Sunday, February 12, 2012

On Growth

The source of growth is the life and light that comes from God.
    As I have explained before, pain is not gain; growth comes from God. We must then ask ourselves, what are the ways we access His power in order to grow. If we take a closer look at the scriptures, and apply how the differing degrees of heaven work, we can realize that there are five distinct degrees or stages of growth.

    The lowest degree does not grow at all, but rather it is a state like unto death, one of stagnation and decay. It is the lack of increase due to pride, as it prevents any change. Pride fights against the truth of our weakness, and as it does not acknowledge its imperfection, growth becomes impossible.

    Anyone can fall to this state at any time. Those that are lost and that are thrust to outer darkness fall into this category. Since they do not grow, they actively interfere with others development and sabotage others efforts.

    In their pride, they raise themselves up as is they were god, and to compensate for their flaws they do their utmost to thrust down all others that threaten their superiority. Thus they hinder and even destroy any growth that mankind has achieved, often leading the the destruction of cities, nations, and even entire civilizations.

    As the first level does not constitute a level of growth, the lowest degree of real improvement is learning through experience. It is the natural tendency of mankind to fall into this rut, and a great number persist in this degree, and never grow out of it. It is a lesser degree of pride, but pride nonetheless.

    This can be likened to those that are of the telestial kingdom, for these are they that are thrust down to hell, and must suffer for their own sins. Only by going through death, do they learn to appreciate life. Thus these are they that only learn through pain and suffering. These are the damned and the unjust.

    If one will stay at this level, they will never advance to a higher degree. Since they can only learn from their own mistakes, and from their own suffering, they can never become masters of their craft, whatever that may be.

    As imperfection can only breed further imperfection, their progress is slow and incomplete. Any development is fraught with errors, as they only compensate for errors that they can see for themselves. Thus they never contribute to the overall good of society or the advancement of mankind. These are dead-weights that slow down societal progress, and indirectly contribute to its regression.

    The Second degree of growth can not only
be attained but also surpassed by all. This level constitutes having the humility to learn from others. Those that begin learning a new skill will quickly discover that there is only so much they can learn or do for themselves. The guidance provided by mentors and those that went before is eagerly incorporated, and embraced gratefully.

    Through this level, one can master themselves, and thus unleash part of their potential. This can be likened to those of a terrestrial nature, who rely upon the merits of Christ to suffer for their sins. They willingly follow instruction, and increase surely but gradually. They are able to learn from the experiences of others, thus allowing them to not have to make those same mistakes themselves.

Studying the ideas and philosophies of
imperfect mortals only gets us so far.
    They avoid the mistakes and incorporate the success of those that teach them. This is not to say that they do not learn from their own mistakes. Rather they build upon it. Thus the second degree of progress builds upon the first. They provide for the small and simple growth that is achieved by humanity.

    However a closer look reveals that it is ultimately not an ideal method of growth, for those that grow after this manner are taught after the precepts of men, and as such, they are bound by the errors and imperfections of men. Just like those of a Terrestrial nature, “these are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men”, and this because they continue to trust in the arm of flesh. This degree of growth, merely acts to slow the degeneration found in all of nature; for how can society move forward, unless the next generation surpasses the previous one?

    The rarely seen third degree of sure growth is important enough, to warrant special attention. These are they who seek and strive to learn directly from a higher source. As mentioned previously, all learning and improvement comes from God. It is only a matter of how or when one is willing to accept that inspiration from on high that is the key.

    Those that are in the first degree of learning only accept truth when it is shoved down their throats, while those in the second accept it as it comes. Those in the highest degree of learning actively seek it out, knowing that even their mentors are not perfect, nor are they the source of truth. Indeed, they look to the perfect source of knowledge, which is the still small voice that is within.

    They too learn from their own mistakes, as well as the mentoring of others, but most importantly they learn from God himself. It is in this way that geniuses are born. Those that faithfully follow their inner conscience can learn from their successes as well as their mistakes. In fact they can learn without making any mistakes! That is the key.

    Miyamoto Musashi did not become a master swordsman by losing to his enemies. In fact that would be impossible, for losing equals death. No, he learned from his successes. Mozart did not become one of the greatest the composers of all time by writing poor compositions, nor did he by solely relying on others. Rather he looked for the divine music which flowed from within.

    While not everyone may be a genius, ALL can and ought to look to God for further light and knowledge, and doing so is the key to the most powerful and complete growth possible. The growth of society is triggered by key men that have reached this degree of progress. Newton, Gauss, Mozart, and others have laid new foundations for the progress of man even though they are just men.

    Greater still are the prophets, who have all reached this stage of development, for they are not prophets unless they look to God as the source of their strength. In fact Christ himself was born and stayed in this path of growth, for even he did grow from grace to grace, without error and without mistake.

    These are all those that have shaped and truly brought light and growth to the world. This is not small and steady growth, but explosive change that results in healing the world, changing it from Babylon into Zion.

Having a Eureka moment is like having a light switched on in
your brain, or like liquid truth being poured into your mind.
    If we take a closer look at the processes behind this level of growth, we discover that the key to genius is experiencing the aha! moment, that special instant when all confusion and misunderstanding evaporate, immediately being replaced with a comprehensive understanding. There is no learning curve, or internal struggle to understand. The knowledge simply comes, complete, whole, and perfect.

    To gain further insight at how Eureka moments work, one scientific study hooked up volunteers to various brain scanning equipment. Interestingly this study showed a marked decrease in brain activity in the visual processing centers of the brain, just prior to experiencing an “aha! Moment”. The study also showed that the difference between those that solved problems via inspiration versus brute force, was that those that were solving the problem via brute force analysis relied more on what they saw, and as such looked outside for answers. Those that were inspired looked within.

    Another similar study showed that thinking too hard was detrimental to receiving insight, as it was linked to having a mental block. More importantly it also showed that the brain went into an idle mode just prior to receiving the answer via inspiration. In other words, the brain had to turn off and stop processing for it to receive light from on high.

    Related to the above studies, is the concept of flow. In Daniel Goleman's book Emotional Intelligence, it states that flow is a condition when one performs at their peak ability, focused in a state of pure concentration, masterfully carrying out their objectives, unconstrained by worry or care. It is a state of being one with the activity itself, and thus they effortlessly pull out their maximum potential. Contrary to what one would expect, it is intriguing that when one is at their best is when their brain activity is at its lowest.

    All of these facts point to one important conclusion: true mastery and genius are not born of genetic nor the environmental; for is it not a thing of the body. This is not to say that genetics nor the environment are inconsequential. Rather it means that this apex of the human condition is not earned by man, but granted of God.

    In The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith we read “The first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile, though it may not have half as much visible effect upon the body; for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene; and his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham.

    In addition he taught “All things whatsoever God in his infinite wisdom has seen fit and proper to reveal to us, while we are dwelling in mortality, in regard to our mortal bodies, are revealed to us in the abstract, and independent of affinity of this mortal tabernacle, but are revealed to our spirits precisely as though we had no bodies at all.

The brain is merely a spirit-body information transfer device.
Therefore any defects in it interfere with receiving inspiration.
    It is quite clear from this, that it is our bodies and the imperfections therein that interfere with the Holy Ghost, and His divine workings upon our minds and hearts, and while how much our bodies interfere may depend upon the individual, ultimately our brains are no more a source of growth than is a wart on your toe. When the Holy Ghost has finally cleansed our bodies to the point that it no longer interferes with our receiving further light and knowledge, is when he is able to grant to us his Light directly to our spirits.

    It is not our effort or our determination that suddenly begets intelligence, it is His divine gift to us for our diligently seeking, wherein we prove that it is our will to grow, and as a consequence he can grant upon us what we will without Him impinging upon our agency. We must not forget Moroni's counsel to remember that “all things which are good cometh of God”.

    Finally, moving past the previous degree of growth, we arrive at the last stage. Again it is not one of personal growth. Once one reaches perfection, there is nothing to be done for one's self. In the Hebrew and Greek Testemants, the words for perfect, also mean complete, or whole.

    Just as Jesus has commanded us to be, so is He perfect, complete, and whole, and as such He has no more need of growth. In fact, if He were a being that personally grows, He would be a changeable being, and as such would not be God. But this runs directly contrary to the scriptures, which read that he is an unchangeable being.

    His unchangeableness is what makes Him dependable. We read in the Lectures on Faith “But it is equally as necessary that men should have the idea that he is a God who changes not, in order to have faith in him, as it is to have the idea that he is gracious and long suffering. For without the idea of unchangeableness in the character if the Deity, doubt would take the place of faith. But with the idea that he changes not, faith lays hold upon the excellencies in his character with unshaken confidence, believing he is the same yesterday, to-day and forever, and that his course is one eternal round.

    His perfection, and completeness is what secures his unchangeableness, which
is what allows us to trust in and depend upon Him. Similarly, if He had any possibility to grow in any way shape or form, then there would be things greater, stronger, smarter, more intelligent, and more powerful than Him. If this were so we could not depend upon Him, and we would be justified in spurning Him, as there would exist circumstances beyond His control.

    However this is not so, for He is God, who by definition is absolute. He is whole and as a result all He touches becomes so. He completes us through our knowing Him and becoming one with Him. Obviously only God has reached this level, and it is only He that can bring about true growth, which is yet another reason why we must trust in Him.

    In Moses 1:39 we read “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” As stated, God, instead of focusing upon self, focuses all his energy for the growth of those around him. He is the source of strength and guidance for all that rely upon Him. In this it is the very diametric opposite of the lowest stage. The light and life that shines forth at this stage, not only heals individuals, but the entire earth itself. Without God at this stage, no growth is possible, for this is the stage of divinity itself, the source of light and life.

He has already provided the way.
We just need to climb.
    The truth is that error does not lead to growth or success. God leads to it. Errors and mistakes can be an instrument to prod those to look to god, but it is He that fixes those errors. The more we rely upon him, the closer to perfection we become, while the more we rely upon ourselves and others, the less light and knowledge reaches our puny minds.

    Thus we can plainly see that there is no excuse for sin and error. Though they are an integral part of our reality, they are neither unavoidable, desirable, nor necessary. There is no excuse for sin and error, for were it not so there would be no true justice nor perfection.

    This does not mean that we should be discouraged due to our past sins or errors. Rather it means that we must continually seek to shed ourselves of those imperfections through the Grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know that if we continue to ask Him for his healing power in our lives, that He will complete us.

    Remember final few the words that Moroni wrote saying: “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

    And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.

    Brethren and Sisters, I can testify of His redeeming power, and it is only through Christ's atonement, and the Holy Ghost that he sends to us, that we can access the God's Divine light and truly shine in this world. Of this I testify, Amen.

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