Any spiritual discipline

Any spiritual discipline, in any tradition, invites us to open our hearts and minds. This invitation represents an ongoing exercise; the desire and attempt to open to others in our midst are the essence of the spiritual process.Animals can lead us spiritually in a variety of ways. They can teach us about death, participate in our social and moral development, enhance our physical and psychological well-being, and heighten our capacity to love and to experience joy.

The Infinity and Eternity of God

The Infinity and Eternity of God

The immensity of God has relation to spaces, and His eternity to times. His infinity comprehends both immensity and eternity. But as infinity transcends what is finite, and the knowledge of it, the finite mind, in order to attain some degree of perception of the subject, it must be considered after the following series:-1. God is infinite because He is and exists in Himself, and all things in the universe are and exist from Him. 2. God is infinite because He was before the world, consequently before spaces and times had birth. 3. God, since the world was made, is in space without space, and in time without time. 4. Infinity in relation to spaces is called immensity, and in relation to times eternity; and yet, notwithstanding these relations, there is nothing of space in God’s immensity, and nothing of time in His eternity. 5. From very many objects in the world enlightened reason may discover the infinity of God the Creator. 6. Every created thing is finite; and the infinite is in finite things as in its receptacles, and in man as in its images. (TCR n. 27)

Men cannot but confound the Divine Infinity with infinity of space; and as they cannot conceive of the infinity of space as other than a mere nothing, as it really is, they disbelieve the Divine Infinity. The case is similar in respect to eternity, which men can only conceive of as eternity of time, it being presented to the mind under the idea of time with those who are in time. The true idea of the Divine Infinity is insinuated into the angels by this: that in an instant they are present under the Lord’s view, without any intervention of space or time, even from the farthest extremity of the universe. The true idea of the Divine Eternity is insinuated into them by this: that thousands of years do not appear to them as time, but scarcely otherwise than as if they had only lived a minute. Both ideas are insinuated into them by this: that in. their NOW they have at once things past and future. Hence they have no solicitude about things to come; nor have they ever any idea of death, but only. of life. Thus in all their NOW there is the Eternity and Infinity of the Lord. (AC n. 1382)

God is Love itself and Life Itself

God is Love itself and Life Itself

If one can but think from reason elevated above the sensualities of the body, how plain it is to see that life is not creatable! For what is life but the inmost activity of love and wisdom, which are in God and which are God; which life inlay also be called the very essential living force. (TCR n. 471)

The Nature of the Divine Love

There are two things which constitute the essence of God—love and wisdom. And there are three which constitute the essence of His love—to love others out of Himself; to desire to be one with them; and to make them happy from Himself. The same three constitute the essence of His wisdom; because love and wisdom in God make one, and love wills these things, and wisdom accomplishes them. The first essential—to love others out of Himself—is acknowledged to be in God, from His love towards the whole human race. And on their account God loves all things that He has created, because they are means; for who­ever loves an end loves also the means. All persons and all things in the universe are out of God, because they are finite and God is infinite. The love of God reaches and extends, not only to men and things that are good, but also to men and things that are evil; consequently, not only to men and things in heaven, but to men and things also in hell; thus not to Michael and Gabriel only, but to the Devil and Satan also. For God is everywhere, and from eternity to eternity the same. He Himself also says, that “He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth His rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. v. 45). But the reason why evil men and things are still evil, is in the subjects and objects themselves, in that they do not receive the love of God as it is, and as it is inmostly within them, but according to their own qualities or states, as the thorn and the nettle receive the heat of the sun and the rain of heaven. The second essential—to desire to be one with others—is also acknowledged, from His conjunction with the angelic heaven, with the Church on earth, with every individual therein, and with every good and truth in man and in the Church. Love indeed in itself regarded is nothing else than an endeavour towards conjunction. Therefore, in order that this essential of love might take effect, God created man in His image and like­ness, that thus He might have conjunction with Him. That the Divine love continually intends such conjunction is evident from the Lord’s words, expressing His desire That they may be one, He in, them, and they in Him, and that the love of God may be in them (John xvii. 21-23, 26). The third essential of God’s love—to make others happy from Himself—is acknowledged, from the gift of eternal life, which is blessedness, satisfaction, and happiness, without end. These He gives to those who receive His love in themselves. For God, as He is love itself, is also blessedness itself; and as all love breathes forth delight from itself, so Divine love breathes forth very blessedness, satisfaction, and happiness to all eternity. Thus God makes angels, and also men after death, happy from Himself; which is effected by conjunction with, them.

That such is the nature of the Divine love is apparent from its sphere, which pervades the universe, and affects every one according to his state. This sphere especially affects parents, inspiring them with a tender love for their children, who are out of or without them, and with a desire to be one with them, and to make them happy from themselves. It affects even the evil as well as the good; and not only man, but beasts and birds of every kind. For what is the object of a mother’s thoughts when she brings forth her child, but to unite herself, as it were, with it, and to provide for its good? What is a bird’s concern when she has hatched her young, but to cherish them under her wings, and with every mark of endearment to feed and nourish them? It is a well-known fact that even serpents and vipers love their offspring. This universal sphere of Divine love affects in a particular manner those who receive within themselves the love of God, as they all do who believe in God and love their neighbour; the charity that reigns within them being the image of that love. Even what is called friendship among men of the world puts on the semblance of that love; for every one when he invites a friend to his table gives him the best that his house affords, receives him with kindness, takes him by the hand, and makes him offers of service. This love is also the cause and only origin of all the sympathies and tendencies of congenial and similar minds towards union with each other. Nay, the same Divine sphere operates even upon the inanimate parts of the creation, as trees and plants. But then it acts through the instrumentality of the natural sun, and its heat and light; for the heat entering into them from without conjoins itself with them, and causes them to bud, and blossom, and bear fruit—which operations may be called their state of bliss. And this is effected by the sun’s heat, because it corresponds with spiritual heat, which is love. Representations of the operation of this love are manifested also in various subjects of the mineral king­dom, and their types may be seen in the uses and consequent value to which each is exalted. (TCR n. 43, 44)

The very Divine Essence is Love and Wisdom

The very Divine Essence is Love and Wisdom

No one can deny that in God love, and at the same time wisdom, is in its very essence; for He loves all from love in Himself, and leads all from wisdom in Himself. The created universe too, viewed in relation to its order, is so full of wisdom from love, that it may be said all things in the complex are wisdom itself; for things innumerable are in such order, suc­cessive and simultaneous, that together they constitute one. It is from this, and no otherwise, that they can be held together and perpetually preserved.

It is because the very Divine essence is love and wisdom that man has two faculties of life, from one of which he has his under­standing, and from the other his will. The faculty from which he has his understanding derives all that it has from the influx of wisdom from God; and the faculty from which he has his will derives all that it has from the influx of love from God. That man is not justly wise, and does not exercise his love justly, does not take away the faculties, but inwardly closes them. (DLW n. 29, 30)

The Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom are Substance and Form

The common idea of men, concerning love and wisdom, is that of a something volatile, and floating in subtle air or ether; or of an exhalation from something of the kind; scarcely any one thinks that they are really and actually substance and form. Those who see that they are substance and form, yet perceive love and wisdom out of their subject, as issuing from it; and that which they perceive out of the subject, as issuing from it, though it is perceived as a something volatile and floating, they also call substance and form; not knowing that love and wisdom are the subject itself, and that what is perceived as a something volatile and floating without it is only an appearance of the state of the subject within itself. The reasons why this has not heretofore been seen are several: one is, that appearances are the first things from which the human mind forms its understanding, and that it cannot shake them off but by an investigation of the cause; and if the cause lies very deep, it cannot investigate it without keeping the understanding, for some time, in spiritual light, in which it cannot keep it long, by reason of the natural light which contin­ually draws it down. The truth however is, that love and wisdom are very and actual substance and form, and constitute the subject itself.

But as this is contrary to appearance, it may seem not to merit belief unless it be shown, and it cannot be shown, except by such things as a man can perceive by his bodily senses; wherefore it shall be shown by them. A man has five senses, which are called feeling, taste, smell, hearing, and sight. The subject of feeling is the skin, with which a man is encompassed, the substance and form of the skin causing it to feel what is applied; the sense of feeling is not in the things which are applied, but in the substance and form of the skin, which is the subject; the sense is only an affection thereof, from the things applied. It is the same with the taste; this sense is only an affection of the substance and form of the tongue; the tongue is the subject. So with the smell; it is well known that odours affect the nose, and are in the nose, and that there is an affection thereof from odoriferous substances touching it. So with the hearing; it appears as if the hearing were in the place where the sound begins; but the hearing is in the ear, and is an affec­tion of its substance and form; that the hearing is at a distance from the ear is an appearance. So also with the sight; it appears, when a man sees objects at a distance, as if the sight were there, but yet it is in the eye, which is the subject, and is, in like manner, an affection thereof; the distance is only from the judgment forming its conclusions of space from intermediate objects, or from the diminution and consequent obscuration of the object, the a image of which is produced within the eye according to the angle of incidence. It hence appears that the sight does not go from the eye to the object, but that the image of the object enters the eye, and affects its substance and form. For it is the same with the sight, as with the hearing; the hear­ing does not go out of the ear to catch the sound, but the sound enters the ear and affects it. It thus appears that the affection of a substance and form, which constitutes sense, is not a thing separate from the subject, but only causes a change in it, the subject remaining the subject then, as before, and after. Hence it follows that sight, hearing, smell, taste, and feeling, are not a something volatile flawing from those organs, but that they are the organs themselves, considered in their substance and form, and that whilst they are affected the sense is produced.

It is the same with love and wisdom, with this only difference, that the substances and forms which are love and wisdom are not extant before the eyes, like the organs of the external senses. But still no one can deny that those things of wisdom and love which are called thoughts, perceptions, and affections, are sub­stances and forms, and that they are not volatile entities flowing from nothing, or abstract from that real and actual substance and form which is the subject. For in the brain there are innumerable substances and forms, in which every interior sense that has relation to the understanding and the will, resides. The affections, perceptions, and thoughts there are not all exhalations from the substances, but are actually and really the subjects, which do not emit anything from themselves, but only undergo changes, according to the influences which affect them, as may evi­dently appear from what has been said above concerning the senses.

Hence it may first be seen that the Divine love and the Divine wisdom in themselves are substance and form, for they are very Being and Existing; and if they were not such a Being and Existing as that they are substance and form, they would be a mere creature of reason which in itself is not anything. (DLW n. 40-43)

God is very Man

God is very Man

In all the heavens there is no other idea of God than of a Man. The reason is, that heaven is a Man in form, in whole and in part, and the Divine which is with the angels constitutes heaven, and thought proceeds according to the form of heaven. It is therefore impossible for the angels to think otherwise of God. Hence it is that all those in the world who are in conjunction with heaven think of God in like manner, when they think interiorly within themselves, or in their spirit. It is from the fact that God is Man that all angels and all spirits are men in perfect form. The form of heaven effects this, which in its greatest and in its least parts is like itself. It is known from Gen. i. 26, 27, that men were created after the image and likeness of God; and also that God was seen as a Man by Abraham and others. (DLW n. 11)

If any one thinks of the very Divine without the idea of a Divine Man, he thinks indeterminately,—and an indeterminate idea is no idea,— or he forms a conception of the Divine from the visible universe without end, or with an end in darkness, which conception conjoins itself with that of the worshippers of nature,— even falls into nature, and so becomes no conception. [of God]. It is evident that thence there would be no conjunction with the Divine, by faith nor by love. All conjunction requires an object; and the conjunction is according to the character of the object. Hence it is that the Lord as to the Divine Human is called the Mediator, and the Intercessor; but He mediates and intercedes with Himself. It is evident from the Lord’s words in John that the very Divine cannot by any conception be apprehended:—”No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath manifested Him” (i. 18); and again, “Ye have neither heard the Father’s voice al any time, nor seen His shape” (v. 37). Yet, which is remarkable, all who think of God from themselves, or from the flesh, think of Him indeterminately, that is, without any definite idea; but those who think of God not from them­selves, nor from the flesh, but from the spirit, think of Him determinately; that is, they present to themselves a conception of the Divine under the human form. The angels in heaven thus think of the Divine; and thus the wise Ancients thought, to whom when the very Divine appeared He appeared as a Divine Man. (AC n. 8705)