I love the parable of the tree of life! (If you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about, read this). I’ve been doing an in-depth study into all of the different elements of the tree of life vision, and I’ve come up with some really insightful stuff! Here are some interesting quotes by LDS church leaders that I’ve discovered & compiled that talk about aspects of the “great and spacious building.” I think they each help to provide additional perspective and to shed more light on how we can recognize the influence of the great & spacious building in our everyday lives. Hope this blesses someone’s life. Check it out!
“The great and spacious building in Lehi’s vision represents those in the world who mock God’s word and who ridicule those who embrace it and who love the Savior and live the commandments.” (Thomas S. Monson)
“The current cries we hear coming from the great and spacious building tempt us to compete for ownership in the things of this world. We think we need a larger home, with a three-car garage, a recreational vehicle parked next to it. We long for designer clothes, extra TV sets, all with VCRs, the latest model computers, and the newest car. Often these items are purchased with borrowed money, without giving any thought to providing for our future needs. The result of all this instant gratification is overloaded bankruptcy courts and families that are far too preoccupied with their financial burdens.” (L. Tom Perry)
“My sincere counsel to you today is to remember the good basic principles we have been taught from the very beginning—principles of thrift, industry, and integrity that have served mankind in every period of time. Avoid the great and spacious building that is the pride of the world, for it will fall, and great will be the fall thereof.” (L. Tom Perry)
“Even though you have a testimony and want to do what is right, it is difficult not to be drawn to the great and spacious building. From all appearances, the people in the building seem to be having a great time. The music and laughter are deafening. You would say to me what my children have said, ‘They’re not really happy, huh, Dad?’ as you watch them party.
They look happy and free, but don’t mistake telestial pleasure for celestial happiness and joy. Don’t mistake lack of self-control for freedom. Complete freedom without appropriate restraint makes us slaves to our appetites. Don’t envy a lesser and lower life.” (Glenn L. Pace)
“To those of you who are inching your way closer and closer to that great and spacious building, let me make it completely clear that the people in that building have absolutely nothing to offer except instant, short-term gratification inescapably connected to long-term sorrow and suffering. The commandments you observe were not given by a dispassionate God to prevent you from having fun, but by a loving Father in Heaven who wants you to be happy while you are living on this earth as well as in the hereafter.
Compare the blessings of living the Word of Wisdom to those available to you if you choose to party with those in the great and spacious building. Compare the joy of intelligent humor and wit to drunken, silly, crude, loud laughter. Compare our faithful young women who still have a blush in their cheeks with those who, having long lost their blush, try to persuade you to join them in their loss. Compare lifting people up to putting people down. Compare the ability to receive personal revelation and direction in your life to being tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine. Compare holding the priesthood of God with anything you see going on in that great and spacious building.” (Glenn L. Pace)
“What adventure in that great and spacious building would you trade for the thrill and excitement of building the very kingdom the Savior will come to the earth to govern?” (Glenn L. Pace)
“Recounting his [Nephi’s] father’s dream of the tree of life. He described a strait and narrow path leading to a tree and a great and spacious building. This building was filled with people who were dressed in exceedingly fine and fashionable clothing. They were all in an attitude of mocking and pointing fingers toward those who were partaking of the fruit. They were trying to get people off the path and into the building. From all appearances, the people inside seemed to be having a great time. What an indelible image of temptation. In Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s words, ‘The laughter of the world is merely loneliness pathetically trying to reassure itself.’ ” (W. Craig Zwick)
“. . .they leave the Church, but they cannot leave the Church alone. Like the throng on the ramparts of the ‘great and spacious building,’ they are intensely and busily preoccupied, pointing fingers of scorn at the steadfast iron-rodders (1 Ne. 8:26–28, 33). Considering their ceaseless preoccupation, one wonders, Is there no diversionary activity available to them, especially in such a large building—like a bowling alley? Perhaps in their mockings and beneath the stir are repressed doubts of their doubts. In any case, given the perils of popularity, Brigham Young advised that this ‘people must be kept where the finger of scorn can be pointed at them’ ” (Neal A. Maxwell)
“We live in a time when sacrifice is definitely out of fashion, when the outside forces that taught our ancestors the need for unselfish cooperative service have diminished. Someone has called this the “me” generation—a selfish time when everyone seems to be asking, what’s in it for me? Even some who should know better seem to be straining to win the praise of those who mock and scoff from the “great and spacious building” identified in vision as the pride of the world (see 1 Nephi 8:26–28; 11:35–36).” (Thomas S. Monson)
“Laman and Lemuel’s rejection of the prophets and the scriptures meant there could be no useful likening or rehearsals of remembrance and no freshening of personal revelation to them for their time. They simply did not understand that God’s ways are higher than man’s ways (see Isa. 55:9). They enjoyed intellectual ‘slumming’ in their portable equivalent of the prideful ‘great and spacious building’ ” (see 1 Ne. 8:26, 31).
Hence Laman and Lemuel became rebels instead of leaders, resentful instead of righteous—all because of their failure to understand either the character or the purposes of God and His dealings with His children.” (Neal A. Maxwell)
“Many of you are trying too hard to be unique in your dress and grooming to attract what the Lord would consider the wrong kind of attention. In the Book of Mormon story of the tree of life, it was the people whose ‘manner of dress was exceedingly fine’ who mocked those who partook of the fruit of the tree. It is sobering to realize that the fashion-conscious mockers in the great and spacious building were responsible for embarrassing many, and those who were ashamed ‘fell away into forbidden paths and were lost’ (1 Nephi 8:27–28).” (Elder L. Tom Perry)
“When we stand at the crossroads of life and must make a decision whether to go to the great and spacious building of the world’s ways or to walk the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life, we must realize that we cannot travel both roads—although sometimes we try. It is difficult to come back, but we can; and our greatest satisfaction will more than likely come from taking the lonelier road which is less traveled.” Robert D. Hales
“. . .Every day we see allurements of one kind or another that tell us what we have is not enough. Someone or something is forever telling us we need to be more handsome or more wealthy, more applauded or more admired than we see ourselves as being. We are told we haven’t collected enough possessions or gone to enough fun places. We are bombarded with the message that on the world’s scale of things we have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Some days it is as if we have been locked in a cubicle of a great and spacious building where the only thing on the TV is a never-ending soap opera entitled Vain Imaginations.” (Elder Jeffery R. Holland)
“We surely have been warned and forewarned about our time, a period in which the compression of challenges may make a year seem like a decade. Members will be cleverly mocked and scorned by those in the “great and spacious building,” representing the pride of the world (1 Ne. 8:26; 1 Ne. 11:36). No matter, for ere long, He who was raised on the third day will raze that spacious but third-class hotel!” (Neal A. Maxwell)
“In offering whatever sacrifice God may require of us, we obtain the witness of the Spirit that our course is right and pleasing to God (see Lectures on Faith, 69–71). With that knowledge, our faith becomes unbounded, having the assurance that God will in due time turn every affliction to our gain. Some of you have been sustained by that faith as you have endured those who point fingers of scorn from the “great and spacious building” and cry, ‘Shame!’ (see 1 Nephi 8:26–27), and you have stood firm with Peter and the Apostles of old, ‘rejoicing that [you] were counted worthy to suffer shame for [Christ’s] name’ (Acts 5:41).” (Elder D. Todd Christofferson)
“As much as we hate to admit it, many of those other paths often look appealing. Some paths veer off suddenly in exciting directions, while others curve away so subtly that for a while they appear to run parallel to the gospel path. Some are glamorously carpeted in red and echo with applause. Others appear to be paved with gold and jewels. The appeal of the great and spacious building itself is very similar. After all, some of the richest, most popular, most attractive, and most powerful people in the world live there! Who wouldn’t want to hang out with, act like, and dress like those people? They often appear to be having a much better time than the rest of us who are trying to stay on the gospel path. . . The more attention we give the residents of the great and spacious building, the more we might feel jealous or frustrated or even angry. We might think it doesn’t seem fair that they should have so many nice things while we’re trying to stay on the path to the tree of life. Satan knows that one of the best ways to get people to leave the gospel path is by tricking them into believing that it’s too hard, boring, or old-fashioned to stay on the path. He doesn’t care which of the other paths we take—any path will do—so long as it’s not the gospel path.” New Era article (https://www.lds.org/youth/article/whats-so-great-about-the-great-and-spacious-building?lang=eng)
“Largely because of television, instead of looking over into that spacious building, we are, in effect, living inside of it. That is your fate in this generation. You are living in that great and spacious building.” (Boyd K. Packer)
… “Atheists and agnostics make nonbelief their religion and today organize in unprecedented ways to attack faith and belief. They are now organized, and they pursue political power. You will be hearing much about them and from them. Much of their attack is indirect in mocking the faithful, in mocking religion . . . You who are young will see many things that will try your courage and test your faith. All of the mocking does not come from outside of the Church. Let me say that again: all of the mocking does not come from outside of the Church. Be careful that you do not fall into the category of mocking.” (Boyd K. Packer)
Don’t Be Distracted and Deceived.
“To heed is to give careful attention. Heeding those who do not believe in Christ will not help you find Him. Searching #spaciousbuilding for knowledge will not lead you to truth. It’s not posted there. Only the Savior has “the words of eternal life.” Everything else is just words. The large and spacious building symbolizes the “vain imaginations and the pride” of the world—in other words, distraction and deception. It’s filled with well-dressed people who seem to have everything. But they mock the Savior and those who follow Him. They are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”10 They may be politically correct, but they are spiritually lost.” (Elder Kevin W. Pearson)
“Have we really comprehended how the devil operates? Lehi’s vision of the great and spacious building, for example, tells us graphically that the one main weapon used by the wicked is mocking and derision. . . . When you know your opponent’s play book, it’s a lot easier to plan your defense.” [Bruce Hafen, “J. Reuben Clark,” BYU Today, September 1988, p. 22]
“Historically, the drifting away from the course of life marked out by the Lord has occurred as individuals begin to make compromises with the Lord’s standard. . .As the number of drifting individuals increases, their influence becomes more powerful. It might be described as the “great and spacious building syndrome.” The drifting is the more dangerous when its adherents continue to overtly identify with and participate with the group that conforms to the Lord’s way. Values and standards that were once clear become clouded and uncertain. The norm of behavior begins to reflect this beclouding of true principles. Conduct that would once have caused revulsion and alarm now becomes somewhat commonplace.” (Dean L. Larsen)
“The great and spacious building which Lehi saw was the pride of the world where the multitude of the earth was gathered. (See 1 Ne. 11:35–36.) Those who walked the straight and narrow path and held onto the word of God and partook of the love of God were mocked and scorned by those in the building. (See 1 Ne. 8:20, 27, 33; 1 Ne. 11:25.)
“The humble followers of Christ” are few. (2 Ne. 28:14.)
Pride does not look up to God and care about what is right. It looks sideways to man and argues who is right. Pride is manifest in the spirit of contention.” (Ezra Taft Benson)
“In this sense, the church of the devil is equivalent to that great and spacious building seen in vision by both Nephi and his father. (See 1 Ne. 8:26–28, 31, 33–34; 1 Ne. 11:35–36.) The apocalyptic description of the great and spacious building matches the characteristics of the church of the devil; the artificial structure without foundation represents the carnal world, and its values and life-style include mockery of the kingdom of God. It fights against the Apostles of Jesus Christ, and its fall will be great, for “thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (1 Ne. 11:36.)
Meanwhile, let us expect that many will regard us indifferently. Others will see us as quaint or misled. Let us bear the pointing fingers which, ironically, belong to those finally who, being bored, find the “great and spacious building” to be a stale and cramped third-class hotel (see 1 Ne. 8:31–33). Let us revile not the revilers and heed them not (see D&C 31:9). Instead, let us use our energy to hold up the shield of faith to quench the incoming fiery darts—aided perhaps by a touch of spiritual Teflon (see 1 Ne. 15:24). (Neal A. Maxwell)
“I’ve noticed that there is danger in spending all this time writing about those ‘publicans and sinners’ over there in the great and spacious building. If our spot near the tree of life becomes a Rameumptom where we congratulate each other on our chosen-ness and look down on everyone else, then we’re occupying nothing more than a branch office of the great and spacious.” (John Bytheway)
As I watch the current world moving away from God, I think this building is growing in size. Many find themselves today wandering the halls of the great and spacious building, not realizing that they are actually becoming part of its culture. They often succumb to the temptations and the messages. We eventually find them mocking or chiming in with those who criticize or mock.” (Gregory A. Schwitzer)
“When we consider thoughtfully, why would we listen to the faceless, cynical voices of those in the great and spacious buildings of our time and ignore the pleas of those who genuinely love us? These ever-present naysayers prefer to tear down rather than elevate and to ridicule rather than uplift. Their mocking words can burrow into our lives, often through split-second bursts of electronic distortions carefully and deliberately composed to destroy our faith. Is it wise to place our eternal well-being in the hands of strangers? Is it wise to claim enlightenment from those who have no light to give or who may have private agendas hidden from us? These anonymous individuals, if presented to us honestly, would never be given a moment of our time, but because they exploit social media, hidden from scrutiny, they receive undeserved credibility.” (Vern P. Stanfill)
The temple of television is, you see
What the great and spacious building was for me.
Where my spirit was covered with worldly grime,
Where I learned to envy and squander my time.
But then a few questions came and broke the spell,
A clarion call from a liberty bell!
How was I better for the shows I had seen?
How was the spirit brighter, the mind more keen?
There was no real answer that I could give
To this simple, piercing interrogative.
In an instant I changed, new things came to view,
Living, loving, serving, so much good to do.
Instead of watching I got up and I moved!
The result of this? My performance improved!
Our glorious Savior enabled escape
From the floating realm over hell’s open gape.
Now this great, spacious building, described as “strange,”
For each and every person, its form will change.
What is it for you, what mocking do you hear?
No matter its form, the solutions are clear.
Hold fast to the rod, to mocking give no heed,
God will make you mighty in word and in deed.
Many lives you will bless, fill with charity.
Precious fruit will be yours for eternity.
(Michael G. Clark)
“What are your individually tailored temptations that emanate from this great and spacious building? What is pulling you into or keeping you there? How good is your grip on the iron rod? If you are partaking of the precious fruit how well are you dealing with the fingers of scorn that are pointed in your direction? If .. you find yourself in that great and spacious building to one degree or another, you may want to develop an escape plan. Such an escape plan must be individual; however, I would like to suggest a few common components that might be included in many of our plans. These are Sabbath observance, listening to worthy music, making wise use of technology, and feasting on the word of God.” (Michael G. Clark)