Chapter XI. Illustration of Passages.

 

 

 

THIS diagram illustrates many passages in the Writings of the Church, some of which we will consider briefly. In Apocalypse Explained, AE we read, –

“When the interior of man is purified from evils by his desisting from them and shunning them because they are sins, then that internal is opened. which is above the interior’ and which is called the spiritual internal, and which communicates with heaven. Hence it is that man is then intromitted into heaven and conjoined with the LORD. There are two internals in man, one beneath and the other above. The internal which is beneath is that in which man is and from which he thinks, while he lives in the world, for it is natural; this by way of distinction will be called the interior. But the internal which is above, is that into which man comes after death, when he comes into heaven. All the angels of heaven are in this internal, for it is spiritual. This internal is opened to the man who shuns evils as sins. but it is held shut to the man who does not shun evils as sins. This internal is held shut to the man who does not shun evils as sins, because the interior or the natural internal, before man is purified from sins, is hell; and as long as hell is there, heaven cannot be opened, but as soon as hell is removed, heaven is opened. But it should be known that the spiritual internal and heaven are so far opened to man, as the natural internal is purified from the hell which is there; and this is not effected at once, but by degrees successively.”- AE 940.

Observe that the spiritual internal in this passage is B with its three degrees and that the natural internal is C; B is called internal in distinction to the whole external, which is composed of C and D together. B is also called the spiritual internal in distinction to the natural internal C; C is called the lower internal in distinction to B the higher or spiritual internal.

C is called internal in distinction to its own external D (not mentioned in the passage) which is the extreme external of the natural mind and is a thin skin or covering to C, being just within the body and inclosing this natural internal C.

The heaven that is kept shut and cannot be opened till the natural internal C is purified from evil, is the spiritual internal B.

Concerning the purification of the natural man “by degrees successively” mentioned in this passage, see Diagrams XXII, XXIII, XXIV.

For an illustration of the state of the degrees in the man or spirit in whom “the spiritual internal is held shut” by the prevalence of evil or hell in the natural internal, see Diagram XXV.

Another passage is in True Christian Religion, TCR 593. The natural man here considered as two-fold consists of C and D together. The internal natural man is C, and the thin external, covering it as with a skin, is D. The higher or spiritual internal B is not mentioned in this passage but is implied as the spiritual man above the natural man.

Through this internal B the power by which the natural internal C is regenerated descends from the LORD, whose sacred and especial abode is in the inmost A above the spiritual internal,

Read Doctrine of Life 86; (also HH 497-8, 501, 502 ; LJ 56, 69), where “the externals” in which man is said to be while in the world are in the plane D the external part of the natural mind. In these he remains till the time of judgment, in the world of spirits.

The “interiors” in these numbers are the interiors of the natural mind C. With the good, “the internals” there mentioned include some one or more of the planes of B.

“The devout external” of the wicked, mentioned in Last judgment, 56, proceeded from “the thin skin” of semblances of good and truth just within the body and in the plane of D; “their profane, internal” was in the degree of C. In Last Judgment, 69, the closed interiors” and “the interiors of the evil to be unveiled” are in C. The “seeming heavens,” mentioned in Continuation of Last Judgment, 9, were from the external part of the natural man D; the hells within those seeming heavens, were in C.

From these examples the reader can locate any like “externals and internals” mentioned in Last Judgment or elsewhere in the Writings. A marked example occurs in Arcana Coelestia AC 7046. Here the evil “interiors” are not in the spiritual mind at all but wholly in the internal of the natural mind C. The spiritual internal B, in such cases is closed and almost wholly inoperative. See also Arcana Coelestia AC 6914 where the “bonds” which held the “interiors” in check are in D, the interiors themselves in C.

With this diagram read Divine Providence 100 to 128. The “interiors” or “internals” that are defiled with evil and falsity and must be cleansed that man may be saved, are in the internal of the natural mind here marked C. In C also is the interior will of the Jew, which is adverse to the Christian Religion as mentioned in True Christian Religion TCR 521; his internal mind B being closed, shrunken, and inoperative, like the body affected with marasmus.

In C are the “interiors” mentioned in the last sentence of Arcana Coelestia AC 3489 and in the first of Heave and Hell 553; Apocalypse Explained, AE 939.

The “internal above the interior” (AE 940) is the spiritual mind B; while the “interior” is C.

“Mere natural good,” the “good done before evils are shunned as sins,” “mere external sanctity and piety,” “good done from self and not from the LORD,” and hereditary natural good “from evil parents” (AC 3469), all have place in the external degree D. These things are inwardly evil, the evil originating in the internal degree C. The “inside of the cup and platter,” (Matt. xxiii, 25) is C, the “outside” is D.

The Wolf Shall Dwell With The Lamb

If the Lord God takes personal interest in our lives and is most concerned with our eternal salvation, then what positive news can Isaiah 11:6 have for us?

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.

This scenario presents us with a beautiful image of peace. Here, both gentle and ferocious animals alike come together and, like household pets, allow themselves to be led by a small child. Does this mean we can take comfort that a time will come when wolves, leopards, and lions will lose their appetite for fresh meat?

Or is something deeper being expressed here? Wouldn’t this biblical passage have greater relevancy if God were using it as a lesson for acquiring that same wonderful state of peace in our own lives?

The Lord states that we must become like little children to enter heaven. We usually associate childhood with a state of INNOCENCE. The idea of adults becoming like a small child can, therefore, easily be interpreted as a return to innocence.

The quality of innocence certainly makes sense as a requirement for heaven.

So are the words of Isaiah telling us that a return to innocence will actually allow us to lead wolves, lambs, leopards, kids, calves and lions to live in peaceful coexistence? That wouldn’t make sense, at least not literally. We would we be putting our lives in terrible danger for trying such a stunt with wild animals, innocence or not.

If a child represents innocence (and not an actual child) then maybe all these opposing creatures are also to be interpreted as representing qualities of our inner nature – like the opposing and conflicting desires and intentions of our heart. With a little introspection it can be easily seen how our negative emotions can prey upon, rip apart, and devour our more gentle dispositions.

This is why when humans act unkindly or treat others with cruelty, they are often referred to as acting like “animals” and “beasts.” God is simply using this same metaphor in Isaiah.

Returning to innocence requires that we adjust our anger, temper our tempers, and remove hurtful intentions. The effort and practice of gaining control over our “inner world” is what leads to our emotional balance, which ultimately leads to inner peace.

Religion was given to humankind as God’s wise strategy for helping us achieve that inner balance and promote our return to innocence. When we follow God’s tenets and commandments our “wildness” is tamed and a heaven forms within us.

It has been a major theme in many of my posts that God’s Holy Word contains deeper meanings. When we are able to unlock these meanings everything becomes instantly more relevant to our lives. I have offered Isaiah 11:6 as one simple demonstration.

One of the main criticisms of the post-modern world is the belief that many passages in Scripture have no relevance in today’s complicated world.

Certainly an all-wise God would have foreseen such an outcome and engineered the Holy Word to be able to respond to all challenges of its authority and eternal relevance.

Heaven is not someplace you go to. It is something you become.

Website: http://www.provinggod.com

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Way of life – What path to follow?

Who hasn’t made big mistakes? Going down the wrong road. Choosing the wrong study course. Taking up with the wrong business partner. Moving in with, or marrying the wrong person. If your way of life is on the wrong track you may be in a bad way.

Looking back on that bad choice can feel that at the time you had been misled by someone you mistakenly relied on.

But perhaps it was only later that you realised that half the problem with your way of life was that you also misled yourself. How easy it can be to take the easiest way. You kidded yourself you were doing something for the right reason when all along it was for a misleading idea.

For example the mistaken notion that one should follow one’s intuitions (without pausing to gain relevant information). Or the dangerous idea one should act spontaneously in line with one’s impulses (without considering the consequences). Or the erroneous belief it is important to fit in with others expectations (without thinking about what is right for you).

A well-beaten path does not always make the right road” (old proverb).

Following the right way of life at the crossroad

The trouble is some decisions are difficult to reverse. It can be expensive to leave a business partnership or seek retraining and a new job because you are in the wrong occupation. It can cause heart-ache to seek a separation or divorce especially if children are involved.

way of lifeSo it helps to recognise life’s crossroads when you come to them rather than mindlessly drifting by. It’s all about finding the right way of life by choosing to go in the best direction. Not surprisingly then, writers often refer to one’s spiritual journey in terms of the direction one is travelling. What road one is going down.

Your inner journey and way of life

You have an outward journey that others can see you taking. They see your outward way of life from what has been your vocational training, means of livelihood, clubs belonged to, home location, family situation, etc.

But in addition you will have an inner journey through life. This might be thought of in terms of reaching different states of mind such as those of confidence, fulfillment, and commitment. Alternatively the inner journey might be seen in terms of arriving at different cognitive states of knowledge, understanding, illumination.

Religious people might experience their inner journey in terms of passing through different states of doubt, belief and conviction. Mystics in terms of attaining different states of vision, wonder and enlightenment.

In whatever manner the journey is understood, your way of life will consist of different inner states of mind.

Way of life and higher principles

If your inner path in life does not feel like progress, then you might want to reconsider what actual ways you are following.

I would suggest this means being more mindful of the crossroads and making better choices. A crossroad might be when you experience an inner conflict – between for example on the one hand acting in line with family expectations and on the other hand exploring your own potential. It could be between keeping someone at an emotional distance or making a deeper commitment to the relationship.

From a spiritual angle making personal choices can involve taking into account your higher principles – ensuring what you choose is in line with the ethical, moral or spiritual considerations that you understand to be good and true.

Going your own way

Spiritual writers say that taking the wrong path often stems from short-sightedly following thoughts that fit in with having one’s own way and other self-centred desires and worldly aspirations. I happen to believe that trying to get what you want for yourself, without regard for others, will adversely affect your inner state of life.

“Our sense of self misleads us into putting our needs before others, thinking we are right or of more worth than others….Are we being led by unhelpful and misleading ideas which have us going around in circles, trapped in the world of superficial talk, weary roles and pointlessness.?” (Helen Newton and Becky Jarratt, Soul Symbols)

From a religious angle the alternative to going one’s own way, is to follow God’s way. Or if you are not religious, to pursue the path of your Higher Self. Both of these involve reflecting on higher ideas about what is deeply good for the sake of  moderation and self-restraint, of the needs of other people you come across, and of the needs of the community.

Your way of life and what is shown in sacred writing

You may well feel you have come a long way already and have little need for any changed thinking regarding your current way of life. But whatever much personal improvement you have made, does this way of thinking suggest a hint of complacency? Isn’t there always room to mend one’s ways?

Actually, the decision points occur every day. Spiritually speaking, you encounter crossroads all the time. It’s just that you don’t always recognise them.

Speaking for myself, instead of taking the easy way out sometimes my personal choices need to be taken that involve more self-control, more spirit of generosity, more forgiving of others, more doing the right thing, and more honesty.

You may not know which way to turn but sacred writing offers this verse:

“This is what the Lord says:
‘Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.”
(Jeremiah, Old Testament prophet)

That’s the thing about a cross-road. You can’t take more than one route. You can’t have it both ways.

In other words, the way of life God in the Bible talks about, will come to those who search for good ways to follow. In the time of Moses, the people called the ‘children of Israel’ were told what was said to be the truth concerning this good way.

Their getting lost in the wilderness can be seen as a symbol of their inner wanderings. We all probably tend to take ‘umbridge’ if told what to do. So the idea of God’s commands – inscribed on two flat stones and known as the ten commandments – seems old hat.

Yet you might want to think of his should’s and should-not’s as useful guidance for you to seriously consider. Do not steal. Do not commit adultery. Do not lie. etc. The journey to the promised land of those following Moses is one of only slow progress over a period of forty years.  Wasn’t the reason said to be because the people failed to follow divine guidelines? They took to worshipping idols. They had to learn what was good for them the hard way.

Religious teachers say following a way of life in line with ethical guidelines is the true way to find a lasting form of happiness. By starting to do this, there’s always a chance to claw your way back from a bad situation and find a better way of life. If the God religious people worship really is a God of love, then I would suggest love will find a way of getting you there – to a land ‘flowing with milk and honey.’

Copyright 2016 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author Heart, Head & Hands

Colour – Why does it affect us?

People vary as to their awareness of colour around them. When my wife and I moved house, she surprised me by stating she couldn’t sit in our lounge because of its green furniture and purple coloured walls. I’m probably a bit unusual but, beyond my initial impression, I hadn’t really noticed. However, I must admit, after the walls had been repainted cream, I appreciated the improvement. As interior designers know, different colour schemes have their effect on people. The field of colour psychology attempts to identify the effects of colour on human emotion and activity. So why does colour affect us the way it does?

Colour association

colourWarm colours are made with orange, red, yellow and combinations of them all. Used in interior design or fashion, a warm colour is said to arouse or stimulate the feelings of the viewer. A cool colour such as blue, green and light purple is thought to have the ability to calm and soothe.

Modern surveys in the United States and Europe show red is the colour most commonly associated with strong feeling.

To “see red” is to be angry or aggressive. To “have red ears / a red face” is to be embarrassed. To “paint the town red” is to enjoy the feeling of pleasure, usually with a generous amount of eating, drinking, dancing. To show “a red rag to a bull” is to cause someone to be enraged.

Esotericism and colour

According to science, the pure colours gained from the light spectrum form a continuous range of hue. The number of colours that the human eye is able to distinguish in a spectrum is in the order of 100. The apparent discreteness of a few main colours is due to human perception. This subjective human experience of discrete colours suggests there is a deeper process at work than mere physics.

Some would argue that the significance of colour is part of a higher degree of reality. This esoteric view is expressed by the well known maxim ‘As above, so below‘ which derives from the following ancient text:

“That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing.” (Hermes Trismegistus, pagan prophet)

One way of thinking about above and below is to consider the higher and low mind – the higher principles of life and the base emotions. Many people are open to a spiritual dimension to existence and are awake to phenomena that go beyond what the body notices. They perceive and respond to the enlightening experiences of the higher mind. However the worldly-minded materialist will only see life in terms of the physical and natural side of life.

Although many have an intuition that a colour they see relates in some way to something of spirit, they do not consciously understand what it represents. To learn about this it helps to consider more about the higher and lower mind.

Colour and planes of mind

Natural emotions of the lower mind it is argued arise from an independent sense of selfhood – a self-orientated attitude to life in which the person is prone to emotions of embarrassment, fear and anger. In contrast, spiritual feelings may arise from an awareness of a one higher divine reality – emotions for example of joy, guilt, and trust.

In line with this point of view, how a specific colour affects us will depend on what part of our mind is engaged at the time. I have already pointed out that the colour red for example appears to be associated with strong feeling. But the passions of the lower mind are different from those of the higher mind. It is thought that the former come from self-orientated feelings e.g. self-consciousness, conceit, greed etc: the latter are ethical feelings of care and concern for others and the community. The former can be seen as natural whereas the latter as spiritual.

Colour and correspondence

Emanuel Swedenborg, 18th century spiritual philosopher, writes that there is a correspondence between things on different levels of reality. When he noticed something like a colour, he was alive to what deeper qualities this might universally mirror and reflect. He would say there is a consistent way in which each colour has an inner significance. For him the effect of different colours derive from their correspondence with aspects of the one divine source of Love and Wisdom.

He emphasises the two colours of red and white as the pure representation of the good of love and the truth of wisdom. So if there is some love and light shown in our actions i.e. when we are not just self-orientated, some variation of the colours red and white can be relevant.

Because of this Swedenborg says that colour can be of significance in the world around us and in sacred writing.

The colour white

colourThere is more than a hint of this when one looks at the way culture deals with white. According to surveys in Europe and the United States, white is the colour most often associated with innocence, perfection, purity, honesty, and cleanliness i.e. qualities to do with what is true, e.g. to whitewash something is to conceal an unpleasant reality and a white lie is an innocent lie told out of politeness.

Black is the opposite of white. If white corresponds to what is perfect and true so black would signify what is imperfect and false. In western popular culture, black has long been associated with evil and darkness. A blacklist is a list of undesirable people or entities; the black sheep of the family is the ne’er-do-well and black propaganda is the use of known falsehoods, or partial truths to confuse an opponent.

Colour in the spiritual world

Swedenborg also says that the colours seen by people who are conscious in the after life of spirit depend on their inner state of mind and character. The sphere of an individual is due to what good of love and truth of wisdom are reflected in that person’s character – their degree of virtue. He reports that in the spiritual world this determines the colours seen as an aura around a person where inner states of heart and mind are represented visually. Colour is something simple and yet profound.

Copyright 2015 Stephen Russell-Lacy

Author Heart, Head & Hands

Chapter X. The Spiritual or Internal Mind in Three Degrees

THE Spiritual mind is here presented in three degrees; all the degrees below it are presented as one.

Read Apocalypse Explained,, AE 1125 (Ath.Cr. 28) and note the mention of three degrees of life above the ultimate which is a fourth. The three are those of the spiritual mind, answering to the three heavens; the ultimate or fourth consists of the natural mind and spiritual body, answering to the world of spirits, and includes also the natural body during life in the world. In Arcana Coelestia, AC 3405, all below the three heavens is included in the degree in which man is during life in the world; this is taken as the first degree; the ultimate or lowest heaven is the second degree, the middle heaven the third, and the highest heaven the fourth. (See also AC 5145.)

What is here drawn as the ultimate degree (E) is composed of several degrees as will appear from subsequent diagrams.

Relation of the Three Heavens and the Two Kingdoms.

THIS relation may be seen by comparing this diagram with Diagram IX. In Diagram IX the internal mind is drawn in two degrees, celestial and spiritual; in this diagram it is drawn in three degrees, celestial, spiritual, and natural. Diagram IX presents the whole spiritual mind in two degrees, coinciding with the two kingdoms of heaven; but each of these (B and C) has an internal and an external. Diagram X presents the whole internal mind in three degrees, coinciding with the three heavens. B in X is identical with the internal part of B in IX; C in X with the internal part of C in IX; and D in X is identical with the external parts of both B and C in IX, or what is the same the external of B and of C in IX, together constitute the lowest or natural heaven represented by D in X.

Before proceeding farther read Arcana Coelestia, AC 10129 and 9741. Note that in 9741 the clause, “The external of each heaven is what is called the ultimate or first heaven,” must mean “The external of each kingdom is what is called the ultimate or first heaven.”

The internal part of B in IX is the same as the ” holy of holies,” and the external part of it is the “inner court.” The internal part of C in IX is the “holy place;” and its external part is the “outer court.” The whole of B in X is the same as the “holy of holies,” and the whole of C is the “holy place;” and D the “inner” and the “outer court;” the inner part of D is the celestial of the natural heaven and is the “inner court,” and the outer part of D is the spiritual of the same heaven and is the “outer court.”

“The internal part of B in IX, coinciding with the internal part of the celestial kingdom, and the whole of B in X, coinciding with the celestial heaven, are the same and are represented by the “holy of holies.” The internal part of C in IX, coinciding with the internal of the spiritual kingdom, and the whole of C in X, coinciding with the spiritual heaven, are the same and are represented by the “holy place.” The external of B in IX, coinciding with the external of the celestial kingdom, and the internal of D in X, coinciding with the celestial of the natural heaven, are the same and are represented by the “inner court;” the external part of C in IX, coinciding with the external part of the spiritual kingdom, and the external of D in X, coinciding with the spiritual of the natural heaven, are the same and are represented by the outer court.” (AC 9873, 6366; H. H. 20 to 40; AE 449, 283.)

     

    The Deep Science of Scripture

    While not the Orthodox view, there has been a strong Christian tradition of biblical interpretation that goes beyond the literal sense of its words. I have maintained through various posts that to truly understand the significance of the covenant with God, the literal sense of Holy Scripture is never adequate (and often divisive as the numerous Christian denominations attest to).

    Paul explained in the Corinthians: “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives Life.”  (2 Corinthians 3:6)

    Later, Origen and Augustine spoke of being inspired by Christ to an understanding of the hidden content in the Holy Word. In spite of this Orthodox Christianity choose to embrace only a literal interpretation of scripture.

    Thankfully, Emanuel Swedenborg entered the scene. He not only revived the idea of hidden content, he took it even further. As a result he has given to humankind the most systematic approach to a multi-layered exegesis (exposition) of the Sacred Word.

    This hidden content is evidenced by the Lord’s exclusive use of parable (stories that don’t express literal, historical fact but contain eternal truth on a deeper level). This is why it is stated in the New Testament that:

    He opened their minds to understand the scriptures. (Luke 24:45)

    If the words of scripture were only meant to be taken literally (the sense of the letter), then such a divine jolt by the Lord to the cognitive function His disciples would not have been necessary. So there must be more to God’s revealed wisdom then meets the eye.

    Swedenborg claimed that the literal sense of scripture served as a foundation upon which more elevated meanings rested. Above the lower, literal level is a spiritual level, which conveys the inner story that each one of us experiences on our spiritual journey. The Lord actually provides evidence that biblical events are meant to represent events that are to take place within human hearts and minds. The big clue is given when he responds to the demands of the Pharisees to tell them when God’s kingdom will come.

    “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20, 21).

    So the Lord is giving a powerful hint to the Pharisees that the coming of the kingdom will not be a physical event. The coming of the kingdom is also identified with the Lord’s Second Coming in Revelation. So the New Jerusalem will be a new dwelling place in our hearts and minds for the Lord. This Holy City represents a new teaching descending from heaven.

    The third or highest level of meaning in Scripture deals with high Christology. In other words, interpretation now regards the events in Scripture as dealing solely with the Lord. This includes events in the Old Testament. The Lord also alludes to this highest level of interpretation on His walk to Emmaus when He reveals to his disciples new things about the Sacred Word.

    And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:27).

    What possible way could the story of Moses address Christology, that is, have something to do with the interpretation of the person and work of Christ unless it contained a more elevated meaning? The Lord is now making these higher-level meanings available to the world.

    So what does all this deep theology have to do with science?

    In quantum physics the deeper you look at the fabric of reality, the more topologically astounding and active things get. Scripture also becomes more intricate and dynamic at its deeper levels of meaning. In the same way quantum events become more expanded, non-local, and act like non-physical waves, biblical events can also take on more expanded and non-physical meanings (so the laws of physics have their origins in spiritual patterning principles).

    For instance, the word “light” can be taken beyond its literal meaning to represent the higher, non-physical meaning of “understanding.” That is why the Lord is described as the “light and the way” and that His life was the “light of men.” The Lord influences human minds in the same way light influences our physical eyes. When He opens our minds to understand Scripture, it is to reveal its hidden content.

    Each and every word in Sacred Scripture offers a similar metaphysical interpretation (but not every story in the canonical Bible is the true Word of God – see my post entitled “God’s Holy Word vs. the Canonical Bible”).

    These are just some of the topics I will be addressing in my next book, Proving God, which seeks to unify science and theology. This unity is not achievable without having access to the hidden content of the Sacred Word

    Posted on June 8, 2008by thegodguy

    This entry was posted in god, Inner growth, psychology, Reality, religion, science, spirituality, unity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

    Happiness – What do you think makes you happy?

    happinessHappiness is a fuzzy concept and can mean different things to many people. It can mean for example a state of fulfilment, enjoyment of pleasure, or a sense of well-being.

    Not everyone is born with a sunny disposition, but commentators tend to suggest we can all learn how to bring more meaning and satisfaction into our lives. From an academic perspective you have some control over your own emotions because personal choice, genetics and life circumstances all interact. It seems to be generally agreed that as long as one’s basic financial needs are met, any increase in wealth is not an important factor in making you happy.

    “Money can’t buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you’re being miserable.” (Clare Boothe Luce)

    So what does make us happy?

    Praise and happiness

    Who doesn’t like being well thought of by others. Take this to the extreme and you find vain people basking in the praise of others. For example there is the celebrity who craves the public gaze for the pleasure of being admired. There are those who are happiest when their ego is massaged in ways you might find objectionable like the inner-city gang leader who is pleased when followers show  “respect” by kow-tow-ing and giving subservience.

    “If your happiness depends on what somebody else does, I guess you do have a problem.” (Richard Bach)

    Other people in the limelight recognise they need the esteem of others if they are to be successful: like film actors who are cast in productions because of their reputation and popularity. For some of them, the praise they get may simply be a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.

    Power and happiness

    There are people who enjoy getting their own way and, in whatever walk of life they happen to find themselves, strive for a position of power over others. History is full of tyrants who have taken delight in being cruel, expressing contempt or getting revenge towards those who oppose them.

    Yet, are there not also some politicians and leaders of industry who enjoy the power they wield mainly for the sake of getting useful things done?

    “The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

    Bodily pleasure and happiness

    Who does not enjoy good food and drink, sexual pleasure, rest and comfort? However an addiction to these pleasures can mean they no longer provide relaxation and refreshment for living one’s life to the full in valued roles. The enjoyment of the addict only lasts until the next fix.

    The spiritual philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg comments that a deeper happiness that lasts does not come from external pleasures of the world which of themselves are lifeless and soon dull the senses. Instead it comes from doing something useful for oneself and for others. Unless this is part of one’s life, pleasurable leisure alone becomes empty and wearisome.

    “True happiness… is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” (Helen Keller)

    Swedenborg goes on to point out that what makes us happy depends on what we most love – what we most want in life. In line with his writing, I would suggest there are four main types of motivation which can be thought of in terms of:

    1. attachment to the physical side of life,

    2. self-centred love,

    3. concern for others

    4. love of the Divine spirit of what is good and true.

    Attachment to the physical side of life

    By this Swedenborg means being worldly: setting one’s heart on wealth, excessive consumption, and neglecting loving commitment in favour of the pleasures of sexual infidelity, and sacrificing moderation in favour of greed. In Buddhism, ultimate happiness is only achieved by overcoming craving in all forms.

    Self-centred love

    We might think we can be happy by thinking first about oneself: asking “What’s in it for me”. This might mean not caring about anyone unless they are your ally: not really being concerned about the business at hand except in terms of what one wants for oneself: helping others solely for the sake of one’s own reputation: and through self-pride failing to recognise the useful contributions of others.

    Concern for others

    A Harvard Business School study found that “spending money on others actually makes us happier than spending it on ourselves”. However, Swedenborg’s idea of concern for others is more general than giving to charity and also includes an interest in doing what is good and useful to the community for its own sake.

    Love of the Spirit of good and truth

    I would suggest that insofar as we are doing things for the sake of what is good and right for our community then we are being led by the Divine spirit. From the perspective of a religious person, the source of all that is human happiness is a God of love. And so such a person is interested in being led by God’s spirit rather than in being led by his own or her own inclinations. We might wonder if this is the reason why research shows that happier people are more likely to be religious.

    My conclusions

    I do believe that we cannot of ourselves create the kind of deep happiness that will endure all the hardships and difficulties of ordinary living. Happiness has to flow into us from its Divine source. But to receive it we have to face the right direction.

    Happiness for the self-centered and worldly-minded person is a pale reflection of happiness experienced by the person who is concerned for others and is willing to be led by the divine spirit of good and truth.

    My recommendation is that we face away from what we each  know in our hearts is bad. In so doing we will be facing the right direction to receive the inspiration of creativity, hope, and discernment and thus the spiritual gifts of peace, contentment and joy.

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