Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nature: It's what the doctor orders

The power of nature is fascinating.  I am not referring to hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis or anything of that sort.  Nature has an uncanny ability to revitalize and rejuvinate the body, mind, and soul.

Today I spent far too many consecutive hours in my apartment. The fact that I wasn't very productive with my homework or work added to the lethargy of the day. The back starts to ache, you get restless, you find yourself eating only cereal because making real food would be too much work, and you start rationalizing yourself away from doing the more important things in life. You know those moments that I am talking about. This happens to me far too often.

I live in Provo for heaven sakes. I could be in nature in minutes. So I took off into the mountains for an hour. Oh it was glorious.  The silence with only the sound of the trail crunching underneath your feet. The glow of the moon illuminating your way. It's just...wonderful. There is a reason why so many buildings incorporate nature into their designs.  Now this time I did something that contradicts a true natural experience and I took my phone, which I used to read some uplifting material. Normally I would recommend completely cutting yourself off from communication and technology in order to escape the pollution of information that bombards us everyday but if you can control yourself to something beneficial than go ahead.

I really don't know what I am trying to get at but as I was walking around by myself in the mountains a mere hour ago, I just felt so much better about life. Heck it inspired to write this blogpost. So when you can (not if) take an hour to go out into the woods, up into the mountains or wherever it may be and just enjoy being alone and taking in your surroundings.  It's quite incredible. Also to the couple who drove off once I got up to the parking lot, I am sorry for ruining your evening.  haha

Friday, May 18, 2012


This blog post will be directed mainly at an audience of LDS readers but I will try to incorporate a broader audience as well.  I will try to succintly approach this topic of truth and revelation in the simplest way possible.  This topic has been one that I have thought about off and on for the past 5-6 years and it is one that touches upon one of my greatest and deepest concerns.  My main purpose in writing this is to express some thoughts I have and to hopefully get you to review your  testimony and hopefully have a positive experience.
Book of Mormon Challenge
At the end of the book of mormon there is a challenge and a promise made by the Prophet Moroni.  This challenge and promise is issued to every member and investigator of the church.  Typically members and investigators read the Book of Mormon or at least read pamphlets the missionaries provide before taking the challenge.  The challenge and promise leads members and investigators to testimony gaining experiences by which they may glean further faith and testimony throughout the rest of their lives.  The challenge and promise is provided below
 3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, [the Bookf of Mormon] if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
 4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
 5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
When we do ask about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon there are three qualifiers in order for the truth to be made manifest unto us.  These are:
1.       Ask with a sincere heart
2.       Ask with real intent
3.       Ask having faith in Christ
If one of these elements is missing while asking God, do you think He will give you an answer?  The answer is probably no.  Many people have personally taken this challenge and received an answer. Many have also taken this challenge and recieved a negative answer (the Book of Mormon is not true).  What accounts for these differences in results?  It’s probably due to a difference in asking, specifically in regards to the three qualifiers.
Asking with a sincere heart
To me asking with a sincere heart means that you truly want to know whether the Book of Mormon is true.  It is not enough to have a passing whim of desire to know the veracity of the book or not.  It has to be somethign that you are truly and deeply concerned about to the degree where true sincerity is present.  Do you really want to know or not?
Having Faith in Christ
I don’t know whether a testimony of the divinity of Christ is quite necessary but I beleive that believing that you can and will recieve an answer through divine means is necessary.  Faith is action and taking the action of asking God with every expectation of recieving an answer seems to me to satisfy this qualifier.  If you don’t beleive that you even can receive an answer, then God possibly will not give you an answer. 
Real Intent
This part of the scripture is the part that sticks out to me the most.  What does it mean to have real intent?  To me it means that you have the intent to follow God in whatever answer he gives you.  Yes, I do mean whatever answer He gives you.  It means being willing to act upon the revelation given.  If one is not willing to accept the Book of Mormon due to whatever reason while asking God if it is true, would God really give that person an answer?  I would say no.  Contrastly, if one is not willing to denounce the Book of Mormon if given the answer that is was false, would God give that person an answer?  Again I would say no.
These three qualifiers, I beleive, aren’t stictly held to questions about the Book of Mormon but I feel they hold true to questions about the Church in general, the divinity of Christ, Joseph Smith, and etc.  A member of the church needs to gain a testimony of a lot of different facets of the LDS church.
Lover of Truth
One of my favorite quotes of all time and one that inspired the title of my blog says that, “The man who has a certain religious belief and fears to discuss it, lest it may be proved wrong, is not loyal to his belief; but has but a coward’s faithfulnessto his prejudices.  If he were a lover of truth, he would be willing at any moment to surrender to his belief for a higher, better, and truer faith.”
So the question is, are you as a member of the LDS church or as a believer in any faith really a lover of truth that you would be willing at any moment to surrender your belief for a higher, better, and truer faith?  Many have taken the challenge presented by Moroni and asked God if the Book of Mormon is true and whether the Church is true.  They have garnished a testimony from those experiences and believe that they are true.  However, many have recieved opposite responses.  Do both of these groups fully meet the qualifiers in order to receive an answer?  Speaking hypothetically, if the Book of Mormon, the church, and everything else about the gospel were not to be true, would you really want to know?  Are you sincere about knowing that?  If it were not true, would you be willing to lay down your faith and search for a higher truth? 
My brother in an email to me on my mission said it very eloquently. 
“Members and missionaries place so much emphasis on trying to get others to reexamine their own faith and consider ours.  To actually contemplate whether the faith or non-faith that they follow is actually right.  Have we done that ourselves.  When obtaining a testimony, was the consideration that the church could not be true even a possibility.  I believe for many, the social and family pressures don't allow this consideration.  And yet many others can't change the religion of their family and culture for the same family and social reasons.  Studies show that the majority of people stay in the religion that they were raised in.  Well, were you lucky enough to be born into the right religion?”
So in conclusion do you truly want to know whether your belief system is true and are you willing to follow or discontinue following that?  Is there anything that would prevent you from truly asking God with a sincere heart, real intent, and faith about the veracity of your religion and belief system?  All of these questions are very hard to truly ask ourselves and to honestly answer but I feel they are good questions to ask and can lead us in positive directions, whichever direction that is. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Your True Self

Tonight I was listening to a talk where the speaker talked about not going about life with a mask on.  He referenced the KKK and how most of the members of that organization were normal people who would not normally do some of the acts by themselves.  However, when they were adorned in their respective garb and with a large group, they did a lot of things out of their typical character.  From my limited understanding of psychology, this is how the use of roles affects our actions.  Stanford University did a very controversial experiment about how the role of roles (pun intended) affects our actions.  They gathered multiple students to play out a prison scenario.  Some students acted as guards and others acted as prisoners.  After about a week the experiment had to be shut down because the “guards” were subjecting the “prisoners” rather harsh conditions. 

How could such normal students and members of society do such heinous actions?  Somehow when we take on the role of another person and are involved in a group, we can diffuse ourselves of responsibility.  It’s amazing how these situations can affect our lives.

Also findings show that people, who have an anonymous identity, are much more likely to display vitriolic behavior.

So the question is who is your real self?  Are you playing any roles? Are the actions of a person who is anonymous their real self?  How is the true self supposed to be found and how can it maintain it’s true status if external influences such as culture, family, friends, and etc influence it?

I am not sure at what I am trying to get at.  I feel as if too many people are too scared to say what they truly think and feel because it goes against the social norm.  This prevention can be to our detriment and benefit.  However, I do feel that who your true self is should also be the self you display to the public.  People can’t wear masks, especially if the masks are mutually exclusive and display opposing values. 

Along this vein, I think people sometimes are too afraid to find admit to themselves who their true self is.  They are scared of their true feelings and end up lying to themselves. 

I don’t know who my true self is or if it is even possible to discern the true self.  The true-self could be static or dynamic.  If it is dynamic, there is no way to pin point it down.  But nevertheless, I hope to find my true self and not be afraid to have that true self be the same self I display to the world.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Have you ever found yourself with some downtime and didn't quite know what to do with yourself?  Do you end up finding yourself watching a few hours of TV, playing multiple levels of angry birds, getting annoyed there is nothing new to see on fb, or doing some other mindless drivel?  I certainly do.

It's just so easy to play a game on my phone and be completely distracted from the world than to seriously think about something important.  I have tons of books in my room filled with fascinating ideas but I rarely get around to reading them because they simply don't seem quite as appealing as checking my fb page.  Yet I know from experience that when I do take time to write important thoughts in my journal, read old journal entries (i highly recommend it), read that econ textbook I kept to read instead of selling back, read the scriptures, or read a novel that I feel so much more satisfaction afterwards.  It's refreshing to be focused on one thing and achieve novel insights into life itself.  

Yet here you find yourself skimming a blog post only to move onto another window on your screen and divert your attention to some other activity.  Do we ever think to close the virtual screen for a while and simply just ponder and review what we have read, seen, heard, experienced, or done?  We fill ourselves with limitless information to only have it mean nothing.  And then even when we do take that precious time to review our lives, thoughts, feelings, and actions and write them down we never go back and look at them.  

I really wish I was more self-willed to take serious time to learn (just because you're cramming for a test to only forget everything you learned the next day doesn't mean you're learning), to ponder, to write, and to grow.  I wish I was more sensitive to my life and the lives of others.  I wish I was more articulate in my thoughts.  

Sometimes I relish the time I spend taking the bus home on the occasional weekends.  It can be really peaceful and enlightening to sit in relative silence for over an hour.  

Don't be afraid to lie in bed staring at the ceiling thinking, or to take a long stop on your hike to simply enjoy the moment of nature, or dust off that old journal you struggled to write as a high school student. Now to go forgo everything I just wrote about to play yet another game of freecell.