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There is a universal spirituality which can be expressed in many ways. This site uses the insights of the mystic Emanuel Swedenborg to help explain the meaning of our lives.

These words of wisdom add to the ancient wisdom of the world and are in harmony with many spiritual insights of the new age.

Click on any of the rainbow headings to discover more exciting spiritual wisdom to help make sense of your life and to support your personal spiritual growth.

Click to review the key Spiritual Principles underlying the content of this site: Spiritual Principles

Reflections On Divine Providence



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Reflections On Divine Providence
Simply select the topic of interest:

Core Beliefs of Swedenborg

Categories: Life | Afterlife | Prayer

Reflections on Divine Providence
Dreams Helen Kennedy
Footprints in the Writings of Swedenborg
Hearing Someone Else’s Prayer
Meetings in Life
Prayer for Others
Reflections on Spirituality
Toward a Spiritual Psychology
We Don’t Really Live Here
Why Was Jesus Crucified?
End of the Age

Who is the God of Heaven
Angels in the New Testament
Children in Heaven
Life After Death
Some Thoughts about Hell
Spiritual Substance and Material Reality
Swedenborg in Popular Angels Books
What Angels Do

When we Pray, What Shall we Ask?
Prayer for Others
Hearing Someone Else’s Prayer


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Before the Lord’s Omnipresence and His Omniscience can be Comprehended

Lastchurch - The Eternal PurposeSelection from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

Spaces and times must be removed from the ideas before the Lord’s omnipresence with all and with each individual, and His omniscience of things present and future, can be comprehended. But inasmuch as spaces and times cannot easily be removed from the ideas of the thoughts of the natural man, it is better for a simple man not to think of the Divine omnipresence and omniscience from any reasoning of the understanding; it is enough for him to believe in them simply from his religion, and if he thinks from reason, let him say to himself that they exist because they pertain to God, and God is everywhere and infinite, also because they are taught in the Word; and if he thinks of them from nature and from its spaces and times, let him say to himself that they are miraculously brought about. But inasmuch as the church is at present almost overwhelmed by naturalism, and this can be shaken off only by means of rational considerations which enable man to see what is true, it will be well by means of such to draw forth these Divine attributes out of the darkness that nature induces into the light; and this can be done because, as has been said, the understanding with which man is endowed is capable of being raised up into the interior light of heaven if only man desires from love to know truths. All naturalism arises from thinking about Divine things in accord with what is proper to nature, that is, matter, space, and time. The mind that clings to these, and is unwilling to believe anything that it does not understand, cannot do otherwise than make blind its understanding, and from the dense darkness in which it is immersed, deny that there is any Divine providence, and thus deny the Divine omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience, although these are just what religion teaches both within nature and above nature. And yet these cannot be comprehended by the understanding unless spaces and times are separated from the ideas of its thought; for these are in some way present in every idea of thought, and unless they are separated man cannot think otherwise than that nature is everything, that it is from itself, and consequently that the inmost of nature is what is called God, and that all beyond it is merely ideal. And such, I know, will wonder how anything can possibly exist where there is no time or space; and that the Divine itself is without them, and that the spiritual are not in them, but are only in appearances of them; and yet Divine spiritual things are the very essence of all things that have existed or that exist, and natural things apart from these are like bodies without souls, which become carcasses.

Every man who has become naturalistic by thoughts from nature continues such after death, and calls all things that he sees in the spiritual world natural, because they are similar. Such, however, are enlightened and taught by angels that these things are not natural, but are appearances of natural things; and they are so far convinced as to affirm that it is so. But they soon fall back and worship nature as they did in the world, and at length separate themselves from the angels and fall into hell, and cannot be taken out to eternity. The reason is that their soul is not spiritual, but natural like the soul of beasts, although with the ability of thinking and speaking because they were born men. And because the hells at this day more than ever before are full of such, it is important that such dense darkness arising from nature, which at present fills and closes up the thresholds of the understanding of men, should be removed by means of rational light derived from spiritual.

(Apocalypse Explained 1220:2)
January 2, 2015

Is Science Proving Swedenborg’s ideas?

A physicist friend recently sent me a link to a New York Times article called Abstract Thoughts? The Body Takes Them Literally. You can access it at:


Recent scientific research seems to validate the amazing discoveries of the 18th Century scientist/theologian, Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg claimed that there was a causal link between physical and spiritual realities. He called this link correspondences. The essential idea of correspondences is that the natural world is a physical analog (metaphor) of the spiritual world. Since an individual’s heart and mind is a man or woman’s spiritual reality, the physical body is lawfully designed to respond to one’s feelings, thoughts and mental abstractions (higher order realities) in a corresponding (embodied) way.

Apparently, this topic is part of a growing and highly popular field in Psychological Science called embodied cognition. I will share several examples from the article.

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen discovered that when participants were asked to contemplate future or past events, their bodies had measurable and corresponding reactions. Those who thought of the future leaned slightly forward while those thinking of the past leaned slightly backward. In other words, an abstract concept such as time found its physical equivalent in body posture.

At Yale, a test was conducted where participants were each given a packet of information concerning an imaginary person. Group A was given a warm cup of coffee with this packet and Group B received iced coffee with the packet. You guessed it. Group A had warmer feelings towards the imagined individual while Group B’s impression was frosty. Furthermore, at the University of Toronto, participants who were asked to recall memories of times when they felt socially snubbed seemed on average to believe that the room they were in was five degrees cooler than those who were asked to recall times of feeling social acceptance.

Swedenborg claimed, two centuries earlier, that psychological love corresponded to physical heat. We even use this similitude in our language—such as experiencing a “warming of the heart” or feeling the “heat of passion.”

This psycho-physical parallelism even extends into issues of morality. Another study showed that participants who dwelled on personal bad behavior such as adultery were more likely to ask for an antiseptic cloth afterwards (to cleanse themselves) than those who dwelled on their good deeds.

Swedenborg took the idea of embodied cognition (correspondences) into theology and biblical interpretation (exegesis). He claimed that the sacred rite of Baptism was a symbolic language for depicting a cleansing of one’s negative inner qualities. In fact, the entire Holy Word had this symbolic language of correspondences incorporated into the structured scaffolding of its narratives.

In another experiment researchers determined that the sensation of “weightiness” influenced the importance participants placed on certain issues. Those holding heavier objects placed more importance to the issues that their minds were being associated with. It is a common lexicon that things we perceive as important carry more “weight.” Weight and importance correspond. Powerful ideas affect the human spirit just as natural objects—with lots of mass—can affect the physical body.

Similarly we can feel miles apart from people who are physically close and very near to those who are miles away. What this means is that the body and mind are aware of another reality that makes use of an entirely different kind of metrics (standard of measurement). Swedenborg boldly stated that the spiritual world contained these non-physical metrics—measurements, boundaries and parameters that represent the quality of one’s love and its derivative thoughts (non-material trajectories).

My first book Sermon From The Compost Pile shows the reader how to employ this symbolic language of embodied cognition or correspondence to all things in the physical world of nature so that one can find spiritual wisdom right in their own garden or backyard.

My second book Proving God offers further insights to where this new science of embodied cognition can take us. It is the lawful and rational means by which science and theology will be ultimately unified!




Posted in love, psychology, Reality, religion, science, symbolism, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

The path to happiness (and why we resist it)

by Rev. Grant Odhner

The path to happiness is one we can choose to walk daily.

We will find happiness when we make wise choices. It is easy to blame our poor choices on circumstances, and to say, “Given the right circumstances I would have chosen well and wisely.” But to think this way is to fail to see our true freedom, and to fail to accept the growth opportunities that the Lord is continually providing for us, both when outer circumstances are positive and when they are difficult. The Lord challenges us to lay up treasures in heaven, not on earth (Matthew 6:19-20). He encourages us to keep our outlook clear—“the lamp of our eye single”—if we want to have light (Matthew 6:22). We must keep our spiritual focus and purpose. And with that focus, we must face the decision of whether to serve God or riches; we can’t serve both (Matthew 6:24). These verses remind us that we must choose, and we will be blessed if we choose a spiritual focus. The Lord encourages us to trust Him. Sometimes we may worry that by choosing a spiritual path we will make life more difficult. But this is not true. He will take care of us if we seek first His kingdom and its righteousness. It is this innocent trust in Him that opens us up to receive His power to choose the higher path, the path that ultimately leads to happiness.

Let me tell you about the experiences of a man we’ll call “John.” John is in a slump. His job is irksome to him—too many routine tasks, nothing exciting on the horizon, not enough challenge. Chores are mounting at home. The cars are due for inspection. Fire wood needs splitting. The deck furniture needs storing. His shirts need ironing, and the list goes on. There are things he’d rather do, but they don’t seem like possibilities. Things are not great with his wife. She has seemed wrapped up in her own busyness. And the children always seem to be her priority. John’s mind wanders away from what he truly values. The choices he makes begin a descent into dark places, and into the consequences : shame, self-loathing, and isolation. It’s a grim place. He does not emerge from it quickly or easily.

Now, a month or so later, things are different for John. There have been changes in his outlook: some hard learning, some better choices through his efforts to turn to God. There have not been great changes at work, and home-life still holds many responsibilities, yet they don’t seem so burdensome. Life with his wife is not all that different, but he feels “closer” to her. He even takes pleasure in her busy life-style and in the way she pays attention to the children’s lives. John feels a satisfying sense of connection with others and a certain contentedness with his life. And when faced with a tempting situation, he chooses not to wander. He’s got better things to do. He’s got a higher sense of direction.

There is no explaining human choice. It’s easy to point to circumstances and excuse John, explaining away his poor choice and saying he wasn’t really free. But he was free. In fact, those situations could be re-cast so that things were going well in his outer life, and yet he might still make that bad choice. And when things were down for him, he might have “toughed it out,” resisted the urge to be selfish, and gained strength and a greater measure of happiness from that choice. There is no explaining human choice.

Consider the experience of Victor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist who survived life in a Nazi concentration camp (his wife and parents did not survive). In studying his own and others’ responses to life under those horrendous conditions, he concluded that the meaning of life is found in every moment of living, good and bad, and that we truly are free to choose our response. He wrote:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

In considering the issue of our making wise choices, the first thing that we need to accept is that we are free to choose, that we must choose, and that we are responsible for our choices. New Church theology says:

“Let anyone, if he wishes, ask himself whether he can think seventy times a day, or three hundred times a week, about God…and…the spiritual matters of the church. Is he at that moment aware of any compulsion …, whether or not he has faith? Test yourself too, whatever your present state, to see if you can think anything at all without free will, whether in your conversation, [or] in your prayers to God…. Is not freedom of choice the all-important feature in these actions?” ( True Christian Religion 480; cf. 497)

We are free. And that means that regardless of our situation we can say “Good morning” to the person who has greeted us and mean it. We can let a positive thought “trump” the spontaneous negative thoughts that come to mind. We are free, and responsible. (Victor Frankl noted that we have a Statue of Liberty on the east coast of the USA; he thought we should have a Statue of Responsibility on the west coast.)

Make no mistake: there is pleasure to be had in putting ourselves first in all things, in the challenge of forging our own happiness—engaging in our friendships, in our church life, in our work, with primarily ourselves in mind. There are satisfying things about managing our life for our own convenience, acquiring economic security, maintaining our creature comforts.

These are real pleasures. Choosing them does have some negative consequences. But the path to heaven has negative consequences for the natural part of us, and it always will. That part of us will always need to face short-term barriers to its delights and be required to wait and subordinate itself. The point is that whether we choose heaven or hell there are consequences which we accept as part of that choice. One choice is not inherently less desirable than the other. Heaven is truly a better choice; but what we find more “desirable” no one but ourselves can decide. The individual decides which choice is “life” for him or her, and which one is “death.”

We tip the balance with our choice. Nothing is stopping us from going this way or that. We choose. With equal pressure on us from both sides, why choose to believe in the Lord and follow Him? Why lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven and not just go for the tangible ones we find on earth? Why believe that His way is good and leads to greater blessing?

Ultimately, we believe in the Lord and choose His way because we want to. We all continually feel the pressure to act for self-advantage. There are short-term benefits and pleasures in doing that. We can look back at a history of acting-for- self and think that it’s the easiest thing to do. On the other hand, we can also look back at a rich history of having experienced the satisfaction of denying self and putting ideals first. We’ve all experienced the profound joy of cooperation, and of mutuality in a relationship. We’ve felt the joy of serving without thought of reward. And though we come into times of struggle and doubt and must fight to stay on the path, fight to reassert that choice, fight for what we love, our faith in the Lord sustains us. We know that we will find deeper happiness if we choose His way. We trust Him. We are touched by His truth. We believe His promises. And we are inspired to choose wisely, to choose to be happy, when He reassures us:


“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6.25-33)


“What is marvellous is that every individual thing, even to objects the most minute, is adapted for use. ”

Apocalypse Explained 1191:2

Good, Evil, and Free Will—You Decide

Swedenborg Foundation

by Hanna Hyatt

If you have begun to dabble in Swedenborg’s many works, you might have seen references to influx, a term that’s often rendered as “inflow” in newer translations. Are you curious about influx? Have you wondered how this divine influence relates to free will? What does Swedenborg say about how the interplay between good, evil, and freedom impacts a person’s spiritual life?  If you want to know more, you’ve arrived at the right place!


It is common knowledge that we can’t reach out and grab part of the sun. We can only feel the sun’s light through layers and layers of atmosphere. Swedenborg compares the physical reality of the earth with the spiritual reality of heaven and hell. In the same way that approaching the physical sun would destroy our bodies, he tells us that coming into direct contact with God—whom Swedenborg describes as love itself—would completely overwhelm us. We need the layers of separation to turn an immense energy into a nurturing, sustaining force.Swedenborg focuses on this comparison in his book Heaven and Hell, where he describes the nature of the Lord’s love, the relationship between physical and spiritual reality, and the Lord’s goal for humanity: to receive his love and “pay it forward” by behaving in loving ways toward others. Swedenborg writes that God’s love reaches humanity through angels, who help human beings reach the Lord. Once loving ideas and concepts reach people, their minds and souls receive God’s love, which begins to influence the way they perceive the world.

Through his spiritual experiences, Swedenborg found that before people can begin deciding whether or not they want to act on that divine influence, three important processes must happen backstage: the combination of influx, evil influences, and freedom.


Influx happens when the Lord’s love reaches people’s minds, and Swedenborg writes that our lives depend on it: “We could not survive for a moment if the influx from the spiritual world were taken from us” (New Jerusalem #277). The life-sustaining force that flows into us from God, he continues, is love. If we embrace this love and try to listen for the “little voice” of conscience that it produces, it provides the loving thoughts and inclinations that enable us to love others and embody good ideas. These are our good influences, also known as influx.

If influx were our only influence, we would be nothing more than vessels for the Lord’s love, without any ability to decide how to act or even think. Goodness would be thrust upon us, and we would not be free. We would be nothing more than very loving robots. Swedenborg writes that the Lord protects us against this by allowing us to be exposed to evil.

Evil Influences

Swedenborg focuses on the love of self as one of the primary hellish loves. He notes that the Lord gives us the ability to love hell through all the ways we can love ourselves—valuing success and popularity, making idols of our strengths, and admiring ourselves above all others. With this idea, the Lord allows hell to reach into our lives and influence us, just as his influx influences us. By allowing us to suffer from other people’s selfish decisions, Swedenborg says, God gives us the tools to recognize this behavior as evil. In this way, the Lord gives us freedom to choose between good and evil and make our own decisions.

Swedenborg writes that evil influences are the only way that human beings can be free. While the Lord is providing all good things through heaven, hell is providing us with fuel to love ourselves and the world, to reject all good things and love evil. These two forces working in opposition give us two paths to choose between, and those choices form our character.


Through our thoughts and through our values, the Lord’s love meets the influences of hellish love. We have the freedom to think that we want to love others and that we want to love ourselves—which in Swedenborg’s theology are two mutually exclusive things—without skipping a beat. We are the mixing bowl where everything good and bad jumbles together, making it hard to figure out and isolate the good or the bad. From situation to situation, we apply both good ideas and bad ideas, usually with mixed motives and confused influences.

That confusing concoction is called freedom, and Swedenborg tells us that the Lord adores it and protects it fiercely, as Swedenborg notes in his book Divine Providence: “The Lord protects our freedom the way we protect the pupil of our eye” (#97).

We are able to make decisions freely if and only if our heads are breathing the air in the sky with the angels and our feet are planted solidly on the ground, where hell can reach us and influence us. Swedenborg uses this airy imagery to illustrate the Lord’s love for our freedom: “Taking away human spiritual freedom would be like removing the wheels from coaches, the air-catching arms from windmills, the sails from ships” (True Christianity #482).

For people struggling with selfish impulses or negative emotions, influx also allows for divine love and good influences to flow in and provide support. It also supplies us with everything we need to connect with hell. If we go through life searching for the good and the Lord’s love, Swedenborg says, the Lord will continue to open our hearts and minds and allow us to receive more of his love. This leads to an apparently contradictory yet key principle of Swedenborg’s theology: The only way we can freely choose to follow the Lord is if he allows us to leave him.

A recurring image from Swedenborg’s writings is that the Lord’s sunlight warms us, just as the air we breathe fuels us and the ground we stand on gives us balance. We need all influx, evil influences, and freedom to be able to think and act for ourselves—that, he explains, is the only way that human beings are able to love the Lord from their own hearts and minds.

Happy life – Does this require affluence?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

happyWho wouldn’t be happy to have more money? To pay off the credit card or buy that needed furniture. Yet, the huge wealth of the ‘fat cats’ who run large companies in the UK has astonished us. By October 2011 the pay packages of directors of FTSE 100 companies had increased by 49% in a single year. The average figure had then become £2,697,644.

The total rewards of the chief executives of these companies were even higher. Forbes Magazine reported that the ratio of their income to that of the average UK employee rose from 45:1 in 1998 to 120:1 in 2010.

Some might wish them well in their good fortune. Who wouldn’t enjoy having a large yacht, a smart place to live, fast car, and no money worries?  But is it right to assume the happy life requires affluence? That having lots of money is the solution to common frustrations and stress?

Self-awarded rewards and the question of a happy life

In Britain politicians voting themselves high salary increases caused public disquiet. This soon turned to outrage when we discovered that many of them had been collaring small fortunes in expenses for themselves. All at a time when average living standards were being severely squeezed.

This desire for wealth is shown by a stitch up in the boardrooms as directors have awarded their own pay rises succumbing to the temptations of wealth.

We all thought that the shareholders own the company and determine who gets paid what. Also that the executives manage it to develop a more successful venture on a stable footing. But this seems to have changed. Companies have grown. Shareholders are now spread widely. Consequently, there has become a lack of external check on the pay of top managers.

happy‘The actual controllers of the company would cream off the profits into their own pockets, direct profitable business into other companies controlled by themselves, as well as award themselves magnificent salaries.’  (Ferdinand Mount, political commentator)

What has shocked us is the shameless way the top managers in numerous incidents have abused their power. They have taken more out of the company even when its performance has been at best mediocre. The same thing has happened in the large public bodies.

Pursuing an illusion of a happy life?

Grabbing huge pay rises, despite resulting social approbation, indicates a strong belief that wealth will make one happy. It is a common enough attitude. However, is seeking affluence actually the pursuit of an illusion? It would seem so. Study after study by psychologists has shown no association between wealth and happiness. The exceptions are where housing costs are a large proportion of income necessitating long working hours and cases of poverty when extra income does relieve hunger and suffering.

More startling still is research showing the pursuit of money is not only a mistake but also a dangerous one. Psychology professor Tim Kasser discovered that extremely rich people are not significantly happier than people on average income, and suffer from higher levels of depression.

Carolyn Gregoire, writing in The Huffington Post, quotes research that found that where both partners are materialistic, couples have a poorer quality of marital relationship. Also there are findings that students with higher materialistic values tend to have lower-quality relationships and feel less connected to others.

What then does lead to a happy life?

Researchers in positive psychology discovered that a real sense of personal well-being comes from good relationships, meaningful and challenging activities, and a sense of connection to something bigger than us – such as a religion, a political or social cause or a sense of mission.

All of us can hanker after money. According to transpersonal psychologist Steve Taylor, hardship does not drive the appetite for wealth and material goods. Instead, our inner discontent causes it. I would say a self-orientated inner state of mind creates this discontent. In other words what makes one happy is something non-materialistic- deep within one’s being.

Angelic state and the happy life

In his books, mystical writer Emanuel Swedenborg tries to put into words some of his limited experience of the happiness of what he terms an ‘angelic state’ of peace, contentment and joy. He says to be deeply happy involves several things.

  • A loving attitude towards other people. The highest form this takes is wanting to give what is one’s own to others.

Those who are moved by mutual love are constantly approaching the spring-time of their youth….. This process continues for ever, constantly bringing increases in joy and happiness.‘ (Emanuel Swedenborg)

  • Mindful involvement in the present moment. Neither being concerned about the past nor the future leads to happiness. In other words having genuine concern for someone draws us away from our bodily and worldly interests and lifts our mind to heaven and so we are pulled away from things that belong to time.
  • Freedom from feeling self-centered. Instead, of being led by one’s own wishes, happiness comes from identifying with one’s true Self. This means innocently trusting in something beyond one’s false self. It involves following thoughts in line with our image of what is supremely good. Swedenborg points out that this can only come from not falling for the illusion that one is separate and self-contained.

In line with this third point, I believe my good intentions and perceptive insights are not my own. Instead their spiritual Source inspires them into my heart and head..

Copyright 2017 Stephen Russell-Lacy Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems


Posted on 22nd March 2017 Categories Latest post, Meaning of life, Other aspects of meaning Tags , , , , , ,