“Canticle of the Sun,” by St. Francis of Assisi, and Joseph Smith’s “Olive Leaf”

One of the last things we did at the seminar with Bernard McGinn this past weekend was read through and discuss Saint Francis of Assisi’s poem and religious song Canticle of the Sun. McGinn considers this to be a very mystical text from Francis, as Francis seems to see God powerfully in and throughout the whole of creation, including in the sun, moon, stars, Earth, etc. McGinn noted that it is a kind of nature mysticism. Francis wrote most of it in the year 1224, and the last few lines in 1226 just before his death. Continue reading ““Canticle of the Sun,” by St. Francis of Assisi, and Joseph Smith’s “Olive Leaf””

The “Hidden Treasure” of God in Mormonism and Buddhism

In my paper “The Book of Mormon as Literary Alchemy: Joseph’s Magnum Opus and the Philosopher’s Stone,” I suggested that the “gold plates” that Joseph Smith had in his possession were not actually made of gold, and did not actually contain ancient historical records like Mormons traditionally think. But that doesn’t mean that there were not “gold plates” which were a kind of “hidden treasure” that Joseph really did discover within himself, which was the source of real divine wisdom, “ancient wisdom,” and which he taught could be found within all people as well. Such teachings can be found in other spiritual traditions too, including Buddhism. First I’ll review a few of Joseph’s writings about this “hidden treasure,” and then I’ll turn to the Buddhist concepts that seem to reflect a similar nature. Continue reading “The “Hidden Treasure” of God in Mormonism and Buddhism”

The Book of Mormon as Literary Alchemy: Joseph’s Magnum Opus and the Philosopher’s Stone

Bryce Haymond

Abstract: Joseph Smith’s activity in bringing forth the Book of Mormon can be viewed as a project of alchemy, which was influenced by his affiliation with treasure digging, the folk magic worldview, the Hermetic tradition,1 as well as his many mystical spiritual experiences. I suggest he initially sought to bring the “gold plates” of his visions into material reality, and in the process discovered the true “gold” was within himself, the elusive Philosopher’s Stone. Continue reading “The Book of Mormon as Literary Alchemy: Joseph’s Magnum Opus and the Philosopher’s Stone”

Misreading Scripture as Literal History: Elephants in the Book of Mormon

Religious texts are most often not literal history.

They are allegories, narratives, parables, metaphors, similes, symbols, poetry, stories, visions, and figurative language. They are not relating precise word-for-word conversations of the past, nor are they detailing literal events that took place. Yes, the Bible talks about many people and places that may have really existed in the past, and may even abstractly refer to events that really took place, but it is not a history book. Continue reading “Misreading Scripture as Literal History: Elephants in the Book of Mormon”

Joseph Smith’s “Sinking” Into the Darkest Abyss to Commune with God

A recent quote I saw shared was from the nondual spiritual teacher Rupert Spira, in which he said this:

…just as the beam of light from a flashlight can be directed towards an object but cannot be directed towards the bulb from which it emanates, so awareness, in the form of attention or mind, can direct the light of its knowing towards objective experience but cannot direct itself towards itself.

Continue reading “Joseph Smith’s “Sinking” Into the Darkest Abyss to Commune with God”