit. He was afraid he would not be able to come back up. What did he do? He tied a length of rope above the pit, saying ‘since I have tied this knot, now I can enter.’ Similarly, when Abraham was about to go down to Egypt, he first tied a knot of faith, so he would have something to grasp; then he descended. Likewise when he entered the land of the Philistines.” (The Zohar, Matt vol. 2, pg 165, Va-Yera)

Abraham feared for his spiritual welfare. As a lifeline, he clung to the “knot of faith” that he created. What was that knot? It was his covenant, his endowment, inheritance, or the promise of deification.

We see in the Book of Abraham that that is exactly what happened. When Abraham left Ur, God appeared to him and:

- Gave Abraham the priesthood.
- Blessed him with eternal seed.
- Gave him land.

These blessings are described in Abraham chapter 2. Chapters 3 through 5 are excerpts of Abraham's teaching of creation that correspond to their temple covenants. These covenants and blessings are the “knot” that Abraham held to in a troubled time.

When we feel ourselves descending into a spiritual pit, do we hold to our knot, our covenants, our temple inherence? We need to reach up, take ahold of our knot, and pull ourselves up, from time to time.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ein Sof - A Matter Of Semantics?


There is a well developed understanding in LDS theology that:

“There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes...” (D&C 131:7)

I wonder if our firmness in this teaching can prevent us from understanding a fuller understanding of this teaching? What I mean is if we out-of-hand reject the apostate teaching of "creatio ex nihilo" without understand the possible origins, we may be missing something.

Some of the so called “church fathers” of the first few century A.D. propagated the idea of “creatio ex nihilo”, meaning "creation out of nothing."

This topic has been hotly debated over the centuries, and laid to rest by Joseph Smith in the minds of many fine LDS folks. But a mind at rest is not always the sharpest. Theophilus, Justin Martyr, and Origen believed matter was pre-existant with God, while Irenaeus, Tertullian, etc. believed otherwise.

I submit that only a highly inspired mind could have seen beyond “creatio ex nihilo.” But to swing from there to a fundamentalist view that the mud of the universe always existed in it’s physical form, is an unnecessary swing.

Joseph Smith taught that matter “can not be created nor destroyed” but that it only changes form. In short, the prophet taught matter is simply stored energy (long before Einstein came to the same conclusion). And that matter is only one of the forms energy can take. The LDS view is often, in my opinion, mistakenly reduced to thinking the physical matter is used and reused, but I believe it is the eternal underlying energy that always existed (and perhaps eventually recycled), not necessarily the mud.

The bones of dinosaurs are not left over from other worlds, this is a silly, childish, and pedestrian view.

I further submit that much of the centuries of debate stem from misunderstanding the intent of words like “creation,” “beginning,” “matter,” and so on.

In ancient Hebrew thought they had the same problem. And in-fact I suspect it was their problem that spilled over to the “church fathers.” The Hebrew term “ein sof” is often thought of on one level to mean “nothingness,” a shapeless, lawless, non-physical, immaterial existence that God resided in prior to creation. It is from here that Irenaeus and Tertullian believed creation began.

But on another level, a fuller understanding of Hebrew thought resembled the prophet Joseph’s teaching that in Celestial spheres a highly organized being, a material being of “fine or pure” matter created our physical world. He is a being of light, intelligence, or energy. Where He lives is “ein sof” or the “Endless,” the “Eternal,” the “Boundless.”

That when He extended His arm downward it created the lower kingdoms of existence. The Cabalists describe this with the idea of the “sephirah” which create the Tree of Life (which is the pattern of creation and the path of return. The pattern of temple architecture).

When God extended a portion of His light into our sphere it created the big bang, or creation. That light carried with it all the laws of physics we now observe and experience.

So, was the creation from something or nothing?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fear and Faith

The idea of a fear of God has fallen out of vogue. But anciently people understood that a fear of God, which really just means we have some understanding of, and are serious about what is going on here on earth, is a good thing. If we are going to understand the finner points of doctrine we must fear God. The unholy do not receive the holy, and not fearing God is unholy.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)

“..fear of God is faith.” (The Zohar, Matt vol. 2, pg 280, Teledot)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Whirlwind - The Stuff of Creation

I was listening to the Dennis Prager radio program this morning and he was interviewing an atheist scientist. The scientist described how he suggested that we do not look for life on certain planets because they were motionless, stagnant, and still. That for life to exist there needed to be movement. He contrasted the earth, in which things are moving and mixing. It appeared as though entropy had overtaken those planets.

This drew my mind to a few things. In the Sefer Yetzirah it described the motion of this physical existence as a whirlwind:

“These ten Sephiroth which are ineffable [intangible], whose appearance is like scintillating flames, have no end but are infinite. The word of God is in them as they burst forth, and as they return; they obey the divine command, rushing along as a whirlwind, returning to prostrate themselves at his throne.”[1]

In ancient Jewish thought the Sephiroth are the powers of God that create the differing kingdoms of existence. As they extend into the kingdoms they create the whirlwind, or the motion necessary for our life.

Perhaps Abraham saw the heavens and they appeared as a great whirlwind. This would be a macro application. Perhaps he saw into an atom and saw the microcosm of creation. These forces of creation play out in the souls of men.[2]

The whirlwind is thought of as another symbol of redemption like the Tree of Life.

Clearly this corresponds to the whirlwind of Ezekiel 1:4 which is a play on the same theme. The whirlwind is the outside force inserted into a closed system that creates and maintains life

Once this motion has completely went forth and completed the plan of salvation, then the returning beings.

We are told this whole process is like a coal of fire, both the coal and the flame are conjoined.[3] Existence is not being improvised as we go, this is one plan, the Plan of Salvation.
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[1] Sepher Yetzirah 1:6

[2] Sepher Yetzirah 2:4 “These [Mem, Shin, and Aleph] three mothers again represent in the Microcosm or Human form, male and female; the Head, the Belly, and the Chest; the head from the fire, the belly from water, and the chest from the air lieth between them.”

[3] Sepher Yetzirah 1:7

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Joseph Smith in the Zohar?


The Zohar is a medieval book, which I think is largely successful in capturing and preserving the thought and teachings of ancient Israel. It put into story form much of the oral teachings of the Jews.

In the Zohar there is a teaching that describes the seven thousand years of man upon the earth, the milleniums. The Zohar ascribes a letter to each of the milleniums (which may have significance beyond what we are discussing here), the letter “vav” is associated with the sixth millenium. The letter “vav” is the sixth letter in the Hebrew alphabet. It then gives us what amounts to a prophesy:

"Every sixty years of that sixth millenium, he is invigorated, scaling its rungs. In the six hundreth year of the sixth, springs of wisdom will open above, springs of wisdom below, and the world will prepare to enter the seventh..." [1]

The Zohar scholar, Daniel Matt, calculated this time for us in his commentary as corresponding to the year 1839. [2] We could talk about the happenings of 1839 and the 121st. section of the Doctrine and Covenants, but I think I would take a little larger view, and allow for an allusion to the period of the restoration generally.

I don’t know the ultimate origin of this “prophesy,” but it does seem to point to the time that the heavens opened, wisdom, or revelation was poured out upon man (Joseph Smith in particular), and that this was being done in préparation of the seventh period know as “The Millenium.”

Many angels visited Joseph Smith, including Moroni. For a period Moroni visited Joseph each year and instructed him:

“... and [Joseph Smith] received instruction and intelligence from him [Moroni] at each of our interviews, respecting what the Lord was going to do, and how and in what manner his kingdom was to be conducted in the last days.” [3]

This was part of the “preparing to enter” the final millenium the Zohar teaches about.
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[1] The Zohar, Daniel Matt. Vol. 2, pg. 180, Va-Yera
[2] The Zohar, Daniel Matt. Vol. 2, pg. 180, Va-Yera, Matt's note #501, "Corresponding to 1839/40 C.E.."
[3] PGP, Joseph Smith History.

Monday, June 2, 2008

David J. Larsen - HEAVENLY ASCENTS

David Larsen has started a new blog HEAVENLY ASCENTS. You need to Bookmark his new site! This will be a first rate site dealing with the topics related to the topics we discuss here at MormonMysticism. David Has been a commenter here, on The Backyard Professor, and Temple Study. He always has insightful things to say. He passes me good information from time to time. He introduced me to Dr. Andrai A. Orlov's work.

I can't tell you how excited I am to see David entering the Blogernacle. There is a small but growing group of us who blog on these topics, Heavenly Ascent is a welcomed addition.

TO GO TO HEAVENLY ASCENT CLICK HERE: HEAVENLY ASCENT

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Abrahamic Covenant


In my recent post “Penalties and Blood” I wrote about how anciently covenants were sometimes made between people, and with God. Some of these covenants were made by ordinances, which may include an allusion to the penalties if the covenant is broken. Such an allusion is the rite of circumcision. To break the covenant of circumcision is to lose eternal seed.

Circumcision is a sign to the Israelites that they were the children of “the covenant” or the “Abrahamic Covenant.” When Abram received his endowment a “h” (heh) was added to his everyday name, illustrating that he had entered in the covenant. The Hebrew name for Jesus, was YHVH, and is known as the Tetragrammaton (YHVH or יהוה).

The “Yud” is a picture of a penis (and an arm or hand) and means creation. The “Vav” is a picture of a nail and means to bring together, bind, or seal, and the “Heh” is a picture of a man praying with upheld hands. (LINK)

"YUD" and "Heh" means “covenant of creation.”
and
"Vav" and "Heh" means “covenant of atonement.”

The Anointed is both creator and redeemer.

This is why in ancient Hebrew literature it discusses how the heavens and the earth were built upon, and are maintained by the covenant of circumcision. This can be a little hard to understand at first. It is not talking about circumcision at all, circumcision is alluding to the covenants of creation and atonement. Without this covenant the earth would be utterly wasted.


“Come and see: Once Abraham was circumcised, he abandoned the foreskin and entered the sacred covenant... entering the covenant upon which the world stands.” [1]

Without implying any dilution or degradation of the terms, we see in gospel teachings a purposeful evolution of certain terms. For example; the term “House of Israel” means the “Camp of Israel,” which means “Army of Israel” (“he struggles with with God” which could point to an embrace of covenant), which means “Army of Heaven” , which means “Army of God.” These are the ones Jesus said he would make His rulers in this world. (Abraham 3:23)

When we speak of the Melchizedek Priesthood, what are we talking about? We are talking about the authority given to “Melchizedek”, which is the authority of the “Fathers” (or the patriarchs), which is the Priesthood of Adam (HC, Vol. 3, pp. 386-387), which is the authority after the “Holy order of the Son of God.”

All things hang upon the covenant of creation and the promises made there, which include the covenants of redemption or atonement. When we are circumcised, baptized, take the sacrament, or go to the temple, we are only pointing to, and recommitting to the covenants of creation and redemption made in our pre-earth life. Understanding these covenants is the heart of the matter at hand.
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[1] The Zohar, Lekh Lekha, Matt. Vol. 2, pgs. 74 and 75.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Jews & Mormons - Bridges Being Built

Last Friday I had the pleasure of attending a very nice celebration of the sixtieth year since the founding of the state of Israel. I was a guest at the invitation of Mark Paredes who is the LDS Public Relation representative to the Jewish community in Southern California.

Clearly, the founding of Israel (1948) is a miracle and an unmistakable sign of our day.

It was a very nice celebration. If I understand correctly it was hosted by the church and was at the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles. Forgive me for not geting the names, but there was a Seventy there, a number of other church leaders. Leaders from different parts of the Jewish community, some consulates, some press, and so on.

It was good to see Valeria G. ("like a canon") there!

A beautiful LDS young lady lead the group in singing the national anthem of Israel (Hatikvah), it was very touching. It’s nice to see Judah and Joseph getting along so well.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Penalties and Blood

I am at a loss of how to exactly say what I want to convey in this post. I understand it, but it is a little hard to put into words. Here is my best attempt.

The plan of salvation is administered unto us by covenants, including; baptism, sacrament, priesthood, and of course the temple. These covenants come with blessings, and with penalties if the covenant is not kept.

Pre-messiah circumcision, the cutting, was a sign of the covenant of Abraham, and an illustration of the penalty. Modern folk don’t care much to be reminded of penalties. While a reminder of the possible penalties may not be an essential part of the covenant, historically the gospel has included such reminders. In the 84th. section of the Doctrine and Covenants, known as the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood we read:

“But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.” (D&C 84:41)

Circumcision is an outward sign of the covenant, and a penalty. Many Old Testament covenants where attached to or received by the killing of an animal, usually by cutting. In Old Testament times a priesthood covenant may be attached to the ritual of cutting an animal in two, then walking the path between the parts. When we “cut” a deal, we have made a two way promise.

The Hebrew word for “covenant" is “brit.”

“ [brit] ברית ... [C]ovenant, treaty, compact, agreement, an association between two parties with serious responsibilities, benefits, and penalties; ‘to cut a covenant’ is to ‘make a covenant,’ a figure of the act of ceremonially cutting an animal into two parts, with an implication of serious consequences for not fulfilling the covenant...” [1 - also see this LINK]

In Hebrew, “covenant” literally means “cut-where-blood-flows.” In times past, when a covenant of blood was made, a cup, or cupping hand, sometimes by a priest, would be held underneath to catch the blood. This blood in the cup would sometimes be mixed with wine and consumed by the participants. The wine and the blood are often interchanged in gospel themes (the rite of the Sacrament for example - see LINK). I find it interesting that American Indians practiced this Hebrew custom or rite.

“According to Pirḳe R. El. xxix., it was Shem who circumcised Abraham and Ishmael on the Day of Atonement; and the blood of the covenant then shed is ever before God on that day to serve as an atoning power. According to the same Midrash, Pharaoh prevented the Hebrew slaves from performing the rite, but when the Passover time came and brought them deliverance, they underwent circumcision, and mingled the blood of the paschal lamb with that of the Abrahamic covenant, wherefore (Ezek. xvi. 6) God repeats the words: ‘In thy blood live!’”(LINK)

The blood of the covenant is taken upon each of us in true temples, in a symbolic way. Ancient Israel also symbolically received the covenant by being sprinkled with blood. This sprinkling conveyed the blessings, responsibilities, and the penalties associated with the covenant.

“The animal was slain on the eve of the Passover, on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan, after the Tamid sacrifice had been killed, i.e., at three o'clock, or, in case the eve of the Passover fell on Friday, at two. The killing took place in the court of the Temple, and might be performed by a layman, although the blood had to be caught by a priest, and rows of priests with gold or silver cups in their hands stood in line from the Temple court to the altar, where the blood was sprinkled. These cups were rounded on the bottom, so that they could not be set down; for in that case the blood might coagulate. The priest who caught the blood as it dropped from the victim then handed the cup to the priest next to him, receiving from him an empty one, and the full cup was passed along the line until it reached the last priest, who sprinkled its contents on the altar.” (LINK)

All these covenants we make are just renewing the covenants of creation, upon which heaven and earth rest. We need to remember our blessings, rights, privileges, responsibilities, and the associated penalties.

The promise of the Abrahamic Covenant is that our seed will continue forever.
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[1 - The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible, 21st Century Edition, page 1483.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Two Creations - Two Yuds


Starting in Abraham chapter three, verse 22, God shows Abraham the pre-existence with the spirits of men. Abraham is then shown the spiritual creation and the planning of the physical creation, as ordered by God. The above spans from Abraham 3:22 through 5:5.  This process was seven periods long, in the likeness (or pattern) of what was going to take place in the physical creation. At the end of these seven periods there was still no physical creation, as the scripture states there was no “rain upon the earth” because there was no earth yet, and God had not yet “formed a man.”

Then in the remainder of the Book of Abraham, Adam’s spirit is placed into a body, and then he is introduced into the Garden of Eden

Which means we have a more detailed description of the spiritual creation and planning. This is a pattern that the physical creation would follow. Then when describing the physical creation the description is truncated, we just jump to the point where Adam is in the garden. And we see that Adam and all the children of Adam will be created before the end of the sixth (physical) creative period. (LINK)

The doctrine of two creations, a spiritual and a physical, is well established in LDS theology. Supporting this doctrine is the Book of Abraham. Genesis is less clear, at least in the English.

However, as Rashi points out, that when describing the one creation the Hebrew word וַיִּצֶר (“Yasar” - with one Yud - the first creation) is used. “Yasar” is rendered “formed” in our King James version. The letter “Yud” (י) is a symbol of creation. When man is described as being placed on the earth, the word has a spelling of וַיִּיצֶר (with two Yuds). This alternative spelling signals that this is a second creation (the physical). A point that is overlooked in English, but pointed to in the Hebrew. And of course this is all clarified in the Book of Abraham. (Rashi on Gen 2.)
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Thanks to Kerry Shirts and Prof. Hamblin for directing me to Rashi's commentary.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Two Story Temple

Check out the new web site by Professor William J. Hamblin over at THINGS UNUTTERABLE. He just posted a great post about the possibility that there was a second story on the Jerusalem Temple, and some other interesting insights. Here is the link: A Second Story to the Jerusalem Temple?.

Be sure to bookmark his site. Prof. Hamblin's work, in my estimation, is the best coming from Provo these days. He has the insight that so many scholars seek, pretend they have, and yet never achieve.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Three Adams

Prof. Hugh Nibley said the following about the three stages of Adam:

 “We are taught in the Kabbalah a great deal about the three Adams. There is the celestial Adam, who was Michael before he came here; the terrestrial Adam, who was in Eden; and the telestial Adam, after he had fallen, who was down low. The Kabbalah also tells about Jacob's ladder. Joseph Smith taught that it represented the three stages of initiation in the temple, the three degrees of glory…” [1]

Adam is the type that we humans follow in life. We come from a pre-earth life, from holier spheres. We come to this life and take upon ourselves a fallen and mortal nature. Then through the atonement of Christ, we repent and are sanctified to receive one of the three degrees of glory. The degree to which we are sanctified is up to us.

This is the purpose of the temple. We have the model in stone. The plan is taught. The ordinances of each degree are administered therein. The law that is required to receive each degree is taught and accepted by covenant.

And if we are faithful, we follow Adam to join the Family of God, as a joint heir with Christ.
There is no other way.

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[1 - Hugh Nibley, Don E. Norton , Approaching Zion, Chapter 11, Deseret Book.]

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Baptism and Kingdoms of Glory

One of the many doctrines for which I find no allies, is the idea that a person must be baptised, either in person, or by proxy, to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. By “Kingdom of Heaven” I mean heaven with its three main degrees of glory. ( See John 3:5)

I approach this topic carefully, I am fully aware of church leaders who have had a different opinion on this topic, President Joseph Fielding Smith, being the main one. However, I am unaware of any official declaration from any First Presidency on this topic, so I feel free to see things differently. Add this topic to the list which includes; death before the fall, evolution, the earth’s age, etc..

My thesis is that the temple is the template of the Plan of Salvation. It is the Plan of Redemption laid out in stone. It is how the universe and eternity work. Prof. Hugh Nibley said:

“This scale model of the universe is the temple. Of course, the word for temple in Latin, templum, means the same thing as template: a plan marked out on the ground by the augur's staff…” [1]

All true temples mark out four divisions of space, three are sacred space, and one is reserved for the profane. Three are inside of the sacred space, and one is without. In common LDS parlance they are the Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial kingdoms. Each of these kingdoms has a direct correspondence to one of the three sacred spaces in the temple. This is the message of the temple. The Holy of Holies is the Celestial Room, The Holy Place is the Terrestrial Room, the Court is the Telestial Room. These are all descriptions of the resurrection. The baptismal font or "Laver," or "Molten Sea" are located in the Telestial section.

In Solomon’s Temple, the first section within the sacred space corresponds, by illistration or imagery, to the Telestial kingdom. This space was outdoors, suggesting to the mind that it is related to this world in which we live. How does it differs from the world outside of sacred space? It is redeemed, saved, or atoned for. Only those within the sacred space are heirs of salvation, and that is done through repentance and baptism (principles and ordinances). Within the sacred space of the Telestial portion of the temple baptisms are preformed. An initiate can’t advance to the Terrestrial sacred space until the ordinances of the Telestial kingdom are complete. The same is true for entering the Celestial portion of the temple.

The Prophet Joseph Smith is criticized for making up the word “Telestial.” It was his made-up word. It has to do with receiving the initial ordinances, or mysteries.

“ Teleiomai  [relating to the telestial kingdom] means to be introduced into the mysteries… [a] teleiotes is a person who has been initiated into some degree or other of the mysteries…” [2]

"Telos" means initiation, it is the gate, the first degree.

Baptisms, whether for the living or the dead are always done in the Telestial Kingdom (this life, or the space in the temple that corresponds to the Telestial Kingdom).

All this being said, the church is charged with building the Celestial Kingdom. The work of preparing the worlds of the Terrestrial and Telestial kindoms will not be done until the millenium.

We will inherit the kingdom that is represented by the place in the temple, that teaches the principles we are willing to live. When we live those principles, we accept the ordinances of that level of sanctification, and inherit that kingdom or glory. We can’t go to that kingdom of glory and reject the principles or the ordinances of that kingdom. (see D&C 88:24)
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[1] Hugh Nibley, Don E. Norton, Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present, Deseret Book, The Meaning of the Temple.
[2] Temple and Cosmos, Hugh Nibley, Deseret Book, Pg# 28

Monday, March 31, 2008

Angels Who Stand As Sentinels


President Brigham Young taught us that the temple is where we learn about eternity, and where we prepare to pass certain angels that are standing gard. What we don’t always get is that they are guarding against us, not for us. When The Father had a flaming sword (& Cherubim) placed in the Garden of Eden it was to stop Adam from returning unchecked. Symbolically is was teaching that all of mankind (ha-adam) can only pass when we are ready (sanctified). We often think of angels guarding us, but in this process they are guarding the way back, so we don’t attempt to enter glories what are not yet ready to inherit.

"Your endowment is to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell." (Brigham Young, J. D. 2:31.)

The Zohar is preoccupied with idea of gates we enter when we are ready, and at each gate is an armed guard. Egyptian initiation imagery is also loaded with example of stations (like rungs of a ladder) that the deceased must pass through to gain his full inheritance. Truth and fidelity are the initiates defenses against these destroying angels.

In Egyptian imagery, those who have not had fidelity to their covenants (“key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood”) in the mortal world, are slashed, cut, or otherwise destroyed if they try to pass. Perhaps this is the origin of the Tyler of Masonry?

Prof. Hugh Nibley discussed the Book of Breathings, and the Book of the Dead.

Here is an excerpt:

“it is permitted to wonder whether khrw-paw (faces-of-fire) with its Hebrew plural ending -im might be the source of the mysterious word Cherubim of the Bible. Or is the root the Egyptian Cherep, "to have control over," as in the long Book of Breathings: "Thrice welcome! say the Cherebneset-priests," i.e., "those who are in charge of the throne," they being the guardians of the gate (T 32, I, 22, O.M.R.O., 31:56)? Apophis is confronted by the Keepers of the Pylons standing with swords in their hands before a gate from which flames shoot forth, and is repelled by both sword and flame (Bremner-Rhind, 30:11-15). No one else can enter the place as yet either, excepting Re, since to enter it is to breathe the air of eternal life (Gr. Tb., 48-49), and man is not yet ready to live forever in his sins. The Jewish doctors, at least, made such a discrimination, telling us that when Adam was driven out of the place of delights, "the Watchers were placed there so that none could enter unless they had been first purified by the hand of the Cherubim" (B. Gorion, Sagen d. Juden, I, 118). From the earliest times, then, fire and the sword or the flaming sword prevent the serpent from returning to the garden. The serpent must remain in outer darkness (L. Kakosy, ZA, 97:104-105), being himself the mystery of non-being, the negation of all that is (E. Hornung, Ein.u. Viel., pp. 171-72). The Pistis Sophia gives the same explanation for the flaming sword: The time will come, it says, when the sword will be removed for Adam and he may reach forth his hand and partake of the fruit of the tree of life. But the serpent may never do so; in the end the flaming sword was for his benefit.” [Prof. Hugh Nibley, Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, Part IV, The Garden Story]

Ancient temple initiations contained feathers of truth (Ma’at), swords of judgement, and angels guarding the way. Today we have an abbreviated version of what was Adam's ascension, which is our inheritance (endowment). Traces of a longer version, a deeper teaching, and fuller laws, give us hints of the path back. This is why the endowment can only truly be understood by revelation. The profane waste their time trying to understand it, only by revelation can we “get it.”

 “Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.” [D&C 84:20]

“If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.” [D&C 42:60

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Three Degrees of Glory - Now!

So much of what I blog about has to do with the three degrees of glory, because that is the template of the temple, displaying eternity. When I say eternity, I mean forever, and the here and now.

I was going to here give some of my best posts to the three degree pattern, but they are almost all based upon this insight. That insight is usually focussed on the eternities, not the present. With some exceptions; Fasting, and Shin, Aleph, & Mem.

Most of my posts are a little esoteric for most people’s tastes. So, here is my (given to me by my sweet wife) highly recommended link to understanding how the three degrees of glory affect you here and now, where the rubber meets the road.

This is good stuff, share it with your kids.

Three Realms of Law, Light and Life by Lili Anderson, Brigham Young University–Idaho Devotional, February 1, 2005.

Gnosticism

No study of mysticism can be complete without a mention of Gnosticism. Gnosticism is the mother of modern, so called, Mystery Schools or Mystery Religions . While all of them may not be direct descendants, they are at least stepchildren, receiving nourishment from the many philosophies spun-off from Gnosticism.

First century Christians understood that the life of the church depended upon the existence of apostles. [1] This dependence is due to the keys that the apostles held. [2] Among the keys, that if lost, would signal the end of the church, were the keys to the mysteries or ordinances. Even a modern day bishop, who has some keys, can only rightly exercise those keys under the eventual direction of an apostle (an apostle holds all the keys).

Before leaving the first century church, Jesus gave Peter the authority to bind the mysteries or ordinances on earth, which shall be binding in heaven:

“And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:19)

When the Prophet Joseph was given those same keys in this dispensation, the associated instructions tied the keys to the mysteries:

“And I have given unto him the keys of the mystery of those things which have been sealed , even things which were from the foundation of the world” (D&C 35:18)

When the apostasy of the original church began, and there were no longer apostle available, there was no one to correct the doctrines of men, and administer the mysteries.

The mysteries are the center of the church. The true church is built upon the mysteries. When the first original church fell:

“… a horde of deceivers ‘who up until then had been lurking in dark corners,’ as soon as they saw that there were no more apostles left to call them to account, came boldly forth, each claiming that he alone had the gnosis which the Lord had secretly imparted to the apostles after the resurrection.” [3]

The reason for this claim of the gnosis, hidden knowledge, or ordinances; is because the authorized (keys) holder of the true gnosis is the prophet of God on earth, and the leader of God’s church. [4]

The false prophets lured membership by a claim that they had the gnosis. To convince onlookers a whole arsenal of tricks were employed. They put on airs with pomp and circumstance, wearing robes, fancy hats, ringing the bells, making smoke, and burning incense. All of which were hollow gestures because they had no authority and only a corrupted version of ordinances.

These would be usurpers divided into groups, and come down to us today as the Mystery Schools .

Since the beginning of the apostasy, even until today they have fed off of each other by integrating each other’s claims into their own philosophy. They have become a hybrid of hidden and occult practice, a great “esoteric sponge.”

Gnostics, Rosicrucians, Theosophist and others initiate their members into what fragments of the gnosis they can find, mingled with the philosophies of men, and the doctrines of devils.

The watered down versions of these Gnostic views are the modern esoteric and New Age movements.

The well-grounded, mature saint can study Gnosticism and find truth, and all truth is beneficial. But, a steady diet of Gnosticism, without a daily good portion of a gospel meal, tends to sicken the soul.
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[1] Ephesians 2:20
[2] Matthew 16:19, Revelation 1:18, Doctrine and Covenants 13:1, 27:6, 9, 12, 13, 42:69, 65:2, 81:2, 90:2 and so on.
[3] Hugh Nibley, Todd M. Compton, Stephen D. Ricks, Mormonism and Early Christianity, Deseret Book, Chapter 5.
[4] Apostles are prophets, seers, and revelators. Each one holds all the keys necessary to maintain the church on earth. If there is more than one apostle on earth, the senior (by setting apart date) is the leader of the church.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Back Yard Professor - Kerry Shirts

Hey everyone, the long lost Kerry Shirts is back posting at the BackyardProfeesor.com (LINK).

And he has started a commentary on the Zohar, which should really be good.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Did The Temple Ordinances Come From The Masons?

For you Masonry student, there is a good post over at “Temple Study” that you should take a look at. Here is the link: Did The Temple Ordinances Come From The Masons?.

Of course I did have a good discussion with Joe Swick on this topic over: here, which I think is a pretty good overview of the topic.

Enoch & Metatron (by: Dr. Andrai A. Orlov)




I don’t have permission to mention his name, but his initials are “DL,” he is a fellow who visits my site from time to time, and is particularly insightful.

He gave me a list of links that contain certain excepts from the writings of Dr. Andrai A. Orlov, who teaches at the Theology Department of Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Dr. Orlov is not LDS as far as I know (he should be), but he has a lot of insight to the topics of this blog. I present the list for your reading pleasure:

Enoch as the Heavenly Priest

Enoch as the Expert in Secrets

Enoch as the Mediator

Enoch as the Scribe

The Etymology of the Name "Metatron"

Metatron as the Mediator

Metatron as the Prince of the World

Metatron as the Deity: Lesser YHWH

Metatron as God's Shiur Qomah

Metatron as the Prince of the Presence

Metatron as the Youth

Metatron as the Expert in Secrets

Metatron as Sar Torah

Metatron as the Scribe

Back before Kerry Shirts had to get a job, he use to mention him on a regular basis.

He does not give his books away, so these links are a real treat. If you like what he has to say, then buy a book.
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I thought maybe you might like this too: Metatron

The Picture above is not a picture of Dr. Orlov's book.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Tying The Knot

Jacob saw the plan of ascension, one kingdom to another, as a ladder. Moses experienced it in the form of a mountain. Some ancients thought of the plan of salvation as three worlds or kingdoms stacked one above the other. Spanning these three worlds was a rope descending from the highest kingdom bringing connection to the lower worlds. Each of the three worlds is tied to the rope by a knot, and the knot is fastened with a nail (Vav). The temple is a knot symbolizing the connecting place between the worlds. Each level of temple worship has an altar which represents the Vav or nail in that world.
 
“The temple is thus thought of as the ‘bond of heaven and earth,’ as the ‘navel of the earth,’ and as the ‘pillar of the earth,’ that is, the central axis around which the world revolves. The temple represents ‘the Pole of the heavens, around which all heavenly motions revolve, the knot that ties earth and heaven together, the seat of universal dominion.’” [1 or LINK]

The rope is the center line of the temple, or the path to Lehi’s tree, or the straight and narrow path.  The knot alludes to covenants. When people are married, the have tied the knot, they have made promises that bind them. In the case of the temple the knot or covenant is made binding by the nail or Vav, which represents the atonement.

“We stand in the middle position. This earth is the Old English middan-(g)eard, the middle-earth. The markas & scheckecirc; u er .s ti of the Babylonians means the knot that ties heaven to earth, the knot that ties all horizontal distances together (cf. fig. 37H, p. 151), and all up and down, the meeting point of the heavens and the earth. It is the middle point at which the worlds above and the worlds below join. This scale model of the universe is the temple. Of course, the word for temple in Latin, templum, means the same thing as template” [2 or LINK]

Sometimes this connection between the higher and lower worlds is a rope, trunk of a tree, vine, ladder, river, or even a spinal column. It is always the same template, showing the way back to God.
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[1] Prof. Hugh Nibley, What Is a Temple? Chapter 8.

[2] Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present, Hugh Nibley, Don E. Norton, Deseret Book, The Meaning of the Temple.

Also see: Water, Air, & Fire

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ascension - Do you get it?


As a missionary I taught the Plan of salvation so, so many times, but I really never “got it,” until much later in life. I mean I was good at quoting the scriptures (served in the bible belt) and arguing for it. You could not tell, but I still really did not get it. I mean I understood the mechanics, but not the deep meaning.

I look at the prophets, most of them initially had some training in the gospel, but at some point in their lives they got it. They usually got it in the form of a vision, they saw the Plan of Salvation (pre-earth, earth, spirit world, the resurrection, and the degrees of glory).

Abraham stopped by Bethel (Beth = House, EL=God) and made sacrifice. Abraham received the promises that we currently call the Abrahamic Covenant. He then sees all about the pre-existence and the creation, all the way to the end of creation. What he learned included:
 
 “[T]he grand Key-words of the Holy Priesthood, as revealed to Adam in the Garden of Eden, as also to Seth, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, and all to whom the Priesthood was revealed.” [Book of Abraham, Explanation of Facsimile No. 2]

The Plan of Salvation when personalized is tied to the temple (alter, sacrifice, ordinances), promises, covenants, and a vision of the Plan. In fact it is a revealing of God to the individual.

Moses “got it,” the Lord took Moses to an “exceedingly high mountain,” which is a cosmic temple. There, Moses is taught of the Messiah, he saw every particle of the earth and every soul who had or will live upon this earth. He saw the creation, all the way to the end of creation (including the Garden of Eden drama). He saw the pre-existence and the war in heaven. Moses saw the “Plan of salvation.” Moses saw that all of these were “confirmed unto Adam, by an holy ordinance…” [Moses 5:59]

Nephi got it in the form of a tree, Jacob go it in the form of a ladder, and the list goes on.

Today, we receive the ordinances in the temple, we receive an abbreviated teaching of the Plan of Salvation which stands for the full plan, and if ready, God can reveal Himself to us there. But usually it is somewhat a mass production. Most of us receive the ordinances and the teaching when we go to the temple, but we don’t really get it.

If we are blessed, at some point in our life, we get it. When you get it, it will change your life.

Do you get it?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fasting




Fasting can give us insight into spirituality. Again, we know that there are three degrees of glory, and a kingdom of darkness, these make up the final estates of men.
 
This life is a mortal, temporal, physical, and telestial life. Earth is a telestial life. Within this temporal life there may also be degrees of reality, or levels of consciousness that we are able to experience. A dog has a physical and temporal existence. Dogs share our mortal world with us. Now dogs do not have the problems of agency and accountability, but they share the problems of this world, which includes eating. They also seek love, comfort, security, entertainment, and procreation. These are all things that belong to this world. But, most men do not experience this telestial existence the same as a dog, even those who only live a telestial law experience some finer things. These finer things are a result of the intelligence that the person uses. Intelligence is the glory of God. (D&C 93:36)
 
When we act in a more intelligent way, we live in a higher degree of glory, which may only be within the telestial kingdom, or can be in a higher kingdom.
 
As we have discussed, we will all be resurrected into a body that is built to function in the glory we ultimately receive. And the glory we receive is a result of the law we are willing to live.

Since in this life we are stuck in a telestial body and are subject to the physical laws of a telestial dimension, we must pay attention to the cares and concerns of this world. We must eat, we seek love, comfort, security, entertainment and procreation, and this is all part of the plan.
 
When we seek guidance, help, or answers from God, we should understand we are seeking answers that are above this telestial world. We don’t need a telestial instruction of how to procreate; man and beast have always been able to figure this out. When a person who wishes to be a follower of righteousness seeks a mate, and takes that issue to the Lord, he is seeking intelligence that is above the telestial level. The seeker’s heart will determine which degree of intelligence he desires.
 
Speaking on the levels in the commandments to men, God said:
 
“Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal ; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created. Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandments, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual ; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual.” (D&C 29:34 & 35)
 
While God’s commands are of a Celestial nature, they are given in a language that we can grasp.
 
“Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.” (D&C 1:24)
 
This is a continual dumbing-down of things with the plan that eventually we might catch-on.
 
God does not give us telestial or temporal commandments. God’s desire is to bring about the exaltation of man(Moses 1:39), and He does not do that by giving telestial commands and instructions. These higher instructions may be carried out in the telestial existence (because that is where we are), but the commands are according to higher laws designed to elevate.
 
And when we keep the law of a higher kingdom, we have effectively entered that kingdom; we just have not changed dimensions yet (that will happen in the resurrection).
 
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways , saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9, see Psalm 94:11)
 
So, why do we fast? Because we are in telestial, mortal bodies and forced to concern ourselves with the cares of this world. But when we deprive our bodies of our basic temporal needs, food and water, our souls begin to struggle for survival. Instinctively, our soul (the body part) knows that unless something changes the end is coming. This should cause our soul (the spirit part) to seek and to stretch.
 
When we subdue the body by refraining from serving the temporal desires and needs, we temporarily force away from the forefront our temporal needs, which requires our soul to seek answers from above. This is faith, causing sanctification.
 
“The choice is given, whether we live in the physical world as animals, or whether we use what earth offers us as a means of living in the spiritual world that will lead us back to the presence of God.” ( David O. McKay, Teaching of Presidents of the Church, David O. McKay. LDS Church, pg. 15.)
 
We all have a mortal telestial body. But where our spirits live is according to our hearts and desires. Our spirits climb the rungs of eternity while our bodies reside in mortality.  Having our body in the telestial kingdom and our heart and spirit in another kingdom, is a cause of conflict. It can be a struggle between the flesh and the spirit (Romans 8:4&5). We are enticed between two influences. 246
 
By fasting we put our lower self into submission, and our spirit is then freer to seek from the hidden glories. Not only do we deprive ourselves from food and water, we should avoid all temporal pleasures while fasting. It is contrary to the purposes of fasting to visit a carnival, or to engage in other recreational pursuits. Paul taught the saints not to withhold sexual intercourse from a spouse except for fasting:
 
“ Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” (1 Corinthians 7:5)
 
When we seek commands and instructions from God, we are seeking revelation. Without personal revelation we will never obtain the required sanctification necessary for a celestial resurrection.
 
We all have two natures. We have our telestial (or temporal) nature, because we live in this world. We also all have another nature, which is the law that we keep, corresponding to one of the degrees of glory. Now for most, they have both a temporal physical body, and only keep a telestial law, and therefore have a telestial spiritual nature. Others have a telestial body/nature and keep a terrestrial spiritual law. When this terrestrial person puts aside the temporal body by fasting, they quickly begin to see, understand, and receive in the terrestrial realm. For them the stretching comes in trying to achieve living a celestial law, by receiving celestial instructions.
 
One, whose spiritual self is celestial, seeks light and knowledge from the celestial realm during the fast.
 
A person living the law of any given kingdom of glory who is new or uncomfortable there must struggle to receive at that degree. Another that has rested at that rung for a while can move there more quickly.  Yet, resting at any given rung is not the goal, it’s just part of the process.
 
When we climb the rungs, we become progressively more like God. Through this sanctification process our minds imitate the mind of God, we become more godly. The more godly we are the more our prayers will be for godly things, and lower things will seem base, crude, and course. If we have the mind of God, and seek righteous things, and our hearts and hands are clean, how can He deny us our prayers?
 
Asking for the right things, and accepting answers with full purpose of heart enables us to ask and receive. Fasting is an important part of the process.
 
The problem is most of us do not fully have the mind of God and we seek lower, selfish, carnal, and devilish things. Our hearts and hands may not be clean.
 
As we fast we push to new and higher rungs. We become more and more like God, from grace to grace. At some point, if we climb far enough in this world, God will no longer withhold anything for which we pray, because we know the mind and will of God and seek only righteousness.
 
We learn from the Zohar:
 
“The blessed Holy One focuses only on the soul [spirit], not the body; for soul resembles soul, while the body is incapable of uniting above – even though the body’s image abides in supernal mystery. “
“Come and see: when the blessed Holy One delights in a person’s soul, deriving pleasure from her, He strikes the body so that his soul can dominate. For as long as soul corresponds with body, soul cannot prevail; but once the body is broken, soul becomes dominant.” (The Zohar, Matt, vol. II, pg. 277.)
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This post is modified from the chapter on Fating in Mormon Mysticism: LINK.