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Chapter XXIII. The Second Degree of Regeneration.

< Chapter XXII. Adult Life. – First Degree of Regeneration. ^ Discrete Degrees ^ Chapter XXIV. The Third Degree of Regenerat

RECALLING Chapter XXII, the present diagram will need but little explanation. It represents man at the close of the second great step in regeneration. Dying at this stage he ascends to the spiritual or middle heaven. During this period man is brought into combat with deeper evils and falsities than in the first stage namely the evils and falsities of the second degree of the natural mind d and of the limbus f but he is sustained by more interior goods and truths in the second degree of the spiritual mind, a. Thus the second degree of the spiritual mind becomes founded on the cleansed and regenerate second degree of the natural mind and of the limbus. The middle degree of the natural mind is filled by an influx of good and truth from the middle degree of the spiritual mind and is conjoined to that degree and makes one with it. The interior seat of thought and affection and of spiritual power is now elevated into and fixed in the middle degree of the spiritual mind. Here also conscience holds its interior seat; its exterior seat being in d.

The warfare against the evils of the middle degrees of the natural d and f, causing their removal, was not carried on by the goods and truths of the spiritual mind directly upon those evils but through goods and truths stored as remains in the natural.

When the regenerate man rises after death into his appropriate heaven are his lower degrees elevated into that higher plane? No. -His lower degrees necessarily remain in their proper planes with which they agree in substance, structure and quality. These are conjoined with and quiescent under the higher. Nevertheless the man, now an angel, appears in the higher plane opened for his conscious enjoyment.

Opening a higher or a lower degree in an angel or a spirit causes his appearance in that degree, and closing the degree causes his disappearance. So it is that angels and spirits ascend and descend on that great Ladder (or way with steps) within themselves which was set on the earth with its head reaching to heaven.

With the wicked the natural degrees are closed above and opened below. In the good those degrees are open above and closed below. These opposite states cause separation and cause the good to appear above and the evil below. This with change of locality by change of thought, answers the question on page 59.

How can spirits travel in the spiritual world clothed as they are with the limbus belonging to the natural world? Their travel is effected by change of state causing also an outward sensation and appearance of travel as with man. To such travel the limbus is no impediment. Swedenborg and the prophets experienced such travel in spirit even while clothed with the gross body. (HH 191-199; TCR 280; Inv. 43, 52; U. 127, 128, 129.)

Previous: Chapter XXII. Adult Life. – First Degree of Regeneration. Up: Discrete Degrees Next: Chapter XXIV. The Third Degree of Regeneration.

God’s Word was written for angels too

One might assume that because angels live in heaven that they do not need to learn any more about God. But, if God is Infinite Love and Wisdom, you would think that the Creator would offer angels the ability to continue exercise their minds over the long haul of eternal existence.

Even we terrestrial beings of the planet earth would find it quite boring on this temporal plane if we could not learn something new each day.

Since the Lord God instructs through the Holy Word, and the Word existed prior to creation (John 1:1-3), we can assume that angels have access to the Word. However, do angels interpret its stories and narratives the same way we do?

The reason why I ask this silly question is that angels do not live in the physical world of time and space. Yet, all the stories in Scripture take place in time and space. How could they understand physical events when living in a non-material realm?

Mystic and theologian, Emanuel Swedenborg, suggested that angels interpret Scripture differently – by removing its stories from any involvement with time and space. How would they accomplish this theological feat?

Angels turn the literal sense of each word in Scripture to its psycho-spiritual equivalent. So, instead of seeing the Holy Word as a mere literal and historical account of things, they distill higher, spiritual meanings from its stories.

Angels do not interpret the seven-day Creation Story found in Genesis as an unfolding of physical events. They interpret this story as the seven steps that an individual’s heart and mind goes through in acquiring an “inner” paradise (epigenesis) from God.

Here is a brief overview of the Angelic take on the Creation Story:

LET THERE BE LIGHT – In the beginning, the human heart and mind starts off in spiritual darkness and in a complete void concerning God. God moves to enlighten us from this darkness (day one).

SEPARATING THE WATERS – Once God is recognized we can begin to separate spiritual knowledge from worldly knowledge (day two).

DRY LAND & PLANTS – By separating this information we can put our feet on firm ground, that is, on solid faith in God. From this faith grounded in the mind, new spiritual thoughts take root, grow, flower, fruit, and yield seeds (day three).

GREAT LUMIINARIES – Now humans have, from God, a faith that can serve as a beacon in times of darkness, and serve as a more powerful light when the warmth of love is added to faith (day four).

CREEPING THINGS – Our faith now becomes more animated by love, which is symbolized in the biblical story by animals that move (day five).

MAMMALS, MAN & WOMAN, DOMINION – Love increases and is exalted through the representation of warm-blooded animals appearing. True “humanness” now emerges onto the scene. God commands us through our faith to gain dominion over all the various qualities of thoughts and feelings that live in our hearts and minds. Our inner reality has now become a garden, where everything in it has been arranged according to God’s wisdom and order (day six).

REST – God’s work is finished (day seven).

So angels remove the aspects of time and space from the biblical narratives by interpreting them as symbolically addressing things taking place within the human heart and mind (which is a person’s spirit). These higher symbolic meanings allow angels to learn deeper concepts about faith throughout an eternity.

The Sacred Word would not be sacred unless it contained God’s Divine Holiness, which is infinite. Therefore, God’s Infinite nature can only be expressed in a Holy Document that contains deeper levels of meaning!

The significance for each of us about all this is that since we humans are inwardly spirits, we too, have the capacity to interpret these higher meanings from the Holy Word.

In fact, this is one of the biggest secrets concerning the Second Coming. REVELATION is the Lord’s coming back to reveal these deeper things to us!

Are you ready?

Posted on September 7, 2008by thegodguy

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Spiritual but not religious – Good or bad?

spiritualSome school governors in Birmingham England have been accused of attempting to impose and promote a narrow faith-based ideology in secular schools. Should we be encouraging spiritual rather than religious education?

What does spiritual mean?

The word spiritual is something to do with individual issues of human identity and personal development: hence seeking the sacred and the mystery of life beyond ones sense of selfhood.

What does religious mean?

Being religious seems to be having a sense of identity with and commitment to a community of fellow believers and an acceptance of the external authority of religious teachings. Beliefs tend to be couched in terms of theology, mythology and metaphysics.

Are some people spiritual but not religious?

I think it is helpful to think in terms of 4 rather than 2 types of person:

  1. Materialistic and non-religious
  2. Religious but not spiritual
  3. Spiritual but not religious,
  4. Spiritual and religious


One definition is the attitude that physical well-being and worldly possessions constitute the greatest good and highest value in life. Such a person is less likely to pray or meditate.

Religious but not spiritual

Research has found that people are religious in different ways. A so-called ‘extrinsic’ orientation is said to be characteristic of those who are disposed to use religion for their own ends. Religion is regarded as useful because it can provide security and solace, sociability and distraction, status and self-justification. Such a person can be said to turn to God without turning away from self. Prayer is likely to be restricted to participation in public prayer.

Spiritual but not religious

A ‘quest’ orientation involves an open-ended, responsive dialogue with existential questions raised by the contradictions and tragedies of life. There is an interest in inner directed experience and perception but not in any ideas in religious teaching or mythology coming from external authority. You may hear such a person say

‘What is true for you is not true for me.’

Commentators refer to a range of ‘pick & mix’ beliefs and loosely defined framework of implicit world views about life. Such individuals tend to meditate rather than pray.

Spiritual and Religious

What has been called an ‘intrinsic’ orientation is said to be finding one’s master motives for life in religion. Other needs, strong as they may be, are regarded as of less ultimate significance, and they are, so far as possible, brought into harmony with religious beliefs. Such a person lives his or her religion.

I would suggest that here there is an attempt to relate in prayer one-to-one with an image of a personal yet transcendent God.

Being religious means accepting the value of knowing about divinely revealed ideas in religious culture and also being spiritual means finding the divine spirit within inner experience.

From the perspective of the spiritual philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg, the doctrines learned from one’s religious tradition should be seen only as a stepping stone towards inner enlightenment.

Why do many people reject religion?

Many are turned off religion by a punitive image of deity and what are seen as other superstitious supernatural beliefs. They dislike the hierarchy of organized religion in so far as ordained clerics authoritatively tell them what to believe. Better when those in a position to do so offer to share their insights.

The religious doctrine held by some Christians is that what one believes is what really matters for salvation, rather than having a charitable heart. But surely living as well as believing one’s faith is necessary for spiritual experience? Such people are probably seen as hypocritical. Others have an excessive concern with buildings, and money to support the external side of religious ritual and ceremony.

Different faith traditions teach different things. I can’t help but conclude that each religious tradition has a different mix of what appears to be true and mistaken ideas. I like Hinduism’s idea of the moral intent and actions of an individual affecting their future inner well-being: I like Buddhism’s idea about craving and attachment as the origin of suffering: I like Islam’s emphasis on the oneness of God: and I like Christianity’s view of Christ as the human face of God. But there are also ideas that can be found in some strands of all these faiths, too numerable to list here, that I dislike and do not find credible.

Can we hope in a new spiritual era of civilisation?

I would like to think that more coherent ideas about personal life are now possible: this might be due to what I think I can detect as a growing inner freedom from dogma and authoritarianism of all kinds.

According to Swedenborg, an enlightened civilised way of living can more easily be formed in the main with those outside of the old established religions. The reason he suggests is such people don’t identify with mistaken doctrines which have distorted the truth about what is spiritual.

At the same time, in entirely rejecting ideas from religion, I feel there is a danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. For example you might discard religion’s moral rules of conduct because you see them as moralistic and judgmental turning people into sinners. In so doing I would suggest you may not have noticed the spiritual principles underlying notions of right and wrong which are to do with giving guidance about an angelic way of heavenly life.

Another example is to do with the tendency, of those who are spiritual but not religious, to be attracted to only private practices aimed at self-enhancement and fulfillment which run the risk of being self-regarding. This means missing the chance to belong to a community of shared belief where social commitment to the spiritual welfare of others is an important focus.

Religion offers us the chance to find trust in a forgiving compassionate personal God. I think I can recognise some other remaining pure elements from the world’s faith traditions from which the next spiritual era can develop. My gut feeling is we need to ensure faith schools develop tolerant attitudes towards other faiths and prevent them taking their religious cultural focus too far.

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

Courage – How do I find it?

courageI was in the theatre audience listening to a stand-up comic. We hadn’t gone to see him, he was just the warm up guy. He was telling filthy stories about people I greatly respected. I wanted to leave but I was hemmed in by those seated on my row and I knew if I stood up and tried to squeeze past them, I would immediately draw attention to myself and become the butt of his offensive scorn. I’ve always regretted that I sat tight and lacked the moral courage to do what I felt was right.

So what is the nature of courage and where does it come from?

Courage to overcome fear

I wish I had been like those people who do things instinctively without any fearful reservations. Like the loving parent who jumps into a freezing river to save her drowning child. The adrenaline rush for action takes over. Would we say such a person was brave?

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear — (Nelson Mandela)

Some would say courage, in addition to overcoming fear, is also needed to deal with any personal challenge like that of pain or adversity.

Courage as an individual matter

We are all different. Some of us need courage to ask for forgiveness, say no to an unreasonable demand, seek help, give up on an abusive relationship, and so on. It depends on our particular strengths and weaknesses, what triggers fear in us, what our motivation might be. Whatever it is, however, if courage is needed, there is going to be an inner conflict.

Courage of Beatrice

For the last 8 years of her life, Beatrice suffered many bodily problems, including much pain, incontinence, and confusion. From being able to get about with the aid of her walking frame, to requiring a wheelchair and later being bed-bound, one would say her quality of life was in steady decline.

Towards the end she was unable to read or listen to the radio or television. Yet when visited on a weekly basis by a family member, she never complained about her situation, except occasionally to give an involuntary wince if moved.

Beatrice had always been a strong-willed and independently minded person who minimised her illness and infirmity. You might say now she didn’t have any choice but to accept her situation: however, I felt she showed great courage in enduring her hardships with a brave face. I noticed she was always ready to engage in a cheery word. She was an inspiration to us all and was regarded with affection and respect by her professional carers.

Courage of Gandhi and Mother Teresa

Mohandas Gandhi was willing to undergo pain and hunger in South Africa and India for the sake of peacefully helping the plight of those experiencing discrimination. Mother Teresa left her home to teach in Calcutta, later choosing to live among and help the destitute and starving. We admire them both because we assume they found courage in overcoming attachment to self-orientated interests for the sake of their higher principles.

Courage as a spiritual gift

According to a religious viewpoint, the courage to overcome adversity is a spiritual gift.

“We may say ‘This is more than flesh and blood can bear.’ but we are more than flesh and blood, we are spiritual beings.” (Henry T. Hamblin)

In other words, courage is not something we can create for ourselves but can be received from a higher power. Religion teaches that having the Divine Spirit active in our lives means we can go beyond what we thought were our limits: for with God, the sacred text says, all things are possible.

Courage and an inner battle

If we are experiencing difficult times, then it is like night-time with no warmth of the sun to enliven effort and hope. Faced by obstacles we feel like giving up. We are in the cold of night and our fears have shown their face. Yet there is still some light to show us the way forward – the reflected light of the moon is there to guide us. We may not feel positive about things but nevertheless we can see a possible way through our problems and can choose to go forward if we wish.

According to Emanuel Swedenborg, this state of mind is like an inner battle for the person of faith which often recurs. We are faced with a choice. On the one hand we can tune into our demons who are tempting us to give in to cowardly thoughts: “Don’t take a risk for you might come a cropper,” “Don’t do what you think is right because people will disapprove.”  On the other hand we can tune into our angels defending us with higher aspirations. And the best bit of this theory is the notion that if we do not yield to what is negative, then the Lord God will provide us with the courage we need to follow what we feel called to do.

“A man of courage is also full of faith.” (Marcus Tullius Cicero)

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