Who are we, really?

I came across an interesting blog post the other day, that gave eight philosophical questions that man believes we may never solve.  One of the questions is, “is our universe real?”  I researched many different facets of this question in my 45 page paper, “A Modern Worldview from Plato’s Cave.”

In this blog post it states:  

…it could very well be that we’re the products of an elaborate simulation… Moreover, we may not be who we think we are. Assuming that the people running the simulation are also taking part in it, our true identities may be temporarily suppressed, to heighten the realness of the experience[emphasis added]

I think the restored gospel holds some of the answers to these questions.  Do we know who we are?  In a small way, yes.  We are children of God.  That is a very loaded statement.  Are our true identities being suppressed?  It’s possible.  C.S. Lewis once remarked:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship… There are no ‘ordinary’ people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whome we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. [emphasis added]

And in another place Lewis said:

The command ‘Be ye perfect’ is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were ‘gods’ and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him – for we can prevent Him, if we choose – He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said. [emphasis added]

Like Christ, we have come from a spiritual state, a spirit that is made of refined and pure matter, perhaps even glorious matter, to an incarnate state, a body which is carnal, imperfect, and exhibits corrupt qualities of mortal flesh.  Moreover, we have the veil placed over us, so we cannot remember the past.  These things suppress our true identities, who we really are, so that we might gain from this probation the experiences we need.  But who are we deep down?  We are children of God.  That is who is at our core.  God is our father.  That is who we truly are if we are to step outside Plato’s cave into the light of the sun.  Most of the time we only see the shadows on the wall.  If we were to see, if only for a moment, what it really means to be a child of God, I think we would be awe-struck.  Like the Greeks thought their demigods such as Hercules were the offspring of God and were elevated, powerful beings, so too are we, as children of God, more than the animals and other creatures we find ourselves with.  Each and every one of us is a dazzling, radiant, immortal being, underneath this mortal flesh.

We are God’s offspring, with the potential to become like Him.  We too have glory, if we will let our light so shine (Matthew 5:16; 3 Nephi 12:16).  We may not be able to see it today, but some day we will.

5 Comments

  1. Posted September 26, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this post Bryce. You may be interested in researching Brigham Young’s statements about “identities” and preserving those identities through future states of existence. Also, the reference to Plato’s Cave reminded me of some of Nibley’s writings about existence, forgetfulness, etc. Much too much for a simple comment to a post. But thought you might be interested in them.

  2. Posted September 26, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Bryce, what’s the source for those Lewis quotes. They’re awesome!

  3. Posted September 26, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    The first quote comes from “The Weight of Glory.” The second quote comes from Mere Christianity. :)

  4. Melissa Davis
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    There have been and still are real cultures which shut out the world and keep their people in ignorance. I remember reading about the people in an Oriental culture (maybe Tibet?) where the children grew up in total obedience to their elders. It remained that way until satellite images came in and presented the real world, then the teens rebelled. In America, we have a similar situation in Amish and Mennonite religions–the subject of a current TV reality show. Once the young people get a taste of and choose the outside world, they are cut off forever from their family. Anyone can be taught what is right or wrong in one’s own culture–but what is right and wrong in an eternal perspective is the only thing that really counts.

    In Plato’s Cave, it is surmised that when one sees another view, he will choose that which is most familiar and feels safe. What is missing in this philosophical musing are two very important eternal principles: 1) we need a choice between two opposing things and 2) we need to be taught in such a way that we know how to recognize the divine seed within which will testify of the right choice.

    In the world of Plato and Socrates, I rather suspect that the spirit of man was not taken into consideration. So, how far could they really surmise what a man would do? They were seriously handicapped by dealing only with mental exercises. Such is the life of those who think they are learned!

    Yes, our true identities are suppressed for a brief moment, but great effort is made to have us taught who we are and from whence we came. I am one of those—an adult convert. How grateful I am that the Lord relocated me from the Midwest (we were Methodists) to Arizona and then placed missionary-minded friends in my path. I resisted at first and wanted to stay in my comfort zone, but the testimony of the Spirit was too strong and I could not deny it. I left my family at 19 and for several years, thought I had been cut off forever. It was a horrible experience with great reward, if that makes any sense. Eventually they took me back. I cannot bear to watch any movies, TV about the Amish and Mennonites or about slaves held in ignorance. It was really upsetting for me to read Plato’s cave.

    My favorite book is “Lectures on Faith” — I use that in teaching people more than any other reference outside the scriptures. I love to teach; I have the missionary fire. There is so much to learn and I take great joy in seeking out the knowledge. I am so grateful that we have been given so much “extra” in ancient religious manuscripts and a Hugh Nibley who put them in an eternal perspective for us. We always need to consider both our halves (mental and spiritual) in seeking our true identity.

  5. Andrew Lacayo
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Who we really are is an eternal intelligence given a spirit body by Heavenly Mother and Heavenly Father housed in a physical body given to us by our earthly parents. The veil of forgetfulness stops us from remembering what we know and knew before we came to this earth. It also stops us from remembering who we are eternally and were in the pre-earth life. We are god embryos with every attribute that God possesses, and many of us reached godhood, as Jehovah did, in the pre-earth life (Psalms 82:6). Our job on earth is to live up to the integrity and faith we brought with us to this world, or the live the law that is our being, to live up to the covenants we made with God in the pre-earth life (Alma 13:1–5).

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