Spiritual Love

Following my understanding of a balanced life with the concept of the existence of the Body Mind and Spirit of human existence, the topic of Love becomes visible in three forms too. ie a love that derives from the Body another of the Mind and last of the Spirit.

I would relate feelings of love that comes naturally  from the body are those that are either considered romantic or perhaps sometimes more of lust than love. Reason is that they are impulses from the flesh that drives the natural man to find a mate to propagate. Spiritual love is one that comes from the spirit which is always everlasting and eternal in perspective unlike bodily love which could last only till death separates two person as ceremonies pronounce.

Well what is love from the mind then? Well the Mind, being defined as a relational and embodied process that regulates the flow of energy and information, is influenced both by the Spirit and Body of man so it will be a mixture of both that can be varied to what the mind can conceive or perceive. The words of the hymn 336 of the LDS Church by Elder Charles W.Penrose, who served in the Quorum of the Twelve and in the First Presidency of the Church during the early years of the 20th century, may be appropriate when our passions is managed by our mind :

School thy feelings, O my brother;
Train thy warm, impulsive soul.
Do not its emotions smother,
But let wisdom’s voice control.
School thy feelings; there is power
In the cool, collected mind.
Passion shatters reason’s tower,
Makes the clearest vision blind

On this post, the focus is about spiritual love, a kind of love that should be everlasting, eternal in nature or simply a forever love. We are eternal beings that existed in pre-mortal earth life, or what we call our first estate, where we came down to earth,  our 2nd estate to receive our mortal bodies preparing to go forth to the next estate to receive our immortal or perfect bodies! Spiritual Love is only possible when we have an understanding and concerns about the human soul.

I only learnt about spiritual love in knowing the life of Jesus Christ. As I try to follow him, a most challenging task indeed, I do get a feeling or maybe a vision of what it is like. It is a love beyond borders, culture or traditions. Even beyond the lifetime of a human being for we are after all eternal beings. How can we believe that we were created by chance without purpose? It is like finding a lost watch on the beach to say it was created by millions of years of evolution with no purpose and just led by chance? In following the Savior, I have learnt to love unconditionally. This would be the biggest differentiating factor of spiritual love compared to any other type of love we know of in this world.

As an Asian, love to me was the care and responsibility that parents showed us. In the family I grew up in, there was no music, songs or conversations that filled the air about love. It was more an action that spoke louder than words or songs as such was the culture of a conservative Asian family. When I was more exposed to the west in my stay in Australia and in my other travels to over 30 countries in the world, I could see that there were stark differences in the concepts of love between the East and the West. Joining a Church founded and led by Americans exposed me to more concepts of the west but the beliefs of our Church in spiritual love and eternal families takes the prize!

I suddenly saw more meaning in family and life on earth. That they do have a link to the heavens or life after death. Knowing that God is our Father in Heaven or that he is the Father of our Spirits suddenly opens up a new perspective of seeing all my fellow men including close family members.To be touched by the Holy Spirit of God and to understand and feel of the atoning sacrifice of Christ for all men humbled me and changed my love of others in a most profound way. I am grateful for my parents who though were not verbal in the communication of their love for others helped me see from their example that in doing acts of charity to others, one does not expect anything in return. Further they do it silently too just as the culture of love that we have in our family that is non-verbal. I have learnt many basic good things from them already even before I had joined the Church. I'm glad my mother joined before I started my mission and as for my father I had a spiritual experience in doing temple work for him after his passing as told below at the end of the post.

When I first learnt about the restored gospel taught by door-knocking missionaries, I was impressed about knowing the plan of salvation, about how after death, the spirit leaves the body and goes to the spirit world. On knowing that Jesus as a savior went to visit those who had died after the time of his resurrection, helps me understand how much love he had. I had also learnt about the importance of Temples of the Lord built on earth to provide a way for those who died without baptism or temple ordinances to receive them. This revelation totally shows of the spiritual love of God for all men by providing a way for everyone to receive the ordinances required for their salvation and exaltation. My old questions from youth about the problems of Christian missionaries finding, teaching and baptizing say Chinese people in the remote areas of China before they died is now answered! Indeed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a very complete or comprehensive understanding and processes of fulfilling God's plan on this earth supported by biblical scripture and others revealed by modern prophets called in these latter-days.

Recently a friend of a relation, knowing I was a Mormon, asked me what was different about my Church and others?  I said we believe that God continues to speak to Man today through his holy prophets. She quickly followed up by asking what then has been the benefit of this? I thought about it and then said there has been many but one of them is that we know how to save the dead who never heard the gospel while living before but could be baptized by proxy in our holy temple where such sacred ordinances are performed. Knowing how to ask the right questions, her last was is there biblical evidence of this? I shared 1 Cor 15:29 with her.

When we feel spiritual love, we are concerned about the soul of Man, not only of his welfare on earth but also his eternal welfare after he is gone from this earth. While on earth, besides making a living and raising a family, Man needs to understand the true purpose of life and know how to improve his soul while living on earth. As for the soul at point of death or departure from earth, all religions have different ways to take care of the soul after death in their burial ceremonies of prayers and for many Chinese, the burning of model cars or houses including fake money in hope of a comfortable life thereafter.

Latter-day saints are no different with a well stated three-fold mission of the Church ie To Preach the Gospel, Perfect the Saints and Redeem the Dead. In all three missions, spiritual love is required. Else why would one want to sacrifice oneself to share the gospel with strangers and foreigners that would often reject missionaries?  Why would latter day saints want to be perfected despite realizing Man are full of weaknesses and imperfections unless they have a spiritual love of themselves and of a Savior with his tender mercies? Last but not least, why would members go through such great expense to build temples, seek out their dead and spend valuable hours in the temple carrying out ordinances for own family members and proxy for others too?

The basic motivation and reason I conclude must be the spiritual love one has to seek out to fulfill these three missions of the Church. No wonder we have the gift of the Holy Ghost promised to us to help us. It is from the only member of the Godhead that is purely in Spirit form without a body as we are taught. We see our life progressing as follows as latter-day saints :

We get the gift of the Holy Ghost when we're baptized, to be cleansed so as to prepare to receive spiritual love

We continue to grow in our life perfecting ourselves

We seek out to learn of our grandparents and our ancestry in the spirit of Elijah

We go to the temple to make covenants and carry out sacred ordinances for the dead

We may be inspired to serve a voluntary mission to share the gospel with others even at personal cost and sacrifices

A spiritual experience as our oldest son prepares for his mission :

Han made his own decision to submit his application to serve a voluntary mission. He had been already set behind by 2 years in his education path due to his transfer from Malaysia to Singapore for his education. What could make him want to set back his education for another 2 years due to his mission? It could only be due to the spiritual love he has for his Savior to want to serve him despite much personal sacrifice.

Then Mom suggested it would be a good idea to bring him to the temple for the first time. Yes it was and I immediately went online and got tickets. Would it cost money? Yes. Did I hesitate? No, as it was out of spiritual love. If it was just to go for Disney world there I would certainly have hesistated. We had our Disneyland days already but now is the time to act because our Spirit is seeking for a different kind of love. A spiritual love that helps us live our lives better as Spiritual Beings with a mortal existence. Not mortal beings with a spiritual experience!

As it was a very fast and last minute decision to book the tickets and fly to the Hong Kong temple nearby, I might have forgotten something that was very important if I did not possess spiritual love. This love was with me since I had joined the Church and did follow the Spirit of Elijah to seek for the dead and submit names to the temple for ordinances of salvation and exaltation for the dead that is also done there for the living. My father who had passed away in Nov 2009 has not had his basic ordinances completed yet! Here was the night before flying and as I felt the love for him to do it, how can I?? I quickly went to www.lsd.org to find the family search program.  My spiritual love had existed a long time back, having done my own family research, became a council member of the Church to help in Family History and been to the temple often. However on this night, I logged into the church website but suddenly couldn't find my genealogy info on the computer that we had submitted to the temple. It had accepted my login name and user password though. What could be the problem? Could it be a problem that I was aware of that all names that we had submitted to the Taiwan temple in the 90s were in Mandarin characters? The Church was only providing access to English or romanized character names on the internet  when they started to provide web access to genealogical records. As recent as 2004, our trip to the US to find Chinese records was still challenging.

On this night, while suddenly faced with a wall to know how to get my father's record to do temple work for him, I was inspired as I prayed in my heart for a solution, to try the www.new.familysearch.org program! Lo and Behold, I found all the records that we had previously submitted! I had also updated my father's death information and now just with a few strokes of the keyboard, the computer could now print temple ready documents that I could bring along so that my son and I could perform ordinances for my father during our visit to the temple.

Here are the temple docs showing that we have completed the Temple ordinances for my father. As for my Mother, she had already been baptized where her brief story and a baptism certificate can be seen in this post.

No comments: