Jesus promised his disciples and those who followed Him that He would come again. This is known as the Second Coming. There are several “mainstream” interpretations of the Second Coming which has formed some false expectations in the minds of many. With these false expectations, many will not see the reality of the true Second Coming. False expectations can blind people to the truth – for example, the Jews expected a literal Messianic King, who would lead them to conquer the world. This false expectation is diametrically opposed to the spiritual truth of the Word, and because of it, the Jews completely missed recognizing the identity of Jesus Christ.
As it was then, so it is now. There are several false expectations that have been formed regarding the Second Coming. To be specific:
So lets examine expectations surrounding each of these subjects, and look at what the New Testament actually has to say on this.
Behold, he comes with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. (Rev. 1:7)
There is a similar passage in Matt. 24:30. This at first seems that He will make a visible appearance, and that every eye shall see Him. But Jesus counters this argument in what at first seems to be a conflicting statement:
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20-21).
This is important, the word “observation” means “visible evidence” or “outward show” – something that can be seen with one’s literal eyes. This means there will not be outward visible evidence of the Second Coming. So what does it mean that “every eye shall see him”? What it means is that those who have spiritual sight, that is spiritual understanding, will be able to see the truth of the Second Coming. That this is the spiritual meaning of “eye” can be seen from the following passage:
And if your right eye offend you, pluck it out, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell. (Matt. 5:29)
This Jesus commands after stating one should not look upon a woman lustfully, for even the thought of it is considered adultery (Matt. 5:28). It’s one’s internal thought or intent that counts. Thus he is of course not literally stating that we should pluck our eye out, but rather, that one should correct how one sees things. These false thoughts should be searched out and removed. Thus “eyes” in the spiritual sense signify one’s spiritual understanding in a good sense, or a false understanding in the bad sense. Correcting how one sees things falsely is again portrayed as removing a “beam” out of one’s “eye” before removing a speck of dust out of another person’s “eye” (Matt. 7:3-5).
So let’s pick out another passage, which causes problems to many:
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Truly I say unto you, There be some standing here, who shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. (Matt. 16:27-28)
Some early Christians had interpreted this that the Second Coming should have taken place in the lifetime of the disciples. That the early Christians had this expectation, can be seen from the following passage, where Jesus singles out the disciple John after Peter asks what would become of him:
When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” (John 21:21-23)
And, in the literal sense, it was John who literally saw the Second Coming take place, in a spiritual vision as recorded in the book of Revelation. That Jesus is talking about one’s spiritual vision is easily proven in the book of Revelation. Before John’s grand vision, John states this:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day (Rev. 1:10)
Which means he was in a spiritual visionary state. That “in the spirit” means one was in a spiritual visionary state can be seen from Ezekiel:
The hand of Jehovah was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of Jehovah (Eze. 37:1)
After which Ezekiel sees a vision of a valley of bones coming to life. John would later mention he was caught up into heaven “in the Spirit” (Rev. 4:1), that he was carried away to a wilderness “in the Spirit” (Rev. 17:3), and he was taken to see the New Jerusalem “in the Spirit” (Rev. 21:10).
Combining Jesus’ statement of His Second Coming, with the fulfillment of it by John seeing it in a spiritual vision, we can infer that John is a type of the future, where the Second Coming will be seen in spiritual vision.
There are a couple of passages that are used as proof that Jesus will return in physical form upon the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem. One is the scene of the ascension of Jesus at the Mount of Olives. After Jesus commands his disciples to return to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit, He then ascends into heaven. There is unfortunately a mistranslation here in most English translations, I will select the NASB:
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)
This is stating that Jesus will return “in just the same way” or as other translations have it, “in like manner” (KJV). The problem here is this phrase is added by the translators, the Greek simply has “as.” So the last sentence should read as follows:
This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)
It simply says He will come again from heaven. It does not say “in just the same way” or “in like manner.” This phrase was added by translators. I double checked this with an online Greek interlinear tool, you can see the entire chapter here: Greek Interlinear of Acts 1. The same Greek word (Strongs #5158) is simply translated as “as” in Acts 7:28, 15:11, 27:25.
Another point, when Jesus appeared to others after the resurrection, in many cases He manifests Himself by opening up their spiritual vision:
And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. (Luke 24:30-31)
With the corrected translation of Acts 1:11, it is saying Jesus will come “as you have watched” or “as you have seen.” If they were seeing Him with their spiritual vision opened, then this means He will return in a manner that is seen in spiritual vision.
Now, there is the case of a prophecy of Zechariah which speaks of the Lord standing on the Mount of Olives:
Jehovah shall go forth, and fight against the nations. . . . His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before the face of Jerusalem . . . and the mount of Olives shall cleave asunder, that a part thereof shall remove toward the east, and [a part] toward the sea, with a great valley; and a part of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and a part of it toward the south (xiv. 3, 4).
This many have taken to be a prophecy of the Second Coming. But that is not the case, it is a prophecy of the First Coming, foretelling how a new church would be established that would withdraw from the Jews and go out towards the Gentiles. The spiritual sense of this prophecy is explained by Swedenborg in Heavenly Arcana:
“Here the Lord and His coming are the subject; by the mount of Olives is signified the good of love and of charity and thus the church, for these goods make the church. That the church would remove from the Jewish nation, and would be established among the Gentiles, is signified by the mountain being cleft asunder toward the east, toward the sea [the west], and toward the north, and the south; in like manner as by the words of the Lord in Luke: Ye shall be cast forth without. And they shall come from the east, and the west, and from the north, and the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God (xiii. 28, 29). In a universal sense by Jehovah going forth and fighting against the nations, and by His feet standing upon the mount of Olives which is before the face of Jerusalem, is meant that the Lord from the Divine love would fight against the hells; for the nations are the evils which are from the hells (n. 1868, 6306), and the mount of Olives, on which were His feet, is the Divine love.” (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9780.13)
The massive work Heavenly Arcana goes through several passages that prove that in the spiritual sense, mountains signify love (or in the opposite sense selfish pride), and nations in a bad sense signify the evils of hell. It is also known to some that Jesus made a descent into hell between his death and resurrection and effected a last judgment. In these spiritual judgments, this is portrayed in the spiritual world as the upheaval and upturning of mountains (see Rev. 6:14-16). The upturning of mountains in the spiritual world is further described in Swedenborg’s vision in the work The Final Judgment. That “mountain” has a spiritual meaning can simply be seen from the gospels:
For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20)
Jesus is obviously not literally speaking of a literal mountain. Following the description of the splitting of the Mount of Olives, Zechariah then describes a river that proceeds out of Jerusalem toward the west, and toward the east through the split Mount of Olives, which again has a spiritual meaning:
“In that day living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; part of them to the eastern sea, and part of them to the hinder sea (xiv. 8).
“Living waters from Jerusalem” signify truths from a spiritual origin in the church, which are the truths that are received by man when he is illustrated by the Lord while he is reading the Word. “Jerusalem” is the church in respect to doctrine, the “sea” signifies the natural man, into which those things that are in the spiritual man descend; the “eastern sea” signifies the natural man in respect to good; and the “hinder sea” the natural man in respect to truth; and as the natural man is in the generals of truth, “sea” also signifies the general of truth.” (Apocalypse Explained, n. 275.20)
This river is again described in the vision of a new temple in Jerusalem in Ezekiel, which literalists interpret as a future third temple. However it is symbolic, and it spiritually signifies the Christian Church that would be established. This is shown in detail in the blog post The Spiritual Symbolism of Ezekiel’s Vision of the Third Temple. There are several items in Ezekiel’s vision which show that it cannot be taken literally, but should be interpreted in a spiritual manner.
Next, associated with many Christians’ expectation of a physical Second Coming of Jesus is the idea of a rapture, where they will suddenly be caught up in heaven to be with the Lord. This mainly comes from the letters of Paul:
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thes. 4:7)
The original prophecy of this was probably taken from the gospel of Matthew:
And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matt. 24:30-31)
The original does not even mention the word “rapture” but instead “gather together.” Nevertheless, from the letter of Paul he mentions that those who are alive and remain will be “caught up” and from this Greek word we have the word “rapture.” There are two interpretations of this. It can indeed mean a sudden physical transportation, as in the case of Philip:
And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea. (Acts 8:39-40)
The word “caught away” is the same as “caught up” in 1 Thes. 4:7 where we get the term rapture. So from this, many assume there will be an actual physical ascension into the sky. However there is another, perhaps more interesting interpretation. The same word is used by Paul in a completely different context:
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. (2 Cor. 12:2-4)
Some surmise Paul had this near death experience when he nearly died from being stoned to death. The word “caught up” or “rapture” is used twice in this verse. Here it does not refer to a physical ascension, but rather the rapture is to be caught up or enraptured in a spiritual visionary state. And this is exactly what happens to John in his vision of the Apocalypse:
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. (Rev. 4:1-2)
With the apostles and select individuals throughout history, such visions took place on a limited individual basis. But the promise of the future is that such a visionary state will become more widespread:
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. (Joel 2:28)
In parallel with that, the majority of cases have been of those who are false prophets. So in each case they should be tested to determine if what they are stating is valid. But the point here is this: the expectation of a “rapture” can be fulfilled by a widespread outpouring of the Spirit, allowing people to enter a visionary state. At the moment, this is not permitted for most everyone, as most people’s minds have been lowered into material and carnal desires away from the love of the Spirit.
So somewhat related to all this is the doctrine of the resurrection. There are many, at this day, who expect a literal physical resurrection, where people will rise out of their graves. This view is related to a literal appearance of the Second Coming, where everyone assumes all things take place in this material physical world. But this is not the case: one is resurrected in the spiritual world, in a spiritual body. One can take the same passages and interpret them either way. For example:
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (1 Cor. 15:51-53)
This would indicate we will be raised in a spiritual glorified body. Will it be visible in this world? Not necessarily. And then there is this one:
Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28-29)
To interpret these references to a resurrection, one must have spiritual knowledge of the afterlife. In the spiritual world, midway between heaven and hell, there is an intermediate state where souls gather, good and evil, who were not judged right after death. Many enter into a state of sleep. John sees them in one of his visions of the Apocalypse, where souls “under the altar” are told they must rest or sleep a little longer (Rev. 6:9-11). There are three heavens signified by the three divisions of the temple; the lowest heaven is represented by the outer court and this is where the altar was located. Those “under the altar” are those in this intermediate state between heaven and hell.
It is in this intermediate state, where many are unaware or asleep, is where the last judgment takes place. One is judged after death, some immediately who go to heaven or hell, but many will gather in this intermediate spiritual world. Thus, it is in the spiritual world where last judgments take place. And indeed, the Second Coming is this event – a judgment of souls in the spiritual world:
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (Matt. 16:27)
At this time, there is a separation between the good and evil. This is described in the parable of Matthew 25, where the righteous are signified by “sheep” and the evil by “goats” –
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (Matt. 25:31-32)
As this is a common misconception, one of the primary revelations given to Swedenborg is a complete explanation of the afterlife, the spiritual resurrection there, and how people are judged according to their works in a complete life review. For further information on this see Heaven and Hell as well as The Final Judgment. This is becoming more well known among those who study the Near Death Experience from a variety of witnesses who have been brought back to life.
So its not a literal physical return, there is no literal physical resurrection, there is no rapture into the sky… all I have said so far is what it isn’t, and that one must look for a higher spiritual explanation. It is very simple: in the First Coming, the “Word was made flesh.” The Word, or Greek Logos, is the Lord as to Divine truth made manifest in human form. In the Second Coming, the Word or Divine truth has been made manifest in the spiritual sense of the Word itself. This spiritual sense has been made manifest in the many volumes of revelations given in waking visions to Emanuel Swedenborg in the 18th century. It is a more internal revelation, not an external visible revelation.
That this is so, is indicated by Jesus, who always describes the Second Coming as the coming of the “Son of Man.” In the New Testament, “son of Mary” is used to refer to Jesus in His ordinary human form, “Son of God” is used to refer to Jesus in His glorified Divine Human form, but “Son of Man” is used to refer to the Lord as to the Divine truth. To appear “in the clouds of heaven” does not mean He will appear in the sky, but rather He will appear in spiritual vision. The “clouds” is the obscure truth that appears in the literal sense of the Word; for the Son of Man to “appear in glory” signifies the revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word. This He did in the 18th century to Emanuel Swedenborg over a period of 27 years of continuous waking visions, where incorrect doctrines of Christianity have been corrected, for there are many false teachings that have corrupted the core of Christianity where very little truth means. And that is the other point: the Second Coming will take place when there is little or no faith left on earth:
When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8)
And there will be a general falling away from Christianity, where a false religion will come to take its place:
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (1 Thes. 2:3-5)
This particular prophecy is probably taken from Dan. 11:45. A “falling away” is an apostasy from the true faith, a “man of sin” indicates that the falling away is where sin is disregarded, and to show oneself as God is to have an incorrect understanding of God Himself. Thus to see and recognize the Second Coming, one has to first recognize the falsehoods that are propagated in one’s own religion. Very few question what they are taught to believe. Falsehoods from within is what causes a true church to come to its end:
“A church is brought to an end by various means, especially by such as cause falsity to appear as truth; and when falsity appears to be truth, then the good which in itself is good and is called spiritual, is found no more.” (True Christian Religion, n. 754)
Thus what to expect? A true revelation of Jesus Christ and Christianity, a revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word, revealed through spiritual vision. This will establish a New Church, which will be among the few and opposed by the many. This is signified by the 2 witnesses (Rev. 11), the sealing of the 144,000 (Rev. 7 and 14), and the woman who flees to the wilderness (Rev 12) which signifies a state of truth in obscurity known to few. This will be opposed by a false form of Christianity, signified by the dragon, beast and false prophet (Rev. 13) as well as the whore of Babylon (Rev. 17-18). That the Second Coming is a heavenly revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word, can be seen by the coming of the Lord on a white horse, where we have this statement:
And his name is called The Word of God (Rev. 19:13)
As for the hidden spiritual sense of the Apocalypse, see further in the works Apocalypse Revealed and Apocalypse Explained. The good news here, is the Second Coming has taken place, to reveal a more spiritual Christianity where further heavenly secrets are revealed. This was revealed in spiritual vision by Jesus Christ to Emanuel Swedenborg in the 18th century:
“We read in many places that the Lord will come in the clouds of heaven (as in Matt. xxiv. 30; xxvi. 64; Mark xiv. 62; Luke xxi. 27; Apoc. i. 7; xiv. 14; Dan. vii. 13; see also Matt. xvii. 5; Luke ix. 34, 35). But hitherto no one has known what was meant by the clouds of heaven; they have believed that He is to appear in them in person. But that by the clouds of heaven the Word in the sense of the letter is meant, and by the glory and power in which also He is then to come (Matt. xxiv. 30) the spiritual sense of the Word is meant, has been heretofore concealed, because hitherto no one has even by conjecture reached the conclusion that there is a spiritual sense in the Word such as this sense is in itself. Now because the Lord has opened to me the spiritual sense of the Word, and it has been granted me to be together with angels and spirits in their world as one of them, it has been disclosed that by the clouds of heaven is meant the Word in the natural sense, and by glory the Word in the spiritual sense, and by power the Lord’s power through the Word.” (True Christian Religion, n. 776)
THIS diagram presents the subdivisions of each degree of the spiritual mind into three and of each heaven into three.
Each degree of the natural mind also has three planes to be presented in Diagram XVII.
In Arcana Coelestia AC we read, –
“In order that anything may be perfect, it must be distinguished into three degrees; so is heaven, and so are the goods and truths there; that there are three heavens is known, consequently three degrees of good and truths there. Each heaven is also distinguished into three degrees, for its inmost must also communicate immediately with the superior, its external with the inferior, and the middle thus, by means of the inmost and the external, with both; hence is its perfection. The case is similar with the interiors of man which in general are distinguished into three degrees, namely, into the celestial, the spiritual and the natural, in like manner each of these into its three degrees, for man who is in the good of faith and of love to the LORD, is a heaven in the least form, corresponding to the greatest. So it is with all things of nature.”-AC 9825.
And in Apocalypse Explained, AE we read, –
“There are three heavens, and each heaven is distinguished into three degrees, and likewise the angels who are in them; wherefore in each heaven there are superior, middle, and inferior angels.”- AE 342[a].
In each of the above degrees or subdivisions of the mind there is a duality consisting of will and understanding, the will being receptive of love or good which is celestial, and the understanding, of wisdom or truth which is spiritual; and in each heaven and in each subdivision of the heavens, there are angels predominantly receptive of love or good, who are celestial, and others of wisdom or truth, who are spiritual. (AC 459.)
To understand the general division of the whole heaven into two kingdoms, celestial and spiritual, and the existence of the two principles, celestial and spiritual, in each kingdom, and even in each angel, it must be borne in mind that the celestial of one heaven, kingdom or angel, differs from the celestial of another and that the spiritual of one differs from the spiritual of another.
See “Relation of the Three Heavens and the Two Kingdoms,” page 37, also the two distinctions between the celestial and the spiritual, page 86.
The three degrees of the natural mind C are drawn in red, white and green-j representing the natural will, k the natural understanding and l a combination of the two in ultimates, thus the celestial, spiritual and natural of the external mind. The view of the degrees of the natural mind, here presented, is different from that in Diagram XIII; hence the reverse order of Colour.
The Apostle Paul must be turning in his grave! He never said that Christians could ignore God’s commandments.
Yet, when defending the doctrine that “faith alone saves,” theologians and members of the clergy will often quote the Apostle Paul as biblical support for such a disastrous idea of throwing the Decalogue into the trash heap.
The reason for this false belief, according to Emanuel Swedenborg, is from a misinterpretation of a single saying by Paul in Romans 3:28, that “man is justified by faith alone without the works of the law.”
In his work, Apocalypse Revealed, Swedenborg points out that what was misunderstood was that Paul was referring to the Mosaic law, which were statues specifically incorporated for Jewish life at that time. These “works of law” included:
The law of the meal-offering.
The law of the sacrifice.
The law of the sacrifice of the peace-offering.
The law of the burnt-offering
The law of the beast and of the bird.
The Law of leprosy.
The law of him that hath an issue.
The law of jealousy.
The law of the Nazarite.
The law of cleansing.
The law concerning the red heifer.
The law for the King.
It is these specific Jewish laws that Paul is referring to that are unnecessary for Christians to uphold in order to obtain salvation. Swedenborg points out that Paul clearly states the importance of fulfilling the commandments (Romans 8:8-10) through good works or charity:
For he that loveth another, hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit whoredom, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is comprehended in this word, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; therefore charity is the fulfilling of the law.
The importance of love, is also confirmed by the Lord’s own word’s, in a response to a trick question by one of the Pharisees as to which is the great commandment in the law. The Lord responds by saying:
Thou shalt love the Lord God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Mathew 22:37-40)
Who is unable to grasp that loving God and neighbor is the very life of Christian faith, and that to remove these activities from faith is a dead faith.
So, if anyone tells you that faith alone saves, then simply respond by saying that they are full of red heifer chips.
It has been suggested that Australian Aborigines are primitive and uneducated; animists who uses ritual to win the favour of the spirits controlling food, shelter, and fertility and to ward off malevolent spirits.
Despite what sounds to the western mind as believing in superstition, these semi-nomads have shown enormous intelligence by hunting and foraging for food, and thus surviving, in extreme conditions of the arid bush-land and desert wastes for over 30,000 years.
Like with other indigenous peoples, there is a sense of closeness with, and a deep respect, for the natural world of animals and plants. Full-blooded Aborigines in their natural state live in and are influenced by both the physical world and also by what they think of as a spirit world (dreamtime). They are not materialistically orientated like those of European descent. Their spiritual values have been reflected in a rich oral tradition of legend and ritual going back to ancient times, unaffected by Western world religion.
And so the question arises whether there is anything of value in their way of life which can benefit us all today?
With white settlement of their tribal lands and consequent loss of identity and self-esteem, their culture is being lost. However, there are still some initiated into their legends and rituals who know the traditional meaning of rock and bark paintings, ceremonies and oral teachings.
Cyril Havecker lived close to the Warramunga Tribe and was seen as their blood-brother. He has written an illuminating book Understanding Aboriginal Culture.
All Aborigines, initiated into their tradition regardless of the tribe to which they belong, share a creation myth. Baiame is said to be the supreme intelligent creator spirit who dreamed of a future that he wanted to materialise. In other words there is thought to be a purpose behind the development of the world; all living things being brought into existence with the object of fulfilling a function in the great plan of life.
It is also taught that myriad portions of intelligence were taken from Baiame’s supreme intelligence; each of these being a human soul (yowie).
There are said to be three inbuilt drives in each person – drives to survive, reproduce and achieve. These drives were to be the cause of all the trouble and mischief on the earth but also the cause of all that is positive and productive. Each soul was to have the will and freedom to discriminate between positive or negative action, choice being dependent on wisdom-knowledge and level of development. It was decided to give each soul a memory to prevent chaos.
Associated with this creation story is the claim that the physical world is connected to a psychic dimension by character vibrations and that this land of mystery actually exists. It is referred to in their mythology as the dreamtime.
The tradition teaches that the universe is a mental creation projected out of spirit essence. And so traditional healers and magicians (wirinun) who deal with spirits have been operative and are well known for their powers in extra-sensory perception and control of the mind. Induced emotion and directed thought are two powerful ‘magical’ weapons used by the wirinun. And so as part of training, such a person undergoes a strong personal discipline. This involves long periods of isolation, and restriction in diet.
It is said that when in a heightened state of consciousness, such individuals make contact with the ancestors in the spirit world (dreamtime); this being possible because each individual soul has two bodies — one material and also a spirit body (dowie). It is the latter that is apparently used to communicate with the ancestral spirits. The soul is said to never leave the body of the living except at physical death, when it goes to reside permanently in the dreamtime; this dimension only being continually experienced in a spirit body as it is not somewhere in space: it is all about us and it requires only the proper conditions to be contacted at any given time.
The wirinun, through training in concentration and the environment of the spirit world, use signs, symbols and incantations necessary to call up needed psychic entities. Whilst operating in what is regarded as a sacred area (bora ground) the magician is believed to be protected from demons. Such an individual never calls upon any spiritual entity with which he is not completely familiar for he says he must know their nature and aims. In fact he often uses prayers (narmingatha) directed to the supreme intelligence (Baiame).
In seeking the aid of benign entities of the spiritual world he uses no words of compulsion, or extravagant terms. He asks earnestly and gives reasons. He does not ask for something that deprives people of what justly belongs to them or which gives an unmerited advantage over someone else.
A lot more could be written about this fascinating tradition. However to sum up, extra-sensory perception, survival after death, and constant contact with a much more knowledgeable spiritual world, are all widely accepted facts in traditional Aboriginal culture; as is the presence of a supreme divine spirit and other spirits who affect life on earth. In fact the whole of their lifestyle is subject to supernatural forces.
Is there anything here for us to learn?
Copyright 2012 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems
My wife and I have a pet cat called Geoffrey. We have got to know him quite well – his eating, relaxing, communication, play, and so on. Animals live on an entirely natural level and I realise it would be a mistake to attribute human emotions to them. But is there anything we can learn from our pets about the deeper side of life? Any thing about them that points us to an ideal way of human living?
We often see Geoffrey lying on his side with his paws stretched out in front of him, with a sleepy look on his face and with half closed eyes. Very different from a cat who swishes its tail, has ruffled-up fur or is heard hissing. Sometimes he may roll over on to his side to show his tummy, communicating that he feels relaxed enough to expose such a vulnerable area.
Sometimes I wish I could be as relaxed as our pet and delight in simple pleasures. He doesn’t put himself under unnecessary stress. If a dog barked at him, which happens occasionally, he shows no after-effects. Unlike us e.g. who, when shouted at by an angry car driver, would likely be a bit tense for a while afterwards.
Anyone who has tried to meditate will realise that the mind is restless. Inwardly we jump from one worry to the next, one guilty secret to another. Inwardly chattering away, the mind has a mind of its own, creating unnecessary emotions like anxiety, anger or gloominess. Our cat is showing us the importance of stilling and calming the mind. You can learn to do this, if you don’t do so already, by creating space in your day for quiet reflection, meditation or prayer.
If we change the furniture round in our home or introduce any sort of change outdoors, Geoffrey soon looks into every nook and cranny. Our neighbour once saw him exploring over 40 feet up the trunk of a high tree. They say ‘curiosity killed the cat’ but ours is still alive and well.
I wonder if we are sufficiently willing to explore what is really going on around us. Are you awake to the ‘here and now’ rather than focusing on automatic habits of thought?
“The past is history,
The future is mystery,
This moment is a gift.
Which is why it is called ‘the present’. “
(By an unknown poet)
Are you sufficiently curious about what others think so as to become a better listener? People convey an enormous amount of information about themselves through subtle movements and tones of voice.
Do you notice things of beauty in what is going on around you? A child playing, moonlight shimmering on the water, a tree swaying in the wind. Are you fully aware of your physical and social surroundings and want to investigate them?
You can’t herd cats. Like all of them, Geoffrey shows independence. He is quite happy to spend time on his own each day. He responds to enticement rather than ordering around. A clicking of the fingers and verbal encouragement can get his attention and interest in coming over to me. But unlike a trained dog ordered to ‘heel’, he won’t do as he is told.
A quality of independence is something one needs in order to be a spiritual thinker in the face of materialistic society. Without individual reflection and perception, how can one rise above the social pressures of the crowd.
Another quality in our pet cat is non-aggression. The public walk their dogs off the lead along the woodland public right of way that goes right through our garden. Geoffrey has learned to watch carefully. He is quick to avoid danger of being chased. He runs away or climbs a tree when he sees a threat. Only when cornered by a barking dog will he flatten his ears and hiss as a warning to stay back. He could cause painful injury lashing out with his sharp claws but most cats only attack defensively as a last resort in such a situation.
Some of us have a tendency to show hostility to others after little provocation. It is as if we believe ‘attack is the best form of defense.’ Instead, shouldn’t we adopt a more socially acceptable form of non-aggressive behaviour to assert what we think is right and stick up for ourselves?
Geoffrey is our only pet and so we are the only social group he has. He likes to come to us for a fuss, perhaps a stroke or grooming or be allowed to lie on our laps. He purrs and sometimes tries to lick us at these times. So we get companionship and affection from him. When we are in the garden we often find him near by. There is a quarter of a mile walk along a woodland path from our home to get to where our car is parked and he invariably walks with us and stays waiting until we return sometimes several hours later. Then he greets us with a meow with tail up, pleased to see us again, sometimes rubbing his head against our legs.
Some of us are naturally more friendly and agreeable. Others of us are distant and less communicative. But I believe what our pet’s expression of affection suggests is the possible ideal of loving kindness. This is the feeling praised by all the world’s main spiritual and religious traditions.
The lesson here is not just expressing feeling – although that is important – but us having a generosity of spirit, being agreeable, kind, patient, tolerant, considerate and forgiving and even compassionate.
“Earth’s living creatures correspond to affections, the mild and useful ones to good affections, the fierce and useless ones to evil affections” (Emanuel Swedenborg mystical philosopher)
Copyright 2017 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems