For example, with the system revealed to Swedenborg, pure water can be experienced as cleansing, thirst-quenching, a medium for preparing food and, through harnessing its power, a means of energy. Subsequently, it is possible to appreciate a link or correspondence between a physical manifestation and concepts to do with a person’s spiritual nature. That is, a person can experience the flow of genuine enlightenment as refreshing the spirit, as correcting or altering attitudes towards life – the result of which may feed into a more wholesome appreciation of inner energy and fulfilment.
Now because every single thing remains in being from the Divine, that is, is constantly coming into being from Him, and every single thing from that source is inevitably a representative of the real thing by means of which it has come into being, the whole visible universe is therefore nothing else than a theatre that is representative of the Lord’s kingdom. And this in turn is a theatre representative of the Lord Himself. Emanuel Swedenborg in Arcana Caelestia 3483
This mighty system which is called the universe is a single unit coherently organised from beginning to end, because God had one end in view in creating it, to create from the human race a heaven of angels. The means to this end are all the things of which the world is composed; for he who wills the end, wills also the means. The man therefore who contemplates the world as a piece of work containing the means to that end can contemplate the created universe as a single coherent unit, and he can see that the world is an assemblage of services structured for the benefit of the human race, to form a heaven of angels. Emanuel Swedenborg in True Christian Religion 13:1-2
The following quotations offer a concept of usefulness, rather than forms, showing images of the Divine in creation. A visit to the countryside can bring a person into touch with the created universe in a way quite different from exposure to a man-made environment of a large town or city. For example, a person could reflect on:
– Various herbs being for the use of healing the body.
– Timber serving various uses from relaxation (willow for cricket bats) to building material (oak).
– Leaves of trees being a means of purifying the air people breathe.
– Grasses as staple foods.
– A chemist or botanist could delve deeper into the forms and penetrate into the wonders of uses revealed through the
From these examples and your own experience reflect on the uses provided in the world of nature. How far a step is it to contemplate that what the Creator can provide as necessary for the physical body can also be provided on a level of spirit? Further, in what way may you then be able to make links between uses in the natural world and parallels mirrored within the needs of your spirit?
That love and wisdom are the origin of all things of nature cannot be seen unless nature is regarded in terms of the uses it serves in their series and succession, and not in terms of some of its forms, which are objects only of the eye. For useful endeavours spring only from life, and their series and succession from wisdom and love, while forms are the vessels serving those uses. Consequently if one regards only the forms, it is impossible to see anything of life in nature, still less anything of love and wisdom, and so neither anything of God. Emanuel Swedenborg in Divine Love & Wisdom 46
… even though the Divine is present in each and every constituent of the created universe, still there is nothing of the Divine in their being. For the created universe is not God, but from God. And because it is from God, it has in it His image, like the image of a person in a mirror, in which the person indeed appears, but which nevertheless has nothing of the person in it. Emanuel Swedenborg in Divine Love & Wisdom 59
The universal end of creation, or the end in all its constituents, is for an eternal conjunction of the Creator with the created universe to take place, and this is not possible without vessels in which His Divinity can exist as though in itself, thus in which it can dwell and abide. For these vessels to be His dwellings or abodes, they must be recipients of His love and wisdom as though of themselves, thus recipients which will as though of themselves elevate themselves to the Creator and conjoin themselves with Him. Without this reciprocity, conjunction is not possible. These vessels are human beings, who are able as though of themselves to elevate and conjoin themselves. … By that conjunction the Lord is present in every work created by Him. For everything was created ultimately for the sake of mankind. Consequently the uses of all that He created ascend by degrees from the lowest created forms to mankind, and through mankind to God the Creator from whom they originate, … Emanuel Swedenborg in Divine Love & Wisdom 170