Mystics – Can we learn from them?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

I do often find the books written by mystics as mystifying! And so put them down quick; and I don’t think I’m the only one.  For mysticism is often viewed as confused, irrational thinking.

Tantilising insights amidst the paradox

Sometimes I feel mystics intentionally obscure the meaning of something to make it more difficult to grasp and that’s when I long for the clear albeit doctrinaire statements of orthodox religion or for that matter the dogmas of materialistic science. At least they do not so obviously contain contradiction and paradox. Yet occasionally I do get glimpses of something in the writing of mystics that I can only describe as giving me sudden deep moments of intuition.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Pierre Telihard de Chardin – one of the mystics

Still keen to get a handle on the mystics, I recently started reading Hymn of the Universe by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin whose words are said to be part of the treasury of mystical literature.

I sensed here a heavenly perception of the warmth and light of the creative Spirit

“Over there, on the horizon, the sun has
just touched with light, the outermost fringe of the eastern sky. Once again,  beneath this moving sheet of fire, the living surface of the earth wakes and  trembles”

A love and respect for so many people trying to fulfill what he calls the creative Energy.

“The whole vast anonymous army of living humanity; those who surround me and support me though I do not know them … who today will take up again their impassioned pursuit of the light.”

I felt a universal humanity with all its separate parts working together complementing each other to bring about heaven on earth.

As well as those “despite their error”, “confused or orderly”. “All of them, Lord, I will try to gather into my arms”

Is this not a love for his fellow man whom he asks God to “receive” and with whom he asks “Lord make us one”?

Mystics have more in common despite varying religious backgrounds

Mystics come from different religious backgrounds and there are mystic traditions which form sub-currents such as Kabbalah within Judaism, Sufism within Islam, Vedanta within Hinduism, and Christian mysticism within Christianity.

A scientist can also be one of the mystics

Teilhard de Chardin comes from a Roman Catholic background and demonstrates the basic Christian attitude that of ourselves we are lifeless but that we can be in-filled with the divine Life if we turn to it.

As for us creatures, of ourselves we are but emptiness and obscurity. But you, my God, are the inmost depths, the stability of that eternal milieu, without duration or space.”

Here we have the characteristic of mystical writing – poetry disguised as prose. Little or no attempt to provide rational coherence and structure but rather we get a subjective expression of devotional emotion.

Nevertheless in other of his writing he was a leading proponent of the idea that evolution occurs in a directional, goal driven way rather than due to the accidents of natural selection. Trained as a paleontologist and geologist as well as a Jesuit priest, he had a reverence for the natural world and a continual awareness of the spiritual.

“Like the pagan I worship a God who can be touched; and I do indeed touch him – this God – over the whole surface and in the depths of that world of matter which confines me.”

But he adds that it is more than the emotion felt by the pagan as he lies prostrate before a tangible divinity. “Through your own incarnation, my God, all matter is henceforth incarnate.

This reminds me of the mystical idea of the whole of creation as mirroring the
Divine soul operating in the world of people. Where accepted it is shown in the
beauty of nature.  Every single thing within the natural order should be cared for because it is an image of the Divine. In each thing we see in the forest, on the mountain and in the sea, something that meaningfully represents the spiritual dimension.

Esoteric secrets or mystical insights available to all

It is difficult to find words to express and describe meaningful insights. And so
the perceptions of the mystics are often regarded as ‘hidden secrets’, or ‘esoteric knowledge’ – and for the initiated only. Yet mystics themselves often seem to think that what is out of sight can be found by every person. It is said to be there in all of us, it is just that but we may not yet be able to recognize it.

Likewise according to Emanuel Swedenborg — who also came from a Christian background, and who also had mystical experiences — no matter how well educated and intelligent you are, you need inner enlightenment from the Lord to perceive spiritual matters.

He claimed this inspiration is the illumination that the angels of heaven enjoy and comes to those who are closely linked in their hearts and minds with the spirit of love and truth. The ideas of natural thought, to do with place, time, person or material objects, cannot provide the deep insights of the mystic.

In his book Heaven and Hell, Swedenborg wrote:

At times I have entered into the state in which angels are, and in that state have talked with them, and then understood everything. But when I was brought back into my former state, and thus into the natural thought proper to man, and wished to recall what I had heard, I could not. For there were thousands of things not on a level with the ideas of natural thought, and therefore only to be expressed by variegations of heavenly light, and thus not at all by human words.

Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Posted on 13th October 2011Categories Consciousness, Mystical experienceTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

From Use, In Use, and For Use

Lastchurch - The Eternal PurposeFrom Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

The Lord’s Omnipresence and Omniscience can be Comprehended

The omnipresence and omniscience of the Lord can be comprehended also from the creation of the universe; for the universe was so created by Him that He is in things first and in things last, in the center and in the circumferences, and that the things in which He is are uses. This can be seen to be true from the creation of the universe, from the life of man, and from the essence of uses.

The creation of the universe can be in no way so well understood as from types of it in the heavens. There creation is unceasing and instantaneous, for in the spiritual world lands exist in a moment, and upon them paradisal gardens, and in these trees full of fruits, also shrubs, flowers, and plants of every kind. When these are contemplated by one who is wise, they are found to be correspondences of the uses in which the angels are, to whom they are given as a reward. The angels, moreover, in accordance with their uses have houses given them, full of utensils and beautiful things according to uses; also garments according to their uses, and food that is esculent and palatable according to their uses, and delightful conversations, which also are uses because they are recreations. All these things are given them gratuitously, and yet on account of the uses they perform. In a word, the whole heaven is so full of uses that it may be called the very kingdom of uses.

Those, on the other hand, who perform no uses, are sent into the hells, where they are compelled by a judge to perform tasks; and if they refuse no food is given them and no clothing, nor any bed but the ground, and they are scoffed at by their companions as slaves are by their masters. The judge even permits them to be their bond servants, and if they entice others from their tasks they are severely punished. All this is done until they yield. But those who cannot be made to yield are cast out into deserts, where a morsel of bread is given them daily, and water to drink, and they dwell by themselves in huts or in caves; and because they perform no uses the land about them is so barren that a grassy sod is rarely seen upon it. In such deserts and hells I have seen many of noble descent, who in the world gave themselves up to idleness, or sought offices, the duties of which they discharged not for the sake of use but for honor and gain, which were the only uses regarded.

The uses performed in the heavens and the tasks done in the hells are in part like those done in the world, although for the most part they are spiritual uses, that cannot be described by any natural language, and (what I have often wondered at) do not fall into the ideas of natural thought. But this is generally the case with what is spiritual. In the unceasing and instantaneous creation of all things in the heavens there can be seen as in a type the creation of the universe with its globes, and that there is nothing created in these except for use, and in general, one kingdom of nature for another, the mineral kingdom for the vegetable, this for the animal, and both for the human race, that they may serve the Lord for performing uses to the neighbor.

From the life of man. When this is regarded from the creation of all things in it no part will be found that is not for use, not a fiber or minute vessel in the brains, in the organs of sense, in the muscles, or in any of the viscera of the thorax and the abdomen, or anywhere else, that is not for the sake of use in general and in particular, thus for the sake of the whole and of each thing connected with it, and not for its own sake. The greater forms, which are called members, sensories, muscles, and viscera, which are made up and organized from fibers and vessels, all are formed from use, in use, and for use, so that they may be simply called uses, of which the whole man is composed and formed. It is therefore clearly evident that they have no other origin and no other end than use.

That every man likewise was created and born for use is clearly evident from the use of all things in him, and from his state after death, when, if he performs no use, he is accounted so worthless that he is cast into infernal prisons or into desert places. That man is born to be a use is clear also from his life; for a man whose life is from a love of uses is wholly different from one whose life is from a love of idleness. By a life of idleness is meant a life made up of social interaction feasting, and entertainments. A life from the love of uses is a life of love of the public good and of love to the neighbor, and also a life of love to the Lord, for the Lord performs uses to man through man, consequently a life of the love of uses is the spiritual Divine life, and everyone who loves a good use and does it from a love for it is loved by the Lord, and is received with joy by the angels in heaven. But a life of the love of idleness is a life of the love of self and the world, and thus a merely natural life; and such a life does not hold the thoughts together, but diffuses them into every vain thing, and thereby turns man away from the delights of wisdom and immerses him in the delights of the body and of the world alone to which evils cling; therefore after death he is let down into the infernal society to which he has attached himself in the world, and is there compelled to work by force of hunger and lack of food. By uses in the heavens and on the earths are meant the ministries, functions, and pursuits of life, employments, various domestic tasks, occupations, consequently all things that are opposite to idleness and indolence.

From the essence of uses. The essence of uses is the public good. With the angels the public good in the most general sense means the good of the entire heaven, in a less general sense the good of the society, and in a particular sense the good of the fellow citizen. But with men the essence of uses in the most general sense is both the spiritual and the civil good of the whole human race, in a less general sense the good of the country, in a particular sense the good of a society, and in an individual sense the good of the fellow citizen; and as these goods constitute the essence of uses, love is their life, since all good is of love and the life is in the love. In this love is everyone who takes delight in the use he is in because of its usefulness, whether he is a king, a magistrate, a priest, a minister, a general, a merchant, or a workman. Everyone who takes delight in the use of his function because of its usefulness loves his country and fellow citizens; but he who does not take delight in it because of its usefulness, but does it solely for the sake of self, or solely for the sake of honor and wealth, does not in his heart love his country and fellow citizens, but only himself and the world. This is because no one can be kept by the Lord in love to the neighbor unless he is in some love for the public good; and no one can be in that love unless he is in the love of use for the sake of use, or in the love of use from use, thus from the Lord.

Since, then, each thing, and all things in the world were created in the beginning for use, and in man also all things were formed for use, and the Lord from creation regarded the whole human race as one man, in which each individual is likewise for use or is a use, and since the Lord Himself, as has been said above, is the life of that man, it is clear that the universe was so created that the Lord is in things first and in things last, also in the center and in the circumference, that is, in the midst of all, and that the things in which He is are uses. And from all this the Lord’s omnipresence and omniscience can be comprehended.

(Apocalypse Explained 1226)
June 3, 2017
Image result for spiritual pictures





app1leblo1ssom In considering the correspondence, or symbolic meaning, of forms, we may use the word “form” in three senses, viz. : first, as the shape ; second, as the body; and third, as the organization.

In the universe there is one life, that of the Lord; and all created things are vessels, capable, in different degrees, of receiving and, using the inflowing life of the Lord.

Thus, in their origin, all forms are expressions of the Divine life, i. e., of the Divine Love, Wisdom and Power.

Each creature has its characteristic life, which we call its form of life, i. e., its organization. In the interior sense, the form- is the organization, by means of which the organism is formed. And, in a lower, or secondary sense, the form is the body, or substance, in which the creature dwells. And, in a third sense, the form is the external shape which is given to the organism, that it may carry out its kind of life. And the life, the organism and the shape, are related to each other, as the end, the cause, and the effect; for the organism is the form assumed by the indwelling life; and the shape is the external effect of the organization. And thus the organization and the shape depend on the life. A thing which is formed for a certain purpose; is organized for it, and also shaped for it. And it is so shaped because it is. so organized. The eye is formed for seeing; and it is shaped so that it can see The spirit of man is a human organism ; and so it has the human shape.

With every living thing the outward form, or body, corresponds to the inward life, as to its shape, and as to its abilities. The tiger has great teeth and claws, because it needs such weapons to exercise its kind of life and character ; but the lamb, having no fierce character, does not need such teeth and claws; and so it does not have them. And so, the different animals differ in shape, because they differ in character. The character forms the shape to its purposes. And, in symbolic representation, the shape of a thing corresponds to its qualities of character.

In the Scriptures many things were revealed to the Israelites, and to others, as to the forms, or shapes, in which various things were to be made ; as, for instance, the many details of the tabernacle, and of the temple. And these things were so commanded because of their correspondence.

Shapes are of two general classes, curves and straight lines. And these two classes represent and symbolize the two general elements of human life, love and wisdom, or, in other, words, goodness and truth. Curved lines, rounded lines, represent the things of man’s will, his spiritual heart, with its loves, its affections, its goodness. And straight lines represent the things of man’s understanding, his intellectual life, with its thoughts. And all shapes are made up of curves, or of straight lines, or of their combinations. Different geometric forms of curves, the circle, the oval, the parabola, etc., represent different conditions and qualities of goodness, i. e., of love. And the different right-lined figures, such as the square, the parallelogram, the rhombus, etc., and the triangles of various kinds, represent the different forms in which truth comes to the human mind.

We recognize this representative meaning of straight lines, when we say of a man, that he is “square” in his dealing ; i. e., he is just and right on all sides, and to every person concerned. So, in Israel, the altar of burnt-offering, and the altar of incense, and the breastplate of the high-priest, all being representative, were commanded to be made square. And the holy city of the New Jerusalem was to be square.


In the prophecies of the Old Testament many singular things are mentioned, and their forms and shapes are especially indicated ; as, for instance, in Daniel’s vision of the four beasts : “The first was like a lion, and had eagles’ wings …. And behold, another beast, like to a bear. . . : and lo, another, like unto a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl. The beast had also four heads …. a fourth beast, . . . and it had great iron teeth;. . . .and it had ten horns.” (Daniel, vii. i, 5, 6, 7.) And in the Revelation, it is said concerning a vision, “In the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts, full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion; and the second beast life a calf; and the third beast had a face as a man; and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him ; and they were full of eyes, within.” (Rev. iv. 6-8.) These definite details of the shapes of the beasts afford definite instruction as to the mental principles, the affections and thoughts, thus represented.

Forms presented on the surface of the earth, and in the earth, represent states of human life.


Much is said, in the Scriptures, about forms, in the sense of dimensions, as length, breadth, thickness, height, and so forth. Spiritually, the length of anything is its measure as to goodness, i. e., as to the quality of the love which characterizes the mind”.’ Length symbolizes largeness, fulness, extension, development of character, in goodness. The Lord said of the good man, “Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My salvation.” (Ps. xci. 14, i5.) In the spiritual sense, these things refer to spiritual conditions, fulness of love, extension of qualities, largeness of character.

Shortness represents a want of fulness of character, a cramped state^ of mind, in which the man is not in spiritual freedom, but is bound in slavery by his own evils. “Your: covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand  for the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it ; and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.” ‘(Isa, xxviii. 18, 20.) A bed, on which the body rests, represents a doctrine, on which the mind rests. But a false doctrine does not give freedom to the mind, to develop, to extend itself in fullness, because the false doctrine shortens and dwarfs the heart, and also keeps the intellect within limited bounds, and contracts the thoughts.

Thus, spiritual length refers to the state of the will, the heart, with its affection for goodness. But breadth, or width, represents the state of the understanding, the intellect, with its thoughts. And, spiritually, the measure of a thing, as to its width, is the test of its truthfulness. We speak of intelligent, clear-headed and unprejudiced men, as broad-minded; and of ignorant, selfish and prejudiced men as narrow-minded. Evil shortens the mind, as to its affections, and falsity narrows the understanding. But truth widens the mind. The Psalmist of Israel sings to the Lord, “Thy commandment is exceeding broad. Through Thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Ps. cxix. 96, 104, 105.)


Recognizing the fact that external forms depend upon the inward states of mind, which express themselves in outward forms, we observe how a man’s states of affection and of thought shape his body to their images. When a pleasant feeling is in the heart, and a ,broad thought is in the intellect, the countenance is formed in rounded lines, expressing goodness ; but,when anger is in the heart, an4 harsh thoughts in the intellect, the lines of the countenance are hard, angular and repulsive.

The regenerate man’s spiritual form is in the image of God, formed by Divine principles : but the spiritual form of the evil man is in the image of hell,, formed by infernal principles. The man’s ruling-love forms his whole character, and even shapes his physical countenance. “The measure of a man, that is, of an angel,” (Rev. xxj. 17), is the fulness of regenerate life, measured by Divine principles. And so, in the heavens, where the Divine principles of goodness and truth rule all things, every object is of beautiful, symmetrical and harmonious form, corresponding to the good, affections and the true thoughts of the angels. But, in the hells, where all good and true principles are perverted and falsified, all the objects are ugly, contorted and repulsive, corresponding to the spiritual deformity of evil affections and false thoughts. And, on the earth, the things of beautiful forms represent good and true human qualities ; and hideous and repulsive forms represent evil and false qualities.

Forms, dimensions, etc., have a bad meaning, when they refer to things which have been abused and perverted; as, for instance, it is said of certain hypocritical Jews, “all their works they do for to be seen of men : they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.” (Matt, xxiii. 5.)


When Jehovah appeared to men on earth. He came in a human form, in Jesus Christ. God is a Divine Man, having infinite human qualities. And finite man, as a creature, was formed in the image of God, in the sense that he was made capable of receiving human qualities in a finite degree. And because man is the highest form of created being, and nearest to the Lord, therefore the human form of his spirit takes upon it, in physical nature, a material shape the most beautiful of all created bodies.

And, in the spiritual world, the spiritual form of the regenerate man grows more beautiful, for ever. And, even in the physical world, regenerate men grow more expressive of love and wisdom, even in their natural faces.

Author: Edward Craig Mitchell From Scripture Symbolism 1904


All things treated of hitherto, as the sun, atmospheres, and lands, are only means to ends. The ends of creation are those things that are produced by the Lord as a sun,  through the atmospheres, out of lands; and these ends are called uses. In their whole extent these are all things of the vegetable kingdom, all things of the animal kingdom, and finally the human race, and the angelic heaven which is from it. These are called uses, because they are recipients of Divine Love and Divine Wisdom also because they have regard to God the Creator from whom they are, and thereby conjoin Him to His great work; by which conjunction it comes that, as they spring forth from Him, so do they have unceasing existence from Him. They are said to have regard to God the Creator from whom they are, and to conjoin Him to His great work, but this is to speak according to appearance. It is meant that God the Creator causes them to have regard and to conjoin themselves to Him as it were of themselves; but how they have regard and thereby conjoin will be declared in what follows.  Something has been said before on these subjects in their place, as that Divine Love and Divine Wisdom must necessarily have being and form in other things created by themselves (n. 37-51); that all things in the created universe are recipients of Divine Love and Divine Wisdom (n. 55-60); that the uses of all created things ascend by degrees to man, and through man to God the Creator from whom they are (n. 65-68). [DLW307]

FC1Who does not see clearly that uses are the ends of creation, when he considers that from God the Creator nothing can have form, and therefore nothing can be created, except use; and that to be use, it must be for the sake of others; and that use for the sake of self is also for the sake of others, since a use for the sake of self looks to one’s being in a state to be of use to others? Who so considers this is also able to see, that use which is use cannot spring from man, but must be in man from that Being from whom everything that comes forth is use, that is, from the Lord. [DLW308]

But as the forms of uses are here treated of, the subject shall be set forth in the following order:

(1)          In lands there is a conatus to produce uses in forms, that is, forms of uses.

(2)          In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of the creation of the universe.

(3)          In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of man.

(4)          In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of the Infinite and the Eternal. [DLW309]

(1) In lands there is a conatus to produce uses in forms, that is, forms of uses. That there is this conatus in lands, is evident from their source, since the substances and matters of which lands consist are endings and closings of atmospheres which proceed as uses from the spiritual sun (as may be seen above, n. 305, 306). And because the substances and matters of which lands consist are from that source, and their aggregations are held in connection by the pressure of the surrounding atmospheres, it follows that they have from that a perpetual conatus to bring forth forms of uses. The very quality that makes them capable of bringing forth they derive from their source, as being the outmosts of atmospheres, with which they are constantly in accord. Such a conatus and quality are said to be in lands, but it is meant that they are present in the substances and matters of which lands consist, whether these are in the lands or in the atmospheres as exhalations from the lands. That atmospheres are full of such things is well known. That there is such a conatus and such quality in the substances and matters of lands is plain from the fact that seeds of all kinds, opened by means of heat even to their inmost core, are impregnated by the most subtle substances (which can have no other than a spiritual origin), and through this they have power to conjoin themselves to use, from which comes their prolific principle. Then through conjunction with matters from a natural origin they are able to produce forms of uses, and thereafter to deliver them as from a womb, that they may come forth into light, and thus sprout up and grow. This conatus is afterwards continuous from the lands through the root even to outmosts, and from outmosts to firsts, wherein use itself is in its origin. Thus uses pass into forms; and forms, in their progression from firsts to outmosts and from outmosts to firsts, derive from use (which is like a soul) that each and every thing of the form is of some use. Use is said to be like a soul, since its form is like a body.  It also follows that there is a conatus more interior, that is, the conatus to produce uses for the animal kingdom through vegetable growths, since by these animals of every kind are nourished. It further follows that in all these there is an inmost conatus, the conatus to perform use to the human race. From all this these things follow: (1) that there are outmosts, and in outmosts are all prior things simultaneously in their order, according to what has been frequently explained above; (2) that as there are degrees of both kinds in the greatest and least of all things (as was shown above, n. 222-229), so there are likewise in this conatus; (3) that as all uses are brought forth by the Lord out of outmosts, so in outmosts there must be a conatus to uses. [DLW310]

Still none of these are living conatus, for they are the conatus of life’s outmost forces; within which forces there exists, from the life out of which they spring, a striving to return at last to their origin through the means afforded. In outmosts, atmospheres become such forces; and by these forces, substances and matters, such as are in the lands, are molded into forms and held together in forms both within and without.  But the subject is too large to allow a more extended explanation here. [DLW311]

The first production from these earthy matters, while they were still new and in their simple state, was production of seed; the first conatus therein could not be any other. [DLW312]

(2) In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of creation. Forms of uses are of a threefold kind; forms of uses of the mineral kingdom, forms of uses of the vegetable kingdom, and forms of uses of the animal kingdom. The forms of uses of the mineral kingdom cannot be described, because they are not visible to the eye. The first forms are the substances and matters of which the lands consist, in their minutest divisions; the second forms are aggregates of these, and are of infinite variety; the third forms come from plants that have fallen to dust, and from animal remains, and from the continual evaporations and exhalations from these, which are added to lands and make their soil. These forms of the mineral kingdom in three degrees represent creation in an image in this, that, made active by the sun through the atmospheres and their heat and light, they bring forth uses in forms, which uses were creative ends.This image of creation lies deeply hidden within their conatus (of which see above, n. 310). [DLW313]

In the forms of uses of the vegetable kingdom an image of creation appears in this, that from their firsts they proceed to their outmosts, and from outmosts to firsts. Their firsts are seeds, their outmosts are stalks clothed with bark; and by means of the bark which is the outmost of the stalk, they tend to seeds which, as was said, are their firsts.  The stalks clothed with layers of bark represent the globe clothed with lands, out of which come the creation and formation of all uses. That vegetation is effected through the outer and inner barks and coatings, by a climbing up, by means of the coverings of the roots (which are continued around the stalks and branches), into the beginnings of the fruit, and in like manner through the fruits into the seeds, is known to many. An image of creation is displayed in forms of uses in the progress of the formation of uses from firsts to outmosts, and from outmosts to firsts; also in this, that in the whole progression there lies the end of producing fruit and seeds, which are uses. From what has been said above it is plain, that the progression of the creation of the universe was from its First (which is the Lord encircled by the sun) to outmosts which are lands, and from these through uses to its First, that is, the Lord; also that the ends of the whole creation were uses. [DLW314]

It should be known that to this image of creation the heat, light, and atmospheres of the natural world contribute nothing whatever. It is only the heat, light, and atmospheres of the sun of the spiritual world that do this, bringing that image with them, and clothing it with the forms of uses of the vegetable kingdom. The heat, light, and atmospheres of the natural world simply open the seeds, keep their products in a state of expansion, and clothe them with the matters that give them fixedness. And this is done not by any forces from their own sun (which viewed in themselves are null), but by forces from the spiritual sun, by which the natural forces are unceasingly impelled to these services.  Natural forces contribute nothing whatever towards forming this image of creation, for the image of creation is spiritual. But that this image may be manifest and perform use in the natural world, and may stand fixed and be permanent, it must be materialized, that is, filled in with the matters of that world. [DLW315]

0224 In the forms of uses of the animal kingdom there is a similar image of creation, in that the animal body, which is the outmost thereof, is formed by a seed deposited in a womb or an ovum, and this body, when mature, brings forth new seed. This progression is similar to the progression of the forms of uses of the vegetable kingdom: seeds are the beginnings; the womb or the ovum is like the ground; the state before birth is like the state of the seed in the ground while it takes root; the state after birth until the animal becomes prolific is like the growth of a tree until it reaches its state of fruit-bearing. From this parallelism it is plain that there is a likeness of creation in the forms of animals as well as in the forms of plants, in that there is a progression from firsts to outmosts, and from outmosts to firsts. A like image of creation exists in every single thing there is in man; for there is a like progression of love through wisdom into uses, consequently a like progression of the will through the understanding into acts, and of charity through faith into deeds. Will and understanding, also charity and faith, are the firsts as their source; acts and deeds are the outmosts; from these, by means of the enjoyments of uses, a return is made to their firsts, which, as was said, are the will and understanding, or charity and faith. That the return is effected by means of the enjoyments of uses is very evident from the enjoyments felt in those acts and deeds which are from any love, in that they flow back to the first of the love from which they spring and that thereby conjunction is effected. The enjoyments of acts and deeds are what are called the enjoyments of uses. A like progression from firsts to outmosts, and from outmosts to firsts, is exhibited in the forms most purely organic of affections and thoughts in man. In his brains there are those star-like forms called the cineritious substances; out of these go forth fibers through the medullary substance by the neck into the body; passing through to the outmosts of the body, and from outmosts returning to their firsts.  This return of fibers to their firsts is made through the blood vessels.  There is a like progression of all affections and thoughts, which are changes and variations of state of those forms or substances, for the fibers issuing out of those forms or substances are comparatively like the atmospheres from the spiritual sun, which are containants of heat and light; while bodily acts are like the things produced from the lands by means of atmospheres, the enjoyments of their uses returning to the source from which they sprang. But that the progression of these is such, and that within this progression there is an image of creation, can hardly be comprehended fully by the understanding, both because thousands and myriads of forces operating in act appear as one, and because the enjoyments of uses do not appear as ideas in the thought, but only affect without distinct perception. On this subject see what has been declared and explained above, as follows: The uses of all created things ascend by degrees of height to man, and through man to God the Creator from whom they are (n. 65-68). The end of creation takes form in outmosts, which end is that all things may return to the Creator and that there may be conjunction (n. 167-172). But these things will appear in still clearer light in the following Part, where the correspondence of the will and understanding with the heart and lungs will be treated of. [DLW316]

(3) In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of man. This has been shown above (n. 61-64). That all uses, from firsts to outmosts and from outmosts to firsts, have relation to all parts of man and have correspondence with them, consequently that man is, in a kind of image, a universe, and conversely that the universe viewed as to uses is in image a man, will be seen in the following chapter. [DLW317]

(4) In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of the Infinite and the Eternal. The image of the Infinite in these forms is plain from their conatus and power to fill the spaces  of the whole world, and even of many worlds, to infinity. For a single seed produces a tree, shrub, or plant, which fills its own space; and each tree, shrub, or plant produces seeds, in some cases thousands of them, which, when sown and grown up, fill their own spaces; and if from each seed of these there should proceed as many more, reproduced again and again, in the course of years the whole world would be filled; and if the production were still continued many worlds would be filled; and this to infinity.  Estimate a thousand seeds from one, and multiply the thousand by a thousand ten times, twenty times, even to a hundred times, and you will see. There is a like image of the Eternal in these forms; seeds are propagated from year to year, and the propagations never cease; they have not ceased from the creation of the world till now, and will not cease to eternity. These two are standing proofs and attesting signs that all things of the universe have been created by an Infinite and Eternal God. Beside these images of the Infinite and Eternal, there is another image of the Infinite and Eternal in varieties, in that there can never be a substance, state, or thing in the created universe the same as or identical with any other, neither in atmospheres, nor in lands, nor in the forms arising out of these. Thus not in any of the things which fill the universe can any thing the same be produced to eternity. This is plainly to be seen in the variety of the faces of human beings; no one face can be found throughout the world which is the same as another, nor can there be to all eternity, consequently not one mind, for the face is the type of the mind.[DLW318]


What the form of heaven is can be seen in some measure from what has been shown in the preceding chapters; as that heaven is like itself both in its greatest  and in its least divisions (n. 72); that consequently each society is a heaven in a lesser form, and each angel in the least form (n. 51-58); that as the entire heaven reflects a single man, so each society of heaven reflects a man in a lesser form, and each angel in the least form (n. 59-77); that the wisest are at the center, and the less wise are round about even to the borders, and the like is true of each society (n. 43); and that those who are in the good of love dwell from the east to the west in heaven, and those who are in truths from good from the south to the north; and the same is true of each society (n. 148, 149). All this is in accord with the form of heaven; consequently it may be concluded from this what this form is in general.{1} [HH200]

It is important to know what the form of heaven is, because not only is all affiliation there in accordance with it, but also all mutual communication, and in consequence of this all extension of thoughts and affections, and thus all the intelligence and wisdom of angels. From this it follows that each one there is wise just to the extent that he is in the form of heaven, and is thus a form of heaven. It makes no difference whether you say in the form of heaven, or in the order of heaven, since the form of any thing is from its order and in accordance with its order.{1} [HH201]

0197a  Let us consider first what is meant by being in the form of heaven. Man was created both in the image of heaven and in the image of the world; his internal in the image of heaven, and his external in the image of the world (see above, n. 57); and in the image means the same thing as in accordance with the form. But as man by the evils of his will and consequent falsities of thought has destroyed in himself the image of heaven, that is, the form of heaven, and in place of it has brought in the image and form of hell, his internal is closed up from his very birth; and this is why man is born into pure ignorance, while animals of every kind are not. And that man may have the image of heaven or form of heaven restored to him he must be taught the things that pertain to order; since form, as has been said, is in accord with order. The Word contains all the laws of Divine order, for its precepts are the laws of Divine order; therefore to the extent that man knows these and lives in accordance with them his internal is opened and the order or image of heaven is there formed anew. This makes clear what is meant by being in the form of heaven, namely, that it is to live in accordance with those things that are in the Word.{1} [HH202]

So far as any one is in the form of heaven he is in heaven, and is, in fact, a heaven in the least form (n. 57); consequently he is to the same extent in intelligence and wisdom; for as has been said above, all the thought of his understanding and all the affection of his will extend themselves on every side into heaven in accord with its form, and wonderfully communicate with the societies there, and these in turn with him.{1}

[2] There are some who do not believe that thoughts and affections really extend themselves around about them, but believe that they are within them, because whatever they think they see within in themselves, and not as distant; but such are greatly mistaken. For as the sight of the eye has extension to remote objects, and is affected in accordance with the order of the things seen in that extension, so the interior sight, which is that of the understanding, has a like extension in the spiritual world, although not perceived by man, for the reason given above (n. 196). The only difference is that the sight of the eye is affected in a natural way, because it is affected by the things in the natural world, while the sight of the understanding is affected in a spiritual way, because by the things in the spiritual world, all of which have relation to good and truth; and man’s ignorance of this is because of his not knowing that there is any light that enlightens the understanding; and yet without the light that enlightens the understanding man could not think at all (of which light see above, n. 126-132).

[3] There was a certain spirit who believed that his thought was from himself, thus without any extension outside of himself and communication thereby with societies outside of him. That he might learn that this was not true his communication with neighboring societies was cut off, and in consequence, not only was he deprived of thought but he fell down as if lifeless, although tossing his arms about like a new-born infant.  After a while the communication was restored to him, and then as it was gradually restored he returned into the state of his thought. [4]

When other spirits had seen this they confessed that all thought and affection, and in consequence, everything of life, flow in in accordance with communication, since everything of man’s life consists in his ability to think and be moved by affection, or what is the same, in his ability to understand and will.{2} [HH203]

But let it be understood that intelligence and wisdom vary with everyone in accordance with this communication, those whose intelligence and wisdom are formed out of genuine truths and goods having communication with societies in accordance with the form of heaven; while those whose intelligence and wisdom are not formed out of genuine truths and goods, and yet out of what is in accord therewith, have a broken and variously coherent communication, since it is not with societies that are in a series in which there is a form of heaven. On the other hand, those that are not in intelligence and wisdom, because they are in falsities from evil, have communication with societies in hell; and their extension is determined by the degree of their confirmation. Let it also be known that this communication with societies is not such a communication with them as is clearly perceptible to those there, but is a communication with what they really are, which is in them and flows from them.{1} [HH204]

There is an affiliation of all in heaven in accordance with spiritual relationships, that is, relationships of good and truth in their order. It is so in the whole heaven; so in each society, and so in each house. Because of this angels who are in like good and truth recognize each other, as relatives by blood and marriage do on the earth, precisely as if they had been acquainted from infancy. The good and truth in each angel, which constitute his wisdom and intelligence, are affiliated in like manner; they recognize each other in like manner, and as they recognize each other they join themselves together;{1} and in consequence those in whom truths and goods are thus joined in accordance with a form of heaven see things following one another in series, and how they cohere widely round about; but those in whom goods and truths are not conjoined in accordance with the form of heaven do not see this. [HH 205]


This can be seen from each and all things of the animal kingdom, from each and all things of the vegetable kingdom, and from each and all things of the mineral kingdom. A relation to man in each and all things of the animal kingdom is evident from the following. Animals of every kind have limbs by which they move, organs by which they feel, and viscera by which these are exercised; these they have in common with man. They have also appetites and affections similar to man’s natural appetites and affections; and they have inborn knowledges corresponding to their affections, in some of which there appears a resemblance to what is spiritual, which is more or less evident in beasts of the earth, and birds of the air, and in bees, silk-worms, ants, etc. From this it is that merely natural men consider the living creatures of this kingdom to be like themselves, except in the matter of speech.

A relation to man arising out of each and all things of the vegetable kingdom is evident from this: they spring forth from seed, and thereafter proceed step by step through their periods of growth; they have something akin to marriage, followed by prolification; their vegetative soul is use, and they are forms thereof; besides many other particulars which have relation to man. These also have been described by various authors.

A relation to man deducible from each and every thing of the mineral kingdom is seen only in an endeavor to produce forms which exhibit such a relation (which forms, as said above, are each and all things of the vegetable kingdom), and in an endeavor to perform uses thereby. For when first a seed falls into the bosom of the earth, she cherishes it, and out of herself provides it with nourishment from every source, that it may shoot up and present itself in a form representative of man. That such an endeavor exists also in its solid parts is evident from corals at the bottom of the seas and from flowers in mines, where they originate from minerals, also from metals. This endeavor towards vegetating, and performing uses thereby, is the outmost derivation from the Divine in created things. [DLW 61]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

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


God’s purpose for human beings

God is Love

If you, like me, have ever pondered the ‘big’ questions, you will almost certainly have asked yourself the question “Why am I here?”  I’m always dumbfounded when I recall that humans are sentient beings with a body specially evolved to survive for a short time in this world.  Is it not amazing that we are in the image of God? [Genesis 1:26,27]

So why are we here?  In True Christian Religion paragraph 773, Emanuel Swedenborg writes:

… the creation of the universe had as its purpose a heaven of angels formed from the human race, and at the same time a church on earth, as the means by which a person may pass into heaven, and because the salvation of people, which depends upon people being born in the world, is thus a continuation of creation.

In other words, human beings are destined to become angels. The implication of this is that angels are not a separate race of celestial beings with wings and haloes.  Instead, an angel is a man or woman who has lived and died in this world and whose spiritual self has awakened in the next world. When a male and a female angel share identical beliefs and motivation they are joined together as one mind, and the love that they share together is called marriage love. They are so close that in heaven a married pair is spoken of, not as two, but as one angel.

How do you feel about this idea?  Is it new to you?  Are you comfortable with it, or shocked by it?

Swedenborg calls the process of journeying along the path to heaven regeneration.  This simply means learning to follow God’s rules for living a kind, generous and selfless life while recognising and putting aside our faults.  It can be compared with the process of regeneration of urban areas, where the renewal process takes place in successive steps over a significant period of time, and old buildings and infrastructure are replaced by new.  For us humans, regeneration involves making spiritual progress throughout our lives.  It is hard work that never ends.  It starts when we are born again. Remember that Jesus said to Nicodemus no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again [John 3:3].

The first stage of being born again is called reformation, a process affecting what we think; the second stage is called regeneration, a process affecting what we do, and thus what we think. The whole process is triggered when we recognise a fault, that is, a sin within ourselves, and repent this fault. This changes the way we think about the fault (the reformation step), and God will encourage us to try to put into practice a procedure that will enable us to avoid the sin in future (the regeneration step).  This process is repeated until we have successfully marginalized the sin, and then started again for the next sin.  Notice that each sin is not removed.  It will always be part of us, hence the reason that it is marginalized.

Some people feel that they are ‘born again’ every time they identify one of their many flaws or faults and ask God to forgive them.

However, not everybody becomes an angel.  We all experience a personal last judgment when we pass from this world to the next.  The process is described in the following passage from Matthew’s gospel, chapter 25, verses 31-33:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. [NIV]

The sheep represent people who are destined to become good spirits, that is, angels in heaven, while the goats represent people who are destined to become evil spirits in hell.  The decision is made based on God’s laws about how we behave in our lives in this world.  But it’s not a decision based on reward or punishment.  Instead, God does his best to find a place for us in the spiritual world where we would be happiest.  It follows that people who have been good citizens in this world would be happiest in heaven, while people who have been self-centred and nasty would be miserable in all the peace and joy of heaven, so God finds a place for them in hell amongst other evil spirits who are similarly self-centred and nasty.

So the answer to the question “Why am I here?” is, – to become an angel.  The natural world that we live in is the training ground for the spiritual world in which we will spend the rest of eternity, hopefully as angels. All we have to do is become good citizens.  How?

In the two great commandments Jesus said:

Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself.
[Mark 12:29-31 NIV]

Swedenborg sums this up beautifully in Heaven and Hell 558:

Moreover, the extent to which people are in a state of heavenly love, which means loving useful services and acts of goodness, and feeling joy in their hearts when they perform them for church, for country, the community at large and their fellow citizen, dictates the extent to which they are led by the Lord, because that is the love in which He exists, and has Him as its source.

But what about people who do not get to heaven because of the way they behaved in this world? Swedenborg goes on to explain that they do not take guidance from God but are led by their inner self, and the inner self is altogether evil, because people have inherited from their ancestors the fault of loving themselves more than they love God, and loving the world more than they love heaven.  They perform services and acts of goodness for personal benefit and gain instead of for the good of the community.

So we are all on a spiritual journey that takes us to the next world, hopefully to heaven. It’s not a short journey, nor is it instant salvation.  It takes the rest of our lives in this world to complete.  Performing useful services and acts of goodness is not a one-off event but a lifetime of preparation for an eternity of continuing to perform useful services and acts of goodness as an angel in heaven.

In Six Days Jehovah Made Heaven and Earth and the Sea

Lastchurch - The Eternal Purpose

Selection from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:  But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11)

For in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth and the sea. That this signifies the regeneration and vivification of those things which are in the internal and in the external man, is evident from the signification of “six days,” as being states of combat, and when predicated of Jehovah, that is, the Lord, they signify His labor with man before he is regenerated; and from the signification of “heaven and earth,” as being the church or kingdom of the Lord in man, “heaven” in the internal man, and “earth” in the external man, thus the regenerate man, that is, one who has found the new life and has thus been made alive; and from the signification of “the sea,” as being the sensuous of man adhering to the corporeal.

In this verse the subject treated of is the hallowing of the seventh day, or the institution of the Sabbath, and it is described by the words, In six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested in the seventh day; wherefore Jehovah blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it. They who do not think beyond the sense of the letter cannot believe otherwise than that the creation which is described in the first and second chapters of Genesis, is the creation of the universe, and that there were six days within which were created the heaven, the earth, the sea and all things which are therein, and finally man in the likeness of God.  But who that takes into consideration the particulars of the description cannot see that the creation of the universe is not there meant; for such things are there described as may be known from common sense not to have been so; as that there were days before the sun and the moon, as well as light and darkness, and that herbage and trees sprang up; and yet that the light was furnished by these luminaries, and a distinction was made between the light and the darkness, and thus days were made.

In what follows in the history there are also like things, which are hardly acknowledged to be possible by anyone who thinks interiorly, as that the woman was built from the rib of the man; also that two trees were set in paradise, of the fruit of one of which it was forbidden to eat; and that a serpent from one of them spoke with the wife of the man who had been the wisest of mortal creatures, and by his speech, which was from the mouth of the serpent, deceived them both; and that the whole human race, composed of so many millions, was in consequence condemned to hell.  The moment that these and other such things in that history are thought of, they must needs appear paradoxical to those who entertain any doubt concerning the holiness of the Word, and must afterward lead them to deny the Divine therein.  Nevertheless be it known that each and all things in that history, down to the smallest iota, are Divine, and contain within them arcana which before the angels in the heavens are plain as in clear day. The reason of this is that the angels do not see the sense of the Word according to the letter, but according to what is within, namely, what is spiritual and celestial, and within these, things Divine.  When the first chapter of Genesis is read, the angels do not perceive any other creation than the new creation of man, which is called regeneration. This regeneration is described in that history; by paradise the wisdom of the man who has been created anew; by the two trees in the midst thereof, the two faculties of that man, namely, the will of good by the tree of life, and the understanding of truth by the tree of knowledge.  And that it was forbidden to eat of this latter tree, was because the man who is regenerated, or created anew, must no longer be led by the understanding of truth, but by the will of good, and if otherwise, the new life within him perishes. Consequently by Adam, or man, and by Eve his wife, was there meant a new church, and by the eating of the tree of knowledge, the fall of that church from good to truth, consequently from love to the Lord and toward the neighbor to faith without these loves, and this by reasoning from their own intellectual, which reasoning is the serpent.

From all this it is evident that the historic narrative of the creation and the first man, and of paradise, is a history so framed as to contain within it heavenly and Divine things, and this according to the received method in the Ancient Churches. This method of writing extended thence also to many who were outside of that Church, who in like manner devised histories and wrapped up arcana within them, as is plain from the writers of the most ancient times. For in the Ancient Churches it was known what such things as are in the world signified in heaven, nor to those people were events of so much importance as to be described; but the things which were of heaven. These latter things occupied their minds, for the reason that they thought more interiorly than men at this day, and thus had communication with angels, and therefore it was delightful to them to connect such things together. But they were led by the Lord to those things which should be held sacred in the churches, consequently such things were composed as were in full correspondence.

From all this it can be seen what is meant by “heaven and earth” in the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis, namely, the church internal and external.  That these are signified by “heaven and earth” is evident also from passages in the prophets, where mention is made of “a new heaven and a new earth,” by which a new church is meant.  From all this it is now plain that by, “In six days Jehovah made heaven and earth and the sea,” is signified the regeneration and vivification of those things which are in the internal and in the external man.

(Arcana Coelestia 8891)
May 14, 2017

The threefold nature of God

God is Love

At heart God is love. But love cannot exist in isolation, it yearns for others outside of itself whom it can love and make happy.  This need of God to love those other than himself is expressed many times in the Bible: –

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”.
[Genesis 1:26  ESV]

Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
[John 13:1 ESV]

God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
[1 John 4:12 ESV]

But whilst love for others may be the motivating power behind the created universe and the human race, it cannot entirely account for it. A God who was love alone might have a heartfelt longing for creation but that longing could never be more than an unfulfilled dream without the means to achieve it.

Alongside his love God also has know-how, a wise knowledge and understanding of how creation might be constructed and work.  Every created form, from our whole solar system to each individual atom in it, speaks of intelligence, knowledge, and design. The psalmist in his observation of creation perceives the voice of wisdom speaking through it: Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge  [Psalm 19:2  ESV]. Like a craftsman who loves to create pleasing forms, God also has knowledge of his materials, skill in using his tools, and wisdom in putting together the finished article. Such wisdom perfectly complements God’s love and neither of them is anything without the other.

Yet even a twofold God, in whom such love and wisdom were combined, would be impotent without a vital third element. In and through his creation, God is active and useful. His constant endeavour is one of service and he is always busy working to care for others and bless them with happiness. This useful endeavour brings to full fruition all that his love desires and his wisdom plans. These three essentials combine together to make the one God. They are the trinity without which God would be nothing more than an empty notion, and the created universe with all its life forms could not exist. Emanuel Swedenborg speaks often of this trinity of essentials in God as, for example, in the following summary:

There are three elements in the Lord which are the Lord, the Divine element of love, the Divine element of wisdom, and the Divine element of useful endeavour.
[Divine Love and Wisdom 296]

When writing of these essentials in the Lord God, Swedenborg occasionally speaks of them being “distinctly one”.  By this he means that whilst each essential – love, wisdom and use – can be known and understood as a distinct thing, each is such an integral part of the others that they only have reality and existence as a unity. In every moment, in God’s work of creation, preservation and salvation of the human race, all three essentials are distinctly one. They can no more have separate existence than could the heat, light and proceeding energy which together constitute our sun; or the vegetable matter, beautiful form and scent which together are a garden flower.

Every time God touches our lives, his love, wisdom, and useful endeavour are each working in perfect balance and harmony.  In these three essentials we have an insight into the Holy Trinity which has been at the heart of God since the very beginning.  The trinity is not three separate gods or even three separate persons, but is rather one God activating all the elements within himself in every work that he undertakes.  It was in recognition of this trinity within one God that the seraphim spoke their words of praise, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory [Isaiah 6:3  ESV]. The threefold repetition of the word, ‘holy’, speaks of the three essentials, but the singular word, ‘Lord’, speaks of one Divine Person in whom those essentials exist.

Emanuel Swedenborg gives us further insight into the necessity for a trinity of essentials in God when he writes, In every Divine work there is a first, a middle, and a last; and the first passes through the middle to the last, and thereby exists and subsists [Doctrine of Sacred Scripture 27].  Love must work through wisdom to accomplish any useful endeavour.  It seems that a trinity of essentials is required if there is to be completeness in any person or thing, as is confirmed by this further passage, By three, in the Word, in the spiritual sense, is meant what is complete and perfect; also the whole together [Doctrine of Sacred Scripture 29]. A God in whom there are three essentials is a complete God both in himself and in everything that he does.

Finally, it is also worth reflecting that, as human beings, we are made in the image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1:26 above). Because we draw our life from God it is hardly surprising that in each of us there is also a trinity of three essentials, for we too are capable of love, wisdom and useful endeavour. Each of these three essentials has to be active in every loving relationship we have with others and in every useful task that we properly discharge. It is only as we receive the fullness of God’s life in its threefold form that we can be complete in all that we strive to be and do.

Involution, Evolution and Influx (a new doctrinal challenge)

Those who are familiar with scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg’s idea of spiritual causality understand that God’s influx moves as an orderly process from non-physical beginnings to physical results in the spacetime arena. This theistic model of purposeful causal process starting from higher or innermost things to lower or external things is formulated within a triune order as ends, mediate causes and effects.

This top-down order is fine when contemplating God’s order in the process of creation—from spirit to matter. However, when considering the process of evolution and the emergence of bio-complexity there is a change in the order of action and influx—because effects more closely resemble ends or first principles.

For instance, when Swedenborg describes the growth of a human fetus the process is from innermost things to outermost things—then to mediate things! So instead of the top-down order of 1-2-3, we get 1-3-2! This “switcheroo” even happens between the relationships of the three essentials in the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Scripture first offers us the 1-2-3 order of divine process. God the Father is first. God the Son (Jesus) is second. And the Holy Spirit acts last—that is, the Holy Spirit manifests last. This sequential order is confirmed by the fact that in John 7:39 the “Holy Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” But when we consider Swedenborg’s statement that the Holy Spirit is the Divine Proceeding it becomes the mediating force and causal link between Divine Love (innermost essence) and Truth (form finding existence in externals). In other words, when all three elements are in their proper cosmic arrangement (simultaneous order) they manifest a different relationship.

So the order of action, once the Holy Spirit enters the equation, is 1-3-2. This is because although it acts last in time, it has a greater (higher) degree of holiness than the “lower” flesh and blood of Jesus, which consists only of physical matter (externals).

Glorification is the evolutionary process by which Jesus perfected and unified His human nature and human form with His Divine Nature. Through humiliation and acts of service the Holy Spirit transformed Jesus’ physical body into a perfect conductor of heavenly order and Love—until all its operations were purely holy. This is why Jesus ascended into heaven with His body because it became the Holy Spirit in the fullness of time!

We see this change of order in the operation between the human soul, the human body, and the resulting action, which proceeds from the conjunction and mediation of the two. Here, the spirit (and its aim) first flows into the body through mediate causes and structures (1-2-3) but when the body produces a useful action (corresponding to the wishes of the spirit) the proceeding or mediate cause which harmonizes the two takes the third or outward position (1-3-2) because usefulness comes forth from the body’s actions and therefore becomes the new external or outermost effect.

The direction of God’s influx is not simply from heaven into physical forms but into forms of dynamic uses. It is usefulness that first mediates between inner and outer realities (1-2-3) and later manifests (1-3-2) in the outer.

It is through the order 1-3-2 that utility and usefulness ascends back to heaven and evolves. But I will stop here for now.

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