“Spiritual people believe in the Divine and act honestly and fairly not just because it follows civil and moral laws but because it also follows divine laws.”
Emanuel Swedenborg, Heaven and Hell 530:1
“When the Lord is with anyone, He leads them, and provides that all things which happen, whether sad or joyful, befall them for good: this is the Divine providence.”
Emanuel Swedenborg, Arcana Coelestia 6303
“Divine mercy is a pure mercy toward the whole human race with the intent of saving it, and it is constant toward every individual, never withdrawing from anyone.”
Emanuel Swedenborg, Heaven and Hell 522
“True marriage love, from its Divine origin, is celestial, spiritual, holy, pure and clean.”
Emanuel Swedenborg, Married Love 64
Selection from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
The man who has been alienated from good and truth intends nothing but evil, because he cannot intend good; and what he intends, reigns with him, and therefore is in all his thoughts, and in every least detail of him; for the intention or end is the veriest life of man, the end being his love, and the love being his life. And what is more, a man is exactly such as is the end with him, and such also is his image in the light of heaven; and — this may surprise you — such as is his image in general, such is the image of the least things of his will. Thus the whole man is such as his end is.
From this it is evident that the man who is an evil end cannot possibly be among those who are good ends; thus he who is in hell cannot possibly be in heaven; for the ends conflict, and the good ends prevail, because they are from the Divine. Hence also it is evident that they do not think truly who believe that everyone can be admitted into heaven from mercy alone; for if one who is an evil end comes into heaven, his life labors as with one who lies in the death agony, and he is direfully tortured; besides that in the light of heaven he appears as a devil. Hence it is evident that they who have been alienated from truth and good can think nothing but evil; and that this evil is in the least things of their thought and will is very manifest from the sphere which from afar exhales from such spirits, for their quality is thereby perceived. This sphere is like a spiritual evaporation from every detail of the life.
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 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 2011