Stress – How to find lasting relief?

stressDo you hear yourself saying I don’t have the time – to do all my job requires, spend quality time with the children, to relax with my partner, fix the car, weed the flower bed and mow the lawn, etc.

Feeling under pressure most of the time is not good for your health. If you are feeling hassled by life, with people, who you would normally expect to cope with, getting on your nerves, the strains on you will be beginning to show; nervous tension, sleeping poorly, or getting more than an ordinary amount of headache, upset stomach, back pain, and short illnesses.

As everyone knows reducing stress in your life can make you a happier and healthier person. But what to do about it to get lasting relief?

There are plenty of remedies for stress around.

The trouble is many of the usual ways of coping with stress are just illusory solutions, such as being distracted by an exotic holiday location, or relying on alcohol or medication to calm you down: these can only provide temporary relief.

Some remedies like regular physical exercise and healthy eating are more helpful in the longer run: also taking regular rest breaks, reducing the number of activities in an over-busy schedule and learning better how to relax.

However, there is likely to be resistance to these things built into your way of thinking. You resort to comfort eating, feel too weary to go for that brisk walk, feel you can’t spare time from work. Perhaps you just feel too tense to attempt to relax properly.

Work-related stress

One way continuing stress shows up is depressed mood. A study published by the American Medical Association, estimated that ‘depression’ costs American employers $44 billion in lost productivity every year.

A survey reported by CFO magazine for corporate financial executives summarised the reasons why high achieving employees quit their jobs. Out of the five potential causes cited by HR professionals that top-performing employees would leave, not one of the reasons included stress. However, when asked privately the employees reported work-related stress as the number one factor for leaving a company. What makes this misunderstanding even more startling is that those same HR professionals acknowledged that workers have been working longer hours than normal for the past three years – and will most likely continue the overworked pace for the next three years. We might speculate that this is due to the recession although these days long hours seem to be built into the industrial climate in America and some other capitalist countries. We might ask about the emotional state of those employees still in their jobs working in such a culture? Such a pace of work doesn’t seem sustainable. Why don’t they leave too for less demanding work? Why can’t some people just say ‘no’ to unreasonable demands made on them?

The cause of stress is partly within ourselves

People seem to vary as to how much stress they can deal with before reaching their own breaking point. The cause of stress is something outside of oneself but don’t some of us also add to the load that life weighs down on us by having unrealistic hopes and fears? Excessive demands are a bad thing, but often they come from yourself. Being on the go all the time and you may become exhausted. Expect to get promoted and you may feel more held back and agitated if you are not. Look forward with certainty to having a child and you may feel more disappointment if you do not get pregnant.

I would suggest what is required is an expansion of our focus to include not only the problem but also what is most meaningful and valuable in our lives. And I believe this is how spiritual teachings can help: they oblige us to reflect on how our feelings are affected by our beliefs about how things should be.

The stress of being alone

In his book Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea, Steven Callahan describes how when he was sailing across the Atlantic alone, his boat struck something and sank. He was set adrift on a rubber life raft struggling to survive.

“Deprivation seems a strange sort of gift. I find food in a couple hours of fishing each day, and I seek shelter in a rubber tent. How unnecessarily complicated my past life seems. For the first time, I clearly see a vast difference between human needs and human wants. Before this voyage, I always had what I needed — food, shelter, clothing, and companionship — yet I was often dissatisfied when I didn’t get everything I wanted, when people didn’t meet my expectations, when a goal was thwarted, or when I couldn’t acquire some material goody. My plight has given me a strange kind of wealth, the most important kind. I value each moment that is not spent in pain, desperation, hunger, thirst, or loneliness.”

A Buddhist perspective on stress

From a Buddhist perspective the problem of stress is to do with an attachment to something. If you are feeling impatient and frustrated and want something in a hurry, what idea are you clinging on to? It is likely to include the word ‘must’. “I must have more money”, or “more success”, or “immediate gratification”, or “more appreciation”. “I must be right.” “Must get my own way.”

Confusing what one must have with what one needs.

A Swedenborgian perspective on stress

According to spiritual philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg, peace and contentment (the opposites of stress and tension) are spiritual qualities: and you will be disappointed in so far as you prioritise the things of the world rather than the things of the spirit. In other words, if you have a mainly self-centred way of looking at things and place materialistic goals at the centre of your life – looking first towards excessive consumption, social status and bodily pleasure – then anxiety is inevitable.

Copyright 2014 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Praying – Can it reduce anxiety?

Constant worry and anxiety, which occurs for no apparent reason, interferes with day-to-day life. Sufferers are desperate to experience peace of mind and free themselves from the power of their condition.

Meditation can greatly help. By concentrating on one thing and neglecting all the unruly thoughts that come into the mind, many have found that meditating gradually enables them to find freedom from the hold of negative feelings.

The trouble is that those with a high degree of anxiety are the ones who find the discipline of meditation the most difficult to master. The intrusive worries feel too strong to ignore.

“In meditation, the source of strength is one’s self. When one prays, he goes to a source of strength greater than his own.” (Chinese leader, Chiang Kai-shek)


Perhaps praying is a less difficult option than meditation even if you have no clear religious belief.  The spiritually orientated could focus the mind on a higher power beyond themselves which might be hoped to actually do something to make things better; such as the idea of Mother Nature, the prayingCreative Life Force, or the Universal Mind. Religious believers focus their thoughts on their image of God, which for many Christians is the human form of Christ.

“The sovereign cure for worry is prayer.” (psychologist, William James)

So what does praying involve? Isn’t it just another form of self-reflection, or meditation?


Yes, in so far as praying in private includes sharing one’s concerns then it does involve an element of self-reflection. Some people allocate some spare time in the evening to write a private journal describing the difficulties and delights of their day. Others have the habit of going on an evening stroll mulling over events in a leisurely manner. Usually there is an inner concern, a question, or a problem one is pondering.

It is easier to reflect on what threatened your well-being when you are no longer face to face with the people and events which triggered your anxiety. In a reflective state of mind you can start to put into words what you are assuming rather than being carried around by one stray image or feeling after the other. In this way you gain some understanding. This is also part of talking therapy. The counsellor helps anxious people enter into a self-reflective state of mind so they can talk about their feelings and experiences and hear themselves talking about them thus starting to gain self-insight.

Praying to a Divine Counsellor

Praying can be thought of as connecting with and listening to a Divine Counsellor whilst sharing one’s personal concerns.

“Prayer is simply talking to God like a friend and should be the easiest thing we do each day.” (author & speaker, Joyce Meyer)

Praying can lead Christian believers to think about their lives in a different way by ‘putting on the mind of Christ’. In other words they feel that seeing their own fears and worries in the light of their image of what is truly wise and compassionate takes them out of themselves and raises their spirit to a higher level.

The way people in distress see their relationships with the human face of God can be a great source of comfort and strength to them. In their darkest hours many of them are sustained by their belief that they are loved by the source of all that is good and all will be well.

Isn’t praying simply a self-serving superstition?

“No god ever gave any man anything, nor ever answered any prayer at any time – nor ever will.” (atheist activist, Madalyn Murray O’Hair)

Yes, I believe praying can be self-serving in which case I do not think it is likely to be helpful. To give God a list of one’s requests sounds a bit like children making out a Christmas gift list for Father Christmas to bring down the chimney.

Roman prayers and sacrifices were often envisioned as legal bargains between deity and worshipper. A modern equivalent of this might be promising to donate money to charity only if God takes away one’s problems.

“The man who prays is the one who thinks that god has arranged matters all wrong, but who also thinks that he can instruct god how to put them right.” (journalist, Christopher Hitchens)

It is tempting to use prayer as a complaints desk – to pray expressing dissatisfaction, finding fault with others or accusing God of ignoring one’s predicament.

Who hasn’t at one time or other not tried to use prayer as a way of justifying one’s actions or claims?

Can praying for release from anxiety actually work?

My first response to this question is to say that if you don’t ask then you don’t get: why wouldn’t you chance your arm for something you are desperate to attain. Yet, in the Lord’s Prayer we are asking to let God’s will be done. Praying for what I want can be seen as an exercise in the exploration of my desire in the presence of God.

Perhaps there is something more important in ourselves that needs to change before we can be allowed to find peace and calm.

“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” (philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard)

Praying provides us with an opportunity to explore our desires and to probe beneath the surface. Underneath most desire is the ‘little me’ wanting what I want – attention, security, appreciation, getting my own way, social status, money, and so on. Maybe anxiety is associated with a threat to these cravings. In other words the thought pops into my head as I’m praying that there might be some meaning to my suffering. It is not being permitted without good reason.

Consequently, I believe it is a mistake to see prayer as a quick fix for personal problems that avoids the slow, hard work involved in personal healing and growth.

Much better to be praying for guidance. You might find that if an answer comes, the time and place it comes is unexpected.

Copyright 2014 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

“The 4th Day”

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto – February 23, 2014

AC (Elliott) n. 30 Verses 14-17 And God said, Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens, to make a distinction between the day and the night; and they will be for signs, and for set times, and for days and years. And they will be for lights in the expanse of the heavens, to give light upon the earth; and it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to have dominion over the day, and the lesser light to have dominion over the night; and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.

  1. As has been pointed out before in this series, the story of Creation as told in the book of Genesis is not intended to be a scientific explanation of how the universe came into existence.

    1. That’s something that the Lord left to us to discover for ourselves.

    2. The Word, while based in stories about people and events in the world, is really about our spiritual lives. The 7 days are 7 states of creation of the human mind – or they could also be seen as 7 states of the recreation or regeneration of the human mind.

    3. Actually, this should be pretty obvious, even to the casual reader of Scripture, with or without the Writings to help.

      1. For example, there’s not one story of creation, but two. The 7 days that we’re studying now, and the story of the garden of Eden that follows immediately after it. So if there are two completely different versions of creation, one following the other, they are probably not meant to be taken literally.

      2. Then there’s the problem presented by the events of the 4th day. If you’ll recall, light was created on the first day, but the sun moon and stars are not created until the 4th day.

    4. So then, what do the sun, moon, and stars mean in the context of our spiritual life and our preparation for the life of heaven?

  2. Arcana Coelestia 30 says, “No one can have an adequate understanding of what ‘the great lights’ are unless he knows what the underlying essence of faith is and how it develops in people who are being created anew. The very essence and life of faith is the Lord alone. In fact it is impossible for anyone who does not believe in the Lord to have life, as He Himself has said in John, He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not believe in the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God will rest upon him. John 3:36.”

    1. We can’t understand the meaning of the “great lights” unless we first understand the underlying essence of faith and how it develops in people who are being regenerated, or being created anew.

    2. So, what we’re really talking about here is our own mental and spiritual states as they develop and change during the course of our lives in the world.

    3. And it’s important that we see and understand the fundamental truth that faith is not something that arises within us, that has its origin with us. Faith is a gift from the Lord, and we need to recognize that in order to have true faith there first needs to be a recognition that there is a power outside of us that gives us life, and that creative power is the Lord.

      1. We can’t have a true, living faith in ourselves, so it has to be in someone or something outside of ourselves, and that someone is the Lord. As we read in AC 30, “The very essence and life of faith is the Lord alone.”

    4. AC (Elliott) n. 31 That ‘the great lights’ mean love and faith, and are also mentioned as the sun, the moon, and the stars, is clear….

    5. An interesting thing about the New Church is that although we have a huge amount of doctrine to draw on, sometimes so much that people think that’s all we have, most of that doctrine actually talks about the love that underlies it all.

    6. The 4th day is a case in point.

      1. It’s all about the creation of objects that are related to light – which is most cases in the Word corresponds to some form of truth.

      2. However, in this case, we find that the “great light”, or the sun, actually corresponds to love because of its warmth and inherent life-giving characteristics.

      3. It’s also interesting to think about from the point of view of natural science. The sun, representing love, is a source of both heat and light. The moon, representing faith, does not produce any light of it’s own. When the moon is full, we are seeing the light of the sun reflected from it’s surface. When the moon is new and we can see it’s shape only faintly, what we are seeing is light from the sun reflecting off the earth, hitting the moon, and reflecting back to us.

      4. The sun is the active, living force, while the moon is only passive, reflecting back what comes from another.

    7. So we see that although the two great lights are so closely related that they are given a singular noun in scripture to show that they are as one, still they are distinctly different.

      1. So with love and faith. Love is living and warm. Our faith is then a reflection of our love.

      2. However, this is not something that happens right away, it comes on the 4th day, that is, the 4 step of our progress through the states of regeneration.

    8. As we read in the lessons in AC 6 – 10

      1. The first state is called a void or emptiness because it represents that time in our lives from infancy until such time as we begin making rational choices and taking control of our spiritual lives.

      2. The second state is when, for the first time, a person begins to run into issues, temptations, sorrows, and misfortunes.

        1. This is the time of life that we sometimes call the “Ishmael rational.” There’s a lot of truth, but not much wisdom, so there are conflicts with other people, poor decisions and their consequences, and a great deal of important lessons being learned.

        2. At this point, since there is not yet any real wisdom to draw on, the Lord provides “remnants” or affections based on happy experiences in childhood to provide guidance and support.

      3. In the third state, the turmoil and conflict of the second state comes to an end when the person begins to acquire internal truths and to live from their internal man. Because the person begin to think and act from wisdom, and seeks to do things that are genuinely useful, the deeds are called in the Word the tender plant, the seed bearing plant, and finally a fruit tree.

        1. But even though these deeds are genuinely good deeds, the person in the third state hasn’t yet come to see that the Lord is the source of all love and faith, and while the person thinks that these good deeds originate in themselves, that they are the cause of them, they remain “inanimate” rather than truly living. But the person is heading in the right direction.

      4. There’s been light since the first day. Every person, from childhood through early adulthood, is gifted with the knowledge of the difference between right and wrong, and with feelings of contentment and happiness when they do the right thing. They come without effort, and are part of the package, so to speak. But as we navigate the shoals of adult life we are faced with temptations and challenges. If, during the course of these, we turn to the Lord through prayer and study of the Word, all the while trying to do the right thing, the fourth state will come. The light will dawn. We’ll have that “aha” moment when it starts to come together for us. We’ll feel that love from the Lord in ourselves, and we’ll see situations anew, from the light in our internal mind that comes from heaven.

        1. It doesn’t come without work, but it is the goal that the Lord has been leading us to all along.

        2. And with it comes the promise of even greater enlightenment and even greater usefulness in the states to follow. Amen.

First Lesson: Matthew 17:1-13

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.”
Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.

Second Lesson: AC 6 – 10

AC (Elliott) n. 6 CONTENTS

The six days or periods of time, which are so many consecutive states in man’s regeneration, are in general as follows:

AC (Elliott) n. 7 The first state is the state which precedes, both the state existing from earliest childhood onwards and that existing immediately before regeneration; and it is called a void, emptiness, and thick darkness. And the first movement, which is the Lord’s mercy, is ‘the Spirit of God hovering over the face* of the waters’.

* lit. The faces

AC (Elliott) n. 8 The second state is when a distinction is made between the things that are the Lord’s and those that are man’s own. Those which are the Lord’s are called in the Word ‘remnants’, and here they are chiefly the cognitions of faith which a person has learned since he was a small child. These are stored away and do not come out into the open until he reaches this state. Nowadays this state rarely occurs without temptation, misfortune, and sorrow, which lead to the inactivity and so to speak the death of bodily and worldly concerns – the things which are man’s own. In this way what belongs to the external man is segregated from what belongs to the internal. Within the internal are the remnants, stored away by the Lord until this time and for this purpose.

AC (Elliott) n. 9 The third state is one of repentance, a state in which he speaks piously and devoutly from the internal man and brings forth goods, like charitable acts which are nevertheless inanimate since he imagines that they originate in himself. They are called a tender plant, then a seed-bearing plant, and finally a fruit tree.

AC (Elliott) n. 10 The fourth state is when he is moved by love and enlightened by faith. Previous to this he did indeed utter pious words and bring forth good deeds, but he did so from a state of temptation and anguish, and not from faith and charity. Therefore the latter are now kindled in his internal man, and are called the two great lights.

The Parable of the Sower


A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto – January 5, 2014

Behold! A Sower went forth to sow. (MAT 13:1)

  1. The Word is like a man clothed
    1. Prophets, Old Testament are like heavy clothing
    2. New Testament parables are like the face and hands
    3. Rules developed from the Science of Correspondences are the same, but interpretation varies.
      1. From minister to minister
      2. From time to time – as you progress through life you have different questions, you view the world through a different set of lenses, you have acquired wisdom and experience.
      3. Your understanding will be influenced by the affections which are with you at the time, or the circumstances that inspired you to ask the question and look to a particular text.
      4. In Genesis, it tells how the Lord put an angel to guard the entrance to the Garden of Eden. He was armed with a two-edged sword.
        1. The two-edged sword stands for the freedom to interpret according to spiritual laws.
        2. Provided that the approach is from the affirmative principle. That is, the student humbly approaches the Word to discover what it has to say, willing to be lead by the Lord’s truth.
        3. The internal sense is not served by those who seek to confirm what they already believe by seeking out passages that can be constructed into an argument.
  2. The parable of the sower is very well known. Partly because it is simple and clear, and partly because the Lord Himself interprets it for the disciples – so we really know what He meant by the parable, and that helps us to confidently seek meaning from the other parables.
    1. Behold, a sower went out to sow.
      1. The Sower = the Lord
      2. The Seed = the Word
        1. seed = Word of the Lord, thus truth. (AC 3310)
        2. The Word = the Lord’s Doctrine. (AC 1288)
        3. the Word = truth Divine (evident without explanation) (AC 9987)
        4. Field into which the seed was to be cast = The life of an individual.
        5. Field = Good of life in which faith is implanted, that is, spiritual truths which are of the church. (AC 3310)
    2. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.
      1. The “wayside” refers to the path beside the ploughed and prepared field. It would be earth, packed hard from the passage of many feet, so the seeds would like exposed and be eaten by birds and other animals.
      2. Hard way = falsity (AC 3310)
      3. Hard way = those who have confirmed falsities in themselves. (AC 5096)
      4. seed in the way = with those who do not care for truth. (Life 90)
      5. Devoured by the fowls of the air
        1. fowls = falsities; fantasies and false persuasions (AC 778).
      6. By the way side is represented those that hear the Word, but succumb to the devil (or Satan), and turn away.
      7. Why ‘devil’ is used in Luke, ‘Satan’ in Mark: because seed that fell upon the way = truth from the Word that is received in the memory only and not in the life, and as this is taken away by both evil and falsity, therefore both ‘devil’ and ‘Satan’ are mentioned. (AE 740)
    3. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.
      1. These are they who receive the Word with joy, but fall away in time of temptation because they have no root.
      2. Hard rock = persuasion, when a person is persuaded to do something because through a presentation of facts that may leave some important fact out, or exaggerate certain aspects. It makes it hard to get to the truth of the matter and do the right thing. (AC 5096)
      3. Stony place = truth that has no root in good. (AC 3310), or those who care for truth, but not interiorly. (Life 90)
      4. To have no root in themselves = to have no charity, for charity is faith rooted, and they who have not the support of this root will yield in temptation. (AC 1846)
    4. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.
      1. These are they who hear the Word, but are choked by the cares and riches of the world, which turn them aside, and they bring no fruit to perfection.
        1. Cares – people who are so worried and anxious about the things going on in their life that they believe they don’t have time for one more thing, for worship, for prayer, for reading the Word. It’s an aspect of the love of self.
        2. It also shows up in our concern for the riches of the world, for acquiring and playing with our various things. Again, when we regard our own things – be they cares or possessions – as more important than spiritual things, it’s the love of self. And that blocks out the Lord and the Word, chokes them to death.
      2. Thorns = evils. (AC 3310)
        1. falsities which confirm the things of the world and pleasures (AC 9144)
    5. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty
      1. These are they who hear the Word, and having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
      2. Good ground = those who love truths that are in the Word from the Lord, and do them from Him…. in these the “seed” takes root in the spiritual mind. (Life 90)
      3. Good ground = men conjoined to the Lord by receiving truths that make him spiritual. (AE 239)
      4. Springs up, Bears fruit 100, 60, 30 fold
        1. 30 = full of remains, somewhat of combat.
        2. 30 = 5 X 6; five = somewhat, six = combat
        3. 30 = 3 X 10; three = full, ten = remains
        4. 6 = 2 X 3; therefore what is full and all, because 2 = marriage of good and truth, and 3 = what is full and all. (AR 610)
        5. 60 = full of remains, because a multiple of 10.
        6. Hundred fold = what is full. (AC 2636)
        7. 100 = full of remains, because a multiple of 10. (AC 5335)
        8. fruits = goods done out of charity (AC 934)
        9. In summary: to bring forth fruit in patience = to do truths and goods even when living amidst falsities and evils, that is, among those who are in falsities and evils. (AE 813)
  3. The whole parable is used as an example of the doctrine of genuine truth from the Lord in the Word that truth must be lived. (AE 250; 785)
    1. Faith is formed by man’s living according to truths. (TCR 347)
    2. Charity is merely a fleeting mental abstraction unless, whenever possible, it is expressed in works. (TCR 375, 376, 483)
    3. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

First Lesson: MAT 13:10-23

And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘ Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

Second Lesson: AC 6053

From all this it is evident that nothing is known about the soul, and this is the reason why all that has been asserted on the subject is conjectural. And as in this way men could have no idea about the soul, very many have not been able to avoid the belief that the soul is a mere vital thing that is dissipated when the body dies. And this is the reason why the learned have less belief in the life after death than the simple; and because they do not believe in it, neither can they believe in the things which belong to that life, which are the heavenly and spiritual things of faith and love. This also appears from the Lord’s words in Matthew:

Thou hast hid these things from the wise and intelligent, and hast revealed them unto babes (Matt 11:25).

And again:

Seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand (Matt. 13:13).

For the simple have no such thoughts about the soul; but believe that they will have after death; in which simple faith, unknown to them, there is hidden the belief that they will live there as men, will see angels, will speak with them, and will enjoy happiness.

Third Lesson: Life 90

It is truth that is meant by the seed in the field … The sower here is the Lord, and the seed is His Word, thus truth; the seed by the wayside is with those who do [not] care about truth; and the seed upon stony places is with those who care for truth, but not for its own sake, and thus not interiorly. The seed among thorns is with those who are in the lusts of evil; but the seed in the good ground is with those who from the Lord love the truths which are in the Word, and who from Him practices them, and thus bring forth fruit. That this is the meaning of these things is evident from the Lord’s explanation of them, Matthew xiii 19-23; Mark iv 14-20; and Luke viii 11-15.

From these considerations it is clear that the truth of the Word cannot take root with those who do not care about truth; nor with those who love truth outwardly but not inwardly; nor with those who are in the lusts of evil; but with those in whom the lusts of evil have been dispersed by the Lord. With these the seed, that is, truth, becomes rooted in their spiritual mind….