Sunday, June 17, 2018
In the ancient Schools of the Prophets the spirit and mind of man was trained to pass through the veil (Klipah). This veil was described using many different symbols such as the cloud, the storm, the voice of thunder, the darkness, the strong wind, the earthquake, and the fire etc. This Israelite veil imagery was described by the Prophet Elijah:
"And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice." (1 Kings 19:11-12)
We can also see this imagery used by the Prophet Ether in regard to the brother of Jared:
"And it came to pass that when they had come down into the valley of Nimrod the Lord came down and talked with the brother of Jared; and he was in a cloud, and the brother of Jared saw him not.
And it came to pass that the Lord commanded them that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been. And it came to pass that the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel...
And it came to pass at the end of four years that the Lord came again unto the brother of Jared, and stood in a cloud and talked with him. And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord." (Ether 2: 4-5,14)
The same imagery was employed by Nephi in the Book of Helaman:
" And it came to pass that they were overshadowed with a cloud of darkness, and an awful solemn fear came upon them. And it came to pass that there came a voice as if it were above the cloud of darkness, saying: Repent ye, repent ye, and seek no more to destroy my servants whom I have sent unto you to declare good tidings... And notwithstanding the mildness of the voice, behold the earth shook exceedingly, and the walls of the prison trembled again, as if it were about to tumble to the earth; and behold the cloud of darkness, which had overshadowed them, did not disperse— " (Helaman 5: 28-29,31)
The Prophet Alma and the sons of Mosiah were confronted by an Angel through the veil also relates this same imagery in being confronted with the veil:
"And now it came to pass that while he was going about to destroy the church of God, for he did go about secretly with the sons of Mosiah seeking to destroy the church, and to lead astray the people of the Lord, contrary to the commandments of God, or even the king—
And as I said unto you, as they were going about rebelling against God, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto them; and he descended as it were in a cloud; and he spake as it were with a voice of thunder, which caused the earth to shake upon which they stood" (Mosiah 27:10-11)
The Patriach Lehi also utilizes the veil imagery in his vision of the Tree of Life:
"And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies.
And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field. And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy." (1 Nephi 8:8-10)
The purpose of Israelite prayer/meditation was to fulfill the commandment given by God to bond with him. The mind and spirit of man in order to fully bond or connect with God must pass by these veils or barriers that are designed to separate the carnal from the spiritual or that which is holy from that which is profane. The experience being of such a nature that whether in the body or out of the body, or in the physical or spiritual plane, the experience is of such a nature that heaven and earth connect in such a way that its' reality cannot be questioned by the prophet or the people who experience the veil. Once experienced those prophets and people who connected with God became a conduit of connected heaven and earth-- "And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD'S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!" (Numbers 11:28)
The words of the prophecy or revelation spoken by the prophets whether it be Abraham, Moses, The Brother of Jared, Lehi, Nephi, etc came from a world far more exalted that this sphere. The words of the prophecy being of such a nature and layered with both plainness and instruction far deeper than human language could fully convey that it took the same infusion of the spirit to experience the words of the Prophets so that one could fully understand these exalted instructions. The experience of this type of exalted experiential communication is described by the Nephites in the land of Bountiful as follows:
"And after this manner do they bear record: The eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father; And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father."
It was also conveyed by the Apostle Paul (Shaul):
"How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." (2 Corinthians 12:4)
The keys of the knowledge to pass by the veil are contained within the scriptures and the spirit that animated the prophetic experience in those prophetic words become living celestial seeds in our hearts that plant living trees of life that enable our ascent back into the presence of God. These keys of knowledge coupled with the planting of these seeds literally produce the conditions that transform the fallen into the exalted and connect this world with the world above. What is often taught in Sunday School as a childs parable of the The Seed by the Prophet Alma is in actuality an ancient handbook of the process of transformation and ascension written to a child but encoded with instruction for those who seek to learn the science of the Fathers:
"And now, my brethren, I desire that ye shall plant this word in your hearts, and as it beginneth to swell even so nourish it by your faith. And behold, it will become a tree, springing up in you unto everlasting life. And then may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son. And even all this can ye do if ye will. Amen."
The encoded words and instructions in this Israelite teaching contain not only the plain meaning and child instructions but also the deeper instruction or what is referred to in ancient Israel as the "Holy Names" or "Vessels" whereby God's world is physically and spiritually manifested in this world. This is why the record of the Nephites is so important to our spiritual development and progression because it contains these holy mechanisms in a more pure and less tamper with state for the express purpose of recreating the conditions where heaven and earth connected as with the Nephites at the Temple in the Land of Bountiful.
In a grand account written in symbolic form Nephi in 3 Nephi relates the storms and destruction upon the land at the time of the Messiah's crucifixion. It is also an instruction manual of passing through the storms and clouds of the veil documented using real events but communicated in an ancient Israelite manner to serve as both an actual account of events and at the same time instruction on establishing Zion-sacred space where Heaven and Earth connect:
"And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land. And there was also a great and terrible tempest; and there was terrible thunder, insomuch that it did shake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder... And it came to pass that when the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the storm, and the tempest, and the quakings of the earth did cease—for behold, they did last for about the space of three hours; and it was said by some that the time was greater; nevertheless, all these great and terrible things were done in about the space of three hours—and then behold, there was darkness upon the face of the land. " (3 Nephi 8:5-6)
The imagery employed by these prophets was not happenstance. The only way to pass through the storm or veil is found within the darkness of the soul first by descending to reach a state of silence in your land. The words of God revealed through this and other accounts are repetitive instruction manuals (or keys of knowledge) to understand the veil, pass through it, commune with Heaven, and then connect Heaven and Earth. This Book of Mormon is what has been sealed from the eyes of the understanding of the Gentiles is also a book that if we understand and embrace the message can liberate the fallen or trapped soul to experience the liberation of Messiah and The Assembly of the Firstborn-an exalted assembly to which no earthly institutional church can compare.
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Dividing The People
"And the people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another into tribes, every man according to his family and his kindred and friends; and thus they did destroy the government of the land." (3 Nephi 7:2)
Many people view the idea of Zion with religious and communal eye glasses. Strangely enough if we were to examine closely the Israelite idea of Zion we would find that it was a place where God's people were secured in the blessings of life and liberty. It was a place where peace and safety for all of God's people would be secured under the rule of his law- so that equity, liberty, and justice would be meted out for all being blind to class, wealth, or color. Ironically we could summarize Zion as follows:
" ONE NATION, UNDER GOD, INDIVISIBLE, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL"
Even in this pledge of allegiance we hear the echoes of Israel as recorded in the Shema:
"2 That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.
3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:
5 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates." (Deuteronomy 6)
This blessing of Oneness under God and his laws is preserved by the obedience of the People to God's laws. What we are witnessing now in this country is division-division based on wealth, race, etc. This division is part of the covenant curses coming upon the Land. It is also a part of the plan of the Adversary and his secret combination that seeks to overthrow the liberty of all lands as described in Ether:
" Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.
For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning." Ether 8:24-25.
The division we see now in our nation is fulfillment of prophecy as declared in the Book of Mormon. While people are being divided by economic forces, media forces, and subversive governmental forces a war is being waged for the very soul of this country. If we do not awaken to our awful situation, this nation will creep closer and closer to levels of division and warfare that will make the Civil War look like a day in the park. We will see race pitted against race, men pitted against women, women pitted against men, wealth pitted against the workers, and children against parents. In a nation once united we will see the emergence of governments and city states- some of whom will seek to maintain the laws of liberty and freedom while others will seek to establish tyrants and kingmen. Even as the forces of division and violence increase there will be those who will be led to set apart places where civilization is maintained and freedom will be secured. There are many at this time whom God has lead out from those areas that are the more populous and wicked to places that will serve as states or nations of protection appointed by God for those in whose hearts still burn the fire of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the love of Liberty. It will be those who understand that liberty was purchased with the price of sacred life and can only be preserved by eternal vigilance and the establishment of God's laws. If our nation continues to walk the path it is walking, a day will come when confidence will be lost and God's wings of protection will be withdrawn. It will then be said again:
"And only a few years have passed away, and they were a civil and a delightsome people. But O my son, how can a people like this, whose delight is in so much abomination— How can we expect that God will stay his hand in judgment against us?" (Moroni 9:12)
There is a path to healing. There is a path to covenant rebirth. But I wonder how many will hear this familiar cry, "O that we had repented before this great and terrible day, and then would our brethren have been spared, and they would not have been burned in that great city New York.
And in another place they were heard to cry and mourn, saying: O that we had repented before this great and terrible day, and had not killed and stoned the prophets, and cast them out; then would our mothers and our fair daughters, and our children have been spared, and not have been buried up in that great city Los Angeles. And thus were the howlings of the people great and terrible." (see 3 Nephi 8:24-25)
Saturday, June 9, 2018
"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions" (Joel 2:28)
While our language skills develop as we mature, our first and primary level of communication is the world of pictures. If I were to say a fruit that is orange and sweet it might conjure pictures of a juicy sweet orange or tangerine. Or if I were to say a feathered creature flying in the air it might conjure pictures of an eagle soaring in the sky or a hawk gliding overhead. In the world of the prophetic words such as 'orange' or 'eagle' were constructs to represent these images. Pictures are the most fundamental level of communication.
It was taught in ancient Israel that dreams were messages from the worlds above. It was said by some sages that a dream left uninterpreted was like a scroll left unread. When we enter the world of the visionary or dreamer, information is communicated in images and symbols. Spiritual communication does not follow the same rules as our natural mind. The language of images and symbols was considered the language of heaven and divine messengers. The gift of the angelic visitation, the dream, or the visionary was considered so powerful and elevated that prophets would declare:
"For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him." (Isaiah 64:4)
"And after this manner do they bear record: The eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father..." (3 Nephi 17:16)
Divine communication in visions or dreams was part of the pathway of the prophetic. The visions were so powerful to the receiving prophet that they would be almost overwhelming in some cases leaving the body of the prophet without strength:
"And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem; and he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit and the things which he had seen. And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God." (1 Nephi 1:7-8)
The ancient Schools of the Prophets preserved this understanding of the power of images, but they also taught the discernment of these communications as well. Significant training was given to the student to teach them to discern between the the common thoughts of the mind and true communications from God. This pathway of ascension and discernment was typified in scriptural language using images or symbols of the storm, clouds, fire, and darkness symbolizing the Klipot, barrier, or veil. The instruction included the methods of the submissive will by which one parted the veil.
YHVH- An Anchor To The Soul
One of the key anchors of the soul in its ascent taught in the ancient Schools of the Prophets was God's name YHVH. Whenever a prophet walked the pathway of the prophetic and came up against the darkness, cloud, barrier, veil (klipot) they were taught how to overcome this barrier. To submit through this veil or barrier they would perform the prophetic technique involving the a meditation/prayer of calling on the name of God- YHVH. The prophet Lehi gives an example of this submission past the veil of darkness by meditating or calling upon YHVH:
"And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me. And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me follow him. And it came to pass that as I followed him I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste. And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies. And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field." (1 Nephi 8:5-9)
This same manner of submitting past the veil was experience by over 300 Lamanites who came to kill the Prophets Nephi and Lehi in the Book of Helaman.
"And it came to pass that the Lamanites said unto him: What shall we do, that this cloud of darkness may be removed from overshadowing us?
And Aminadab said unto them: You must repent, and cry unto the voice, even until ye shall have faith in Christ, who was taught unto you by Alma, and Amulek, and Zeezrom; and when ye shall do this, the cloud of darkness shall be removed from overshadowing you.
And it came to pass that they all did begin to cry unto the voice of him who had shaken the earth; yea, they did cry even until the cloud of darkness was dispersed.
And it came to pass that when they cast their eyes about, and saw that the cloud of darkness was dispersed from overshadowing them, behold, they saw that they were encircled about, yea every soul, by a pillar of fire." (Helaman 5:40-43)
Calling upon the holy name of God (YHVH) acted as an anchor to the soul and connected the mind of the submissive to the mind of God (YHVH). In calling upon the name or meditating upon the name of God the barrier/veil/klipot was dispersed and the seeker gained entry into the presence of God. The meditating or calling upon the name YHVH is still used today as a method of casting the spiritual anchor for those sincerely seeking to bond with God. Yet the calling upon the name alone was not sufficient to breach the barrier it must be accompanied by the sincere intention and desire to receive correction and deliverance (i.e. repentance) of God. In doing so the mighty cleansing power of God was unleashed and the person performed the act of surrendering their will to God which is the one single force that blocks the process of spiritual bonding. This same ancient process is exemplified with King Lamoni when upon calling upon the name of God he fell to the earth as if he were dead:
"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 (klipot) 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)
As we surrender our will to the will of God, sacred space is created in the heart preparing the student to receive the greater things of God. The observance of the commandments that comes from this submission of the will is the fruit meet or that comes from this submission. In doing so the darkness of the mortal world falls away and the student of the prophetic is then carried away in God. One who has no real desire or intent to surrender their will to receive the things of God will never pass the veil that separates this world from the world above.
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
"Who shall ascend into the Mountain of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully." (Psalms 24:3-4)
God's gifts and revelations are in direct proportion to the level of our spiritual maturity. To the extent that we resonate with Heaven, Heaven becomes a reality to us in the here and now. Because of the fall, there are barriers of physical and spiritual noise in the souls of men and women. These veils or barriers are what are referred to in Hebrew as the Klipot- shells or barriers. Unlike Adam we do not possess the celestial capabilities that the civilization of Adam possessed because of these barriers. The ancient schools of prophets were well aware of these veils or barriers and their training included instruction of the nature of these barriers and the methods of entry through these veils.
According to some writings, during the time of Israel when the prophetic was manifest in great power and abundance it was said that there were millions who gathered to enter into the life of the talmidim, or students, of these schools of the prophets. At the same time while there were true prophets to be found in abundance there was also the reality of false prophets who sought power and to get gain. Because of the danger that came from the results of institutional and false prophets, God declared to Moses the penalty of death for the false prophet. (Deuteronomy 13: 1-6) In other words, the God of Israel had no tolerance for those falsely claiming to speak in his name.
The discernment between those legitimately sent from God and those who were not has always been a difficult task. In order to discern between the two God gave the scriptures to teach us the commandments and the covenant bounds wherein people can walk. At the same time while the commandments can be strictly observed, there is still a chance that a person can be deceived even when their heart is in the right place as there are forces that exist whose desire it is to keep men and women from bonding with God.
The true nature of evil is never experienced as devils with red horns and pitchforks. It is often experienced through those whose disposition is carnal (governed by the physical body), sensual (governed by the passions and emotions), and the devilish (those without law). The existence and power of the natural man and the adversary's ability to influence the natural man is experienced by all; from prophet to lay person, from old to young, both male and female. There are enough prophetic ego maniacs to go around in this world just as there many prophetic/religious figures that done holy garb and who seek to exert dominion and control by demanding loyalty beyond reason to them and their respective churches/institutions. These are those who sincerely believe God has spoken to them and yet their fruits are the fruits of chaos, the breaking of the God's commandments, or the supplanting of God's commandments with the commandments of men. With their words they draw near to God with their mouths (comparable to false advertising) while their actions are those of totalitarian control, secret combinations, the ignoring of God's commandments, and indifference in upholding justice and mercy. The power of the false prophetic can be experienced individually as well as institutionally.
The spirit that resides within men and women is powerful. All have the ability to ascend and to rend the veil that separates this world from the worlds above, but in doing so there is the possibility of being seduced by evil influences- both mortal and spiritual. In order for the students of the prophetic to ascend they had to walk a path of correction and cleansing. The commandments of God serve to display the image or countenance of God that enable the prophetic student to separate the holy from the profane, the prophetic from the false prophetic in order to perceive the true spiritual reality of God.
Monday, May 28, 2018
Before Israel lies the ever present command to bond with God. This state of being and commandment of bonding is epitomized in what is called the Shema:
"Hear, Yisra'el: the LORD is our God; the LORD is one: and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might." (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
YHVH is one (echad). Here the word echad not only states the singular but the idea of unity or bonded oneness. This state of being and command to be bonded with God is further expressed in the instructions that are tied with this first statement of the Shema:
"These words, which I command you this day, shall be on your heart" (Deuteronomy 6:6) The planting of the word (Wisdom) into the heart (the place of understanding) wherein conscious and organized thought occurs is the pathway to this bonded state with God.
"and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up" (Deuteronomy 6:8)
We are to teach his words (wisdom) to our physical children but in a spiritual sense the children also being referred to here are those thoughts of our hearts that are the product of our daily affairs. Like children our minds are often dancing and playing about with the things of the world going from one idea to another-never quite staying on any single activity or idea for very long. As we talk or meditate upon the wisdom of God (whatever its form), we engage in the process of bonding with God. We take in ourselves the life of the Ruach and resonate with Higher Worlds even Worlds Without End (Ayn Sof).
You shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for symbols between your eyes.You shall write them on the door-posts of your house, and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:8-9)
In this bonding process with God and his wisdom we begin to transform into the image of God. It is in this new birth that the works of our hands become of the works of God. It is in this new birth that we see, hear, and understand whether in the physical or realms of prayer with the eyes of God. In writing or engraving Chokmah (wisdom) with the tools of Binah (understanding) on the entryways to our individual conscious minds our spiritual judgment transforms and our cities become a New Jerusalem.
While our thoughts and minds remain like a dancing child going from one thought to another without real function or form we find ourselves in a state of chaos. In this chaos of consciousness no focus is ever accomplished and no real power of the mind and spirit developed. In ancient Israel, the schools of the prophets were instituted to teach students that pathway by which one matured from spiritual childhood to maturity; the idea of being perfect- or the idea of a seed sprouting into a mature tree that is able to produce desirable fruit. The idea of being like a child was taught in ancient Israel as THE DESIRE TO RECEIVE FROM GOD. The idea of being holy, perfect, or mature was taught as THE DESIRE TO RECEIVE FROM GOD TO BESTOW-- or perhaps the better way to express the divine principle of passion- TO LOVE GOD AND TO LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.
MUSIC- A TOOL OF THE PROPHETIC
It is often mentioned in the scriptures that when a prophet desired revelation he would have music played. Music as a tool of the spirit would arouse the faculties of the spirit and as a result of this form of contemplative meditation we have before us the Psalms of Israel. The use of music would be used as part of the prophetic process to engage the physical mind and bring it to the realm of the spiritual. In this process and using this tool, prophets would then contemplate the names of God, words from the Psalms, scriptures, or other revelations. Once elevated the music would cease and the mind and heart of the prophet would then be in the right disposition of spiritual submission to proceed into the worlds of the spiritual.
In the temple in Jerusalem music and cantors (i.e. singers) would be found using this tool of the prophetic as a tool to separate the temple, its environment, and its listeners from the world of the mundane and elevate them to the world of the spirit. With the destruction of the temple the use of music as a tool of the prophetic became somewhat of a lost art. But while its use in the prophetic became obscured in some circles, there were other traditions that preserved this knowledge. In fact, among some Israelite traditions it was taught that God did not speak creation into existence but that he sang creation into existence.
Music as a tool of the prophetic and the creative was seen as an important tool of the prophetic. But not all music can be used in the prophetic. As there is music that connects the soul to the celestial there is music that can open the soul to that which is profane or unholy. The same tool used to elevate and encourage life in the Ruach Elohiym (Holy Spirit) can also lower the consciousness of man and destroy life in the Ruach Elohiym.
Music is a valuable tool that can enable the mind to walk in a state of extreme focus and contemplation. Music arouses the passion or desire but as with any faculty desire can be focused toward the things of God or the things of the Adversary. We see music as a tool to draw near God demonstrated in the Tanakh:
Psalm 104:33-34 I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.
Psalm 146:1-2 Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, my soul. I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Psalm 95:1-2 Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song
A vividly portrayed example of the opposite usage of music is recorded in The Books of Adam and Eve numbered among the books of the Pseudepigrapha:
"After Cain had gone down to the land of dark soil, and his children had multiplied therein, there was one of them, whose name was Genun, son of Lamech the blind who slew Cain.
But as to this Genun, Satan came into him in his childhood; and he made sundry trumpets and horns, and string instruments, cymbals and psalteries, and lyres and harps, and flutes; and he played on them at all times and at every hour.
And when he played on them, Satan came into them, so that from among them were heard beautiful and sweet sounds, that ravished the heart. Then he gathered companies upon companies to play on them; and when they played, it pleased well the children of Cain, who inflamed themselves with sin among themselves, and burnt as with fire; while Satan inflamed their hearts, one with another, and increased lust among them." ( Book of Adam and Eve, Chpt. 20)
This same duality can also be demonstrated in the Book of Mormon where Nephi's brothers and some of the other families began to make merry:
"And after we had been driven forth before the wind for the space of many days, behold, my brethren and the sons of Ishmael and also their wives began to make themselves merry, insomuch that they began to dance, and to sing, and to speak with much rudeness, yea, even that they did forget by what power they had been brought thither; yea, they were lifted up unto exceeding rudeness." (1 Nephi 18:9)
It was not the making merry, dancing and singing that was evil but upon the unrefined natural man whose heart is not upon the things of God music arouses the passion or desires of the natural man causing them descend into the depths of the carnal thereby separating themselves from the spiritual. In doing so they bind the spiritual within themselves as Laman and Lemuel bound Nephi on their ship. The result was that their compass of direction ceased to function and they began to descend to the point of being swallowed up in the depths of the sea. (1 Nephi 18:12-15)
In contrast to the episode with Nephi and his brothers upon the waters of the great deep, we see Alma encouraging his people evoking the Song of Moses to stir up the desire and passion of his people to the things of righteousness:
"And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?" (Alma 5:26)
The Song of Redeeming Love is the first recorded song of praise in the Bible. The Prophet Isaiah tells us that this song of redeeming love was sung on the night of Passover:
You shall have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel. (Isaiah 30:29)
This song was sung by Moses as they left slavery in Egypt and is portrayed in Exodus 15. It is a song of hope and faith as Israel looked to God after his promised deliverance from Egypt and the armies of Pharaoh. This song that was sung by the Red Sea was so precious to Israel that even to this day this song is still sung and remembered by Israel. It is a song of celebration and awe at God's delivering right hand. It is perhaps one of the greatest songs ever written. In the book of Revelation it becomes not only the song of Moses but the victory song of the Messiah who has brought each one of us out of slavery to sin and praises Him as the author of life and salvation.
Music is a powerful tool as it has the ability to arouse within us feelings and emotions that can lead us to bonding with God or falling into the pathways of darkness. In the mind of an Israelite the passion it arouses is like fuel that can propel one into the Heavens above or to descend into the depths of darkness. Once our feelings or passions combine with our thoughts we begin to subjectively or objectively engage in the prophetic experience.
When music was played and one's heart was engaging in contemplative meditation upon the things of God, the music aroused the inner part of men and women to release emotions. The release of this fuel of emotion or passion enabled the student of the prophetic to experience the things of God being contemplated in a very personal experience. The music being played allowed or opened the student of the prophetic to cultivate a deep desire and passion for the things of God. While passion or desire to receive was the fuel it was the focus of the thought that directed the prophetic experience. It was in this state of spiritual consciousness that enabled one to begin to ascend the Mountain of the Lord's House or to descend into the depths of hell.
(To be continued)
Saturday, May 26, 2018
"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)
In the ancient School of the Prophets prophetic disciplines and meditation were established on the basis of balancing wisdom (Chokmah) and understanding (Binah). Unlike our western definition of wisdom where wisdom is often defined as the correct application of knowledge, the Israelite definition of wisdom is the idea of pure knowledge, data, sudden strokes of pure knowledge, or even intuitive knowledge. Their definition of understanding (Binah) is related to discernment, the organization, and classification of said knowledge or intelligence. Where wisdom is considered the feminine attribute, understanding is considered the male or masculine attribute. This principle was stated in ancient Israel as follows:
"Understand with Wisdom, be Wise with Understanding" (Sefer Yetzirah)
Or as was attributed to the teachings of Enoch
""The lips of wisdom are closed, except to the ears of Understanding"
It is in these principles that lay the secret between balancing the spiritual with the physical. Just as a spirit (wisdom) without a body (understanding) cannot function in this physical world so too is a physical body (understanding) lifeless without the spirit (wisdom). Obtaining wisdom from God or pure intelligence/information is one of the disciplines of the ancient prophetic training, but no less important is the taking of that knowledge and organizing it with understanding so that it may be functionally relevant in this physical world.
The ancient disciplines were designed to allow the conscious mind to descend into the world of the spirit and draw from this eternal well like a bucket. One of these disciplines involved the idea of contemplative meditation or what we would call pondering. Contemplative mediation requires one to penetrate the veil between the physical and the spiritual from intentional thought in the conscious mind. The solemn though backed by true intention/desire (kavanah) is the first step on the path. One thinks, ponders, or examines a thing with intense conscious thought. In Israel this concept is called hitbonenut or absolute contemplation.
Before diving into the depths of the spiritual one must prepare the conscious mind for the journey. If the conscious mind has given no thought or contemplation on the matter then there are no prophetic discplines or techniques that will be effective to enable one to approach and draw from the Spirit of God.
Lest we think this principle was isolated to the ancient School of the Prophets, we find this same principle given to Oliver Cowdery when he attempted the process of translation and failed:
"Do not murmur, my son, for it is wisdom (Chokmah) in me that I have dealt with you after this manner.
Behold, you have not understood (Binah); you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.
But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind (contemplative meditation); then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me. Now, if you had known this you could have translated; nevertheless, it is not expedient that you should translate now." (D&C 9:6-10)
When conscious thought is focused as in contemplative meditation it becomes a means of opening to the divine. Through analytical thought the conscious mind is greatly empowered. Like light, thought can be diffused as in the case of a lamp that spreads light around in general but is not in any particular sense focused. It can also be highly focused and concentrated like a laser beam.
As the Prophet Nephi engaged in contemplative meditation (pondering) on a specific subject his conscious mind became keenly focused on the vision that his father related. His desire or intention (kavanah) to receive to bestow was the fuel for his contemplative meditation that focused his conscious mind. In doing so he opened a door to spiritual revelation. It is in this state that a person can perceive or understand (the eyes of understanding) information about the thing being contemplated or pondered upon. This information is not necessarily visible to the physical eyes or obtainable by any other method. In doing the person comes to the realization that the dimension of thought is more than just the conjuring of mental pictures and related facts but can be a pathway to receive Wisdom (Chokmah) by which true understanding (Binah) can operate. This discipline is not done in a willy nilly fashion but must be done with passion (true desire and intention) as this is the fuel that allows for the true bonding (devekut) with God.
So then the question comes, "How does one cultivate this passion or desire?"
(To Be Continued)
Saturday, May 19, 2018
The scriptures record that from the Fathers down to Israel the practice of praying prayers at set times of the day was a common practice. While set and ritualistic prayers were passed down through varying Israelite traditions, the prayers of the Fathers were not the many varying forms of rote prayers many recite today. What is termed “prayer” in the scriptures is more closely related to our present forms of meditation.
One recorded instance in scripture of meditation is cited in relation to Isaac the son of Abraham:
“And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.” (Genesis 24:63)
The word meditate here comes from the Hebrew word “suach”-being derived from the root word “siha” which means a conversation. Here we see Isaac going out to the field to have a two-way conversation with God. In our day, many are used to a one way conversation with God but we rarely see a two-way conversation with God with actual words being exchanged by both parties involved. This divine conversation took place in a field. In Hebrew the word for field is sadeh which means to spread out just as in a flat ground. The idea of the field is to convey the understanding of the wide, panoramic, or revelatory view which a spread out view of a field would give to someone in the field. As such, Isaac’s siha or conversation was not only two –way but revelatory in nature- his consciousness and understanding being opened or spread out.
In similar vein, The Book of Mormon also communicates this same principle. In a visionary experience, the Prophet Lehi receives a two-way communication with God. In doing this he communicates the same concept of meditative prayer as with Isaac:
“And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field.” ( 1 Nephi 8:9)
Like Isaac, Lehi’s visionary experience communicates the same type of prayer/meditation with the accompanying revelatory consciousness expanding view communicated in the Torah through the symbolism of the field. The detail and instruction that often goes unnoticed is the first lesson of Separation and Silence. Like Isaac who we finding meditating in a field which offers separation and silence we also see Lehi in vision praying and then opening up in the separation and silence of a field where he experiences his connection with God. Whenever the Fathers wished to connect with God the first rule they followed was to separate themselves from the noise and hustle of the world and go into a place of silence and seclusion.
This lesson of separation and silence is further reinforced in the case of Lehi where Nephi states:
“And all these things did my father see, and hear, and speak, as he dwelt in a tent, in the valley of Lemuel, and also a great many more things, which cannot be written upon these plates.” (1 Nephi 9:1)
Lehi received his two-way communication that he both saw, heard, and spoke as he dwelt in a tent. The tent was a place of separation and silence in similarity to the Mishkan or Tabernacle in the Wilderness. In Israel a holy man or Tsaddik would often resort to separation and silence by going into a cave (like Elijah) or often in more common practice resorting to a tent where he could commune with God. This teaching is preserved in Israel to this day with the tradition of the Tallit, the four cornered covering worn by men, which is taught to be a personal Mishkan or Tabernacle. It is this same concept to which the Messiah alludes when he said, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” (3 Nephi 13:6)
While the word used in English is closet it comes from the idea of the secret place. For an Israelite the Tent, the Mishkan, or even a tallit could serve as a secret place. It is to the secret place of separateness or silence that one resorts to traverse the passage of your spirit and to connect with the divine.
We have a gulf which separates the world from the divine. This practice of separateness and silence became known in later writings as hitbodedut. The root meaning isolated or alone. As a result of the fall we can no longer easily cross over the gulf between the worlds to experience the physical and the spiritual at the same time. While we experience the physical world the spiritual world is like a dream. While we experience the spiritual world, the physical world is also like a dream. One is unclear even as the other is clear until the point of balance and connection is established. In many ways, the gulf between the two and the disability it brings that was caused by the fall is great, but it is still traverseable. This awful gulf is represented in true Israelite fashion by Nephi in his vision:
"And they said unto me: What meaneth the river of water which our father saw?
And I said unto them that the water which my father saw was filthiness; and so much was his mind swallowed up in other things that he beheld not the filthiness of the water. And I said unto them that it was an awful gulf, which separated the wicked from the tree of life, and also from the saints of God.
And I said unto them that it was a representation of that awful hell, which the angel said unto me was prepared for the wicked." (1 Nephi 15:26-29)
This awful gulf is symbolic of the divide which separates the holy from the profane or the carnal from the spiritual. To begin the journey across the divide is to commence a discipline or walk through the strait or navigated pathway step by step ascending unto the Tree of Life.
This strait or navigated path is a pathway of the discipline of spiritual submission as taught in the ancient schools of the prophets. This same discipline of submission or spiritual navigation across the gulf is communicated by Nephi in the Book of Helaman:
“Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked— And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.” (Helaman 3:29-30)
The passage of the spirit being encoded in his words thus:
"And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance; therefore he hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls.
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock (Malkhut) of our Redeemer (Tipheret), who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation (Yesod); that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." (Helaman 5:11-12)
(To Be Continued)