I believe that the Vision of the Kingdoms of Glory (Doctrine and Covenants 76) is due to an entheogenic substance. Or, at minimum, derived from an expanded state of consciousness through another modality (say, meditation, holotropic breathing, or something).
My goal is to make that case, to the best of my ability. To the best of my knowledge, we don’t have a journal entry for February of 1832. Sadly, I am unable to verify whether or not my recollection is accurate because the Joseph Smith Papers website is down. Moving on! Without the journal entry, I do not know what Joseph’s day looked like on that Thursday, the 16th of February. Nothing else of note appears to have happened on that day aside from the fact that it was a full moon that night.
While I am nearly 100% certain that we do not have a journal entry for that period, nor a first-person account from Smith or Rigdon on how the vision was received, I am aware of a late account from a Philo Dibble. “JS and Rigdon sat in the upstairs room, where they had conducted much of their work on the Bible revision, with twelve other men. By turns, either JS or Rigdon would ask, ‘What do I see?’ and then relate the scene, after which the other would reply, ‘I see the same.’ There is no indication in Dibble’s account that anyone was recording the vision as it occurred; instead, Dibble said there was ‘not a sound nor motion made by anyone’ in the room. Dibble recalled that neither JS nor Rigdon ‘moved a joint or limb during the time I was there.’”
If Dibble is correct, the vision is less a shared vision and more likely to be an influenced vision. While in expanded states of consciousness, it is easy to influence what someone may see. While a group may be seeing similar things, all it takes is one person to say, “Wow! Do you see the beautiful triangles?” for the entire group to start seeing triangles.
So! Perhaps, when the written account says that Smith and Rigdon were in the Spirit, they meant that they were in an altered state of consciousness? That is how I read it.
More to come.
5 responses to “Through the lens – D&C 76”
I think all religion is wishful thinking and all entheogenic states an escape from the awful dull reality our brains normally show us. In particular it seems to suspend the gnawing and constant worry that so many of us suffer. Whether there really are other realms out there I doubt. But perhaps it is sufficient to be allowed to see the glory of physical reality without the trammels of our usual deadening concerns.
I think that there are benefits to exploring alternate states of consciousness. Having been tortured for 14-hours in an alternate state of consciousness, I am confident that mere escapism shouldn’t be the aim of such states.
I cannot say for certain what caused the torture. Unresolved subconscious material? Improper set and setting? Too much, or not enough, meditation?
[…] Miller asked for a short article or book that explains Mormon Theology. I suggested he read D&C 76 and left it at that. This morning, during my meditation session, my mind recalled something that my […]