It has been a minute since I’ve had the opportunity to put to paper a few thoughts I’ve had regarding Doctrine and Covenants 76. The more I have thought about it, the more I want to break it down.
According to the written account, Smith and Rigdon were in the act of translating the Bible (I’m not sure what to call what they were doing; translating isn’t the word I would use, but since that is what they used to describe the process, so be it) when a particular passage caught their attention: St. John 5:29.
…now this caused us to marvel for it was given unto us of the spirit and while we meditated upon these thing the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings…
Notice that they meditated on the matter. Smith had previously employed a sort of meditation with the Book of Mormon (sticking a rock into a hat and focusing on it until words would appear), so I wouldn’t be surprised if he employed a similar method of meditation, or if he and Rigdon ingested an entheogenic substance. While in this meditation, they see Jesus, the Father, Angels, etc., and bear witness to what they saw.
Next, they claim to have seen the Devil cast out of the heavens. Then the voice of The Lord comes to them saying that the Sons of Perdition are vessels of wrath. These Sons of Perdition have known the power of God and been partakers of said power, then after they deny the truth and the power of God. These Sons of Perdition do not rise in the resurrection. It would seem that there is no light in them to bring back. They go to the darkness. Perhaps hurled into a black hole? Don’t be a vessel of wrath, and don’t deny the power of God after you’ve partaken of said power, and you should be fine.
Once that vision closes, Smith and Rigdon are brought to the pinnacle of the experience: Celestial glory! I don’t have time tonight to break this one down. What intrigues me is the experience: going from the damned – utterly damned! – to Celestial Glory.
That seems to be a common theme in entheogenic states: a moment of delight (the come up), followed by an intense period of darkness and struggle. If you can make it through the dark night, and surrender to the experience – the now – you find that you lose the Ego and enter into the Celestial-like-state.