*NOTE* Firstly I should point out that the church has almost no officially stated doctrine on the pre-existence. Let me additionally state that this post, therefore, has a lot of heavy ideas presented in it, particularly as it gets further into the subject. I have cut this down somewhat from what I originally planned on posting, to try and soften it. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the different ideas presented (which you probably will at some point), then stop and come back to it later when you feel you have absorbed what you have read so far. It is better that you treat it as a wild theory that you can consider over time and using the Holy Ghost as guide. Though let me assure you that I know these things are true.
Many have posed the question of what we did from day to day and what were we like in the pre-existence. I have posted on the subject before, mostly from a basic Scriptural position. So if you are interested in the Scriptural backing for some of these ideas I'd suggest a read of that post; which was posted in May 2007. This is an extension of the subject that goes well beyond the original. Happy reading.
For those non-members reading who don't know what the pre-existence is, it is about the time before you came to this earth and were born as a mortal. This time is generally forgotten by you during this earth life.
While we talk of the pre-existence as if it was one event, it actually was made up of two parts. For eternity we have existed as an intelligence only. Then eventually our Heavenly Parents turned up and provided a spirit body to those who were prepared to go along with it. This latter body is made of spirit matter. Spirit matter is more refined and pure and therefore harder for our natural eyes to see it. We are better off to look at it with our spirit eyes. If we get into sufficient of a spiritual state we can do this.
So let's look at the life of your average eternal intelligence. Great multitudes of intelligences existed. Numbers beyond comprehension. Yet all were at varying levels of intelligence. For example Jesus Christ (Jehovah) was the most advanced within the enormous area eventually covered by Heavenly Father in his expansion here. This is why he was the first born spirit of our Heavenly Parents. Next came those other spirits showing the greatest potential. These were termed sons and daughters of the morning because they were born the earliest. Additionally there were those who were born with spirit bodies as a lesser species, such as grass or ants, to their respective Heavenly Parents.
For some reason, unknown to me, there are those intelligences who chose to advance throughout eternity and those who just didn't. And there were varying degrees of such, of course. This fulfils the natural and obvious law of eternity which says that where something can be up, something else can, and will, be down.
An intelligence is as much comprehended as seen, in that it has no discernible external shape. An intelligence isn't made of matter and can't be either made or destroyed (however there is some debate about whether it can be destroyed by its own actions). An intelligence has an enormous size, yet can fit even in a baby. It isn't affected by dimensions in the way physical or spirit matter objects are. It is interesting that a small child walking past is as full an intelligence as the child's mother and father walking with them. Heavenly Father has an intelligence that is far bigger than anybody else. Jesus Christ isn't far behind.
You can discern the fire of truth in a good intelligence. This can actually be seen spiritually. This fire was demonstrated at Pentecost, for example. And in the eyes of the Savior, as seen by several people in Scripture. The righteous are said to dwell in everlasting burnings (Isa 33:14-15). This spiritual fire is demonstrated when we feel the Holy Spirit give us the burning of truth inside our spirit.
An intelligence remembers its existence. It hasn't forgotten anything. But when it was placed in a spirit body after conception by our Heavenly Mother and Father the new spirit body part will eventually forget its intelligence only pre-existence. The demands of having a spirit body, and the new reality of it, makes the intelligence create a new awareness within itself (the intelligence time section isn't heard very well). Then eventually as we have grown and learnt enough as a spirit being, we receive a physical body by the same birth process, through mortal parents. Once again the demands of the more obvious, now physical, takes precedence over the spirit body time and the intelligence only time. Thus we eventually come to forget, in our mortal section, the time as a pre-existent spirit also. It goes from being a reality, as a baby (babies see spirits), to just being a dream and then forgotten in the mortal section. However portions can come back all of a sudden or it can be remembered with sufficient need to remember and you seeking it.
As the new intelligence section, created during our physical body time, has to communicate to the physical body to get it to function, it focuses itself in the head. This way it can create electrical impulses in the brain to get our body to do as it chooses. We don't need to use much of the brain matter to get our bodies to do all necessary functions. It learns this in the time in the womb while growing. As there is more space to fit the spirit body in the central torso area, it resides there; and we talk about heart feelings and burning in our bosom.
The intelligence only portion doesn't actually need a place to reside as such. It is more a case of finding it deep within our being. You need to go down beyond the spirit and find it down there.
An intelligence is capable of thinking at speeds that make our fastest computers look like they are standing still. I believe the possible reasons why we mostly don't think at this speed is either laziness, seeing no point in it or becoming too used to only thinking at somewhere just ahead of the speed our mouth moves at to talk. Of course, it could be a mixture of all three of those.
So what did intelligences do before getting a spirit body? We found suitable companions for our existence style (as we do now). For higher intelligences these included intelligences of both genders, as friends, rather than just those of the same gender. Because the opposite gender sees things differently, hearing their opinions creates a greater balance of ideas. Also a greater balance in emotional feelings. Some sort to be one with each other, by moving together as close as possible to feel and express love. No doubt this was also giving a sense of security of friendships. Males and females have always been different. God chose those with female inclinations to be female and those with male inclinations to be male. Naturally, these inclinations come in varying degrees from person to person. God uses these same genders when we are born in this mortal life. Thus we don't have a woman born in a man's body, as some have been deceived to believe. We are still an intelligence. In fact we are the same basic intelligence, regardless of our experiences. Yet we grow as an individual intelligence through our experiences. We could sense one another's presence by scanning out with our minds. In fact we could find one another by using this process. We used mental communication.
Some have concluded that our intelligence is made of many smaller intelligences collected together. This theory could be brought about by the fact that our spirit body (as also our physical body) is actually made of particles with intelligences in them. Also that our intelligence is capable of scanning out for great distances (as God does) could confuse people into thinking there must be lots of intelligences. However this may just demonstrate that the size an intelligence can expand itself to depends upon how intelligent it is. Because particles have intelligence and we can scan out, those creating could get particles to move: By appealing to those intelligences with love.
Heavenly Father is also an intelligence as we are, yet he has grown in his good attributes and knowledge to become what he is today. He also has a spirit body and physical body that is resurrected. This is his intension for us.
When we look at activities that were available, during the intelligence only time, we have such things as pattern finding. While no eyes were available, by scanning we could detect objects and their size and placement. Then finding patterns within the objects available can be fun. It's a bit like finding patterns on tiles for example. You can find diagonal or parallel lines between tiles of some color or shade etc. Also thought games can be played where clues are given. The list is almost endless with a bit of imagination and eternity to think of them in. Additionally, those thus inclined observed things about eternal laws and existence.
Don't forget; if you feel it is getting too heavy give it a break and think it through until you are ready to come back to it.
Moving on to the spirit body time we went through the time of forgetting. This meant that the intelligence section that we were then working in wasn't communicating with the original section sufficiently to create a being in perfect harmony with the original section. We go through a time in our lives like that after getting our physical bodies. The great majority never find perfect union between listening to both the spirit section's opinion (heart) and our physical section's opinions (mind) equally, let alone our intelligence section's opinions. This should be worked toward.
So getting back to the spirit body time; we begin to grow our spirit body and learn how to use our spirit limbs etc. The spirit body is much easier to manipulate than the physical body. We learnt how to make the particles travel extremely fast. And I mean extremely. Additionally to this, those with sufficient love began to learn how to move physical matter. As the basic particles have intelligences in them we can persuade them to move, through demonstrating love toward them. This was eventually, used by those thus inclined, in the creation process, under the direction of Jesus Christ. Our ability to move small amounts of matter, such as a mountain, were evidenced by Christ in saying that it required almost no faith at all to do such. Additionally, we have all learnt to create electrical pulses in our brains to get our body to move. This is a demonstration of the ability of our intelligence to manipulate matter.
We had things to learn that are unique to our spirit body. We had to learn to do the right things with ourselves. We continued on in friendships previously had (I feel God would see to that - my personal opinion). I also believe this of at least some within this earth life. Yet as we all had freedom of choice there were an enormous amount that eventually refused to come to earth. Some were concerned about the risk factor. This made Lucifer pose an impossible idea that he could make sure that all were saved. As freedom of choice is fundamental to the existence of all intelligences (even an ant) we cannot have a situation where we lose freedom of choice. Yet Lucifer was silly enough to believe this idea, along with so many that refused to come down. When we look at the vast numbers of people that have come down to these inhabited planets that were made around the same time as this one, we should remember that half that number (one third of those present during the spirit body time) followed Lucifer rather than Heavenly Father. That is a huge lot of spirits.
This informs us that being in Heavenly Father's presence doesn't automatically make us want to do what God says. Any more than we do with our earthly parents. (This shows the importance of us learning to see the value in following all the things the Savior taught) And it is obvious that while amongst those there were some that were strongly opposed to Heavenly Father, there would be a large variety of depth of interest. Some of that third are zealots, while others barely could care less: Just the same as those coming here to get a physical body. Jesus Christ was strongly supporting the idea while some of the two-thirds swang backwards and forwards on the idea until eventually going along with it. It took a lot of persuasion by Heavenly Father to get certain spirits to come. For example many required assurances that they wouldn't be placed with fathers such as Elijah or Abraham, whom they regarded as over-enthusiasts. Additionally there were those who realised that they were ridiculously unlikely to end up as a son of perdition if they couldn't be given the priesthood. Heavenly Father did all he could to end up with a good majority prepared to actually move forward rather that stay in their comfort zone.
I hope all have gained something from what I have written. For those who may feel I have said too much, I can assure you that there were many things that I have refrained from saying in those areas I felt could be too heavy. Yet it is a lot of ideas not usually spoken of.
In concluding this post let me restate, for the sake of non-members and new members, that the church has virtually NO declared doctrine on the pre-existence other than a small amount of the many things contained in the Standard Works of the church.