“He Sunk Again with Joy”

Bryan Richards

The trance of physical exhaustion caused by incredibly intense spiritual experiences can be a true “out of body experience.” The words of Paul are reminiscent, whether in the body…or whether out of the body, I cannot tell (2 Cor 12:2). While the body lies in a state of dormancy, the spirit is free to suffer for sin, commune with the heavens, see a vision, etc. This is what happens to Lamoni, the queen, and Ammon.

"In the context of the New Testament we read that Peter ’fell into a trance, and saw the heaven opened,’ whereupon the revelation of matchless importance was given which extended the blessings of the gospel to Gentiles as well as to Jews (see Acts 10:10-11; see also Acts 11:5). And it is significant that Paul, the great missionary to the Gentiles, received his call to that labor in a similar state. ’While I prayed in the temple,’ he testified, ’I was in a trance; and saw [the Lord] saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.... And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.’ (Acts 22:7, 21.)…
“From what we can deduce from scriptural writ, it appears that a trance is a state in which the body and its functions become quiescent in order that the full powers of the Spirit may be centered on the revelations of heaven. Freed from the fetters of a mortal body, man’s spirit can be ushered into the divine presence; it can hear what otherwise could not be heard and see what otherwise could not be seen-even the visions of eternity and even the Almighty himself. Yet the trance, like all other spiritual experiences, is subject to counterfeiting.” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 140)

Elder David B. Haight, similarly, had an out of body experience which occurred while he was very ill. He related the story during the Oct. 1989 General Conference. From the Church News

"Elder David B. Haight expressed deep gratitude Sunday morning for the faith and prayers of countless people in his behalf, and for the divine intervention that spared his life from a serious illness…He recounted his experience the evening of his health crisis, as he pled with his Heavenly Father to spare his life a little longer to have more time to do His work, if it was His will.
"’While still praying,’ he recalled, ’I began to lose consciousness… . I was now in a calm, peaceful setting; all was serene and quiet. I was conscious of two persons in the distance on a hillside… . Detailed features were not discernable. I heard no voices but was conscious of being in a holy presence and atmosphere.’
"During the days that followed, Elder Haight said he was shown a panoramic view of Christ’s earthly ministry. He saw the Savior and His apostles on the eve of His betrayal, where the Lord instructed and prepared the sacrament as a remembrance of His coming sacrifice. ’It was so impressively portrayed to me - the overwhelming love of the Savior for each,’ Elder Haight said. ’I witnessed His thoughtful concern for significant details - the washing of the dusty feet of each apostle; His breaking and blessing of the loaf of dark bread and blessing of the wine; then His dreadful disclosure that one would betray Him.’
"He said he saw Christ in Gethsemane, where ’in some manner beyond our comprehension,’ the Savior took upon Himself the sins of mankind. As he witnessed these events during his days of unconsciousness, Elder Haight said the Holy Ghost blessed him with ‘a more perfect knowledge’ of the Lord’s mission.
“’My soul was taught over and over again,’ he said solemnly. ’I witnessed His struggling up the hill in His weakened condition carrying the cross, and His being stretched upon it…I cannot begin to convey to you the deep impact that these scenes have confirmed upon my soul,” (Church News, Oct. 7, 1989)