Sunday, September 30, 2018

Emitting and Absorbing Light

Light is the power of God, the glory of God, the knowledge of God, the will of God, the character of God. It is joy, felicity, salvation. It is perception of what is hidden and realization of what was unknown. It is the means by which things are perceptible, while it itself is invisible. It is in all things and through all things, and acts on them all, but is also its own entity. It is the comprehension of all things: an awareness that they exist, an understanding of what they are and are not, and a correct recognition of their value or lack thereof. Obtaining this comprehension is what it means to overcome all things. It is to be exposed to everything pertaining to this scope of existence while perfectly maintaining the revealed character of God in yourself.

Matter is eternal. It cannot be created or destroyed. Each piece of matter has a degree of light and truth it has attained. Matter can be organized into bodies great and small, and when this happens the degree of light and truth of the body is an amalgam of the light and truth attained by its parts.

Light exists by degrees. Light is ever-present in its fullness, but we only perceive it in terms of the degree of light we ourselves have received. This is what it means when the scriptures say "the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness comprehends it not." Matter of a lower degree of light can perceive light to a point just beyond what it itself has attained, but nothing beyond. All of creation can be seen as a collection of matter with varying awareness of the fullness of light that emanates from God.

The matter of this creation is not the light, but it can absorb and reflect the light. In fact, all of creation is a machine for generating light; the objective of God's creation is to maximize the degree to which the matter it comprises attains a higher degree of light.

We increase in light as we obtain, heed, and broadcast his light:

43 And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.
44 For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.
45 For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
46 And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.
47 And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father. (D&C 84)
7 And by hearkening to observe all the words which I, the Lord their God, shall speak unto them, they shall never cease to prevail until the kingdoms of the world are subdued under my feet, and the earth is given unto the saints, to possess it forever and ever.
8 But inasmuch as they keep not my commandments, and hearken not to observe all my words, the kingdoms of the world shall prevail against them.
9 For they were set to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men;
10 And inasmuch as they are not the saviors of men, they are as salt that has lost its savor, and is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. (D&C 103)

The process for this, in a nutshell, is given in the creation story, and this is the same process that continues to this day:

3 And I, God, said: Let there be light; and there was light.
4 And I, God, saw the light; and that light was good. And I, God, divided the light from the darkness.
5 And I, God, called the light Day; and the darkness, I called Night; and this I did by the word of my power, and it was done as I spake; and the evening and the morning were the first day. (Moses 2)


God's spirit moved upon the darkness, and some of the matter responded to his light. The initial step of creation was to separate the matter that responded to his light and the matter that did not--two groups he called "day" and "night" far before the sun was created. Successive steps further separated matter according to their response to his influence.

This is exactly how it works with us today as well. Joseph Smith taught:
God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with Himself, so that they might have one glory upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence, which is requisite in order to save them in the world of spirits.

The Lord said "I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king, and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words." (2 Nephi 10:14) Jesus will be our light forever. "And that I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world;" (D&C 93:2) We first seek him for the light he provides to us externally. Then we start to try to be like he is by owning everything he teaches us. Eventually, the day star will rise within us, and we will be like him.
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (2 Peter 1:19)
Creation is a machine that increases the light contained in matter by extending invitations to greater light and truth. Some matter responds by one, ten, or a hundred fold. Some matter does not respond.

The physical properties of light and matter. Darkness absorbs light. Black absorbs all wavelengths of light. Lightness reflects light. White reflects all wavelengths of light. Other colors each reflect one or more colors.

The glory of God is repulsive to unsanctified people. Why? Because the glory of God includes the fact that all things are present before him, including the depths of chaos that by his grace elude us. When you look upon God in his glory, the seemingly endless depths of chaos are before you. In him they are ordered, but without perfect faith, you can't leverage your trust in him to endure even a temporary awareness of what you can't yet handle. A very small example of this is when Peter tried to walk to the Lord on the sea. As his eyes were fixed on Christ, he was able to walk. When he started to think of the sea, he began to sink, and was almost consumed (which is very interesting, given he was an experienced swimmer being a fisherman). Even the most experienced chaos walkers would falter in the presence of God if his full glory was manifest. This is why, when he appears, he only reflects the portion of his glory that the individual can endure.

How to reflect light

In this world, all things are incessantly pulled downward by the background of a lowly state of light and truth. Most people and things subscribe to this level of light and truth. However, there are some people who subscribe to a higher level of light and truth. In their interactions with the world, they constantly invite and entice others to act according to the higher level of light and truth.

To reflect light:

  • Rather than seeking relief from the consequences of your actions, seek how to improve your actions.
  • Earnestly seek to learn more than you know.
  • Be open to truth from all places and all people.

How to emit light

This process of emitting light is akin to what happens with a lighthouse in the dark. A lighthouse shines its light for moment on each section of the sea. Everything in its spotlight, for a moment, transforms into what it could be if it were surrounded by light. What was a shapeless blob in the dark transforms into something completely different, while all reflective surfaces shine back into the darkness. Then, the beam continues on, and any ship that happened to be touched by the light can decide how to respond to that light. The greatest sorrow is to see the potential of what others could be if they embraced the light. It is also the loneliest sorrow, because they don't see it themselves.

We are commanded to emit light. The Lord taught:

33 No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.
34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.
35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.
36 If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light. (Luke 11)
Emitting light is different than reflecting light. To illustrate the difference, consider this. Days are sunny, sometimes rainy. Every day is followed by night. Some nights are bright (full moon, clear starry sky, etc.) and some nights are completely black. To emit light, the first step is to use those sunny days. When it rains, you can always remember how the sunny days are and rely on the fact that you will soon have another. The next level is to realize that everything you have on a sunny day (which comes from external sources) can be yours on the rainiest of days, if you can produce it inside yourself. The purpose of sunny days are to lift you up, yes, but the greater purpose is to teach you what it is like to have the light within you.

The moon reflects light, the sun emits it. The sun receives its power from energy sources we do not perceive, then it translates that power into energy sources we can perceive. It is a transformer that converts light beyond our comprehension into light that we can comprehend. This is a model for how we are to obtain and emit light.

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 fill 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. (D&C 88)

The Lord Jesus is the perfect example of how to emit light in this world. He is the light and the life of the world. He descended below all things by willingly exposing himself to all things below. He grew by learning to cope with those things, strengthening himself by leaning on the Father's word and being obedient to it in all things, until he had been exposed to all things while maintaining the character of God. In doing so, he became the light, and now is the source of light for those who will do the same.

To emit light:

  • At any moment, choose to live earnestly according to your current understanding of right and wrong, particularly when it hurts.
  • Treat people better than they deserve to be treated.
  • Stand up for those who are oppressed.
  • Help others become better than they were.
  • Gratefully give up the things you have earned for the benefit of others, particularly those who will not comprehend and/or appreciate what you are doing.

Conclusion

Our purpose is to first obtain light:
23 And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.
24 That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.
25 And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you;
26 He that is ordained of God and sent forth, the same is appointed to be the greatest, notwithstanding he is the least and the servant of all.
27 Wherefore, he is possessor of all things; for all things are subject unto him, both in heaven and on the earth, the life and the light, the Spirit and the power, sent forth by the will of the Father through Jesus Christ, his Son.
28 But no man is possessor of all things except he be purified and cleansed from all sin. (D&C 50)
Then to share that light with others:

To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:79)
Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—(D&C 123:13)