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The Gospel According to Scoot #1 – Judgment

My last post, Conversations with God #12,  elicited some questions from someone who is having trouble reconciling my “theology” with their understanding of the gospel.  Each question asked is so deep that it elicits a thoughtful response.  This may become a series.  I hope so.  I guess we’ll see.  One of the most prominent, repeated questions seems to focus on how we can love without judgment…

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“Love Others Without Judgment” was a statement given to me by revelation during one particularly pleasant communion with the being that I recognize and honor as Jesus Christ.  It’s hard for us to think about loving without judgment.  Some people that I have encountered believe that, if we truly love someone, we do judge them, even admonish them – as if it’s our duty; that we judge their actions as either good or evil and tell them about it.   This judgment is a manifestation of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  A question commonly stated is, “How can we choose between good and evil if we don’t judge”?

What, then, does it mean to “love others without judgment”?  We certainly need to judge actions, as to whether they are good or evil – not only the actions of others, but our own actions.  But perhaps it’s not as important that we judge between good and evil, for that implies that we understand good vs. evil, which introduces a set of values which are necessarily determined by our life experiences, our culture, and of course, the resulting jealousies and fears as mentioned in D&C 67:10. (“Jealousies and fears” is an inspired description of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.)  Perhaps, instead, we should be judging between love and fear.

It is largely accepted that, by partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we became separated from God.  Whereas before we walked with Him and talked with Him, now we were separated from His presence.  I believe this is a powerful metaphor – not a literal story – but it is a very, very powerful metaphor or parable and, if understood correctly, an excellent description of our relationship with God.  I believe that this separation exists not because we are able to discern between good and evil, but because we choose to focus on avoiding the evil, rather than pursuing the good. In other words, we act in fear, rather than acting in love. It’s a “glass half full / glass half empty” situation.

Besides D&C 67:10, another of the cornerstone scriptures of the theology that has evolved in my understanding over the past few years is 1 John chapter 4 – particularly verse 18, which says:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

The whole chapter is powerful, and expounds the idea (fact?) that if we do not live in love, but live instead in fear, we are necessarily separate from God, or we “know not God”.

What does this have to do with judgment?  Judging based on our perceptions of what we observe around us – whether it is love-based or fear-based – is essential.  But we must constantly be aware of the fact that our observations are strictly our perception, and seldom, if ever, represent the whole truth.  This is fine, of course.  We can do no more.  But if we allow our judgment, based upon our imperfect perception, to create separation either between us and God, or us and others, then we perpetuate the fallen state, the state of living in fear, and we cannot return to “dwelling in His presence”.

This separation, then, is perpetuated because we judge in fear.  We judge things as being evil, and we seek to avoid them. We are focusing on the fear rather than the love.  We have already established in 1 John chapter 4 that “God is love” (verse 8), and that there is no fear in love, so if we choose to entertain fear in our hearts, we cannot be one with Him.

Furthermore, when we judge others, or even ourselves, in such a way that we create an hierarchy of being – in other words “I’m better than or less than him” – we deny the atonement, which is the principle, or fact, or idea, that we are all perfect creations of God; but that in our fallen state we have lost the understanding of that fact, which fact nevertheless is truth, and can never be denied, only misunderstood.  In other words, I am no better than you, nor you better than me, and we are all one in Christ, and we are all in our unique way learning to recognize that fact.  Taking this idea one step further, Christ’s love for us is unconditional.  Should our love for each other be any less?  1 John 4: Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.  Therefore, if our judgment induces us to love anyone either more or less as a result of that judgment, then that judgment perpetuates this separation, perpetuates the fall, and keeps us from being one with God; one with Christ.

None of this is easy.  I struggle with it constantly.  But I have prayed, asking Christ to help me; that this – my comprehension and understanding – might become my reality.  That I might overcome my own weakness, my own fears, and simply become love, living without fear, in oneness with Christ.  The process is incomplete, to be sure, but it is manifest enough that my joy increases on a daily basis as I practice these principles in my day-to-day actions, drawing ever closer, ever more one, with Christ.

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Conversations with God # 12 – “Two Eternal Marriages”

This post is perhaps the most important thing I have ever written, or, as in this case, recorded.  I cannot even share it without ensuring that you, the reader, understand the following things:

  • I have been trying for years to understand the gospel in real life, attempting to understand the real meaning of the metaphors and parables that largely comprise the scriptures. I want to know – what is Salvation, Redemption, Repentance, Calling and Election, the Second Comforter, Exaltation, Eternal life?  What is a prophet?  What is revelation? Who is Christ?  I have not been comfortable settling for the idea that, “…well, you do this and this and this, and you have faith, and then “magic” happens!”  There is no magic – only a lack of understanding and knowledge.  I have strived to understand and share the gospel in real words, through real experiences, that we can apply in our real lives.
  • If you read the following carefully, you will recognize the answers to many of the above questions – in real terms, in real life. That is why this may be the most important post yet.
  • This is not about me. Everything that I write is because I think others might benefit.  Otherwise, I would share it only with my wife or a few close friends, but certainly not publicly.
  • More than 20 years ago, I made a promise to God that I would “Seek to know Him”. It was made under miraculous circumstances that I have written about here. God has repeatedly demonstrated in my life that He honors, even reveres that promise.  I have never forgotten that promise, and neither has He.
  • The process of revelation remains something of a mystery to me.  I think it is unique to each person, but since I’m not inside your head, I can’t say whether it is or not.  It remains something completely intimate between me (or you) and the Lord.   Yet, I choose to trust whatever manifestations I receive.  This is how I “seek to know Him”.  There is no reason why you should feel obligated in any way to trust these manifestations that I receive.
  • This is #12 in the highly unstructured series “Conversations with God”. Unstructured, or so it seems.  Still, I think this is significant because my understanding of the #12 is that it represents completion or perfection.  Go figure…

Now, please indulge me as I share the essence of the conversation that took place this morning – January 13, 2019…  I sincerely hope that this account serves to enhance and strengthen your own confidence, hope, knowledge, and assurance that, in truth, “…men are that they might have joy”.

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Lord, I’m tired of trying to empty my mind of thought.  I know it’s supposed to be very difficult, but I’m just not sure this “enlightenment” experience is as important to me right now as a conversation with you would be.  These conversations have been so good, and I feel like I’m missing you, missing out on something that we might share.

Ok, then, son – focus on me.  Focus on your feelings about me, your knowledge about me.  Focus.  Now, what comes into your mind when you do?

Trust. It’s that simple.  But it’s real trust.  Trust on a cosmic level.  It’s a trust that so deep, so complete, it’s hard to even put a word to it.

That’s good.  Let’s work with that.  Let’s talk about your marriage.  It’s a trust like you have in your marriage?

Yes – yes it is – only even deeper, but let’s go with that.

See, when you and Diana got together, you committed to knowing her.  You extended the trust, but it wasn’t complete yet.  As the years passed, with their experiences and validations, that trust grew and solidified.  At some point, you realized that, even though you were separate people, each with your freedom to make decisions, you had such trust in each other – and peace together – that you were completely willing to simply accept each other’s choices without question.  You were secure in the knowledge that neither of you would make a choice that would cause harm to the other, and even if you personally might have made a different choice, you would nevertheless honor each other’s choices with love and acceptance.  You accepted each other for who you are; loving each other completely, without reservation, without question.  This was the point at which this marriage became sealed unto eternity, because there was no fear or jealousy in the relationship.  You ceased judging good vs. evil within each other, because you knew that there was only good.  The universal seeds of death were completely absent, and your marriage had ascended to its natural, intended state.  You created an eternal marriage.

Wow, Lord – that is what happened.  I had never looked at it that way, but now I understand.  It’s all coming together.

Ok, now, let’s extend that example to our relationship – the relationship between you and me.  When you promised on that cold, November morning in 1997, to seek to know me, that was our betrothal.  You extended trust, but it wasn’t complete yet.  So we went through the same process that you and Diana did – our marriage – gaining that trust and that confidence – losing the fear and judgment, good and evil, until it has now been sealed, without the seeds of death, unto eternity.  How did this happen?

When you ceased approaching me in fear and guilt; when you ceased asking me for forgiveness, realizing that it was already extended; when you began addressing me as your trusted friend, not a God to be worshiped, you began casting the seeds of death out of our relationship.  When you stopped seeking experiences upon your lust, but instead just sought to be with me, to know me, to understand me, to accept our relationship for what it was, manifesting as it does,  trusting in its love and its goodness; when you stopped seeking salvation and began seeking love and understanding – that’s the point at which OUR marriage began to be sealed. 

I have many times likened the relationship between man and Christ to a marriage in the scriptures because  typically this depth of relationship, this level of trust, this commitment only happens in a marriage.  The time came when you began loving me for who I am, not for what I can do for you, and that is when our relationship was able to fulfill the measure of its creation.  However, there is a major difference here.  In our marriage, I’ve already done my part.  The whole learning to trust and accept the other’s choices process; the commitment to love unconditionally, that’s already been done on my side – kind of like it probably happened on your wife’s side long before it did on yours (she truly is as holy as you think she is).  You see, in surrendering my mortal life, I truly said to mankind, “I’m going to love you and be accepting and trusting of your choices so much that, no matter what the outcome, I’m ok with it.  I love YOU that much that nothing you do could cause me to not love you, because I have no fear of the consequences.  I am willing to surrender my life if need be (and I did) – and I am willing to accept whatever happens, on your journey”.  In doing that, I completely purged myself of fear and all of its derivative pollutions, and became eternal, unconditional love.

My son, you have come to understand today the extent to which I dwell in you – that I am completely comfortable “dwelling within you”, spirit to spirit, unchained by time, space, and form.  You understand now that I am always with you – and that I will never leave you. We are one.  You have been progressing toward that understanding as you have worked at eliminating the influence of fear in your life, and embracing the influence of love – choosing to pursue good rather than avoiding evil.  You truly experienced what Nephi of old experienced.  You recognized that I am truly with you always, and what is meant when I have said “Come unto me.”  I dwell in every person, but they cannot receive me until they are willing to commit to the marriage; until they reject fear and decide to live in trust, love, and acceptance – without judgment, without guilt. This is the state of every person, and their redemption is the process of recognizing this, and gaining the courage, the faith to embrace it.

This, by the way, IS the atonement.  This is what is so often called “grace”.  It is the promise, the fact, that I have accepted every person, in spite of their fear, their judgment, their guilt…which is their SIN…and my spirit awaits theirs to join me.  But that sin separates us.  Repentance is turning toward me, rejecting that sin (fear, judgment, guilt – NOT love) and receiving the eternal life that is their inheritance).   

My son, now that we are no longer separated, but are instead united in this way, in this marriage…we are indeed one.  Now that we are one, you are embraced by this atonement.  You are part of it with me, you share it with me, and we extend this grace, this love, to all mankind…together.  You are “redeemed from the fall” in that you are sealed to me in marriage, just as you are sealed to your wife, through our mutual trust and commitment – through our oneness.

This is cause for great joy and rejoicing, my son.  My heart is joyful that the eyes of your understanding have been opened, for I know that this will bring you great joy and peace.  The most important message here is that you are not special.  My arm is extended in this way to everyone.  There is no magic.  That is why we started with the example of your marriage – something that is very real, something that everyone around you can witness.  If there is magic, it is simply in your ability to recognize the influence of fear in your life and reject it,  and in your willingness to trust in the goodness of your wife, and in me, and in your neighbor.  I say again, “Love others without judgment, love yourself without fear, and love me without doubt”.  Fear is death.  Love is eternal life. 

Now, let us walk together in the light of the love of my Father and yours – the love of all creation – and extend my invitation to all – “Come unto me, and I will give you rest”.

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Conversations with God #11 – You Need not Walk Alone

Lord, I suppose I should learn not to always come to you for validation.  I think that I should probably begin to learn to receive validation and joy in myself; in my knowledge that I am doing your will; that I should just be satisfied with that.  At some point, when that perfect day comes, I should not just reflect your light, I should generate my own light.  I don’t like this idea, though – it seems like it would be kind of lonely.

My son, you are mistaken.  Even I reflect the light of the father, all light in the universe is one light.  Man may reject it, and live in darkness, or they may reflect it, or they may let it pass through them.  This is the light of the Father, even the light of all creation; the light of love.  However, those who are one with the Father will magnify the light.  The light being passed on will be more intense than the light they received.  It is in this way that they do the Father’s work.

Also, please do not feel like you cannot come to me – anytime, every time…all the time.  First, such an idea encourages separation and perpetuates “the fall”, and that is exactly the opposite of our purpose, which is oneness. Duh!

Second, in seeking to partake of the fruit of the tree of life while offering it to others; in seeking to live a life filled with love; in seeking to forsake fear and act in faith – to act instead of being acted upon; in seeking to love others without judgment, yourself without guilt, and me without doubt; in seeking these things, you are truly forsaking the world.  That, my friend, would indeed be lonely if you were to go it alone.

Allow me to remind you…you first came to me clumsily, in innocence and ignorance.  You received acceptance and a promise.  You came to me in guilt.  You found forgiveness, even though you didn’t really need it.  You came to me in humility.  You found compassion and understanding.  You didn’t come seeking salvation, but you found it.  You submitted yourself to my authority.  You found merely encouragement and guidance.  You came to me in worship, and you found peace. You came to me seeking to know God, and you found yourself.  You came to me in worship.  You found a friend.

My friend, you have chosen the path that I chose. This brings me joy.  It is a difficult path to follow, but you have chosen it in purity, seeking no reward other than love itself – to be given and received freely.  Please continue to allow me to walk this path with you.  No one knows better than I how lonely it can be.  And no one knows better than I how to comfort and sustain you. There is no need for either of us to be alone. Together, we have joy, and life, and love.  Together we have it all.  Separately, we have nothing.  My love to you always.

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What if Jesus said, “No”?

This morning I prepared myself for a long communion with the Lord.  I had plenty of time and a good night’s sleep.  I prepared the sacrament (bread and wine – actually, cracker and juice), I offered up prayers for friends, family, etc.  All was as it should be.  Then, I prepared to settle in and asked the Lord if I could talk to Him.  I usually do this – as a courtesy more than anything else.  Only this time, He said “No”.

Yes, He said, “No”.

I didn’t know what to think at first, and then it all flooded in.  Deep loneliness, even despair. I was frightened! I resolved to let these things freely into my mind – to explore and experience my reaction at hearing the Lord say, “No, I’m not going to talk to you today”.  Only it wasn’t just today.  It immediately became forever in my mind.  I didn’t even push back.  I accepted it – knowing deep inside that this must be some sort of joke, or exercise, or teaching moment.  And ultimately that’s what it was. It was – it is – a teaching moment.

I don’t know how this daily communion that I have with the entity that I identify as Christ works.  I approach Him in reverence but in friendship.  I shut out any feelings of guilt or judgment, because those are just not compatible with being in His presence.  I don’t spend time any more worrying about whether I’m worthy or not.  I just come.  Every day.  And He’s always there.  And we talk.  I ask questions, or share experiences or thoughts or concerns, and this triggers responsive thoughts.  Sometimes these answering thoughts are clearly derivative from my questioning thought – like a stream of logic – an “if this, well, then…of course…then this.  Oh, I get it!”  But then other times, the answering thoughts, the words of the Lord, just pop in unexpected and unanticipated, and I recognize those as some form of inspiration originating outside myself.  It’s those times that give me assurance that this communion is not just an exercise in me talking to myself.

I’ve really come to cherish these times – these daily meditations, or communions.  They keep me going, filled with hope and a sense that I’m still, at age 65, growing and learning and, as a friend recently asked me, “Becoming a better man”.  As I said, I typically ask, as a simple courtesy, if we can talk.

Only this time He said, “No”.

I immediately felt emptiness.  I felt a loss of hope.  I felt stranded, drifting; like the anchor chain had broken and I was without a rudder.  As I said, I did not fear these feelings, but that doesn’t mean I liked them.  I allowed them to come.  I explored them.  I allowed them – no, I invited them to expand to the next level.  I knew this wasn’t His final answer, but I accepted the prompting, and I began to consider it as if it were…His…final…answer.

I couldn’t believe He said, “No”!

But, “No” means “No”, right?

Then something remarkable happened.  I thought to myself, “Well, this can’t be the end.  What do I do now?  This purpose, this bringing about of the immortality and eternal life of man, this great end goal of all creation, can’t just stop.  The show must go on, right?  Now, just because He said “No” to me, doesn’t mean He is saying “No” to everyone.  But it felt like he was saying “No” to everyone; because my next reaction was, “The world needs a Savior.  Someone has to continue to spread the light of hope, the light of love, the hope of eternal life filled with joy.  Someone has to show the way.  Someone has to teach the awesome truth that really is the pure, simple, amazing gospel.  Someone has to say, “The cup is half full – not half empty.  No – the cup runneth over – just look and see, and you’ll know that!”

And for a minute there, I was willing to be that someone.  I was willing to be the Savior if He wasn’t going to do it anymore.

That’s when the lesson became clear.  And that’s when we began talking again.  The “No” was withdrawn.  Hope was restored.  The emptiness was filled, and I knew I had to share this experience.

Why?  Why do I need to share this?  Well, most immediately it’s because writing it down helps solidify the experience in my own mind.  But then, the whole reason I write any of this stuff is because I assume that anyone who reads this is very much like me, and that the things I share will ring true to them, and maybe spark their own exploration and thought processes and, perhaps, even a deeper communion with this remarkable being that we call Christ.

So, what do I need to share?  What is the lesson that He was teaching me, or that I needed to learn.

Well, I’ve been asking an important question lately – and just yesterday I was asking it in earnest, allowing plenty of time for an answer.  Christ said in Luke 17, “…for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you”.  Considering also the concept of the Christ within us: and the spark of divinity being placed within us – to blossom like a perfect flower as we seek redemption; and that Christ Himself, in the great intercessory prayer from John 17, spoke of us becoming one…I had begun to ask, “To what extent are we ‘one’?  Am I praying to myself?  And, as I’ve come to know the Christ who is love, where is the Christ of miracles?  Where is the Christ who transcends the limits of time and space and form; who is able to commune with hundreds or thousands of people individually at the same time.  Where, or who, is the Christ who walked the earth with healing in His hands, and with the power of resurrection in His body?  I may indeed do well to seek the Christ within me, and within others, but that’s not all there is to knowing Christ.  There was a man, now God, who exists separate from me, yet somehow yearning to be one with me and with every other living being throughout creation.  To me, these are deep questions of great import.  I felt like I needed to know the answers, but I didn’t have them yet.

Then He said “No”.

When that happened – I guess you could say, “The Spirit withdrew itself” – I knew something more clearly than I ever had before. I comprehended something that only became clear in its absence.  Somehow, for some reason, in some way that I don’t understand, I am incomplete without Him.  He fills me…with hope, with goodness, with purpose.  He fills me with confidence, with trust, with knowing that He – and His love – is not just always there – that it IS.  That He is the I AM.  And somehow, without Him, I AM NOT.  And I know this because He said, “No”.

I’ve written and spoken many times about my quest to “know” Him.  I promised I would seek to know Him, and He said, “OK”.  In this moment, I learned something about Him that I probably could never have learned in any other way.  When I first promised (in this life) to know Him, I was perfectly capable of cruising through (this) life on my own.  I knew that I wanted more, but I didn’t know what I was missing.

Now, 20 years later…He said “No”, and the evolution, the knowledge, that had been revealed over the past 20 years of seeking became crystal clear, because it was suddenly no longer there.  I was, as I said, staring into a dark abyss.  Yet, that was no longer acceptable.  I was no longer willing to live without charity.  I was not willing to live without the eternal, sustaining, fulfilling presence of the spirit of Christ, the spirit of Love, the spirit of God – of all creation.  But I was willing – however briefly – to offer myself up as a savior should that be the only way that I, and the world, could continue toward the measure of its creation; if that was the only way we could avoid the dark abyss of hell, the absence of love and light, that would face us if He had truly said “No”.

But fortunately, I don’t have to do that.  I don’t have to do that because He already did.  I don’t know how it works, but I know now better than I ever have that it does work. His spirit, the spirit of Christ, somehow gives us true life.  Somehow He is truly the light and life of the world.  Somehow none can come unto the Father but by Him.  Somehow, He became that source of life-sustaining truth and light and love.  I have a whole new set of questions to ask in my quest to know Him, but now the questions are a little more focused; and I think the answers will be a little more meaningful.

Now, excuse me.  I have to go commune with my Lord.  I have to thank Him.

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To Know God…

To know God is to know yourself.

I have written before about my experience 20+ years ago in which I promised God that I would “seek to know Him”, and He responded in spectacular fashion, “Game on!”

I highly doubt that I would be writing this right now if I weren’t continuing to keep my promise to seek to know Him.  Obviously, on that cold, dark November morning in West Jordan, Utah, I embarked on an eternal journey.  It has led me into and out of the LDS Church.  It has led me from the comfort of a new West Jordan rambler, through a series of apartments and an almost-paid-for bungalow in a nice Salt Lake City neighborhood, to the wooded mountains of “almost Canada” Idaho.  My journey has always joyfully included my beautiful best friend, wife, lover, and eternal companion.  Through this journey, I have gone from an initial state of ignorant innocence through a constantly evolving state of ignorant innocence as it pertains to “knowing God”, which truly encompasses all knowledge.  All along the way, though, I can see now that He has led me lovingly and wisely through a maze of falsehood, partial truth, eternal truth, and wisdom to the state of comprehension, still incomplete, that I have today.

And what is that state of comprehension?  It is that:

  • I am truly created in His image. Every attribute of God is part of me.  Therefore, to know Him is to know myself.
  • Since we were all created in His image, to know Him is not only to know myself, but it is also to know every other person in His creation. It follows then, in chiasmic fashion, that to know others is to know myself…is to know God.
  • There is no such thing as a doctrinal box. Any such thing is, at the very least, a lie in that any box is by definition incomplete.  All doctrinal boxes, though, contain that previously-mentioned mix of falsehood, partial truth, eternal truth, and wisdom.
  • A box cannot define God, because God is infinite, and a box has boundaries, or it would not be a box. God is infinite and has no boundaries, or He would not be God.
  • I cannot know God if I continue to let fear rule my life. God is love.  There is no fear in love, so there is no fear in God.  Fear will rule my life if I do not actively reject it.  That is the condition of the fall.
  • Fear fosters judgment, guilt, jealousy, and pride. These things are not of God, and if I am to know Him, they cannot be part of me.  To the extent that they are, I am limited in my ability to know Him.
  • God’s love for me, and you, is sooooo accessible and knowable. All I need to do is learn how to accept it.  It is never withheld.  I can reject it, and most of us do, but it will never be withheld.  To believe that it would ever be withheld is a lie.  However, we make it impossible to comprehend and receive God’s love when we separate ourselves from Him by allowing fear, and all of its derivatives, to define us.  Thus, we make it impossible to know Him.
  • I am the reason that I do not yet know God fully. I am the ONLY reason that I do not yet know God fully.
  • I will know God fully when I have allowed myself to become love and joy by rejecting fear.

I still constantly query God, and in doing so, I query myself, asking if I am pure before Him.  I do this because I want to be pure.  I don’t have to be perfect, but it is my desire that my desires be pure.  Ultimately, that’s what He sees in us; that’s what He focuses on – our desires.

I gain great peace from the response to these queries, these prayers, these sincere, humble communions.  Sometimes I bring a little fear or guilt to the party, but I’m learning to leave them behind.  The result when I do?

Peace.  Trust.  Confidence.  As a result of these constant queries, I have come to understand that I truly do have pure desires.  I desire to be one with Him and with my neighbor.  I desire to harbor no secrets.  I desire for every relationship I engage in to be completely trusting, loving, open, honest, with nothing hidden.  I desire to encourage everyone I meet to be the most beautiful version of themselves that they can imagine, and to, in doing so, expand that ability to imagine until they, in turn, know themselves, and thus know God.  I have come to understand that God is pleased with such desires.  Why?  Because those are His desires, too.  In sharing the same desires – well, this is how we become one, and this is how we “know” each other.

These desires, the ones that surface when I am able to cast away fear, these are truly righteous desires.  These are attributes of God.  These are the fruit of the tree of life.  It’s the desires that make us who we are; who we truly are…created in the image of God.  Created in the image of each other.  These desires are the manifestations of the Christ within us, our true nature, put there by a loving creator; put there in each of us, for each of us to discover, nurture, and cherish.  These desires, fully realized, are the glory of God.

His desires.  My desires.  Your desires.  To discover them, to nurture them, to cherish them, and then to share them is to be Zion.

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…That They Might Have Joy

Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy.  2 Nephi, 2:25

The story of the Garden of Eden, in which Adam and Eve walked with God until they partook of the forbidden fruit, commonly called the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, is common in one form or another in pretty much all cultures and histories.  In the Genesis version of the story, the serpent told Eve,

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good from evil.  Genesis 3:5

Of course, as the story goes, they did partake, and became “fallen” – separated from God, and we each inherited that state from our first parents.

There are many in the world who believe this story is to be taken literally, while many others ascribe to it various degrees of allegorical origins and meaning.  I personally believe it contains important truth, and whether it is literal or allegorical is irrelevant – at least for this discussion.  How’s that for a cop-out?

What the story does claim is that, because we gained knowledge of good and evil, we became separated from God.  I suggest that it’s not the knowledge of good and evil that separates us; it’s what we do with that knowledge that separates us.  Not only that, but it’s what we do with that knowledge that is the essence of what many believe is a single mortal probation, implying, of course, a pass/fail component of our life in this mortal state, on this earth.

What I’m trying to say is that I believe it is possible for us to have knowledge of good and evil, and remain, or maybe be restored as, one with God.  Such a restoration, of course, is commonly called redemption, and the common narrative among Christians is that Christ himself made that redemption possible through His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross, demonstrating said fruits through His resurrection.

So, if it’s possible that we can have partaken of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and still retain or be restored to our oneness with God, and yet we still remain fallen, or separated from Him, what is it that we do with this knowledge that cause us to be separated from Him?  Here’s my list:

  • We judge. We judge ourselves as either worthy or unworthy of God’s love.  Even worse, we judge others as either worthy or unworthy of God’s love.  In doing so, we reject God’s love, which is to reject Him, which, of course, is separation.  A corollary principle, then, is that we can somehow earn that love back (having rejected it) by making “good” choices, while at the same time implying that we and others can be – and many will be – rejected by Him based upon their choices.  The irony of this, of course, is that it is us who are rejecting Him, not Him who is rejecting us.  In carrying this even one step further, by putting conditions on God’s love, we judge Him!

 

  • We fear. We fear evil, as if it can somehow harm us.  I’m not talking about the fear that accompanies the threat of immediate bodily harm.  I’m talking about the fear of not existing.  This is a deep-seated, insidious fear that drives us to constantly judge, condemn, reject.  It is the fear that if we are not better than someone else, or less than someone else, then we don’t exist or that we only exist through separation from, or comparison to, someone else.  It is a fear that we hardly recognize as fear, but it is there, and it is very real, and it is the direct result of having had our eyes opened, knowing good from evil.  Of course, this fear, which thrives on comparison, is the perpetuating force in our separation – from God and from others.  It prevents oneness, and ensures that we will remain fallen, unredeemed.

 

  • We take evil onto ourselves. This is very hard to explain.  When we acknowledge the existence of evil as being a motivating factor in either our choices or in the choices of others, we give it life.  We validate it.  Without that validation, it doesn’t exist.  There is no evil in God.  God is love.  God is ONLY love.  Everything about God is love.  That which is not love…is evil.  Evil is our own creation, an illusion born of fear.  When we engage in “not love”, we cannot be one with God.  Satan, whether real or allegorical, lied when He said we would be as the Gods.  God does not know evil.  He cannot, or He would cease to be God.  God only knows love.  I guess in a sense we became “as the Gods” in that we are able to discern between good (love) and evil (not love), but we lost it when we began to apply this knowledge out of fear.

 

This fallen state, then, is a choice.  We choose to be separated from God, but we don’t realize it.

Ever since I first read the Book of Mormon, and came across 2 Nephi chapter 2 – especially verse 25, quoted again here…

“…Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy.”  2 Nephi, 2:25

…I have sought this promised joy.  Where is it?  How is it manifest?  If this, to have joy, is the purpose of my creation, why am I not experiencing it…or am I?

Over the years, my prayers have matured.  That’s kind of a weird thing to say, but I don’t know how else to describe what has happened.  Yet, in my innocence early on, I prayed for things that have yielded results beyond my comprehension at the time.  The answers have come line upon line, of course, and only in looking back can I see that the Lord has answered those early child-like prayers.

One of those prayers was to “know Him”.  Another was that I might learn charity.  Yet another, that I might recognize and experience joy.

The answer to all 3 of these prayers has come in an interesting way; I have been taught – oh, so slowly – over the years – that all 3 of these things have already been granted to me, but I had to choose to receive them.

And I can’t receive them as long as I continue to apply the knowledge of good and evil in the context of fear.

As I learn to, instead, discern between love and not love, and choose love, I have found that I am free to receive these things which are truly my inheritance – knowledge of God, the pure love of Christ, and the joy that is the purpose of my creation.  They were there all the time, I just didn’t choose them.  I chose fear instead.  I chose judgment, and comparison, and separation instead.  I chose…evil.

Oh, I wasn’t a bad person through all of this.  I was just blinded by…the philosophies of men.  And what are the philosophies of men?  Comparison, competition, contention…control.  Judgment.  Jealousy.  Pride…fear.  Not love!  And, not love is not God. So, all these years, as I sought to draw closer to God, I was actually rejecting Him.  But He didn’t reject me.

Make no mistake – shedding the thought processes, the protections, the habits, the learned reactions of 65 years of sustained separation is not easy.  That takes time, but I am honestly amazed at how quickly things are changing.  I’ve been encouraged as the layers fall away and the truth is revealed.  And that truth, which came as an epiphany a couple of days ago, is…

We must choose joy!  We must choose charity!  We must choose knowledge (of God)!  We must choose the tree of life.  We don’t need to reject knowledge of good and evil (love vs. not love, God vs. not God) to choose joy, but we must reject the veil of fear.  We must stop using that knowledge, applied in fear, to judge, compare, and separate.  We must also have faith that these things, these greatest of divine virtues, are truly our inheritance, and are not to be given, but have already been given.  These things are the measure of our creation, but we must choose them, if we are to fulfill that measure.

These ideas are not revolutionary.  They’re not rebellious.  They’re not blasphemous or “New Age”.  It’s all right there in the scriptures.  The Doctrine of Christ; the Sermon on the Mount; the prophesies of the Old Testament prophets – it’s all there; all pleas for us to receive our inheritance as what it truly is; an inheritance of love, of patience, of peace…an inheritance of divinity.  May we all decide to choose that inheritance, and with it, the knowledge of God, which is, of course, eternal life.

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Conversations with God #10 – Ridin’ the Bus

Lord, why are we on a school bus?

I don’t know – you chose this place.

It’s funny – I’m sitting here in my denim and plaid flannel, and you’re in your white robe.  But you look really relaxed – leaning against the window, your feet stretched out on the seat.

Why wouldn’t I be relaxed?  I’m always relaxed with you.

So, where are we going with this this morning?

Where do you want to go?

Well, I would like to learn more about how we can be separate and one at the same time.  I mean – here we are, you’re on that seat, and I’m on this seat, and we’re looking across the aisle at each other.  Yet, I keep hearing others talk about how I’m supposed to look inside myself to find you – that you exist inside me, and if I’m ever to really experience you, which means your love, I have to look inside.

Yeah, that’s a good one.  But then, I promised you yesterday that we would explore that further, so let’s go.  So try it – just rid your mind of all thoughts.  Zero in on just you, with no distractions, no fears, no concerns.  When you do that, what do you find?

Pause as I try to do this – and I’m actually much more successful than ever before, except I now realize that I do this a lot – just in flashes.

I find peace.  When I really go deep inside, I find peace.  I’m good with me.

That’s right – peace.  That’s who you are.  That’s the real you, the true you, the eternal you.  And guess what, that’s me, too.  And that’s every person you meet.  That is the core of your intelligence that came from the Father, the core that is the seed of your existence.  We are all the same.  We all came from the same seed – the essence of divinity.  So when you look deep inside you, what do you find?  You find yourself, but you also find me, because at that level of perception, we are all the same.  So, to find me, you have to seek yourself, and to find yourself, you have to seek after me.  Because…wait for it…we are all one.

Now, we’re all surrounded by the ego thing.  The ego is what enables us to interact with our mortal existence.  Without it, you might say we wouldn’t exist – at least not in the mortal world.  This ego is a real mess of fear and avoidance, jealousy, of course, perception, knowledge, ignorance, desire for power (born of fear)…it is all the complexity of the human psychology.  And it’s really hard for people to see through that “veil”, if you will, and get to the real you.

So, I just need to practice accessing the real me – that place, that existence, that is peace, that is the essence of divinity.

That’s right, and you’re well on your way.  The more you hang out with the real you, and consequently with me, and the “real you” of others, the more your whole existence takes on the characteristics of that real you, the peace, the harmony, the love, the divinity that is, ultimately, the measure of your creation.  The more you learn to see the real you in yourself, the easier it is to see the real you in others – the easier it is to see their divinity, or, the Christ, in others.  Once you learn to interact with the Christ in yourself, and in others, the easier it is to love them, because in that place, in that perfect essence, you are all the same – we are all the same.

The ego doesn’t go away just because you learn to see through it – you still need it to interact with this mortal existence, but you learn to recognize for what it is – a tool to enable you to manifest the real you – but it’s not you.  And learning to know the real you heavily impacts how you utilize this tool

We are all separate in that we each have the power of determination, the power to choose, to know ourselves, but when we exercise that power fully, seeking truth and knowledge, seeking to become love, we discover, ironically, that we are all the same, even as we’re separate.  In this way, the idea of separation is ultimately an illusion.  It’s like a crescent wrench in the hand of a mechanic – it’s a tool that the mechanic uses, but it is certainly not the mechanic.  And all the mechanics in the shop may be using different tools at the same time, working on different cars, but they’re all in the same shop.

But, Lord – I want to think of you as this superior being, someone I can look to for protection, for judgment (more of others than of myself, of course), for ultimate justice, for acceptance – acceptance by someone other than me, thus “validation”.  I want a king.  I want a savior. There’s comfort in all of that.  It’s easier, and it’s what I’ve been taught all my life.  The desire for that comfort is what caused me to start praying in the first place.  When I promised that I would “seek to know you”, I was wanting to know my King, my Lord, my Savior.  Now, it seems that’s all gone.

No, my son, it’s not all gone.  As long as you, or anyone else, needs me to be those things, I will be those things for them, but that’s their perception.  It doesn’t change who I am, only how I serve those who seek to love me.  That is an illusion, too.  It’s all based in ego and separation.   It’s necessary as long as our interaction is through the veil.  The whole passion was necessary for this.  But when the veil is rent, and you learn to know the real me, you will find that true essence of divinity, and you will find not only me, but you, and all humanity.  You will find our oneness.

Come unto me, my son.  Know me.  We have so much more to talk about.

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