THIS diagram presents the will as a distinct faculty above the understanding, or, in simultaneous order, within the understanding. The will is called the celestial faculty and sometimes the celestial kingdom, and the understanding the spiritual; love is celestial, truth is spiritual. The will in every man and angel answers to the celestial kingdom of heaven, the understanding to the spiritual kingdom. (Consult Diagrams IX, X, XII.)
Considering the will as the highest and inmost degree and the understanding as the middle, the spiritual body D will be the lowest or outmost degree of the spirit. The spiritual body, however, is not another faculty, but merely an ultimate of the will and the understanding, so organized that by it the will and the understanding may enjoy outward sensation and give expression corresponding with affection and thought. In this view the mind constitutes the whole spirit of man, and the spirit is but an internal and an external will and understanding.
And as the material body is merely an intellectual and voluntary organism superadded for lowest and outmost sensation, perception and expression, it must be included when we say that the whole man is but an organic form of will and understanding. (DLW 358 to 432.)
The multitudes of diet books for sale attest to the fact that we humans have developed poor eating habits. Eating involves more than satisfying one’s appetite, it also partakes of judgment. We constantly have to judge between eating what gives us the most pleasure and what food will do us the most good.
But is there a food so healthy for us that eating it will turn us into angels and get us all the way to heaven? The answer is “yes.”
Of course, eating your way to heaven does not mean merely switching your dessert from a seven-layered devil’s food cake to angel cake. Heaven is not a physical world, so it requires a steady diet of special, non-physical foodstuffs.
In my previous post I brought up the idea of a more rarefied aliment that is especially suitable to our species. Humans also have an appetite and a thirst for knowledge. The human brain and mind are actually the digestive system of our spirit. Everything the physical digestive system does with terrestrial food has its analog with what the mind does with information.
For example, we chew and ruminate on ideas. This mental activity lets us find out whether ideas or concepts are savory to our personal tastes and worthy of being “swallowed.” Next, our mind churns and rolls these ideas around so that they can be broken down further into their constituents. The mind then scrutinizes this mental material more deeply. In this way our discernment and judgment act as mental digestive enzymes (the acid test). If these constituents are judged as agreeable, they are finally absorbed and enter into the very fabric of our inner being (otherwise they are jettisoned as “crap”).
Like physical food, there are ideas which can seduce our thinking and bring us lots of pleasure, but are not necessarily going to do us the most good. This is why we need to reflect on all our compulsions. This is also why we need a higher form of nutritional guidance and wisdom to help our judgment.
God’s Holy Word is actually a Divine Diet Book. The whole cosmic drama of Adam and Eve was based solely on what to eat and what not to eat. In the same way that physical food is metabolized and becomes part of our spiritual being, information is metabolized in a way that it can become part of our inner or spiritual being. Therefore, both types of “eating” represent appropriation. We can accept God and religion or reject it.
Now the phrase “you are what you eat” takes on a more critical and eternal meaning. When one sheds his or her physical body after death in this world we are left with our spiritual fabric, which was formed out of the ideas, concepts, and belief systems we developed a strong appetite for. We then gravitate to either a world of compulsions or an unselfish world of wisdom.
It is not hard to imagine that a world where compulsive behavior runs rampant will be populated by individuals who seek to satisfy only themselves. This creates an environment of hatred and sets up a condition whereby there can only be eternal frustration in people’s never-ending hunger to dominate others and have things their own way. This frustration is the eternal “fire” of hell.
On other hand, those in heaven have developed their spiritual bodies to be able to metabolize and act according to God’s love and wisdom. I hope I have made these ideas easier for you to digest.
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Experiencing my centre and spiritual source isn’t something that just happens for me. I find I need to make a conscious effort to search out this higher power and that means turning in the right direction. But you can’t turn round unless you first recognise which way you are currently facing.
Perhaps this is why I couldn’t write this article yesterday. There was ample time available and plenty of peace and quiet around me. But to focus your mind on something as profound as one’s spiritual source you really have to be in the right place within yourself. And I just wasn’t there. Too busy hankering after something that I know deep down isn’t part of the uplifting journey of my life. Too occupied with what I greedily wanted rather than prioritising food for the soul. I had to remind myself that if I really wanted the creative juices to flow, and get some inspiration, then I really must stop indulging in what is harmful to my inner life and instead turn towards something higher and better.
One symbol for what is highest and best that I find helpful is that of the sun. Without its warmth and light no plant would grow or animal survive. Likewise, is there not a fundamental centre to existence that supplies us with loving feeling and enlightened thought? Without a divine source for warmth and light, how can humanity develop and prosper?
The sun appears to us as small, yet it is really enormous. Similarly, although the creative source of all that we know is infinite, doesn’t it seem to us that, when we are wrapped up in our own concerns, the God of religion is small and often goes without notice?
The sun hides away at night and there is darkness but really, it is there all the time: it is just that as the earth spins on its axis, we occasionally turn away and face the opposite direction. Don’t we also have times when we feel perplexed and puzzled trying to see our way through the difficulties of daily living? It seems to us at the time that we are in the dark about what to do for the best. Perhaps we are facing in the wrong direction.
We think the sun’s heat and light is different in summer and winter but actually they never vary. It is only the tilt of the earth in its orbit that causes the seasons. In the same way, don’t we at times turn our backs on loving feelings and the light of true conscience, thus tilting ourselves away from the principles which had guided our life? Love and light were there all the time, just hidden by our worry, fear, and negative mood.
All this highlights for me the need for a conscious turning towards my spiritual source. Without effort to take stock and reflect on my inner state, I am not going to notice my complacency. Only when I remember just how much my life needs to turn round, and how inadequate I am of myself for this task of personal transformation, am I energised to try to seek the spiritual power that can really improve me. Only when I turn towards my spiritual sun can I hope to receive the gift of genuine warm-heartedness and illuminated insight. Only when I throw away the illusion that love and light are hidden will I trust I can find them again.
“In order to find God, and to become changed into the Divine likeness, and to pass from death into life, we have to seek God with great fervour and intensity. We seem to be encased in a hard shell of complacency; or to be suffering from an hypnotic spell, which prevents us from becoming sufficiently awake and alert and in earnest to seek God and Reality in such a way as to bring results.” (Christian mystic, HT Hamblin)
Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems
Nature is a wonderful thing. Individuals and governments are committed to showing more respect for the environment rather than carelessly destroying it. Concern about the sustainability of the planet and its protection is a contemporary attitude that is becoming quite common. I feel it reflects a spiritual sensitivity to the goodness of the unspoilt natural world.
Nature is familiar and easily described, yet somehow it can evoke something less obvious and difficult to express in words; something mysterious and on a different level. Who hasn’t at one time or another not felt inspired by the beauty of a mountain vista, a seascape or a rainbow full of startling colour? Who has not felt at peace contemplating cattle quietly grazing, being cheered by the sound of birdsong heard in the morning, or being enraptured by the scent of the pinewood in summer? Has nature anything more specific to teach you?
“Nature often holds up a mirror so we can see more clearly the ongoing processes of growth, renewal and transformation in ourlives.” (Mary Ann Brussat)
In general animals are well known for the way they protect and nurture their offspring, their practical good sense in the way they adapt to their habitat, and their ability to live in the moment. All spiritual qualities. But can we learn any specific lessons from different species? Has the fox or the snake something particular to teach us? Or is this just being anthropomorphic and attributing to animals human characteristics like in Aesop’s fables?
I would suggest to learn from nature requires an objective attitude of mind — a willingness to look deeply into what is really there as opposed to taking on board the stereotypes learned from childhood.
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” (Albert Einstein)
These birds soar high in the sky on widespread powerful wings and see with sharp sightedness what is far below. I can see a picture of the human mind here. Isn’t an eagle’s perception one of a higher quality than the ordinary way of seeing things? Like uplifted thinking that searches out what is difficult to see when you are immersed in the mundane world of daily concerns. According to this viewpoint your mind is capable of soaring high to see life from a higher perspective.
Here we find gentle playful trusting creatures, who reveal a joy of contentment and peacefulness. Such innocence is unselfconscious and unsullied by any thought of anything harmful or bad. Is this not a picture of the innocence of the Divine source of all that is good deeply present within your soul?
The more you know about animals, the more you also notice their negative sides. Eagles are far seeing so that they can feed — predators which swoop down and carry off lambs. According to one theory this mixture of negative and positive is an additional pointer to the spiritual. It’s author, Emanuel Swedenborg, in his notion of ‘correspondences’, maintains that the natural world is both positive and negative because it is a reflection of human inner character, human beings having both good and bad elements to their conduct. For him, the positive is the higher reality of the divine perspective: on the other hand the negative is the lower perspective of egoism inverting and corrupting what is from the divine. Thus where some animals show a negative characteristic, this also alerts us to the spiritual factor again — but this time in terms of its opposite.
Pigs are highly social animals. Properly kept they are a clean and attractive and can be quite intelligent. A pig will forage all the time, endlessly searching for something more to consume. For me this conjures up a picture of consumerism. People who allow themselves to become fixated on getting more and more things — money, clothes, gizmos, food, the latest fashion accessory etc. Pigs also have a reputation for gluttony and dirtiness. It is these latter qualities which provide the symbol of inner greed – the love of self that takes what it can get for itself searching out everything it can want.
Donkeys have a notorious reputation for stubbornness, but this has been attributed to a much stronger sense of “self preservation” than exhibited by horses. It is considerably more difficult to force or frighten a donkey into doing something it perceives to be dangerous for whatever reason. However, once a person has earned their confidence they can be willing and companionable partners and very dependable in work.
Cannot the donkey be seen as corresponding to a human natural way of thinking which can be argumentative and which would rather trust its own senses? I would suggest the donkey teaches us that such an attitude is capable of becoming trusting and obedient to a higher truth. Such an obedient understanding to deeper principles in people could carry us to a better way of living.
“The more humility we develop, the more signs of the Divine we can see around us and within us and the closer we grow to the deep joy and happiness to be experienced deep within our soul.” (from Soul Symbols by Helen Newton & Becky Jarratt)
Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems