Pure Thoughts, Part 2

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Bishop H. Burke Petersen further explained: “When we were born in the earth, our minds and thoughts were clean and sweet and pure—unpolluted by the harmful impurities that are around us that become a part of the experiences of this life. In our infancy our minds are free from unrighteous and unwholesome thoughts. We are innocent and untouched by most of the harmful effects and influences of Satan.

“Our mind, which is like a tremendous reservoir itself, is capable of taking in whatever it may be fed—good and bad, trash and garbage, as well as righteous thoughts and experiences. As we go through life, we may be exposed to stories, pictures, books, jokes, and language that are filthy and vulgar, or to television shows and movies that are not right for us to see or hear. Our mind will take it all in. It has a capacity to store whatever we will give it. Unfortunately, what our mind takes in, it keeps—sometimes forever. It’s a long, long process to cleanse a mind that has been polluted by unclean thoughts.” (H. Burke Peterson, “Purify Our Minds and Spirits,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, 37)

The brain is immensely efficient, able to process large amounts of information in a short time. While the brain has only a limited capacity for conscious processing, the brain receives a lot more information than we are aware. This is why we need to surround ourselves with only those things that uplift. However, the brain cannot actively process very much at once. In other words, we can only really think of one thing at a time, even if we can jump back and forth between ideas rapidly. This may be one reason why we are told to pray always–so we don’t have time to let our minds wander to places they shouldn’t go.

Elder Maxwell taught, “The human mind is remarkably retentive. We must be careful of what we allow in our mind, for it will be there for a long time, reasserting itself at those very times when we may be most vulnerable. Just as harmful chemicals heedlessly dumped in a vacant lot can later prove lethal, so toxic thoughts and the mulching of the wrong memories in the vacant corner of the mind also take their toll” (Elder Maxwell, The Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book, p.346).

Pure Thoughts, Part 1

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When I was young I went on two long backpacking trips with my father and some varsity scouts. On both excursions we relied heavily on spring water to get through the hike. When there were no springs we had to purify our water, by filtering, boiling, or by using iodine tablets. The water from streams and rivers needed purification due to the various microorganisms in it, especially giardia, which is a bacteria that attaches itself onto the inside of intestines and stays there for an extended time. If we had not purified our water, the results would have been drastic and long-lasting.

We preferred the spring water because it did not take as much effort to process as did filtering or boiling water, nor did it have the taste of iodine. When we were able to get water from springs we did, because this water was naturally purified by the ground. It was water that we did not work hard to procure but still reaped its benefits and blessings – we were like the Savior’s disciples who were told: “I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor” (John 4:38). Even though the spring water was naturally pure, we still tried to fill our bottles as close to the source as possible, to avoid the impurities that enter once the water leaves its subterranean origin. As water is to our body, so are thoughts to our spirits. Without filtration and purification of our thoughts, our spirits will sicken and languish. Like spring water, there is a pure source for thoughts; the scriptures and the prophets teach in purity and the Spirit helps us keep our thoughts pure. However, since much of that around us is not from a pure source, we must filter and cleanse our thoughts.