One evening I was thinking about what an incredible instrument the brain is; there is nothing in the universe quite like it. Its scope, breadth, and depth are awesome, especially in the future when the Lord opens up the other ninety percent of our mental capacity, when he “quickens the mind of our understanding,” literally speeding up our ability to learn; instead of one thing at a time, we’ll be able to learn a thousand things at once.
As I was thinking about those things, I could see in my mind’s eye, or hear in my mind’s ear, a kaleidoscope of catchy phrases and advertising gimmicks for foods, products, and shows from yesteryear, a host of jingles that popped into my head – illustrating how much is still way back there in the gray matter. Here’s a sampling:
Jingles from the past – evidence of the brain’s power to remember
- “it’s the real thing” (Coca-Cola)
- “a little dab’ll do ya” (Brylcreem)
- “melts in your mouth, not in your hand” (M&Ms)
- “Nestle’s makes the very best choc . . . late”
- “helps build strong bodies 12 ways” (Wonder Bread – what a joke!)
- “double your pleasure, double your fun, with double-good, double-good, Doublemint gum”
“Crest has been shown to be an effective decay-preventive dentifrice when used in a conscientiously applied program of oral hygiene and regular professional care.”
“Brusha, brusha, brusha, with the new Ipana, with the brand new flavor; it’s healthy for your teeth.”
“. . . I’m strong to the finish, cause I eat my spinach; I’m Popeye the sailor man” (Ha! I just realized, fifty years ex post facto, why Popeye’s girlfriend was Olive Oyl – because olive oil goes well with spinach.)
“Look! Up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane; it’s SUPERMAN! . . . faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, bends steel in his bare hands; and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild man and reporter, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.”
I don’t know if I’m recalling all the above words correctly, but just thinking about all those funny little jingles, and how much I do remember, confirms my belief that everything we’ve ever spoken, everything we’ve ever done, and everything we’ve ever thought – it’s all there, packed away in the depths of our gray matter for future recall, and judgment. We all have photographic memories; we just don’t have instant recall. At the great day of judgment, however, we will all have instant recall. (Someone has also pointed out that the reason we lose our memory when we get old is so we can die with a clear conscience!)
The scriptures teach us that we will have a “perfect knowledge,” a “perfect remembrance,” a “bright recollection” of all things (2 Nephi 9:14; Alma 5:18; 11:43).
On that day of judgment there will be no contempt of court by reason of “failure to appear.” Everyone will appear before the Judge. Everyone will bow the knee before the Judge. All of us will confess our sins with perfect knowledge and recall of all we’ve done wrong, although if there has been sincere, thorough repentance, there will also be thorough erasure, the sins will be expunged, or blotted out, as the scriptures testify. (From the Journal of Daniel Kelly Ogden, May 1, 2007.)
Mega-savants Kim Peek and Daniel Tammet
A savant is one who possesses extraordinary mental powers, and there are approximately fifty mega-savants now living (these individuals with highly unusual minds display a variety of rare and atypical skills, such as musical ability, artistic talent, and especially exceptional competence in mathematics and factual memory).
The world’s most famous mega-savant is Kim Peek, who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, a Latter-day Saint who died this past year.. He was born on November 11, 1951, and was the inspiration behind the 1988 Oscar-winning film, Rain Man, with Dustin Hoffman – who said to Brother Peek, after becoming acquainted with him, “Kim, I may be the star, but you are the heavens.” Kim has been the subject of 22 documentaries and more than 4,000 newspaper and magazine articles.
Kim Peek had a perfect photographic memory; he was affectionately known as “Kimputer.” He read a book in about an hour and remembered over 98% of everything he read. If it was a small enough book, he read the left page with his left eye and the right page with his right eye. He could recall the content of more than 12,000 books by memory.
Kim had encyclopedic memory capacity, especially with facts about world and American history, monarchs, scriptures, baseball, horseracing, dates, times, places, composers, melodies, movies, geography, space program, authors, literature, TV stations and their markets, and so on.
In public appearances his favorite thing was to tell someone on which day of the week they were born and what news items were covered on the front page of major newspapers that day; also in whatever town a person’s from, what are the corresponding postal zip codes and telephone area codes, major freeways and highways, television stations, and any historical events related to the place.
Kim had some physical challenges: he cannot button up his shirt and has difficulty with other ordinary motor skills.
His corpus callosum was missing-the connecting tissue between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Yet, his mind’s “hard drive” seemed virtually inexhaustible. He didn’t seem to have any “delete button.” He had perfect recall of any piece of music he had ever heard in his life. In 2009 he even started creating and telling jokes (see Endnote 1 for examples).
In Kim Peek’s brain there were no barriers; he had ready access to everything that was ever entered there. He had become “a living Google.”
Some experts are saying that savant-like skills may be latent in everyone.
Daniel Tammet was born in London in 1979. He first gained worldwide attention in March, 2004, on international Pi Day, when he recited from memory Pi to 22,514 decimal places (which took over five hours).
Daniel has massive memory skills, especially with numbers. He also has exceptional language skills, speaking English, French, German, Spanish, Lithuanian, Esperanto, and Icelandic. He learned the difficult Icelandic language in seven days (documented in a one-hour film about Daniel called “Brainman”).
Two examples of his mental prowess:
- He was asked to calculate 37 raised to the power of 4. He answered correctly (1,874,161) in less than a minute.
- He was asked to divide 13 by 97. He surpassed the interviewer’s computer calculator with 32 decimal places by exceeding 100 decimal places.
Daniel can literally “see” numbers in his head as if they were images.
My reading of articles and watching a number of videos about these two phenomenal persons has helped illustrate my belief that everything we’ve ever seen, heard, done – it’s all recorded in the brain. We all have photographic memories (properly administered hypnosis can bring back any given moment).
Alma says that in the great day of judgment all things will be brought to our remembrance; we will have a “bright recollection,” a “perfect remembrance”:
Alma 11:43 “we shall be brought to stand before God . . . and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.”
2 Nephi 9:14 “we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness [our evil will be totally exposed]; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness.
” [Instead of having our evil nakedness exposed, the Savior’s Atonement will cover us; that’s what the Hebrew concept of atonement, kippur, means, “to cover over” or “hide”; we will stand clothed with purity, with the robe of righteousness.]
Alma 5:18 “can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God [dragging and screaming?] with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness . . ?”
All things “past, present, and future . . . are continually before the Lord” (D&C 130:7), so all things past, present, and future will be before us; we will see clearly our past, and we will see clearly what lies in our future.
President Joseph F. Smith spoke about us having a bright recollection of all our guilt: “In reality a man cannot forget anything. He may have a lapse of memory; he may not be able to recall at the moment a thing that he knows or words that he has spoken; he may not have the power at his will to call up these events and words; but let God Almighty touch the mainspring of the memory and awaken recollection, and you will find that you have not forgotten a single idle word that you have spoken! I believe the word of God to be true, and, therefore, I warn the youth of Zion, as well as those who are advanced in years, to beware of saying wicked things, or speaking evil and taking in vain the name of sacred things and sacred beings. Guard your words, that you may not offend even man, much less offend God” (Daniel H. Ludlow, comp., Latter-day Prophets Speak [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1951], 56-57).
Elder Russell M. Nelson described his feeling of awe when considering the abilities of the brain:
One of the most wondrous of all jewels in this treasure chest [of the body] is the human brain with its intricate combination of power cells, recording, memory, storage, and retrieval systems. It serves as headquarters for the personality and character of each human being. As I observe the lives of great individuals, I sense that the capacity of the brain is seemingly infinite. Wise men can become even wiser as each experience builds upon previous experience. Indeed, continuing exercise of the intellect brings forth increased intellectual capacity.
While I marvel at a computer and admire the work it can do, I respect even more the mind of man, which developed the computer. The human brain is certainly a recording instrument that will participate in our judgment one day when we stand before the Lord. The Book of Mormon speaks of a ‘bright recollection’ (Alma 11:43) and of a ‘perfect remembrance’ (Alma 5:18) that will be with us at that time. Each one of us carries that recording instrument guarded within the vault of the human skull” (The Power within Us, 4).
Elder Nelson added:
“Although your spirit had a veil of forgetfulness placed over it at the time of your birth into mortality, it retained its power to remember all that happens-precisely recording each event of life. Indeed, scriptures warn that ‘every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.’ (Matthew 12:36.) Prophets refer to our ‘bright recollection’ (Alma 11:43) and ‘perfect remembrance’ (Alma 5:18) at that day of decision” (The Power within Us, 60).
Without necessarily endorsing them, I find the experiences of some non-Latter-day Saints fascinating, with respect to the memories of earth-life. George G. Ritchie, in his little book about near-death experiences, Return from Tomorrow, notes that all things that have ever happened are in full view in the world of spirits:
When I say [this Being of Light] knew everything about me, this was simply an observable fact. For into that room along with His radiant presence-simultaneously . . . had also entered every single episode of my entire life. Everything that had ever happened to me was simply there, in full view, contemporary and current, all seemingly taking place at that moment” (page 49).
There were other scenes, hundreds, thousands, all illuminated by that searing Light, in an existence where time seemed to have ceased. It would have taken weeks of ordinary time even to glance at so many events, and yet I had no sense of minutes passing” (page 51).
Another person explained:
It was like I knew everything that was stored in my brain. Everything I’d ever known from the beginning of my life I immediately knew about. And also what was kind of scary was that I knew everybody else in the room knew and there was no hiding anything-the good times, the bad times, everything . . . . I had total complete clear knowledge of everything that had ever happened in my life-even little minute things that I had forgotten. . . . Everything was so clear” (quoted in Heading Toward Omega, 68-69, as cited in Top and Top, Glimpses Beyond Death’s Door, 195).
Another person elaborated on the phenomenon of total recall:
Mine was not a review, it was a reliving. For me, it was a total reliving of every thought I had ever thought, every word I had ever spoken, and every deed I had ever done; plus the effect of each thought, word, and deed on everyone and anyone who had ever come within my environment or sphere of influence whether I knew them or not . . .” (Coming Back to Life, 36, as cited in Top and Top, Glimpses Beyond Death’s Door, 201).
In the coming world, at judgment time, the scriptures say the minds of our understanding will be opened; the minds of our understanding will be quickened, literally accelerated, sped up:
D&C 33:16 “the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things.”
D&C 88:11-13 “the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space-The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things . . . even the power of God”
[See Endnote 2, about light.]
D&C 76:12 “By the power of the Spirit our eyes were opened and our understandings were enlightened, so as to see and understand the things of God” [in other words, the veil was parted!]
D&C 76:116-117 “they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him; to whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves”
D&C 138:11 “the eyes of my understanding were opened, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw . . .”
D&C 138:29 “my eyes were opened, and my understanding quickened, and I perceived . . .”
JS-H 1:74 “Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings . . .”
D&C 88:29 “Ye who are quickened by a portion of the celestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fullness.”
D&C 88:49 “the day shall come when you shall comprehend even God, being quickened in him and by him.
Why the Veil, and What Is It?
Part of our brain is temporarily blocked (there’s a veil of forgetfulness, plus think of how the veil of the temple blocks our view of the celestial . . .), and our mortal eyes are restricted in what they can see (later, could the whole electromagnetic spectrum be opened to us?). The veil is in place so we live by faith.
Elder Benjamin F. Cummings described why our minds are veiled in mortality:
There is reason to believe that if too much knowledge concerning the world to come were given to us here in mortality, before we are better prepared than we are now to receive it, and conform our lives to it, it would interfere with the purposes for which our probation on earth was designed, and place us under condemnation that might be our utter ruin. . . . From certain sayings of President Brigham Young we are led to infer that one reason why the next world is so closely guarded from our eyes is that a knowledge of it, and of the joy, glory, and happiness it holds in store for us would so increase our discontent with this life as to make us wretched and impatient for it to end” (“Editorial,” Liahona: The Elders’ Journal, vol. 6, no. 22, November 14, 1908, 519).
There are those who have had opportunity and privilege (with accompanying responsibility) of penetrating the veil:
Ether 3:19-20 “because of the knowledge of this man [the brother of Jared] he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; . . . Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus”
Ether 12:19 [Moroni wrote] “And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong . . . who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith”
D&C 38:8 “But the day soon cometh that ye shall see me, and know that I am; for the veil of darkness shall soon be rent, and he that is not purified shall not abide the day.”
[light speeds up, but darkness slows down our mental abilities;
the “veil of unbelief” obstructs our penetrating the veil]
D&C 67:10-11 “it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me . . . the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am – not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual. For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God.”
D&C 110:1-2 “The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened. We saw the Lord . . .”
When the minds of our understanding are quickened, and the veil over our eyes and minds is removed, we will see spirit matter and spirit beings, and we will see that our Universe is far more ample and expansive than we ever dreamed, in the realms of macro and micro.
The imagery and symbolism that has come down to us from the ancients, in the scriptures, shows that, to them, the center of thoughts was the mind or the brain, and the center of feelings was the heart. That is not true.
Both thoughts and feelings are centered in the brain. No offense to the heart; we need that incredibly efficient little one-pound pump (causing our blood to make a complete tour of our body every minute of our life).
But the real center of action-thoughts and feelings-is the three-pound mass of tissue we call the brain.
The day is coming when the Lord will allow the righteous and the worthy full use of our mental powers, the Holy Spirit facilitating their full functioning (see Endnote 3), allowing us to see and comprehend the things of God, and be able to use the things of God to continue becoming like God and doing the work of God, His eternal work and glory becoming also our eternal work and glory.
1. Lois Collins, Deseret News journalist (dated July 27, 2009) reported the following clever jokes from Kim Peek:
“Kim, you know all about Abe Lincoln. Any idea what kind of stomach ailment afflicted him at the end of his life?” “I think he had a bad Gettysburger.”
Kim made up a knock-knock joke about Utah’s senior senator, Orrin Hatch, who invited the Peeks to keynote one of his senior conferences:
“Knock-knock.” “Who’s there?” “Hatch.” “Hatch who?” “Gesundheit.”
In Cleveland, speaking at a Catholic school, he tells a priest there’s a typo in the church’s policies and procedures. “They left the R out of celebrate.”
A math genius asked him how far out he could calculate pi. Kim answered: “3.14159265, then Dad takes me to Marie Callender’s and we have pi forever.”
2. Notes from Freedman and Kaufmann, Universe, 8th ed. (New York: W.H.
Freeman and Company, 2007):
“Understanding light is a prerequisite to understanding the universe.” – page 97
Light has the properties of both waves and particles.
Light is electromagnetic radiation. (Radiation is what radiates, or spreads away, from its source.) “Their countenances shone, and the radiance from the presence of the Lord rested upon them . . .” (D&C 138:24, italics added)
Light is energy. (Obvious to anyone who’s felt the warmth of the summer sun.)
Light emitted by an object or a person depends on the temperature of that object or person. Then God is extremely hot! dwelling, as He does, in celestial glory, “continual burnings.” And those who don’t have sufficient light in them are consumed or disintegrate in His Presence.
According to Einstein’s special theory of relativity, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. But God is extremely fast! Traveling, as He must, from celestial spheres to this Earth, and other worlds He has created, not in light-years, but somehow by thought-transfer, in some way exceeding the speed of light.
White light is actually a combination of all the colors that appear in its spectrum.
There are invisible forms of light to which the human retina do not respond. Visible light occupies only a tiny portion of the full electromagnetic spectrum.
We can’t see many waves and rays that surround us, but we can see the results of harnessing them:
Radio waves – cell phones
Microwaves – microwave ovens
Infrared light – TV remotes
Ultraviolet light – tanning booths
X-rays – medical imaging
Gamma rays – cancer radiotherapy
3. From Elder Bruce R. McConkie: While serving as a mission president, he took his missionaries to the top of a mountain in Australia and explained that there are sights, sounds, words, and music all around us. The air is full of waves. Handel’s Messiah is still reverberating through the universe. The orations of the world’s great statesmen are still resounding through time and space. Scenes from Washington, London, Rome, and Jerusalem are still being seen, as well as men walking on the moon. These sights and sounds are unknown to us at the moment; we do not see or hear them, but if we were tuned in, we would see and hear and understand things otherwise unknown.
So it is with revelation and the visions of eternity. They are around us all the time. Things recorded in the scriptures are around us all the time. Section 76 – the vision of the degrees of glory – is being broadcast, but we don’t hear or see it, or experience it, because we have not tuned our souls to the wave band on which the Holy Ghost is broadcasting. “The Holy Ghost is a revelator,” Joseph Smith taught. “No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations” (TPJS, p. 328). Moroni adds: “. . . by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5). He is broadcasting all the truths of salvation out into the universe all the time. It is our right and privilege to receive revelation and enjoy gifts of the Spirit. (DKO summary from McConkie, “The Lord’s People Receive Revelation,” Ensign, June 1971, 77-78).