We tend to think of “truth” as something dry, cold, lifeless: information that is valid and important, but not something moving or inspiring. Yet Swedenborg’s works say repeatedly that divine truth – truth from the Lord – was the actual agent of creation, is the ongoing agent in sustaining life, and is, in fact, the Lord Himself. That is difficult to conceive: How can truth make something? How can truth sustain something? How can truth be a person?
But imagine if you could mix elements of dreaming and being awake. In this scenario, you would have the usual control over your thoughts and feelings, and your thoughts and feelings would be continuous, as they are when you’re awake. But the reality around you would be able to bend and shift the way reality does in dreams. If you wanted to climb a skyscraper, jump from it to fly over the Grand Canyon, then dive to the ocean floor, you could do so, with the full experience of reality you have in a deep dream. If you wanted to see your grandmother, who died five years ago, she would be there, to hug you and talk to you and share your tears. Other friends and loved ones would be just a thought away, and you’d be surrounded by beauty limited only by your own imagination. And while all this was happening, your physical body would lie there sleeping.
In such a state, your physical body and physical surroundings are not a factor – in fact, you could say they don’t actually exist in that internal world. The “body” you experience, the surroundings you see, the things you hear and see and taste, all are simply products of your thoughts. So your thoughts actually create the world you live in, and go on creating it every moment.
In a typical dream, of course, that world is a product of only your own thoughts. So imagine that such a world could be shared by many people, or even everyone. In such a world, when you talk to your grandmother, it really is your grandmother, and she is having a similar “dream” experience of talking to you. When you see your friends, they really are your friends, experiencing similar dream-like states.
A number of books and movies have been based on such a concept. In the books and movies, though, the goal typically is to get back to “reality,” meaning back to the physical world. Often, the death of the physical body would mean the death of the dream worlds, too.
But think about it. With all the power you can have in the dream world, the things you can do and people you can see, why would you want to go back to the stiff, limited world of physical reality? And what if the death of the physical body did not snip the thread to the alternative world, but instead freed you to enter it fully?
Such a world is actually close to spiritual reality, as described in Swedenborg’s works. The big difference is that ultimately the “dream” is the Lord’s, and His thoughts and His affections are the ones constantly forming and empowering it, like a great tapestry of potential experience. As humans we are like swirls in the fabric, patterns that can be more or less aligned with those divine thoughts and feelings. Each swirl is unique in the way it weaves together the threads of divine thought, and thus has a unique set of experiences. And the miracle of miracles is that we are free to swirl as we will; that’s what we were created to do. In fact, the whole reason for physical reality – which is a projection of spiritual reality into dead material – is to separate us from divine thought enough to actually experience that freedom.
That divine thought is what Swedenborg means by “divine truth.” It carries all the possibilities for all of our lives, and is by its nature exquisitely, infinitely loving, since it carries the Lord’s love to us and strives constantly to coax us into alignment.
It’s also incredibly powerful, because the more we align ourselves with the Lord’s thoughts, the more we can receive His love and the more truly alive we can be – we can be swirls following the grain of the fabric, and that much more a part of the whole. Also, the more we align ourselves, the more we can see the patterns of the fabric around us – we can see the Lord’s plans for us and everyone else in the world, and fit in to serve His goals. Mentally this is like being in light, and Swedenborg’s works say the divine truth is the actual light of heaven.
So why does “truth” sound so cold and dry? The problem is in us, of course. We’re born into the physical world and our senses are filled by physical things, so we tend to think of “truth” as the aspects of divine thought that can be projected into the physical world. And those aspects are the coldest and driest, with the love awaiting us on the spiritual level.
(References: Apocalypse Explained 219, 434, 594, 748, 950; Apocalypse Explained 130 ; Apocalypse Explained 411 ; Apocalypse Explained 412 ; Apocalypse Explained 700 ; Apocalypse Explained 768 ; Apocalypse Explained 948 ; Apocalypse Explained 997 [2-3]; Apocalypse Revealed 193; Arcana Coelestia 4724, 6880, 8200, 9905, 10026, 10060; Arcana Coelestia 4687 ; Arcana Coelestia 5321 ; Arcana Coelestia 6996 ; Arcana Coelestia 7004 ; Arcana Coelestia 7056 [2-3]; Arcana Coelestia 7058 ; Arcana Coelestia 7270 [2-4]; Arcana Coelestia 8705 ; Arcana Coelestia 9407 , [1-3]; Arcana Coelestia 9410 ; Athanasian Creed 145; Canons of the New Church 15; Doctrine of Life 32; Heaven and Hell 13, 127, 232, 347; Heaven and Hell 137 [2-4]; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 25; True Christian Religion 39, 85, 86, 142, 224; The White Horse 14)