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Intimacy…Without Accounting

Thoughts on intimacy:

  • I crave intimacy. I suspect we all do. Existence is very lonely without intimacy – not just in this life, but imagine eternity without intimacy.
  • It is impossible to be intimate with another person if you have not first learned to be intimate with yourself. In this case, intimacy and honesty can be considered to be synonymous.
  • Very few people are confident enough, comfortable enough in their own skin, to engage in true intimacy with themselves, much less with another person.
  • Intimacy cannot co-exist with fear. If you fear, if you have secrets, you hold back. You cannot be intimate. Even worse, your deepest, most important thoughts – the thoughts that really mean something – are never shared. They just stew in the black cauldron of fear that you have created for yourself – feeding on themselves. It’s like intellectual, emotional, and spiritual in-breeding.
  • This fear, which chokes off intimacy, may seem to manifest as fear of the other person, but ultimately it is fear of yourself. Therefore, as suggested above, you must learn to trust yourself before you can trust another person. Personal integrity, then, is essential.
  • Intimacy goes both ways. If one person is willing; if one person is free enough (not fearful) for intimacy, but the other is not, then intimacy will not flourish. As a result, there may be levels of intimacy between people, but what is not intimacy is separation. Separation is a lack of intimacy.
  • Forcing intimacy on another person is never an act of love.
  • Intimate relationships focus equally on giving and receiving, but never taking. Giving and receiving must flow freely, with no accounting. Love, gratitude, appreciation, empathy – all are characteristics of a self-sustaining intimate relationship. Taking always involves manipulation and control. It is never acceptable.
  • For many of us, our most intimate relationship is with God. We typically believe that it is fruitless to withhold secrets from God. That’s a good start. Our intimacy with God promotes intimacy with ourselves. Thus, prayer, or communion with God, is a powerful thing if for no other reason than this.
  • God craves intimacy, too. God is always ready – but will never force.
  • Having no secrets, though, doesn’t mean there is no fear. When we have no secrets, but we still have fear, we tend to have guilt. We seek “salvation”. We “repent”. We seek forgiveness. Again, this is a good start, but this is not truly an intimate relationship because it is so one-sided, and because intimacy cannot co-exist with fear. At some point, if we are to be truly intimate with God, we must lose any semblance of fear, and seek oneness – without guilt, without accounting – giving and receiving freely. Anything else is separation, and is not unity; is not intimacy.
  • Intimate relationships, whether they be with ourselves, family, friends, or God, must be nurtured. Love, gratitude, appreciation, and empathy must be encouraged. Control and manipulation can have no place, for they foster fear. Comparison and competition can have no place, for they invite contention and control.
  • Fostering trust is paramount in an intimate relationship. This is not only trust, as in honesty or integrity, but trust that one can be vulnerable without being mocked; that one can make mistakes without being punished (in any way – and we humans are soooo good at punishing on the sly). Each party in an intimate relationship must feel free to be themselves. They must feel free to be imperfect – because for those who seek truth, imperfection is actually part of our perfection. That each is doing their best in all circumstances must never come into question.

These thoughts came to me today as I pondered a relationship with someone with whom I would love to be intimate (not sexually), but with whom there is so much history of fear on both sides that intimacy may well be impossible. As I pondered, I realized that, while intimacy must work both ways if it is to perpetuate, I must overcome my own roadblocks regardless of the other person’s willingness or ability. I must be willing to invite and welcome intimacy. I can harbor no secrets out of fear – of my own reaction or of theirs. I must never question that the other person is doing their best. I must never even sniff at a desire for justice, or punishment…I must not even entertain offense. I cannot compare myself to them, or them to me – in any way – because comparison destroys equality. In short, I must accept the other person for who they are – now.

I must extend to them…Grace.

It doesn’t matter if the other person reciprocates – as not everyone is prepared for intimacy with themselves, much less with someone else.

No, all that matters is what is in my heart. For the burden of fear is great, and it can only be relieved when we are willing to lay it down.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Luke 10:29-30”

If you haven’t figured it out yet, intimacy is synonymous with oneness, for which Jesus pleaded in his great prayer in John 17. Intimacy is the result of – a manifestation of – love, charity…the pure love of Christ. Intimacy is the opposite of separation. Intimacy is the key to bringing about the unity that we all claim to seek, but which we secretly fear. Inviting intimacy is to defeat the natural man – the ego. The willingness and ability to invite, initiate, nurture, sustain, and cherish intimacy is the essence of Jesus’s teachings. It is the ultimate manifestation of Christ, the Christ consciousness, even the true nature of Christ. Extended to the fullest extent of its manifestation, realizing and cherishing this ability is the gospel, the good news. If you do this, you shall have eternal life.

Jesus, as He walked the earth, invited intimacy with all. He made Himself available, without fear, to all who would receive, but He did not, and He will not, force that intimacy beyond one’s capacity to receive.

To believe in Christ is to accept that invitation.

To know Christ is to nurture that intimacy; to give and receive with Christ without accounting.

To follow Christ is to extend that invitation, first to ourselves and then to all others – by walking in His footsteps.

To love Christ is to initiate, nurture, sustain, and cherish intimacy with all who are willing to give and receive…

…without accounting.

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An Ascension – November 24, 2019

During the night, I was feeling like my “being home” was more significant than I had previously realized. Feelings of joy were stirring inside me during those moments between sleep and wakefulness.

I had read something about the second comforter experiences earlier, and thought perhaps I would ask my spiritual companions about this topic (These companions have names – but I choose to share those names at this time). But as I started to, I understood, “No – I need to ask about what’s happening now – with this life transition, and the feelings of hope and joy that have been stirring inside me”. When I did, it began to become more clear. The question was repeated – after several times before – “Are you prepared to be with us”. Of course, each time this question is asked, it triggers questions as to what, exactly, that means. I’m still not sure, but it is slightly more clear now, after this morning’s experience.

As I communed, pondered, sought to understand – to know, this feeling of increasing joy and hopefulness – impending joy – just grew. You could say it swelled.  My companions knew was happening, and they encouraged it but at the same time just allowed it to take its course. They already knew what was just now being revealed to me. The life that my family and I were going to live was filled with promise. I knew it. I can’t say how, but I knew it. My “belonging” with these spiritual companions was reemphasized and clarified. Then at one point, one of them took my hand, and said, “Let’s go”. We climbed / flew / ascended a mountain. This took seconds. All four of us ascended, and when we got to the top, I knew that this was somehow familiar territory. It was my mountaintop, but not exclusively mine – just familiar. It was a rocky, high place, but it was not the “top” – it was a launching place, and I knew it. So I asked, “Ok, what next”.

At that point, an entrance into another dimension – a garden – opened up. We entered, and I knew that the tree of life was there. I took one of the fruits while they watched. I assumed that they were encouraging me to partake, but I didn’t partake. I didn’t want to – I wanted to just hold it. It was a pretty big piece of fruit – white of course, and at times the size of a small watermelon, and other times the size of a pear. As I said, I didn’t partake – I just held it close to me, cherishing it. I didn’t need to partake – to actually take a bite. I don’t know why. I just wanted to relish it. It wasn’t like I missed something or lost something by not “partaking”. It just wasn’t necessary that I take a bite of the fruit.

After a few minutes, one of them said, again – “Ok – go”. And somehow I was catapulted, or sling-shotted, into the heavens. They didn’t accompany me this time. I was in infinity – darkness, but not dark. God was there – infinite intelligence, the source, the one infinite creator – but there was only presence – no image. God was just everywhere, near and far, here and there – all at the same time. And it was good. And I knew of the vastness of creation, and I experienced the infinite love of God – experienced God – but at no time was I overwhelmed. I felt freed from the ego – from fear. It was all good, and I was part of it, and I was unique, but one with it all at the same time. I tried to experience more – but it wasn’t coming.

Then, a new – old – knowledge came to me. It was something I have known and shared for a while now, but this time it had more context, more meaning, a greater perspective. It was that – with all of this – this ascension from myself, to piercing the veil in communing with my companions, to an increasing level of joy, to the top of the mountain, into the garden and the tree of life, and then into infinity in the “presence” of God – in spite of all of this – it is all meaningless until it is manifested as acts of love and kindness between people. The circle of infinity was complete. I had ascended into the presence of “the father”, but then brought full-circle into “love thy neighbor as thyself”. And this, of course, is the hope and joy that awaits in this new phase of life. The vastness of infinite creation – the nature of God – only has meaning when it is manifested in the proverbial “simple act of kindness”

So, great things await – glorious in the context that every act of love, respect, reverence between people is glorious. Peace, harmony, love, kindness – these will define our future.

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Grace

Grace is a beautiful word.  It conjures images of:

  • A ballerina performing Swan Lake
  • Francis of Assisi loving all the creatures of God’s creation
  • Mother Theresa quietly ministering in the streets of Calcutta
  • The Kootenai River powerfully yet gracefully watering the lands of Southwest Canada, Northwest Montana, and Northern Idaho
  • My wife’s artwork – the product of her graceful mind
  • Jesus counseling with the woman taken in adultery

I’m sure you can think of many more examples of grace, and each of us would have our own, with much overlap, but much uniqueness.  Perhaps grace is our ability to perceive beauty.

Consider, though, the idea that grace, like God, “just is”.  It is beauty; it is love; it is harmony. Grace is all perfection.  Grace is poetry – beautiful, timeless, divine poetry.  Consider that grace is the essence of creation, of divinity.  Anything that is not grace, then, simply is not.

There is a young woman who reads her poetry at the open mic event once a month at our local performance venue – the Pearl Theater.  She is a large woman and she appears to be self-conscious of her appearance – in spite of the fact that she always dresses with style and taste.  She is obviously very sensitive, but she chooses to remain vulnerable.  She has been bullied, betrayed, and hurt, probably all of her life.   This is obvious because her writing is filled with pain and anger.  But it is also filled with defiance and resilience.  It’s as if she is saying, “World, nothing you can dish out to me is going to break me.  I DO have worth.  I AM beautiful.  No matter how loudly you shout at me otherwise, I am NOT going to listen, because I am love, and I believe”.

This young woman read a piece one time in which she said (paraphrased), “The first time I came to the Pearl Theater, I was desperately nervous.  Not only that, but I was perhaps at the lowest point in my life.  I was thinking about ending it all…that life was not even worth living.  But I overcame my fears. I signed up for the open mic.  I walked on the stage.  I read.  I was vulnerable and I poured my heart out.  And the Pearl received me.  The Pearl loved me.  And I found hope.”

In this young woman, despite the fact that her life is scarred with polarity, with insensitivity, and with betrayal, I perceived grace.  She, in her divinity, turned this opposition and conflict into beauty, into love, into harmony…into poetry.

She received fear, but she returned grace.

But grace is also used in a religious context.  It’s one of those words, like “salvation”, “sin”, “faith” (there are so many), that we use a lot, but whose definitions are never really precise and clear.  Much is left to interpretation, and their interpretation often defines the difference between churches or religions.  Wars have been fought over such defnitions.

Grace is one of those words of which the Indigo Montoya character in “Princess Bride” would say:

“ You keep using that word.  I do not think that word means what you think it means”

This was my favorite definition of grace resulting from my search on line:

Grace: the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. – Lexico on line dictionary powered by Oxford

I think, from the perspective of religious tradition, this is a pretty good definition.  If you want to try to figure out why I do not like this definition – I invite you to do so – but that would just be a distracting rabbit hole at this time.  Suffice it to say that this religious tradition has been being built, brick by brick, definition by definition, for millennia now, and we still don’t have Zion.  Perhaps we need a new definition of grace.

Permit me to offer such a new definition.  This came to me through inspiration.  The source of that inspiration is irrelevant, as you need to decide for yourself whether it is inspiration for you.  Since this definition was first revealed to me, I have tested it against situations and concepts that we usually describe with the word “Grace”.  In my opinion, it has withstood each such test.

This definition of grace is, “The desire, willingness. and ability to love someone as they are…now”.

There is a simple elegance, even a “grace”, in this definition of “grace”.  Nevertheless, I feel the need to expound on that elegance:

Desire

This definition is all about relationships.  Loving is meaningless, even powerless, if it is not manifest in our relationships.  Therefore, we must first have the desire to interact with others in love.  We must have the desire to extend grace.  We must desire to place our own needs, feelings, hopes, fears, etc. on at least equal footing with those of the people with whom we interact.  We must desire empathy.  Desire is the beginning of the faith / knowledge / creation cycle.  Without the initial desire, no creation is ever possible.

Willingness

This definition specifies the willingness to love.  Not everyone is willing to love anyone for who they are now.  Most of us are blinded, to at least some extent, by our ego.  We trust in our sense of judgment and justice, of right and wrong…good and evil.  Such things are clearly not grace.  In order for a person to be willing, one must transcend the ego and its fear-based thoughts, and have faith in the ultimate power of love, and in the will and wisdom of God, which I think is defined quite eloquently by one word…Grace.

Most of us put conditions on our love, or we love someone for who they were, or who we hope they may be some day – if they make what we think are the “right” choices.  The God that I know does not do that.  The God I know is beyond any such worldly belief constructs.  God’s grace, and therefore God’s love – is unconditional, and it is timeless.  God is willing to give all the love we are willing to receive.

Ability

This definition of grace also calls for the ability to loveThis ability is at best, for most of us, a work in progress.  When we live in fear, or uncertainty, or with imperfect faith, it is very difficult to love any and all around us.  Such an ability, in my mind, implies an ascended state of existence.  Or, we may be able to extend love to some people and not others.  God’s ability to love, on the other hand, is not something I ever question.  If I were to question anything about God, I would question God’s ability to not love.

The Poetry of Grace

O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! Alma 29:1

What does it mean to “cry repentance unto every people”.

This can certainly be, and is, viewed differently by different people – by different traditions.  In Mormonism, and in Christianity in general, repentance is implied by the traditional definition of grace mentioned above. “Repent, or face harsh judgment and punishment imposed by God” is the clear message of most western religion.  Grace in this context is a conditional extension of the favor of God – of God’s blessings and love.  Grace is described as the “free or unmerited” favor of God, but that extension of grace is still believed to be conditional upon repentance.  Doctrinally, we must accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we must be baptized, we must repent and forsake our sins, and then grace will be extended in our behalf.  But isn’t it “free or unmerited”?  Or is it conditional?  Ooooh, my head hurts.  My head hurts a lot when I really ponder such things.

If I were to cry repentance, I would call for all men to repent of this belief, and instead to recognize that grace is extended unconditionally, and that this is a profound component of the “I AM” –  the very nature – of God.

Such repentance would be simply that we learn to extend and receive grace as God does; that we seek that divine nature in ourselves.  Our repentance would be a repentance from the ego, from judgment, from fear, from any ideas of justice, punishment, and conditional love.  When we truly know God, we will know God in this way, and in this way only.  This repentance is to be willing to, once again, extend and receive grace.

One morning this past week, I was praying about this definition of grace.  It was spiritually breathtaking what was revealed to me, layer after layer, at that time:

  • Grace is what it means to be “saved” – not from something, but to something – to love.
  • Grace is the very foundation of Zion.
  • Grace is the also foundation of all creation.
  • Grace is the nature of God.
  • Grace is the knowledge of God.
  • Grace is what it means to one with God.

This definition of grace – “The desire, willingness, and ability to love someone for who they are…now” has become my personal standard of holiness.  My ego makes this very difficult to achieve, but that makes it no less worthy an ensign – the ultimate ensign to the nations.

I have the desire.

I’m working on the willingness.

I hope to gain the ability.

I pray your patience, and my own, as I strive to extend as well as receive this precious grace that is the true “Grace of God”.

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The Fruit of the Tree of Life

Lehi wasn’t dead when he partook of the fruit of the tree of life in his famous dream (First Nephi, chapter 8).

Nope, he looked around immediately, wanting to share it with his family.

“And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy, wherefore I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also, for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit” 1 Nephi 8:12

That doesn’t sound like a dead man to me.

But we can’t taste of that fruit ourselves.  We can’t even approach the tree.  You know why?  It’s because we’re addicted to the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (TOKOGAE).

The problem is, we haven’t even figured out that we’re addicted.  It’s like this addiction is the metaphorical “Cherubim and a Flaming Sword” that prevents us from partaking of the fruit of both trees at the same time.

We have to give up one before we can partake of the other.

Yet – isn’t that classically considered to be the first step to recovery – to acknowledge that we have a problem?  Instead we just say, again metaphorically, “There’s a Cherubim and a Flaming Sword” guarding the way to the tree of life, and we dare not challenge it.”  So, we keep looking forward to Zion, wondering what it is that we have to do to prepare, or create, or enter into that state of existence that I believe is an obvious manifestation of partaking of the fruit of the tree of life.

But I guess Lehi could, or did, or didn’t know he couldn’t.

Yet, we can’t, or don’t, or don’t know we can.

I’ve written about the topic of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil vs. the Tree of life before, back in April, 2018, in “Two Trees”, as well as in other posts over the years.

So, if we’re addicted to the fruit of the TOKOGAE, what is that psycho-active substance in the fruit that we crave?

It is fear.

What?  We crave fear?

Yes, we crave fear.  Fear perpetuates the ego – the “natural man”.  Fear encourages us to control our environment, including other people, and thus helps perpetuate the illusion that we can control of survival.  As I said before, in those previous posts (to paraphrase):

  • We judge between good and evil, because we think we have knowledge of both
  • We fear evil because we fear that it results in death – especially spiritual death
  • We fear death, then, because we think that if we don’t judge between good and evil (we love to soften this with the word “discern”) and avoid evil, we will be punished eternally after we die

So, we crave fear, because we desire survival, in the false belief that we are subject to death.  We want to be “as the gods”, knowing good from evil, and, of course, living forever.

But all of this is a lie…an illusion…or at least an imperfect understanding.

We are not subject to death – at least not spiritual death.  We are eternal beings.  Men, after all, were created, “…that they might have joy”.

We are not subject to death, but we do subject ourselves to death.  And we do this by insisting that we can’t live without the fruit of TOKOGAE.

Sounds like addiction to me.

So, do we have the faith to not fear death?  Do we have the faith to not rely on our ability to judge between good and evil – seeking in this way to control our environment and, believe it or not, avoid death?

Do we have the faith to not judge others,  but instead to simply be joyful, and love God and others without that love being conditional upon the perceived goodness or evilness of their beliefs or actions?

Do we have the faith to live by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of Jesus?

Do we have the faith to live in love, in charity, in life, even when everything we observe around us tells us that this is impossible; that we cannot be perfect; that the sermon on the mount was just an allegory – an unattainable standard reserved only for “the gods”.  (“Ye shall be as the gods, knowing good from evil”)

Faith is the willingness to act on the belief that we have the power to create something that is as yet unseen and uncertain.

Do we have the faith to create for ourselves an existence that is filled with love instead of fear, joy instead of suffering, empathy instead of judgment, oneness instead of separateness…life instead of death?

Do we have the faith to partake of the fruit of the tree of life, knowing that this is our true destiny, the very fulfillment of the measure of our creation?

Let’s not forget, though, that Lehi was dreaming.  Did he ever truly partake?  Did Nephi ever truly partake?  What was the meaning of Lehi’s dream?  Did he experience the actual partaking – or was that just an invitation to what is possible?  Did even Lehi and Nephi leave this invitation unfulfilled?

Regardless, I believe the invitation is there for us.  To accept this invitation is what it means to:

  • Believe in Christ
  • Love Jesus by keeping His commandments
  • Receive the Second Comforter
  • Receive eternal life
  • Receive salvation
  • Know Christ
  • “Become” love

So, we must first admit that we have a problem.  We must recognize that we perpetuate our own death, separation, suffering, damnation, condemnation (choose your own word) by carrying on in the belief that our worthiness, our eternal life, our ability to “be as the gods” is somehow dependent upon our ability to judge ourselves and others based upon our supposed knowledge of good and evil.

Having admitted this, having admitted that we “have a problem”, we may then take that first step toward recovery from our addiction; the first step in a glorious, joyful, loving, eternal walk in life; the first taste of the fruit of the tree of life.

Finally, a question.  Do you believe that the fruit of the tree of life is available to us now, today, in mortality?

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How to Receive Comfort

I said something yesterday, in the context of my blog post, about how I seek, and receive, Christ’s comfort daily.  Someone asked, “how do you go about receiving?  Anything in particular that you do?”.

I gave a partial answer:

                It’s just a matter of believing and not fearing. Believing that it’s possible, that the only “worthiness” test is to believe and to be completely at ease, trusting, and transparent.  He is complete kindness, empathy, and love. Only peace in his presence. Not VISIONS but presence.

This morning, I understood a more complete answer.

Put simply, we can’t receive what we’re not willing to give.  Furthermore, we can’t receive what we do not give.

In other words:

  • If I want to receive empathy, I must give empathy
  • If I desire compassion, I must give compassion
  • If I want to receive understanding, I must give understanding
  • If I want to be freed from guilt, I cannot assign guilt
  • If I want to receive forgiveness, I must give forgiveness
  • If I want to be loved unconditionally, I must love unconditionally
  • If I want to learn, I must teach
  • If I want to be comforted, I must comfort

In 1 Corinthians 13, which is commonly attributed to Paul, we read:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

Visions, visitations, miracles, prophecies, revelations…they all mean nothing if I am do not love as I desire to be loved.

So, is there “anything in particular that I do”?  I try really hard to do give that which I desire to receive.

“He is complete kindness, empathy, and love”.

If I would receive from Him; if I would receive Him, I, too, must be “complete kindness, empathy, and love”.

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The Borg, Honor, Righteous Desires, and Zion

How do we honor another person?

I think the best way to honor another person is to interact with them.  It is to recognize and validate their existence…that they are important enough to you that you choose to spend physical, emotional, and spiritual energy communicating with them.  Obviously, ignoring another person is clearly to dishonor them.

This act of honoring another person becomes even more powerful…we might call it love… when it is conducted without judgment, without fear, and without expectations or conditions.

I have a friend (more than one, actually…I am blessed) that I often seek out just so we can talk.  I respect him.  We have some really great talks, and by deliberately, even joyfully, seeking out interactions with him, I honor him.

How can we achieve oneness without surrendering individuality?

We all loathe the idea of “The Borg” – the collective mind featured in the TV Show “Star Trek – Next Generation”.  This is a society where one’s individuality and free will is completely subjected to the desire, will, or survival of the collective.  Yet, isn’t there an element of “the collective” in our concept of Zion, or a New Jerusalem, or even Heaven?

But we know that Jesus prayed passionately in John, Chapter 17 that His desire for all of us is that we might become one as He and the Father are one.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. John 17:21-22

I have heard it said recently that Jesus had no free will; that He had surrendered it to the will of the father.  I think that is an unfortunate understanding.  I don’t think Jesus surrendered His will to that of the Father at all.  I don’t think that was even possible.  I think He loved the Father’s will so much that He aligned His will with his understanding of the Father’s will.  Then, he chose to take deliberate steps – incarnating, learning, experiencing, teaching, and surrendering to martyrdom – to share with others his understanding of the Father’s will in a way that His teachings would be remembered – that they would be perpetuated.  What was (is) that will?   I believe it is that we choose to honor, even love, each other, and figure out how to become one without surrendering our free will and individuality…without becoming “The Borg”.

So how do we do this?

It could well be said that our free will is manifested through our desires.  These desires, in turn, are typically motivated by one of two forces – love…and fear.  Desires that are motivated by love are “righteous” desires.  These righteous desires do not require that someone else surrender their free will in order for them to be brought about.  Conversely, desires that are motivated by fear often can only be brought about by surrendering either your own or someone else’s free will.  These unrighteous desires are in violation of the very nature of God and creation.

The key to being one without losing our individuality is in the cultivation of only righteous desires – again, desires that need not engender fear in others.  If we all have only righteous desire – desires that are motivated by love, and not by fear – we can easily celebrate each other’s desires – even help each other to bring them about, without feeling the need to protect our own desires. In short, it becomes easy for us to honor each other…even love each other.

In a post from June of 2018, I wrote:

Love is encouraging the fulfillment of all righteous desires – mine or yours. A righteous desire is a desire that is not motivated by fear.

In a post from Christmas Day, 2017, I wrote:

What if partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil sows the seeds of Comparison that guarantee that we will never ascend to a state of peace and love because we will always be separated from God and from each other?

What if Comparison leads inexorably to Competition, which leads likewise to Contention, which results in exercising Control over the choices, actions, and lives of others, or, conversely, surrenders control over our own sacred agency to others?

What if these “4 C’s” comprise a perpetual cycle that ensures that we will never be able to abide the presence of God, because we remain sinners, polluting each others’ agency, acting in the absence of love; sustained by fear, relying on our knowledge of good and evil rather than the grace and goodness of God…forever incapable of obeying the two great commandments – Love God and Love your Neighbor? What if, furthermore, these forces – these “4 C’s” – are the antithesis of God, completely contrary to His nature? Can we then ever, as long as we cling to these things, have a true understanding of His “character, perfection, and attributes”?

So, for close to 2 years now, I have been cultivating understanding about what it takes for us to be one without surrendering individuality.  I have written much about this journey.  I have learned to pray that I might “become love”.  I have picked up building blocks along the way – insights and understandings such as:

  • There is no fear in love (1 John 4:18)
  • Sin is acting in the absence of love (A Course in Miracles)
  • If you will strip yourself of jealousies and fears (D&C 67:10)…
  • No power or influence can or ought to be maintained… (D&C 121)
  • Love God and Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22)
  • The 4 C’s – comparison -> competition -> contention -> control. (personal revelation)
  • “Trust Me. Relax” (personal revelation)

These principles have built on each other, but they have never contradicted each other. The more I learn and understand, the more the truthfulness of these things becomes profoundly clear and pure.  In fact, the more I understand them, the more I realize that they are expressions and manifestations of the very nature of God, and of the Christ.

In order for us to learn to be one, while still retaining our individuality; in order for us to be able to honor Jesus, or the Father, or anyone else, for that matter, by interacting with them without judgment, without fear, without expectations; in order for us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, we must cultivate righteous desires, which are:

  • Desires that do not require compromising the free will of others
  • Desires that do not contain any element of control over the lives of others
  • Desires that lift, elevate, exalt
  • Desires that engender trust, peace, and comfort
  • Desires that are filled with compassion and empathy for all people
  • Desires that are in no way motivated by fear

When we have learned to cultivate such desires, they will become the manifestation of our will, and we can be sure that our will is then aligned with the will of God..

When we have learned to cultivate such desires, we have become love.

Having cultivated such desires, their harvest will be sweet.  We will have Zion, and Zion will simply be.

****

As an additional thought…How do we honor God?

Of course, we honor God in the same way we honor others.  But we further honor God in a different way, and this way is the way that we also honor ourselves.

We honor God, and ourselves, by experiencing joy, by loving, by rejoicing…by manifesting in ourselves that which is the nature of God…and the true nature of ourselves.  This is the way that we can know God, honor God, love God, even worship God.  By fulfilling the measure of our creation (men are that they might have joy), we participate in the fulfillment of the nature of God’s creation.

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The Power of…?

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love un-feigned; By kindness and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile…D&C 121: 41-42.

 

What is power?

There are 895 mentions of the word “power” in the scriptures as canonized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

“ You keep using that word.  I do not think that word means what you think it means”

 – Indigo Montoya, “The Princess Bride”.

The common definition of power in physics is simply the rate at which energy is applied to the accomplishment of work?

What is work, then?  That is defined as the mental or physical effort required to achieve a desired purpose or result.

One might now ask, “What purpose or result?”  Might I suggest that work is the effort required to change the existing state of something into another state – whether that be moving, converting, destroying, building, etc.  In other words, we are not satisfied with the state of something, so we apply energy for the purpose of changing that state.

Power, then, is the energy applied toward achieving or fulfilling the desire to change the state of existence of something.

“ You keep using that word.  I do not think that word means what you think it means”

 – Indigo Montoya, “The Princess Bride”.

 

Again, what is power?

Switching gears, though, from power in physics to spiritual power.

What is the “power of the priesthood”; the “power of God”; the “power of the Holy Ghost”?

What is the power of man?

What did Jesus mean when He said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth”?

Is there a difference – between physical and spiritual?

Physical power implies the use of force.  Whether it be atomic power, police power, IRS power…power is used to change the state of something by the use of force.

But force isn’t really an option for God, is it?  I mean, doesn’t the use of force require compromising the agency of the object of that force?  That’s why force is required isn’t it?  The object doesn’t really want to change.

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?

So, the power of God cannot rely on force.

It can’t rely on the threat of punishment, either, because that is the threat of force.

It can’t rely on guilt, or fear

So what is the power of God?  How does God exercise that power?

Oh, yeah:

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love un-feigned; By kindness and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile…D&C 121: 41-42

While this scripture from Joseph Smith’s trial in the Liberty Jail clearly refers to man, I maintain that it applies equally to God.

God’s power is the power of love; of persuasion, of invitation, of patience.  Any other exercise of that power, and He would cease to be God, at least the God that I know.

It is not the power of judgment under threat of punishment, or of destruction, or the fear thereof.

It is the power of invitation:

“Come unto me, all ye who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye will find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

How many throughout the centuries, and how many today, bow under the burden of the threat of damnation?  How many carry each day the burden of judgment of themselves and of others?  How many crave the purity of oneness with Christ…with God…yet remain separated by their reliance on, and blindness to, the philosophies of men?

My friends, God love is real.  It is active.  It is patient, it is unconditional, and it is forever.  There is no fear in love, and there is especially no fear in God’s love.

Love Him.  Then love yourself, and love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself.  No separation.  No comparison, no contention, no control

Strip yourself of jealousies and fears, and see for yourself that He is, and that He is love.  Jesus gave His life that we might know this.

So, that we might know this…is my prayer on this day.

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