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Monday, September 29, 2014

Explaining arclines

In my work, I deal with arclines a lot. This post is meant to explain them a little bit more.

The arcline is the part of your spirit that's depicted in art as the halo. Basically your spirit or energy is made up of a ton of different layers. Ezekiel 1:20 talks about how "the spirit is in the wheels," or the chakras. But beyond the chakras, we have the aura, the energy field (which is different from the aura), the arcline, the meridians. Each organ of the body has its own energy field. Even the aura has twelve layers. There are many energetic parts to our souls.

Jesus with visible arcline.
The arcline's function is to protect us. When it shatters, tears, or rips, unclean spirits of all types and negative energy can enter our space.

I first read about the arcline in There Is No Death: The Extraordinary True Experience of Sarah LaNelle Menet, where Menet saw it in a near-death experience. I don't think she used the term "arcline," but that is clearly what she saw. Visions of Glory: One Man's Astonishing Account of the Last Days by John Pontius also describes an arcline rupturing. Both of them are LDS. I haven't finished it yet, but Autobiography of a Yogi apparently also explains this, and Progressive Prophetess has written a tiny bit about it.

The example given in Visions of Glory involves a pornography addict who acts out in the night, and when he reaches a pinnacle of lust, his arcline rips apart, and all the evil spirits who are in the room egging him on jump into him. Well--they fight for the chance to be in him. Dead people spirits have a harder time, so typically if they even get in at all, they are ousted by evil spirits. All of them just want to be inside a body.

Once they're in, unclean spirits have an easier time of whispering thoughts to the person whose space they're enjoying. If you have an unclean spirit, a lot of times it's not clear that the thoughts they whisper are not your thoughts. The more you entertain their thoughts, the more your brain changes as a result.

So I've had a lot of cases where issues were being caused by unclean spirits, but just casting them out doesn't undo all their damage. Negative spiritual presence and a client following that entity's thoughts can lead a brain to actually structurally change. So even after unclean spirits are gone and the arcline is fixed, you still need to work on fixing the brain in the bad guys' wakes.

The arcline is affected by drugs--not all of them, but all illegal drugs, as far as I'm aware, and some prescription ones, as well as alcohol and excess caffeine. And then also trauma--whether it's abuse of any kind, or whatever a person registers as trauma. If a broken fingernail is traumatic to you, that's enough to break it.

My understanding is that the arcline can heal naturally--it rips without people knowing and it can heal without people knowing. The fastest way to fix it is through prayer; this is how I fix it in my work. I literally just pray for it to be fixed and then ask to be a witness to its healing.

The next fastest way is scripture study, but it has to be in tandem with prayer. This is not necessarily scripture study and prayer with arcline recovery in mind; just praying and reading the scriptures is enough to heal the arcline, from what I understand. But the practice has to be consistent. And constantly doing things like drinking, engaging in anything that breaks the law of chastity--or even just constantly being traumatized--that kind of stuff will keep ripping open your arcline, so even if you are studying scripture daily, if you're also engaging in those things, it won't keep you protected.
I'm not sure that fasting and scripture study automatically fixes the arcline, but from what I understand, arcline health can be a side effect.


Fasting will also repair the arcline naturally. This is my understanding based on praying about it--I haven't really seen/heard any evidence on this but when I asked I got a yes. People don't need to fast for an intact arcline--it's a sometimes side effect of fasting with pure, real intent.

Next up is meditation, and here is the meditation to rebuild the arcline:




Hope that clears up some things about the arcline. Ask questions in the comments! 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 3 Commentary

This is a series on the Tao Te Ching from a Christ-centered, LDS perspective. 

Chapter 3 of the Tao Te Ching focuses on de-emphasizing materialism, caring for both the physical body and spirit, and acting without ulterior motives. Enjoy:
Do not glorify the achievers
So the people will not squabble
Do not treasure goods that are hard to obtain
So the people will not become thieves
Do not show the desired things
So their hearts will not be confused
 
Thus the governance of the sage:
Empties their hearts
Fills their bellies
Weakens their ambitions
Strengthens their bones
 
Let the people have no cunning and no greed
So those who scheme will not dare to meddle
 
Act without contrivance
And nothing will be beyond control
Treasure! Image here

Do not treasure goods that are hard to obtain

The first few lines of this chapter are pretty straightforward. Don't put your heart into achievements or riches and don't show off, in order to prevent conflict.

This is said in such a straightforward way, it might be easy to forget that the Bible and Book of Mormon teach the same thing, particularly in verse 19 here (Matthew 6:19-21; 3 Nephi 13:19-21): 

  19 ¶Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
These verses command the reader to avoid treasuring earthly things, in favor of treasuring righteousness. Which is exactly what this chapter of the Tao Te Ching is saying.

Really, this edict, besides being a commandment from God, is also just a recipe for happiness. When your joy is unaffected by material goods, you are free to be happy in a way that hearts constrained by materialism can never be.

The governance of the sage

Purifier of silver. Image here.
Chapter 3 teaches that the sage "Empties their hearts / Fills their bellies / Weakens their ambitions / Strengthens their bones." Literarily, I find this parallelism beautiful. But aside from that, who does it remind you of? Because it reminds me of King Benjamin.

The Tao Te Ching has a focus on emptiness--a focus that is not couched the same way in Christian scripture. Yet, the scriptures teach it. Moroni commands us to "Deny yourselves of all ungodliness," the Psalmist writes of having transgressions and sins purged, and the Lord is often referred to as the purifier and refiner of silver, emptying the body of imperfections. When you do a topical search for the word "empty," the scriptures don't turn up phrases like you find in the Tao Te Ching. However, if you search on the word "purge," for example, a lot of things come up. The Christian scriptures talk a lot about removing sin from oneself--or, you could say, emptying oneself of sin.

But to go back to King Benjamin--and his son, King Mosiah. These two men are great examples of sagely governance. Their inspired preaching and examples of righteousness helped empty the hearts of their people, and weaken their unholy ambitions, while keeping them well-fed and physically prosperous. You can read about those two prophet-kings and their remarkable reigns here


King Mosiah. Image here.


Those who scheme will not dare to meddle

Fun book! 

"Let the people have no cunning and no greed / So those who scheme will not dare to meddle."

One of my favorite authors is Ally Carter. Her Heist Society books are so fun. In those books, there's a repeated idea that you can't con an honest man. That idea is repeated in a number of con-related movies and other media I've seen. This site contains a discussion of the idea. When people have no greed or cunning, they are not so easily taken advantage of--they are not blinded or fooled by riches, and not driven by a desire to cheat or take advantage of their neighbors.


Often, those who desire unrighteous dominion over others achieve their control by manipulating others through their greed or cunning. The greed for anything from riches to food to clothing to a comfortable home can lead to all sorts of unbecoming behavior in a populace. 


The Book of Mormon, particularly Mosiah through Alma, over and over again explains how people get the governance they deserve. An honest people will not allow themselves to be led by dishonest men. And dishonest people are led by dishonest men. And when there are dishonest men at the top, you can be sure dishonest people at the bottom are keeping them there.

When the people are pure, they will have pure leaders. When they have no cunning and no greed, those who scheme will not dare to meddle.

Nothing will be beyond control


"Act without contrivance / And nothing will be beyond control."

A contrivance in literature is something created that contains a sense of artificiality. This couplet cautions against acting with dishonesty or pretense, so that "nothing will be beyond control."
Image here.


To me, the scripture that pops into my head here is Proverbs 3:5-8


 ¶Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
 ¶Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.
 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
Okay, really, I was just thinking of verses 5 and 6, but 7 and 8 are reminiscent of the idea of purging oneself of sin for physical health, which was kind of just talked about in Chapter 3 of the Tao Te Ching also.

When we trust fully in God, and cut out all pretense, enmity, contrivance from our hearts, He directs our paths.

Conclusion

As we empty ourselves of materialism and sin, we are blessed.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

the Gospel and reading the stars


 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

Stars. Public domain.
The term "astrology" is very loaded in Christianity in general and Mormonism in particular. And it's no surprise: the prophets both ancient and modern have cautioned against it--or more specifically, they have cautioned against putting our faith in the stars.

So I'm sure it probably looks "bad" that I write about things like the Saturn Return and my natal chart and so on and so forth. Isn't that going against what the prophets have taught?

Well, obviously I don't feel that is the case. But I'd like to explain why.

In LDS bookstores now, you can buy an amazing book called Pattern of the Heavens. It is an incredible resource for information about, well, "the pattern of the heavens." The idea contained in Psalms 19:1-7 is that the stars "show knowledge" every night; that "Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." Psalms 8:3 explains that the heavens, moon and stars have all been "ordained" (ordained for what??). 

Even in Genesis 1 (1:14), as God is creating the earth, He explains that the "lights in the firmament of the heaven" are not just to divide day from night and be for seasons and days and years--they are also "for signs." 

Well, signs for what?


Alma 30:43-44 explains that "the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.


Job 38:32-33 has a reference to Mazzaroth, the Hebrew zodiac, and asks, "Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven?" Which obviously implies that there are actually ordinances of heaven. 
Stars. Public domain.


We know from the books of Abraham and Moses that both of those prophets were taught to read the stars. They were shown the "patterns" of "heavenly things." The wise men who came from the East to worship baby Jesus... weren't they led by a star? Perhaps a star in some sort of constellation? Was that wrong? Obviously not. So where does the caution against astrology come from? 


Timothy Adams, in Pattern of the Heavens, explains that the cautions in the scriptures are against worship of the stars. Deuteronomy 17:3, Deuteronomy 18:9-14, 2 Kings 21:3-5, Jeremiah 8:2--they all deal with people actually worshipping "the host of heaven." We are cautioned against making the stars our gods, worshipping them, using them inappropriately. 


Adams writes,

"After consideration of these Old and New Testament scriptures, it is plain to see that those who earlier consulted the stars did so following the pagan practices of surrounding cultures. Not only were they consulting, but they were also practicing divination [defined as "a superstitious method of trying to discover the course of future events," by the LDS Bible Dictionary], and they were even worshipping the figures of those constellations. 
Those who practiced virtue and understood prophecy looked to the stars as a manual for teaching. This added another witness of God's dealings with man, understanding symbols as the "language of righteousness." As long as we distance ourselves from those evil practices of consulting, divining, and worshipping the stars, perhaps we might see the original intent of the constellations of the heavens." 
As long as we are not worshipping the stars, or trying to somehow divine the future from them, it is okay and even right to search them as one would any witness of God. At least, that is my understanding. Many holy men and prophets have studied the stars and the signs in the heavens. Obviously, the wise men did it in order to come find Jesus at His birth. It is not wrong to do that, as long as you come from the proper (read: Christ-centered, Gospel) perspective.
The Zodiac also testifies of Christ. Enjoy
John Pratt's article on the topic.

Indeed, modern LDS astronomer John Pratt has found that heavenly calendars testify of Christ. The heavenly calendars include the movements of Venus, Mercury, Mars, and likely other planets as well. And obviously, the calendars based on the Sun and Moon. If you understand what you are looking at, it becomes clear that they all testify of Christ, His divinity, His mission.

Here's something fun: For Christ's 2000th birthday, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and the Moon all clustered together, and Mercury and Venus clustered together as well. Is it wrong to note that? I don't think so! What a testament of Christ!

Conclusion

The scriptures and modern prophets caution against worshipping the stars and using them inappropriately. They are meant to act as a witness of God, not as a substitute. The study of the stars is not a substitute for the study of the scriptures, but in conjunction with the study of the scriptures can add a beautiful second witness of God, Christ, and the Plan of Salvation.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Visions, the Zodiac, and Gone With the Wind

I just finished reading Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell for my book club, and first: it was great. Such a good read. And a timely one, too, since the movie is coming out in theaters for its 75th anniversary this next week.


Second: it had a bunch of really interesting stuff going on from an energetic perspective.

Here are just a few things I noticed.

1. Influence of Saturn. If you read Progressive Prophetess's blog, she's been talking a lot about Saturn and Jupiter, the planets of justice and mercy.

Saturn is the planet of justice, and the planet of the harvest. It is the planet that ensures people receive their just rewards. It runs on a 29.5-year cycle. Between the ages of 28-30 and 57-60, people tend to reap the harvest that they've sowed with their lives. Examine:

SATURN. Public domain.
As Lord of Karma, Saturn brings you what you've earned through your disciplined pursuit of goals and experience. You'll find out during the Saturn return what you've manifested up to that point, how well you've used your talents. No wonder it's a feared transition -- this is like the mid-semester exam! 
In myth, Saturn is also the God of the Harvest, and it's harvestime during your Saturn return. If nothing's been sown, and therefore, very little reaped, you'll realize it's time to get busy. The scythe of Saturn prunes, cuts away the useless bits, and that can feel like a death of the self. Saturn often brings a death to the old ways of doing things, but later on, you're likely to say, "Good riddance!" The death phase is never easy, but keep in mind that rebirth will come.
What is the ending of Gone With the Wind but this exact thing? Scarlett finally reaps what she's sown all along: she's been ugly at heart, no matter what Melanie sees in her, and in the end, she gets an ugly ending. I hope I'm not spoiling the ending for anyone--dude, has anyone in America not seen Gone With the Wind?--but in the end, she realizes that she's loved Rhett all along, but then he leaves her. Because she has been a super jerk to him the whole time. Sounds like a Saturnine comeuppance to me.

At the end of the story, during her retribution phase, Scarlett O'Hara is a perfect 28 years old--which perfectly fits with the Saturn Return.

FYI, my life is so weird now: I was just searching Google Images for the perfect pictures for this post, and I came across one of Scarlett and the Tarleton twins, and this was the page it linked to. Seriously? Seriously. Amazing. Go read it. Basically it's about how someone found Mitchell's notes on astrology that were connected to Gone With the Wind--Scarlett is a typical Aries, the Tarleton twins are Gemini, Rhett Butler is Leo, etc. Think of the name of the Wilkes plantation: Twelve Oaks. Duh. The book was organized around astrology after all--according to Mitchell's own notes. Bazam. What.


2. Scarlett's Out of Body Experience and Ancestral Visitation 

 At the end of Chapter 24, Scarlett O'Hara gets "drunk with fatigue and whisky." The chapter goes on: "She only knew she had left her body and floated somewhere above it where there was no pain and no weariness and her brain saw things with an inhuman clarity. She was seeing things with new eyes."

She then understands, again, with "inhuman clarity," the strength of her ancestors. She internalizes their stories, and then,

All of those shadowy folks whose blood flowed in her veins seemed to move quietly in the moonlit room. And Scarlett was not surprised to see them, these kinsmen who had taken the worst that fate could send and hammered it into the best. Tara was her fate, her fight, and she must conquer it.  
She turned drowsily on her side, a slow creeping blackness enveloping her mind. Were they really there, whispering wordless encouragement to her, or was this part of her dream? 
"Whether you are there are not," she murmured sleepily, "good night--and thank you."
Here, right here in Gone with the Wind, we have a description of an out of body experience (OBE) and ancestral vision! Bizarre and awesome!

Knowing that Margaret Mitchell had planned a connection between the zodiac and her characters in the novel, it kind of makes me wonder if she didn't write this scene based on some kind of personal experience with OBEs or ancestral visitation. People at church all the time bear testimonies and stuff about deceased ancestors helping them find genealogical records, or helping them in times of extreme need--why couldn't such an event have happened to Mitchell? Fascinating stuff.

When I read Chapter 24, and got to this part, I was totally shocked. An out of body experience in Gone with the Wind??? Seems kind of "out there" or "woo woo" for what is practically the most popular American novel ever. And true, during the scene, she is both literally and figuratively drunk. But it's kind of a cool validation that such an "out there" part of the human experience would make it into such a famous, successful book.

3. Yin and yang.

Now, nowhere in Gone With the Wind is the term "yin" or "yang" used, but there is a CONSTANT commentary on the differences and interplay between masculine and feminine energy. Overall, that is considered Scarlett's biggest problem: a yang imbalance--too much masculine energy. "Despite her pink cheeks and dimples and pretty smiles, she talked and acted like a man. Her voice was brisk and decisive and she made up her mind instantly and with no girlish shilly-shallying. She knew what she wanted and she went after it by the shortest route, like a man, not by the hidden and circuitous routes peculiar to women. [...] Scarlett was guided by no one but herself and was conducting her affairs in a masculine way which had the whole town talking about her" (Chapter 36).
Grandma Fontaine accuses Scarlett thusly: "You're smart enough about dollars and cents. That's a man's way of being smart. But you aren't smart at all like a woman. You aren't a speck smart about folks" (Chapter 40).

Scarlett ruins Ashley's life, turning him into a shell of what he could have been--he attributes this to "when [Scarlett] went to Atlanta, shouldering a man's burden." When Scarlett did that, Ashley said, "I saw myself as much less than a man--much less, indeed, than a woman."
Scarlett walks all over Frank.
He lets her.

Of course, Rhett mostly doesn't mind Scarlett's masculinity--but arguably, that's because he himself is so far masculine on the masculine-feminine spectrum. The narrator explains of Scarlett in Chapter 36, "She never could respect a man who let her run over him and the timid, hesitant attitude [Frank] displayed in any situation, with her or with others, irritated her unbearably." Rhett doesn't let her run over him, ever. He understands the truth about women--that they "[have] a hardness and endurance unknown to men" (Chapter 36). He knows what it takes to be on the masculine side of the spectrum compared to a masculine woman.

From Wikipedia.
The narrator writes of Rhett, "He never played like a boy; he was a man and no matter what he did, [Scarlett] could never forget it. She could not look down on him from the heights of womanly superiority, smiling as women have always smiled at the antics of men who are boys at heart" (Chapter 48).

Scarlett is only truly happy when she surrenders in her heart to Rhett, in the night following Ashley's birthday party and the drama surrounding it. But even though she's submitted to him in her heart, she refuses to submit in person--and their next interaction leaves them both smarting. If Scarlett had been submissive in that interaction with Rhett, things would have been totally different in the end. In other words, Scarlett's yang imbalance, since that is what prevented her from openly submitting to Rhett even when she wanted to, was directly responsible for him leaving her in the end.

I highlighted just about every reference to the yin-yang spectrum in the 1000+ pages of Gone With the Wind, but suffice it to say: the yin-yang spectrum plays a huge role in this book. And this role is directly explored in both dialogue and narration.

4. Scarlett's prescient dream.

Starting about halfway through the book, Scarlett begins to have a horrible dream that haunts her through the end of the book. She's running down a street, looking for something, something and she doesn't even know what it is.

It isn't until the very last chapter--or perhaps the second-to-last chapter--that we learn what it is she's been dreaming of the whole time. And she runs back home after witnessing Melanie's death, with a sickening feeling in her heart she realizes that she recognizes her surroundings--the mist, the lights, everything--it's what she's dreamed of all this time. And the thing she is searching for is no thing: it's Rhett. The man she loves, and has loved all along, even though she didn't know it.

... Scarlett had a vision of the future. And this recurring vision plays a role throughout the book.

Fascinating.

Conclusion

All in all, I loved the book, even though the end was so hard to read! So sad! It really shocked me, though, how very spiritually progressive the book was--if that's how you would term it. With veiled references to astrology, an out of body experience, a prescient dream and ancestral visitation, and constant yin-yang spectrum commentary, this book is surprisingly cognizant of the more esoteric aspects of human life.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

yin and yang in kundalini yoga and meditation

I am at heart a researcher. Over the past year, my research has led me to study the concepts of yin and yang, as well as kundalini yoga and meditation. In my own sadhana, or KYM practice, I have been endlessly intrigued and overjoyed to see how the concepts of yin and yang present themselves in the basics of kundalini yoga and meditation.

Yin and Yang overview

I've blogged about this before, but yin is the feminine essence and yang is the masculine essence. Yang leads, yin follows; yang does, yin is. While yang is aggressive, yin is submissive.

Kundalini and feminine energy

Kundalini is energy coiled at the base of the spine; it rises when the masculine and feminine energies are brought together. This is the purpose of kundalini yoga and meditation: to raise the kundalini from the base of the spine to the top of it. 

Yin and yang in KYM

Here are just a few examples of how the principles of yin and yang are exemplified in KYM.
  • Sat nam. The phrase means "I am truth; truth is my identity." When you do meditations like cat-cow, you're supposed to think "Sat" on the inhale and "Nam" on the exhale. Inhalation is fundamentally yang, and exhalation is fundamentally yin. Similarly, the active voice, as exemplified in "I am truth," is yang, while passive voice ("Truth is my identity") is yin. The phrase "Sat nam" as a whole combines both yin and yang energies. And breaking it up with "sat" on the inhale and "nam" on the exhale... it's yin and yang, guys!
  • Sat nam, Waheguru. Other KYM things have you think "Sat nam" on the inhalation and "Waheguru" ("praise be to God") on the exhalation. Just as it is masculine to assert identity, it is feminine to praise others, and particularly to praise the masculine essence--and what is more "masculine essence" than God? Another perfect example of yin and yang in KYM. 
  • Opposing postures. While other forms of yoga involve long deep stretches and minimal movement, many KYM postures involve movement--back and forth, flex and curl, etc. Doing the postures can really work up a sweat! KYM is designed to balance yin and yang energies, though, in a way other yogas are not. Using opposite postures (ex: flexed spine/curled spine) on the inhalation and exhalation balance the masculine and feminine energies in a truly fascinating and effective way.
  • Finite and infinite.

    "Kundalini Yoga is the science to unite the finite with Infinity, and it's the art to experience Infinity in the finite." - Yogi Bhajan.

    Infinity is yang, and the finite is yin. Just as the Heavens are yang and the Earth is yin. KYM purports to unite the two, finite and Infinity--as Yogi Bhajan says, the science to unite finite with Infinity, and the art to experience Infinity in the finite. A beautiful expression of what it means to bring the yin and yang, masculine and feminine, energies into alignment.
  • Going along with the Infinite/finite idea, consider the words of the tuning-out song, Longtime Sun:

    May the longtime sun shine upon you
    All love surround you
    And the pure light within you
    Guide your way on

    Even the tune-out song unites the Infinite (the longtime sun, or Son, for those Christian practitioners out there!) and the Finite (the light within you). This is another example of KYM uniting the perceived duality of yin and yang, masculine and feminine, Infinite and Finite.
Conclusion

If you are working to balance your masculine and feminine energies, or are working to achieve any sort of enlightenment, taking up a kundalini yoga and meditation practice will help with that. KYM is a technology that uses exercise and vibration (through postures and chanting) to bring energies into alignment for spiritual awakening. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tao Te Ching: Chapter 2 Commentary

This is part of a series on the Tao Te Ching from a Christ-centered perspective.
Yin and yang. Image here.

The first half of Chapter 2 of the Tao Te Ching deals a lot with the concepts of yin and yang. Opposites that create each other, inform each other, illuminate each other, give rise to each other. The second half provides an application of that knowledge for practical action. I quote this translation:
When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
When it knows good as good, evil arises
Thus being and non-being produce each other
Difficult and easy bring about each other
Long and short reveal each other
High and low support each other
Music and voice harmonize each other
Front and back follow each other
Therefore the sages:
Manage the work of detached actions
Conduct the teaching of no words
They work with myriad things but do not control
They create but do not possess
They act but do not presume
They succeed but do not dwell on success
It is because they do not dwell on success
That it never goes away
The First Half

When I first read this stuff, I thought: no wonder Asian cultures place such a high value on meditation. You need to think about these lines for hours for them to make any sense at all!

But really, when you ponder them, they do make sense. 

Take the first two phrases:


When the world knows beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
When it knows good as good, evil arises

When I first read them, they felt strange to me. How does such a concept fit with the Gospel? But thinking about it more, it makes a lot of sense. 
Adam and Eve, pioneers of opposition.
Image here.

Whenever there is a lot of good--whenever people recognize good and truth for what they are--ugliness does arise. It is in the natural order. When prophets show up in righteousness, the people stone them or burn them to death, or throw them into lion's dens. Jesus came into the world and was crucified. Part of the nature of our fallen world is that Satan is allowed to tempt us, and the more goodness there is in the world, the more he shows his ugly face and tries to ruin it all.

Thus, as Chapter 2 explains, "being and non-being produce each other." At least in our fallen world that is propelled by duality. In 2 Nephi 2, we see that prior to Adam's fall, the world lacked this duality--opposites were literally incomprehensible. But they are necessary to "make the world go round," as it were. 

Duality isn't just good and evil, though. Let's read the next few lines: 


Difficult and easy bring about each other
Long and short reveal each other
High and low support each other
Music and voice harmonize each other
Front and back follow each other
Think of how true these concepts are. Difficulty breeds easiness as surely as easiness breeds difficulty. As a musician, I think of learning to play the piano. I spent years slaving away over the piano, and it was difficult. But now, I can sit down at the organ in sacrament meeting or the piano in the Primary and barely practice. The prelude is my practice. All those years of difficulty have made my life super easy.

On the other hand, if I had been lazy all those years instead of cultivating that talent, having callings like ward organist and Primary pianist would be very, very difficult right now!

"Long and short reveal each other." Without opposites, you can't appreciate something for what it is. Just today I was wondering how big Britain is. I thought: if only I knew how large Britain was in comparison to an American state. (... don't ask, I think crazy things all day.) Part of living in a duality world involves seeing things in relation to other things. You don't know if something is big until you see it in comparison to something else. It is the comparison that reveals the truth. 

Long and short reveal each other. Image here.

"High and low support each other." I think of tall trees and the small plants beneath them. The trees provide the shade for the smaller plants; as the smaller plants grow and die and decompose they provide the soil for the tree. They each support each other in their way.

"Music and voice harmonize each other." They are so different but together they are beautiful. 


"Front and back follow each other." Everything has a front and a back and where the first goes, the second goes also.

These are all attempts at make the ineffable concepts of eternal forms of duality conceivable to the human mind. 

The Second Half

The second half here is about application.


Therefore the sages:
Manage the work of detached actions
Conduct the teaching of no words
They work with myriad things but do not control
They create but do not possess
They act but do not presume
They succeed but do not dwell on success
It is because they do not dwell on success
That it never goes away
Eradicate your ego through meditation! Image here.
Each of these lines is worthy of deep pondering, but the takeaway thought for me comes down to the final lines: "They succeed but do not dwell on success / It is because they do not dwell on success / That it never goes away."

To me, what this is saying has everything to do with what Moses taught in Moses 1:10, that "man is nothing," and what Jesus taught all through the New Testament and other revealed scripture, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." When we are truly humble, when we realize we are no better than the dust, and when we realize we are equal in value to our neighbors and start acting that way--that is when success comes.

Sages relinquish control to God, teach by example, create and act and work without exercising unrighteous dominion, and succeed because they do not dwell on, or take pride in, their success. When all actions become a reflection of God, and when no level of success or defeat affects the soul, success is inevitable--in whatever definition "success" takes in God's timing and His plan.


Conclusion

There must be opposition in all things. When we humble ourselves before God, He makes us strong

Friday, September 19, 2014

What is the gift of discerning of spirits?

What is the gift of discerning of spirits?

  • 1 Corinthians 12:10

    10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
  • Doctrine and Covenants 131:7

    7 There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes;
My patriarchal blessing says that I have the gift of discernment, but for most of my life I just kind of assumed it meant the same thing as wisdom. Knowing the difference between good and evil. And true, that is a part of the gift. But it seems to me there is more to it than that.
Ignatius of Loyola. Image here

My research has indicated that many believe the "spirits" here are really more like feelings. For example, consider this explanation of the works of St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556):
Discernment of spirits is the interpretation of what St. Ignatius Loyola called the “motions of the soul.” These interior movements consist of thoughts, imaginings, emotions, inclinations, desires, feelings, repulsions, and attractions. Spiritual discernment of spirits involves becoming sensitive to these movements, reflecting on them, and understanding where they come from and where they lead us. 

In other words, "spirits" are really just thoughts, feelings, inclinations.

But is this an accurate assessment?

Another page I found explains the following:

To discern spirits is a supernatural ability enabled by God's Holy Spirit that allows a person to determine the source of a spiritual manifestation, whether it emanates from God, the Devil, the world, or man. If we have this gift, God will reveal information about the presence or absence of spiritual entities. Usually, people regard this gift as useful to detect evil spiritual forces or influences. It can also detect the presence or absence of angelic intervention or the prompts of God's Holy Spirit working within us. 
The apostle John writes in I John 4:1, "Beloved do not believe every spirit, but test [try] the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." We are commanded to examine thoroughly any spiritual teaching with our critical faculties to see whether the presenter is handling the Word of God accurately. Because evil spirits have the capacity to produce paranormal phenomena, the Scriptures exhort us to prove or test the spirits, proving all things, holding fast only to what is good (I Thessalonians 5:21).

This is more like it. Consider what LDS.org has to say about it:

To understand or know something through the power of the Spirit. The gift of discernment is one of the gifts of the Spirit. It includes perceiving the true character of people and the source and meaning of spiritual manifestations.
Reading this explanation in the online Bible Dictionary through the Church website totally blew my mind. If part of the gift means being able to perceive the true character, source, and meaning of spiritual manifestations... it means that spiritual manifestations are a thing. A thing you can have.

To me, this means that the ability to see a person's aura, chakras, energy field--it's all part of the gift to "perceive the true character of people," as that Bible Dictionary entry explains.

The ability to look at someone, or even just think about them or hear their name, and intuitively know anything from their overall life situation to what they are thinking at that very moment--part of the gift "to understand or know something through the power of the Spirit."

Man surrounded by angels. EDIT: image HERE.
Art by Kerri Guthrie
The ability to perceive, or "see," or sense the presence of deceased loved ones, angels, evil spirits--in other words, "spiritual manifestations"--and understand what they are and what they mean and who they're from--it's a part of the gift to "perceive the true character" of "spiritual manifestations."

In other words--

The gift of discerning of spirits can actually mean that a person literally "discerns" "spirits." As in, a person with the gift can actually perceive the presence and influence of literal spirits. Whether that is perceiving another mortal's spirit even as it is within the confines of a body, as in the case of perceiving an aura or arcline, or whether it's perceiving the spirit of an ancestor, angel, or devil, it's the same gift.

In other words, the gift of "discernment of spirits" may be interpreted literally, plainly, simply. It may mean exactly what it says.

Variations on the gift of discernment

So you have the gift of discernment. Does this mean you automatically have the ability to see chakras or something?

I don't know that I'm qualified to answer that question, but I will say this: the comparison that always comes up in my mind is that of music. Both I and a friend have the gift of music. I've worked really hard in my life--taking piano lessons, voice lessons, guitar lessons, other lessons, practicing for hours and hours on a regular basis, practicing on a variety of instruments, studying music theory and writing music on my own to more thoroughly understand musical concepts--and now I can play a bunch of different instruments, and sing, and so on.

There are so many ways for musical gifts to manifest!
Image here.
My friend, on the other hand, has not taken a million lessons or practiced for hours a day every day for years. We both have the gift of music, but I'm the ward organist/Primary pianist/ ward choir director, and he has one song he can pick out on the piano.

At the same time, I have very musical friends who only play one instrument. Or musical friends who, for whatever reason, can play an instrument but can't sing. And that is fine. There are many different aspects of the gift of music. A gifted tuba player may not be so great at the piano, but they still have the gift of music, and as they explore and use their tuba gift, it can bless the world.

I suspect discernment is the same way. I have a friend in the church who discerns moods through people's auras. I don't do that. But for her, she can see if a person is lying, if they're happy, if they're sad, if they're suicidal, all by looking at them and discerning the colors temporarily outlining their features. She uses this skill in her callings to help her deal with the people she is called to help. This is an aspect of the gift of discernment--one I don't know that I necessarily have.

I have another friend, also LDS, who discerns spirits all the time. This friend said that when my sick brother was staring out into space, he was really staring at all the spirits around him, family members there to keep him safe. This ability is another aspect of the gift of discernment.

I have a friend who, on her mission, was able to see people's spirits from inside their bodies--so she could see what they were struggling with based on how their spirits looked.
Ezekiel 1 explains that the spirit is in the "wheels," or
chakras. Sensing these energy centers would qualify
as experiencing "spiritual manifestations." Image here.

I have another LDS friend who discerns pranic blocks, as I do--the discolorations in a person's spiritual energy corresponding with physical ailments.

In short, the gift of discernment can involve anything from seeing auras, to seeing arclines, seeing evil spirits, seeing the spirits of angels and the deceased, seeing moods or feelings, seeing injuries from outside a person's body. There are many different aspects of the gift. Just as two people with the gift of music might develop that gift to become two different types of musicians, two people with the gift of discernment may find it manifesting in different ways. Just as some musicians channel their gift into multiple outlets, learning multiple instruments and advanced theory, and as some musicians only learn the one clef their favorite instrument uses, people with the gift of discernment have just as varied possibilities.

It's like the gift of tongues, also. Or the gift of interpretation of tongues. Is everyone with those gifts equally gifted at every language? There are hundreds of languages in the world. Not everyone with the gift of tongues has it manifest in the same way.

Conclusion

I propose that the gift of the discerning of spirits is literally what it actually purports to be--what the actual literal meaning of the words "discerning of spirits" is: the ability to discern, or perceive, spirits and spiritual manifestations. This gift can manifest in many different ways, just as gifts of music, tongues, knowledge, wisdom, or any other spiritual gift can differ person to person as far as manifestation. With practice, one can develop other aspects of a gift and improve one's usage of aspects already discovered.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

imagery training

I had the amazing opportunity to go out to Progressive Prophetess's guided imagery training, and I'm so glad I did. I was only planning to go if everything could work out at the last minute, and it miraculously did. Out of nowhere, the money and the help turned up, so that I could afford to attend and also bring my little nursing baby. So I did and it was great.

What is Guided Imagery, anyway?

Imagine a beautiful, serene, special place...
Image here.
Basically, guided imagery is a technique that involves the client going into a comfortable state of mind and engaging the imagination for self-improvement. Whether that's healing from past trauma, dissolving triggers and anchoring in pleasant emotions, or receiving greater insight on a life challenge. Essentially, we use guided imagery to access the subconscious/unconscious mind in a safe, conscious way. So you can consciously receive greater understanding about your life and healing in a condensed, highly personal way that is just right for you. Because your subconscious mind works in concert with the imagery facilitator to create the whole process from a place of love and wisdom, it can get a lot done in a short amount of time, in a way that resounds with your highest good. A friend who attended the training with me said of the three days, "It was like 30 years of therapy crammed into three days." 

And that is so true! 

Highlights

I had a great time. I wasn't sure what I would get out of it, except that I felt I should be there. I've spent many years familiar with entering the comfort state of mind, and I can literally do it at the drop of a hat--or a finger--or just by deciding to. I actually spend most of my time in an alpha state these days, which is basically the brain state for guided imagery. And I use imagery a lot for myself, in my theta work. But these are a few of my highlights:

Seat of the mind's eye. Image here.
- Realizing that I don't have to "see" to see. I describe my perceptions as "seeing" a lot because it's something that makes sense, but the reality is that when I "see" an aura or an energy field, it's not with my physical eyes. If my eyes are closed, I still see the black of my eyelids like everyone else. Part of me thought that by going to this training, I'd learn to see in Technicolor like I assumed all the other intuitives do. But instead, I came away from it all realizing that my mind's eye is just right for me. It works just fine. The pictures that form in my mind can be just as valid as those seen with the physical eyes, even if they are more "discerned" than "seen."  
- Witnessing a giant angel. There was this one crazy moment where I looked up, and what do you know, there's a giant angel in the corner. There was some intense spiritual action going on and he was guarding and ensuring a positive outcome. It was cool the next day to learn that several others had witnessed his presence as well. Once again, this wasn't something I saw with my physical eyes, but discerned with spiritual eyes. To "see" him, I slowed my brain waves down a bit from my normal alpha state and just expected to see what was going on spiritually, and there he was.  
- Working with really smart people. I met with a number of "inner guides" who were super evolved or something. They had really intense information for me. At one point, I'd asked this complex question and my guide said to get a pen and paper. I think he was going to show me a diagram to copy down. I was told to just imagine a pen and paper, which was not the same thing, so I told him I'd be back when I was better prepared. I guess I'll have to go back into my imagery state and get around to that sometime. I have seen glimpses of the outline of this diagram--a calendar--and it is so exciting. Can't wait to see how it all works.  
- Learning that my work has paid off. It was amazing to realize that all my hard spiritual work has really made a difference. When I met with my inner child, for example, it had the potential to be this super emotional, teary event. But when I got there, my inner child was so happy and just said, "Hey! Thanks for fixing me! My life is awesome now!" And it was totally chill. My rebirthing? Super chill also, since I'd done that work a few years back. Suffice it to say: everything was super cool--but more like the cherry on top of all my hard work, rather than hard work in and of itself. I know I could have spent the whole time in tears and working out all this past emotional gunk, if I hadn't confronted all that stuff before, but it seems like most of that stuff is behind me, so yay. 
I've already had occasion to use this stuff four times--basically once a day since the training ended. It's been awesome and I way recommend it. 

Use your imagination for good! It is so powerful!