This is a guest post from Heber13.
As a guest author, a brief introduction is appropriate. I am a direct descendant from members of the Martin Handcart company of mormons, however, despite the efforts of my ancestors to make such sacrifices to walk across the plains to get out west, my parents decided to take a plane ride back to the East Coast where I was born and raised in the church my whole life. I attended BYU, served a state-side mission, and now am married with 4 kids that are the center of my life.
Entering a new stage in life (the old, out of shape, and bald stage), I marvel at how far I have to go yet in my understanding of things, and have started realizing that my prior confidence in seeing light and truth is but a pinhole view of the true vision and beauty this mortal experience has to offer all of us.
This enlightenment has made me think a lot about enlightenment, and even more so on Light, which is such an interesting spiritual and physical topic.
The word “Light” appears in the scriptures 535 times. The dictionary defines light as something that makes vision possible or something that enlightens or informs.
Interestingly, Greeks first theorized light originated from the eye, and went outward so we could see things. Now it is known that the Sun is our source of light and it is by the law of reflection that forms, shapes, and colors give us vision to see things.
One of the first things God did in the creation was to divide the light from the dark, for darkness cannot abide where there is light. And light was good. There was light before there was life.
As a few of us on another forum were discussing light, it became a topic that has so many levels of meaning, that it would be good to discuss on MormonMatters what these things mean to this group, and hopefully bring to light a greater meaning of “light”.
There are others in our group like JMB275 can probably give even more detail on the science and physics of light, and how ElectroMagnetic Radiation is understood now. All I know is that all colors of light are made of the same substance, but manifest themselves differently to my eye based on variation in wave lengths of types of electromagnetic radation waves. Even the same light source (sun’s rays) appear different to my eye at different times of the day (sunrise, mid-day, sunset) and at different seasons (winter vs summer).
Likewise, I can see the light of the gospel differently, or understand things differently, at different times in my life. Indeed, temple ceremonies or scriptures can remain fairly constant, yet each time I refer back to them, they seem to bring some new color or principle to life, and I see the world differently by being exposed to them.
I have often wondered why some people, including me, go through trials or experiences, and something in them changes so that what they used to see clearly, as clear as day about the church and their testimony of it, suddenly changes and appears different, sometimes drastically different. In those situations, has the outside object (the church or God) changed? No, but the individuals “eyes” or “lenses” or whatever they use to see these things, somehow changes and they see it differently.
Brigham Young said: “Let a man or woman who has received much of the power of God, visions and revelations, turn away from the holy commandments of the Lord, and it seems that their senses are taken from them, their understanding and judgment in righteousness are taken away, they go into darkness, and become like a blind person who gropes by the wall” (DBY, 82-83).
Throughout the scriptures, people would fall away from truth and were said to have their minds darkened at times, because of unbelief; which is really to say that the light was still there but something was blocking it and they were left in darkness. In 1832, as some early missionaries returned from their fields of labor, the Lord reproved them for treating the Book of Mormon lightly. As a result of that attitude, He said, their minds had been darkened. Not only had treating this sacred book lightly brought a loss of light to themselves, but a condemnation to the whole church which decades later Ezra T. Benson continued to teach was still in affect.
Christ taught in Matthew 6:23 that if your eye is evil, the whole body is dark. Or sometimes there may be something on or in your eye that can block that light. Cataracts make things dark or wearing rose-colored glasses changes how you see the outside world. Of Beams and Motes In the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior revealed one of the greatest insights to the human tendency to fault-finding, and gave what is sometimes called the Change-First Principle. For him, a beam was a large piece of wood and a mote was a small speck of sawdust. Clearly it is more important to remove the beam so we can see the light unobstructed.
The other relevant aspect of light to note is how uniquely personal vision or the interpretation of that light can be. While a light source containing one truth (or one make-up of patterns of electromagnetic radiation wavelengths), it can be seen or perceived so differently depending on our processing or interpretation of that one light source. Our eye sensors measure it and my sensors aren’t the same as everyone else’s. I have a difficult time seeing the difference between a light shade of pink and white, and the difference between darker pink and red, and also blue and purple. Others are color blind altogether, only seeing some colors they can interpret or if only may see shades of black and white and never experience what red is (or experience it differently than I do). Even still, others are blind all together and don’t see colors or shapes or forms or light, just darkness.
Interestingly, the light from the source is still the same for everyone, yet we could debate for hours on end what “red” really is. Why is it so important to define the color and what it is and classify everything by how we see things? Wouldn’t it be nice if the world could just say “yes that is a beautiful color – whatever you call it”?
Finally, the other aspect of light I see relevant to discuss is that light is not only what we see with our eyes, but also is what we feel. On a cloudy day, a sunburn can remind you that not all the sun’s light is visible, and for those who are blind and can’t see the light, can still feel the warmth to know the light is there. Having lived across the country, my experience in Ohio reminds me that during late winter months until summer time, the overcast clouds hide the sunlight for most of the time, and the psychological effects are that there is increased depression by not being exposed to enough visible light. With more light we seem to be more happy and healthy.
I reflect (no pun intended) upon the message of the Master: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12). The firmer our faith in Jesus Christ, the clearer our vision of ourselves and what we can ultimately achieve and become. “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” Solomon proclaimed (Prov. 29:18). But how do we get a clear vision of who we are?
How much do we think we see the full spectrum of light and we think our vision is clear and complete, yet we are only really seeing a few colors of the rainbow, and there is more to see if we let ourselves?
In D&C 88, we read about the Light of Christ.
6 He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;
7 Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made.
8 As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made;
9 As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made;
10 And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand.
11 And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;
12 Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to bfill the immensity of space—
13 The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.
These ideas shed an interesting light on the subject. Light is not only knowledge and understanding, but life itself comes from light. What can live without any light? I think in this, there is something common throughout the whole human race, the Light of Christ and the feeling from our conscience or sub-conscience that there is a purpose in life, and that whatever it is, it is bigger than us. There is a draw or pull to want us to find more light and knowledge, and see the full rainbow of colors to experience the beauty of it all.
Reptile experts know you can differentiate a poisonous cotton mouth snake from a non-venomous snake by its colors. The Lord didn’t make everything white. What makes the world such a beautiful place is seeing all the colors of the rainbow, like different instruments and parts of an orchestra that together sound vibrant. By not only tolerating others and other religions, but loving and accepting them for who they are and become awed by their colors and their truths they possess, we can begin to really see things as God sees all His children. To believe the Mormon church has all that is of value to me is like making my whole house blue, inside and out…not very appealing, and it would probably drive me crazy without going out into the world to see other colors.
Perhaps instead of trying to our establish our vision as “the right way” and tell others they need to see it that way too, we will find that as we get close to God and see things in His light, that your colors and my colors and all colors of the rainbow merge into one beautiful color of white, brighter far than the noon-day sun. Of course, as we come closer to the true light, we become more aware of blemishes and things about ourselves we need to fix as we see more of ourselves as we really are. In the dark shadows, distinctions and differences are hidden from our view. Perhaps that is why some people prefer the darkness, and feel more comfortable holding dances with less illumination…I mean, who wants to really see all that is going on in some situations? This could be why some will feel more comfortable in a Telestial Kingdom where the glory is compared to the flickering light of a far off star.
So what does the group think about the principles of light and how you see colors differently from others, and what that means about your perceptions of truth and light? What are other colors that the world has to offer that we may not be able to see if we filter everything through a set of Mormon tinted eyeglasses? Do you believe there is one source of light out there?