Prophecies of the Lord’s Advent

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The Messiah. The Savior. For hundreds – maybe thousands – of years, people were waiting for the Lord to be born. Why? Because the Old Testament has many prophecies of the event.

It starts in Genesis 3:15, where the Lord admonishes the serpent in the Garden of Eden:

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15.

There’s the well-known one from Numbers 24, when Balaam blesses Israel:

He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: “I shall see him, but not now. I shall behold him, but not nigh. There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.”

In Micah 5, there’s this one, in which Bethlehem is identified as the place where the Lord will come from:

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

In Malachi 3:1-4, there’s a prophecy that includes both John the Baptist and the Lord:

1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to this temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifer of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.

In Isaiah, there’s another prophecy of John the Baptist, and the Lord:

“A voice is crying — in a wilderness — Prepare ye the way of Jehovah, Make straight in a desert a highway to our God.” Isaiah 40:3.

Then, in Isaiah 9, we have perhaps the best-known one of all:

6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

There are many other prophecies besides these. But Malachi was the last of the Jewish prophets, and for perhaps 500 years after his death, the records are silent.

Three hundred years before the time of Jesus Christ, the armies of Alexander the Great swept through Israel, and it became part of Alexander’s empire. After his death, three of his generals divided the empire amongst themselves, and Israel became a borderland between the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires. Greek culture followed, threatening to swamp the Jewish culture that had been somewhat restored after the return from Babylon. There was a brief independence under the Maccabees, but then came the Romans.

Somehow, there was still a remnant of good people who were waiting for the Messiah, and – when the time came – they were receptive. Mary was. Joseph was. The shepherds were. The wise men were. Zacharias and Elizabeth were. In the temple, Simeon and Anna were. So, there were a few, who knew the prophecies, and had not lost faith that they would someday be fulfilled.

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“I Am The Lord Your God”

“I Am The Lord Your God”

A Sermon by the Rev. Peter M. Buss, Jr.
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Life progresses. I’d like you to think for a moment about what
your life may be like a year from now. Countless things will happen to
all of us between now and then. We will all experience another
Easter, another Thanksgiving, another Christmas. Some of us may
retire. Others may change jobs, or become grandparents for the first
time, or move. Those of us who are married will celebrate an
anniversary; it may be a third anniversary, or a thirtieth or fortieth
anniversary. Those of us who are parents will notice that our children
will develop substantially: they will become more independent and
more competent. This might be the year for a child to move out of the
house – even get married. We will all celebrate a birthday this year.
Whatever activities or landmarks fill our time, we can be
assured that life will keep rolling by. Each day brings with it new
experiences and challenges; some which give us joy, and others
which test our endurance.
Through it all we will be developing as people. Our perspectives
will change as we see more of life. We know that beyond the various
things which fill up our day, we are supposed to be making spiritual
progress. Each year we get closer to the time when our lives in this
world will be over, and we will enter the spiritual world, which includes
heaven and hell. Our primary goal in this world should be to prepare
for that time – to be led by the Lord towards heaven. From time to
time, then, it’s useful to reflect on how religion will play a part in our
lives. How will the Lord Himself help us to make some spiritual
progress this year? What is He leading us towards? What does He
want us to see about our choices and ways of acting, and consider
changing? What is most important to Him?
The First Commandment. Today’s focus is on the most central
religious principle to keep in mind as we strive to make progress in
our spiritual lives: dedication to the Lord our God. That is why we will
look at the First Commandment today – the first thing, and in one
sense the most important, which the Lord commanded from Mt. Sinai.
He said:
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before My
face. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness
of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or
that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them
nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting
the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth
generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands,
to those who love Me and keep My commandments (Exodus 20:2-6).
“That which reigns universally.” There is a teaching in the
Writings for the New Church which says: “What is stated first must be
held in mind and must be seen to reside universally in everything that
follows” (Arcana Caelestia 8864:3). In one sense this means that the
First Commandment must be held in mind when we look at the rest of
the commandments, for it “reigns universally” in them. For example:
• The next two commandments teach us how to worship the Lord
alone or have no other gods before His face: we are not to take
His name in vain, which means that we honor and revere Him;
and we are to remember the Sabbath day, or take time to focus
on the Lord and make Him a priority.
• We are not to steal, because the God whom we worship forbids it.
• He commands us not to commit adultery because He is the God
of marriage.
• We are not to murder, lie, or covet because in doing so we are not
loving the Lord nor keeping His commandments, as the First
Commandment requires.
In general, the First Commandment calls us to commit
ourselves to the Lord to let Him reign in our lives. If we think about it,
we need this command. For religion to make any sense, we have to
know who the Lord is – He is the central focus, and the object of all
our religious devotion. For us to see value in the Bible we have to
know the Revelator – then it can be a Divinely authoritative guide for
us. If we are to accept the path of regeneration or spiritual rebirth, we
need to worship the Savior who makes it all happen.
One teaching in the Writings for the New Church says: “What
reigns universally with a person is that which is present in every idea
of his thought and every desire of his will… That which reigns
universally within a person should be the Lord” (emphasis added,
Arcana Caelestia 8865). Another teaching says: “A person’s whole
character is determined by the nature of whatever dominates his life”
(Arcana Caelestia 8858). The Lord asks us to let Him “dominate” our
lives. He asks that we love Him above all things, that we make Him
and His ways the priority in our lives, for He is the Source, the
Beginning, the Lord our God.
The Tone. One of the things we notice about the First
Commandment is that it is stated in the negative: “You shall have no
other gods before My face,” rather than “You shall worship the Lord
your God alone.” If we fail, He will “visit the iniquity of the fathers on
the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate
[Him].” For He is a jealous God and one whom we should fear. We
might wonder why this is the case. If worshiping the Lord alone is so
important, why does He appear so foreboding, commanding, and
manipulative – so distant? As you may suspect, there are several
reasons for such a tone. First, the Israelites, to whom the Ten
Commandments were first revealed, needed such an image. They
would not have listened unless a powerful, jealous God was
speaking. Such an image caused them to pay attention!
But another reason for the tone is that it teaches us how to
make the Lord our central focus. “You shall have no other gods
before My face,” it says. How? By not carving any images, or making
any likenesses of anything in heaven, on earth, or in the waters
below. All these represent things which stand in the way of letting the
Lord reign in us. “Gods” can mean selfishness – putting ourselves
before the Lord, which is the root of all evil. They can also mean
worldliness, or a lack of concern for anything beyond what we can
see and experience, namely the Lord and heaven. A “likeness in the
heavens above or the earth beneath” means pretending to be a good
person. A person who acts like a spiritual and moral person
externally, is making a likeness or putting on a façade (see Arcana
Caelestia 8871:1). The Lord calls such people hypocrites.
When we get to “the waters under the earth” we come to the
direct opposite to worshiping the Lord. The waters and the things they
contain represent a bodily-oriented person, who cares only for
external pleasures (Arcana Caelestia 8872). Such a person is
dominated by appetites for worldly things such things as food or
possessions, or for physical, lustful pleasure. This is a far cry from
what is orderly, with the Lord at the top, and these cravings much
further down the list in their appropriate places (see Arcana Caelestia
The purpose of stating the First Commandment in the negative
is to warn us that we all have tendencies to love ourselves, to make
ourselves appear like good people, to seek pleasure. If we focus on
these things alone, the Lord cannot help us. Without Him, we live
lives which are pictured by the Israelites in the land of Egypt-in
bondage, controlled by negative influences which come to us by
means of hell. Our lives will have qualities to them which don’t bring
us happiness, but instead make us feel miserable. We will act in
selfish and manipulative ways, and cause harm to the people around
us. But the Lord wants us to realize that it doesn’t have to be that
way. He can free us from these negative influences. If we put Him
first, He delivers us from the influences of hell (see Arcana Caelestia
8866). He gives us a rationale for the way things should be, with
Himself at the top governing and directing our lives, with charity to
other people next, as He commands. Then we can take care of our
own needs, and experience pleasures in their proper measure, with
appropriate goals: eating to remain healthy, earning money to support
a family or even to live comfortably.


“A person is totally unaware of the fact that the Lord is governing them by means of angels and spirits.”

Arcana Coelestia 50

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Reward is Intrinsic Beatitude, which is called Peace, and thence External Joy

Lastchurch - The Eternal PurposeFrom Apocalypse Revealed ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
Rev 22:12
… signifies that the Lord will certainly come, and that He Himself is heaven and the felicity of eternal life to everyone according to faith in Him, and life according to His commandments. “Behold, I come quickly,” signifies that He will certainly come, that is, to execute judgment, and to found a New Heaven and a New Church. That “quickly” means certainly. “My reward is with Me,” signifies that the Lord Himself is heaven and the felicity of eternal life. That “reward” is heaven and eternal felicity. That it is the Lord Himself, will be seen below.

Rendering unto everyone according to His work,” signifies according to his conjunction with the Lord by faith in Him and by life according to His commandments. The reason why this is signified, is because by good works are signified charity and faith in internals, and, at the same time, their effects in externals; and because charity and faith are from the Lord, and according to conjunction with Him, it is evident that these are signified; thus also this coheres with what went before. That good works are charity and faith in internals, and at the same time their effects in externals.

That charity and faith are not from man, but from the Lord, is known; and because they are from the Lord they are according to conjunction with Him, and conjunction with Him is effected by faith in Him and by a life according to His commandments. By faith in Him is meant confidence that He will save, and they have this confidence who immediately approach Him, and shun evils as sins; with others it is not given.

It was said that “My reward is with Me” signifies that He Himself is heaven and the felicity of eternal life, for “reward” is intrinsic beatitude, which is called peace, and thence external joy. These are solely from the Lord, and the things which are from the Lord, not only are from Him, but also are Himself, for the Lord cannot send forth anything from Himself except it be Himself, for He is omnipresent with every man according to conjunction, and conjunction is according to reception, and reception is according to love and wisdom, or if you will, according to charity and faith, and charity and faith are according to life, and life is according to the aversion to evil and falsity, and aversion to evil and falsity is according to the knowledge of what is evil and false, and then according to repentance, and at the same time looking to the Lord.

That “reward” not only is from the Lord but also is the Lord Himself appears from those passages in the Word where it is said that they who are conjoined with Him are in Him and He in them, as may be seen in John:

At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you.  He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.  Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him. He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings: and the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent me. (14:20-24)  (also see John 15:4-5 seq.; 17:19, 21-22, 26, and in other places),

… and also where it is said that the Holy Spirit is in them; and the Holy Spirit is the Lord, for it is His Divine presence; and also when he prays that God will dwell in them to teach and lead them, the tongue to preach and the body to do that which is good; besides other things of a like nature. For the Lord is love itself and wisdom itself; these two are not in place but are where they are received and according to the quality of the reception.

… the Lord Himself is in men according to reception and not from anything Divine separated from Him. The angels are in this idea when they are in the idea of Divine omnipresence, and I do not doubt that that some Christians are in a similar idea also.

(Apocalypse Revealed 949)
June 7, 2017
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You have a Soul, a Physical Body, but everything in between is up to you!

Religion is simply about how to live a heaven-bound life. And, if one humbly and sincerely loves God and the neighbor, reaching God’s heavenly kingdom of mutual love does not require one to be a neuroscientist.

So why did Emanuel Swedenborg provide so many extra details on the process of spiritual salvation? The average person who lives a life of goodness from spiritual principles does not really need such doctrinal “overkill.”

A hint comes from a statement once made by George Gurdjieff that “the more one knows, the more effective one’s efforts can be.” The purpose of religion is to change our lives to become better people. Therefore, Swedenborg offered the extra information for those who wanted to understand the actual “science” behind salvation (all process proceeds according to the laws of order).

Religion basically informs us that we have a soul and a physical body. Because we have souls, the human race can survive death and live in a spiritual realm. But what Swedenborg (and Gurdjieff) brings to the theological table is that the human soul still needs to be embodied in a way that allows an individual’s personal identity to be put into a non-physical structure and organically transferred to a different realm.

According to Swedenborg, God’s living force flows into our souls—through heaven—and down into the hearts and minds of us people living on earth. But this divine influence flows through us like water through a sieve—unless a person makes the effort to allow God’s love and truth to become “fixed” and permanent in his or her life.

Swedenborg discovered that the true human soul is even beyond the consciousness of angels. So we cannot live in such a rarified sphere after death. What happens is that the Soul creates a spiritual body inside the physical body—based on the things we LOVE and seek! In other words, instead of being the mere result of our parents’ genes (which is a genetic “crapshoot”), the spiritual body is who we really are and deserve to be!

Swedenborg claimed that a person’s blood is a physical analog of an individual’s loves, affections and passions. Not only do people have different appetites, the human digestive system extracts nutrients that bring the chemical makeup of a person’s blood into concord with their affections. He claimed individuals even extract different qualities from the atmosphere (atmospheric and ethereal salts) in our respiratory systems to further promote this concord. And finally we all draw in different kinds of knowledge from the world (including religious doctrine). From these multi-sourced “foods” the soul fashions our real spiritual body using the substances that correspond to our life choices and values (loves).

We tend to view the human mental faculty of understanding and reasoning as a cognitive function. But Swedenborg claimed that the human understanding is an organized body of knowledge that forms one’s innermost bio-complexity. In the same way the physical body consists of organs that digest and prepare food, the human understanding contains non-physical analogs of these same organs by which the spirit can digest and prepare information. Angels, and those who live in heaven, have developed spiritual bodies that can receive and digest an even nobler food or quality of information—God’s teachings and tenets.

The spiritual body develops (crystallizes) within our physical bodies as we live out and act on our chosen principles of life. When individuals leave their physical bodies behind after death, they find themselves living in the environment that most suits their spiritual bio-complexity. Those who gravitate toward heaven or toward hell have differently organized spiritual bodies. Again, the soul can only create our inner reality and spiritual body from the things we hold dearest in our hearts and minds. (If the soul did not comply with our strongest wishes our very bio-fabric would rip apart!)

I am sharing these ideas with you so that you can have a more visceral notion of the consequences of one’s behavior. My new book Proving God contains a chapter entitled “The Science of Salvation” which puts the discussion of human salvation into clear scientific language!

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A daring work that unifies Science and Theology
by challenging many of the world’s current beliefs about both

Proving God

Progress In Spiritual Knowledge






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“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth : . . .
and he will show you things to come.” — JOHN xvi. 12, 13.

IN these words our Lord teaches us a lesson which has a most important bearing upon the condition of the human mind which is unfavorable to all progress in knowledge. We are constantly tempted to mistake the limits of our knowledge for the limits of the truth. The more ignorant men are, the greater the temptation to do it. It requires some knowledge to discover our own ignorance. Scientific men were much more disposed in former times, when there was but little knowledge of nature, to be dogmatic, and to claim that they had reached the summit of knowledge and had explored all the secrets of nature, than they are now. We see the most remarkable exhibition of this tendency in the disposition to limit knowledge upon the most important subjects of human interest, to what has already been attained, to what was attained, we might say, centuries ago. The belief among Christians is almost universal that we have reached the limits of our knowledge of spiritual truth ; that no further progress is possible while we remain in this world ; that the doctrines of Christianity, as they are accepted and understood in the so-called evangelical churches, are absolute truths, which cannot be superseded, and from which no advance can be made. They are the limit of our possibilities. New facts may be discovered about them ; there may be new ways of stating them, new illustrations of their truth, but there can be no advance beyond them. They mark the farthest boundaries of our knowledge. So determinate and fixed is this belief that it has passed into a maxim, that ” what is true is not new, and what is new is not true.”

If it is true that no farther advance in spiritual knowledge is possible, it is well to know it, that we may not waste our energies in struggling against the inevitable, but may rest and try to content ourselves in the darkness and uncertainty of our present attainments. If it is not true, then we ought to know it, that, without fear of danger to our eternal interests, we may freely and fearlessly examine all questions relating to our spiritual nature, and use all the means in our power to advance into clearer light and higher attainments. The bare possibility that we can gain a clearer and more rational light upon all the great questions of man’s spiritual nature and destiny ought to be sufficient to stimulate us to the diligent use of all the means in our power to attain so important a result. Let us, then, examine the subject in the light of reason and revelation, and see what ground we have for believing that we can continually advance in spiritual knowledge, into clearer light and more certain attainments.

There is nothing in the present attainments In spiritual knowledge so complete and satisfactory as to lead to the conclusion that nothing more is desirable. On the contrary, the present state of religious thought proves directly the contrary. There has never been a time, since the truths of Christianity were first revealed, when there was so much difference of opinion with regard to them, and so little heartiness in their reception as stated in the dogmatic forms of the various churches, as there is now. The fundamental doctrines of Christianity as they have been held, which have been regarded as essential to salvation, are not taught with the clearness and distinctness and directness in any of the churches that they were formerly. The ministers themselves have not the undoubting faith in them which the ministers of former times had. The intelligent members of the church do not believe them in their naked and unmodified form as they were once believed. The doctrines formerly accepted are not now held with that unquestioning belief which a good Presbyterian lady once told me she had in the Bible. ” If the Bible had said that Jonah swallowed the whale instead of the whale swallowing Jonah,” she said, ” I would believe it.”

There is an uncertainty, a diversity of opinion upon what have been regarded as the fundamental doctrines of Christianity which is increasing rather than diminishing. The Trinity, the Atonement, the Resurrection, the nature of our own existence after Death, the Inspiration of the Bible,—questions which form the basis of all religious belief, are discussed with greater zeal than they ever were, and there is a greater variety of opinion upon these doctrines, among those who believe in them in some sense, than ever before. The opinions range through all shades from a merely nominal acceptance of the doctrines to that belief which admits of no doubt because it admits of no examination. Is it rational to suppose that this confusion of tongues, this variety of opinion and even contradiction of belief, this uncertainty and doubt upon questions which relate to man’s highest interests, is the best which man is capable of attaining? Is he forbidden to advance beyond the twilight and confusion of mere opinion ? It seems to be contrary to the nature of the human mind and the purposes of the Divine love and wisdom that it should be so. But if any one is disposed to deny that there is this diversity of opinion, and to assert that the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, as formally held by Christians, are generally accepted without any doubts as to their truth, it still holds that they go only a very little way in spiritual knowledge. It is acknowledged that the doctrines themselves are not and cannot be understood.

They are great mysteries which the human mind, in this life, cannot fathom. The Trinity is a mystery, and the more it is discussed and explored the greater the confusion. The Incarnation of God, and the manner in which He effected human redemption by assuming a human nature, is a mystery which, it is generally acknowledged, cannot be understood. The Resurrection is a mystery which must be simply accepted as a fact, but which cannot be explained. We are taught that we are to live forever, and at the same time we are told that we can have no certain knowledge of the modes and forms and nature of the life after death. These great facts are affirmed in the most positive manner, and just enough is taught about them to awaken interest and lead to their examination, and then we are told that they cannot be understood ; we must accept them by an act of faith. Suppose the doctrines are true, how little they have done for man !

Now, I ask, is it reasonable to suppose that the Lord intended this to be the extent of human attainment upon these great themes which relate to man’s highest interests? Does it accord with the nature of the human mind ? Is it consonant with His oft-repeated declaration in His Word that a true knowledge of God is of vital importance to man, that to know Him aright is life everlasting ? Does it seem to be consistent with the goodness and wisdom of God that He should tantalize us with expectations which He forbids us to realize, and give us problems impossible of solution, which rend the soul in its efforts to reach the unattainable ? What else does He leave in such a fragmentary and unsatisfactory condition ? It is like bringing the tree to leaf and bud, and arresting its progress before attaining the glory of blossom and the blessing of fruit ; it is causing hunger and thirst and providing no means to satisfy them ; it is giving to the material body the power of growing into the beauty of womanhood and the strength of manhood and withholding the means of growth, leaving it in helpless infancy, cursed by eternal feebleness ; it is endowing man with the power of perceiving a few rays of the morning twilight, and awakening in him the expectation of the coming sun, and then leaving him in that expectation while its coming is withheld. It is contrary to every principle of the human mind, and to all the Divine methods so far as we have any knowledge of them. We conclude, therefore, that the Lord never intended to arrest man’s progress in the knowledge of spiritual truth, and stay his footsteps on the threshold of knowledge, while the whole universe of truth lies waiting to be explored. But we are not left to conjecture or to our own reasoning upon this subject. The Lord has declared, as clearly as human language can express a truth, that it is the purpose of His heart to communicate His love and wisdom to men. He desires to communicate Himself. He gave the Word for this purpose. He came in the flesh to be a light to the world. He attributes every loss and sorrow to ignorance of Him, and every possible attainment and joy to a true knowledge of His nature and relations to men.

The words of our text are an explicit declaration of the fact that progress in spiritual knowledge is possible. “Ihave yet many things to say unto you.” We cannot suppose that these words applied to the disciples alone. They must be of universal application. They are as true of the highest angel as of the child just born. The Lord is infinite, man is finite. The Lord has a perfect knowledge of all causes in all their possible forms and relations and effects to eternity. He knows the influence of every affection, thought, and act upon our whole future, in all its combinations and its relations to every other thought and act and being. He sees the end from the beginning of every particular in our lives.

How little the wisest men know, even of natural forms and substances ! Our knowledge is limited almost entirely to appearances and to a few links in the chain of cause and effect. We know that when light flows into the eye we can see, but we do not know how such a force, flowing into such a form, produces such an effect. We know that the undulations of the air flowing into the ear cause hearing ; we know some facts about the relation of the air to the ear, but why its inflowing should produce the effect it does no one can tell. Great progress has been made in natural science during the last century, but the relation of the known to the unknown is no greater than the smallest fraction to the infinite. Swedenborg says that the wisest angels see that their knowledge, compared with what there is to be known, is so infinitesimal that they simply say they do not know anything.

Every finite intelligence, however great its advancement in knowledge,—and in the coming eternity that knowledge must be so great that we have no words to express it or power to conceive of it,—will stand upon the shore, while the ocean of truth stretches away into the infinite distance before it. The time can never come when the Lord will not have many things to say unto us. This idea, at the first view, may appear to be discouraging. Must we be learners forever? Shall we never get to the end of our lessons ? What is the use of learning if we can never reach the goal ? We know it to be true that the more we know the more we see there is to be known. The higher we rise, the wider the horizon. This should not discourage us, because the acquisition of knowledge upon every subject which interests us is a source of pleasure. Knowledge is also intellectual and spiritual power and wealth. People never complain because they have more chances of gaining power and riches. Every new truth enlarges man’s means and capacities for happiness. Why, then, should he desire to have the sources of truth, and his ability to gain it, exhausted ? The fact that they can never be exhausted, that the Lord will always have many things to say to us, is the hope and the assurance that the means of happinesswill never fail.

Limited knowledge does not necessarily imply false knowledge. If we know but little, that little may be true as far as it goes. When the school-boy has only learned that two and two- make four, he has not made much progress in the science of numbers, but he has learned something which he will never need to unlearn. So it is with regard to every subject of human knowledge. When we have learned the single truth that God is onein essence and person, we have not advanced very far in a knowledge of His attributes, but we have learned an absolute truth which we shall never find occasion to unlearn. It is as true for the highest angel as it is for the little child. Every new fact adds new clearness and interest to those we have already learned. For this reason our interest in learning and our happiness in gaining knowledge will continue to increase forever.

The fact, therefore, that the Lord has many things to say unto us, and will always have many things to say unto us, holds out to us the grandest hopes for the future. He will always have something new to tell us, and there will always be the zest and joy of learning from Him. He will always have many things to teach about the laws of our own nature, about our relations to others. He will always have many things to reveal to us concerning His own love and wisdom, and His infinite tenderness and care for us. He will always have many things to reveal to us concerning the excellence and beauty and grandeur of the world around us, and concerning His infinite wisdom in adapting it to human wants, and in making it a means of support and culture and happiness.

The instructed mind sees a multitude of substances and forces and beauties in the material world which no one saw a century ago ; and when we pass out of the twilight of this dead, material world into the brightness and the perfections of the substantial, living, spiritual world, He will show us innumerable things ineffably more beautiful and nicely adapted to all our wants, ministering to a higher culture and a more exquisite happiness. The reason is often asked why the Lord does not speak to us more plainly. The question is often put to New-Churchmen, why the Lord did not make known the truths of the New Church before, if they are so great an advance upon former knowledge upon spiritual subjects.Our Lord gives the answer to all these questions in the words, “But ye cannot bear them now.” The Lord reveals the truth to us as fast as we can bear it. What He can tell us is not limited by His knowledge or power or willingness to communicate, but by our ability to receive. The word translated “bear” may mean to understand.” I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot understand them now.” We have conclusive evidence in the Gospels that the disciples did not understand many things which our Lord spake to them. This is true of all disciples. It is true of natural and of spiritual knowledge. When a child takes its first lesson in mathematics, in its ignorance and innocence it might say to the teacher, “Tell me all about the whole science of numbers.” The teacher could only reply, ” I cannot do it.” “Why can you not do it ?” ” Because you cannot bear such knowledge now. Mathematics is a great and complicated science, and it requires much study and severe discipline of the mind to understand it. I will tell you about it as fast as you can bear it.”

If this is true of a natural science, how much more must it be true in relation to the great problems of man’s spiritual nature and destiny ! They lie above the senses and the appearances of nature ; they relate to interior and hidden things. Man’s progress in the knowledge of the outer world has been remarkably slow, though its phenomena have been continually present to the senses, and its forces have been continually offering themselves to his service, to fight his battles, bear his burdens, and do his work. The wind and the rain, the sun and the earth, were constantly whispering their secrets in his ear, but he could not hear their voice. How, then, could we expect that man could understand those higher truths which relate to his spiritual wants and destiny? If it was many thousands of years before man could discover the forces in steam, the existence and use of magnetism, and the nature of the substances which contain so many elements which contribute to his comfort and happiness, is it incredible that it should require an equal number of years before he could be prepared to receive interior spiritual truth ?

But the words “ye cannot bear them now” mean more than inability to understand : they mean indifference and hostihty to spiritual truth. There is an inherent repugnance in the natural mind to spiritual truth. It is more than ignorance, or incapacity, or indifference : it is hostility; it is opposition of nature. It is like the repugnance which we find in the material body to certain substances. We use this very term concerning them. We say we cannot bear the smell or taste or sight of them. The natural degree of the mind has fallen. All its tastes have become perverted. It looks downward and outward to material things. It does not act in harmony with the spiritual mind. It does not like to hear anything about a spiritual world. It cannot conceive of a distinctly spiritual existence. Something akin to nausea is excited by hearing about the spiritual sense of the Word.

When our Lord said to His disciples that He had many things to say unto them, He evidently did not mean that he had many more natural facts to teach them about Himself or His mission in this world, because He never did speak much more to them about these things. His meaning was more plain as He went on to say, ”But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth. . . . He shall receive of mine and shall show it unto you.” He shall show you the spiritual meaning of the words which have been spoken unto you, for they are spirit and life. They could not bear their spiritual import then.

Many Christian people are in the same state now. They can talk about religion ; they can pray with fervor and sing with delight. But they cannot bear to think that the Bible has a spiritual meaning. The idea that the spiritual world is a substantial and really-existing world ; that man himself, as to his spirit, is in the human form and fully organized as a man seems absurd to them. The idea that the old, familiar Bible is luminous with infinite truth, and that they have drawn their doctrines and formed their opinions from the appearances of truth in the letter ; that their minds are veiled and overshadowed with the clouds of the letter, while the unveiled and glorious sun shines in clear radiance about them, they cannot bear. But when the spiritual truth, not the letter of it, but the Spirit of truth, comes,—and He will come when men will open their minds to receive Him,—He will show them many things which they never dreamed of before. He will show them things to come.

These things are not natural events that will occur in the church in after-times, as most commentators have supposed, but spiritual things. A new and more accurate knowledge of the Lord,—”He shall receive of mine, and show it unto you ;” a more accurate and a larger knowledge of our own nature and destiny. He will show you things to come in the spiritual world. He will reveal to you the laws of the spiritual universe, and show you how surpassingly beautiful and glorious it is. He will make real to you your eternal home, and lead you into it.

When the Spirit of truth begins to shine in our understandings, a new and glorious day is dawning upon us ; a sun is rising which will never set. As the mind opens to the reception of this light, it enlarges, and can receive more of the many things which the Lord has to say to us. It also improves in strength and quahty. It can receive higher truths, clearer light ; it has a more comprehensive and delicate capacity for reception ; it can receive larger and richer and more exquisite joys. It will continue to advance towards the Lord with constantly accelerating velocity ; its power of reception from the Lord will continue to increase, and yet the Lord will always have many things to say that are more glorious and that will fill the soul with a constantly deeper and more exquisite joy. May we be among the number of those who have clear eyes and listening ears and open hearts to receive the many things which the Lord has to say to us, and which His Spirit of truth is ever ready to show unto us.

Author: Chauncey Giles, From Progress in Spiritual Knowledge, 1895



Copyright © 2007-2013 A. J. Coriat All rights reserved.

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   Being part of the whole

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   Being part of the whole     spiritual wisdom logo

We are conscious of our own sensations, thoughts and feelings. We each have the sense of being a self-contained individual. What makes each of us unique? Our name? Our genes? Our environment? Or the  person we have become as we inwardly determine every moment of our lives?

When we live a self-orientated life, we feel separate from others to some degree or other and lack any wider view on what life is all about. However we are all capable of noticing, within our soul, the divine spark of what is deeply human, revealed to us in e.g.  music,  books, dreams or conversation. In this way our hearts can be stirred to want what is good.  As we choose to do what is helpful for the sake of others and not just for self, we begin to find a sense of fulfilment.

Whilst alive in the world our inmost thoughts and feelings are part of a flow of life linked from one person to another. Emanuel Swedenborg found that after our death, we become much more aware of this shared world of the spirit, as we mix with others with whom we are in harmony.

All good people whatever their race, education and background are united because there is an infinite creative force for all that is humane in the world. This is the underlying divinity of love which integrates together all who receive this inspiration.

Although having different skills, understanding and interests, we can join together in a common purpose. Each religious tradition has its part to play in one universal faith. This idea is similar to the way  different components of the human body fit together to form a whole healthy body. Each part depends on the others as long as they are not diseased, for the whole to function properly.

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”     

Albert Einstein


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12 Dreams

Swedenborg Study.comOnline works based on the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

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12 Dreams

“So He giveth His beloved in sleep.” Psalm 127:2

The Blessing of Sleep

The stream of man’s conscious life is intermittent, broken by recurring lapses into the unconscious state of sleep, from which he wakens with a new vigor of mind and body, in a new state and with a new start. The state of yesterday is still with us in the morning, as a memory that calls to us for a resumption of our duties or our routine; but it does not bind us entirely. Much is happily forgotten, and the thought of the burden and the heat of yesterday is not so oppressively present. Gradually we pick up the threads of former thoughts, discarding much that is unimportant.

It might seem as if our life was cut up into disjointed segments by these periods of sleep. But nothing is lost from our mind. The stream of consciousness has simply found rest in a limpid pool where its waters are clarified for its further progress. It is the conscious mind—the self-directed thought —that is affected by the apparent death of sleep. “Love does not sleep,” we read in the Arcana Coelestia.283The affections, the subconscious yearnings, instincts, and delights of the will provide a continuity of the whole personality. Man wakes the same man. And through the miracle of memory he has still at his disposal all his past experience and knowledge.

The function of sleep is so important that even the angels, in their evening states, find comfort and refreshment in slumher. For their bodies and their minds—though both spiritual —are yet finite, and all finite things have limits of endurance.

Man’s body, during the day, is largely governed by the caprice of his own will, by his voluntary decisions, which are not always rational. If man could know the exact degree of strain which each part of his body could bear without injury, he might avoid some of the abuses to which he actually exposes his organism. But even so there would be need for relaxation of body and brain and for a restoral of equilibrium after every sustained exertion.

In his philosophical works, Swedenborg offers an explanation of the physiology of sleep. He states that man’s conscious will (or voluntary) resides in the cerebrum or anterior part of the brain, and that deliberate action is initiated from the “cortical glands” there. These brain-cells, by extending fibres, govern all the muscles of the limbs and of the skeletal frame, and force the body into motion and position. The cerebellum or hind-brain, on the other hand, has control of all the viscera and their internal workings, quite independently of man’s will and unbeknown to his consciousness. The cerebellum also causes “antagonistic” muscles to counterpoise, makes smooth the workings of the muscles controlled by the cerebrum, and restores the natural equilibrium of forces which the conscious will has disturbed. In wakefulness, the cerebellum is relatively overruled and not active to its fullest extent. But in sleep, which comes over a man when the abused fibres of body and brain are no longer responsive to his will, the little cells of the cerebrum become relaxed. They are then isolated from the continual stream of subtle nourishment which is offered them through the arteries; so that they no longer receive the “purer blood” which they otherwise renovate and propel into the fibres. They continue indeed to receive, for their own future need, constant supplies of what Swedenborg calls “etherial chyle” through the “corporeal fibres”; and the inmost circulation of the “spirituous fluid”— the soul’s own vice-regent—continues as before. But the connections between the various glands and between the cortex and the body, are temporarily broken. And thus there are but slight muscular motions and no voluntary action. Sensations cannot reach the seat of consciousness, and the sceptre of the body is handed over to the cerebellum.284

In sleep, therefore, the soul, acting through the cerebellum, restores the order of nature. Acting by involuntary fibres it mends the broken or strained tissues, reestablishes a balance in the metabolism of the cells of the whole body, and improves the spontaneity of the various organs.285

The Arcana states that “the cerebellum is awake in time of sleep when the cerebrum slumbers.”286 “The Lord guards man with most especial care during his sleep,” for without sleep “the human race would perish.” In sleep, the Lord Himself watches even over His enemies and does them good.287 He loves all, and “He giveth His beloved in sleep.”288

Sleep bears a certain likeness to death. In sleep man retires from the world and its anxieties and departs from all his fellowmen. His senses being inactive, he not only becomes oblivious to the fixed world about him, but his memory of it also sinks into quiescence. Up to a certain point, physical pain and states of emotion which stir up his blood may prevent such a retirement. But when he finally gives way to sleep, he enters a world without sense of time and indifferent to space.

Even as the angels of the resurrection are celestial in type, so also are the angels whom the Lord appoints to guard man in sleep. They are in fact angelic spirits of the province of the cerebellum; for the cerebellum perceives the states of the body by an “involuntary sense.” It is their duty to prevent evil spirits from infesting man during his slumbers—a duty which they perform with the greatest delight, so that there is a rivalry among them as to who should be present. Only persons who have “delighted, and loved in every way and with the utmost effort, to make the life of others delightful,” are eligible to serve such offices after death.289

The World of Dreams

Sleep is a state of unconsciousness. Yet there are certain factors—conditions which we cannot catalogue—which cause the return of consciousness in a strange and partial way. “To sleep—perchance to dream.” The natural memory may be aroused in a new manner, and man comes into that state on the borderland of the unconscious which we call the world of dreams: a strange world of fancy, built up from the broken fragments of experience into sequences which defy the logic by which we discipline our conscious thinking.

The fact of this dream-world has ever fascinated men. Primitive peoples saw in it a sign that there existed another world—a world of “doubles”—which they mostly confused with the spiritual world itself, but in which they saw themselves as actors. For in dreams the spirit of man seems to be released from the body to wander abroad in wider fields. The ancients also attached special meanings to their dreams, seeing obscure warnings and predictions in the jumbled recollections of their nocturnal experiences. Plato believed that our dreams gave us intimations of the various appetites and instincts which lay hidden in our nature; including bestial desires which the self-rebuke of reason kept out of our consciously directed thoughts, but which were given free rein during sleep.290 And in these modern days the Platonic view has again become the vogue. Dr. Sigmund Freud of Vienna founded upon it a new school of psycho-therapy, by analyzing the repressed longings and forgotten fears of the “subconscious mind” from the dreams in which these secret emotions reveal themselves in symbolic forms. The fact that Dr. Freud cynically traced all such emotions to a sexual origin does not take away all truth from Plato’s sage observations, nor does it lessen the value of further studies along this line.

Indeed, behind all these traditional views of dreams there lies a substratum of truth. Dreams do touch the fringe of the spiritual world. Dreams do at times have a prophetic burden or some special significance. Dreams occasionally reveal to man some of the longings and delights that are submerged and repressed in the depths of his being. Robsahm writes in his memoirs: “I asked Swedenborg whether, in our times, it was worth while to pay attention to dreams; upon which he answered that the Lord no longer at the present day makes revelations by dreams, but that nevertheless it may happen that one who understands correspondences may derive advantage from his dreams; just as a person who is awake may examine his own state by comparing his own will with God’s commandments.”291

This account by Robsahm cannot be taken as entirely correct, but is none the less interesting when we consider that in the period when Swedenborg’s spiritual faculties were first being opened he kept a private record of his dreams and of the interpretations that he put upon them. He instinctively felt that his dreams were—like his commencing visions—significative and symbolic. In his humility he did not spare himself in these interpretations. Yet it may be questioned whether he as yet knew the science of correspondences sufficiently to make those dreams more than the background for his own perceptions about his state while he was grasping for some indications of the work into which the Lord was leading him. (See his Journal of 1744).

That dreams, whether they are orderly or incoherent, are significant is as true as that the whole world is a theater representative of uses. Everything in both worlds, and in both body and mind, is symbolic of the forces at work—could we but know what these are. In the Writings these forces are described. And it appears from the teachings that no blame is attached to man for things occurring during sleep. For then man relinquishes his command. His will, or proprium, is taken away, and his natural understanding is laid asleep.292 In dreams, his “spiritual sight” is helpless and irresponsible and therefore usually quite impersonal, while the contents of his memory are being reconstructed into vivid imagery and into situations which symbolize states that are not his own, but which belong to spirits, and perhaps to angels, who are with him.

“Such stuff as dreams are made on” comes from the man. Nothing actually new—never before seen or felt—comes through dreams. But because man’s internal sight then is only a beholder,292 and man not really a responsible actor, the most strange and impossible situations usually cause him no surprise, the most ridiculous happenings cause no amusement, terrors may cause no fear. His memory may retain the dream in part, or he may—like Nebuchadnezzar—be unable to remember it. When an emotion, such as fear or shame, is felt in a dream, the man on waking need not take any responsibility for it. The thing is a matter of record, but not a part of his nature. In other words, if his external memory retains an impress of the dream, yet his internal memory, his interior thought and affection, has felt no influx and received no stain.

Paradisal Dreams

We have been treating of dreams in general. But the Writings tell us that there are at least three distinct kinds of dreams, or dreams from three sources.293

The first type is a dream which comes from the Lord Himself, either immediately or mediately through heaven.294 Such were the prophetic dreams mentioned in the Word. This is a form of Divine revelation. Thus an angel was filled with the Divine to the exclusion of his own proprium and consciousness, and appeared in a dream to a prophet on earth, clothing himself in the mental imagery of the man’s external memory and, thus seen, impressed the man with a series of representations which were adopted as the direct symbols of the Lord’s Divine truth. Such dream-visions sometimes conveyed to the prophet’s mind an external significance, as for instance a prediction of some future event. But the spiritual meaning of dreams was seen only by internal men such as the people of the most ancient church.295

One class of dreams stands by itself, although it somewhat resembles the prophetical. We refer to a dream in which the Lord was seen by Swedenborg. The actual call to his mission had occurred in a state of vision.296 But in the Diary he jotted down the following remarkable memorandum: “The Lord was seen by me in a dream with the face and form in which He was in the world. It was such that it was interiorly full and thus so that He could rule the whole heaven within. . . . And He often as it were slept with His eyes when He was inwardly within Himself. . . . And it was said that such had been His appearance. In a word, He was full of heaven and the Divine. (The night between Nov. 18 and 19, 1751).”297

The second kind of dream comes through angelic spirits who from an ardor for the happiness of others serve as guardians over those who sleep. These angels are at the entrance of those heavenly “paradises” which to the angels represent only celestial and spiritual things, but which spirits delight in for their own sake. These paradises appear in the externals of heaven, or are created there when angels of a superior heaven converse together intellectually about truths of wisdom and faith. The angelic spirits in question love to affect a man who is asleep and thus receptive, with the enjoyable and delightful things which they see in his affection and genius. They arouse from the dreamer’s mind beautiful and pleasant representations which refresh him with tranquil charm. But Swedenborg observed that they did not themselves know whence such beautiful presentations came to them “all in a moment,” except that they came “from heaven.” Nor is it orderly that they should know the man whom they are watching over.298

Presumably all men, when asleep, have such heavenly guardians, more or less distantly present. Yet the statement is that these are “entrusted with the duty of watching over certain men”—as if all were not equally favored. And this suggests that the Lord may have a particular concern about those in this world who perform more eminent or responsible uses; whose reliance on the spiritual reserves of the other world and of the subconscious processes of the mind must be greater. Such men, by day, enjoy the illustration of their use, which comes from their being spiritually present in the societies of such use in the other world. But at night their reserve powers must be filled up, and this by the angels of sleep.

Dreams such as are induced by these angelic spirits actually originate in angelic discourse—in conversations between angels on spiritual subjects. The order of the angelic ideas is at once presented in the world of spirits in representatives of great variety, differently in every group of spirits that is affected. Thus with Swedenborg and the spirits associated with him as a man—spirits who were using his memory —the forms of the dream which resulted were shaped according to his memory and his general affection. From the same spiritual origin can thus arise dreams totally different, yea, opposite. For what may cause joy to one man, may to others call up tedium and nausea, shame or horror.299 The reason for this lies in the universal spiritual law that no influx from spirits or angels can introduce new persuasions or alter the faith or memory of spirit or man.

On some occasions, Swedenborg related his dreams to the angelic spirits who caused them, and they recognized in his mental pictures and states the correspondential representations of their own conversation.300 Yet he also saw the diversified dreams caused in various spirits from the same origin, and confessed that it could never be known from the natural imagery of their dreams what the spiritual influx involved or contained; and he suggests that the influx was not always strictly “an influx by correspondences.” The imagery was not purely correspondential. Yet it was representative. Strictly speaking, “correspondences” are true creative relations of cause and effect, the same everywhere. So for instance, light corresponds to truth and heat to love—always. But the objects of the dreams represented different things to different spirits; for every man clothes familiar objects with a sphere of ideas and a meaning all his own. The things of man’s affection as well as his memory invite dreams of varying type. But in his dreams the objects are arranged with reference to the angelic ideas which inflow—thus as symbols of their corresponding states, symbols which indeed represent, but do not correspond; and which mean one thing to the angels, and quite another to the man. Only the angels could recognize the relation of the dream to their own ideas.301 We may doubt, therefore, whether New Church men will ever attempt to become interpreters of dreams; although—strange to say—one of the very first volumes in the vast collateral literature of the New Church was entitled “Oneiromancy !”302 But its anonymous author merely used the science of correspondences as a guide for interpreting the bewildering phenomena of the world of dreams.

The dreams introduced by angelic spirits contain within them the order of heaven, even if man cannot discern it. Normally the dreams they induce are pleasant, sweet, and peaceful ; but with the man they may also be turned into warnings, as is often done on some other planets when men fall into evil. Such dreams can be induced not only upon men, but even upon spirits. Swedenborg relates a strange thing—that while he was among the cerebellar spirits as a spirit, he also was able, repeatedly, to introduce dreams into a sleeper.303 He checked the experiment with the man upon whom he had acted—which spirits can, of course, not do. Yet men also can impose dreams upon their fellow-men, by using hypnotic methods.

Dreams Induced by Spirits

The third type of dreams spoken of in the Writings is not produced through angels, but through the spirits who are near man while he sleeps.304 Such dreams are also significative, for the influx calls forth from man’s memory such things as have a special significance, but a significance to the spirits, not to the man.

Angels produce dreams that please, because they take care that what they draw forth should be associated with delight in the man’s mind. They look for such ultimates in man because they always consider first the freedom of man, and lead him only so far as his own affections respond. But spirits in the world of spirits are not so considerate. Fortunately they have no power to harm man while he sleeps, although they use his mind as their own. But if they could, they would exclude everything from a man’s waking life which is not in line with their own delights. They would impose their own will upon him and sometimes desire to obsess him utterly—and if he should then resist them they would seek to destroy him. For this reason spirits who are with men are kept quite ignorant of the fact. They know not the man, but believe that they think quite independently of men. Yet they think and converse among themselves by using the ideas of the men with whom they are associated; and—as has been pointed out repeatedly—the spirits most closely adjoined to a man assume his whole memory and think themselves to be the man. They become so immersed in man’s attitudes and memory that they may even impersonate him in the other world—look like him in dress and demeanor. Each man has at least one such “consociate spirit.”305

When a spirit is asleep, good spirits can act through him. It is therefore provided that when a man falls asleep, his closer attendant spirits will also fall asleep, since the memory of the man then becomes inactive. If the spirits are evil they are indeed compelled to sleep, for as long as they are awake, man’s affections are being stimulated.306 The state of a man’s ruling love would not be disturbed, but he would no longer be receptive of the influx from the society closest to his inner delights, but would remain conscious of the irritations and anxieties of his external mind so that sleep would be impossible.

But while the attendant spirits dwelling in his superficial spheres of thought fall asleep along with the man, other spirits, more distant from the ordinary states of his life, may still exert their influence upon him. They have indeed no power to stir up his interior thought or affection; for if they did the man would awake in a moment.307 But they can use the memory of man quite freely, although it is the Lord Himself who gives the final permission and prevents abuses.

And now there commences in man—and somewhat similarly in his consociate spirits—the strange fantasmagoria of dreams. Each spirit takes on from man’s memory whatever objects or sensory stimuli that agree with his own life. It is a characteristic of such dreams that, if persons should figure in the scene, each spirit assumes all that a man knows about a certain individual, and actually impersonates him and acts his part in the mental drama. And some may also impersonate the sleeper himself, and speak to other spirits in his tone of voice; but the contents of the speech may not at all be what the man would normally say, but the most stupid nonsense or the grossest falsehood.308

At times, actual spirits may themselves, by the Lord’s leave, be seen in a dream under an appearance that is familiar to the sleeping man. It is told of Louis XIV that he gave warnings to one of his descendants in a dream; and Swedenborg once saw Peter the Great and spoke to him during a dream.309

And Spirits who sleep simultaneously with man sometimes oversleep! Swedenborg found them sleeping, yes, and dreaming, after he himself had awakened. He compared experiences with them and found that they sometimes dreamt when man was not dreaming—which no doubt allows man to change his state.310 Yet the rule is that their dreams are mostly garbed in the ideas of man’s memory. The dreams of spirits are generally caused by spirits who are in a more interior state than they are themselves. But sometimes evil spirits can induce bad dreams upon spirits that are to be vastated.311

Fantastic Dreams

Apart from these three types of dreams—those caused by the Lord, those induced through angels, and those which spirits inject—the Arcana Coelestia speaks of “fantastic dreams.”312 This class is dismissed with a bare mention. But with us mortals here below, such fantastic dreams may be quite disturbing. They seem as disordered processions of fragmentary thoughts, unconnected pictures, ludicrous figments of a fevered imagination, meaningless, isolated; or perhaps as images and situations that rise up to strike us with horror, as in nightmares or in some delirium that attends an illness. That their origin is from the other world is of course necessarily true. No emotion or consciousness is possible with man except from the presence of spirits. Yet these fantastic dreams are, we surmise, not characteristic of the true sleeping state in which the natural memory is closed from below and is moved only from within. Our nocturnal fancies may at times be symptomatic of disturbing desires or secret fears which gnaw the mind in our wakeful state but are not released in our imagination except in the symbolism of dreams. But grave injury might be done if man made himself responsible for the disorders of his dream-life which after all occur after he has relinquished his control.

In states of disease or discomfort such as may result from overstrain or from too rich food or from the use of various drugs, the senses are sometimes still pounding from below upon our consciousness even after we have fallen asleep. And while the state of the blood and the senses is such that the brain cannot find continual repose, there are countless opportunities on the part of hordes of wandering spirits—such as the curious spirits belonging to the “province of the chyle-duct”—to seek a temporary lodgment in the mind of a man. But this kind of influx touches closely upon another phase of our general subject, namely, the connection of spirits with disease.

The teachings concerning dreams may not appear to be, by themselves, an important part of the doctrine of the church. Yet they present another aspect of the marvelous economy of human life, which is ordered by infinite protective agencies and is ruled in every detail by the Lord of creation.

New book: Starting Science from God.
Links theism (religion) to science (psychology and physics) without reduction.

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Spiritual Mirages

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation


I wonder whether you have ever seen a mirage?

Mirages occur in our physical world; in the desert the interface of hot and cold air creates to the eye the appearance or illusion of water. For a time the eye is misled into seeing what is not there – it is not real. Mirages can pull us away from our true course -and when we reach this destination we discover it to be unreal – empty of any substance …….

There are other appearances that occur in our physical world. Every day of our lives the sun rises in our sky to herald the beginning of a new day. But this is an illusion, an appearance that we live in and take for granted. The reality is that we and our bit of the earth that we live on has turned towards the sun – and those who live on the other side of the world have turned away from the sun and so are experiencing darkness and night.

I also have illusions or appearances of truth that I hold to be ‘the truth’. And this is so for all people; all of us journey towards discovering more and more what is real and unlearning what we thought was real. It is easier to look back and see what one has outgrown than to see what illusions one presently inhabits. Once I believed that attaining qualifications would give me self-esteem; but I have come to see that this is a mirage, as certificates and pieces of paper are external things and therefore doesn’t heal anything inside me. I was looking in the wrong place and for the wrong remedy.

I can be easily fooled by what happens on a superficial level. Ego, in particular, is fooled by what is outward and external.

I reflect on the appearance of the sun rising to begin the day. If I look at what lies behind this appearance, it shows me an inner reality that God/the Divine always has his/her focus towards me even at times when I feel distanced and unconnected. But if I fall for what the appearance is (that the sun/Divine moves away from me) then I am sucked into thoughts of being isolated and apart from the source of life, love and wisdom.

The world is not focused around me and my stuff, however much it feels that way. When I just focus on my concerns this turns me away from the Divine and reality. What is real is focused on things that endure – Love that comes from the Divine and the insight that is given through how this Love is to be expressed and lived.

Insight is given, it flows in. In-sight or inner sight that enables each of us to see more clearly the reality of a situation, a relationship …… and so the mirage is dispelled and we renew our connection with whatever path we are on towards what is the highest good or the divine will. The following quotation expresses the contrast between outer and inner sight:

Thought from the eye closes the understanding,

but thought from the understanding opens the eye.

We attain enlightenment when we love truth

for the sake of truth, and not for the sake

of self-promotion or worldly gain.

 If we look at the world with our outer sight alone, which is from a materialistic viewpoint, only the superficial, material world will be seen. Focusing on this level alone closes the inner or spiritual sight. How can we look up if we are looking down? How can we look within if we are looking without? But when we shift our focus to what is spiritual, searching for the ultimate truth behind the veils of the way things appear, we find true understanding of life on all levels.

Emanuel Swedenborg, Way of Wisdom

When I read this it reminds me to look more deeply, to open myself to in-sight; so I can see my way forward and the next step on my path. The mirages dissolve into nothingness…..

Copyright 2013 Helen Brown

Posted on 5th February 2013Categories Consciousness, Meaning and inspirationTags , , , , , , , , , , ,  Leave a comment


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