“Old Sectarian Notions”

There are a lot of “old sectarian notions” that Mormons accept without questioning or examining. The idea that we think we know it all, and therefore, there is no need to think more deeply about it, or query the mind and will of the Lord on the matter, it itself an “old sectarian notion”.

In fact, one of the defining characteristics of a sect is that they have notions substituting for true factual and revelatory insights.

Responsibility – The Foundation of Greatness

This is an excerpt taken from Radical Honesty, by Dr. Brad Blanton, PhD. These are some key lessons of life that cut across every philosophy, religion, and belief. To paraphrase one philosopher: “You are as much like God, as you as willing to take responsibility”. Another philosopher stated that: “The first and greatest lesson in life is to emotionally accept the premise: ‘I am responsible for me.”

For Mormons, or others into religion or spiritual, this principle of responsibility lies at the heart of these Gospel principles, among others:

  • Repentance
  • Being born again
  • Single-mindedness
  • Love for God and your neighbor with ALL your heart, might, mind, and strength
  • Making goals and commitments

Responsibility

Responsibility means that whatever you are doing, you are willing to experience yourself as the cause. You are the source of your troubles as well as of your successes. Wherever you are on the way to reaching your goals—whether you are cruising along, pulled over to the side of the road, or feel like you’re going backwards—the willingness to experience yourself as responsible is the crucial element of success.

As long as you are blaming, explaining, apologizing, trying, resolving to be good, hoping or feeling guilty, you are not being responsible.

[in other words: “Do or do not. There is no ‘try’.]

Trying to experience yourself as responsible won’t work. What you can do is declare yourself responsible, and then see what happens, it is possible to interrupt the powerless games we play to avoid being responsible. When we begin to interrupt those games, we can move on.

One of these games is called, “Okay, okay, I’m guilty.” This game is to make it look like you have taken responsibility for yourself when you haven’t. Admitting you are guilty is a great way to avoid being responsible.

There is a big difference between admitting you are guilty of failure, or “copping a plea,” and really owning your power as the creator of your life. Whether you feel guilty or not is irrelevant. Admitting you are wrong or were wrong is only a prelude to taking responsibility for your life. It is not enough. You have to make a commitment after you interrupt this game. After you acknowledge that you’ve been fooling yourself by trying hard, you have to make a public declaration of what you will now be responsible for creating. Stick your neck out. Put your ass on the line. Tell everybody what you are about, and by when you will get results, and ask them to help.

We all know that commitment is essential to creation. What has been unclear in our culture is what to do when you’re not committed to anything but struggle. When we feel powerless to keep our word, eventually we stop giving it.

Your wholeness—the experience of yourself the way you are must precede commitment, because to be anything less than your whole self is to be trapped in the morass of beliefs you have about who you are based on your case history. Commitment must be based on the awareness of what is, and on the willingness to be responsible for ourselves the way we are. That means if we are imperfect beings who make mistakes, break our word, get angry, and are selfish, greedy, petty, and unfair, we must make our commitment as those imperfect beings. We spend our lives waiting to get better so that we can accept ourselves. We refuse to enjoy life, refuse to accept that we are loved and forgiven, and refuse to tell the truth about who we are because we never quite meet our own standards. Perfectionists are people who would rather be the worst than be the second-best. Everyone who ever successfully made a change that worked and served as a platform for the next, did this first: they finally accepted themselves the way they were. They gave up the struggle to get better. Then, finally, they were free to change.

The source of your historical being and the source of your present being is like a generator that has been constant since it started. Getting back to your source is the first technique for change. When you pay attention to the being you are, you withdraw attention from the dilemmas of your mind.

This is at the heart of Buddhism, Yoga, Vedantic Philosophy, Christian salvation, and other forms and practices of enlightenment. When a Zen Buddhist sits and looks at a wall for fourteen hours a day for seven days in a row, he does it to be able to sit and look at a wall. To be able to sit and look at a wall and just sit and look at a wall is enlightenment. To sit and look at your life story like you would sit and look at a wall is to recontact your source in the same way.

Your heartbeat started about eight weeks after the egg that became you got fertilized. You tuned in to life by growing into attunement. That is who you are. To get back in touch with who you are when you have been lost in your mind is to get back to your source.

This is hard to do. You have to die to live. Your “pretend” self, that doesn’t include your imperfection, has to die. Then, you again become a whole being. You then have the power you have always had, only now you can use it consciously. This is the good life. It requires that you sacrifice the pleasure of crying yourself to sleep on a greasy mattress.

Authority and Wisdom

People who have to assert their authority don’t have any. As apostle is supposed to act in the name of Christ and be a special witness of Name of Christ, not in the name of the apostleship, which has no inherent authority in and or itself, only to act in the name of Christ.

I’m seriously wondering about the arrogance and sense of entitlement among the church leaders. The Spirit seems to be missing.

It used to be that when the First Presidency spoke out on a political issue, they didn’t take sides, but came up with a third-way solution that the average person would never think of. And the members were amazed at the wisdom they showed. Now, the church is in lock-step with the arch-conservatives and the Catholic Church when it comes to gay rights.

Surely, men of inspiration could come up with something more humane and still follow the Gospel. Jesus often came up with surprising answers that often irritated the authorities, but were completely in line with the Gospel. But, the time is long past to extrapolate and wrest from the scriptures,or put something in the mouth of Christ that he never said, or follow the views of some medieval Catholic theologian. They seriously need to get in touch with the living Christ.

Either that, or stand aside and make room for people who are willing to humble themselves and ask for wisdom.

The Truth about the Atonement

Christ isn’t going to do anything for you that you can’t do yourself. The atonement is not going to erase all your problems; give you knowledge you haven’t learned; give you experience you haven’t had; make choices for you that you didn’t make; give you abilities that you haven’t developed.

Plan of Salvation

Here is a very brief summary what I have learned on this subject. I can back all of this up from the D&C, the temple endowment, the Bible, and church history.

Some of this stuff might sound new to you because it is not taught in Sunday School. But it is a lot simpler and much more fair that than is being taught. The main difference is it is not calculated to install fear, but freedom and personal responsibility.

The reason for this is it comes from the revelations of God, not the teachings of an institution who is only interested in self-preservation and maintaining control over its members.

When Christ established his church, he said the gates of hell would not prevail against it. The gates of hell are meant to keep people IN, not keep people OUT.

Terrestial are the honorable people who were deceived by the craftiness of men.

Telestial are those crafty men who lie in wait to deceive.

Celestial are the people who are honorable who neither deceive, nor are deceived.

It is important to remember that not all the judgments of God are revealed. Also, God wills that all mankind will be saved. Also, Christ saves all the work of the Father’s hands. Also, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.

The vast majority of Mormons is not good enough for the Celestial Kingdom, and nowhere near bad enough for outer darkness. Read D&C 76, 130, 131.

The bracketed comment in 131:2 was not revealed through Joseph Smith, but was added later by Orson Pratt, under the direction of Brigham Young, in order to support plural marriage.

Even outer darkness is not a final state, but the folks there will have to wait billions of years for another chance.

There are kingdoms above the Celestial Kingdom.

The Telestial Kingdom is hell. It is also the world in which we live. This is a kingdom composed of people of many degrees of glory, as the stars differ in glory. You will run across Celestial, Telestial, and Terrestrial people here. The deceivers, the deceived, and those who are not deceived.

The reason why we have so many different churches and philosophies here is because God is trying to reach out to everyone and speak to them in terms of their own time, culture, language, and understanding.

We progress from kingdom to kingdom as we progress and obey the laws pertaining to that kingdom. Otherwise, we keep returning to the same kingdom until we learn and obey those laws and show that we are ready to move on.

The words damnation, condemnation, and judgment all refer to the state where we are “dammed in our progress”. We are stuck in one place, where we “suffer the wrath of God”, which really means we stay here and face the trials and lessons of mortality until we learn all the lessons we are supposed to learn and prove ourselves ready to move on.

“Eternal punishment” does not refer to the length of the punishment, but to the quality and intensity of the punishment.

By the same token “eternal life” means the kind of life that God lives. We can obtain and enjoy eternal life, even in this life. We not only can, but we must.

“… and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead…”

We can also volunteer to remain behind and help other struggling souls climb higher. This is why the sacrifice of Christ was so important and significant. Christ said “come follow me”. It is important to understand the full import of what that means, and always be ready to follow Christ, wherever he leads us, or asks us to go.

We are constantly taught, take a covenant at baptism, and renew that covenant every week to take upon ourselves the “name of Christ”. This principle is demonstrated quite literally and visually in the temple. The name of Christ means something and is not just a euphemism.

I don’t believe in being confined to a static destination for all eternity, no matter what that destination is. THAT is the definition of damnation. I expect to keep growing, learning, and progressing, as in the words of the hymn:

The works of God continue,
And worlds and lives abound;
Improvement and progression
Have one eternal round.

So, keeping an eternal perspective i’m focused on the HERE AND NOW, and making the most out of this life, and assisting others to do the same. There is no reason why we can’t create heaven on earth. It will come when we are ready for it.

As the Lord said through the prophet of the Community of Christ:

“Zionic conditions are no further away nor any closer than the spiritual condition of my people justifies.” [D&C 140:5c – Israel A. Smith – April 7, 1947]

Zion is just the start. After Enoch built

Don’t be waiting for God. It’s up to us.

The “After-Life”

According to the evidence I have observed, first hand, and from people I personally know and trust, we have always existed and will continue to exist.

“Afterlife” is a misnomer, as is “pre-existence”. They both beg the question. If life and existence always IS, there is no such thing as a “before” or an “after”. So, in that respect, I don’t believe in an afterlife, or a pre-existence, either. And, I don’t believe in “fairy stories”, either.

For me, it’s not a belief, and I cannot present evidence to others if they have not, cannot, or will not observe the evidence for themselves.

But, I can point out a couple of things that could point in that direction.

(1) On the TV show Brain Games, a bunch of children are busily skipping rope and doing some very incredible maneuvers. The announcer tells us that in the background, unobserved by most, a man comes on the scene wearing a chicken costume. He promptly leaves. Some people saw him. Some didn’t. We could argue all day and even get religious about whether or not there was a man in a chicken costume.

The question is one of attention and observation. If we are so focused on grubbing our way through the things of material world, we may not spare a little attention to focus on what’s BETWEEN those things, and though we might assume that there is nothing in that empty space we might assume that if we didn’t see it, it doesn’t exist. But, that’s not really scientific. We can’t see germs, but they exist.

(2) We have all heard about ultrasound. I read just last week that ultrasound can stimulate the brains of mice and reverse the effects of Alzheimers disease. Who would have believed 100 years ago that a vibration that we can’t even sense could have a physical affect on the brain. What if there were even higher vibrations, so high we cannot detect or measure that also have an affect on the human brain, perhaps causing the mind to perceive people and things of an even high vibration, which we cannot measure or detect with present technology.

I offer these two points, not as proof, but as possibilities.