A Ward Conference Talk

given in the


D. Calvin Andrus

11 September 2005


When I was a freshman in college I took an introduction to psychology class. There was a section of the course devoted to personality disorders like schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive, narcissism, manic-depressive, paranoia, anti-social, and histrionic. As I read the descriptions of each one, I could see myself in each one of these. This worried me - - a lot. Then I discovered that many of my classmates were having the same experience. This helped me feel normal again. But a new, slightly disturbed, normal. This experience that almost everyone has as they read about personality disorders gives rise to the cynical--but often true--observation that psychotherapists see disorders in everyone. If you go in to see one, they will probably treat you.

This is just a particular instance of a more general phenomenon. Persons with highly developed analytic frameworks tend to use those frameworks in interpreting the world around them. Thus, to a person with a hammer, all solutions require a nail.

I would like us to reflect for a moment on the kind of lens we use to view the world, and how that leads us to focus on particular ways of solving problems. Please hold that thought for a few moments, while I discuss another issue.


Now I would like us to imagine that we have fallen out of a tree and broken our arm. The break was a compound fracture; that is, not only did the bone break, but the broken part of the bone poked through the skin, causing the skin to bleed. Let us further imagine that as we go into the emergency room the attending physician says:

I see your skin is bleeding, I will put a bandaid on your skin to stop the bleeding. You also seem to be in pain. Here are some pain killers. Take two every four hours, and call me in the morning. Next patient!

What would we think? We would think the physician was an idiot. Why? Because he or she failed to see the difference between the symptoms (bleeding and pain) and the cause (broken bone). It is fairly obvious to us that in order to fix a problem we need to treat the cause, not the symptom. When we mis-diagnose problems, we employ solutions that are mis-directed and are either ineffective or harmful.

Most things in life, however, are not simple single-cause, single-effect problems. Most of the time we experience multiple-cause, multiple-effect problems that are often lined up as chains of causes and effects. Causes lead to effects, which in and of themselves become causes of other effecs. It requires a lot of figuring to sort out all the causes and effects in order to apply the right solutions to the right causes.

Let me give a simple example. What caused the water in the streets of New Orleans? If we think it is because the pumps stopped working (which they did), then we would say, "Let's get those pumps working right now!" We know, however, that starting the pumps would not do any good until the breaks in the levee are fixed. But, why did the levee break? They were built to withstand hurricanes. They were built to withstand category 3 hurricanes and Katrina was a category 5 hurricane, which calmed down to a category 4 by the time she hit the coast. So if we view the weak levees as the cause, we would prescribe a solution to build category 5 levees.

But why do we need levees in the first place? Because the city was built below sea level. The root cause of water in the streets of New Orleans is that people built a city, next to the sea, that was below sea level. That was a disaster waiting to happen. The way to fix the problem is to relocate the city to higher ground. Any other solution will just be treating the symptoms, not treating the cause.


Now what if we were not in the business of fixing problems, but in the business of creating good effects? We would still have to know what the causes of the effects are and then work with the cause to get the right effect.

If we want to create a nice flower garden, we cannot merely sprinkle a few seeds on the ground and forget about it. We must understand to some extent how the various plants interact with the chemical make-up of the soil, the amount of sunshine available, the amount of water to be given, the local diseases, the likely pests, the roaming wildlife, and the other nearby plants. Taking all of these causes into account, we can effect a beautiful flower garden.

If we want to create a happy home, we could put a sign on the front door that says, "This is a happy home, please smile upon entering." We all recognize this as the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a compound fracture. Rather, we might actually achieve a happy home if we concentrated on building loving, caring, stress-free interpersonal relationships.


Now, let me get to my point. I want to address personal spirituality. Is personal spirituality a cause or an effect? Well, we would have to have a pretty good understanding of just exactly what spirituality is in order to answer the question. So what is spirituality? Let me suggest that spirituality is having the Spirit (Holy Ghost) as our companion. The more the Spirit guides us, and comforts us, and gives us insight into our lives, the more spiritual we are. Spirituality can range from zero to one hundred percent. Most of us are somewhere in between zero and one hundred.

Given the definition I've just proposed, let me ask again, is personal spirituality--meaning companionship of the Holy Ghost--a cause or an effect? To me, it seems to be an effect. If personal spirituality is an effect then what is, or what are, the causes? If I want to create more spirituality in my life, on what cause or causes do I need to focus? In the interest of time, I will give a simple summary answer, which, in other venues, I could probably talk about for a long time. I propose that the cause of personal spirituality is living one's life according to Celestial principles. Not living according to Terrestrial principles, which we all do sometimes. Not living according to Telestial principles, which too many of us us do, too often. But, living according to Celestial principles. To the extent we conform our attitudes, our preferences, our thoughts, and our behaviors to Celestial standards, we will increase our personal spirituality.

Now, let us consider those persons who live 100% of their lives according to Celestial principles. What kind of an outlook do they have on life? Just as an attorney sees life as a set of legal issues, and a psychotherapists see life as a set of personality disorders, a Celestial person sees life a set of spiritual issues. And why is that? Because a Celestial person understands that this life is a training and testing ground for the Celestial Kingdom;

Therefore, from a Celestial perspective, every choice we make, every word we say, every thought we think, everything we do--100 percent of everything--contributes to how Celestial we are and consequently how spiritual we are. Thus the Lord says:

D&C 29:34 - Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created.


Brothers and sisters, this is our example. This is our goal. This is what we want to be. We want to live our lives so that from our own point of view everything is spiritual. That is, we view every decision we make as one that requires the confirmation of the Holy Ghost.

Let us not excuse ourselves of even the smallest things. Let us not excuse our tempers, our unkind words, our idleness, our pride, our grumpiness, our judgmentalness, our whininess, our pursuit of worldly treasure, or our unclean thoughts. Rather, let us make our every effort, at home, at work, and at play, count toward returning to Our Father in His Kingdom. I know from personal experience the pain of living the Telestial law, and the stagnation of living the Terrestial law. I also know the blessings of the Atonement that come through repentance and living the Celestial law. To these things I bear my testimony.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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