Repentance 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 be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in no wise inherit the kingdom of God.
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?
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.
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.