Man is Led and Taught By the Lord in Externals to All Appearance As Of Himself

Lastchurch - The Eternal PurposeSelection from Divine Providence ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

In externals man is led and taught by the Lord in all appearance as if by himself. This takes place in man’s externals, but not in internals.

How the Lord leads and teaches man in his internals no one knows, as no one knows how the soul operates to cause the eye to see, the ear to hear, the tongue and mouth to speak, the heart to move the blood, the lungs to breathe, the stomach to digest, the liver and pancreas to assort, the kidneys to secrete, and countless other things. These things do not come to man’s perception and sensation.

The same is true of what is done by the Lord in the interior substances and forms of the mind, which are infinitely more numerous; the Lord’s operations in these are not manifest to man. But the effects, which are numerous, are manifest, as well as some of the causes producing the effects. These are the externals wherein man and the Lord are together. And because externals make one with internals (for they cohere in one series), the Lord can arrange things in internals only in accordance with the disposition that is effected by means of man in the externals.

Every one knows that man thinks, wills, speaks, and acts to all appearance as if from himself; and every one can see that without this appearance man would have no will or understanding, thus no affection or thought, also no reception of any good and truth from the Lord. This being so, it follows that without this appearance there would be no knowledge of God, no charity or faith, and consequently no reformation or regeneration, and therefore no salvation. From all this it is clear that this appearance is given to man by the Lord for the sake of all these uses, and chiefly that man may have the ability to receive and to reciprocate, whereby the Lord may be conjoined with him and he with the Lord, and that through this conjunction man may live forever. This is the appearance here meant.

(Divine Providence 174)
June 23, 2017

Practising awareness of the Divine

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

Now that sounds unbearably pompous or over pious. But in fact it it is the name that the early Fathers of the Christian (yes there were also early Desert mothers too)  church gave to their meditation or prayer life.

The most well known was Anthony the Great, who moved to the desert in 270–271 and became known as both the father and founder of desert monasticism. The desert monastic communities that grew out of the informal gathering of hermit monks became the model for Christian Monasticism. The eastern monastic tradition at Mount Athos and the western Rule of St Benedict both were strongly influenced by the traditions that began in the desert. All of the monastic revivals of the Middle Ages looked to the desert for inspiration and guidance. Much of Eastern Christian spirituality, including the Hesychast movement, had its roots in the practices of the Desert Fathers. Even religious renewals such as the German evangelicals and Pietists in Pennsylvania, the Devotio Moderna movement, and the Methodist Revival in England are seen by modern scholars as being influenced by the Desert Fathers.

What was the attraction and how did such a spirituality survive so long and be seen as a valuable source by so many religious movements and bodies?

Well put simply the early fathers learned to sit in silence and create a space in the heart for the Holy Spirit, or God or whatever you believe in, to find a home in. When I used to commute from Kinston upon Thames to Waterloo and back each day on crowded and often smelly commuter trains I was able to use this simple technique to shut out the noise and rattle and crush and just begin to exist quietly in the eternal now of the spirit.

The Buddhists also do similar inner space creation. The way to empty the mind of the million and one thoughts that shout for our attention is to have a simple word or phrase we can silently murmur and use as a shield from the world.

I must be one of the worlds most impatient people yet I found after a few days I could alight from my train in a calm and tranquil state usually, not always but very often. Co-workers in the mornings noticed and the people I lived with certainly did too. I was calmer less argumentative and much nicer to be around.

Even now when my religious affiliation( as opposed to belief) is virtual non exist ant I still practice the awareness of the divine (or whatever). For such a small effort the result brings such great benefit. There are a few books and I know of some classes, but frankly if you can read and have patience to try, that is all you need. What word of phrase do I use? Well I took mine from the latin mass of Maundy Thursday because I liked the Taize hymn of the same name.

Ubi Caritas…or in it’s full name Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

But any phrase that is attractive and spirit centred works just as well. Come Holy Spirit, Jesus Love, I know a Quaker Lady who uses the words ‘Bright Crystal’. What works works.

I hope that anyone who feels anxious or uncertain or wants to reach out to the Divine might consider this ancient yet modern method.

I’ll just close by giving the translation of that hymn as I think is is so beautiful.

Copyright 2012 Edmund Preston.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
Christ’s love has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And may we love each other with a sincere heart.
Where charity and love are, God is there.
As we are gathered into one body,
Beware, lest we be divided in mind.
Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease,
And may Christ our God be in our midst.
Where charity and love are, God is there.
And may we with the saints also,
See Thy face in glory, O Christ our God:
The joy that is immense and good,
Unto the ages through infinite ages. Amen.

 

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Posted on 23rd August 2012Categories Mystical experience, PoetryTags , , , , , , , , , ,  Leave a comment

Bringing Forth Things that are Useful

Lastchurch - The Eternal PurposeSelection from Doctrine of Faith ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

From his earliest childhood man has the affection of knowing, which leads him to learn many things that will be of use to him, and many that will be of no use. While he is growing into manhood he learns by application to some business such things as belong to that business, and this business then becomes his use, and he feels an affection for it. In this way commences the affection or love of use, and this brings forth the affection of the means which teach him the handling of the business which is his use. With everybody in the world there is this progression, because everybody has some business to which he advances from the use that is his end, by the means, to the actual use which is the effect. But inasmuch as this use together with the means that belong to it is for the sake of life in this world, the affection that is felt for it is natural affection only.

But as every man not only regards uses for the sake of life in this world, but also should regard uses for the sake of his life in heaven (for into this life he will come after his life here, and will live in it to eternity), therefore from childhood everyone acquires knowledges [cognitiones] of truth and good from the Word, or from the doctrine of the church, or from preaching, which knowledges are to be learned and retained for the sake of that life; and these he stores up in his natural memory in greater or less abundance according to such affection of knowing as may be inborn with him, and has in various ways been incited to an increase.

But all these knowledges [cognitiones], whatever may be their number and whatever their nature, are merely the storehouse of material from which the faith of charity can be formed, and this faith cannot be formed except in proportion as the man shuns evils as sins. If he shuns evils as sins, then these knowledges become those of a faith that has spiritual life within it. But if he does not shun evils as sins, then these knowledges are nothing but knowledges [cognitiones], and do not become those of a faith that has any spiritual life within it.

This storehouse of material is in the highest degree necessary, because faith cannot be formed without it, for the knowledges [cognitiones] of truth and good enter into faith and make it, so that if there are no knowledges, faith cannot come forth into being, for an entirely void and empty faith is impossible. If the knowledges are scanty, the faith is consequently very small and meager; if they are abundant, the faith becomes proportionately rich and full.

Be it known however that it is knowledges [cognitiones] of genuine truth and good that constitute faith, and by no means knowledges of what is false, for faith is truth, and as falsity is the opposite of truth, it destroys faith. Neither can charity come forth into being where there are nothing but falsities, for charity and faith make a one just as good and truth make a one. From all this it follows that an absence of knowledges of genuine truth and good involves an absence of faith, that a few knowledges make some faith, and that many knowledges make a faith which is clear and bright in proportion to their abundance. Such as is the quality of a man’s faith from charity, such is the quality of his intelligence.

(Doctrine of Faith 25-29)
June 11, 2017

Aid – Should charity begin at home?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

aidControversially, a petition signed by 100,000 people has called for some re-allocation of the UK’s foreign aid budget to help compensate the victims of British floods and improve flood defences. The annual £11bn budget is aimed at alleviating poverty and helping crisis-hit areas around the world. Similarly, grumbling voices in the right-wing media have criticised aid agencies such as Oxfam for caring too much about international poverty and ignoring poor people in the UK.

This attitude seems to be the opposite of a more common sentiment that argues that aid charities, associated with humanitarian disasters in the developing world, have no real business operating in the UK, where, it is sometimes suggested, “real” poverty doesn’t exist. In Venezuela in 1999, 30,000 were killed. The devastation in Bangladesh in 2004 was unspeakable, with the waters covering 60 per cent of the country and leaving roughly 30 million people homeless or stranded. The south-east Asian floods of 2011 killed 3,000 more, and wiped out the livelihoods of millions.

So, should charity begin at home? Should we first give aid to our own people before worrying about the rest of the world?

Aid needed close to home

Someone said:

“If you really want to make the world a better place, start by being giving aid to those in need right here in our city.”

In other words it is no good sending money to a foreign relief fund if you ignore the needs of the people sleeping rough on your own streets who need food banks.

Several international charities do provide aid in Britain.

The international charity Oxfam has had UK aid programmes for the past 20 years.

UNICEF focuses on the most disadvantaged children wherever they are to grow up safe happy and healthy. It works in 190 countries including with UK public services to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding and to strengthen mother baby and family relationships.

Save the Children works in more than 120 countries. It has worked in the UK since the 1930s when it set up nurseries in deprived areas of the country. It supports children living in the most severe poverty providing their families with household essentials, like a child’s bed, a family cooker or educational books and toys.

“If you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.” (Bob Hope)

Aid for social exclusion

The need for food and shelter is an obvious need that pulls at our heart strings and is found in many war-torn regions and third world countries. Aid charities are not going to be distributing emergency shipments of grain to people in the UK because by and large this is not how poverty is found here.

However, there are other forms of deprivation which are less easy to discern. Poverty looks different across the world but deprived communities all have a sense of social exclusion, a lack of voice, and a lack of opportunity to shape their own lives. In Britain there are many families who are not starving but are suffering with food and housing insecurity triggered by low pay, unemployment: they are slipping through the net of what some commentators have described as an increasingly threadbare social security system, where complications with benefits mean there are long delays.

Aid not creating dependency

A major worry many of us have about giving to the poor is creating a culture of dependency. Where is the incentive for trying to make personal progress out of poverty when one stands to lose the benefit of regular handouts? That is why genuine charity involves acting with good sense as well as love.

“Charity towards the neighbour is thought to consist in giving to the poor, helping a person in need, and doing good to everyone. But genuine charity involves acting circumspectly and with the end in view that good may result.” (Emanuel Swedenborg)

Oxfam uses the principle of the “hand-up”, rather than the “permanent handout”. On a practical level it funds welfare advisers to guide often desperate food bank clients through the social security maze and offer them advice on managing debt and getting back to work.

Another sensible way forward might be to donate money for low-cost loans which can create a ‘can-do mentality’ on the part of recipients.

Aid as daily charitable behaviour

Giving to an aid charity is all well and good but is it not meaningless unless we also do good in the normal exercise of our everyday roles? That would mean acting with sincerity and honesty with concern for others rather than self-interest. Giving our time and efforts not for the sake of for the sake of reputation, honour and gain but rather for the sake of meeting the needs of those around us.

“Charity towards the neighbour is far wider in scope than helping the poor and needy. Charity towards the neighbour involves doing what is right in every task, and doing what is required in any official position.” (Swedenborg)

Central to this view is the notion that charity is all about giving of ourselves without seeking recompense for self-interest.

Unless charity starts at home, in this sense of an attitude of goodwill and integrity in our relationships, then I would argue that any donation of money for international aid is like giving a guilt-gift to a child to compensate for being an absent parent, or fulfilling an occasional social obligation without bothering to give any regular useful contact and input.

Aid as a means of spiritual enlightenment

Helping those we know, and whose lives interact with our own in our daily life, is important. But that perhaps should only be the start.

“Charity begins at home, but should not end there.” (Thomas Fuller)

Regular giving to aid others in need has been a common spiritual discipline and found in several religious traditions. The Christian tradition of tithing, optionally pledging a portion of personal income for donation to charity, has analogies in the obligatory charitable traditions of Sunni Islam (Zakat), Judaism (Tzedakah) and Hinduism (Dana).

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

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Posted on13th February 2014CategoriesEthics, Private EthicsTags , , ,,  Leave a comment

Just how tolerant should I try to be?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

tolerantThe British live in a curiously tolerant country – one which allows a range of values, views about life, and philosophical and political belief. But one thing for which people are not tolerant is intolerance! For example an intolerant attitude towards diversity is associated in the public mind with being discriminatory, moralistic and rejecting.

And so to criticise the sex industry runs the risk of condemning prostitutes. To complain about levels of immigration is to be thought of as racist. To argue against the introduction of gay marriage is seen as homophobia.

Judgmental attitude

In one sense this idea of being tolerant is not new. Jesus Christ could be said to have exemplified it by spending time with those whose lifestyles were outside the accepted morality of his day, the tax collectors, and so on. His tolerant conduct illustrates the idea of accepting others for what they are rather than acting with social prejudice.

‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged.’ (Matt 7:1)

But ‘turning the other cheek’ and treating people who offend our values and susceptibilities with forbearance and indulgence sometimes feels a step too far. For example the value of peace and quiet in one’s neighbourhood may suit some but others may prefer a livelier scene with loud music blaring from the local pub or party goers having a good time in the street.

Limits to being tolerant

Are there no limits to being tolerant? When we stop and reflect then of course we realise there must be limits if society is to hold together. If the police in a neighbourhood tolerated robbery and violence without any attempt to arrest criminals, then chaos would ensue. Any political authority tolerating such a state of affairs would stand accused of a complete lack of compassion for the plight of innocent victims.

However there are numerous occasions when no law is broken yet those with views about what is right and wrong feel that being tolerant can merge into permissiveness or naivety. Some people want to stand up for what they feel is right but can be accused of intolerance when they do so.

How tolerant should we be of unsolicited telephone calls from call centres trying to sell unwanted things, of cyclists riding on busy pavements endangering parents with small children, of intimidating groups of youths hanging around street corners, of a sports crowd using foul language in the presence of children, or of an old driver slowly driving along a single lane road holding up a long line of traffic.

Voicing criticism

I would suggest it is possible to stand up for what one believes by voicing criticism provided this is done in a social skilled manner. Knowing how to differentiate between the behaviour one wants to complain about and the person who is giving offence is part of the answer. It is a real challenge is to try to recognize one’s unsympathetic and over-critical mindset and learn to tolerate people who anger you by disliking what they do rather than the people themselves.

But how is criticism expressed? When someone gets on their high horse their criticism sounds like they are putting down the other person. This is the mark of an intolerant attitude. Some of us are better than others in voicing criticism using wit and good humour without appearing to dominate.

Charitable attitude

I believe the core of an intolerant attitude is an uncharitable attitude. This can be recognised as a narrow mind and unsympathetic feeling. It is shown by jumping to conclusions about someone because of a desire to find fault: not bothering to look for mitigating circumstances that could partly excuse someone’s actions: and failing to look for the good rather than the bad in the person about whom you are prejudiced.

There probably is not much more likely to cause intolerant anger than matters of religious belief. Witness the hatred and violence of two branches of Christianity in 17th century England. And so I was delighted when holidaying in Monmouthshire recently to came across a beautiful small Moravian chapel near Tintern Abbey which had a notice saying

“In things essential – unity,
In non-essentials – liberty
In all things — charity”

It is charitable to remember that what appears to be right to you may be seen differently by others. And that by allowing others to do things of which you disapprove doesn’t mean you are saying they are acting in line with what you want and think is right.

I would ike to say a charitable attitude is no use if exercised unwisely. What behaviour in others to tolerate depends on one’s good sense as well as one’s charitable attitude. If this is true then don’t give a drunk money to spend on booze: don’t tolerate abusive behaviour from a family member: don’t allow the children to manipulate you.

Copyright 2012 Stephen Russell-LacyAuthor of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

 

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Posted on9th August 2012CategoriesEthics, Interpersonal EthicsTags, , , , ,, , , , ,, , , , ,  Leave a comment

Good Cannot Die, Because Evil Can Be Separated From It

Lastchurch - The Eternal Purpose

A Portion of a Passage from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Be it known that all the good a man has thought and done from infancy even to the last of his life, remains; in like manner all the evil, so that not the least of it completely perishes. Both are inscribed on his book of life (that is, on each of his memories), and on his nature (that is, his native disposition and genius).  From these he has formed for himself a life, and so to speak a soul, which after death is of a corresponding quality.  But goods are never so commingled with evils, nor evils with goods, that they cannot be separated; for if they should be commingled, the man would eternally perish.

In relation to this the Lord exercises His providence, and when a man comes into the other life, if he has lived in the good of love and of charity, the Lord then separates his evils, and by what is good with him elevates him into heaven.  But if he has lived in evils, that is, in things contrary to love and charity, the Lord then separates from him what is good, and his evils bring him into hell.  Such is the lot of everyone after death; but it is a separation, and in no wise a complete removal.

Moreover, as the will of man, which is the one part of his life, has been utterly destroyed, the Lord separates this destroyed part from the other which is his intellectual part, and in those who are being regenerated, implants in this intellectual part the good of charity, and through this a new will; these are they who have conscience.

(Arcana Coelestia 2256)
January 16, 2015

Alternations of NO Life and of REAL Life in Regeneration

A portion of a passage from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
When man is being regenerated, he receives life from the Lord; for before this he cannot be said to have lived, the life of the world and of the body not being life, but only that which is heavenly and spiritual. Through regeneration man receives real life from the Lord; and because he had no life before, there is an alternation of no life and of real life, that is, of no faith and charity, and of some faith and charity; no charity and faith being here signified by “cold” and some faith and charity by “heat.”

As regards this subject the case is this: Whenever man is in his corporeal and worldly things, there is then no faith and charity, that is, there is “cold” for then corporeal and worldly things, consequently those which are his own, are at work, and so long as the man is in these, he is absent or remote from faith and charity, so that he does not even think about heavenly and spiritual things. The reason of this is that heavenly and corporeal things can never be together in a man, for man’s will has been utterly ruined. But when the things of man’s body and will are not at work, but are quiescent, then the Lord works through his internal man, and then he is in faith and charity, which is here called “heat.” When he again returns into the body he is again in cold; and when the body, or what is of the body, is quiescent, and as nothing, he is then in heat, and so on in alternation. For such is the condition of man that heavenly and spiritual things cannot be in him along with his corporeal and worldly things, but there are alternations. This is what takes place with everyone who is to be regenerated, and it goes on as long as he is in a state of regeneration; for in no other way is it possible for man to be regenerated, that is, from being dead to be made alive, for the reason, as already said, that his will has been utterly ruined, and is therefore completely separated from the new will, which he receives from the Lord and which is the Lord’s and not the man’s. Hence now it is evident what is here signified by “cold and heat.”

That such is the case every regenerated man may know from experience, that is to say, that when he is in corporeal and worldly things, he is absent and remote from internal things, so that he not only takes no thought about them, but feels in himself cold at the thought of them; but that when corporeal and worldly things are quiescent, he is in faith and charity. He may also know from experience that these states alternate, and that therefore when corporeal and worldly things begin to be in excess and to want to rule, he comes into straits and temptations, until he is reduced into such a state that the external man becomes compliant to the internal, a compliance it can never render until it is quiescent and as it were nothing.

The last posterity of the Most Ancient Church could not be regenerated, because – with them the things of the understanding and of the will constituted one mind; and therefore the things of their understanding could not be separated from those of their will, so that they might in this manner be by turns in heavenly and spiritual things, and in corporeal and worldly things; but they had continual cold in regard to heavenly things and continual heat in regard to cupidities, so that they could have no alternation.

(Arcana Coelestia 933)
January 13, 2015