LOVE IS LIFE

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Welcome to the website of the Swedenborgian Church. We’re glad you stopped by! The Swedenborgian Church is an open-minded, forward looking Christian church drawing its faith from the Bible as illuminated by the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). If you have serious questions about traditional Christian theology, yet wish to explore the deeper aspects of the Bible and the Christian faith, we may be what you are looking for. We worship a God of unconditional love, whose warmth and light can deepen your inner life and give direction to your spiritual journey.

We invite you to explore our growing website to learn more about our church and its ministries. And may God bless you on your spiritual journey!

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Chapter XXI. Growth During Youth.

< Chapter XX. Growth During Childhood. ^ Discrete Degrees ^ Chapter XXII. Adult Life. – First Degree of Regeneration. >

 

THIS diagram compared with XX shows the development accomplished during youth. There has been great development of c the lowest degree of the spiritual mind in which were deposited celestial-natural and spiritual-natural remains by altogether imperceptible influxes, mainly by immediate Divine operation and partly through the angels of the lowest heaven which is celestial-natural and spiritual-natural. Great development has taken place also in the corresponding degree of the natural mind d, in the highest degree of the limbus g and in the gross body E.

In the plane c are implanted the interior and initial forms of the love of knowing the reason of things and of the faculty of reason. In d are implanted the exterior and natural forms of the same, which however are imperceptible except as they operate in and by g the highest of the limbus. Thence they speak and act by means of the gross body.

Youth completes the period of spiritual minority. Spiritual majority follows. During minority man believes, knows, thinks and acts not from himself or in his own right and reason as a spiritual free agent, but from others-from parents and masters whom he trusts, thus from authority. Minority since the Fall is prolonged far beyond its duration in the pristine age. This prolongation is to ensure a protracted quiescence of evil inclinations and a fullness of remains of good and truth whereby regeneration may be secured in after years.

Knowledges of natural objects and of social life gathered in by means of the senses during this period are highly important, yet knowledges from the Word and the Doctrines of the Church are the most essential.

Concerning the three states of Spiritual Minority we recapitulate

Infancy is a corporeal and sensual state. During its continuance the sensual degree, involving the corporeal, is opened and developed. (Chapter XIX.)

Childhood is a knowing or scientific state. During its continuance, the knowing or scientific degree is opened and developed. (Chapter XX.)

Youth, reaching to the BEGINNING of adult age, is a rational or reasoning state. During its continuance the natural rational degree of the mind is opened and developed.

These three states have their internal and unconscious existence in the spiritual mind and their external and conscious existence in the natural. It is solely their internal that renders their external possible. Infancy, childhood and youth are but the beginning of will and understanding. Manhood, to be presented in the following Chapters, is a state of actual will and understanding.

In the present diagram we see the state of the faculties and the interior seat of thought on arrival at adult age. The interior unconscious seat of thought has been elevated during minority through the three discrete degrees of the natural mind. This seat of thought is now poised between the spiritual mind above and the natural mind below. This equilibrium exists with him who has not yet chosen and appropriated either good or evil. This however is not the freedom of the regenerate man and of the angel in heaven. The freedom of the regenerate and of the angel arises from the delight of the love of good and truth appropriated from the LORD and is seated in the spiritual mind and higher therein according to the degree of regeneration. While the seat of thought was rising, man was natural. Now, by regeneration he becomes spiritual. Without regeneration he remains merely natural.

Should he become regenerate, the seat of his thought will be elevated into the spiritual mind, and successively higher therein as he advances in regeneration. If not regenerate the seat of his thought sinks into the natural mind and lower therein the more deeply he betakes himself to hereditary evils and makes them his own.

Both the upward course of the good and the downward course of the evil will be represented in subsequent diagrams. Here read Doctrine of Life, 19, and refer to this diagram. Imagine man at adult age standing in the midst between the natural and the spiritual mind. if from that point he looks up, he looks to the LORD flowing into his inmost A and thence into the spiritual mind B his heaven. If he looks down he looks to the devil that is hell whence is influx into the lower regions of his mind C and D into which he gradually sinks to rise no more.

The natural man C and D with E included, though stored during minority with good and truth, is yet (at adult life) tainted with hereditary evil more or less active, and with fallacy and falsity. These are mingled with the good and truth, defiling and obscuring them and are to be removed by regeneration in after years. The gross body E is included in the term natural man as a subject of evil because it is disordered and impure from evil in the natural mind and limbus. These disorders and impurities are also to be removed as far as may be during regeneration.


Previous: Chapter XX. Growth During Childhood. Up: Discrete Degrees Next: Chapter XXII. Adult Life. – First Degree of Regeneration.

 

God wants to be loved, too!

I am not trying to imply that God has joined a lonely-hearts club or has a pitiful existence. It is simply a divine necessity for a God of Infinite Love.

Love needs a subject. This is clear to all of us when we reflect that our desires, passions, and intentions must be focused on something real – something that exists outside of us.

God created the external world as a focus for divine love. This does not mean that God creates matter so that quarks, atoms, and molecules could be “admired.” Rather, God focused divine love in a way that allowed its spiritual force to take form in concrete physical things.

In other words, all matter is a recipient form of God’s influence.

The Infinite occupies finite things according to reception. This is why nature displays a profound endeavor toward self-organization and complexity. Nature organizes itself into new levels of order as an increased response to God’s love.

The essence of love is to unite. Even a physicist will admit that the universe is obviously unified. There is no physical principle for why nature becomes so rationally ordered and coherent. Going a step further, there is no reason why the laws of the physical universe are so fine-tuned towards bio-friendliness.

Nature goes beyond the organization of galaxies and solar systems. Nature creates bio-structure, culminating in the profound structure of the human brain. What is not taken into consideration by the physical sciences is that this process of creation and evolution is the exaltation of love.

God’s love in the universe increases as structure becomes more complex. Everything is organized for cooperation and utility – which expresses God’s goodness. It is God’s love that attaches usefulness to various combinations of matter and their increasing complexity.

But ultimately, love needs more than a subject. Love is perfected and exalted when it is reciprocal.

Love wants to love and be loved in return.

This is the reason why evolution has led to the emergence of the human race. Humans have the cognitive ability to recognize the Creator and love God back – by applying spiritual values to their lives. Religious tenets are the means by which humankind becomes the ultimate recipient form of God’s love. Thus humankind indeed becomes an image and likeness of God.

Humans have an inner reality not shared by other creatures, called first person phenomenal experience. This inner psycho-reality allows evolution and bio-complexity to continue into a non-physical realm.

How?

The arrangement and ordering of human experience in the human heart and mind is a real organic process that creates real non-physical bio-structure, or spiritual body. This innermost body of the spirit is formed from one’s life choices and values, and, can survive physical death and the tyranny of time. (One’s choices and values are one’s spirit and are derivatives of love.)

Heaven is not to be thought of as simply a place that one goes to for being “good.” Heaven is beyond time, space, and physical law. It is something you become – inwardly. Heaven is a state of love – and the non-material organic form it takes from the quality of our personal response to God’s divine love.

This is the real purpose behind religion – to create a covenant between God and the human race through love finding its ultimate fulfillment.

God needs us to bring this wonderful plan to fruition.

Posted on September 3, 2008by thegodguy

This entry was posted in god, Inner growth, Life after death, love, metaphysics, psychology, Reality, religion, science, spirituality, unity and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Will it turn out all right?

worryWill it turn out alright? This question repeats itself in my mind on many occasions and levels. Will my children be alright? Will the next event I facilitate go OK? What might go wrong!

I could go on at length on this track and do habitually get stuck in this grove of projecting my fears onto the future.

It’s very depleting, energetically, and does no good at all; I feel like a hamster on a treadmill. Things are out of my control and the whole worrying bit is pointless.  When I am in more rational moments and less stressed I can see that this is so.

One of the tools I use is to ask myself ‘does it really matter?’ In the great scheme of things does it really matter if things don’t go the way I want them to or turn out different from what I intended. At times I get hung up on the little things and forget the bigger picture.

With hindsight I recognise that when things go pear-shaped it is often a huge learning opportunity. When I wasn’t employed in a job that I had trained for it set me free to explore other possibilities and work in a different way. Often what I was stressing about never actually happened – all that wasted energy worrying!

Another tool I have come to use and remember is to be in the moment. If I’m focused on the future (or past for that matter) I’m never actually living in the moment. Very young children have a wonderful way of just being in the moment – in watching the attention of a little child placing toy bricks in a bag and taking them out again I see this played out. All the child’s focus is on what is happening in the now. How often do we adults give ourselves to the moment like this? I guess that a painter or other creative person does get lost in the energy of creating – in self-forgetfulness.

Life is for living not frittering it away in placing one’s attention in past or future. Each moment is precious and pregnant with opportunity.

However by far the greatest tool is to remind oneself that Divine Love is constant and has its focus on bringing goodness and happiness to each person whatever their circumstances. When I view things from ego this doesn’t seem to be the case when things don’t go my way or what I think is right doesn’t occur. To let that go and trust in the Divine plan that I cannot see may seem impossible and foolhardy if viewed from a worldly or superficial mindset. To love what is the highest good for all brings me into alignment and may be acceptance that difficult times are part of the way forward.

All this reminds me of the prayer below….

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Furthermore this quote from Swedenborg highlights the importance of trust in the Divine ……

There are many currents in people’s lives. One current is stronger and at the same time gentler than the rest, though this may seem like a paradox. It is the stream of Divine providence. Sometimes the quest for the spiritual life isn’t so much a matter of a tenacious search or struggle to change, but rather a letting go. Simply acknowledging and accepting that God is leading and that we are following can change us.                                                  ( Way of Wisdom)

 

Copyright 2013 Helen Brown

Nurturing the Soul blog

Posted on13th July 2013CategoriesEnlightenmentTags, ,, , , ,,Leave a comment

 

 

What to believe – How do I decide?

what to believeIn deciding what to believe sooner or later you come up against something that is greater than yourself. Toddlers make every effort to get their own way but eventually have to submit to parental authority. Young people test their limits climbing mountains or visiting wild places until forced to acknowledge their helplessness in meeting the untamed forces of nature. And older individuals who contemplate the decline in their bodily powers are obliged to admit their lives are finite and end in physical death.

In considering what to believe many get the feeling that something or other greater themselves must be behind their existence. A hidden force that is responsible for everything that goes on in their lives. A higher power which gives meaning to everything that is, the world and what happens in it.

Is this the spirit of humanity? Is it mother nature herself? Is it what religious people call God? How can you know what it is? And for that matter how do you make your mind what to believe about what is true about a range of deeper issues in life—what happens after death, the ethics of warfare, abortion, and euthanasia, or understanding the meaning of innocent suffering. There are a range of answers available, some of which seem to be more attractive than others. But just how do you decide?

In my opinion just as the eye sees things around us so the inner eye can perceive the reality behind the appearance. And so it’s no good relying on information available to the bodily senses to answer the deeper questions. If you happen to agree with me on this, don’t ask materialist science to discover what is beyond nature. For we can be misled by our bodily senses into thinking that what they show us is all there is.

I’m sure all scientists would admit that their scientific instruments cannot directly measure the origin of beauty, kindness, honesty, or justice. In other words although we notice the forms of life we cannot directly see the essence of life; even though we see ethical behaviour in human conduct, we cannot see the source of goodness itself or truth itself.

As human beings we all have the ability to think in abstract ways about what to believe freed from the impulses of our appetites and emotions and thus largely removed from what has been called ‘the lower degree of the mind.’ Accordingly, we are capable of understanding the deeper aspects of life by drawing on abstract ideas such as those found from extra-sensory perception, found in sacred writing, or found about God, that we have learned from parents, teachers, books and friends.

However, it can be asked whether spiritual knowledge about such abstract concepts can result in any kind of deep belief? Whatever our memory for such things, are we not quite capable of having a sudden enthusiasm and rushing carelessly into an impulsive decision – that is if we lack a heartfelt care about considering the consequences. Mere learning about spiritual matters is limited if it is something in the memory and not also in the heart.

No, I would suggest what is needed is what spiritual writers often refer to as inner enlightenment. Light needs to be thrown on spiritual knowledge if it is to become really meaningful. This deeper form of illumination is perceiving what to believe about what is really true from within rather than seeing from without. Not relying on what someone tells you but being moved by an inner spirit of hunger and thirst for answers. One consequence of this would be that reliance on what is said authoritatively by philosophical, religious or spiritual experts can only be a stepping-stone to receiving an enlightened understanding.

So how do you know what to believe result from inner enlightenment?

The trouble is you can get taken up by enthusiasm for some dramatic social cause or other compelling human activity which you invest with all your energy and even turn into a life pursuit. The ideals they represent can feel like they have illuminated your life. But can I suggest that when the activity has limited intrinsic goodness or limited  rightness then it sooner or later will fail you especially if there is a hidden interest that motivates such as the desire for prestige, or social influence.

“Anyone at all who supposes that he has enlightenment is mistaken if he does not love to know truth for its own sake and for the sake of leading a good life.”
(E. Swedenborg, Heavenly Secrets, section 10551)

Nothing is as straightforward as we would like it to be. Deciding what to believe requires careful self-reflection.  I would like to suggest that the art of attending to your inner spirit is a process requiring considerable concentration. Spiritual exercises such as prayer, meditation and contemplation are needed to pry us away from ordinary desires and connect us with a deeper will and purpose.

Copyright 2012 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Posted on21st June 2012CategoriesEnlightenment, Meaning of lifeTags,, , , , , ,, , , , ,, , , , , Leave a comment