Some similarities to Joseph Smith’s First Vision seem to include:
Being in a silent place
Feeling that one has been taken to a different heavenly space
Seeing a light, like the sun
Transcendental Meditation (TM) is one of many different forms and techniques of meditation. It focuses on mantras. Another well known method is vipassana meditation, which often focuses on one’s own breath.
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12 thoughts on “Unbounded Space “First Vision” Account”
Bryce, this troubles me. It seems like your turning sacred experience into a product of practicable steps — a technology, as it were — rather than the result of faith, virtue, and devotion to God.
I don’t want to be a thorn in your side, but there you have it: my honest opinion.
Hi Jack. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. These are important subjects to discuss. I appreciate your patience.
I believe sacred experiences are very much a product of practicable steps, even a technology. I think if we look a little, we can see this everywhere in the Church. Our scriptures are tools to evoke deeper faith and understanding within us. Prayer is a tool for us to communicate with God. The sacrament bread and water are tools that help us to reflect and remember Jesus and his sacrifice, to be willing to take upon us his name. Our temples are tools to practice re-entering God’s presence, perform offerings for the dead, and ritually take upon us Christ’s name. Even the simple acts of striving for faith, virtue, and devotion towards God are tools that we use to draw us closer to God.
A technology is “the application of knowledge for practical purposes,” “a capability given by the practical application of knowledge,” or “a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge.” We can see that each of the tools, sacraments, and activities that we engage with in the Church are technologies that have a practical purpose in bringing us closer to God, one step at a time.
So we should not be surprised to find other tools, technologies, steps, or methods that may help us to do the same, such as meditation (which is similar to contemplation and prayer). If we will recall, it was reading the Bible and deep soulful prayer that seemed to bring about the First Vision. The First Vision would not have happened, it seems, if Joseph had not done these things. In the same chapter Joseph would have read, “be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22). And in the next chapter Joseph would have read “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20).
As Paul taught to the Corinthians, “there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all” (1 Cor. 12:5-6).
Thank you again for your sharing your opinion. It is helpful to our mutual understanding and learning. Please do not hesitate to ask other questions or share opinions.
OK. I agree that meditation can be a tool, even a gift of the spirit. (‘Don’t know if you got my email where I talk about my own appreciation for meditation.) And I certainly am of a mind that God will influence anyone of his children by any means (within the scope of His virtue) be they members of the church or not. I think what I’m sensing, though, as I read through your blog — and I could be wrong — is a dependency on one’s own wits with regard to unlocking the heavens. The goal of connecting with God seems to be based more in nailing down methodologies having to do with navigating the psyche than with faith in God and a willingness to follow Him through a covenantal process.
Hi Jack. No, I didn’t see your comment or email about your appreciation for meditation. Did you submit it as a comment or send it as an email through the contact form?
With regard to your concern, I think we need to recognize that God will not come to us if we do not search for Him. There must be action on both sides. Having faith means much more than simple passive belief, or a mere willingness to follow Him. When we “follow Him” it means that we must do things that will bring us closer to Him. We are more than willing to follow, but we actually follow. We must knock for God to open the door. Faith without works is dead. If we don’t do anything, then our faith avails us nothing, and will not bring us closer to God. Yes, I believe there are ways that will “prepare our minds” to commune with God, which include an active faith.
One important distinction that may be what is troubling you is that we should not depend on our egoic self consciousness, what we think we are, and our egoic efforts, to “get there.” As the scriptures say, it is in the “putting off” of the “natural man” and the “carnal mind” that will make us Saints, and become at-one with God. We shouldn’t think that it is our puffed up egos that are getting us there, but rather in the subduing and overcoming of our egos, in offering up our selfish will, our vain ambitions, pride, attachments, worldly pleasures, etc., to God. What we think we are is not who we really are. If we will “put off” that illusory ego self consciousness, I believe we can find God. God will reveal Himself to us.
I perceive that we don’t become more spiritual, and grow closer to God, by only wishing or hoping it to happen, but by really doing the things that will bring us closer to God. Once we put ourselves in a state of innocence before God, with a mind single to the glory of God, that is when God’s grace is sufficient for us that he will open the heavens to us and pour out blessings.
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.
Bryce, I like the new direction you’ve taken. It seems like quite a departure from Temple Study, Interpreter, and apologetics in general. Was the experience you describe in the introduction the catalyst?
I think perhaps the reason we may not be experiencing some of the blessings we could be enjoying is because we’re not looking at the steps the Lord has given us. He is to be sought out diligently, and He hasn’t left us in the dark with regard to how it is to be done.
All this reminds me of Section 84, specifically where the Lord is telling us what He was trying to do through Moses and the blessings available to the Israelites had they decided to comply with those steps. In the end, it all comes back to that one goal–being redeemed from the fall and coming back into the presence of God. The temple and the scriptures teach those steps if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Hi Patrick. Thank you. It is a different direction, isn’t it, but I hope that it gets us to think in new ways, and consider new possibilities. I think there is much we don’t know.
My experience I described in the introduction was, indeed, a catalyst to investigate in this direction. It was such a departure from my regular everyday experience that I knew I needed to learn more about it. Since then I have had other similar experiences, which I may tell sometime, which have only confirmed my understanding that the mind is far more than we believe it to be, and that we may be able to commune with God through our mind, and even come to know God.
I believe that God wants us to know him, and not as some distant theoretical concept or idea, but to truly know him, directly, primarily, personally, intimately. Jesus said that this is “life eternal,” to know God (John 17:3). So I believe it to be vitally important to our spiritual progression. Not to simply know about God, but to know God.
As you note, ultimately we want to be redeemed from the fall, and come back into God’s presence. We often think that this is a post-mortal experience, that we will return to God after we die. But I don’t think we need to wait. We can know God now, in this life. I think this is what God wants of us. And I think the blessings that we can have by doing do are beyond our comprehension.
I pretty-much agree with your take on John 17. The problem is, for me and many others, when these things are spoken of too openly it is a tell tale sign that something is off.
I think some folks believe that because these things aren’t spoken of very often in the church that the members must be out of touch with the truth. My sense, though, is that while there are certainly differing levels of preparation among the saints, and varying challenges and trials, there are many who know their God or who are, at least, well on the path to knowing him. But! They also have a sense of the sacred boundaries of that kind of knowledge and are, therefore, mostly silent about it.
Please tread carefully on this sacred ground.
Thank you, Jack. I agree that sacred things need to be spoken of sacredly, yet that doesn’t necessarily mean silently. I believe much misunderstanding can take place, and many may remain ignorant, when there is only silence. There are things that I will not speak openly of, because they are extremely sacred. But there are many more that I think we should consider, with the utmost respect and honor, if we are to mutually learn and grow and progress towards God.
I believe we all tread on sacred ground, at all times, because we are sacred, much more sacred than we usually think. We are gods.
I think this is one of the biggest challenges that we face today–the most fundamental doctrines of the gospel are being diluted. They slowly become less significant with time and are taught less, remembered less, and eventually disappear from the scriptures (Compare footnotes of John 14:16 in previous editions to 2013 edition). Then when they are spoken of, the reaction is a warning that you’re going down the dark road of apostasy.
Patrick, for me it’s an argument about sovereignty. It’s not that people don’t know these things. It has more to do with when they should know them and to what degree. That’s why when we cross the line from the gospel of repentance into the mysteries it’s a whole different ball game. Only God can know what an individual is prepared to receive beyond the preparatory aspects of His word. And, therefore, it becomes a duty to those who know of the mysteries to measure them with great care; by constraint of the spirit. Otherwise, great damage can be done — not only to the individual seeker, but to the mysteries themselves — if we are not vigilant enough in protecting them. The Father will teach His covenant to all those who are prepared to receive it.
Good thoughts, Jack. If we are gods, even one in God, then we can know when people may be prepared to receive this Word about who they are. Yes, we need to be careful and respectful of the mysteries. We should also help others to know about them, prepare to receive them, and not remain in ignorance of the greatest gifts of God. The Father teaches others through us.
Bryce, here’s that email I (though I) sent you:
I come to you as a friend. I love you for everything you’ve done to move the Kingdom forward. And I am most intrigued by your particular focus, at present, on the Mind. I’m writing to you via email because what I have to say may be too sensitive for the comments section on your blog. First, let me say that I have a gift for meditation. It is so stated in my patriarchal blessing. I can meditate for hours on a particular subject. I believe the Lord has taught me many things through this gift. I have also learned things about the mind itself that have been very useful to me as an individual–though I’m not exactly sure how transferable those particular insights may be. Even so, without being too presumptuous, I would like to offer you a couple of things to think about as you move forward in your quest for enlightenment.
First, I believe that the human mind is equipped with, shall we say, a Faith Support System. The mind is designed, with its powerful, creative apparatus, to embolden faith. And as such, as we search into the mind for answers and meaning, it is of paramount importance that we do not confuse the apparatus itself with the real substance of faith.
Second, as we are created in the image of God, it most certainly follows that our design allows us to taste of the potential to become like God. In other words, there are godlike gifts available to us simply because of our design. However, as we become aware of these gifts, it is important that we also maintain an awareness of the sacred Other. Ultimately, we cannot learn all that we might about the economy of God’s Kingdom without being taught by Him. We, therefore, must allow Him, as the greater Mind, to come to us from the “outside.” I give it to you as my opinion that we first must learn of our separateness before we can comprehend the kind of oneness that God offers us. This is the pattern of the Endowment. And, then, over time, moving from grace to grace, we will experience an increase of joy as we learn how to comprehend the mind of God.
Third, you probably already understand this so forgive my patronizing tone. Neal A. Maxwell spoke of knowledge traveling in a caravan of other virtues. So, as we grow in knowledge — the knowledge of God — we will also grow in other godlike virtues.
And this brings me to the fourth–The mind is “total.” It is more than the brain. It includes the heart and other “centers” of reception pertaining to the body. We must search in the totality of the mind in order to grow in the knowledge of God, which ultimately will lead us to become like Him in a “total” sense.
Well, I hope I haven’t laid it on too thick. Maybe you’re already well aware of these things and are far beyond me in your quest. Even so, I hope that some of what I’ve said may be of use to you.