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Talkin’ ’bout Love

 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. 1 John 4:18

Lord, nothing that is in me, or of me, is hidden from you. I promised long ago that I would seek to know you. I now realize that the true goal is to become one with you, which is the ultimate manifestation of knowing you. I have a consuming desire to know you. If I am to truly know you, and be one with you, then should anything be hidden from me?

My son, you already know me. There is nothing in me that is hidden from you. The attributes that you seek after, that you yearn for, that you recognize as me…you could not recognize them at all if they were not part of you; if they were not already in you. So, the process of knowing me is simply a process of awakening; and it is the process of knowing yourself.

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I (we) talk a lot about love. Love is the force of creation. Love is charity. Paul and Mormon defined charity (love) in similar words. I don’t know about you, but the pure love of Christ has always seemed kind of out of reach. I’ve pondered and prayed, and self-corrected (repented) constantly, but it always seems beyond my reach. Plus, as much as I “preach” about love, you’d think that I should at least understand what it is that I’m preaching about. Well, below is the result of my pondering, and praying, and studying, and pondering, and praying, and repenting…at least so far.

What is love?

  • Love is trust, complete, thoughtless, instinctive, self-defining trust.

  • Love is the biblical “charity” – the pure love of Christ.

  • Love is light.

    • Light, physically, or at least as I understand it, is vibration – wave lengths of vibration – tiny particles of matter moving in chaos cleverly disguised as harmony. Light is life, because life is vibration, movement. It is energy absorbing as well as energy emitting vibration. Without light, there would be no creation. Light sustains and light defines creation. Love is light, so love is all these things, too.

    • Darkness is not so much the absence of light as it is the rejection of light. In darkness, there is no vibration, no light, no life. Darkness grows when light is rejected. Darkness is the ultimate selfishness. It absorbs light (life) rather than reflecting, or perpetuating it. Darkness does so out of fear – fear that it won’t have enough life. Matter, without vibration, without light, stops vibrating. It dies. Darkness is death.

    • How ironic that life is sustained by giving it away, and life begins to die as soon as it is hoarded.

  • Love is truth. Thus, love is knowledge, but it is also understanding. Truth without understanding is meaningless. Truth, with understanding, and then applied, is wisdom. Love is wisdom.

  • Love draws out faith and trust. Again, Love is life. It is that which sustains, and without it, death rules. Love is reaching out, craving goodness and righteousness, craving life. Life is glorious and eternal, and love craves all that is glorious and joyful, and because love is life, love is eternal. Love knows not death.

  • Love is that which, when given, the giver still retains it. Love is not lessened when given, but it is multiplied. If, in giving something, I no longer have it, that thing had no eternal value anyway. It was not love.

  • Love is God. God is Love. This is not just a platitude or proverb of some sort. This is reality. This is the nature of God, and as we continue through the discussion below, we are actually defining the nature of God.

    • This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

Love is not…

  • Love is not control or possession. Such things actually inhibit vibration / light / creation. This, in turn, is death.

  • Love is not judgment or ridicule or criticism. No, love is NOT judgment or ridicule or criticism. Not ever.

  • Love is not comparison. There is no oneness in comparison, only separation.

  • Love is not “ingratitude”.

  • Love is not jealousy. Jealousy comes from a combination of comparison, judgment, and ingratitude.

  • Love is not blame, or finger pointing (read “judgment”), or deflection. These, too, lead to separation.

  • Love is not punishment, or vindictiveness, or revenge, no matter how justified one might think it is. Love never seeks to hurt another.

  • Love is not sacrifice. Sacrifice implies that I surrendered or destroyed something that I loved. Love cannot be destroyed or given up.

  • Love is not force – of any kind. Not physical, not emotional, not intellectual, not financial.

  • Love is not having “Shake my head” moments.

  • Love is not separation. Separation is the result of all these things that love is not.

  • Love is NOT fear. Love is indeed the opposite of fear. Fear is the rejection of light, of love. Fear is darkness, just as love is light. Fear stops vibration. Since vibration is life, fear, then, is death. Fear is the root cause for all of these other things that love is not.

  • Since there is no death in love, love is eternal life.

How is love manifest?

  • Love encourages. Love, when manifest, lifts. It encourages everyone to reach their best. It seeks to dispel fear, and promote trust, comfort, kindness, peace. Love creates an environment, through relationships, where people are encouraged and feel free to discover their higher selves. Love is like the sunlight, under whose rays each flower, even the lily of the field, is invited, enticed to open from its slumber to reveal its own glory.

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

    • Carnal desires that are not motivated by fear are righteous desires.

  • Love seeks oneness. What is oneness, you might ask? How is this “oneness” manifest? If I interact with a focus on encouraging others to 1) identify their righteous desires and 2) fulfill them, including my own, then we have a oneness that preserves uniqueness and individuality without separation.

    • If someone else’s righteous desires are equal to mine, then we are one. And, if my righteous desire is to seek the fulfillment of everyone’s righteous desires, including my own, then our righteous desires are the same. Again, righteous desires are desires that are motivated not by fear, thus they are motivated by love – love being the antithesis of fear. A desire to make music is a righteous desire. A desire to make music that pokes fun, or mocks, or expresses anger may not be so righteous. Yet I cannot dictate to others what is a righteous desire. I can only encourage them to seek that out for themselves – to learn to distinguish between righteous desires, and desires that are motivated by fear or which interfere with the righteous desires of others.

  • Love rejects jealousy. There is no place for jealousy in a loving heart. None. Zero. Zip. Got jealousy? Then something is seriously wrong.
  • Love does not dislike others, because it recognizes the complexity and the ultimate divine potential in each individual, in each shining (giving off light), living point of God’s creation.
  • Love is patient. This is not just the opposite of impatient, but it is patience driven by perspective.
  • Love forgives. Better yet, love chooses not to be offended in the first place, because love is patient and love has perspective and because…
  • Love looks for the Christ in everyone.
  • Love never, ever, seeks to elevate oneself at the expense of others.
  • Love is word. Word is not only spoken, but done, so word is also deed. Love not done means nothing. All the knowledge, understanding, or wisdom, even that of God, means nothing if it is not shared – even if it is not used to promote the fulfillment of all righteous desires.
  • Love is joy! Love manifests itself as joy. When joy becomes a habit, or a state of existence, we have “become love”.

Love is the nature of Christ. Christ’s nature is love. There is no darkness in Him. I trust Him. When I commune with Him, which I do daily, with varying degrees of intimacy and interaction, I recognize in Him the virtues and attributes that inspire complete faith and trust. He would never manipulate me, or seek to control me, or deceive me, or judge, ridicule, or become impatient. It’s just not in His nature. To repeat from above, if I didn’t have these same virtues and attributes within myself, I could never recognize them in Him. All of the “Love is not” points above…my indulgence in, or failure to fully reject these things, is the reason that all of these Christ-like virtues, which the definition of love, are not fully, perfectly manifest in me, or in my interactions with others. Remember, only through our interactions does any virtue or attribute become real, or manifest. My failure to fully implement this is the reason I have not yet “become love”.

Largely, I think, Christ’s virtues and attributes are manifest through us, as we receive His light, or eternal life, and pass it on, through our word (spoken and acted), because few are those who seek them directly from the source. At some point, when someone is ready, we, in an act of love, must point to the source of the light. At some further point, though, once we have rejected all darkness and are one with Him, we will begin to share our own light. This is the fullest way in which we can glorify Him. This is the ultimate in creation.

Finally, the lyrics from a song I wrote, called “Prayer”. In its way, it is a lyrical summary of all the above:

Shine on Me

Shine on Me

Love is life, and it binds us all together.

Won’t you shine on me

 

Swing me like a child

Swing me like a child

Round and Round, til we’re dizzy in our joyfulness

Won’t you swing me like a child

 

Sing your song

Sing your song

Shout for joy, and release the light within you

Won’t you sing your song

 

Shine on me

Shine on me

Love is life, and it binds us all together

Won’t you shine on me

Won’t you shine on me

Won’t you shine…Lord, won’t you shine

On me

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The Gospel of Jesus Christ

I try often to write of my understanding of the gospel, of truth, in different words than those found in the canon of scripture.  This is typically a means of improving my own understanding, like if I can reword what the scriptures say, I somehow “prove” it.  It is also a means of integrating truths found outside the canon with those in the canon into a consistent, whole truth.  I do not believe that this resulting body of truth contradicts the canon of scripture, but it often contradicts the traditional interpretation of the scripture.  This sometimes makes people uncomfortable.  If that discomfort causes them to reject whatever truths might be revealed or emphasized – that may be a bad thing.  The other alternative is that the discomfort may trigger them to re-examine, or even confirm, their own understanding – not necessarily so they agree with mine, but so their understanding, like mine, might be more whole, more complete, in their mind.

In keeping with this spirit, I share the following description of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I present it in the first person, in the words of Christ, because that is how it came to me.  I pray that it will enhance understanding, perhaps even offering yet another witness of the truths that govern our existence.  Please accept these words in the spirit in which they are intended – the spirit of love.

 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

Life is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. When you seek to protect yourself from the illusion of separation, death, hate, and fear, you take on burdens that are grievous to be born. The truth, which I have shared with you, will free you from these burdens.

The truth is that I love you. I love you because I have learned that we are one, with each other, and with God, who is my father and yours. Love is our created state of existence. It is who we are.

It is also true that we are eternal beings. Death itself, which causes so much fear, is an illusion. When life is defined by fear of death, you cannot fully love. You must remain separated from the source of life. I have shown you, with my life, that death does not need to be feared. The only death to be feared is the death of the spirit, and this death is, ironically, the result of fear, or a failure to love.

Love is life, and it binds us all together. It binds us because when we love with divine love, we become one. This divine love is the healing of separation. Fear is death, and it keeps us separated, and any existence that relies on separation is temporary, is an illusion, and will end in the death of that existence. Yet, even that death is an illusion, because each of us will eventually learn the truth, which is that we are God because we are part of God; we are in Him and He is in us…each and every one of us.

There is much focus in this mortal existence on laws and justice (commandments and judgment). Laws are fine. Obey them if you wish. But laws, of course, mean nothing if they are not enforced, and that enforcement requires… “force”. Force is not love. It never was, and it cannot ever be. Therefore, obedience to such laws cannot lead to life, only to death. God’s laws, the laws that govern the universe, need no enforcement. They are inviolable. They simply “are”. Another problem with laws that need to be enforced in order to validate them is that someone has to enforce them, and there are very few who are pure enough, innocent enough, to enforce them on someone else without being hypocritical. And those who are pure enough…well ,they understand the truth, which is that these laws are ultimately unnecessary and meaningless. Their very existence is an illusion, and enforcement of these laws is an act of violence, and ultimately death. Furthermore, obedience to such laws is out of fear, and we’ve already established where fear leads. Love is the only law that is necessary, for it is love that governs the universe, and to obey the law of love is eternal life, and to deny the law of love is death.

It has been said, “The wages of sin is death”. This is truth. But sin is nothing more than acting in violation of God’s law. And what is God’s law? God’s law is love. So sin is acting in violation of love, and its “wages” come about naturally, because love is life, and a lack of love is death. Again, God’s laws need no “enforcement”, and to seek to “enforce” God’s law is not love, and is therefore sin.

My natural state of existence is joy. YOUR natural state of existence is joy. If you do not live in a state of joy, you are living in denial of yourself and, by extension, me, and our Father. This is contrary to His will, but your freedom to choose that denial is part of your growth, which IS His will. So even when you are in denial of us, your are still part of us, and we will never reject you; your denial is a temporary illusion,, and will eventually be overcome as you accept the truth.

My natural state of existence is peace. YOUR natural state of existence is peace. The universe, of which you are an integral part, is created in perfect harmony. You are part of that harmony. Even when you perceive conflict, that perception is an illusion. All things are ultimately according to God’s will. An understanding of this truth will help recognize that you exist in peace…in the peace of God – the peace that passeth all understanding.

You are so powerful! The universe was created as the result of the faith, hope, and love of the mind of God. YOU were created as a result of the faith, hope, and love of the mind of God. You are an extension of the mind of God, and therefore you have inherited the power of God, which is the power of love, for God is love, therefore you are love. Love is the power of creation. To know yourself is to know me, and it is to know God. This is life…eternal life. Therefore, to know God is to know me and to know yourself. I have taught you, and this is my gospel, to know yourself in all your joy, in all your peace, in all your glory, which is, in truth, the glory of God. I have encouraged you – I do encourage you – to have faith in my words, in these truths that I have taught (faith and belief in me). I encourage you to reject the illusion of separation, of jealousy and fear and death (repentance). In doing so, you enable yourself to truly know yourself, and thus to know me and our Father; and thus you enable yourself to have eternal life (endure to the end). If you will believe these things that I have taught you, and learn to recognize their truth, that truth will set you free to experience yourself, your life, in its fullness of peace and joy. You will be enabled to cast off these burdens of separation and protection that you have gathered round yourself, but that weigh you down and bind you to a lesser existence than that which is truth.

This is my gospel. There is no fear in (divine) love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment (not peace or joy) He that feareth is not made perfect in love (does not have eternal life). Believe in me, in my words; repent of fear and separation; and you shall have eternal life (a fullness of joy). And I will never not love you.

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Whosoever Believeth in me…

Peace, kindness, mercy, joy, faith, trust, empathy, understanding, patience, encouragement…love…these are life. These are things that bind us together. They are characteristics of Christ – they are components of His nature, as much as we have words to describe it – and they are life – even everlasting life.
 
Fear, guilt, uncertainty, jealousy, pride, unworthiness, judgment…these are death. They separate us from each other, and they separate us from Christ. Our indulgence in these things is because we don’t truly BELIEVE in Christ, because we don’t truly have FAITH in Him – because we are satisfied to remain fallen, in which fallen state we shall surely die.
 
Forgiveness, of others and ESPECIALLY of ourselves, is the bridge between the two – between life and death. Forgiveness implies that we were offended or that we feared or felt guilt (from fear) – that we indulged in these characteristics of separation and death. Forgiveness is repenting of this indulgence, of casting away the things that are anti-Christ, that are death. As long as we indulge ourselves in this darkness, we cannot be with Christ. Forgiveness opens the door for us to return to Him. Forgiveness is the rejection of death.
 
The great lie is that death, as described above, is part of the human condition. We have actually been taught that these things are good. But what did Christ say? He said,in John 11:26, “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” He made numerous other references that were similar.
 
So, if we live (see definition of life above) and believe in Him (see the definition of His nature above – they are one and the same), we shall never die.
 
I want to shout from the rooftops! Christ’s words are true. Let us reject fear and guilt, and let us indulge instead in joy, that we may have everlasting life? Sound crazy? Not according to Christ! Did the inhabitants of Enoch’s Zion die? What is the mystery of Zion? Why is it so elusive? Is it because we continue to believe the lie, while failing to truly believe the Christ, who said of Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the LIFE. No man cometh unto the Father (read – eternal life) but by me (read the definition of HIM above).
 
This rejection of death is not easy. These components of death seem to be part of our fallen nature. But let us partake of the fruit of the tree of LIFE, and root these seeds of death out of our hearts and our minds. Let us dedicate ourselves to first recognize their pernicious self-perpetuating existence, and then reject them when they rise up in us during our day-to-day interactions.
 
I hope at least one other person will recognize this miraculous, healing truth that I have been accumulating over the past while. It has been coming to me in bits and pieces. Today, it gelled. Today I have shared it with you.
 
And I feel confident in saying that I do so in the Name of Jesus Christ.
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A Voice of Contention, or a Voice of Faith?

It appears that I have often been a voice of contention recently. I have tried hard to never condemn or accuse people, only ideas. I don’t think I have ever accused anyone of being evil or hypocritical, but I have criticized things that have been written. I have, however, been accused – both overtly and passive-aggressively. I’m not just being contentious or disagreeable. I think about the things I write a lot. I think there is an important message for us all in them. But, I find myself increasingly on the outside looking in. So, why do I find myself in this position?

I believe we are clinging to doctrines that were meant for another people, in another time; doctrines that did not, and can not, prepare us for Zion. I think we need to ascend and reach higher than many have in the past. I think this is a new age – an age of love, not an age of hierarchy, and power, and fear, and judgment. New Age philosophies call these two ages Piscean and Aquarian. This is coincidence. This belief that I have is NOT the result of these new age philosophies. I am learning these things, only to later find that they match these other ideas that have been put forth by others. In other words, I am simply recognizing our condition.

I am learning, based upon my experiences with the spirit of Christ – the Holy Spirit – that He is not, and never was, a God of fear and judgment and wrath and condemnation. At times, He was perceived as such, and, being a God of agency, He allowed that, but He was never such. So, if that is true, how does this reconcile with scriptural stories, especially in the Book of Mormon?

Consider the stories in the Book of Mormon – stories of redemption that we have been instructed to liken unto ourselves.. Let’s begin with a favorite – King Benjamin’s people – a people much like us, who had been taught a traditional religion, but who had lost the power of the spirit. King Benjamin taught them in a way to bring them back, attacking their pride and teaching humility. Alma the Elder’s people were simply WICKED. Alma the Younger imself was wicked. The People of Nephi, the Anti-Lehi-Nephis, were brutal murderers. Those who found themselves surrounded by fires of redemption in the prison were in there brutally beating, slapping, ridiculing, even spitting on a naked, bound Nephi and Lehi. These were evil, carnal, base people. Their stories of redemption were miraculous in contrast. Such miracles were required to redeem such a wicked people. These people of whom the stories of the Book of Mormon were about were adulterers, murderers, liars, ,thieves, etc. Yet, we expect our experiences to compare to theirs. We expect our rebirth experiences to mirror theirs. I’m not aware of any among us who would even remotely compare. I think it’s totally understandable that my moment of rebirth would be less dramatic than theirs. How about yours? I’m not saying that such miraculous things don’t happen, only that we do ourselves a disservice if we think that we’re somehow not fulfilling the gospel if they don’t.

Another point. We don’t have Zion. Whatever we have done in the past, whatever anyone since Enoch and Melchizedek and the post-visit Nephites (for 200 years) has not resulted in Zion. A definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing expecting different results. I truly think that focusing on a doctrine that emphasizes that we are sinners, that we have to fear God, that we should be somehow motivated out of fear of a judgment day is NOT going to bring about Zion.

I think we need an ascendant doctrine. Not a new doctrine, just a new focus, a new, perhaps higher understanding of what the scriptures are teaching us. The two great commandments are simple – Love God, and Love your neighbor. The Sermon on the Mount is an instruction manual for how to do this. This is the doctrine that will bring about Zion, that will bring about redemption, that represents the fruit of the Tree of Life. These other doctrines are all designed to entice us to look up from our fallen state, having partaken for millenia of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Well, I think we need to look up.

I can’t picture people walking around in Zion, in the presence of Christ, consumed with fear of offending Him, or with fear of His judgment,, or a coming judgment day. I can’t imagine people thinking to themselves, “I’m not worthy to be here…I must somehow earn His love and the love of everyone else here”. But this is exactly the mindset that is perpetuated by our common interpretation of the scriptures. I absolutely hate it every time I hear my friend talk about how lowly he or she is, how they are not worthy, how they need to be redeemed, but that they are waiting patiently, faithfully, for that day of redemption to come. I invite these to look up. Look to Him and see the love in His eyes, and recognize that you are NOT unworthy. Recognize that you are His! Look up.

The Answer and Covenant, which I participated in, focused on loving each other. It invited us to look up. Jared Livesy’s Guide and Standard proposal, whether I agree with his method of presentation or not, is inviting us to look up. I was told to take the covenant, to be with this people, because I am to teach of His love. This is what I am trying to do. I am inviting us to look up – to look to Him, and recognize Him in ourselves.

David Johnson posted yesterday that the Lord told Him that Zion was in our hearts. David spoke truth. It MUST begin in our hearts. We MUST reject teachings that focus on fear and judgment and wrath. These doctrines that I reject may have been important in their day, for another people, in a different age, but they did not bring about Zion, and they never will. These are doctrines of separation, of fear. They may have been necessary then, and they may be necessary for some people today – a true manifestation of the preparatory Gospel.

But the preparatory Gospel will not bring about Zion.

Let us repent, and turn to Christ – the true Christ – a Christ whose power is the power of Love – who would never exercise any other power over this people. Do we need to repent of adultery and murder, as liars and thieves? No! We are not adulterers and murderers and liars and thieves. Instead, we need to repent of jealousies and FEARS. We need to repent of the need to control others – which we do through fear and manipulation. We need to repent of the doctrine of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – the doctrine of FEAR. Just as this age is an age of ascension – hopefully the age of Zion – so our repentance must be an ascended repentance.

Christ IS within us. The Kingdom of Heaven is within us. Christ showed us the way. Without Him we would never even be in this position – poised to ascend. We have been taught by our parents, by teachers, even prophets. Even those who lied to us still prepared us. Toward what end, then? That we could continue to focus on doctrines that fail to yield the greatest fruit – the fruit of the Tree of Life – the Love of God? No, we glorify Christ, and we validate those who prepared us, by looking up, by reaching higher, by leaving these doctrines of fear, and wrath, and judgment behind us, and focusing on oneness with Christ and with each other. He will NEVER force us to reach higher – this we must indeed do for ourselves. It is in this way that we love Him, glorify Him, demonstrate our belief and our faith in Him.

Please, let us look up, and ascend to the knowledge that will bring about Zion.

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Two Trees

tree of lifeRepentance is an essential component of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Doctrine of Christ is stated in various places in the Book of Mormon. The most pertinent to this discussion is as follows from 3 Nephi 11:37-40:

And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in no wise receive these things.

And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in no wise inherit the kingdom of God.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.

And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

So, the Lord says “…ye must repent…”. Repent of what? He says further we must “…become as a little child…”, indicating perhaps that our repentance must be such that, as a result, we become as a little child. So, I ask again, what do we repent of? If we repent of adultery, or adulterous thoughts, or of addiction, or of swearing, or of dishonesty or cheating; or of whoremongering, or stealing, or lying – does repenting of these things cause us to become as a little child? To me the answer is obviously “no”, so I’ll move on.

What sort of repentance, then, will cause us to become as a little child? Repenting of pride, perhaps? Indeed, now we’re getting closer. Being as a little child is almost a state of being. In order to become as a little child, we almost need to be repenting of a state of being – a state of being that is not child-like. How about repenting of judgment? How about repenting of jealousy and fear? How about repenting of a lack of trust? How about repenting of general selfishness and ego and a desire for self-preservation and self-reliance?

This type of repentance is much more likely to result in our becoming as a little child. Notice how we went from pretty specific, behavior-oriented repentance (lying, stealing, whoremongering), which is not likely to change our state of existence, to considerably more broad, attitude-based, heart-changing things – the type of things that drive those specific behaviors in the first place. This type of repentance is much more likely to result in losing the desire to engage in those initial destructive behaviors. This more broad-based repentance is clearly more likely to result a change of heart, a rebirth…in our becoming as a little child.

But while we’re getting closer, have we really arrived at the answer as to what type of repentance is needed? It’s a move in the right direction, for sure, but is there possibly an even more seminal, more basic, more existential focus of repentance that would even eliminate the tendency toward that second tier, toward pride and jealousy and fear and judgment? What if there’s sort of an hierarchy of repentance, kind of like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, or the now outdated pyramid of nutrition? If there were such a pyramid of repentance, what would be at the top of that pyramid? What would it be that, if repented of, would ensure that we have become as a little child; that we have forsaken the natural man; perhaps even ascended to a new state of existence?

Two Trees

What I am about to share is probably not unique. In one case, it’s even derivative, in that the seed of this understanding was planted by Max Skousen in a discussion he had on Moroni 7. Here is a link where you can download the audio, or I will gladly share a PDF transcript if you will contact me. I also understand there is a book by Rick Joyner called, There Were Two Trees in the Garden. I have not read this book yet, but I was told the ideas presented are similar to what I’m proposing. So, my perspectives and thoughts may not be unique, but they’re original (as much as any knowledge is ever original) – in that they are the result of much pondering and praying and, in my opinion, inspiration. I feel encouraged, if not obligated or driven, to share them.

Of course, we all know there were two trees in the Garden of Eden – the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (TOKOGAE) and the Tree of Life (TOL). I propose that this top tier of the suggested repentance pyramid is the choice between these two trees – that this is the repentance that will most likely result in us becoming as a little child.

This is why:

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

Satan told Eve that, if she would partake of the TOKOGAE, she would “…be as the gods, knowing good from evil”. That was partially true. The gods indeed know the difference between good and evil. However, it’s what they (or we) do with that knowledge that differentiates them from us.

My observation is that we use that knowledge to judge, to separate, to either elevate ourselves or devalue ourselves by entertaining constant attitude of comparison. We judge whether behavior is good or evil, and that’s fine, but we do that with incomplete knowledge, and then we tend to extend that judgment of behavior to the person. We point fingers. We say, “I’m glad I’m not them”, or even “I wish I were them”. By acknowledging that “I’m not them” we perpetuate separation between us and them, or, if “them” happens to be Christ or another of “the gods”, we perpetuate the separation between us and them. This behavior is symptomatic of our state of existence – our fallen state of existence. As a matter of fact, I believe it is the very definition of our fallen state. It is the definition of the natural man – that we define ourselves as separate, and therefore either not as good as or better than all others. We base our personal value on a judgment of behavior – again, our behavior or others’ behavior, it doesn’t matter – against some standard, which standard is our knowledge of good and evil, a highly imperfect knowledge gained as a result of that initial encounter with the father of lies.

Existing in a constant state of comparison is a fear-based existence. We fear evil, and we cling to good only out of fear of the evil. This existence is therefore not love-based. Oh, the illusion is there, but it is exactly that – an illusion. When we perceive evil, we feel we must protect ourselves from it, therefore we separate ourselves from the carrier of that perceived evil and declare, as did the Zoramites on their rameumpton, “Thank you God that we’re not like them”. This is NOT “as the gods” but it is “as the fallen man”.

The gods, on the other hand, do not use that knowledge of good and evil to judge. They may use it to evaluate, to encourage, to lift, but not to separate. They have ascended to the point where they accept that all things are as one. They do not fear that which is not love based. They understand that this is part of our collective existence, and they do not reject evil if it means rejecting those who have not yet been able to rid themselves of evil. The gods use this knowledge with wisdom and charity, and seek oneness, even with beings who, by comparison, may be considered inferior or less advanced .

The common understanding among us is that Christ, in the garden, paid the price of justice for our sins. Well, in a sense, perhaps He did. But in another sense, I’ve come to realize that He rejected the separation between himself, being the first human to learn fully to act out of love and not out of fear, and those who still operated in fear. Even though He had learned to reject fear, He still accepted those who had not learned that (that would be all of us) as a part of His existence. He rejected the idea that, even though he was more intelligent than them all, he was somehow separate from us. This is how He took our sins upon Himself. Christ had to evolve to this point on His own – separated, compared, even superior. In the garden, however, He invited all, no matter how much we still embraced fear (evil), to come to Him. He would not fear us. He would not fear our fear. He would not perpetuate the separation. We might still insist on doing that – perpetuate the separation – and thus remain unrepentant, fallen, unredeemed, fear-driven, jealous, prideful, but He would not. He would stand ready and inviting, promising that because He had overcome the world, we could, too.
As long as we continue to base our thoughts, our desires, and our actions on the paradigm that knowledge of good and evil, and embracing good while rejecting evil, is the key to our salvation, we will remain fallen. We will remain unredeemed. We will remain unsaved, having rejected the example set for us – the prototype of the saved man.

The fruit of the TOKOGAE is jealousy – jealousy of what someone else is or has or does. It is the opposite of gratitude and love. The fruit of the TOKOGAE is fear, fear of the jealousy of others for what we are or have or do. The fruit of the TOKOGAE is death, because it is separation, whereas eternal life is, ultimately, to be realized either with all of us or with none of us.
The Tree of Life

The fruit of the Tree of Life is the love of God, or the pure love of Christ, or charity, as represented in Nephi’s version (1 Nephi, 11:21-26) of Lehi’s dream (1 Nephi 8) and as confirmed in 1 Nephi 15:36:

Wherefore, the wicked are rejected from the righteous, and also from that tree of life, whose fruit is most precious and most desirable above all other fruits; yea, and it is the greatest of all the gifts of God. And thus I spake unto my brethren. Amen.

The fruit of the TOL is God, because He is love. When we partake of this fruit, we become one with Him. This fruit represents our natural or created state, not our fallen state. To partake of this fruit, we must first recognize the lie that is represented by the TOKOGAE. Only then can we partake of the fruit of the TOL. That is why the Lord said, in D&C 67:10:

And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am—not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual.

What the Lord is basically saying here is, “If you will reject the fruit of the TOKOGAE (jealousy, fear…death) and partake of the fruit of the TOL, you will know me (for I am love, I am life). That veil, which is made up of jealousy and fear, the result of partaking of the fruit of the TOKOGAE, shall be ripped apart, and there will be no more separation between us.

In the above scripture, that says, “Wherefore, the wicket are rejected…”, I ask, “how are they rejected?” I think they reject themselves, or they are rejected by the perfect creation, because they choose to live in a state of separation, in a state of disharmony. The righteous are those who reject the TOKOGAE and embrace the TOL. How does this look in real life? Those who choose the TOL learn not to judge – not even righteously, for there is no righteous judgment. Not even Christ truly judges. He has created, and it is that creation itself which is the judge, and that judgment is simple. Are we choosing harmony with that creation, or are we choosing to separate ourselves from it? Yet, does he cease to love us because we are blinded? The tree is there. It awaits. He awaits, but it must be our choice.

And, indeed, had we not partaken of the fruit of the TOKOGAE, we would not have been forced to choose. We would not have had the opportunity to choose. I sense, though, that now is the time to choose again. My small voice seems to be only one among many who are beginning to recognize this.

Opposition in All Things?

The fruit of the TOKOGAE is death. It is representative of our fallen state, of separation from God, of the natural man, of ego, of jealousy, of fear…especially fear, which truly is the opposite of love, even though that principle is never stated verbatim in the scriptures. Fear only exists in opposition to love, but love, God, is self-existent. In Lehi’s great sermon on opposition, we read:

For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. (2Nephi 2:11)

“Opposition in all things”, however, “must needs be” a principle that only applies in this fallen state. God needs no opposition in order to exist. His love needs no opposition to define its existence. Righteousness is self-existent. Consider this, if our existence…our life…only exists in opposition to something else, what happens when that “something else” ceases to exist? If love, or righteousness, or God only exists in opposition to fear, what happens when fear ceases to exist? Therefore, if we choose to continue existing in a state of opposition, partaking daily of the fruit of the TOKOGAE, we must continue to perpetuate fear, for without it, love would cease to exist. We would cease to exist.

Rather than “Fear is the opposite of love”, the scriptures actually say, “Perfect love casteth out fear”.

1 John 4:18 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.

Reading this in the context of this discussion, the point becomes clear, at least in my mind. “He that hath fear is not made perfect in love”. The two, fear and love (as in charity, perfect love, agape, the pure love of Christ), cannot co-exist. There can be no opposition in this perfection. The Tree of Life – that’s LIFE – cannot co-exist with the TOKOGAE, because the TOKOGAE is, by it’s very definition – knowledge of good and evil – based in opposition; seeking good, but only in the context of fearing evil. There is no love, only judgment. There is no oneness, only separation. There is no eternal life, only death. The 4 C’s of babylon, first mentioned in my post “What if…”, are the blossoms of the TOKOGAE – comparison (think opposition and separation), leading to competition, leading to contention, leading to control. Yes, the 4 C’s are the blossoms, but the fruit is separation and death.

Ascension

Rejecting the fruit of the TOKOGAE, and partaking of the fruit of the TOL is, I believe, an ascension. It is redemption from the fall. Is this totally in our hands? I honestly don’t know. Is it the result of a baptism of fire, of a rebirth, of receiving a new heart, having offered up the old, broken one in exchange? Symbolically, at least, I’m sure that is true. But is it something that we can do on our own, or is it magic? (Equate “magic” with spiritual, meaning something we don’t fully understand and can neither measure nor predict) Again, I don’t know. This I do know. I have had exchanges with the Lord about this. I have gained the knowledge and understanding through the spirit, from the source of all knowledge. I have gained recognition of my current state, which includes sincere but as-yet-unfulfilled desire, and I have expressed that desire consistently, repeated, even passionately to Him. I trust that, as long as I stay true to that desire, it will be brought about in one way or another.

I am convinced that this ascension will define those who will know the Lord, who will somehow know Zion. The Lord cannot come among a people who, knowingly or not, perpetuate separation from Him and from each other. This ascension is salvation, even eternal life. We must reject death and embrace life. We must turn away from fear and become love. We must become self-existent, as is our nature, and cease relying on opposition to define that existence.

A Voice of Authority?

No, I don’t offer these thoughts in the capacity of a voice of authority. I do offer them in wisdom, though, and in love. There is an important key contained in these thoughts, in these concepts, although I continue seek to fully discover it and understand it. I offer these thoughts with the intent that, for some, it will generate light – an “a-ha” moment that might trigger even greater thoughts than mine. Indeed, I am still constantly processing and learning – more than anything desiring – to know how it is that I can experience, or even effect, this ascension. I seek to become love, and to do so I must first recognize and then reject fear. There are many changes in my life – in my thoughts, my words, my actions, my feelings – that indicate that this process, the process of becoming love, is actually taking place. I believe the Lord’s promises, at least enough that I am committed to continuing down this path. I believe that, in some way, this is a path we must all walk if we would have eternal life. And we must be committed to helping each other until there are none left behind.

Are these concepts at odds with the scriptures? I don’t think so. They are, however, at odds with many prevailing interpretations of the scriptures. I invite you to interpret the scriptures in this context. Eventually, of course, you will have to choose which interpretations testify to you of truth. For me, I choose life, light, and love, while rejecting death, fear, and judgment. I choose to reject the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and embrace the Tree of Life – the Love of God, even God Himself. Perhaps, just perhaps, in doing so, I will find that I have truly become as a little child.

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I Choose Not to Dispute

New CovenantA call for prayer and fasting on the topic of the Guide and Standard was offered this past week – to fast and pray on Saturday, April 14. Well, I did fast and pray yesterday, but my efforts were directed in a different direction. That’s just the way it turned out. Nevertheless, I do have some things to share on the topic, and I’ve waited until now to share them. Perhaps there will be something uniquely edifying in the timeliness of my remarks, delivered on the heels of this community prayer.

I think, first, I should establish a common understanding that:

  • The Lord called for a statement of principles, from which a Guide and Standard should be developed.
  • It should be a light thing.
  • It is to be adopted by mutual agreement, which was later defined, according to Denver, and “Choosing not to dispute”.

I like that… “choose not to dispute”. It ties in with so much that I’ve been learning over the past few months.

In my mind, the purpose of this Guide and Standard is three-fold:

  • A declaration of common beliefs and values – which declaration should describe that which binds us together (although I question whether what binds us together should even be based upon common beliefs; whether what binds us together shouldn’t actually simply be charity – the pure love of Christ).
  • Similarly, a declaration of common ground so that future gatherings, or gatherings of multiple fellowships, whether temporary or more permanent, can take place more smoothly and with less friction.
  • A framework for the formation of new fellowships so that they don’t have to re-invent the wheel.

Given these purposes, and given the prevailing belief that not all gatherings will have an LDS background or even a “Snufferite” background (yes – I hate that word, too, but it serves a purpose here), it would seem to me that the Guide and Standard should be as simple as possible – a declaration of the most essential beliefs that would enable diverse groups of people – whether they be LDS, or “Snufferite”, or Hawaiian, or European, or Asian, or protestant, or Catholic, (you get the drift) – to gather. It seems wise to me that the Guide and Standard that seeks to encourage such diversity should state the lowest common denominator of beliefs that would enable us to gather in love and harmony?

Heck, I could go for a Guide and Standard that says, “Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”. Then, if we wanted to add the sermon on the mount as supplemental to this, I would go for that, too. Add Doctrine of Christ? Yeah, that works. Still no desire to dispute here. Just don’t feel the need.

So, let’s take the Lotster Guide and Standard as an example. A great document. Love the courage and devotion that went into it. Does it meet the above requirements? Yeah – pretty much. I can live with it. It contains a lot more detail than I personally think is necessary, because I think the more detail you include, the less inclusive it is, and the more restrictive it might become. I might choose to dispute philosophically based on the level of detail, except for one thing…I have no fear.

You see, there seems to be this fear lurking behind the idea of the G&S – fear that I am somehow going to be forced to implement every single aspect of it in my personal life, or in my family, or in my fellowship. Well, I don’t have that fear. I don’t think anyone is trying to tell me what I have to do. I don’t feel forced at all. And where would such force – or enforcement – come from anyway? Is the Lord really going to enforce the details of a Guide and Standard when the only criteria He insisted on were that we adopt it by mutual agreement – or by choosing not to dispute? Or is He going to grant such authority to someone on earth? (Frankly, if that happens, I’m outahere) I must have missed the statement, “And, oh, by the way – if you fail to live up to ever every last detail, your eternal salvation will be in jeopardy”. It seems I’ve heard that before – somewhere in my deep, dark past – but I sure didn’t hear it in the Answer & Covenant.

And, oh my, the very idea that something we expect to hold sacred would engender even the slightest hint of fear and/or idea of enforcement is just appalling to me. Fear never was holiness, and the two are incompatible. If there is anything but love implied by or included in this Guide and Standard, then it is a failure. Reject the fear! It has no place among us!

Furthermore, I choose not to dispute, because even though this G&S might be a great thing for starting new fellowships, and to promote consistency between fellowships, once you add any hint of enforcement – whether it be ecclesiastical, emotional, or financial (as in tithing), or any other creative means of control that we as fallen humans are so good at coming up with – then we’re flirting with the dreaded “C” word – CORRELATION.

I also choose not to dispute because I truly respect the thoughts, the efforts, the prayers, the inspiration that went into almost every one of the G&S proposals. Jeff Savage’s version? The August 5th version? The Lotster version? The pamphlet version that someone so beautifully wrote and laid out and printed on 8×10 glossy and sent to every address? Even Log’s version is OK with me. I love its simplicity. Every one of these proposed Guide and Standards is a gift to us all. Every one of them is the result of a sincere, loving desire to serve the Lord and us. I choose not to dispute any of them.

I personally think that all of them except Log’s version contain too much detail, but that’s a personal philosophy, and I have no need personally to be “Right”, and I honor the efforts, and the sources, and the output, and I CHOOSE NOT TO DISPUTE!

Is this apathy, as some others have wondered? No, I think it’s meekness. And I also think it’s the realization that, ultimately, it’s all about love. If we want to have instructions and guidelines about how to baptize, and administer the sacrament, and ordain and recognize priesthood authority (remember, these guidelines are all already in the scriptures) built into the G&S, that’s fine. But if we do it without charity, it means nothing. If we do anything without charity, it means nothing. Anything done without charity is ultimately death. And if we are found WITH charity at the last day, it will be well with us, regardless of the content of whatever G&S is finally adopted. Charity is life!

So, I choose not to dispute. There is just no need. I do not fear that someone is going to take away my salvation if I fail to, or choose not to, implement every detail of the August 5th document in my family or in my fellowship. If adherence helps promote unity within the fellowship that I choose to attend, then I will gladly adhere, because I have charity for my friends. There is nothing in any of these offerings that will prevent me from loving God and loving my neighbor, or from living the sermon on the mount – and THOSE are the Guide and Standard that we will all ultimately be called to account for.

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Dichotomies True and False

We live in a world of dichotomies. They are all around us – light and dark, true and false, love and hate, good and evil.

We perceive our relationship with these dichotomies as a battle, and indeed it is so. But our battle is not, as commonly perceived, between good and evil. No, our battle is between light and dark, between selfishness and charity, between ego and unity…ultimately between love and fear, WHICH IS life and death. In other words, love is life, fear is death.

Good vs. evil is based in fear. When we chose to partake…when we CHOOSE to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we chose fear. Fear is indeed the opposite of love. Fear is the enemy of life.

When we CHOOSE the tree of life, we choose light instead of dark; we choose charity instead of selfishness; we choose unity over ego; we choose love over fear; and in choosing these things, we choose eternal life and reject death. Love is light. Love is life. Love binds us all together in unity, in oneness – the oneness of God. This, love, even the pure love of Christ, is the power that creates and organizes. It is the power that overcomes entropy, which is ultimately death. It is the power that binds instead of separates.

This is the gospel. This is truth. This is light. All religion points to it, but all religion operates in the realm of fear – under the crushing authority of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thinking that doing so will make us “as the gods”. This is false religion.  It is a lie, based on the serpent’s original lie. Instead of eternal life, this fear-based religion brings death.  Commandments, obedience, sacrifice – all are fear-based as long as we think they will bring us eternal life, or that they will bring us closer to Christ. Such things only have power if they bring us to love – no, they only have power inasmuch as they are the PRODUCT of love. Seeking after love, which casteth out fear, is the true religion.

This is so important. We have been operating in fear for thousands of years (or more), and we do not have Zion. We will never have Zion until that changes, until we change. The Lord will not be able to bring about Zion among a people who operate in fear, living a life whose only possible product is death.

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