The Great Serpent Mound of Ohio

Time is always included in any ultimate analysis, which means (to jump a few steps) that every ‘thing’ is ‘defined’ as a lineage, extending through-time.

-thus Bruce Charlton

One of the themes of this blog is something we call “integration.”   It is a real insight (though we now only perceive through a glass darkly, and though  the word ‘insight’ falsely implies its our genius, instead of the work of the Holy Ghost).

Let me explain.

Imagine a human body divided up into thousands of 2-dimensional slices.   A 2-d creature perceiving them  might see continuity between the slices but also puzzling changes that even seem to be discontinuities.   For a long time there are two objects, foot and leg slices, that are somehow connected in symmetry, then they merge, then the interior composition changes in puzzling ways, then two added objects arrive, the arms, then everything merges and becomes very different and terminates in tens of thousands of little specks. The last slices might seem to have little or nothing to do with the first.

We perceive our bodies this way.  We see ourselves as 3-dimensional objects when we are actually 4-dimensional objects.  The current 3-dimensional object is actually a slice in one moment of time of your body.

Imagine that as you progress through time you make a tunnel in space.  The tunnel starts small, wiggles around a bit as your mother and sometimes father and others carry you ad move you.  It becomes more sinuous and curvy as you develop your own walking.  The tunnel gets larger with time.  It gets into the adult portions of its 4-dimensional anatomy until it ends in death.  The elderly end of the body looks very different and has different functions than the baby or the fetal end.

You think of yourself as a four-limbed creature.  What you really are is a worm in time.

But even that mortal body, from womb to tomb, is just one segment of your actual self.  The whole you, if we begin at the end of you that is at the beginning end of your time-dimension, starts our looking like a spirit, acquires a new limb that we call the mortal body–a very useful one–then has other parts that are more purely spiritual–then has another limb that we call the resurrected body.  These are all you.  These are all part of what you look like and what you are.

Now we only perceive one slice of ourselves.  We see only the present.  Our only access to the past is memory, and our only access to the future is imagination, hope, revelation, and faith.  But one day we will have “all things before our face”–we will see and experience and be the whole of ourselves at once.  (Whether literally everyone will, or if this is only possible/bearable for the exalted, I don’t know.  I suspect that literally everyone will as much as they are able).

With this expanded perspective, lets reconsider some famous verses.  When Christ says ‘not a hair of your head will be lost,’ He does not say that you will eventually get a replacement, just as good.  He says that this hair, now, will not be lost.  When Alma talks about the Resurrection, he does not speak of replacement.  He speaks of restoration–everything will come back to you.  Your moments as a teenager, as a child, as an adult, will all become part of your consciousness again.  They will become part of who you are; but not in the metaphorical sense we usually mean that phrase, they will literally become you again.  Like a limb that went to sleep and lost its feeling or a sense that stopped working for awhile, they will wake back up and become part of you again.

This is why we don’t just live for the present.  Eat, drink, and be merry is the equivalent of saying “I don’t care about what happens to the rest of my body, as long as the slice of me 2/3rds up between my sternum and my Adam’s apple is doing fine.”  This is why we don’t only care about our future state and do sins and iniquities now if they could theoretically make things better in the future–it would be like gashing your arm to use the blood as lipstick for your face.

Every moment is valuable for itself.  It is never only a preparation for some future time.  You are never just building a relationship or building a capacity. This moment, now, is forever part of  your relationship and part of you.

Which brings us to integration.  Integration is the idea that all of you, the future and the present and the past parts, need to fit together.  You need to experience yourself as one healthy whole.  If you are getting drunk at one moment in your life and acting responsibly and soberly at another point, and trying to be healthy at another point, there is an ugly and meaningless contrast.  If you have sex with one woman and marry a different one, it doesn’t fit.  The parts of your life are ungainly and awkward when joined together.  You look like a chimera.

chimera - Wiktionary

Integration is beauty.

You can either achieve integration by living consistently always (this will look a lot, 100% in fact, like living the commandments and following Christ’s example of love) or you can incorporate the bad or sinful parts of your life into a harmonious narrative by making them part of a trajectory of growth through change and repentance.  Christ is the Great Integrator (this is literally what At-one-ment means).  In the atonement, Christ experienced your whole life, all parts of it at once, the way you someday will, and mastered them.

If you do not integrate then, I assume, the corrupted parts of your life history must be removed from you as if they had never been, like amputating a broken limb.

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