Finding Your Inner Freedom

Swedenborg Foundation

personalfreedom

Religious freedom has been popping up in the news quite a bit lately: The US Army considers whether to relax its regulations on dress and grooming to allow Sikhs—whose religious practices include men wearing turbans and growing beards—to serve in the military. A town in New Jersey debates whether to allow construction of a local mosque, as residents voice fears of a terrorist attack. And religious freedom has become a buzzword on the US campaign trail, as conservative voters protest laws that contradict their beliefs.

All of these debates center around the practice of religion: when, where, and how groups and individuals can put their religious convictions into action. Emanuel Swedenborg offers a different perspective: What if the real question isn’t how we practice religious freedom but how we practice spiritual freedom? And what’s the difference between the two?

First, though, it needs to be clear that all freedom is a matter of love, even to the point that love and freedom are the same thing. Since love is our life, freedom is also essential to our life. (Divine Providence §73:2)

Freedom is a characteristic of everything that belongs to love and everything that belongs to our will. Anyone can see this from the statement “I want to do this because I love it,” and the other way around, “because I love this I also want to do it.” (True Christianity §493)

When Swedenborg speaks in terms of freedom and love, he’s referring back to one of the core ideas of his philosophy: a person’s dominant or ruling love, which you could think of as the emotions, desires, or needs that drive us on a deep inner level. If we love ourselves or our reputation more than anything else, then we’re motivated by selfish love; if we put others first and if we love the divine (in whatever form that takes for us personally), then we’re motivated by positive, selfless love. When we’re doing what we love, Swedenborg says, we feel free.

In his writings, he talks about different levels of freedom that correspond to different levels of our inner being. We have earthly, or bodily, freedom in the sense that we can control our own actions. We can do whatever we want, except to the extent that laws, moral codes, or fear of social consequences hold us back. We have rational, or mental, freedom in that we can think whatever we want; we can reason through problems and decide what we think. We can also use our rationality to override our lower impulses—restrain ourselves from acting out of anger, for example, or giving in to temptation.

Our spiritual freedom, he says, works in a similar way. We can use our spiritual understanding not only to override our ego-driven urges but to untangle the mess of confusion that sometimes arises from overthinking a situation. The difference between spiritual freedom and mental or bodily freedom is that spiritual freedom comes from the Divine:

Spiritual freedom comes from a love for eternal life. The only people who arrive at this love and its pleasure are people who think that evils are sins and therefore do not want to do them, and who at the same time turn toward the Lord. The moment we do this, we are in spiritual freedom, because it is only from an inner or higher freedom that we can stop intending evils because they are sins and therefore not do them. This kind of freedom comes from an inner or higher love. (Divine Providence §73:6)

Swedenborg describes turning toward the Lord—regeneration, or spiritual rebirth—as a long and challenging process of personal growth. The end result is as much a freedom from the limits of the body and mind as it is a freedom to express divine love:

All the freedom we enjoy in earthly matters comes down from this higher freedom; and because freedom originates there, it has a share in all the free choices we make in earthly matters. From among our earthly options, the love that is dominant in us on the highest level selects everything that is well suited to itself. That higher freedom is present the way a spring is present in all the water that flows from it, or the way the fertility of a seed is present in each and every part of the tree that results from it—especially the fruit, in which the seed renews itself. (True Christianity §494)

From this perspective, spiritual freedom is a freedom without walls or limits. Even a person living in an oppressive regime or whose physical movements are restricted can live a full and beautiful life by first seeking out that source of divine love and then allowing that love to guide his or her life. And that love—that spiritual freedom—can be expressed through even the smallest actions, regardless of whether those actions are overtly religious. If everything that we do comes from divine love, then there’s no way to stop that love from flowing through the world.

What does spiritual freedom mean to you?

http://www.swedenborg.com/

For an in-depth look at spiritual freedom in Swedenborg’s writings, watch “Spiritual Freedom,” an episode of our weekly webcast Swedenborg and Life (or read the recap here).

For more on the idea of dominant love, see our blog post “How Spiritual Growth Makes You More You”; and there’s also more about divine guidance in the post “Led by the Lord? The Spiritual Questions to Ask Yourself.”

Regeneration: Spiritual Growth and How It Works is a collection of Swedenborg’s writings on spiritual growth that outlines both the process and the internal factors at work.

 

Sexual Intercourse In Heaven

Heaven would not be heaven unless one could continue to partake in all the enjoyments and pleasures of life after the death of the physical body. This includes marriage and sexual intercourse.

To grasp this we have to take into account that heaven is not in time and space. Therefore, if individuals are enjoying life in the spiritual world, without a physical body, they must have spiritual bodies. Without the appropriate organic form, pleasure has no substantive subject by which it can really exist.

However, since spiritual bodies are non-physical, their organic forms, whether we are talking about a penis or vagina, can only be understood as the embodiment of the qualities of one’s heart and mind (which is one’s true spirit).

All spiritual bio-complexity consists of one’s true inner reality given real substantive and non-physical organic form. In other words, in the spiritual world non-material organs are generated out of all the aspects of our heart and understanding. All organic structure in heaven is psycho-topological.

A spiritual penis or vagina is therefore a more perfect embodiment of one’s love, values, and ideas as well.

A penis in the spiritual world reflects a male spirit’s ability and potency to probe the subject of his passion from his understanding. A spiritual vagina represents a woman’s receptivity and will to accept these qualities and potencies of her suitor by becoming the ultimate focus of his love.

This receptivity is the inner essence of a woman’s attractiveness and beauty in the spiritual world. A woman in heaven becomes more beautiful as she becomes the life and love of her husband’s spiritual understanding. A woman becomes a wife in this manner and is the only way two partners can be wedded in heaven.

The man becomes a more perfect husband and increasingly handsome as his spiritual knowledge increases. So the husband becomes the embodiment of his wife’s understanding and wisdom. The male and female genitals are the spiritual analog, and represent, the dynamics of this profound union.

This level of bonding is not generally known in on earth. But there is no way for two partners to become increasingly intimate with each other if they could not take on the intimacy that is found between a united understanding and its will. This increased intimacy allows a heavenly marriage to be perfected through eternity.

Sexual intercourse in heaven mirrors this dynamic as the spiritual act of a husband’s understanding seeking union with the wife’s love. Wives in heaven are spiritually formed so that they can be impregnated by the ideas of their husband’s understanding (his ideas are his spiritual seed).

The husband’s ideas gestate in the wife’s heart. She brings them to life in the spiritual world as new qualities of love and wisdom that are shared by both partners (because they always act as one spirit). Spiritual offspring are the things generated from this holy union – increased love and service for the heavenly community.

Rather than a multiplication of people, spiritual progeny are the multiplication of usefulness and goodness.

In God’s scheme, whether on earth or in the spiritual world, all intercourse is for the sake of impregnation and creation. All creation has origins in the marriage of God’s love and truth. All sexual intercourse follows this Holy pattern to promote and give birth to something fruitful in the universe.

Those in heaven do not engage in anal intercourse or make use of dildos. In the spiritual world, these things represent corporeal pleasures excluded from spiritual principles and their prolific power.

Have I rained on anyone’s parade?

Posted on August 24, 2008by thegodguy

Website: http://www.provinggod.com

Posted in god, Inner growth, Life after death, love, psychology, Reality, religion, spirituality, symbolism, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Did God Create An Imperfect World?

The evidence seems overwhelming. The world is anything but perfect. This has led some to believe that a God of perfect love could not have been the author of such a flawed plan. But if we contemplate this notion a bit, we will see that to do otherwise would rule out God’s having to create a world of time and space.

God created the earth with a finite size, taking up a finite space. Was this a mistake? The imperfection of this finite design is that everything that will ever live cannot possibly occupy this limited space at the same time. So life forms come and go. They die but they reproduce to keep things going.

The only way to change this apparent “wasteful” situation would be to allow everything to live forever, and on a planet that kept getting bigger and bigger. This would also mean that one life form could never eat another.

But this would throw all organic process out the window – since the main function of internal organs is to process food and make it available to every cell in the body. Cells would no longer have to process anything for the body, either. (We certainly would not need an immune system in a world of perfect health.)

So, it would be no sense keeping our internal organs unless they were allowed to remain inside our bodies in order to “pantomime” the functions of life. Is it not within God’s Infinite power to keep us alive even with hollow bodies?

Why stop there? Plants would no longer have to turn the energy of the sun into starches. Earthworms would not have to labor to keep the soil fertile, etc., etc.

So what would everything be alive for in a perfect world if what they were designed to do became irrelevant? Idealists might respond by saying that everything in a perfect world would be alive to share the world in peaceful coexistence and happiness – people, bugs and bacteria.

But could a worm find happiness in not being a human? Therefore, in a perfect world, there would be no hierarchy. Evolution (and species extinction) would not be necessary if God simply created only humans – right off the bat.

But that would not make things perfect unless all humans were created as loving angels.

Furthermore, we would all have to look equally beautiful or handsome, and be equally intelligent, in order for the world to be a place of true equality and justice.

Unfortunately, in such a perfect cookie-cutter world, how would we maintain our unique personalities without enjoying first-person phenomenal experience? How would we be interesting to others?

I believe a true God of love would give us the capacity to choose what we love, good or bad, because this is the drive belt of who we are.

Think about that. Human free will and human disposition is founded on love itself. God protects this freedom of the human spirit above everything else. Heaven is a choice. And there is nothing that could prevent us from making that choice but ourselves.

The physical world of time and space was created in such a way as to offer us a full spectrum of influences so that we could prepare ourselves for a non-material afterlife. In God’s eternal, spiritual realm, we will find ourselves in a non-physical environment whose topological features, flora and fauna, reflect the qualities of our heart and mind.

What could be more perfect than a world tailor-made for each of us, and our personal proclivities?

Perhaps, in my next post, I will provide more detail concerning the nature of the biosphere that makes up the unique ecology of the spiritual world. Then I would like to address the issue of evil in God’s universe.

Stay tuned.

Posted on July 26, 2008by thegodguy

Website: http://www.staircasepress.com

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The Purpose of Creation

 

Science is not concerned with the purpose of creation. Religion is. Science focuses its attention on the “how” rather than on the more philosophical question of “why.” This is simply an extension and outcome of science’s interest in facts and religion’s interest in values.

Science does indeed recognize that people live by values, but values are subjective choices and do not have an objective existence outside of us (like the moon has). Therefore, values are not a proper subject for scientific investigation. In spite of this, I am going to propose in my next book, Proving God, that values DO have an objective existence outside of us – starting with the idea that Love is the ultimate substance of the universe (substantia prima).

Allow me to give you a small “taste” of where my labors are headed concerning the how and why of creation and evolution. To start, it will be profitable to share with you a very, very, simple overview of the various scientific and theological camps along with their contentious views.

Evolutionary Science (the neo-Darwinian synthesis) embraces natural selection. Simply put, mutational variation within evolutionary biology has physical causes rather than Divine causes. This theory’s greatest challenge is that the fossil evidence does not do an adequate job of demonstrating the principle of gradualism. Often the fossil record shows distinct “jumps” of accelerated speciation (punctuated equilibrium).

In Creationism, we are given a totally theological answer for evolution. The laws of the universe have emerged from God’s Holy Word. Humans are viewed as a distinctly unique creation from other creatures – with an important role to play in the drama of the cosmos. While Creationists do not have an answer for the mechanism by which God creates all the richness of the manifest universe, they point out that no one has ever witnessed one species transforming into another distinct species (macroevolution).

Intelligent Design allows for purposiveness (teleology) to be used as an explanatory tool for explaining the emergence of bio-complexity in nature. Unfortunately, it leads us to an intellectual dead end in not being able to enlighten us to the wisdom of God’s grand scheme. For instance, detractors will ask why evolution must be so wasteful in order just to bring forth the human species, a species whose actions are threatening the globe? While Intelligent Design sees itself as a scientific approach, most scientists feel it uses bad science.

Theistic Evolution believes in both natural selection (good science) and that God is the Creator and Maintainer of the universe (good theology). It has serious problems in trying to marry the concept of purposeful creation with the blind and non-intelligent mechanism of natural selection. Somehow, God is able to hide His activity within the scientific framework of randomness.

I would like to propose another concept which I believe straddles the “how” and “why” of creation. I call it CONJUNCTIVE DESIGN, which is based on the scientific and theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg put forth the idea that a God of love must create a world because Divine Love needs a subject to love (something other than itself). Evolution is also necessary to creation because for Love to find perfection and fullness, it must be reciprocal. In other words, a creature has to emerge with the appropriate higher-order complexity to recognize a Creator and love God back. Love cannot be one-sided.

God creates only by conjunction, and, can only have conjunction through self-representation. In other words, the Lord’s love and truth can only flow into, and have relationship with, forms that in some way mirror the Divine nature. Therefore, all created things are created for their usefulness and utility – which is an expression of love. Intelligent design misses this theological point. (I will address the theodicy issue and evil in the world in another post.)

The reason why science and theology can be unified is that evolution is spiritual. The engine of adaptation is not from the strategies of “selfish” genes to ensure survival from the ever-changing external pressures of a given physical environment. Humans have evolved to exploit a more rarefied niche – information. This includes becoming receptive to religious values – which have their objective existence in God’s eternal Being.

Evolution is the exaltation of love (through more complex and noble forms of usefulness). The Lord’s conjunction with the universe is perfected through His covenant with humankind, especially when humans adopt the tenet of loving the neighbor as the guiding principle for their industriousness.

Religion is God’s strategy to extend the evolution of the biosphere into a non-material realm (we call this realm heaven). The directionality of evolution has been towards the spiritual world, because as God’s principle of love descends more perfectly into matter and physical complexity, utility ascends and becomes more spiritual. The ultimate purpose of creation and evolution is to form a heaven from the human race – the only species whose utility can evolve to actions of conscious love. It is through conjunction with God that we can have a blessed and eternal life.

Do you believe we are more than our genes?

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