Reaching for Infinity

I cannot shake what happened to me last Monday night. What’s strange is that, looking back, the experience–those simple words, “Good. Now keep going…only harder,” were a seed. I feel the tendrils of the roots from this event spreading through my mind. It’s as if those words are churning the soil of my self, my thoughts, my perspectives, and the fog of my vantage point is slowly parting.

The Elders of my local LDS branch were a little taken by my experience. It took some time for them to formulate a response and interpretation. They did however, respond in the way I expected them to.

There is a fraction of truth in all religions,” the more experienced one said, “because all religions come from the same source. The Holy Ghost is available in part to all who seek, but only through the restored church of Jesus Christ and the laying on of hands can one fully receive the whole truth and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I respect his opinion, in fact, I told him that I agreed with him. He winced in that way of pleasant surprise. I asked him,

“Is God infinite?”

Elder: “Yes.”

Andrew: “Look at your Book of Mormon. What does it have in common with every other book?”

Elder: “Truth?”

Andrew: “A front and back cover. In other words, it has a beginning and an end…unlike an infinite divinity. If the divine is infinite, then there are corresponding infinite paths to reach it. Your church is truth because an infinite divinity can absorb anything with limits, including our religions.”

At this point, I could tell I had crossed the line. I was now in the seat of a dissenter. My purpose is to learn and assimilate, not teach. I ended the discussion and out of deference to my Mentors, asked forgiveness and for them to continue with the planned lesson.

Even though my episode last Monday night grows with each passing moment, and even though it appears to divert somewhat from this month’s path, I cannot help but feel an empathetic bond with LDS founder and first prophet, Joseph Smith. How often was he ridiculed for his belief in that vision of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ? The guy was only 14 years old and in the spiritual struggle of his life. On that fateful spring day, Joseph Smith entered those woods and fell to his knees not merely out of an act of faith, but in a state of exhaustion. Like me, he was beyond the point of expectation or fear.

 

Joseph Smith simply came and offered himself to the universe. As we’ve seen and will continue to witness, every religious founder comes to this point. They don’t invent a new religion, they transform into willing vessels of revolution.

And after he heard that voice, there was no turning back. After you experience something like that…you glow, and not even death can snuff out the brilliance which shines forth. There is a peace and warmth and stillness blooming inside me, right now, that I can barely articulate. I tried to share this with the Elders. I begged them,

I know it’s hard to understand. I can barely grasp it myself. But please don’t stop teaching me. Because Jesus instructs us to be perfect like our father in heaven is perfect. And if our father in heaven is perfect in his infinity, then that means I’m called to be infinite. Teach me all of your truth, that I might expand my infinity.

Being the good sports they are, they agreed.

Was this my road to Damascus, my time under the bodhi tree, my burning bush?

I don’t know what this will grow into, but I do know this: I will let it unfurl within the warmth of my chest and though I may suffer pain, allow it to burst through the skin of my limitations and creep wherever fertile ground will host its roots. “Good. Now keep going…only harder.” Good, I’ve acknowledged that I cannot do this alone. Now that I’ve surrendered to a greater power, a greater purpose, a magnified strength, I can go faster and harder and further than ever before.

What does this mean, and where will this road lead me? As one of my favorite Pixar characters, Buzz Lightyear says, “To infinity…and beyond.”

"Infinity Series #13" by Geoffrey Chandler

How about you? Can you handle infinity? Walk with me, if you dare…

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  • Beth Irwin

    As one of my friends told me when we were sharing our spiritual path…”You reach a point where you know too much to go back.” All the religions have some version of, “Seek and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you.” The important part is that you sincerely acknowledged and reached out to the Creator. The awesome part is when Infinity smiles…and reaches back.

    • Anonymous

      Always seeking. Always knocking, liking a friend coming over for a visit.

  • Anonymous

    Where did I state that they were only about self-transformation? I simply stated that in the act of surrender, of coming to the edge of their own power and understanding, they were transformed into vessels of revolution. When was the last time revolution was an isolated incident? Give me a religious leader who experienced this awesome transformation and didn’t feel compelled unto death to revolutionize the world?

    • Tonia

      I completely agree with your assessment of religious founders.  I think you hit it right on.  Thanks for your insightful post!

  • Carol

    My response to what you clearly received as an answer to prayer–

    “Good, now keep going harder”–  as in focus harder on the truths you are learning now!  Are you sure it means that you need to keep looking for truth elsewhere? 

    What a great feeling to know that God has heard YOU.

    • Anonymous

      Two reasons Carol:

      1) I wasn’t asked to stop and look around at this juncture. If the universe is going to take the time to instruct me, I figure it would be a bit more specific.

      2) I am on a journey and the instruction I recieved asked me to “keep going…only harder.” This seems to imply that I am only passing through. My mandate becomes more and more clear as the seed of infinity planted inside me Monday night grows: expand my own infinity.

      Each faith and philosophy can only teach me so much within the context of infinity, however each inch I grow brings me closer to that goal. To “go harder” implies that there is more speed, more intensity to gain. Every object bears a terminal velocity. That terminal speed, that ulitimate capacity is what I’m called to reach. Once I reach that threshold, like the sound barrier, something cracks like thunder.

    • Anonymous

      Two reasons Carol:

      1) I wasn’t asked to stop and look around at this juncture. If the universe is going to take the time to instruct me, I figure it would be a bit more specific.

      2) I am on a journey and the instruction I recieved asked me to “keep going…only harder.” This seems to imply that I am only passing through. My mandate becomes more and more clear as the seed of infinity planted inside me Monday night grows: expand my own infinity.

      Each faith and philosophy can only teach me so much within the context of infinity, however each inch I grow brings me closer to that goal. To “go harder” implies that there is more speed, more intensity to gain. Every object bears a terminal velocity. That terminal speed, that ulitimate capacity is what I’m called to reach. Once I reach that threshold, like the sound barrier, something cracks like thunder.

      • AustinSFaux

        One thing we LDS teach about personal revelation is when we get a reply/guidance, we can pray and ask if  our understanding of the message is correct.  

        Also have you talked about the doctrine of eternal progression/exaltation with the missionaries?  When I was an atheist, learning about this doctrine had a large impact on my own conversion.  It just made so much sense, and put this whole life into perspective, and allowed me to believe there was a God.  I think you would like it too.

        Austin-

        • Anonymous

          I have spoken with them about that aspect. What’s interesting is that the Baha’is have a similar doctrine. Oh I do love stitching together those common threads.

          From atheism to the LDS, huh? Interesting. Do you know about Convert’s Corner on here? Would love to hear your story.

  • http://www.StoriesofRacialHealing.com Phyllis Untrschuetz

    I loved reading this! And I clearly remember a similar moment in my spiritual journey. The sensation was one of having a large bucket lifted off my head. I hadn’t even realized how dark it was in there. The awareness of light and breeze was overwhelming and I had to sit down suddenly to keep from keeling over.

  • ChrisH

    quite profound. you’re quite the cheeky little learner, haha. It’s so interesting to see how one of the religions that is typically thought of as very theologically conservative ties in to things like “one source” that one wouldn’t ever guess based on stereotype.

  • ChrisH

    quite profound. you’re quite the cheeky little learner, haha. It’s so interesting to see how one of the religions that is typically thought of as very theologically conservative ties in to things like “one source” that one wouldn’t ever guess based on stereotype.

    • Anonymous

      That’s the dangerous thing about stereotypes. Amazing what we find once we decide to dig a little for ourselves…

  • ChrisH

    quite profound. you’re quite the cheeky little learner, haha. It’s so interesting to see how one of the religions that is typically thought of as very theologically conservative ties in to things like “one source” that one wouldn’t ever guess based on stereotype.

  • ChrisH

    quite profound. you’re quite the cheeky little learner, haha. It’s so interesting to see how one of the religions that is typically thought of as very theologically conservative ties in to things like “one source” that one wouldn’t ever guess based on stereotype.

  • http://HeyAndrew, Ryan Reeder

    I just learned about Project Conversion from a link in the Deseret News, and have spent the better part of the last hour perusing your Facebook group and these articles about your recent experience with my faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    I was particularly impressed by your impression, detailed in the last article, “Good, now keep going, only harder.” Although I believe just as the missionaries taught you, that ultimately essential ordinances and authority for salvation reside in the Church, I also acknowledge the validity of your witness.

    It sounds like God is pleased with what you are trying to do here with Project Conversion. There are seven billion people on this planet, with many different faiths and belief systems, and many of them don’t get enough respect from good people who are willing to fully listen and seek to understand others’ viewpoints. God does have a purpose for you, and it sounds like you are on the right track in fulfilling His purpose for you in your life. Perhaps those purposes will lead you back to the LDS faith, perhaps not, but whatever happens, “Keep going, only harder.”

    I see your next faith is Islam, one that is much maligned and misunderstood in the Western world. Best wishes to you; you’re doing a good work.

    • abowen

      Ryan,

      Thank you so much for giving my project your precious time. I hope what I am doing with Project Conversion is pleasing to both God and mankind. Indeed, I will go as hard and far as I need to in order to promote peace.

      Andrew