I suggest that the physical object that Joseph had in his possession was not literally ancient gold plates, but plates of his own creation which talismanically represented the "gold plates" of his visions, aiding his mystical translation of those visions.
Lehi's dream in the Book of Mormon might be an esoteric mystical-allegorical account of Joseph Smith's own First Vision.
Can we have one without the other? Possibly not. These may be polar opposites which only find expression when both are possible.
The Eastern idea of "no-self" is confusing to Westerners, but I think the same concept can be found in our Western traditions, just known by different terms.
Joseph's experiences seem to parallel those he "translated" in the Book of Mormon, perhaps indicating a deeper spiritual-mystical allegory and myth.
We will be discussing how we may reinterpret the ideas of Mormonism (and Christianity) in the light of classic mysticism, interspirituality, modern science, psychology, and other progressive and constructive approaches.
A tradition of a "heavenly book" runs through many traditions, including Mormonism with its "gold plates." What spiritual reality might these traditions be pointing to?
The earliest known account of First Vision may not be the one in 1832, but many esoteric accounts in April-June 1829, in the Book of Mormon text itself.
The "Urim & Thummim" were perhaps Joseph's own eyes, which in a mystical state of consciousness could "see" the visionary "plates." He lost these "gifts" for a time.
I introduce a new translation of Joseph Smith's First Vision, giving some background to this interpretation of his mystical experience, the nature of translation, its pseudepigraphal nature, how it was done, and more.