I have enjoyed watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation entitled \"The Inner Light.\" Star Trek was, and at times still is, one of those little escapes for me that we all need from time to time. Secular in nature, and at times even atheistic in tone, Star Trek can be thought provoking in its story line. \"The Inner Light\" is one of those thought provoking stories.
Lehi’s son, Jacob, finished his writings in the Book of Mormon by saying “our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers” (Jacob 7:26).
Time is an interesting thing. It goes so slow, and yet it seems to just fly by. Youth is fleeting and memories become the essence of time as we grow older. One moment you are a child, learning and laughing, and the next you are watching your grandchildren doing the same. Our earth life experience is only a small moment of our eternal life.
I have enjoyed watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation entitled “The Inner Light.” Star Trek was, and at times still is, one of those little escapes for me that we all need from time to time. Secular in nature, and at times even atheistic in tone, Star Trek can be thought provoking in its story line. “The Inner Light” is one of those thought provoking stories.
Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise come in contact with a primitive thousand-year-old space probe. A “nucleonic particle stream” from the probe searches the Enterprise and centers itself on Picard. Captain Picard collapses as the probe takes control of his mind, and he seems to be in a comatose state.
While his crew worries about him being controlled by the probe, Captain Picard finds himself living another man’s life on the planet Kataan that is in a drought, which we later learn is an indication that the planet is dying. He learns his name is Kamin, and finds he is living with a loving and patient wife, Eline, and has close friends in the town where he resides. He is told he has been very sick and that his memories of another life are a result of his illness. It takes him five years to really accept this is his life, and over time he has grown to love his wife and the people around him.
He has children and has the experience of raising them with all the joys and frustrations that come from being a parent. He tells his wife he realizes his life is more complete and full because of her and the children. He has settled into his new role, and the memories begin to fade.
Captain Picard’s journey through this life continues as he experiences the death of his wife and all the sorrow and loneliness that comes from losing someone you love. He has a grandchild and continues to live life as a man who cares for his family and those around him. As a amateur scientist, he realizes the planet is dying, and he seeks to warn the leadership. His concern and love for those in his life drives him to try and do something. He is told there are plans being made.
After over thirty years, and as an 85-year-old man, he is told there is a launch of a missile that he must go and see. When he is taken to town to watch the launch, he is told the launch is of the probe that he has already seen. His best friend, Batai, who had passed away, returns and begins to remind him of his memories before he came to their planet. His wife also returns and shares more of the story, and the purpose of the probe, with him. The probe had been designed to teach another people in another time about their world which was about to be destroyed. It was designed in such a way that the person chosen, would learn of their culture through living it–through experiencing life as a citizen of their planet.
As they complete their story, Picard realizes he was the one chosen to experience this life, and he is released from the control of the probe and returns to consciousness. He asks how long he has been gone and is told he was only gone for 20-25 minutes. The show ends with him struggling to make the adjustment back to life on the Enterprise. He is not the same man he was before, for he has received the gift of a lifetime of experiences.
The true and correct principles as taught by the Gospel of Jesus Christ are simple. We lived before we came to this earth. We are literally spirit children of our Heavenly Father and Mother and they love us. However, in order to mature and become like our Heavenly Parents, we needed the experience of living on an earth and obtaining a physical body. This time on earth would be but a few moments in eternity, but was necessary in our desire to be like Them.
We know our Heavenly Parents whole purpose–“His work and His glory”–is to enable each of us to become like Them, and They have provided a plan to accomplish this purpose. We were taught and understood the purpose of earth life and accepted the individual plan that provided all the experiences we personally needed in order to return, and to be like, our Heavenly Parents.
Key to this plan was the need for a personal savior to make it possible for each of us to return home, as we would be exposed to “the vicissitudes of life,” and in our educational experience, mistakes would be made. Our Elder Brother, Jesus, stood up for us and agreed to be the Savior and Redeemer for each of us-and the whole earth.
At death we “are taken home to that God who gave [us] life” (Alma 40:11) where we will continue to progress until the time of final judgement where those who have chosen to follow the Savior will be “raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God” (Alma 41:4).
The Prophet Joseph taught, “It is important that we should understand the reasons and causes of our exposure to the vicissitudes of life and of death, and the designs and purposes of God in our coming into the world, our sufferings here, and our departure hence. What is the object of our coming into existence, then dying and falling away, to be here no more? It is but reasonable to suppose that God would reveal something in reference to the matter . . . Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose” (History of the Church, 6:50).
He also stated, “If this life were all, we should be led to query, whether or not there was really any substance in existence . . . But if this life is all, then why this constant toiling, why this continual warfare, and why this unceasing trouble? But this life is not all, the voice of reason, the language of inspiration, and the Spirit of the living God, our Creator, teaches us, as we hold the record of truth in our hands, that this is not the case” (History of the Church, 2:14).
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Like Captain Picard in this Star Trek episode, we have come here to experience many things that help us grow and learn and come a little closer to who we will be someday. Each experience is designed for us personally for optimal growth and learning, much like Captain Picard’s experience was designed for him to learn about the people he lived with. We experience joy and sadness, happiness and pain, and how to serve and love one another.
Unlike Captain Picard, we do not have memories of our past life. The confusion he felt as he began his new life on an unknown planet is a possible partial explanation of why we do not carry memories with us here to earth. I believe we could be extremely frustrated by these memories because of the limitations of mortal life.
However, our Father has not left us without a glimpse of where we came from and why we are here. We have the Scriptures and living prophets as sources of truth about the purpose of life. In addition, He has given each of His children the Light of Christ, and for those who choose to be part of His kingdom, the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost will teach us, remind us, comfort us, prepare us, and encourage us in righteousness.
While Star Trek: The Next Generation is not the most reliable source of truth, episodes such as this one, provide us an opportunity to think about what we know to be true. And while “our lives [may pass] away like as it were unto us a dream,” we know this moment in eternity is ours to live to its fullest–learning, growing, experiencing, serving, overcoming, loving.
May each of us take a moment in time, as our life races by, and remember where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going.