Chapter XIII. Relation of the Degrees of the Natural Mind to those of the Spiritual Mind

 

THIS diagram presents the three degrees of the natural mind in certain relations to the three degrees of the spiritual mind, and the three degrees or planes of the world of spirits in relation to the three angelic heavens. (AC 4154, DLW 275, 66, 67.)

Below the natural or external mind C is drawn the spiritual body D, consisting of the spiritual-sensual and spiritual-corporeal g and h. These are called the spiritual sensual and corporeal in distinction to the natural sensual and corporeal organized of material substances. The sensual degree of the external mind f just above the spiritual-sensual, is the lowest degree of that mind and closely adheres to the spiritual body D.

The celestial degree a is drawn in red because red corresponds to love or the will, the dominant characteristic of this degree, and because red is the distinguishing Colour of the celestial heaven.

The spiritual degree b characterized by what is intellectual, is drawn in white because white corresponds to truth, the dominant characteristic of this degree, and white is a distinguishing Colour of the spiritual heaven.

The natural degree c is drawn in green because green corresponds to the ultimates of celestial love and spiritual truth in the lowest plane of the internal mind, and green is the distinguishing Colour of the natural heaven which is the lowest heaven.

The three degrees of the natural mind are drawn in darker shades of the same Colours but in reverse order, the highest green, the lowest red; this is to indicate the relation of each degree in the natural to its corresponding degree in the spiritual. The whole natural mind as one is an ultimate and base of the whole spiritual as one, but the lowest degree f (the red in the natural) is the special ultimate of the highest degree a in the spiritual, and the highest in the natural d of the lowest in the spiritual e; that is, a ultimates in f, c in d, and b in e, according to the universal law that the LORD works from the highest or inmost forms and at the same time from the lowest or outmost, developing, arranging, binding and thus preserving the intermediates. (D. W. in AE VIII, DP 124, 125.)

The celestial a passes indeed centrally through d and e in the natural mind to reach its appropriate f, as it had passed through b and c in the spiritual mind, and is the essential principle in them all, that is in b c d e; a being first and therefore universal must go to the last where it binds and preserves all. This descent of a is illustrated by the descent of nerves from the brain through intermediates into the skin whence they return again to the brain, binding and preserving all things of the body.

This relation of these degrees further appears where we show that the lowest degree in the spiritual mind when by regeneration it is opened and man is raised into it, rests as a heaven on the degree d, the highest in the natural mind, as its appropriate earth or base, b resting on e, and a on f. See Diagrams XXII, XXIII, XXIV. The same relation is seen from this that the lowest degree of the natural mind is the last regenerated and the highest degree of the spiritual mind is the last opened and entered. (Read AC 9216, 4353) Confirmation of the above relation lies also in the fact that the lowest or deepest hell which is in the lowest natural degree f, when this degree is perverted, is opposite to the highest heaven a. (DLW 275, HH 542, AE 1133.)

Below the natural mind are drawn the spiritual sensual and corporeal g and h. g is drawn in lightish Colour because the senses are the higher life of the body, the corporeal h, having in itself only insensate life, is drawn in dark. (AC 5077.)

The spiritual sensual and corporeal are composed of spiritual substances and are the lowest seat of the paternal proprium.

The natural body E being material is drawn in dark in contrast with the planes above.

Each integral part, namely, the spiritual-corporeal, the spiritual-sensual, each degree of the natural mind, and each of the spiritual is in itself a lesser human because the whole man is composed of parts which are images of the whole. This may be illustrated by the natural body, in which are several systems combined; for each system, the nervous, the sanguineous, the osseous, the muscular, the cutaneous, is, in a sense, a human system, and so a human in a lesser form. Thus man in spirit as in body is composed of many humans one above or within another from the foot of “Jacob’s ladder” to the top, that mystic ladder being the whole human and each step in it a lesser human.

This diagram is a key to many passages.

In The True Christian Religion we read, –

“The human mind from which and according to which man is man, is formed into three regions, according to three degrees; in the first degree it is celestial, in which also are the angels of the highest heaven; in the second degree it is spiritual, in which also are the angels of the middle heaven; and in the third degree it is natural, in which also are the angels of the lowest heaven. The human mind, organized according to these three degrees, is a receptacle of Divine influx; but still the Divine flows in no farther than man prepares the way, or opens the door; if he does this even to the highest or celestial degree, then man becomes truly an image of God, and after death he becomes an angel of the highest heaven; but if he prepares the way, or opens the door, only to the middle or spiritual degree, then indeed, man becomes an image of God, but not in that perfection, and after death he becomes an angel of the middle heaven ; but if he prepares the way, or opens the door, only to the lowest or natural degree, then man, if he acknowledges God and worships Him with actual piety, becomes an image of God in the lowest degree, and after death he becomes an angel of the lowest heaven. But if he does not acknowledge God and does not worship Him with actual piety, he puts off the image of God, and becomes like some animal, except that he enjoys the faculty of understanding and thence of speech. If he then closes up the highest natural degree, which corresponds to the highest celestial, he becomes as to love, like a beast of the earth; but if he closes the middle natural degree which corresponds to the middle spiritual, he becomes as to love like a fox, and as to sight of the understanding like a bird of the evening; but if he also closes the lowest natural degree as to its spiritual, he becomes as to love like a wild beast, and as to the understanding of truth like a fish”-TCR 34.

    The human mind from which and according to which man is man,” in this passage obviously means the actual mind which in itself is human, in distinction from the natural mind below, which is humanized only from the spiritual. The first or celestial degree, mentioned in the same passage, is a the highest plane of the internal mind, the second or spiritual is b, the third or natural, c. “The beast of the earth” is in d, “the fox” in e and “the wild beast” in f.

    The statement that the highest natural d corresponds to the highest or celestial a does not conflict with what is elsewhere said – that the highest degree of the natural d is the degree of the natural in which the lowest degree of the spiritual c especially ultimates, and that when d by perversion becomes a form of hell it is opposite to the lowest heaven c. The statement means only that d is the highest in the natural mind as a is in the spiritual mind

    Upon first reading, this number may seem obscure, owing to the omission of a distinct statement that there are three degrees in the natural mind, below the three degrees of the spiritual mind. The highest natural, the middle natural and the ultimate natural in the passage, are represented by d e and f.

    The order of the opening of the three degrees of the internal mind during regeneration, will be presented in Diagrams XXII, XXIII and XXIV. The closed state of the degrees of the natural mind, in the case of the wicked, will be presented in Diagram XXV.

    The spiritual mind, here drawn in three degrees is the same that is drawn in two degrees in Diagram XII. When this mind is drawn in two degrees, the lowest c in this diagram is included in the two; as will appear more plainly in what follows.

    In Arcana Coelestia AC 9215 the whole natural is equivalent to d e f g and h. (See also AC 1589.)

     

    Scripture – Is it uncivilised dogma?

    scriptureOn the face of it, much of the Bible and Qu’ran is dogmatic and sometimes unintelligible. Scripture contains scientific misconceptions. Also it has outmoded rules of living for example about food consumption and animal sacrifices.

    There are references to historical events that seem unrelated to being alive today. One also notices all sorts of horrible things. In parts of the Bible, we can find a punitive deity and barbaric acts of inhumanity .

    So, you might wonder what kind of divine authorship is supposed to be behind this scripture?

    Myth in scripture

    scriptureOne point of view is that just because a book is old it doesn’t have to be outdated. Philosophers read Aristotle and Plato and find lots of contemporary human interest in them. There’s no reason why the moral insights of religious texts like the general commands about honouring one’s parents, not killing, or not stealing should be any different. The so-called Golden Rule is that you should treat others as you want to be treated yourself. This you find in all sorts of religious texts. You see versions of that in Aristotle.

    For many people the creation story in Genesis is a myth. But I would like to suggest that the word myth should not be understood as meaning something that is not true. Doesn’t a myth convey something of a deeper truth about the human condition – something not supposed to be taken literally?

    One can likewise wonder whether there is also wisdom beneath the surface of other parts of scripture: – its historical narrative, visionary material, prophecy, and poetry. If present, it has usually remained hidden to many.

    Attitude to reading scripture

    My own experience is that when I have try to focus my mind on a text and slowly reflect on its possible meaning, only then can I start to sense a deeper message. I feel a personal relevance.

    The truth that what you will find in the text depends on your commitment you show to the text, why you’re reading it and what you want to find in it.” (Anonymous teacher of Judaism – British Library website)

    A danger lurks here. I can find myself proudly claiming I now know what scripture says and I want to tell others what to think.

    “Our understanding of God’s word will be fallible because we are finite beings. It is arrogant to raise our interpretation to infallible truth and thus start to deny the truth that other people hold in their interpretation.” (anonymous Muslim speaker – British Library website)

    If there is a God – an infinite Being beyond full human understanding – then a bit of humility from me is called for. Perhaps I have only partly had a glimmer of the truth and what is true for me works a little differently for you.

    Spiritual Teaching

    Mind you, I’m not saying scripture is the only source of wisdom. We value what we have learned from parents and teachers who have been part of our upbringing and education. They can convey deep guiding principles. For example the ideas that:

    • A realm of consciousness of spirit exists that is not limited by space or time.
    • There is a divine spark of love present with us which is the source and foundation of all reality.
    • The improvement of one’s moral character is the biggest aim of one’s human existence.

    I feel these ideas help me to find some sense in scripture.

    Nasty side of scripture

    The Old Testament prophets are good at threatening punishments of the people. Applied to myself, I feel these to be a warning about the troubles I can bring on myself if I were to stray from the right path in life.

    The people of Israel fought gory battles against various tribes living in the land of Canaan. I wonder whether these battles are symbolic of the inner conflicts within myself in my daily life. Generally speaking, there is a clash between a selfish thought and considering the needs of someone near me.

    What about animal sacrifices urged upon the people of the Old Testament? To my mind these mirror the things I need to give up, or at least cut down. What seems like a personal sacrifice at the time however can later become something of no matter.

    Correspondence and scripture

    There is one big idea I find useful in understanding sacred writing. This is the concept of correspondence.  The philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg wrote about a deeper level of meaning within the literal sense of scripture. Each object, person, and event depicted in scripture is said to correspond to this spiritual sense. Sometimes this is clear but often it is hidden. One has to employ one’s deeper perception to notice it.

     “The spiritual sense …  does not appear in the sense of the Letter: it is within it, as the soul is in the body, as the thought is in the eyes, and as affection is in the countenance. ” (Emanuel Swedenborg, philosopher)

    Enlightenment and scripture

    Some religious believers say one shouldn’t criticise sacred writing but should take it as final authority. However, there is another attitude to scripture which I think is a little bit different. It is one that does involve a questioning and searching attitude. Such an approach involves reflection and a sense of responsibility for applying what is learned.

    According to Swedenborg enlightened people are :

    Those who love truths because they are truths, and who apply them to the uses of life.”

    Conclusion about scripture

    In Hinduism and Buddhism there isn’t the same tradition, as in the Western world, of an infallibility of one particular religious text. Rather, believers draw upon a whole body and collection of spiritual writing. They use these in order to understand their religion better.

    I feel no individual writers of scripture of themselves could have infallibly grasped what is eternally true. After all they were only finite human beings. Nevertheless, I do sense a divine inspiration in their writing that has universal application.  Could they not have been instrumental in revealing the wisdom of an infinite loving Being? A message that is the Word of God?

    I would suggest there is only one way for you to answer this question to your own satisfaction. Why not try to read parts of scripture you have never visited,  and look for what you had never previously suspected was present?     

    Copyright 2016 Stephen Russell-Lacy
    Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

     

    Chapter XII. The Mind as the Two Kingdoms.

    THE whole spiritual or internal mind is here presented in two degrees, the celestial and the spiritual. When by regeneration these two degrees are opened in man and stored with good and truth from the LORD, they answer to the two kingdoms, celestial and spiritual, into which the whole heaven is divided.

    When the degrees of the spiritual mind are so opened and stored, then also the two degrees of the natural mind are cleansed of evil and falsity and replenished with good and truth of a lower degree, and form an orderly and correspondent base for the two kingdoms of the internal mind.

    Every regenerate man is in one kingdom or the other according to his state of regeneration.

    In the internal mind reside love to the LORD and love to the neighbor, and these heavenly loves ought to rule and qualify the loves of self and of the world located in the external mind. With the regenerate they do rule and impart a good and true quality to these natural loves.

    But if the natural loves rebel and throw off the dominion of the higher, as with the wicked, they become evil, pervert the external mind, and close up the internal. This state of the external is called hell.

    This diagram presents also a view of the two kingdoms of hell opposite to the two kingdoms of heaven. The satanic kingdom lies in the plane D, the diabolic in E. (Read DLW 273, and recur to the diagram; TCR 281 end; AE 740.)

    In Last Judgment 14, the lowest hell (in the degree E and called the hell of devils), is said to be behind, because that which is lowest in the order from above down, and outmost from within out, is behind in the order from front back.

    The satans mentioned in Apocalypse Revealed 97, 550 and 841 are in the degree D, the devils in E.

    There is no discrepancy between the statement in one passage that devil is evil and thence falsity, and in another that devil is the love of self and of dominion thence. In one passage satan means falsity or the love of falsity and the evil thence, in another it means the love of the world, and thence the love of possessing the goods of others, in still another pride of intellect and of self-derived intelligence. A similar variety of statements occurs in regard to heavenly principles. It is said that the celestial principle or kingdom in heaven is love of good and thence of truth, and is love to the LORD and thence love to the neighbor; and that the spiritual kingdom is truth and thence good, or love of the neighbor and thence of the LORD. The good of the spiritual kingdom is intellectual good because the good there is from truth reduced to practice, thus truth which is intellectual is the essence of that good. Concerning the spiritual kingdom we read, –

    “The angels of the second heaven are in spiritual love. Spiritual love is the love of truth, and in the supreme sense the love of Divine Truth which proceeds from the LORD, thus also love to the LORD but in an inferior degree to that in which are the celestial angels, for the celestials are in love to the LORD from the reception of Divine Good from Him; whereas the spiritual angels are in love to the LORD from the reception of Divine Truth from Him; the difference is as between love in the will and love in the understanding, or, as between flame and. its light.”- AE 831

    The meaning in this passage is not that the spirituals have not will but that their will of good is formed by truth and is therefore intellectual. Inversely among the satans evil is the evil of falsity and is therefore intellectual, and inheres in the love of the world as a final end. Evil arising primarily in the will is voluntary and is the evil inhering in love of self as a final end; this is the ruling love among the devils.

    This diagram illustrates True Christian Religion TCR 234, 235 and 236 and like passages throughout the Writings in which the angels are considered in two kingdoms and men in the natural degree below. The celestial angels are in B, the spiritual in C. In B is the celestial sense of the Word; the spiritual sense in C. The natural sense is in D, E, F, which together constitute the natural kingdom mentioned in 236. The higher celestial part of the natural sense is in D and the higher spiritual part in E; the merely literal sense, including the lowest spiritual and celestial element, is in F and answers to the life of the natural body.

    The celestial degree and kingdom of the internal mind, is the primal abode of celestial perception, the spiritual degree that of conscience.

    Perception and conscience flow thence into the natural mind, gifting it with natural perception which is celestial, and natural conscience which is spiritual.

    Sacred things – Do they matter?

    Ordinary life is filled with cares and concerns. We each get taken up with earning a living, the needs of our family, the problems of where we live or whatever. Don’t you sometimes yearn to re-discover a sense of balance and composure? Many people do this by re-connecting with a magical place where they have experienced a special moment. A place they have come to regard as sacred.

    The word ‘sacred’

    The word ‘sacred’ is a religious word. Whether you are a member of a faith tradition or none, any place can be seen as sacred if it is especially important to you. One person’s religion may be another’s superstition or folk belief, eg good-luck charms or religious relics may be imbued by some with mystical powers.

    According to spiritual philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg, in the distant past, ancient people would be reminded of inward human qualities by physical things e.g. a heart – representing love; a snake – sensory pleasure; a sword – integrity in fighting for what is right. But in the course of time, he says, this symbolic knowledge was lost. Later generations mistakenly assumed there was supposed to be something inherently holy in such things and thus began to superstitiously revere them as idols.

    What is sacred

    What you regard as sacred doesn’t have to be what you have you been told by others but what you experience within. It is a very personal matter. It might not be a place at all but rather an activity, an object or even an idea.

    “What is sacred can refer to something that one cherishes, that is precious” (Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist)

    sacredPerhaps it is something you respect that is so different from what is ordinary & mundane that it is beyond language to describe. This might be because it makes you feel safe. Or perhaps it reminds you of your deeper values. Or perhaps it inspires a sense of wonder and awe that touched your soul. And so you want to keep whatever it is unspoilt and pure.

    Sacred activity

    What is a blessing to you might be a walk in the woods that you love. It could be meditating – there is a sacred space in the mindful moment. Maybe its when listening to that special piece of music or reading that favourite book that deeply affects you.

    Some say you know what it is when you feel connected with a sense of what is profoundly good and wise.

    “Whether we’re religious or not, a prayer is the acknowledgment of something greater than ourselves. It is a ritual that allows us to create space for hope even in the tiniest prison, including the prison of our mind.” (Tim Leberecht, spiritual writer)

    Sacred ideas

    What is revered by you might simply be an idea that you value and regard as precious; for example a specific thing that reminds you of the principle of honesty with your life partner, the innocence of childhood, your sense of vocation, or the value of social justice. When you recall the idea, it stands apart in its significance for you giving a renewed sense of purpose and hope.

    Why we need something sacred

    Don’t we all need to get in touch with something, in our heart of hearts, that is really dear to us and worth dedicating ourselves to? Something that goes beyond the self and that is very real and powerful, pure and good. Imagine a life in which nothing was consecrated for you – or to anyone else. To me, such a life would be empty and sterile.

    Responding to the sacred

    Whatever it is that you feel is worthy of veneration why not return to it? You can then get to know what it is like to be touched by it. I happen to believe that by setting aside a little time to do this, on a regular basis, you can be taken away from your ordinary concerns so that your mood and mind is lifted to a higher plane.
    I really believe there is something divine in everything if you want to find it. Whether it’s in the smile of a child, the handshake of a stranger, the sound of birdsong, or the newly opening buds of a snowdrop.

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

     

    Battle with yourself – How to win?

    You may be uncomfortable with some negative traits in yourself. Instead of being greedy you may wish to learn moderation, instead of being judgmental, to learn tolerance. Or maybe your archilles’ heel is self-pride or impulsiveness and you want to develop modesty and patience. Whatever your weakness, the question arises how do you change? For example you might attend a problem drinking clinic or a slimming club but don’t consistently keep to the programme.
    battleI would suggest that to find the better person within, you will first need to battle against yourself. It is not enough to accept you need to change, you also need to have a strong resolve and put effort in to curb your impulses: to put up a fight against your demons whatever they are. This is the viewpoint of Western and Eastern religion; that one’s lower nature has to be repudiated before the higher self can properly emerge. To gain the positive, one needs to conquer the negative. But how do you do this?

    Getting fighting fit

    Before going into battle a soldier needs to prepare. To wear the right armour and get hold of a shield and sword. The armour protects from harm and the sword kills the bad guy. You also need to be fighting fit. It’s the same when you battle against yourself. You need protection from dangerous illusions and to be armed with right knowledge and understanding.

    The enemy is within. It comes from all the negative influences around you. The allure of product-advertising that suggests an impulsive purchase. The angry and impulsive behaviour of fictitious characters in film and television who function as role models. The strident and loud voices that proclaim that you have the right to be happy no matter what the cost.

    Being armed with the sword of truth is to remember alternative right ways of thinking that encourage how you ideally would like to be. What is the truth about the fantasies that sustain your negative actions?

    What is the truth of your ethical code that teaches proper dealings with people? What is the truth of your higher principles that can guide you away from a selfish uncaring attitude?

    “It is truth that goes into battle first, for the battle is fought from truth since it is from the truth that a person recognizes what falsity is and what evil is. Such conflicts never arise therefore until a person has been endowed with knowledge and cognitions of truth and good.”(Emanuel Swedenborg)

    Running battle that goes on for a long time

    Sometimes we expect immediate results and get easily disappointed by set-backs. You need to appreciate that the struggle with negative habits can go on for a long time before a clear-cut victory can emerge. This is because the problem behaviour is likely to have become entrenched within your make-up and have several facets that all need tackling.

    Inside each of us, there is the seed of both good and evil. It’s a constant struggle as to which one will win. (Eric Burdon)

    Although talking about the world of politics, Margaret Thatcher once observed that one may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.

    One of the Bible writers bemoaned the running battle that goes on for a long time:

    How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?(Psalmist)

    Uphill battle

    In fact the battle can feel like an uphill one with the odds against you.

    The battle of life is, in most cases, fought uphill; and to win it without a struggle were perhaps to win it without honor. If there were no difficulties there would be no success; if there were nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to be achieved. (Samuel Smiles)

    So don’t give up without a fight. The army commanders train the troops to obey orders. They instil disciple through drill. Likewise you need self-discipline if you are to do battle and not give up without a fight in the face of the enemy.

    Happiness is dependent on self-discipline. We are the biggest obstacles to our own happiness. It is much easier to do battle with society and with others than to fight our own nature. (Dennis Prager)

    Yes, having a battle with yourself can – and perhaps should – be a central issue in your life. However it is so easy to exaggerate the uphill nature of this battle. This exaggeration is another negative facet of what you are up against. It is an example of negative thinking that takes away your courage. Again the sword of truth can encourage your effort. The truth is we are the biggest obstacles to our own happiness. So try to remember the reasons for the battle with yourself. Recall why you wish to be different. And challenge the mistaken and unrealistic excuses you had made up to support your negative behaviour. You may lose one battle but live to fight another day.

    Fighting chance

    When you have hit hot rock bottom you may feel you are fighting a losing battle. Perhaps wrestling with ones own nature in ones’ own strength is not enough. Alcoholics Anonymous teach that one also needs help from a higher power. Likewise religious people pray to their image of God for help.

    One complaint about religion is the way fundamentalist believers take their sacred writing as sacred because of its literal truth; for example that the battles mentioned in the Old Testament justify violence against one’s foes. But an alternative approach is to take such imagery are figuratively sacred. This is to see a battle as referring to the inner battle of good versus bad within each human individual. This ties in with the idea of correspondence between natural things and spiritual qualities. Many observers—both Muslim and non-Muslim talk of jihad having two meanings. The ‘greater jihad’ is said to be an inner spiritual struggle. If only those jihadists wanting to terrorise the West would realise this.

    According to this figurative view when we read the Psalmist praising God as the ‘king of glory’ ‘strong’ and ‘mighty in battle’, who ‘fights’ against those who ‘fight against’ him, we can understand the idea of an all-powerful God destroying evil thoughts and feelings within us rather than destroying  people.

    You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me. Psalm 18:39

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

    Posted on31st January 2016CategoriesLatest post, Meaning of life, Spiritual meaningTags, , ,

    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.

    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