By Rafael Padilla
Perfect elevation explains to us the mechanism by which the soul is elevated in order to grow into more worldview. The scriptures are revealing in this.
In the first article of this series, given the comparison that was intended to be manifest, I did not deal, as is usual on this Web, with scriptures, for my desire was that the reader should be able to establish the simile of a ship’s navigation and the government of one’s own life; in this article, The Perfect Elevation, I will also try to leave the references of the most appropriate scriptures – for it is absolutely necessary – without losing sight of the subjects with which I try to link them. However, it is my hope that the previous article will have its effect and validity thanks to this one, which will carry your writings.
The Book of Mormon, in the Book of Nephi, chapter 2, speaks of an immanent need for existence in our physical world and this is duality, more specifically based on pairs of opposites, for the perception and appreciation of existence by means of analogies. Thus, in verse 11 of 2 Nephi 2, we read:
“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad….”.
To this, beyond the proper sense of the scriptures, I would add: neither to appreciate heat and cold, or light and darkness… nor even to discern between good and bad, but perhaps for reasons other than what we might be thinking.
The expansive space
I remember that, in studying Cosmology, right from the beginning and in discussing the expansion of the universe, it was explained to us that the universe expands, but for reasons other than for massive objects to separate from each other in space. No; the different and additional reason is that the space containing the universe expands, becomes larger, and therefore the things located within that space become farther apart from each other. Something similar happens here; things and dual concepts, such as near and far, or high and low would not exist, not because they were forbidden, but because the reality of the ontological Law of the very existence of the universe would make such an order of things impossible. And this is very, very important, for reasons that we will see in a moment.
Lehi and duality
Let us note that Lehi, in this verse 11, says: “…righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad…” or, in other words, they could not be carried out, they could not become, and so I believe, with all pairs of opposites.
But the concept of duality is conceptually two-dimensional because of the complementarity of its elements. That is, we can imagine the association of pairs of opposites, not using a line, nor a point, but with two dimensions when representing them. And this two-dimensionality works on different levels and in multiple purposes.
But let’s see an example: in Fig. 1 we see a two-dimensional graph, of bars, that could well represent the pair of opposites goodness-madness.
In the abscissa axis, that is, in the X axis, we see values that are regularly spaced in time. That is, they adopt the value 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… etc.
In the Y axis of the ordinates, we see inputs that adopt non-correlative or uniform values: 3… 7.. 13… 23… and even negative values, such as -1… -12… -17….
Fig. 1: Representation of the degree of goodness-mallness in a given behaviour over a period of several days (X= number of days, Y= degree of goodness-mallness)
When we speak of “good-evil”, we do not have to refer to anyone’s moral behavior or to the qualification of a person’s acts; here we speak of archetypes of pairs of opposites and we could well be talking about the behavior of an engine, the taste of a meal on different days or even the degree of comfort of a room according to the temperature it has.
There must be a law
But here we see something else and that is that we need a reference, an initial value from which we define that the positive values are of one kind and the negative values in the graph are another. There are no more classes of values, but these two opposites that are qualified by their positive or negative value in the graph.
But there is something fundamental:
2 Nephi 2:10
“…for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him. Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed,…”.
“And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness…”
It is necessary
In these two magnificent verses of 2 Nephi 2, we are told something essential: For there to be pairs of opposites, as in the example of goodness and evil, there must be a law. That is, what he tells us: “from this point and there, this will be known as ‘goodness’; and from this same point onwards it will be known as ‘evil’.
It is in fact the existence of the law, and the end of the law is – or should be – to give each one what he deserves according to his works, being what determines the functioning of the pairs of opposites. And we function in pairs of opposites, even though many of the values we use are unary, unique rather than dual: there is no such thing as heat and cold, only heat; there is no such thing as light and darkness, only light… and so on with many other concepts, which we relativize by making them pairs of opposites.
Category of behaviors
However, we move, we navigate in a dual state of things. Thus we base our references… and our behavior, too.
Until now we have seen that we live on the basis of the confrontation of opposites so that we form an idea of the world; but that we also need a law that qualifies each pair of opposites and that allows us to know in which point of the categorization we are: What do we call “cool”, “polar cold” or “scorching heat”, for example, and so on with all the pairs of opposites with which we move. However, when talking about behavior…
In the case of behavior, we can speak of ΗΘΟΣ, ethos, which means behavior or custom; or of mos (gen., moris), moral, which means the same thing. That’s where our ethical and moral words come from.
Previously we spoke of immoral behaviour and now of unethical behaviour. Although there are nuances and uses for each case and in each time, the truth is that when we talk about ethics and morality, we are also tracing paths of behavior. And, moreover, of behaviours that can be framed within the semantic field of goodness and evil. This also becomes more complex than it might seem at first glance, because, if when dealing with pairs of opposites we were talking about a two-dimensional field, here we change to a field that becomes three-dimensional and above all, not dependent on time, as in the previous case.
It becomes three-dimensional, in several ways, being the first one, that we add to a third element, the actor or agent, that we must count on and that will be the base and reason of all the ethics or morals that we want to define. Thus, according to the scriptures, we will not forget that:
2 Nephi 2:15 …an opposition was necessary…
Evil cannot triumph
But now, enters our perceptual field the agent, the one who performs the actions and places himself within the state of goodness-madness. However, two conditions are necessary which will allow man to move along the segment of behaviour and place himself. These two conditions may come very close to each other and may be summarized in the following scripture:
2 Nephi 2:16 “Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.”
The first condition
The first of these two conditions refers to the causal consequences of all the actions and decisions we take in all things and more especially in our own field of moral action. Every cause has its effect, every action has its consequences, and this is true from the most evident and effective actions to the small subtleties of Chaos Theory..
Why this is what comes to study Chaos Theory. But to deal with it, with its determinism, fractals and attractors, falls far short of what we intend with this article, which is already sufficiently extensive.
It is logical to think that in the field of Soul Navigation there are rewards and privations, ups and downs, or if you prefer, prizes and punishments:
Now, how could a man repent except he should sin? How could he sin if there was no law? How could there be a law save there was a punishment? (Alma 42:17)
Yes, certainly, in all circumstances, all our acts have their own and related consequences; and every act as to good or evil accumulates or detracts brightness in our own soul, too. So, as for moral consequences, what is good? What is evil? And we, are we able to know what each thing is? Again, we read:
And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off…(2 Nephi 2:5 )
Are we human beings educated enough to discern good from evil? Since when? It is also very useful for us to know the means by which we are taught:
“For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.” (Moroni 7:16)
Just as every seafarer who goes out to sail is given charts so that he can discern his position at all times, we soul-seekers are given the means to discern also where we are.
The second condition
The second and no less important is that man has the capacity to act. They do not serve people without sufficient knowledge, or chained in prisons, confined in hospitals or subjected to any deprivation that in any way impairs their ability to choose. In short, their power to choose. And here we come to the most intense part of this article: We call this ability to choose Free Will.
This Free Will of being is also more properly the third coordinate that converts the field of action between pairs of opposites into a three-dimensional one. However, we must consider this two-dimensional field of pairs of opposites in which we find ourselves in a somewhat different way:
Really, in his moral acts, man sees himself, at least consciously, as being polarized by two forces, or rather, between two conditions. We will call the first power, which depends on its own capacities. Or even more simply, potency refers to what man, as an individual, is capable of realizing; what forces, knowledge, or capacity for action he has at his disposal.
The second, for many, is something more subtle, even denied altogether in the name of an absolute and total freedom that denies any bond or tie with anything. This condition which goes along with man also, we shall call duty.
On the high seas
Thus we have the man who oscillates, who navigates moved between the currents of duty and the drives of his own capacities and powers. Doesn’t this now remind us of the state we had described in the first part of this work? In it, we were talking about someone who is suddenly on a ship on the high seas, at the mercy of the wind and the currents, with the ability to touch or do whatever he wishes with the ship’s governing bodies, and even though the consequences of his actions may be disastrous, he has the power, the power to influence the ultimate behaviour of the ship. In fact, these are built with the idea of using the elements of nature in our favor and the ship itself is an element of that power.
We will say something else: What does man see on a ship, standing on the deck? At what distance does he see? Let me tell you, and I ask you to trust my words, but it turns out that a person 1.80 meters high, can see the horizon up to a distance of about five kilometers scarce.
What if we get on the highest part of the ship? (which we will assume is 10 meters above the water). Surprisingly, you will be able to see the horizon up to a distance of about 11 kilometers.
The higher we are, the higher we are, the more we will be able to see a larger field of the horizon that surrounds us.
The perfect elevation
Thus, in the field of the two dimensions defined by our power and our duty, the more perspective we have of the whole, the easier it will be for our soul to navigate in conditions such as that of our world, which gives much more importance to power than to duty.
For the navigator, what advantages does this bring? The answer is simple: by encompassing a larger visual area you can make better decisions if you see that, although from your height in the ship can not be seen, from above you see that there is a relief ship, there is land or any danger.
And for the Soul Navigator, what is there? The Prophet Soul answers us through what he entrusted to his own son Helaman:
“And it [the compass or Liahona] did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day. “(Alma 37:40)
But we are not only talking about a medium such as the compass or the sextant in a ship, but about a higher and higher guide:
“And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.” (Alma 37:45)
Navigation of the soul
Indeed, if the navigator of the soul trusts in the word of Christ, his navigation will be easier, safer and more direct. But there is one more aspect we must consider when trying to rise above the plane of duty and power.
It is we who decide what to choose between duty and power. Even the choice of “not choosing anything” is a choice in itself. This ability, necessary to be our own agents, is called “Free Will.
It implies, as we have seen, the capacity to reflect and to be able to choose without being constrained, in matters of a moral or spiritual nature.
In making choices, we have heaven’s guarantee that choosing the right thing will make us freer and if we choose the wrong thing, it will make us more slaves. It is practically the opposite of what the world tells us, which is that, if we subject ourselves to moral laws, we will be more slaves, while by not subjecting ourselves we will be more free. But Lehi continues to speak:
“Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (2 Nephi 2: 27)
When rescuing at sea, helicopters and airplanes are used because the distance to the horizon from these is always greater and you can cover more area of the sea and not leave anyone abandoned. But how can we make our will gain in height?
Interesting question. Basically, the answer is that by making the right decisions in simple matters from the beginning, our spiritual height will grow, allowing us to see “farther” than we are accustomed to seeing located on the deck of our soul ship. When I was learning to drive, who taught me spoke to me of a very common mistake among those who are learning and is to look at what happens right in front of the car and not look beyond.
“If you look far away,” he said, “you will be able to see with greater anticipation and time what comes to you from the direction of your march, while, if you limit yourself to being aware of what happens only a metre in front of the bonnet, when something unforeseen comes to you, you will have no time to react and correct what you should. Get used to looking at the distance when you drive and everything will be fine.”
Obtaining greater height for your agency means having a more complete vision of what is happening in a world that is becoming more and more misty. The greater the height of our agency, our spiritual height, if desired, the greater the freedom we will have when deciding and our decisions will be able to have a better and clearer vision.
So that they may have joy
On the contrary, the lower the height of our agency, our capacity for choice will be more determined and closer; probably, our moral plane between power and duty will end up polarizing more and more towards power, largely ignoring the axis of duty.
The Navigation of Soul is in this three-dimensional field; it occurs perhaps ineffably, but it occurs: we are all navigators in the sea of existence.
And I stop, reader, so as not to tire you. I just want to remind you that this state of things, with its restlessness, its doubts and its questions was designed this way from the beginning. Designed and built by Him who was called the Savior of the World. And what he had in mind can be brought together in this final scripture, full of love, fullness and elevation:
Adam fell that men might exist; and men exist that they might have joy.