Dept. of Elementary Education, Brigham Young University
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Number three in a series
A COLLECTION OF QUOTES ON THE PRINCIPLE OF SPIRITUAL RADIATION
AN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION PAPER ON THE NATURE OF A SAFE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
Rex A. Wadham, Associate Professor of Elementary Education
Dept. of Elementary Education, Brigham Young University
Dept. of Elementary Education, Brigham Young University
Spiritual radiation is a central element for the transmission of knowledge between all organized beings. It is the unspoken but pervasive yet ineffable influence that surrounds all relationships; all interactions between all intelligent entities. If the principle of spiritual radiation is a true phenomenon then what are the implications of this force as it impacts upon the learning environment? What is the effect of the spiritual radiation that I emanate upon those whom I teach?
The source of this radiation is identified by Parley P. Pratt as the Holy Spirit and its counterpart, found in one’s own body, he refers to as spiritual magnetism. Brother Pratt suggests that one of the component structures contained within the Holy Spirit is that of an invisible but tangible substance. The Holy Spirit is also “the purest, the most refined and subtle of all these [invisible] substances, [such as, electricity, galvanism, magnetism, animal magnetism, spiritual magnetism, essence, spirit etc.] and the one least understood, or even recognized, by the less informed among mankind…”(Keys to Theology, Parley P. Pratt, p. 46)
The law that governs the flow of these two spiritual “fluids” and the communicative properties they contain bear some resemblance to the laws that govern electricity. Like electricity, the flow is imparted between two or more bodies through the channel of the nerves. (Keys to Theology, Parley P. Pratt, pp 99-100)
This statement helps us respect the effect that drugs may have on the nerves to retard the flow of spiritual communication between each other, and between us and God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
Brother Pratt has been frequently quoted over the years about the natural effect that the Holy Ghost has upon one who has been baptized and has developed within himself the gift of the Holy Ghost, or in other words, the presence of the Holy Ghost. He said: “The gift of the Holy Ghost adapts itself to all these organs or attributes. [Man, created in the image of God, possesses every organ, attribute, sense, sympathy, affection that God himself possesses]. It quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being. In the presence of such persons, one feels to enjoy the light of their countenance, as the genial rays of a sunbeam. Their very atmosphere diffuses a thrill, a warm glow of pure gladness and sympathy, to the heart and nerves of other who have kindred feelings, or sympathy of spirit” [such as little children who are protected by Christ through His atonement and dwell in His spiritual light. See Moroni Chapter 8]. (Keys to Theology, Parley P. Pratt, p. 101).
President David O. McKay gave a major statement on spiritual radiation to the faculty and student body on the Brigham Young University campus in 1948. The title of the address was “Mission of the Brigham Young University.” He talked about this spiritual radiation flowing not only from each other but from the physical buildings—offices, and classrooms—where we work. In essence he said that all things radiate a spiritual influence.
“I have quoted often before, and shall again because I like it, in referring to the influence of an individual. There is one responsibility which no man can evade and that responsibility is personal influence. Man’s unconscious influence, the silent, subtle radiation of his personality. The effects of his words and acts. These are tremendous. Every moment of life he is changing to a degree the life of the whole world.
“Every man has an atmosphere which is affecting every other. So silent and unconsciously is this influence working, that man may forget that it exists. Man cannot escape for one moment from this radiation of his character. This constantly weakening or strengthening of others. He cannot evade the responsibility by saying it is an unconscious influence. He can select the qualities he would permit to be radiated. He can cultivate sweetness, trust, generosity, truth, justice, loyalty, nobility, and make them vitally active in his character. By these qualities he will constantly affect the world. This radiation to which I refer comes from what a person really is, and not from what he pretends to be.
Every man by his mere living, is radiating sympathy, sorrow, or morbidness, cynicism, or happiness or hope or any other of a hundred qualities. Life is a state of radiation and absorption. To exist is to radiate. To exist is to be the recipient of radiation.” (Mission of the Brigham Young University”, and address given by President David O. McKay at BYU, April 27, 1948).
Brother McKay said he has often referred to the principle in his talks. He continued to do so on several later occasions. In his conference address of April, 1963 he said: “Every man and every person who lives in this world wields an influence, whether for good or for evil. It is not what he says alone, it is not alone what he does. It is what he is. Every man, every person radiates what he or she really is.
Every person is a recipient of radiation. The Savior was conscious of that. Whenever he came into the presence of an individual, he sensed that radiation—whether it was the woman of Samaria with her past life; whether it was the woman who was to be stoned, or the men who were to stone her; whether it was the statesman, Nicodemus, or one of the lepers. He was conscious of the radiation from the individual. And to a degree so are you, and so am I. It is what we are and what we radiate that affects the people around us.
As individuals, we must think nobler thoughts. We must not encourage vile thoughts or low aspirations. We shall radiate them if we do. If we think noble thoughts; if we encourage and cherish noble aspirations, there will be that radiation when we meet people, especially when we associate with them.
That it is true of the individual. It is true of the home…Our homes radiate what we are, and that radiation comes from what we say and how we act in the home. No member of this Church—husband, father—has the right to utter an oath in his home, or ever express a cross word to his wife or to his children. You cannot do it as a man who holds the priesthood and be true to the spirit within you by your ordination and your responsibility. You should contribute to an ideal home by your character, controlling your passion, your temper, guarding your speech, because those things will make your home what it is and what it will radiate to the neighborhood.
“…as men of the priesthood, as women of the Church, we have greater responsibilities than ever before to make our homes such as will radiate to our neighbors harmony, love, community duties, loyalty. Let our neighbors see it and hear it. Never must there be expressed in a Latter-day Saint home an oath, a condemnatory term, an expression of anger or jealousy or hatred. Control it! Do not express it! You do what you can to produce peace and harmony, no matter what you may suffer.
“The Savior set us the example. He was always calm, always controlled, radiating something which people could feel as they passed. When the woman touched his garment, he felt something go from him—that radiation which is divine.
“Each individual soul has it. That is you! The body is only the house in which you live. God help us to radiate strength, control, love, charity, which is another name for love, consideration, best wishes for all human beings.
“The Church is reaching out, radiating, not only by bodies and meetings, but now through the kindness of the radio owners, the television owners, we have touched them [members of the church and non-members in Alaska and other places] from the center…radiating throughout the whole world.
“God help us as members of the priesthood, as members of the Church to radiate faith, love of humility, charity, control, consideration, and service to his people wherever they are, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” (David O. McKay, Conference Report, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, April, 1963, pp. 129-131)
At another time he made this comment: “The first thing to do, my brethren, is to look to yourselves, to see whether or not you are prepared to teach. No Man can teach that which he himself does not know. It is the duty to teach that Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of the world, that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and that to him in this last dispensation there appeared God the Father and His Son in person. Do you believe it? Does the testimony radiate from your being when you enter into the home? If so, that radiation will give life to the people whom you teach. If not, there will be a dearth, a drought, a lack of that spiritual environment in which the Saints grow. (David O McKay, Conference Report, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, David O. McKay October 1916, pp.58-59). Note the emphasis he gives to the fact that positive spiritual radiation gives life to those to whom we serve. In still another conference address when speaking about free agency he said: “There is another responsibility correlated and even coexistent with free agency, which is too infrequently emphasized, and that is the effect not only of a person’s actions but also of his thoughts upon others. Man radiates what he is, and that radiation affects to a greater or lesser degree every person who comes within that radiation”. (Conference Report, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, David O McKay, April 1950, p.34)
David O. McKay was not the only president of the church to make a reference to the spiritual phenomena associated with radiation processes. President Spencer W. Kimball in his book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 107, used the quote from the BYU address of President David O McKay to emphasize the truth that our thoughts can and do influence others.
This radiation is also referred to, in the scriptures, as the manifestation of spiritual light which is sometimes quoted as being analogous to a lighted candle. Mathew 5:15, Mark 4:21, :Luke 8:21, 11:33, 3 Nephi 12:15 are some examples.
President Heber C. Kimball has warned us that we cannot live on borrowed light (Life of Heber C. Kimball, Orson F. Whitney, pp. 449-450). More recently President Harold B. Lee quoted Brother Kimball in a conference address given in 1956 (Conference Report, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Harold B. Lee Oct. 1956 p. 62). The same warning was cited again in the Relief Society Courses of Study, 1979-1980, pp. 24-25. The Book of Revelation, in the New Testament, also describes the condition that has always prevailed for those members who continually live on borrowed light and who do not seek to become their own source of original light” “And the light of the candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by the sorceries were all nations deceived.” (Revelation 18:23). The light is the Holy Ghost, the bride and the bridegroom symbolize the union that exists between Christ and the members of the church, the merchants (where the source of light could be obtained) were the great men of the earth—the prophets both living and dead, the sorceries denotes an absence of light or the desire to gain power from the assistance of evil spirits or of men. The Melchizedek Priesthood Personal Study Guide, 1979-1980 in Lesson 11 quotes President Joseph F. Smith in a similar statement: “But all this availeth little or nothing, unless the Saints consider themselves of some consequence, and let their light shine, collectively and individually; unless they are model in their behavior, honest, zealous in the spread of truth, tolerant of their neighbors,” then he adds, “One fault to be avoided by the Saints, young and old, is the tendency to live on borrowed light, with their own hidden under a bushel; to permit the savor of their salt of knowledge to be lost; and the light within them to be reflected, rather than original” (Gospel Doctrine, Joseph F. Smith pp. 87-88).
Sad to say that what President Joseph F. Smith referred to as lost knowledge is evidently lost to the present generation of the church. There is a body of knowledge that was restored to the earth in the first generation of the restoration that is not commonly known or understood today. A case in point can be taken from the five-year course, 1908-1912, for the Melchizedek Priesthood, titled The Seventy’s Course in Theology, edited by B.H. Roberts, In the manual for 1912, part one of the course (six lessons) deals with the principle, “Divine Immanence.” Sadly, this precept is rarely understood by the present generation of prieshood holder; yet it is the heart and soul of the principle of spiritual radiation and light being discussed in this paper. Divine Immanence, as taught by B.H. Roberts, is the indwelling of God’s light within us plus power—His power. (The Seventy’s Course of Study, Fifth Year, Part 1, edited by B.H. Roberts.) Here is another example of the principle of indwelling as taught by the Lord Jesus Christ. He is speaking to the Twelve Nephite apostles he had called to preside over His church. He said: “And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it” (3 Nephi 27:10). What the Lord is saying is that if His Gospel is not actively within us then the works of the Father cannot be made manifest in us. His works cannot flow through us. And what is the gospel? Brother Bruce R. McConkie said: “It embraces all of the laws, principles, doctrines, rites, ordinances, acts, powers, authorities, and keys necessary to save and exalt men in the highest heaven thereafter. Later in the same discussion he said: “The scriptures bear record of the gospel, but the gospel itself consists in the power of the priesthood and the possession of the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie, see “Gospel”, p. 331-334).
To better understand this principle let me refer you to a statement made by Elder Hugh B. Brown on the spirit’s ability to speak to the spirit of others. The occasion was a visit to the American Fork Training School—and institutional school for the retarded—where he challenged the seminary teachers to teach the gospel to the mentally handicapped spirit to spirit. He told the teachers that the children were handicapped only in the body and mind, but that their spirits were not handicapped and if they would teach them spirit to spirit there would be no communication problem (Church News, December 10, 1977, p. 10). Spiritual Radiation then , is a flow of communication from the true self. It is a flow of information from one tabernacle to another tabernacle. Note the following statement from the 93:35; “The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple.” A temple is where God’s truth can indwell with power. And what is power? John A. Woodstoe in his address on “Temple Worship” defines power as “knowledge made alive and useful—that is intelligence; and intelligence in action—that is power. Our temples gives us power—a power based on enlarged knowledge and intelligence—a power from on high, of a quality with God’s own power” (The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, “Temple Worship”, John A. Widstoe, April 1921, pp. 49-64). Orson Pratt defines knowledge as our perception of truth. But what is truth? “Truth may exist without knowledge, but knowledge cannot exist without truth” (“Absurdities of Immaterialism”, Orson Pratt p.1).
Orson Pratt provides further insight to the indwelling nature of God’s power in his discourse on the “Powers of Nature.” He refers to God as being the great source of truth and power contained within the cosmos: “The great Architect of the universe did not construct the magnificent machinery of nature, and endow the materials thereof with certain fixed powers, and then withdraw Himself, or step aside to see the mighty fabric operate. Unintelligent materials are incapable of being endowed with any kind of power, much less with the wise and intelligent powers that characterize the workings of the universe. God is every moment in nature, and every moment acts upon nature, and through nature, the same as the spirit of man acts in, and through, and upon the tabernacle of his body, [2 Nephi 2 enlarges this idea]. If God should withdraw himself from nature, or should cease to act upon it, that portion of it which is without life or intelligence (if there be any such portion) would immediately cease all action: and while thus apart from nature no laws could be given to it which could be obeyed: no gravitative or cohesive tendencies could be exerted upon it; no chemical combinations or organic operations could be performed; or in other words, unintelligent nature would be entirely dead, and no voice or power could awake it, or have the least effect upon it, without entering into it, an operating upon it, and through it. It is only living and intelligent substances that hear, and understand, and obey a law. And if unintelligent nature, appears to act and obey a law, it is not in reality the acts of nature, but the operations of a living, intelligent substance inhabiting nature.. Unintelligent nature could no more act than the body without the spirit could act. Therefore, all the grand and magnificent movements of the universe as a whole, and all the minute and imperceptible operations of it particles, are the continued effects of the living, moving all-powerful substance diffused through the whole. This all pervading, omnipresent substance is the Holy Spirit existing in inexhaustible quantities, and extending though the immensity of space: it is the light, and the life, and the power of all things. To search out the laws of nature is nothing less than searching out the laws by which the Spirit in nature operates. Man is continually beholding these wonderful operation, but because he does not behold the acting agent, he ascribes the effects to blind, unintelligent and unconscious matter: as well might he ascribe the attributes of the divinity to a wooden idol. The light shines all around us, and is manifest in an infinite variety of wise and beneficial results, but so great is the darkness of man, that he perceives not the light; or as our great Redeemer has said, “The light shineth in darkness, but the darkness comprehendeth it not” (The Seer, Orson Pratt, p. 227).
Since life is a continual state of radiation and absorption what must we do to absorb a greater proportion of God’s light? “The Lord is no respecter of persons, and to all who are willing to seek in prayer, with preparation, and work, having a desire in their hearts for spiritual light and understanding, He will grant abundantly without reproach. But no light will come to the unwilling, for they will not ask. The promise that they shall receive is made only to those who ask; and that they shall find, only to those who seek” (Joseph F. Smith, Improvement Era, Vol. 19, p. 173).
And what should we be doing with this light? “We ought to be full of light and life and the power and spirit of the living God and feel that we are messengers to the nations of the earth; we ought to feel the word of God burning like fire in our bones, feeling desirous to go and snatch men from the powers of darkness and the chains of corruption with which they are bound and lead them in the paths of life. We ought to be prepared to go forth weeping, bearing precious seed that we might come back again rejoicing bringing our sheaves with us.” (John Taylor, December 15, 1878, Journal of Discourses, 20:228).
How should a missionary use this light? “…missionaries are now going to school [such as the MTC and BYU] to [learn what to teach. The spirit already knows the “how” of teaching.] teach others, and in teaching others they themselves will be instructed, and when they rise to speak in the name of Israel’s God, if they live in purity and holiness before Him, He will give them words and ideas of which they never dreamed before. I have traveled hundreds and thousands of miles to preach this gospel among all grades and conditions of men, and there is one thing that always gave me satisfaction—I never yet found a man in any part of the world who could overturn one principle that has been communicated to us; they will attempt it, but error is a very singular weapon with which to combat truth; it never can vanquish it. When men go forth in the name of Israel’s God there is no power on earth that can overturn the truths they advocate…they have the light of revelation, the fire of the Holy Ghost, and the power of the priesthood within the—a power that they know very little about even themselves, which, like a well-spring of life, is rising, bursting, bubbling, and spreading its exhilarating streams around” (John Taylor, April 14, 1867, Journal of Discourses 12:21-22).
What is the law that governs this light? “There is not a man born into the world but has a portion of the Spirit of God, and it is that Spirit of God which gives to his spirit understanding. Without this, he would be but an animal like the rest of the brute creation, without understanding, without judgment, without skill, without ability, except to eat and to drink like the brute beast. But inasmuch as the Spirit of God giveth all men understanding, he is enlightened above the brute beast. He is made in the image of God Himself, so that he can reason, reflect, pray, exercise faith; he can use his energies for the accomplishment of the desires of his heart, and inasmuch as the Spirit of God giveth all men understanding, he is enlightened above the brute beast. He is made in the image of God Himself, so that he can reason, reflect, pray, exercise faith; he can use his energies for the accomplishment of the desires of his heart, and inasmuch as he puts forth his efforts in the proper direction, then he is entitled to an increased portion of the Spirit of the Almighty to inspire him to increased intelligence, to increased prosperity and happiness in the world; but in proportion as he prostitutes his energies for evil, the inspiration of the Almighty is withdrawn from him until he becomes so dark and so benighted, that so far as his knowledge of God is concerned, so far as the future or hopes of eternal life are concerned, he is quite as ignorant as a dumb brute” (Joseph F. Smith, February 17, 1884, Journal of Discourses, 25:54).
Brigham Young explains the power of the radiated light: “I long for the time that a point of a finger, or motion of the hand, will express every idea without utterance. When a man is full of the light of eternity, then the eye is not the only medium through which he sees, his ear is not the only medium by which he hears, not the brain the only means by which he understands. When the whole body is full of the Holy Ghost, he can see behind him with as much ease, without turning his head, as he can see before him If you have not that experience, you ought to have. It is not the optic nerve alone that gives the knowledge of surrounding objects to the mind, but it is that which God has placed in man—a system of intelligence to intelligence, and truth to truth. It is this which lays in man a proper foundation for all education. I shall yet see the time that I can converse with this people and not speak to them, but the expression of my countenance will tell the congregation what I wish to convey, without opening my mouth” (Brigham Young).
What is the difference between knowledge and intelligence? “There is a difference between knowledge and pure intelligence. Satan possesses knowledge, far more than we have, but he has not intelligence or he would render obedience to the principles of truth and right. I know men who have knowledge, who understand the principles of the gospel, perhaps as well as you do, who are brilliant, but who lack the essential qualification of pure intelligence. They will not accept and render obedience thereto. Pure intelligence comprises not only knowledge, but also the power to properly apply that knowledge” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 58, April 1913).
Brother B.H. Roberts understood the problem of imparting knowledge to others. In his discourses, “The Nearness of God” he said: “We have to preach our truth in fragments; it is beyond our power to present it as a whole in any one discourse, or in one hundred, or in a thousand discourses. We may only teach it in fragments—a line here, a word there, precept upon precept, and so build up the truth in the hearts of men (Cited in the Masterpieces of Latter-day Saint Leaders, compiled by N.H. Lundwall, p. 47). Notice that he said “build up truth in the hearts of men” and not build up truth in the minds of men.” Brigham Young clarifies the function of the heart in obtaining truth by asking a question: “Do you think that people will obey the truth because it is true, unless they love it? No, they will not. Truth is obeyed when it is loved” (Brigham Young, June 27, 1858, Journal of Discourses 7:55). President Heber J. Grant, back in 1923, in speaking about the specific purpose of the Church School System, had this to say about educating the heart: “To my mind, and I have repeated time and time again whenever I have spoken in our Church Schools and in private in regard to schools, the specific purpose of the Church School System is to make Latter-day Saints—to educate the heart, so to speak. The heart is the engine and if it is alright, we can generally get along pretty well so far as the head and the other parts of the body are concerned; but unless the heart of a man is right, unless a man is determined to do good, unless he believes in God and in Jesus Christ, and believes in the divine mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith, he cannot accomplish what he might achieve in this Church if he had that knowledge. It is to implant that knowledge in the hearts of the people that we have a school system and if the thing for which it was organized, that which is expected of it, and which we all hope and pray for it to do. I am very sorry indeed that a great many simply study and learn the words, so to speak, the letter of the things, without getting the spirit of them. The spirit, we are told, gives life and animation and power, and it is to develop the spirit of man that we have established this Church School System” (Improvement Era, “Spiritual Development Needed in Education” by Heber J. Grant, Vol. 26, No. 12, October 1923, pp. 1091-93).
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