Selected quotations from the book:
When it came to understanding his vocation, Joseph purposely left his followers in the dark, realizing that explanation was not an option…. Understanding the difference between the real and the fake and why the difference is not resolvable enabled him to find a place for himself in the scheme of things. He was good at acting and loved doing it. He came to realize that he was living at a time and in a place when his abilities were especially called for. He sensed an obligation to do what only he under the circumstances could do. He was challenged, however, because he lacked someone in whom he could confide. Having made a discovery that was beneficial not only to himself but to humanity generally, he had no choice but to keep it to himself. That he wanted it to be known is, however, indicated by his having made it available in his writings.
His solution was to insert key insights—short, pithy statements—into longer passages. Once understood these statements clearly stand out, distinguishing themselves from the surrounding text. When they are read as part of the ongoing content, however, their meaning is easily misunderstood. Although Joseph wanted their meaning to be known, because they departed from orthodox belief, he went out of his way not to highlight or draw attention to them.
Now nearly 200 years later, having come across portions of the text that diverge as to subject matter, we stop and take notice. Once these sentences are understood from a perspective that allows their meaning to come through, the significance and originality of the author’s intent becomes clear. In the essays that follow select quotations from Joseph’s writings are cited and discussed in detail. The obvious complaint is that they are taken out of context, which though true, is exactly what Joseph intended. The threshing process, separating the insightful from the ordinary, is necessary unless of course one prefers a few kernels of grain buried in bushels of chaff. (pp.7-8)
What is knowledge? What is belief? What is the distinguishing characteristic that differentiates the one from the other? What are their respective roles and what are the effects that arise when their roles are misunderstood, confused, or misapplied? Answers to these questions appeared in a statement published in the Book of Mormon in 1830. Although the relevant passage is often cited, its meaning has remained undeciphered, leaving it to languish in obscurity. In the discussion that follows the puzzle that has perplexed readers for so many years is addressed, key words are explained, and the significance of the statement's far-reaching consequences explored. (p. 9)
Sometime in our childhood, usually in our early toddler years, we become consciously aware of ourselves and of things around us. It doesn't occur to us at the time but is nonetheless the case that our awareness of ourself is contingent on our awareness of things other than ourself. To be aware of the one is to be aware of the other. Both are necessary. Without an awareness of the one there is not an awareness of the other. Because the existence of the one is contingent on the existence of the other, existence consists not of the one or the other but of the two in relation to each other. (p. 59)
Could there be a means without a purpose or a purpose without a means? The immaterial self that perceives needs a partner and so too does the material other-than-self that is perceived. The two turn existence into a duo/solo presentation. When they are two they are one, and when they are one they are two. As if by magic they are two yet one simultaneously. This miracle is the person, of which you and I, dear reader, are instances. We are not the self alone and not the other-than-self alone. Neither the one nor the other separately, we are two in one and one in two. (p. 62)
As one cycle ends and another begins what is there to indicate that a person born at the succeeding beginning is a continuation of the person that died at the previous ending? The other-than-self is the embodiment of the self. The self is both constant and infinite while the other-than-self is changing and finite. The person as a self remains constant while as an other-than-self changes. (pp. 73-74)
Although unconscious at the end of a cycle, the compound-in-one relationship of the self and other-than-self remains intact. It continues as a new cycle begins in which the malleable other-than-self takes on a new form through the reproductive process. Unconscious during the gestation period when the other-than-self is formulated, the person characterized by the newly embodied self, retains its sense of self when it becomes conscious at birth. (p. 75)