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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Rend the Veil of Unbelief, Part 2: The Power of Visualization in Parting the Veil


”There are great ideas undiscovered, breakthroughs available to those who can remove one of truth’s protective layers. There are places to go beyond belief.” (Neil Armstrong, July 20, 1994)

Throw Away the Lists. All of Them.


Can I just say two things right off the bat?

1. It's amazing how many people are seeking after the Second Comforter -- and getting mighty frustrated in the process -- without having stopped to consider that they may be minimizing, even neglecting, seeking after the First Comforter!
2. We Mormons love our lists!

We have lists for everything, and I mean...everything. No matter if its the Word of Wisdom, the Sabbath, dating, the way we introduce people to the Gospel or how we run our meetings, we live off lists. No matter which worship meeting we attend, we're given more lists. We read the Ensign, go home/visiting teaching and -- yep, you guessed it -- we either give or are given more lists.  (I've often thought about compiling all these lists in a book, and calling it "The LDS List of Lists". It'd be a multi-volume compendium).

When it comes to growing closer to the Lord, the lists don't go away. No, they proliferate! There are a lot of lists which walk us step-by-step from baptism to the Lord's presence and ultimately to Father's presence. Here's a typical one I came up with off the top of my head:
  1. (If you're a non-member), your conscience is pricked.
  2. (If you're a non-member), you're taught the discussions.
  3. You accept and receive baptism.
  4. You are (A) confirmed a member of the church and (B) invited to receive the Holy Ghost.
  5. (Men only) You're ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood.
  6. (Men only) You're ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood.
  7. You receive your initiatories in the temple.
  8. You receive your endowments in the temple.
  9. (If you're getting married) You're sealed to your spouse in the temple.
  10. You receive your Baptism of Fire.
  11. You have your Calling and Election made sure ("C&E").
  12. You receive the Second Comforter ("2ndC").
  13. You receive continual visits by Christ and/or angels.
  14. You and your spouse receive the Second Anointing ("2ndA").
  15. Christ introduces you to Father.
Of course, that's just a sample list. Perhaps you've seen variations of it.

Yet for the life of me, I can't see where these specific events, in this specific order (or any order, for that matter) are articulated in the scriptures. In fact, when I read the scriptures, I see far fewer lists. OK, OK, I see quite a few in the Old Testament. But once Jesus was on the scene, the lists started disappearing quickly. Such sequential lists are conceptualized, organized and promulgated by mortals...the very same mortals who are well-meaning but kinda prone to imperfection and are sometimes mistaken.

So, in my humble opinion, there's no royal, officially-designated road into Christ's presence and ultimately into Father's presence. Like a snowflake, every experience is different. Jesus can visit whoever He wants, whenever He wants, wherever He wants, and bless a person with whatever He wants, period. And you can't tell Him otherwise.

Case in point: If you go here and here, you'll read about an instance in April 1832 when Brother Joseph visited the 68 souls Colesville Branch of the Church. He was so moved by their humility and faithfulness, that he gathered them together and did something that caused a considerable stir among those that witnessed it — he sealed up the branch, all present, to Eternal Life. All 68 men, women and children had their Callings and Elections made sure. Note that this happened a good 7-8 months before the Kirtland Temple was even announced (27 December 1832) or dedicated (27 March 1836). Granted, in this instance, Joseph wasn't Christ. But He was acting in his office as a prophet, seer and revelator, and I see no indication that the Lord nullified Joseph's pronouncement later on.

Furthermore, there are ample testimonies by modern-day Muslims and Jews who have had an audience with Christ (the 12-13 minute mark of this video is especially poignant).

Although there's no way to independently verify these accounts, I have no reason to doubt what happened in Colesville. I also feel that many of those Muslims and Jews who publicly profess to have interacted with Christ have clearly experienced something profound. They've turned their backs on extended family and friends, jobs and possibly even their own personal security, and have dedicated their whole souls to furthering Christ's work.

And as for lists, Jesus has already given us a single-bullet point list to help guide us back to Him:
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26)
"For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do." (2 Nephi 32:5)
"And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." (Moroni 10:5)
"Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." (D&C 6:36)
To me, this is the Lord saying, "Do yourself a favor -- stop trying to do things in your own, imperfect way. Do the right thing: Consult the Spirit. Ask Him what's next on His list for you. You'll be glad you did!"

Add to that a statement by Lorenzo Snow, where he said that it is the “grand privilege of every Latter-day Saint … to have the manifestations of the spirit every day of our lives … [so] that we may know the light, and not be groveling continually in the dark” (Conference Report, April 1899, p. 52). And Heber J. Grant promised that “if we earnestly and honestly seek the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord, I can assure you that we will receive it” (Gospel Standards, p. 26)

Based on all these facts, do you really think the Lord would provide advice contrary to what He's said in the scriptures? Do you think that filling your head ad nauseum with lists is His way? It's no wonder people have a tough time developing a relationship with Jesus, when they don't even have one with the Holy Ghost. It's no wonder the Lord severely chastises the Gentiles for their unbelief, when they're so quick to waggle the index finger of condemnation at ancient Judaism (aka "Mote-Beam Sickness).

Or, do you think He's more apt to point you to the Holy Ghost? He knows -- and we know -- that like Lehi and his family in the desert, the Holy Ghost can perfectly relay whatever messages are necessary, at any time, to help guide you to your ultimate spiritual destination.

Step-by-step, man-made, sequential lists aren't going to guide you back to Father. It's going to be the Holy Ghost...and at some point, Jesus Christ Himself.

With Your Nose Right Up Against The Veil


I believe that as you turn to the Lord in every thought, and are being inspired by Him, and are regularly expressing your love for Him, He'll mirror your efforts. He'll reciprocate. He'll draw closer to you.

Indeed, the only thing that will exist between you and the Lord will be the veil.

So, let's talk for a minute about this veil which (like air and the spirit world), we can't see, but we know exists.

Not much is known about the veil. What we do know definitively is that when we speak of "the veil", we're actually referring to the "veil of unbelief":
"Now, this was what Ammon desired, for he knew that king Lamoni was under the power of God; he knew that the dark veil of unbelief was being cast away from his mind, and the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness—yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul, yea, he knew that this had overcome his natural frame, and he was carried away in God—" (Alma 19:6)
Also,
"Come unto me, O ye Gentiles, and I will show unto you the greater things, the knowledge which is hid up because of unbelief.
Come unto me, O ye house of Israel, and it shall be made manifest unto you how great things the Father hath laid up for you, from the foundation of the world; and it hath not come unto you, because of unbelief.
Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel." (Ether 4:13-15)
In summary, we see that:

  • The veil of unbelief is dark and can exist in our minds.
  • This darkness can contribute to wickedness, hardness of heart and blindness of mind. 
  • The light of the glory of God can cast the darkness away from our minds.

So how do you know the light, and not be groveling continually in the dark? How do you overcome your natural frame, and be carried away in God?

Here's Elder Parley P. Pratt:
“The gift of the Holy Ghost...quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections, and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates, and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity. It develops beauty of person, form, and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.” (Key to the Science of Theology, pp. 101- 103)
Also,
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy;" (D&C 11:13)
(Hmmmm..."light to the eyes"..."enlighten your mind". Let's put these phrases on the back burner for a few minutes, OK?)

Isn't the Lord hidden behind a veil?

Isn't the Holy Ghost the one who's supposed to lead us to Christ?

Then, to part the veil, develop and nurture not only a relationship with, but also a reliance upon, the Holy Ghost!

"OK, great! How do I do that?" you ask? Only the Spirit can tell you, but here's a good thing to start with: Ditch the lists. Quit seeking your own imperfect, mistake-prone "wisdom". Seek the Spirit's guidance in your life instead.

It seems to me that the only way you're going to thin, or even part, the veil is by getting in sync with the Holy Ghost and letting Him lead you straight to the Lord. Does that make sense?

Seeing With New Eyes


I just recently learned that when babies are born, their field of vision is limited to about 8-10 inches, or the distance to their parent's face. Their visual acuity is between 20/200 and 20/400 and can generally hold their gaze for only a few seconds. That's because their eyes and visual system aren't fully developed. By about three months, they begin to follow moving objects with their eyes and reach for things. At six months, their vision is generally 20/20. Between 8-12 months, they can judge distances pretty well. (See here, here and here).

Our spiritual sight is no different. "For now we see through a glass, darkly" (1 Corinthians 13:12; there's that "dark" word again). In fact, I'd go so far as to say most people just see a spiritual black screen. Our spiritual visual acuity is horrible or non-existent, and most have never used their spiritual eyesight (keep reading for more on that). Could it be that our "spiritual visual system" isn't fully developed? I think so.

There's only one scriptural account that I know of where a person actually developed their spiritual sight to such a degree, that they rent the veil of unbelief: the Brother of Jared. Why did he initially see "the finger of the Lord"? Here's what Jesus told him:
"Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger." (Ether 3:9)
Check that out -- not once, but twice, the Lord puts an equal sign between seeing and faith. In fact, He characterizes such faith as "exceeding faith", which is how and why the Brother of Jared rent the veil of unbelief.

Moroni also states,
“And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore, they first believed in the Son of God. And there were many whose faith was so exceeding strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad.” (Ether 12:18–19)
There's that "exceeding faith" again, reinforcing the direct correlation between having "exceeding strong faith" and beholding "things with an eye of faith". As a result: they were "not be kept from within the veil" and later "truly saw with their eyes" the things they had previously seen with "an eye of faith".

This follows a predictable, consistent pattern:

The spiritual creation precedes the physical creation in all things.

"But remember that all my judgments are not given unto men; and as the words have gone forth out of my mouth even so shall they be fulfilled, that the first shall be last, and that the last shall be first in all things whatsoever I have created by the word of my power, which is the power of my Spirit.
For by the power of my Spirit created I them; yea, all things both spiritual and temporal—
First spiritual, secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again, first temporal, and secondly spiritual, which is the last of my work—" (D&C 29:30-32)
Here's what Elder Robert B. Harbertson of the First Quorum of the Seventy said about the "eye of faith":
"What is this eye of faith? What does it mean? Can you actually see the things that can come to pass? I believe that you can. You must be willing, though, to spend enough time to think about what you want to do, what you want to be, how you will react and what you will say under given circumstances. When you work on it hard enough and have it firmly planted in your mind with the eye of faith, you will actually see it happen. I believe you have to develop this kind of faith in order to be successful. It’s something more than just saying you have faith. You have to work for it. You have to live for it. You have to do all you can..." ("The Eye of Faith", New Era, September 1988)
Now, before you start thinking, "This is all great, but I can't do this," note that Pres. Kimball and I beg to differ:
"Herein lies the genius of the gospel of Jesus Christ, perceived by only the spiritual eye. Under the gospel’s beneficent laws, everyone—rich or poor, learned or unlearned—is encouraged first to perceive with the eye of faith." (Pres. Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, London England Area Conference 1976, p. 36).
So, let's put this all together:

  • The Lord told the Brother of Jared that it was his "exceeding faith" which rent the veil of unbelief.
  • Moroni says the same thing, and that those who do so can see things with their eye of faith and then, later, with their actual eyes.
  • This follows the divine pattern of the spiritual creation preceding the physical creation.
  • We are encouraged first to perceive with the eye of faith.

So, how do we do that?

Amazingly, the answers have been under your nose the whole time.

Spiritually, then Naturally, Seeing God


In the D&C, the Lord introduced us to the concept of the veil being rent and seeing Him via our spiritual minds:

"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. For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God." (D&C 67:10-11)

He also discussed seeing Him in your mind in D&C 88:
"Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will." (D&C 88:68).
Moses put it best:
"But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him." (Moses 1:11)
What do we learn from these three verses:

  • You must sanctify yourself so your minds is single to God (see my "Throw Away the Lists. All of Them" section above).
  • As you do this (i.e, as the Holy Ghost is guiding you through the process of sanctification), your jealousies, fears and pride can be stripped away.
  • The result: the veil can be rent -- you can see the Lord -- not with your natural, but spiritual, mind.
  • Moroni called this process of seeing the Lord spiritually, then naturally, "exceeding faith" -- the very same faith which the Brother of Jared used to rend the veil of unbelief.
  • We know this is a true concept, because it follows the divine pattern of the spiritual creation preceding the physical creation.

So, how do we develop this "Eye of Faith"?


Paul's advice:

"Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints," (Ephesians 1:16-18)

Nephi's advice:

“For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.” (1 Nephi 11:1)
“Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.” (1 Nephi 15:3, 7–11)
“Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time. And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me. And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them. O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?” (2 Nephi 4:23-26)
Joseph Smith's advice:
“while we meditated upon these things [John’s teaching about the resurrection, in John 5:29], the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about. And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness; And saw the holy angels, and them who are sanctified before his throne, worshiping God, and the Lamb, who worship him forever and ever. And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!" (D&C 76:19-22)
And finally, Elder Bednar's:
"The patterns used by God in creating the earth are instructive in helping us understand how to make prayer meaningful. In the third chapter of the book of Moses we learn that all things were created spiritually before they were naturally upon the earth. We learn from these verses that the spiritual creation preceded the temporal creation.  In a similar way, meaningful morning prayer is an important element in the spiritual creation of each day -- and precedes the temporal creation or the actual execution of the day.  Just as the temporal creation was linked to and a continuation of the spiritual creation, so meaningful morning and evening prayers are linked to and are a continuation of each other." (Elder David A. Bednar, "Pray Always", October 2008 General Conference).

FAQs


Q: Is worthiness an essential component in seeing God, either in your mind's eye or actual?
A: Yes. If you're in an awful state of wickedness, have hardness of heart or blindness of mind (Ether 4:13-15), repent. You need to strip yourself of jealousies and fears, and humble yourself before God.


Q: What do I do if I can't get past the fact that I'm just not worthy to do this?
A: Tell Satan to get lost. Then go back and read Part 1 of this series. Bottom line: Nobody ever has been, nor ever will be, "righteous enough". God's criteria: As one of my friends says, "The greatest worship isn't what we do--it's full attention, eager reception, deep enjoyment and genuine response to God's extravagant love."

Q: I'm not a General Authority, so I can't see God.
A: That's baloney. Brother Joseph wrote, “God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him … from the least to the greatest [see Jeremiah 31:34].” (History of the Church, 3:295–96; from a letter from Joseph Smith and others to Edward Partridge and the Church, Mar. 20, 1839, Liberty Jail, Liberty, Missouri)

Q: I can't visualize.
A: If you truly believe that lie, then you're right. You can't. But truthfully, you visualize all the time.

Q: How do I do this? Where's the step-by-step to-do list so I can do those things?
A: What did I just say above? Consult the Holy Ghost! He'll tell you what to do (John 14:26, 2 Nephi 32:5). Remember: every experience is different. And you'll never experience your Second Comforter until you've mastered your First Comforter.

Q: What's the #1 key to spiritually visualizing?
A: Knowing that God loves you.

Q: So, you're basically saying I can imagine God, or visualize God, and He'll show up?
A: Visualizing? Yes. Rapidly? Ummm, most likely not that rapidly, no. Cultivation takes time and effort. As Elder Harbertson said above, "I believe you have to develop this kind of faith in order to be successful. It’s something more than just saying you have faith. You have to work for it. You have to live for it. You have to do all you can..." Brother Joseph also said,
"It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time; then we can comprehend it." (History of the Church, 5:387; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on May 14, 1843, in Yelrome, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff)
"The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out." (History of the Church, 3:295–96; from a letter from Joseph Smith and others to Edward Partridge and the Church, Mar. 20, 1839, Liberty Jail, Liberty, Missouri)
Q: This whole concept (of visualization) is fascinating! Where can I read more about it?
A: Click on this blog's "Posts by Topic" link in the top menu. Once there, in the left-hand light blue keyword section, scroll down and select "Visualizing". Back up at the top, in the gray section, you'll see a variety of past posts on visualzation.

Q: What's the best time/place to spiritually visualize?
A: When you're wide awake in a nice, peaceful, calm place.

Q: This seems so basic! I mean, all the quotes, all the scriptures -- I've read them I don't know how many times! Why isn't this stuff taught in church?
A: It is! All the scriptures and general authority quotes came from lds.org.

Q: I don't know what I'm looking for. Will you tell me what Jesus/Father/Mother look like? Will you tell me what you did? I promise I won't tell anyone.
A: Definitely, unquestionably no. This is about you and God, not me and God.

Q: Would it help for me to look at a picture of Jesus beforehand?
A: No. Again, quit putting another mortal in between you and Jesus. You don't want to seek His face based on the interpretation of another. You want to seek His real face.

Summary


As mortals, we're naturally drawn to doing things our way. Or we want mortal mentors, gurus, teachers, people who've seen Jesus or just downright righteous dudes to show us the way. If that's you, I'll include you in my prayers, because you're blowing it. You need to "let go and let God". Set your your mind to God. Ponder and meditate upon His word. Engage in mighty prayer. Spiritually envision your entire day before you've even walked out your front door. If you do, then the days will come that you'll see Him. It may very likely be spiritually first, in your mind's eye -- your imagination. Eventually, He'll unveil his face to you in His own time, and in His own way, and according to His own will.

The world says "Seeing is believing". 
God says "Believing IS seeing".


In my next post (Part 3 of this series) you'll read two accounts of people who used their mind's eye to visualize Jesus, and ended up seeing much, much more than they expected. You'll know what they did, and how they did it.

Still interested?

I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk, by your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When your face is before me
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

3 comments:

  1. Wow! I couldn't stop reading your post. I feel this is what is missing for me to see my Savior.
    Thank you for sharing this with me.
    Dane

    ReplyDelete
  2. I went and tried it...visualizing. Can I just say...WOW! One of the most sacred experiences I've had!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I so appreciate the amount of work and effort you put into these posts. Every one is enlightening and is helping me draw nearer to the Lord. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete