14 Influx and Disease

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14 Influx and Disease

“Is it easier to say to one sick of the palsy, Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, take up thy bed, and walk?” Mark 2:9

Order, Freedom, and the Permission of Evil

“Heaven keeps all things in connection and safety.” But “hell destroys and rends all things asunder.”351 This is the general truth from which the Arcana Coelestia proceeds to its teaching about the origin and nature of disease.

The societies of heaven receive from the Lord an influx of mutual love, which seeks to give happiness to others and allows freedom for the uses of others. Therefore there is a general influx from the Lord through the societies of heaven which maintains the order and health of human society and of the human body. By general influx, the human body is moulded into an organism which corresponds to all the uses of the Grand Man of heaven. Similarly, by general influx, a society is moulded into a replica of the human form. So far as a society is performing the uses of communal life, it is in the order of heaven, and in a noble form. So far as the human body is functioning, it has beauty and grace and nobility, even if man’s mind be perverted. For the Lord spreads the sunshine of health upon the evil and upon the good. Only upon the basis of a sound body can a sound mind be built. Only in states of health and rationality can man’s spiritual reformation proceed. The Lord exerts His providence to provide these ultimates of order for all men, because His primary gift to man—the freedom which makes of man a responsible human soul—can be exercised only where order exists.

But freedom would be but a name, if man could not at all reject or disturb the order which the Lord provides for him. Freedom implies that man can, if he will, disturb that order not only for himself, but for others! Freedom implies that man should be free not only to think and will against the order of God, but that he shall also feel able to carry his purposes into act and set up a plane of disorder in the world. In no other way could his free will be conveyed to the comprehension of others; in no other way could he invoke the cooperation or opposition of others, who, in their turn, are free to respond. Life would not be free if it were confined within the airtight space of one’s own intentions ! Man must be free to commit mistakes, to do actual evil, to spoil the handiwork of the Creator, and abuse His agencies.

When this occurs, and order has been disrupted, the general influx from heaven gives way so far as man insists. Fundamentally, and as to all His final purposes, the Lord alone rules the universe, which cannot be upset by fickle man. It is legitimate to inquire, how far evil can derange the ultimate order of life.

That it can do so in the realm of the mind, is of course plain to see. The two higher degrees of the mind of which we are not cognizant in this life, are indeed in the order of heaven.352 But the natural degree, or the “natural mind” in which man is conscious on earth, becomes perverted as to its thoughts and affections, as to its organic habits, its spontaneous reactions, and its reasonings. Indeed, by birth, or from heredity, the natural mind of present day man is utterly opposed to the gyre and flow of heaven. It is within the various degrees of that natural mind that the hells are formed.353 And for one’s salvation, that mind must be reformed and reconstructed into the order of heaven.

But perversions go further than the mind. The brain and the rest of the body can become disordered, and after death they actually disintegrate in the grave. Not only disease, but “death,” comes from “no other source than sin.”354 But let us here pause a moment to free our minds of several possible misunderstandings.

The Actuality of Evil and the Necessity of Death

Swedenborg did not belong to that school of so-called “idealists” which regards the body and the world of matter as mere projections of the mind. He believed in the reality of the natural world which he describes as existing independently of man or man’s thought. He states that man was created last of all—as the culmination of the organic kingdoms. There is therefore no kinship between the teaching of the Writings and that of Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy (the founder of “Christian Science”). It has recurrently been stated that “Christian Science” was partly derived from Swedenborg. And on the surface, we find a great many phrases and ideas in Science and Health which are obviously borrowed from the Writings. “The three great pioneers of mental-healing, Dr. Quimby, Dr. Evans, and Mrs. Eddy, were readers and students [?] of Swedenborg . . . but they were more influenced by Berkeley. . . . “355 As the late Rev. John Whitehead put it: “Many flowers have been culled from Swedenborg’s garden, but they have been transplanted without roots.” Both Swedenborg and Mrs. Eddy teach that the natural mind (or what she called the “mortal mind”) is the seat of evil and the origin of disease. But Swedenborg shows that the mind is a real organism of finite substances, both spiritual and natural, while Mrs. Eddy regarded her “mortal mind” as an illusion —as “nothing claiming to be something.” The body, to her, was merely an offspring of the delusions of mortal mind!

When the Writings state that death has no other origin than sin, the reference is presumably to death from disease. The language of Scripture alludes to the life of sin as the death of the soul. In the symbolic story of Genesis, death is said to have come upon man because of his eating of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”; which made him feel like a god who could decide for himself what was good and evil. This was the spiritual death which overcame the first race— those signified by “Adam”—who were of a “celestial” genius. And the Arcana Coelestia explains that the “antediluvians” who perished in the “Flood” meant some of their descendants who could not master their evil passions—with the physical result that they died of a species of suffocation.356

Thus the symbolic prediction became literally fulfilled. And the same still holds of death from disease. But in a wider sense, death antedates both disease and sin. Death, so regarded, is but a part of finite life. Our blood dies and is restored with each breath of the lungs. The cycles of finite things all end in a death of passivity. Endless successions of plants and animals lived and propagated and died before man’s advent on earth. And mankind, before its fall into sin, was not immune to bodily death. Eternally to live on earth could be no reward for virtue. The statement that death is from no other source than from sin, is therefore qualified by the explanation that “if man had lived the life of good … he would be without disease, and would only decline to extreme old age, even until he became a child again, but a wise child ; and when the body could no longer minister to his internal man or spirit, he would pass without disease out of his earthly body into a body such as the angels have. . . . “357 From this we judge that the absence of evil—actual or hereditary— creates a pre-disposition to health. It does not prevent physical death or the wear and tear upon bodily tissues. But it prevents what the Writings call “disease”—a word which we associate with a destructive influx and with states of pain and mental anguish.

A further word might be premised about the reason why evil, which is a mental state, is permitted to extend its influence into the body and the natural world. Evil that is hidden cannot be examined, shunned, and removed. Evil in the mind exists as a desire not only to think and intend, but also to do and speak. It goes out to change the state of others— forcibly to remould the world more nearly to one’s advantage, and to profit despite another’s hurt! Unless it be seen that such indeed is the effect of the evil state of mind, evil could never be recognized. Evil in a man harms uses—his own and those of others—harms his body and the bodies of others.

In an orderly life we see a balance of good uses—such as we observe in a healthy organism. But when evil and its bodily effects came into existence, one evil is used to counterbalance another. We see this in the constant warfare of insect-pests, in the neutralization of extremes, in the balanced germ-life of our own bodies. It is even suggested that evil men do not defeat the Divine government since “one is the remedy of the other, for evil is cured by evil.”358

On earth there is much grumbling against the Divine Providence because evils and bodily sufferings are permitted. Yet in the view of the angels, bodily sufferings are as nothing when the eternal welfare of a man is at stake. The use of pain—as a signal to man that his body is in disorder—is indispensable. Without pain, man could not be warned of his mistakes or recognize his dangers. Pain and disease are thus necessary as long as man governs himself by his fallible prudence. If one still led a spontaneous life in the order of his creation, and were governed by general influx, and thus lived a life of wise instincts, he would no doubt be less liable to mistakes and abuses, less liable to pain and disease; and the fulfilment of his goals might be far easier than today.

The general effect of the teachings of the Writings seems to be that the real origin of disease was evil and self-will. The insistence on breaking the rules of rational moderation, the indulgence to excess, the refusal to curb the appetites, have caused men to turn aside from the “tree of life” and to eat gluttonously of the fruit of knowledge which would make men as gods who determined for themselves what was good or evil for them.

We rightly call disease and its consequent pains evil, because they imply a partial defeat of the ends of life, for they disturb the uses of society. They pull the mind down and make one conscious of his body, which should serve—as it did in most ancient times—merely as an instrument whereby the soul may perform uses for the minds of others.

Evil spirits love material things and attach material values, material meanings, even to spiritual things. Therefore they seek to immerse man’s mind into his bodily life. They rejoice and are in their delights when they can induce man to reflect on his sensual pleasures or pains. Some spirits would indeed obsess man, if they could, and return into the body through men. Such, however, are now confined in their hells, i.e., they are not permitted near men. To cure them of their desire, certain punishing spirits are permitted to induce upon them the feeling that they, too, actually have a material body. And to spirits it is an inconceivable torture to feel themselves bound within an earthly body, for thus they can be subjected to all manner of tormenting fantasies.359

* * *

To assert that “every one draws disease upon himself from the evil of life” may seem a hard saying.360 We may readily admit that many diseases are obviously traceable to overindulgences, passions, or a useless, self-centered life. But there is some comfort in the further teaching of the Writings which shows that the real cause of disease lies in the other world— thus not necessarily in man’s own evils, but in the influx of the hells. “All the infernals induce diseases. … If infernals apply themselves, they induce diseases, and at last death.”361

The idea that illnesses come from the influence of evil spirits is regarded in the world as a superstition. And yet it must be admitted that all man’s passions and lusts are nothing but effects of the spirits whose invisible presence feeds our contrary moods. If disease comes from such a source, it can readily be understood why the miracles which the Lord performed on earth were chiefly works of healing. His mission was to restore order in the spiritual world. What He did on earth corresponded to His work of redeeming mankind from the dominion of evil spirits.362 He did not come to take away all sickness; but each of His miraculous cures marked a step in the battle against the hells—representing on earth what He was doing in the spiritual world. There were many sick and blind in those days, but only a relatively few were healed.363

Many of the early Christians believed that the Lord came to establish a kingdom of God on earth, in which evil would have no place, nor disease or death. Yet after nearly two thousand years have passed, illness and evil persist. But what the Lord came to do was done. This was the ordering of the spiritual world so that men might be free to choose between good and evil, and progress into heaven if they willed. A spiritual judgment was performed, and certain restraints were imposed on the hells. One of the results was, that the obsessing of man’s body by evil spirits was henceforth made impossible.364 Yet disease, and the consequences of disease, were not removed.

The spiritual law now operating is, that selected good spirits and evil spirits are allowed to inflow into men’s minds. The evil spirits thus stir up lusts and falsities, by particular influx, and man feels these changing states as his own. But, as was shown in chapter XIII, the body is governed by a general influx through the societies of the Grand Man of heaven. So far as spirits are performing uses in the Grand Man, so far their societies are assigned as media for the general influx of life into the various corresponding organs and parts of the human body. The influx takes place “into the use of the organ” and so into the organ itself.365 So far as man’s body is in functional order, so far it mirrors and receives the flux of corresponding spiritual uses which make up the Grand Man; and then evil spirits are entirely unable to cause any disorders in the body. “They are not permitted to inflow as far as into the solid things of the body,” thus not into tissues or organs. But if for any reason the order of the body is disturbed, then evil spirits—who are not within the Grand Man, but together compose an opposite spiritual form which might rather be called “the Grand Monstrosity”—are permitted to inflow into the disorder, or “into the unclean things which belong to disease.”366

(The precise meaning of these teachings may be somewhat debatable. In discussing the subject of disease, we are conscious of the imprudence of trespassing on alien ground; for it belongs to the medical profession to form a philosophy of disease and cure. Yet the doctrinal statements that will provide the principles for such a philosophy must be cited, since we set out to treat of the influence of spirits upon human states. Admittedly, in drawing out these statements, a certain personal perspective cannot be avoided).

Causes and Cures, Natural and Spiritual

“Only when a man falls into disease” can spirits inflow into his body, and then only “into those things in the man where the disease is” or “into such unclean things as belong to the disease.”366 What are these unclean things ? And how does a man “fall into disease” ?

That illnesses exist which flow directly from lusts and passions of the mind has already been mentioned.367 But we are also assured that “diseases do indeed exist from natural causes among men . . . but as soon as they exist, spirits flow thither which correspond to that disease.” Swedenborg continues : “For spirits who are in evil and falsity, produce precisely such things as are sensibly perceived in sicknesses, as I have plainly experienced . . . beyond all mistake. . . . Hence it is, since such spirits apply themselves there and aggravate the disease by their presence, that if they should be removed by the Lord, man would at once be restored; for there are evil and false spirits to whom correspond diseases and ailments of every kind.”368We presume that such a sudden restoral is possible only where no member is actually cut off.

Swedenborg himself seems to have been immune to any diseases which came from natural causes. For he adds: “But such a one who is as to the spirit in the other life, is immune so long as the Lord permits him to live in the world.”369 Certainly, his biographers agree that his health in later days was remarkable.

Why was this? Perhaps because natural causes do not appear as natural to one who is sensible of the spiritual realm ! At any rate, he continues: “But, because we do not believe spirits to be about us, all these things are ascribed to natural causes. Medicines help! But still more the Lord’s Providence—as people do confess. And, strange to say, sufferers pray to God that they may be restored, and declare that God has restored them; but still, when they are out of that state, every one of them ascribes [his cure] to nature !”370

If we analyze natural causes, they are bound to resolve into spiritual causes. Even an earthquake could not affect anyone unless a spiritual cause—a mental state—has led him to abide in the zone of danger. And in the spiritual world those causes which on earth seem utterly disconnected and beyond any visible law, may be seen to be marvelously dependent on spiritual laws of Divine foresight and permission.

Yet man on earth, not knowing these spiritual connections and interior causes, must act according to his own judgment and prudence. For Providence, in His leading of man, uses also man’s prudence. Disasters that appear to have natural causes, can be ameliorated—at least for the time—by natural remedies. “Medicines help!” “Diseases”—we read—”can be, and also ought to be cured by natural means, for the Providence of the Lord concurs with such means; and thus also man is the longer kept from faith in a Divine Providence in most particular things: for if man should believe this, and then deny it, he would profane a most sacred truth, which profanation is itself a most dreadful hell.”371

The fact that there are spiritual causes operating within disease, “does not prevent man’s being healed naturally, for the Divine Providence concurs with such means.”372 Even the Lord Himself, in one instance, used an external means of cure, when He made clay of His spittle and laid it on the blind man’s eyes. There is power in ultimates. For influx is according to the vessel that receives. A disorderly plane attracts evil influx. If the disorder is corrected, the forces of the general influx through heaven—which operate in unison with the soul’s healing power and creative, formative influx into the body—will again take charge and restore the broken tissues so far as is possible.

It is important to distinguish between a disorder in the body and the disease which may follow it. A small wound, accidentally incurred, will heal without difficulty if it be kept clean. It is only a wear in the tissues—such as occurs, in different fashion, again and again in normal life; and the formative powers of the soul immediately begin to weave new fibres, new cell-structures, to repair the damage. For the soul is as it were omniscient as to all that happens in its body, and continually creates new cells, and redistributes the functions of the body most wisely while healing is going on. The soul also unifies the action of all the cells and fibres and organs into a single whole. There is no break in what we have called “general influx.” But when decay and infection set in, then the “unclean things of the disease” also attract a corresponding influx from the spiritual world. For life is constantly present—it is never absent, knows no limitations of time or space. “The expanse of life … is not an extense, but is yet within the extense of the natural sun, and is with living subjects there according to reception, and reception is according to forms and states.”373According to the quality of the natural vessel, such is the quality of the influx. Heaven cannot inflow into the unclean things of disease. But the life-spheres of hell can and do, and they act therein negatively— to oppose the human form, which is in the order of heaven, and to shatter the harmony of its uses.

What occurs in man’s body in illness resembles what takes place in a man’s mind, which is subject to spiritual diseases. “The sins retained in an impenitent man may be compared to various diseases in him: unless medicines are brought to bear on them, and the malignities are thereby removed, the man dies.”374

This is more than a comparison. For the mind also is in the human form, and has its ailments, each of which corresponds to some bodily disease. The mind—we must remember—is a spiritual organism. And while we live on earth, our mind is enclosed within the tissues of our material body, so intimately that every state of the mind has an effect on the interiors of the body; and in turn the mind accommodates itself so closely to the state of the body, that it appears as if the body had an effect upon the mind.

Spiritual states—mental states—are actuated from the presence of spirits. These spirits do not see or know the man. They only see the knowledges of man’s memory, and think by their means just as if they were man. And when we say that evil spirits inflow or act upon the diseased things of the body, this is said according to the appearance. Spirits cannot “enter” man’s body, nor do they seem to themselves to do so. But when they act spiritually into evil ideas, fantasies, and emotions, and follow the “ways” of spiritual decay which correspond to opposites of the human body, then the sphere of these spirits causes a maladjustment of the currents regulating growth in the body.373 Swedenborg notes that with one like himself whose interiors were open to sense the spiritual environment, spirits who corresponded to various diseases actually produced—in different parts of his body—the symptoms and sensations of these diseases, and this on their first approach.376 He felt their operation within him in that way,377 yet his organic body was apparently not affected, for he was protected by the Lord.378 Until he became accustomed to it, the pain was often almost unbearable.379 At the same time the spiritual character and function of the spirits were manifested, and Swedenborg spoke to them and felt how they affected his thought and emotion.

It belongs to the various departments of medicine to determine what the influx of spirits effects in the bodies of men during disease. Some of these effects are well known. There may be a sudden multiplication of bacterial colonies. There may be the engendering of poisons that infect the fluids and retard or disturb the tissue processes. There may be misdirected or cancerous growths of certain tissues. There may be upsets of the body-tone and of the harmonious vibratory motions by which life in the body is sustained. There may be deficiencies of some of the simple elements or of the complex organic chemicals which food must contain to supply the cells and tissues with the means of growth and renewal. In many cases there occurs an abnormal rise or fall of the vital heat upon which the chemistry of the body depends for its balance.

Diseases are sometimes attended by the presence of bacteria—germs which multiply with incredible speed to generate poisons and to clog the tissues. The nature of such disease germs was not known in Swedenborg’s day and is therefore not directly discussed in the Writings. But it is clear that these invading micro-organisms are to be included with the “unclean things” of disease.380 For evil spirits can inflow only into organic receptacles which, while in the body, are in some way isolated from the soul’s control. It is important to note the teaching that medicines wisely administered can serve in the Divine providence as an effective means by which the ultimates of evil influx can be weakened, counteracted, or removed, so that the influx is diverted from the body. In extreme cases the surgeon’s scalpel must remove the disordered tissue to prevent the spread of the malignity. But such external remedies do not reach the inner causes of disease which will be further considered in our next chapter.

That the inmost soul has at its disposal many marvelous agencies in the body is obvious in all stages of the formation of the embryo and the growth of the body. The strange appearance of “anti-bodies” to counter disease germs in the blood stream is an example of how the balance of organic life is maintained as if by an omniscient government; as is also the dominant role played by the secretions of the endocrine glands. That this government is mediated by the spiritual world has been the theme of this book. But man’s mind is his own special spiritual world. And health and disease may both depend on his psychical states. The philosophy of disease and cure which will eventually take form among the people of the New Church must account first of all for the relation of the body to the mind, and thus to the spiritual world.

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Life after death – What’s it like?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

life after death
Heaven & Hell by E. Swedenborg

In the post Is there an afterlife? I pointed to a similarity between Swedenborg’s reports of his mystical experiences of life after death and numerous accounts of the near death experience. There are also striking similarities between what various modern psychic mediums have said concerning a realm of spirits with Swedenborg’s writings. These similarities are as follows:

Similar account of life after death

A soul body exists; time means nothing; environment appears created by thought; we gravitate to the shared environment of like-minded spirits; there is a self-evaluation involving how we lived life on earth; one’s inner character does not change because of death; punishment is only part of a purification process; there is no procreation; there are useful occupational and similar interests, albeit at a higher level; there is an upper Astral akin to heaven; there is no pain or alarm during the dying process; and because of a similarity of experience to life, new arrivals do not at first notice they are dead.

One’s first experience of life after death

Swedenborg reports that after we awake in the spirit realm we may find ourselves in some kind of living environment – often one we have been familiar with on earth. This gradually changes, beginning more and more to reflect the quality of our own thoughts and feelings. It may be a room in a very beautiful house or an untidy shed. This very much sounds like a projection of our inner state so that what one sees in the spiritual world is a reflection of different aspects of one’s own actual character. As we are all different there are many kinds of living accommodation and environment.

Being oneself in one’s life after death

As I understand it, the spiritual world forces no one after bodily death to be something that he or she is not. When we are alive in the body on earth, our outer thoughts are busy when we are with other people or engaged in some action. However, our inner thoughts come from what we are really feeling when we are alone at home. The picture we are shown of the next life, is that the values that deep down rule our hearts come to the surface and unrelated feelings, pretences and difficulties become dormant. We each get more in touch with our true selves and all other spirits see the genuine nature of everyone’s character; whether this is selfish and destructive or caring and creative. In other words, our inner feelings and desires determine our destiny. You really are what you choose to be and pretending to be something other than what you really are becomes increasingly difficult to maintain.

I imagine the goodness or otherwise of your character would shine more clearly in the spirit realm than in our material world where people who do not know you well see only your outward persona and where your style of living is more apparent. This illumination is illustrated in near death experiences by the frequently mentioned encounter with a `being of light’ and of a life evaluation.

The ruling love emerges in the life after death

According to Swedenborg’s notion of a ‘ruling love’, we want one thing more than anything. It colours all our life. It could be for example a love of being useful, of the spiritual ideas we believe to be true, of having power over others, or of being popular and well liked. This is our underlying longing that is the essence of our true character. Many of our desires arise from this basic love. We are most likely to reveal our true selves by our actions when we do not think others are observing us.

“You are what your deep driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.” (The Upanishads – Hindu tradition)

Avoidance of thinking about life after death

Whether or not we believe in life after death, we can all be afraid of death and dying to some extent. Perhaps we fear a lack of control over the process of deterioration that precedes death – whether it will involve pain or loss of dignity. But just as there can be no spring without the cold of winter that comes before it  – so the pain of suffering can be seen to precede the triumph of new life.

To my mind, death for me is eternity knocking at the door. Perhaps, an avoidance of thinking of life after death is due to realising that I am not living now, as I would want to live to eternity. The trouble is that often I am unwilling to allow what is bad in me to die. A reminder of the reality of death is a wake up call to discard the trivial and prioritise the significant. Now is the time to overcome estrangement and heal old wounds.

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

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Posted on21st April 2011CategoriesConsciousness, 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
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Changing lives: God is with us, taking care of us

“Ours is a journey for heaven, not for this earth. And mine has taught me that God is with us, taking care of us, and will sustain us even through the darkest times—and this he does through love.”

by Lisa Childs, transcribed and edited by Chelsea Odhner

“Ours is a journey for heaven, not for this earth. And mine has taught me that God is with us, taking care of us, and will sustain us even through the darkest times—and this he does through love.”

InJuly of 2009 we found out that my husband Garry had stage-four lung cancer. It had metastasized to his hip, there were twenty spots in his lungs, and it was also in his lymph system—a very grim picture.

Around the same time that we started chemotherapy for Garry, health problems for my eight-year-old twin children came to the surface. My daughter was diagnosed with asthma and my son was diagnosed as failing to thrive. My world was being totally flipped upside down.

I was determined to find some way to deal with the cancer, to fight it. That summer I happened to go to a lecture about a natural health center called the Well of Life Center. I was blown away by what I learned. It confirmed everything I had thought to be true about health, that God designed our bodies to be self-regulating and self-healing. God brought us to the Well of Life and gave me something to hold on to. It was a ray of hope for me.

We started our journey working against all odds. Lung cancer has a no cure prognosis. All four of us started going to the Well of Life and we changed our diets in many ways. I set up nutritional supplements for four people every day, different ones for each person, morning, noon, dinner, and night, but every time I did I said, “Thank you, God!” I felt like God was there in a tangible way, helping me by giving me something useful to do in my day to day life. He gave me a clear path. It was a lot of work, it was not easy, but I had direction, I believed in it, and I did it from love. That’s how I survived.

It worked! We had two years of incredible progress. My daughter’s asthma was healed and my son has gained fifteen pounds in three years. Even with Garry—for an entire year, even till he died, his lungs were clear, his hip was clear, and his lymph system was clear, and he had a good quality of life. We got so close to healing him and he did not suffer the death of someone with cancer in their lungs.

But they never scanned his brain. Lung cancer commonly spreads to the brain, but we did not know.

Near the end of the second year, Garry’s thirty-year-old daughter, Eva, was killed in a head-on car crash. Six days later, he started having a headache. Garry was always prone to headaches and he was grieving so we thought it was grief.

He went on with his headache for awhile. He didn’t tell me how bad it was. He got more and more tired and we kept thinking it was grief. Finally I said, “You need a break.” I told him, “You’re getting a scan in ten days. Your doctor talked about giving you a break from the chemotherapy. Why don’t we start the break now when we are on vacation?” He agreed and went off the chemo. We went to Virginia for a vacation and he started having problems. He looked to me to have Lyme symptoms and I gave him supplements to help with that.

Down in Virginia, we ended up having to take him to the ER on day six of our vacation. They did a CAT scan and found what looked to be brain cancer. They helicoptered him to another hospital for further diagnosis. There I was, watching my husband be flown away and I had to take the kids back to where we were staying, prepare for an overnight, and drive across the Skyline Drive to the hospital, not knowing what to expect when we got there. We got to the hospital and Garry was sitting in the ER waiting to be seen. They did an MRI but wouldn’t have the results soon. It was late and I had to get the kids to bed, so we sadly had to leave Garry a second time late at night. We drove to the condo (an hour and a half away). On that drive, I looked for God anywhere I could find him. We were crossing the Skyline Drive and there was the full moon. I felt like God was pouring his light on us in this dark moment.

The next morning we packed up the condo for leaving and went back to the hospital. It all seemed surreal. They gave us the results of the MRI and said, “You can take him home. We think he’ll be okay for the car ride, but if you have a problem go immediately to an ER.” By the time they could release him it was late for the five-hour drive home. So there I am, crossing the Skyline Drive again in the middle of a July night and there’s that full moon. Garry was lying in the back of the van sleeping and the kids eventually fell asleep as well. It was just me and the moon, and I felt like God came in and touched me. I looked at that moon the whole way back. It kept me going and it kept me focused. With two little kids and my husband in so much pain, I felt like I was all I had. The one place I could turn was to God. He brought me home that night. He also sent us two angels: our close friends and neighbors Lisa and Chris Knight were waiting for us to help us unpack in the middle of the night.

After we got back, the doctors said to him, “There’s nothing we can do for you, so we want to give you palliative treatment and do whole brain radiation.” The doctors would not listen to my concerns about Lyme disease and no biopsy was done that summer. At that point, I went to a really bad place for two days, a place of absolute despair, a place with no hope. After those two days, I said, “I can’t live my life in this state. I have to have hope.” I chose to live in hope and walked away from that dark state.

The radiation didn’t help but rather started damaging his brain. We were not allowed to go to Well of Life during radiation. Garry suffered tremendously. Then the third and last time we admitted Garry into the hospital they said, “He’s got more spots that are wrapped around his spinal cord. We can do whole back radiation, but we don’t think it’s worth it.” They said he only had a few weeks left. He actually only had about six days.

I realize now that I was dealing with circumstances I couldn’t change. His brain was deteriorating. But instead of giving up I kept trying to help in any way I could, even if that meant simply staying by his side, caring for him and loving him. God’s love also reached us through the many caring people that surrounded us.

Despite how hard it was, the love that we experienced together during that time was powerful. We were in a heavenly sphere even as we were going through all this hell. Just as God gave me the gift of the moon, he gave me this sphere during those last few weeks. I look back and I feel like God was there. During that time, I’d say, “I love you Garry,” and I’d go to kiss him and he’d kiss me back, even though he couldn’t say anything. He knew I was there with him. Our love transcended the moment, as it does to this day.

That last night, a family member was taking a turn staying by Garry’s side. I had a sense about it and said, “I need to sleep here tonight.” (A brother of Garry’s, Robin, had spelled for me one night so I could get some sleep.) The kids said, “If you’re going to be down here, we’re going to be down here!” So we went up and dragged another twin bed downstairs, and the three of us slept down with Garry. He was in his hospital bed. We said the Lord’s prayer and then the kids said, “I love you daddy,” and the one standing next to him said that at that moment he smiled. He could hear that. He didn’t respond to anything by that point, but he heard them and smiled. He died the next day.

It is a gift to have the belief that death is about the person transitioning to the next world. We knew he was being released from his body. He wasn’t just dying, he was going to the other world and we had this precious time to love him before he left.

I learned in the recent Journey program that you need to store up good things to help you with the bad, and I finally understand how those good things help sustain you so that you can handle all the hardship. The spiritual level, that heavenly sphere, was sustaining me through all the other struggles and challenges. Mentally I was frazzled, emotionally I was devastated, physically I was deteriorating, but spiritually I was thriving.

I realize now how this life is all about the other world. For a while Garry had resisted our dietary changes. Later, after attending a men’s gathering in Bryn Athyn, PA, a light switched on for him and he said, “I didn’t get it before. I’m totally committed now.” He made more changes in his lifestyle, and I thought to myself, “We have had more than six months of clean scans”—at that point—“He’s gotten so much healthier. He’s going to survive this!” And then all of sudden, he’s dead. I realize now that I thought his changing was to help his physical body live. Instead, it was a spiritual transformation he needed to go through on this earth, in preparation for his work in the other world. Only when you look at things from a spiritual perspective do they really make sense.

Ours is a journey for heaven, not for this earth. And mine has taught me that God is with us, taking care of us, and will sustain us even through the darkest times—and this he does through love.

Garry and Lisa are both 1972 Academy of the New Church graduates. Garry died Sept. 25, 2011, also father of: Norah (36), Amanda (30), and Adam (28). Lisa lives in Bryn Athyn with her twins, Ryan and Abigail who are currently in fifth grade. Lisa does part-time publication and marketing work for New Church organizations as she navigates the roles of being a single parent and leading her family through grief.

Full issue

https://newchurch.org/

DAILY INSPIRATION

“We are, because God is.”

Divine Providence 46

Why Christianity?

New Christian Bible StudyNew Christian Bible Study

Spiritual Topics

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What happened, with the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth? Was he the Messiah, the Christ, whose coming was prophesied many times in the Old Testament? In the Christian religion, we believe that he was. In New Christian thought, we emphasize that this miracle was that God took on a human form, being born as a baby to Mary, a virgin, in Bethlehem.

We believe that Jesus grew, learned, and prepared himself to teach, and heal, and inspire people in such a powerful way that the course of human history would change. He performed miracles here, while he lived on earth. After his crucifixion and resurrection, he was seen several times by his followers, whose spiritual eyes were opened.

In his lifetime, battling the power of hell, he opened the way for the new truths that he taught – loving the Lord, and the neighbor, and about repentance, and reformation, and forgiveness, and rebirth. These truths formed the basis of Christianity, which grew from its inception in Jerusalem and Galilee, to spread throughout many parts of the world.

http://newchristianbiblestudy.org/

We have freedom to choose

God is Love

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. 
[Deuteronomy 30:19-20 ESV]

 

In the historical setting of the Old Testament this quotation from Deuteronomy comes just before Moses dies and his successor Joshua leads the Children of Israel across the Jordan into the Promised Land. It was a timely reminder to the people that they continued to have a choice – they could choose to follow the Lord and his way, holding fast to him, or to turn away from him – they had freedom to choose between life and death, blessing and curse.

Freedom to choose is something that we experience to varying degrees in every aspect of our lives – the freedom to choose where we live, what job we do, what food we eat, what clothes we wear and so much more. This freedom may seem an important aspect of our chosen life-style but what we choose as a result is really rather superficial compared to the fundamental and deeper spiritual freedom we have to make the choice between what is true and what is false, what is good and what is bad – to essentially choose to move closer to God or to move further away from God. This is the type of freedom to choose that is described in Deuteronomy 30:19-20. It is God given and maintained equally to all as part of our essential human nature.

In his book Heaven and Hell, Emanuel Swedenborg wrote the following about this type of freedom:

Essentially, spiritual equilibrium is freedom, because it is a balance between what is good and what is bad, and between what is true and what is false. All these are spiritual realities. Therefore, to want to do something good or something bad, and to think something true or something false, and to choose one over the other, is freedom. This freedom is given by the Lord to every human being, and is in no way removed from anyone.
[Heaven and Hell 597]

But we might ask Why does God gives us this freedom?

We can perhaps find an answer by thinking about the way a wise and loving parent treats their children. One of the hardest things such a parent has to do is to let their child make mistakes despite realising the probable pain and suffering that will ensue. Children have to grow and develop and make their own way in the world and not feel they are being manipulated or directed by their parents. They will make the right decisions and the wrong decisions and yet the loving parent has to stand back and not intervene. They just offer advice to their child as to what they should do and then leave their child the freedom to make up their own mind. The loving relationship of parent and child is similar to other loving relationships in that, paradoxically, the more freedom we give to those whom we love the greater and stronger is the love that is ultimately returned. Force someone to love you and no real mutual love develops. However, offering to love someone and leaving them the freedom to respond or not is a high risk and potentially painful strategy as most people find out at some stage in their lives when love is not returned.

God gives us the freedom to choose his way or to reject it because he wants to develop a relationship with each one of us based on mutual love not the relationship of a master to a servant but of friends, as Jesus makes clear in John’s gospel.

You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
[John 15:14,15 ESV]

Jesus also talks about the mutual nature of the relationship he wishes us to enter into.

Remain in me and I in you. He who remains in me, and I in him, bears much fruit.
[John 15:4, 5 ESV]

And the mutual or reciprocal nature of this desired relationship is also mentioned in Revelation:

If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I shall come in to him, and dine with him, and he with me.
[Revelation 3:20 ESV]

Freedom to choose allows everybody the possibility of forming a link with God, holding fast to him and coming closer and closer to him or we can go in the other direction and break the link with God and move further and further away from him it is our choice.

Emanuel Swedenborg comments on this linking with God as follows:

The link between the Lord and a person is reciprocal; and it follows inevitably from this that a person ought to link himself with the Lord, so that the Lord may link himself with him. It also follows that the consequence would otherwise be not linking, but removal and separation, though this is not on the Lord’s part, but on a person’s. In order to make the link reciprocal, a person has been given freedom to choose, allowing him to set foot on the road to heaven, or the road to hell.
[True Christian Religion 371:2]

Swedenborg also refers to coming closer to God:

It is a law of the divine design that the closer and closer we come to God, which is something we have to do as if we were completely on our own, the closer and closer God comes to us.
[True Christian Religion 89]

In the gospels Jesus emphasises that He who remains in me, and I in him, bears much fruit. Some of the spiritual fruit to which he refers are listed in Galatians 5:22,23:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;

We have been given freedom to choose the Lord’s way or our own. But it is in choosing his way that we can begin to develop true spiritual fruits. Not only will this development bring us closer to the Lord and him to us but we will become truly spiritually free!

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, You will become free?”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
[John 8:31-36 ESV]

http://www.god-is-love.org.uk/

http://www.sacred-texts.com/swd/index.htm

http://www.smallcanonsearch.org/

Prolonging life — How far should we go?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

Prolonging lifeWhen you are young prolonging life seems a great idea. But when you get old things seem a bit different.

Emily aged 85 went into hospital. Her home is a nursing care home. She cannot support her own weight and needs a hoist and wheelchair to get her to the toilet and dining room. She is able to sit in an armchair and watches television. She has several diseases necessitating a good deal of staff time and medication. These are Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Her mood is okay and she is able to converse in a limited way with staff and her visitors.

Prolonging life of patients like Emily

However the quality of life changes when she gets a chest or urinary tract infection to which she is vulnerable. At these times she has breathing problems and becomes uncommunicative. These problems have resulted in several hospital admissions in recent months.  Only in hospital can adequate treatment be provided eg monitoring machines, scans, medical expertise on hand, adequate amounts of needed oxygen and so on. When in hospital at first she becomes agitated and more confused and then later fed up not being in her own room at the care home where she sees familiar faces.

The question arises: how many times should a very ill and infirm person near the end of life be given repeated inpatient episodes of hospital treatment. When is prolonging life inappropriate?

It used to be said that pneumonia was the old person’s friend because, although it resulted in death, it took away suffering caused by other serious ailments such as from advanced dementia, cancer, or kidney disease.

Even if physician assisted suicide and euthanasia are rejected, end-of-life care for elderly people with chronic diseases involves difficult clinical and ethical judgments. Such conditions won’t easily go away despite the best that medicine can offer. Palliative care means doctors and nurses do their best to reduce discomfort and pain and improve the quality of the patient’s life whether or not there is hope of a cure by other means.

Prolonging life within the context of professional ethics

Doctors and nurses practice within a framework of professional ethics for example principles of informed patient choice, maximising good, not causing harm, and providing what is thought the patient has a right to receive. All medical treatments involve risks and benefits. Health staff try to get the best balance between interventionist treatment that directly tackles disease and palliative care. These however have different goals and sometimes suggest opposing clinical plans.

Good end of life care means neither hastening death nor unnecessarily prolonging life. Unfortunately it seems that sometimes inevitably one of these consequences will result.

Should one decline to give emergency resuscitation to someone where no improvement in their suffering is likely to result from further living? Should hydration and nutrition not be forced via tubes into the body when the patient is unwilling to drink or eat? Should more effective higher levels of sedative be given to patients in pain although this increases the risk of death? This seems suspiciously like inappropriately prolonging life.

To my way of thinking, the trouble is health professionals are expected to try to cure us. Those health care staff practicing palliative care do not always receive support from family members, other healthcare professionals, or their social peers for their work to reduce suffering and follow patients’ wishes for end-of-life care.

Negative attitudes towards palliative care

N.E. Goldstein and colleagues did a survey and found that more than half of doctors who practice palliative care report that a patient’s family members, or another health care professional had characterized their work as being “euthanasia”, “murder”, or “killing” during the previous five years. And so I do wonder if inadvertently doctors err on the side of prolonging life unnecessarily for fear of being criticised for harming patients by not being interventionist.

They practice in a world where anxiety about death is common and where medicine cannot sanitize dying. Fear of death is pretty widespread and so no wonder it exerts a powerful effect on attitudes to end of life care. Does acceptance of death mean one is able to lean towards palliative care rather than towards interventionist treatment?

Psychological research has found that the fear of death is made up of a number of different fears. For example a study by James Diggory and Doreen Rothman found that the following are common fears about death in descending order of importance:

  • My death would cause grief to my relatives and friends
  • All my plans and projects would come to an end
  • The process of dying might be painful
  • I could no longer have any experiences
  • I would no longer be able to care for my dependents
  • I am afraid of what might happen to me if there is a life after death
  • I am afraid of what might happen to my body after death.

Understanding death

Emanuel Swedenborg has given a vivid account of life after death from his personal experiences in the eighteenth century. What he says is often echoed since in the accounts of mediums, those having near death experiences (NDE’s), and those receiving brief communications from the other side (ADC’s). All show a continuation of life similar to what we are familiar in the physical world, albeit in a world of spirit where one’s inner life of experience and character are more apparent.

There is plenty of information that can greatly reassure people if they would take the trouble to find out more. For example for ADC’s click here and for NDE’s click here.

Is difficulty in confronting attitudes to death in Western culture affecting the way hospitals actively treat elderly people with serious illness at the end of their useful life in the world?

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

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

Posted on29th November 2012CategoriesEthics, Ethics & LifeTags,, , , , , , , ,  Leave a comment