6 Spiritual Associations

Swedenborg Study.comOnline works based on the Writings of Emanuel SwedenborgImage result for swedenborgstudy

6 Spiritual Associations

“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” Hebrews 1:7

Heredity and Human Types

Nothing is more plain than the fact that men differ as to the general state of their minds. “Many men, many minds.” But there are also resemblances. All infants and adolescents are in states which are characteristic of their general age. Those of the same race incline to show a common genius. Teachers, laborers, lawyers, business men, show certain traits of mind and attitudes typical of their profession or work. And, besides these distinctions, all individuals may be classified according to temperaments, seemingly inborn yet following no known law of heredity.

Students have therefore observed that every nation or large society includes some people who are predominantly instinctive in their reactions, others who are imaginative and easily influenced by suggestion, others who possess speculative and perhaps fanatical tendencies, and some who are critical, analytic, calculating, or reflective. According to another classification, we find those who are characterized by intellect, those in whom the will is a prominent trait, and those who are action-types, whether they be dull and slow, or excitable and impulsive.

These observed types are seldom pure, and the classes overlap—fortunately. For no one type is perfect in and by itself. The Writings—amplifying the Lord’s saying that in the Heavenly Father’s house there are many mansions—teach that every type of mind is accommodated within the Grand Human Form of the Divine economy: even as many types of cells and tissues are needed to make the human body complete. These types are classified, on the one hand, as belonging to a celestial genius, a spiritual genius, and—in a sense —a natural genius: and, in addition, their diversity is made more complex as men cultivate and develop some one of the degrees of the natural mind—either the sensual-scientific, or the imaginative, or the moral and rational.

Men can modify but not essentially alter the hereditary temperaments of their natural minds. By regeneration, a man can also receive the Lord’s gift of spiritual life in a more and more interior form, and thus the Lord will open within him the degrees of the spiritual mind, which places him in the spiritual or celestial degree of his heaven. But the basic type of his natural mind, the result of heredities and of the social environment, is only to some extent modified by his choosing, and remains to qualify the general state of his spirit. His natural mind is formed, under the auspices of the Divine providence, largely without man’s help, as a vessel receptive of life. He changes its particular states, but not its general state or type. After all, it is only a vessel, a tool for a deeper life. And therefore, in heaven, the natural mind of an angel becomes as it were transparent from the spiritual within.156

If we should ask wherein lies the permanence of a racial type, such as the Chinese or the Semitic, we might receive many answers. The scientist would labor to explain about the strange process of meiosis or reductive division, whereby the hereditary factors in sperm and ovum are varied while the persistent characteristics of the species are preserved. The New Church scientist would wish to allow for gradual changes even in the germ plasm, in each generation—although he might stress that the observable changes of the cell could be responsible only for the physical and not for the spiritual inheritance, which latter cannot be traced according to any Mendelian “laws.” The New Church theologian would be particularly interested in three facts. One is, that hereditary evils, although accumulating, do not seem greatly to alter the type of face or of mind, to judge from the pictures on the palaces of ancient Egypt and the stories of the Old Testament. The second is, that our doctrines intimate that evils of heredity can be modified by a change of religion and by regenerate life. The third is, that life is not inherent in the transmitted germ-plasm, but inflows from the spiritual world.

What a man inherits from his parents is only a vessel of life: but a vessel so ordered that it receives a certain type of influx, or receives life mediated by certain groups of angels and spirits. It is in. the inflowing life that the reality of heredity lies: or, in the spirits and angels which mediate life for the receiving vessel. So far as some other type of life could be received by the germ-plasm, or by the inner organics of the child and man, so far another type of mind (and even of body) would result! This is the reason that heredities can be altered by the life of religion: for religion is the only power that can deeply reorder the spirits and angels about a man, or change such a general state as that of an inherited disposition.167

General states—states rooted in wide groups of societies in the spiritual world—can be changed only by the Lord whose Providence works through ultimate conditions in this world and thus upon all spirits and angels. And the process is slow because the deeper evils of heredity can be modified only with men who are capable of sustaining spiritual temptations. It is therefore inevitable that the general states through which the human race has passed should survive as characteristic traits of disposition, and should crop out in different combinations of hereditary types, each having their roots in different combinations of societies in the spiritual world. It is of Providence that certain forms of mind should be inclined to each other, while others should repel each other. Heredities combine, strengthen or counterbalance each other. Thus are formed races and nations and psychological groups, each receiving the gift of life in a different manner. Behind the choice of a man and the consent—or refusal—of a maid, there lie hidden invisible issues that flamed vast ages ago, and the decision involves the compatibility of the spiritual uses of societies in the other world.

The Divine truth is one and indivisible. It is the one essential reality behind creation. It exists as Law, spiritual law and natural law. This law is one, the same for all, whether men differ about it or not. In the Writings, the Divine law is stated in the form of doctrine adapted to rational comprehension. But that law, the one Divine truth, is older than the Writings, older than the Scriptures. It is eternal—the Word which was in the beginning.

The Divine truth is one. Yet there have been many religions on earth. An incomplete census taken in 1956 of sixty-eight million reported church-adherents in the United States of America records one hundred and fourteen religious organizations, most of them with varied doctrines. A denomination generally represents a general state, which has taken from various sources whatever religious truth that state is adapted to receive, and has rejected any truth which it is not able to admit: and in place of rejected truth there usually come falsified truth and a contorted perception of the whole.

The same holds true of each individual man. His religious perception is according to his state. He sees only one phase of the Divine truth at a time. He is not to blame for this: although he may be to blame for some particular states in which his perception is thus obscured—states which he may have invited. He is not responsible for general states. When a child he cannot be expected to see with the mind of an adult. If he was born and raised a Protestant, or a gentile, he cannot see the truth as the New Church man sees it.

As a man grows up, he passes through many general states. His faith is at first imitative and blindly literalistic. Later, his faith becomes imaginative, emotional, perhaps enthusiastic. Afterwards, it turns critically upon itself, becomes analytic and at length rational. At each stage there are truths which cannot be received: at least he cannot see them except in a symbolic way, or only in their most general form. Religion means different things for different ages as well as for different races.

Some years ago a psychologist suggested that since each religion fills the need of some special mood or instinct, we should really, in our progression through life, change our religion at each stage. He also classified various religions as especially satisfying to certain psychological types. This man was a pessimist as to religion. He believed that creeds were only wish-thoughts, that no one could ever contact the one and indivisible Divine truth. The New Church man of course knows that human states limit the reception of that Divine truth. But he also knows that all normal and orderly human states can receive something of that Divine truth without rejecting the rest, and that a true religion has in it that which can guide and feed these normal states without encouraging what is disorderly and evil: i.e., without stooping to falsehoods or fantasies.

Universality of the New Church

The New Church is a religion of universal application. It is adaptable to the needs of all states. It must provide leadership and instruction for all normal human types, and provide uses—spiritual uses—for all and benefits for every age. Yet it does not cater to morbid states. The New Church cannot satisfy the neurotic demands of those who would feed on the sensational, or be maintained in the good life only by the thought that they are ‘chosen of God’ or by some religious frenzy or some special earthly reward. It cannot encourage the “escapers” who retreat as recluses from worldly duties or social obligations. Nor can it be content— like so many—to substitute a moral life for a spiritual! It cannot permit the individual to evade responsibility by placing the power of salvation or the prerogative of truth-seeking in the hands of priests. It cannot pretend that rituals are more than gates to the spiritual life. It avoids appealing to merely natural affections in men, although realizing their place and value. For the New Church seeks rationally to restore the balance, the normal state of mind in which truths and uses can be seen in their progressive aspects, so that there is no false sophistication which contemptuously rejects ancient truths, nor any idolatry of traditions just because they are old; no stagnation; no disproportionate emphasis which shall sidetrack the people of the Church into such temperamental eddies as are represented by the many denominations of the present day.

The growth of mankind required that there should have been true religions in the past which were sufficient to the needs of those times. The Most Ancient Church, the Ancient Church, and the Christian, were, each in their day of flower, true religions. Yet they were of a preparatory character, and do not reach to all the normal states of a mankind fully matured. It is in a manner true that our race, as it grew into new states, did change its religion. And so, in the New Church, we go back to the true religions of the past for the needs of those progressive states which every man experiences as he grows up. The body of Divine revelation through which we receive instruction and where we see the presence of the Lord, is the Word of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings. We teach our younger children the stories of Creation and of the Flood—symbolic truth, which is truth to them. We give the next age the Commandments and the moral truth as accommodated to the Hebrews—an adaptation of the laws of charity that they can understand, a lesson in justice and obedience. The parables and the morality of the Gospels are particularly adapted to the state of puberty. And in adolescence, the gradual introduction to the Writings commences. The internal sense, the angelic Word, is then grasped as doctrine, first as to relatively external and general teachings, but gradually as to the more interior. In the Writings heavenly truths, natural, spiritual, and celestial, are laid open, and each adult may take what serves to feed his state, according to the capacity and elevation of his thought.

Each successive stage of life thus has its religion! Yet the religions of childhood, youth, and age, are the same, comprised within the one Divine truth; indivisible, yet such that it accommodates itself to all ages and types and states.

It is for this reason that the Heavenly Doctrine, the spiritual sense of the Word which is now revealed in the Writings, can in the spiritual world become a source of light to all races and nations, that is, to spirits of all types. Yet so far as falsities of religion have been deeply impressed by accustomed life on earth, the light of truth can be received only in a very partial way. The whole spiritual world is ordered—-society after society—according to the ways and degrees in which the light of Divine truth is received in the understanding and in life. There are heavens formed from those in all nations and religions, past and present, Gentile and Christian. Such heavens are in varying degrees of spiritual light. But central to all is the New Christian Heaven, where the Word is the source of all doctrine and light. There are spirits in the world of spirits, from all types and states, whose light is relatively obscure or clear or shifting. There are also— formed out of the evil in all religions and nations—many hells where spiritual light is absent just in proportion to the evil states which they confirmed within themselves; and the light of fantasy takes its place, a sensual lumen in which all things appear distorted and confused. For evil spirits see things in the light of their ambitions and wishes; not as they really are. They see themselves as wise, they see their own states as orderly and every one else’s as insane—until the light of heaven is let in to dispel their fantasy.

Now all the life and thought that man has comes from the spiritual world, through such spirits as are with him. His mental light which should give clarity to his ideas, is obscure or bright according to his spiritual associations. He will be in a state of spiritual illustration if he is closely associated with the New Christian Heaven where the Lord is fully revealed in His Divine Human.158 But so far as he departs from the societies of spirits who communicate with this heaven, so far his mind is dimmed as to all spiritual things, although it may still be quite clear and indeed brilliant in worldly affairs.

The New Church on earth is established that it may be associated with the New Christian Heaven and partake of its spiritual illustration. Indeed, the New Heaven is the internal whence alone the New Church can increase.158 The New Church can grow only in proportion to its conjunction with the New Heaven. And therefore the Lord, who rules all things from primes through ultimates, has provided means for this conjunction. The conjunction itself is that of love and charity, for these alone conjoin. But the means of the conjunction are ultimates in the minds of men, ultimates of thought which will have meaning and special value to those spirits who are associated with the New Christian Heaven.

The Power of Baptism

The Lord has ordained two sacraments, Baptism and the Holy Supper, as the ultimates of all spiritual order with men. Order is the opposite of confusion. Order calls for distinctions. There would be no real freedom in a state of confusion. This is the reason why all in the spiritual world are distinguished according to their religions. Moreover, all of the same religion are arranged into societies according to affections of love to God and to the neighbor—and their opposites. “On the distinct arrangement there, the preservation of the whole universe depends !”159

It is of order, also, that spirits of alien religions—such as the Mohammedan and those of idolaters—should not apply themselves to the infants or children of Christians and infuse into them an inclination for such religions, and thus draw them away and alienate them from Christianity. For this would be to distort and destroy spiritual order and would create utter confusion and internal conflict in the mind of the child, preventing any orderly development of progressive states. And what holds true with infants, is true also with adults.

By Baptism a sign is placed upon a man that he belongs to the church. The experience of the baptismal rite—the promises of the man or, with the child, of his parents, the sensation of the water, the words of the sacred text, the sign of the cross, the act of benediction by the laying on of hands —enters deeply into the memory, and (whether consciously or unconsciously) remains there indelibly to color every idea which the mind later comes to entertain. This connection of ideas is seen by every spirit at his first approach to man. By virtue of the correspondence of water, and of washing, to truth and especially the truth of repentance, baptism becomes the ultimate in the mind for spirits who are being instructed in truth and who in the other life are being introduced into the doctrine and life of the New Heaven. It becomes a sign in the spiritual world, that the man is of Christians. And the spirit of man is therefore, by this sacrament, inserted among societies and congregations there “according to the quality of the Christianity in him or around him (extra illum).”160

Not the water, or the act alone, constitutes the Baptism: but the intention associated with the act. No spirit is a witness to the act itself. But spiritual beings who are with us see the associated thoughts in the minds of the one baptized and of the priest and witnesses—see all the ideas which have ever been adjoined to the idea of the ritual itself. If priest and witnesses adjoin the ideas of a Trinity of Divine Persons, of a vicarious atonement by sufferings, or of a salvation by faith only, then the act of baptism effects an introduction— in this world and among spirits—into the assembly of those who so believe. But if the ritual arouses in priest and witnesses the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the one God, and if the ideas that are associated are from the Heavenly Doctrine and thus conjoined with an acknowledgment of the Lord’s second advent, then it makes for an introduction into the New Jerusalem, into the New Church and the New Heaven. The memory of the baptism will be the lasting focus of all these suggested ideas: all will be recalled to spirits when the baptism is recalled; and all are invitations to such spirits to be with the man, a cloud of unseen witnesses: and there will be a connection established between all the new experiences that the man absorbs and the initial ideas centering around the material fact of baptism. Such spirits are a protective sphere around the man, keeping him in the general state of his own religion.

The baptismal ceremony as such is only a natural event. Our remembrance of it is centered about the material ideas of the water, the washing, the cross. But, as was noted previously, Swedenborg testifies that while a man thinks, his material ideas are as it were in the midst of a wave of such things as are adjoined in the memory—all that was ever known on the subject; and thus the full thought, not the material idea, is apparent to the spirits about him. Swedenborg likens that surrounding wave of associations to spiritual wings by which the thing thought of is elevated out of the memory, and is endowed with meaning and value.161 And something of this is interiorly meant when the Lord said to Moses, about the exodus from Egypt: “I bare you on eagle’s wings, and brought you unto Myself”; and the same is suggested when He lamented: “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not !”162

By Baptism the Lord does gather His children together under the protective sphere of the New Heaven. This sphere is a sphere of spiritual thought and affection. It guards, but does not compel. It aids, through our spiritual associates, to ward off alien spirits. At any time we are free to break away from its gentle gyres, and—by focussing our life and thought on ultimates that are opposed to it, on falsities or on things that are symbolic of evil—we can enter by degrees into other spiritual connections, if these are more accordant with our life’s delight. But so far as we freely allow the sphere of the New Heaven to be with us, there is freedom also to progress in accordance with our choice; there is a leading into greater illustration, spiritual clarity, and wisdom; there is the possibility of the more and more interior fulfilment of what Baptism involves, the realization of the meaning of the new order of the spiritual world, and of the truth that the Lord reigneth.

http://www.swedenborgstudy.com/index.html

New book: Starting Science from God.
Links theism (religion) to science (psychology and physics) without reduction.

Posted on May 25, 2017 in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment | Edit

Image result for swedenborgstudy

 

 

5 Spirits and Human States

Swedenborg Study.comOnline works based on the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

5 Spirits and Human States

“My name is Legion, for we are many.” Mark 5:9

The World of Spirits after the Last Judgment

After the Last Judgment, the spirits who are in the “world of spirits,” or—what is much the same—the spirits who attend man more nearly, are reduced into such an order that they cannot for long arrest the progress of a novitiate spirit, that is, cannot for long evade judgment nor for long hinder him from entering either heaven or hell.

This new order makes it impossible for false religions to establish permanent strongholds in the spiritual world, as was often the case before the last judgment. Spirits from each religion do, as formerly, flock together, and engage in common life and worship. But their doctrines and principles of life are continually challenged, their societies are repeatedly broken up, and the individual spirits are separately judged soon after their death. Within about thirty years, each spirit has passed through the three states of the world of spirits, and enters his heaven or his hell (See LJ 64).

This new order is referred to, when it is stated that in the year 1770, on the nineteenth day of June, after the True Christian Religion had been written out, the Lord sent His twelve disciples into all parts of the spiritual world, proclaiming the gospel that “the Lord Jesus Christ reigneth.”140

A new light came into the world of spirits.141 For whereas spiritual truth had before been revealed to men and spirits only in the forms of natural and moral truth, as in the New Testament, the second advent of the Lord was a revelation of Divine truth in the forms of rational ideas and in terms of open doctrine. Thenceforth all judgment took place on the basis of rational thought, and this penetrates through all possible human disguises and makes impossible any evasion, any hiding of evil motives behind external piety or by a nominal adherence to church bodies and their symbolic creeds. This new law of judgment, which produced a new order in the world of spirits, is now eternal. “Of His kingdom there shall be no end.” The Lord governs the spirits of that world and—from His will, His good pleasure, His leave or His permission142—assigns what spirits shall remain in the Intermediate State and who shall attend each man.

The spirits now in the world of spirits are being prepared for judgment and are thus destined either for heaven or for hell. And some of these spirits surround the spirit of every man living on earth, and act upon him according to their own particular genius and state. Man is free to choose between good and evil, and as he does so, he receives influences from spirits who accord with his choice. But he still has near him the opposite type of spirit. And, moreover, his choice does not extend very widely or deeply. If he shuns some suggestion or intention of evil that is formulating itself in his conscious mind, this may indeed cause that certain evil spirits no longer take any pleasure in the things then active in his mind, and thus remove themselves for the time being. But it does not mean that he has changed his whole spiritual association, his mental state, or his mood. Such a general change is achieved very gradually. It involves many things over which man can have no control.

Spirits and Man’s Progressive States

We may see this in connection with adolescence. An infant is attended, in general, by spirits and angels of a celestial type—and no exertion on the part of the infant or his parents can change this general fact, and its resulting states. We cannot hasten growth. We can disturb it somewhat, by unwise treatment; but we cannot stop it nor accelerate it. The same applies to later ages: spiritual angels and spirits, and then natural ones, come by degrees to dominate the child’s spiritual environment and thus influence his states. No choice of man’s can change this orderly progression of general states, although at each moment particular states may be changed as if of man’s will.143

The Lord rules these progressions by means of angels and spirits. If the Lord should remove the spirits proper to such states, man would perish. If He removed all evil spirits from man, man would die—for his natural heredity is in the perverse form of self-love, and requires for its nutriment or life the mediating presence of some evil spirits.144Only gradually can these be displaced by good spirits. In the meantime they must be controlled or kept in the external order which is proper to society.

It is the same with the adult. He is free to choose between good and evil when he discerns that he is faced by a clear choice: if he evades his clear responsibility, it means that he is choosing evil. On the other hand, he often feels himself captivated by a mood, a state which he can hardly understand and cannot shake off. He becomes conscious of a limitation in his mind, a sense of obscurity, confusion, discouragement, or unhappiness. He can sometimes see its causes, but usually he does not. If he sees its natural causes, he might find a way out, a remedy which he may regard as orderly and good, or at least such that it does not lead into worse states. But if he is wise, he sees that the natural cause of a state is never the whole cause! That there is something intangible and spiritual which is beyond any sudden remedy; something which cannot be changed or removed “except by prayer and fasting”—except by the Lord’s help.

The appearance is, of course, that our various moods are the results of our physical states of health or disease, weariness, penury or struggle, lack of proper food or pleasure or of mental stimulus or companionship. Many people unhappily married seek to reach an elusive bliss by divorce and remarriage, only to find that the source of their unhappiness still pursues them. It is not their conditions that are at fault, but their state and attitude. Others seek increased wealth or comfort as an assurance of content. Certainly the restoration of health or fortune does produce remarkable changes in a man’s perspective. Still, these physical blessings do not by themselves give happiness. They give the natural man a sense of well-being and self-sufficiency. And the Lord knows that some can stand such blessings without detriment to their spiritual states. But a complete natural satisfaction—if alone —is apt to hold a man enthralled in externals, while he becomes somnolent as to his soul and evasive of all spiritual issues.

Happiness—eventual, eternal happiness—cannot be gained except by the struggles of the mind against evils or sins. It is not reached unless man undergoes spiritual temptations. For it is only by temptations that the spiritual environment of the man’s spirit is radically changed. It is only by temptations that new and different groups of spirits can become associated with man, and a new spiritual orientation be accomplished. The result of a temptation-period is a general change of state, and with this, of course, there is the appearance of a new freedom, a freedom to progress, to come nearer to the heaven of one’s final destiny.

Spiritual Temptations

The state of temptation is not to be confused with the act. of choice. In choice, man is active from a conscious freedom granted by the Lord. In temptation, man feels relatively passive, from lack of freedom to progress. Even during temptation, man is interiorly free145 and acts from the love already established with him, and as it were combats as of himself, cooperating with the good spirits who oppose the evil spirits who attend him. But he does not feel free. He is in anxiety, suffering, feels himself surrounded by his own evils and falsities as by mighty walls; scandals and doubts are insinuated against goods and truths; so that there is an apparent shutting up of his interiors, and of the capacity of thinking from his own faith and willing from his own love. His interior love is hemmed in—it cannot find a resting place in his conscious mind.146

Nevertheless, when the temptation has passed its climax of despair, the general state of man is changed. He feels a new peace, a unity of mind, a consolation that perhaps there may be salvation, after all. This feeling comes not from any reflection upon the good things he may have done, but from a realization that evil comes from evil spirits whose main object is to discourage man and make his own cooperative efforts seem useless. When man admits that his efforts indeed are in vain, and that the victory must be from the Lord, then the temptation is soon over.

The fact that good is from the Lord alone, does not imply that man should fold his hands and wait for influx. In temptation man must fight—urged by the necessity of the moment. If he does not fight it means that there is no heavenly love within him to resist the onslaught of evil. He then gives in to the delights which the infesting spirits seek to instil, and they remain with him and consolidate their position in his mind.

Man must fight for the love and the faith which he seems in danger of losing. He must fight from the knowledge and affection of truths and goods, (rather than from himself, or from pride in what he believed as his state of good). And he prays to the Lord for deliverance, for a change of state. Yet often the Lord does not hear the prayers that are offered during temptations !147

Prayer to the Lord is a powerful means of changing a man’s particular state, or aiding man to choose aright in clear issues and matters that lie waiting for his conscious decision. But general states involve too many elements that are beyond man’s scrutiny. He must wait for the Lord. The temptation must run its course, the state of the spiritual society from which the infestation originates, must be judged. And this takes time.

Nor is the time wasted. For man is not ready for the new state, is not ready for the extension of his freedom. His progress is held back in mercy. Man may have free choice: but—fortunately—the Lord rules the circumstances.

Man’s mind is very complex. Each idea of his thought has hidden connections with all his past states, long forgotten. But to the spirits and angels who are with him, all these states are available as bases of their own perceptions. Thus man’s thoughts and affections extend unbeknownst into societies both in the world of spirits and in heaven; yea, also in hell. The Lord governs man’s mind by ruling these societies and controlling their emissaries or “subject spirits.” Man may long to change an unpleasant state, but if this is to be done, the Lord must change or reorder and gradually transplant the deep-lying roots of his whole being, one by one.148

How States Are Changed

Much, however, is still left for man to do. Whether he is conscious of it or not, he is continually changing his particular states—every moment of his life. So, for instance, he often seeks some recreation to change his mood. He is so busy changing his states that he seldom reflects that he is doing it. And certainly he is quite unaware that by so doing he is also “changing spirits.”

Ordinarily, the spirits who are affected by his sudden changes are those associated with the surface, the superficial ripples, of his mind. Yet all his changes of state have their roots in the world of spirits, and occur according to spiritual laws. A man who, visiting friends at a distance, feels a certain homesickness, is quite unaware that some of the spirits who are with him are attached to the idea of objects and things which are not so sharply in his mind while he is away from home. If he returns home, the nostalgia ceases.

Here, indeed, we meet with an important law which governs the presence of spirits with man. Swedenborg records that after he had been long in one room, he could better command his ideas there than in some strange room. A certain tranquillity was induced among the spirits attending him, when he was in his own familiar surroundings. He noted the fact that “spirits wish to have their ideas connected with a place”; their ideas, which are spiritual, are in themselves not determined, defined, terminated, or limited, without space or structure, and this is provided for them in the material ideas which are available in the men with whom they are.149

Every one knows that the crucial changes of our thought and thus the determination of the important trends of external events are often clearly occasioned by trivial things. We might see a certain book on a shelf. We might stop to pick up a paper flying in the breeze. Our whole earthly career may turn on such a chance-event, on certain coincidences, in themselves trivial. But spiritual doctrine makes us realize that there is no “chance”; that the Divine Providence, in order to be universal, must also be most detailed, in every single thing, in the fall of a sparrow, in the turn of a page, or the twist of the dice. If the Divine government is in all things, it must see and rule things as a whole, somewhat in the manner that the soul rules the body. All the states of human consciousness, whether in this life or the next, must —in some way—be a unit, an interdependent whole, a cooperative scheme in which each state contributes its distinctive element to every other.

Thus it should be realized that angels (of each heavenly degree), spirits (interior and external), and men, all have their own distinctive function in that spiritual world the outskirts of which man senses in what he calls his “mind.”

After some reflection, few would deny that the crowning purpose of creation lies in the development of the human mind. Many would also see that in the mind, the gifts of created nature are turned to eternal uses; and that we truly live, not in the physical world, but in our mental world, in our states, our thoughts, our moods of consciousness. It is also evident that the mind is formed largely by means of the senses and especially by the experience of sight and hearing. Objects, images, enter through the physical organs of the body into the interiors of the brain and nervous system. There they are given an interpretation, a meaning, a value; in each man, the same object may be given a different value, according as it has been associated with some previous mental state of delight or pain. A rare stamp is by some discarded into the wastebasket, while by a collector it becomes cherished as a symbolic center of his own small world of ideas and delights. Children hug objects to their bosoms which to adults are utterly meaningless. Lovers attach a sentiment to a withered rose, perhaps, and the sight of one sends the echoes of past states trembling through the chambers of their hearts! In adult life, we have inexplicable aversions to, or preferences for, certain colors, or melodies, or names, or objects; having long forgotten why, or what they stand for in our slumbering past. Perhaps we never knew; but the instinctive association was caused by spirits who were once with us.

It should not be so incredible, then, when Swedenborg tells us in his Diary that certain spirits with him pressed him to use one certain tea-cup, others another; that some spirits had one of his bound journals as their special ultimate, while other spirits chose another! They were particular about what garments he wore. It sounds childish, this preference, until we realize that our own minds work in the same way. We are, in the state in which we are on earth, utterly lost without ultimates of thought. We wish to be surrounded by objects which bring a memory that is cherished or a field of ideas that stimulates certain delights. We attach strange values to things that are valueless in themselves.150 In dreams we may sometimes suffer tortures because of the impending loss of something utterly trivial.

Spirits are in a different situation after death. For many good reasons, their natural memory—the chronological record of their earthly experience, fixed in space-time imagery, or as material ideas—is gradually closed and becomes quiescent. Otherwise they could not progress into interior states, into thought which is spiritual and not bound to the imagery of spatial objects.

Yet spirits newly risen instinctively hunger for the objects which by them were vested with symbolic importance. With these they wish to clothe their thought. To them they look as a source of past states of delight, as a stimulus to fields of ideas and affections. And they find plenty of such objects in the natural thought of man: for man’s mind unconsciously is a part of the spiritual realm—a realm where space does not intervene, and where ideas are transmitted between all who are in common states of affection. “Into whatsoever state a man comes, spirits with whom a like passion had been dominant in their life-time”151 attach themselves to the material ideas and sensory memories of his mind, and give meaning to these things, so that man can—according to his state—sense them, understand them, interpret their life-value, their possible mental worth.

This law of spiritual association is of course the underlying principle of all symbolic ritual as was shown in a former chapter. But it also operates in our most ordinary life.

Spirits and the Objects of Man’s Thought

Spirits have the peculiar power to lead man to fix his attention upon such ultimates of thought as please them, i.e., they run through all the possible states of his mind in a moment until they find something familiar to them, and then they come into their own life. Sometimes, when spirits thus fix man’s reflection on objects, they create trouble for a man; they cause accidents, break his line of thought, cause worries, deliriums and even insanities.152 They are not aware of the man, however, but believe that they think from themselves. Evil spirits love to fix his mind on objects which to the man are invested with a sphere of the forbidden, or with suggestions of disease, cruelty, monstrosity, stagnation, hatred, pride, disorder, excrementitious or lascivious things, or filthy

language. Indeed, it may indeed in this sense be true that cleanliness—mental cleanliness—is next to godliness. There is a sphere of spirits even around the words we use, spirits of holiness, zeal and use; or spirits of contempt, of obscenity., of impatience and cruelty.

That spirits seek for evil ultimates which correspond to their states is illustrated and symbolized by the spirits called Legion, who—on being driven out of the man at the Gadarene shore—fled into the herd of swine.153

A change even of a word may change the spirits who are with us, Swedenborg reports.154 And here the power of man to change his states, enters in. That power is not from himself. He is kept in freedom by the fact that no one spirit, or no one group of spirits, can totally dominate him, as long as he is in this world. Nor can there now be any such corporeal obsessions by spirits as we read of in the Gospel. For the Lord holds man in freedom, through the presence of angels.

Even the wisdom of angels finds its basic focus and resting point in material ideas such as are with man, and especially in the sense of the letter of the Word. But the values which angels attach to such ultimates is not the same as that which good spirits would see, or still less what man sees. Man sees mostly material uses for the objects he beholds. Spirits see more interior delights and uses, suitable to their life and their ideas. But angels see the spiritual and celestial uses and meanings of each object. In their eyes, man’s material ideas and scientifics are valued and endowed with meaning so far as they are “open even to the Lord” and thus contain a sphere of charity and faith, wisdom and love to the Lord.154b In the ideas man has derived from the Word they see Divine uses, Divine eternal values; yea, they see the presence of the Lord Himself. And therefore our attending angels imbue the objects in man’s memory-world with new values and thus new uses. They instil into man a delight in the interior implications of the things of man’s thought, and if man receives this delight through them, evil spirits depart.

Swedenborg records in his Journal of 1744 that in one of his struggles against infesting spirits who sought to obsess his mind he finally found refuge by fixing his gaze on a piece of wood, and from this his thought was led to the wood of the cross, and then to the thought of the Lord. By a shift of attention, he thus broke the hold of the evil spirits upon his mind.155

A normal, wholesome life implies a variety of experiences, and changing states. The Lord therefore ordains for us a life of active uses, by which the objects which we see and remember are associated with useful values, states of charity and service to others, to society and to the church. Evil spirits who love idleness put a value on things merely so far as they favor our self-indulgence.

But the Lord also ordains that the Divine Word shall be with men, so that by means of its Divinely ordered field and sequence of material ideas—historicals, propheticals, and parables—the angelic hosts may have their own ultimates with men. Every word, every natural idea in the Scripture possesses a spiritual value and meaning for the angels. If we habitually read the Word in reverence, we invite ever new groups of angelic societies into our mind; and we are thus led to travel an orderly road in the pilgrimage of our spirit towards heaven; to progress under the Lord’s own protection through the many stages of life.

http://www.swedenborgstudy.com/index.html

New book: Starting Science from God.
Links theism (religion) to science (psychology and physics) without reduction.

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

http://www.smallcanonsearch.org/

 

 

Freedom

HR90THE SCIENCE OF CORRESPONDENCE

Banner777

freedomp

FREEDOM

There is infernal freedom, and there is heavenly freedom. Thinking and willing evil and also speaking and doing it so far as civil and moral laws do not prevent, is from infernal freedom. But thinking and willing good and speaking and doing it so far as opportunity offers, is from heavenly freedom. A man perceives as his own what he thinks, wills, speaks and does in freedom. The freedom anyone has always comes from his love. The man in an evil love cannot but deem infernal freedom to be real freedom, and a man in love of the good perceives that heavenly freedom is real freedom; consequently each regards the opposite of his freedom as bondage. No one can deny that one or the other must be freedom, for two kinds of freedom opposed to each other cannot both be freedom. Furthermore it cannot be denied that to be led by good is freedom and to be led by evil is bondage. For to be led by good is to be led by the Lord, but to be led by evil is to be led by the devil.

[2] Inasmuch as all he does in freedom appears to a man to be his own, coming as it does from what he loves, and to act from one’s love, as was said, is to act freely, it follows that conjunction with the Lord causes a man to seem free and also his own, and the more closely he is conjoined to the Lord, to seem so much freer and so much more his own. He seems the more distinctly his own because it is the nature of the divine love to want its own to be another’s, that is, to be the angel’s or the man’s. All spiritual love is such, preeminently the Lord’s. The Lord, moreover, never coerces anyone. For nothing to which one is coerced seems one’s own, and what seems not one’s own cannot be done from one’s love or be appropriated to one as one’s own. Man is always led in freedom by the Lord, therefore, and reformed and regenerated in freedom. On this much more will be said in what follows; also see some things above, n. 4. [DP43]

The reason why the more distinctly a man seems to be his own the more plainly he sees that he is the Lord’s, is that the more closely he is conjoined to the Lord the wiser he becomes (as was shown, nn. 34-36), and wisdom teaches and recognizes this. The angels of the third heaven, as the wisest angels, perceive this and call it freedom itself; but to be led by themselves they call bondage. They give as the reason for this that the Lord does not flow immediately into the perceptions and thoughts of wisdom, but into the affections of the love of good and by these into the former, and this influx they perceive in the affection by which they have wisdom. Hence, they say, all that they think from wisdom seems to be from themselves, thus seemingly their own, and this gives reciprocal conjunction. [ DP44]

As the Lord’s divine providence has for its object a heaven from mankind, it has for its object the conjunction of the human race with Him (see nn. 28-31). It also has for its object that man should be more and more closely conjoined to Him (nn. 32, 33); for thus man possesses a more interior heaven. Further, it has for its object that by the conjunction man should become wiser (nn. 34-36) and happier (nn. 37-41), for he has heaven by and according to wisdom, and happiness by wisdom, too. Finally, providence has for its object that man shall seem more distinctly his own, yet recognize the more clearly that he is the Lord’s (nn. 42-44). All these are of the Lord’s divine providence, for all are heaven and heaven is its object. [ DP45]

How far distant heavenly freedom (which is from the affection of good and truth) is from infernal freedom (which is from the affection of evil and falsity), is evident from the fact that when the angels in heaven merely think about such freedom as is from the affection of evil and falsity, or what is the same, from the cupidities of the love of self and the world, they are immediately seized with internal pain; and on the other hand, when evil spirits merely think about the freedom which is from the affection of good and truth, or what is the same, from the desires of mutual love, they at once come into anguish; and what is wonderful, so opposite is the one freedom to the other, that the freedom of the love of self and the world is hell to good spirits; and on the other hand, the freedom of love to the Lord and mutual love is hell to evil spirits. Hence all in the other life are distinct according to their kinds of freedom, or what is the same, according to their loves and affections, consequently according to the delights of their life, which is the same as according to their lives; for lives are nothing else than delights, and these are nothing else than affections which are of the loves. [AC 2873]

0179a

0179a Because Jehovah hath hearkened to thine affliction. That this signifies while it was submitting itself, is evident from what was said above (n. 1937), in that to “humble and afflict oneself” denotes to submit to the sovereign control of the internal man, which submission was there treated of, and it is shown that this is to compel oneself; also that in compelling oneself there is freedom, that is, what is spontaneous and voluntary, by which compelling oneself is distinguished from being compelled. It was also shown that without this freedom, that is, spontaneity or willingness, man cannot possibly be reformed and receive any heavenly Own; and further that there is more of freedom in temptations than out of them, although the contrary appears to be the case, for the freedom is then stronger in proportion to the assaults of evils and falsities, and is strengthened by the Lord in order that a heavenly Own may be conferred upon the man; and for this reason the Lord is more present with us while we are in temptations. It was shown further that the Lord never compels anyone; for he who is compelled to think what is true and do what is good is not reformed, but thinks falsity and wills evil all the more. All compulsion has this effect, as we may see from the records and examples of life, for from them we know these two things: that consciences do not suffer themselves to be compelled, and that we strive after what is forbidden. Moreover everyone desires to pass from non-freedom into freedom, for this belongs to man’s life.

[2] Hence it is evident that anything which is not from freedom, that is, which is not from what is spontaneous or voluntary, is not acceptable to the Lord; for when anyone worships the Lord from what is not free, he worships from nothing that is his own, and in this case it is the external which moves, that is, which is moved, from being compelled, while the internal is null, or resistant, or is even contradictory to it. While man is being regenerated, he, from the freedom with which he is gifted by the Lord, exercises self-compulsion, and humbles and even afflicts his rational, in order that it may submit itself, and thereby he receives a heavenly Own, which is afterwards gradually perfected by the Lord, and is made more and more free, so that it becomes the affection of good and thence of truth, and has delight, and in both the freedom and the delight there is happiness like that of angels. This freedom is what the Lord speaks of in John:

The truth shall make* you free; if the Son makes you free, you shall be* free indeed (John 8:32, 36).

[3] The nature of this freedom is utterly unknown to those who do not possess conscience, for they make freedom consist in doing as they please and in the license of thinking and speaking what is false, of willing and doing what is evil, and of not compelling and humbling, still less of afflicting such desires; when yet the very reverse is the case, as the Lord also teaches in the same gospel:

Everyone that committeth sin is the servant of sin (John 8:34).

This slavish freedom they receive from the infernal spirits who are with them and who infuse it, and when they are in the life of these spirits they are also in their loves and cupidities, and an impure and excrementitious delight breathes upon them, and when they are being as it were carried away by the torrent, they suppose themselves to be in freedom, but it is infernal freedom. The difference between this infernal freedom and heavenly freedom is that the one is that of death, and drags them down to hell, while the other, or heavenly freedom, is of life and uplifts them to heaven.

[4] That all true internal worship comes from freedom, and none from compulsion, and that if worship is not from freedom it is not internal worship, is evident from the Word, as from the sacrifices that were freewill offerings or vows, or offerings of peace or of thanksgiving; which were called “gifts” and “offerings” (concerning which see Num. 15:3, etc.; Deut. 12:6; 16:10-11; 23:23-24). So in David:

With a free-will offering will I sacrifice unto Thee; I will confess to Thy name, O Jehovah, for it is good (Ps. 54:6).

So again from the contribution or collection which they were to make for the Tabernacle, and for the garments of holiness, spoken of in Moses:
Speak unto the sons of Israel, and let them take for Me an offering; from every man whom his heart impels willingly ye shall take My offering (Exod. 25:2).

And again:

Whosoever is of a willing heart let him bring it, Jehovah’s offering (Exod. 35:5).

[5] Moreover the humiliation of the rational man, or its affliction (from freedom, as before said), was also represented by the affliction of souls on days of solemnity, as mentioned in Moses:

It shall be a statute of eternity unto you; in the seventh month, on the tenth of the month, ye shall afflict your souls (Lev. 16:29).

And again:

On the tenth of the seventh month, this is the day of expiations; there shall be a holy convocation unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls; every soul that shall not have afflicted itself in that same day, shall be cut off from his peoples (Lev. 23:27, 29).

It was for this reason that the unleavened bread, in which there was nothing fermented, is called the “bread of affliction” (Deut. 16:2-3).

[6] “Affliction” is thus spoken of in David:

Jehovah, who shall sojourn in Thy tent? who shall dwell in the mountain of Thy holiness? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness; he that sweareth to afflict himself, and changeth not (Ps. 15:1-2, 4).

That “affliction” denotes the mastering and subjugation of the evils and falsities that rise up from the external man into the rational, may be seen from what has been said. Thus “affliction” does not mean that we should plunge ourselves into poverty and wretchedness, or that we should renounce all bodily delights, for in this way evil is not mastered and subjugated; and moreover some other evil may be aroused, namely, a sense of merit on account of the renunciation; and besides, man’s freedom suffers, in which alone, as in ground, the good and truth of faith can be inseminated. (Concerning “affliction” as denoting also temptation, see above, n. 1846.) [AC 1947]

The reason why the evil succeed in accordance with their skill, is that it is according to order that everyone should do what he does from reason and also from freedom; and therefore unless it were left to a man to act in freedom according to his reason, and thus also unless the consequent arts succeeded, the man could not possibly be disposed to receive eternal life, because this is instilled when the man is in freedom, and his reason is enlightened. For no one can be compelled to good, because nothing compulsory cleaves to the man, for it is not his. That becomes the man’s own which is done from freedom, for that which is from the will is done from freedom, and the will is the man himself; and therefore unless a man is kept in the freedom to do evil also, good from the Lord cannot be provided for him. [AC 10777]

Author: EMANUEL. SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

http://www.scienceofcorrespondences.com/white-horse.htm

http://blog.beginningtheisticscience.com/

http://www.thegodguy.wordpress.com/Love is the ultimate science

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

Eternity and marriage

 Love everlasting

 

Those who are in love know it. The poets write about it. We even watch movies about it. But rarely do we find a church that teaches it– that is, that true love is everlasting. It cannot die. The Writings of the New Church teach that those who truly love each other will dwell together in heaven after death. Their love and their care for each other remains, and grows. Their joy in working together in service to God and to other fellow human beings flourishes, and takes on a newness each day. Swedenborg’s description of the afterlife is a complete picture and makes sense. He says that all who die enter into the other world safe and secure. Heaven is a very real world, more real than the world of appearances around us, for everything in heaven corresponds to deeper loves within ourselves. We have homes, gardens, and friends. Heaven is not a cloud upon which we sit and play harps or continually adore God through endless worship. True worship is a way of life. People are very active in heaven. Everyone there performs a function or “use” which they love to do and become more proficient in each new day, and what they do benefits everyone around them. “Heaven,” Swedenborg says, “is a kingdom of uses.”

This concept holds true of marriage as well. Good marriages are active marriages. In heaven, each partner works in harmony with the other in acts of charity and love. An idle life is not only a dull life, but it can lead to lethargy and self-centeredness. People who view life as only a means of self-fulfillment create a hell for themselves which they take with them after death. Hell is not a place of punishment where God sends a person for not following His rules. Rather, hell is a place where people freely go who have stubbornly refused to let love into their lives, and who do not wish to help others. It is a frustrating life and truly is a state of hell, for evil brings upon itself its own punishment, and a selfish life leads to dissatisfaction and eventual gloom. Those who approach marriage as a means for self-satisfaction alone will find this same dissatisfaction with their relationship, and the hell that is often created in a marriage is the product of a selfish heart that acts contrary to true marriage love. Marriage brings blessings, but the blessings come into their fullness through acts of unselfishness and charity to the neighbor.

https://newchurch.org/

DAILY INSPIRATION

“Divine Providence has as its end in view a person’s eternal salvation, thus not their great happiness in the world, not – that is to say – wealthiness and eminence which people during their lifetime think real happiness consists in.”

Arcana Coelestia 6481

Trust vs. Certainty

Equilibrium

THE SCIENCE OF CORRESPONDENCE

Banner777

EQUILIBRIUM >> Good and Evil >> Truth and Falsity >> Heat and Cold >> Light and Darkness

equilibriump_500_333 THE EQUILIBRIUM BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL.

For any thing to have existence there must be an equilibrium of all things. Without equilibrium is no action and reaction; for equilibrium is between two forces, one acting and  the other reacting, and the state of rest resulting from like action and reaction is called equilibrium. In the natural world there is an equilibrium in all things and in each thing. It exists in a general way even in the atmosphere, wherein the lower parts react and resist in proportion as the higher parts act and press down. Again, in the natural world there is an equilibrium between heat and cold, between light and shade, and between dryness and moisture, the middle condition being the equilibrium. There is also an equilibrium in all the subjects of the three kingdoms of nature, the mineral, the vegetable, and the animal; for without equilibrium in them nothing can come forth and have permanent existence. Everywhere there is a sort of effort acting on the one side and reacting on the other.

[2] All existence or all effect is produced in equilibrium, that is, by one force acting and another suffering itself to be acted upon, or when one force by acting flows in, the other receives and harmoniously submits. In the natural world that which acts and reacts is called force, and also endeavor [or effort]; but in the spiritual world that which acts and reacts is called life and will. Life in that world is living force, and will is living effort; and the equilibrium itself is called freedom. Thus spiritual equilibrium or freedom has its outcome and permanence in the balance between good acting on the one side and evil reacting on the other side; or between evil acting on the one side and good reacting on the other side. [3] With the good the equilibrium is between good acting and evil reacting; but with the evil the equilibrium is between evil acting and good reacting.  Spiritual equilibrium is between good and evil, because the whole life of man has reference to good and to evil, and the will is the receptacle. There is also an equilibrium between truth and falsity, but this depends on the equilibrium between good and evil. The equilibrium between truth and falsity is like that between light and shade, in that light and shade affect the objects of the vegetable kingdom only so far as heat and cold are in them. That light and shade themselves have no effect, but only the heat that acts through them, is evident from the fact that light and shade are the same in winter time and in spring time. This comparison of truth and falsity with light and shade is from correspondence, for truth corresponds to light, falsity to shade, and heat to the good of love; in fact, spiritual light is truth, spiritual shade is falsity, and spiritual heat is good of love (see the chapter where light and heat in heaven are treated of, n. 126-140). [HH589]

There is a perpetual equilibrium between heaven and hell. From hell there continually breathes forth and ascends an endeavor to do evil, and from heaven there continually breathes forth and descends an endeavor to do good. In this equilibrium is the world of spirits; which world is intermediate between heaven and hell (see above, n. 421-431). The world of spirits is in this equilibrium because every man after death enters first the world of spirits, and is kept there in a state like that which he was in while in the world, and this would be impossible if there were not a perfect equilibrium there; for by means of this the character of everyone is explored, since they then remain in the same freedom as they had in the world.  Spiritual equilibrium is freedom in man and spirit (as has been said just above, n. 589). What each one’s freedom is the angels recognize by a communication of affections and thoughts therefrom; and it becomes visible to the sight of angelic spirits by the ways in which the spirits go. Good spirits there travel in the ways that go towards heaven, but evil spirits in the ways that go towards hell. Ways actually appear in that world; and that is the reason why ways in the Word signify the truths that lead to good, or in the opposite sense the falsities that lead to evil; and for the same reason going, walking, and journeying in the Word signify progressions of life.{1} Such ways I have often been permitted to see, also spirits going and walking in them freely, in accord with their affections and thoughts. [HH590]

0017 Evil continually breathes forth and ascends out of hell, and good continually breathes forth and descends out of heaven, because everyone is encompassed by a spiritual sphere; and that sphere flows forth and pours out from the life of the affections and the thoughts therefrom.{1} And as such a sphere flows forth from every individual, it flows forth also from every heavenly society and from every infernal society, consequently from all together, that is, from the entire heaven and from the entire hell. Good flows forth from heaven because all there are in good; and evil flows forth from hell because all there are in evil. The good that is from heaven is all from the Lord; for the angels in the heavens are all withheld from what is their own, and are kept in what is the Lord’s own, which is good itself. But the spirits in the hells are all in what is their own, and everyone’s own is nothing but evil; and because it is nothing but evil it is hell.{2} Evidently, then, the equilibrium in which angels are kept in the heavens and spirits in the hells is not like the equilibrium in the world of spirits. The equilibrium of angels in the heavens exists in the degree in which they have been willing to be in good, or in the degree in which they have lived in good in the world, and thus also in the degree in which they have held evil in aversion; but the equilibrium of spirits in hell exists in the degree in which they have been willing to be in evil, or have lived in evil in the world, and thus in heart and spirit have been opposed to good. [HH591]

Unless the Lord ruled both the heavens and the hells there would be no equilibrium; and if there were no equilibrium there would be no heaven or hell; for all things and each thing in the universe, that is, both in the natural world and in the spiritual world, endure by means of equilibrium. Every rational man can see that this is true.  If there were a preponderance on one part and no resistance on the other would not both perish? So would it be in the spiritual world if good did not react against evil and continually restrain its uprising; and unless this were done by the Divine Itself both heaven and hell would perish, and with them the whole human race. It is said unless the Divine Itself did this, because the self of everyone, whether angel, spirit, or man, is nothing but evil (see above, n. 591); consequently neither angels nor spirits are able in the least to resist the evils continually exhaling from the hells, since from self they all tend towards hell. It is evident, then, that unless the Lord alone ruled both the heavens and the hells no one could ever be saved. Moreover, all the hells act as one; for evils in the hells are connected as goods are in the heavens; and the Divine alone, which goes forth solely from the Lord, is able to resist all the hells, which are innumerable, and which act together against heaven and against all who are in heaven. [HH592]

The equilibrium between the heavens and the hells is diminished or increased in accordance with the number of those who enter heaven and who enter hell; and this amounts to several thousands daily. The Lord alone, and no angel, can know and perceive this, and regulate and equalize it with precision; for the Divine that goes forth from the Lord is omnipresent, and sees everywhere whether there is any wavering, while an angel sees only what is near himself, and has no perception in himself of what is taking place even in his own society. [HH593]

How all things are so arranged in the heavens and in the hells that each and all of those who are there may be in their equilibrium, can in some measure be seen from what has been said and shown above respecting the heavens and the hells, namely, that all the societies of heaven are distinctly arranged in accordance with goods and their kinds and varieties, and all the societies of hell in accordance with evils, and their kinds and varieties; and that beneath each society of heaven there is a society of hell corresponding to it from opposition, and from this opposing correspondence equilibrium results; and in consequence of this the Lord unceasingly provides that no infernal society beneath a heavenly society shall gain any preponderance, and as soon as it begins to do so it is restrained by various means, and is reduced to an exact measure of equilibrium.  These means are many, only a few of which I will mention. Some of these means have reference to the stronger presence of the Lord; some to the closer communication and conjunction of one or more societies with others; some to the casting out of superabundant infernal spirits into deserts; some to the transference of certain spirits from one hell to another; some to the reducing of those in the hells to order, and this also is effected in various ways; some to the screening of certain hells under denser and thicker coverings, also letting them down to greater depths; besides other means; and still others that are employed in the heavens above the hells. All this has been said that it may in some measure be perceived that the Lord alone provides that there shall be an equilibrium everywhere between good and evil, thus between heaven and hell; for on such equilibrium the safety of all in the heavens and of all on the earth rests.[HH594]

Author: EMANUEL. SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

http://www.scienceofcorrespondences.com/spiritual-angels.htm

http://blog.beginningtheisticscience.com/

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

Why does a loving God permit evil?

 by Rev. Dr. Ray Silverman
The brutal murder of twenty children in Newtown, CT remind us that tragedies happen suddenly, unexpectedly, and in the most unlikely places—even in elementary school classrooms. But sudden tragedies are not limited to the insane actions of deranged people.

Highway accidents claim the lives of 40,000 people each year, leaving behind grieving friends, bereaved spouses, and children who will be raised without their parents; a fire sweeps through a community, destroying thousands of homes and taking numerous lives along the way; an underwater earthquake erupts, unleashing a tsunami whose killer waves destroy over 200,000 people.

When things like this happen, sometimes well meaning people try to comfort one another by saying things like “It’s God’s will.” “It’s for the best.” “There’s a reason for everything.” “God must have needed your loved one.” “Someday you will look back and see the silver lining.” Some people push back with a different answer. “This proves that there is no God,” they say. “If there were a God, things like this would not happen. This was simply a senseless act of violence in a world without God. ”

Each of us tends to judge the reality of God by what happens on earth. At a recent championship hockey game, when the penalties all seemed to be going against Bryn Athyn College (where I am a professor), I found myself in sympathy with the fans who were complaining about the unfair officiating. But when things changed, and the opposing college was appropriately penalized, I heard myself shouting, “Yes, there is a God!”

Of course, I knew better, but that’s just how it feels. When things are going badly or unfairly, it seems that we live in a world without divine justice—in a world without God. But when something wonderful happens in our life, we quickly change our tune. We begin to feel that God must exist. “God is so good,” we say. “God is so good, to me.” In either case, it comes down to this: the denial or acceptance of God is based on what happens on earth.

And this is precisely where we miss the point. What we see happening in this world cannot be used to prove or deny the existence of God. I’d like to believe that Bryn Athyn College’s victory, which clinched the league championship, is an example of divine justice—but that just isn’t so. It is wrong thinking. It may be that a senseless act of violence in Newtown shakes our foundation, but it would be wrong to conclude from this that God does not exist. And it would be worse to conclude that this is some sort of divine punishment.

Were the Galileans worse sinners?

We cannot make a case for the goodness of God, or even the reality of God, based on outward circumstances. Nor can we make a case, based on outward events, for the idea that God punishes sinners.

Two thousand years ago, the prevalent idea was that a God of justice punished people for their sins. In the Gospel of Luke, for example, there is a story about some Galileans who were brutally murdered by Pilate (Luke 13:1-5). “Do you suppose,” said Jesus, “that these Galileans were worse sinners than all Galileans because they suffered these things?” (Luke 13:2). And then, He added, “I tell you, ‘No.’”

When a devastating earthquake tore through Haiti in 2010, leaving 250,000 people dead, some religious leaders said that the Haitian people had brought this upon themselves because they had not turned to Christ. In other words, some people believed that they were being punished by God for their pagan beliefs. According to Pat Robertson, a leading Christian fundamentalist, “This is what happens when you swear a pact with the devil.”

This kind of thinking is similar to the thinking of the people who supposed that the Galileans were murdered because they were sinners. But Jesus corrects their wrong thinking. “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all Galileans because they suffered these things?” He says. “I tell you, ‘No.’” And then He adds, “But unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).

In another story, the disciples see a man who was blind from birth, “Who sinned,’ they ask Jesus, “this man or his parents that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). Jesus tells them that “neither this man nor his parents have sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (John 9:3). Jesus again corrects their wrong thinking, teaching them that God did not cause the misfortune, but He will use the misfortune to bring about great works.

Returning to the story about the Galileans, Jesus tells his questioners, unequivocally, that their thinking about divine punishment is wrong. “I tell you, ‘No,’” He says. Jesus wants them to know that God is never angry; and He wants them to know that God never punishes.

But here we must make an important qualification. It is true that God never punishes us for our sins; rather, we are punished BY our sins. For example, those who hate others, and hate God—and do not repent—will eventually be consumed by the fire of their own hatred. That’s why Jesus adds, “But unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

To repent means literally to change ones thinking. In this case, Jesus is urging them to change their thinking about “divine punishment” for sin. He wants them to see the world rightly. He wants them to know that the world is not a divine theatre where God inflicts punishments for sin and doles out rewards for righteousness. Rather, the world is the unceasing operation of God’s love and wisdom, flowing continually into all who are willing to receive.

The still, small voice

Consider the story of Elijah—the prophet who took refuge in a cave during a violent storm. Like Elijah, we sometimes find ourselves so discouraged by the storms of life that we find ourselves in a dark cave, unsure about what is true. Outside there is “a great strong wind that tears into the mountains and breaks the rocks in pieces. . . . And after the wind an earthquake. . . . And after the earthquake, a fire (see 1 Kings 19:11-18).

The violent death of innocent children in Newtown, Ct, the massacre of college students in Blacksburg, VA, a tsunami in Japan, or an earthquake in Haiti can shake our core beliefs in a loving God. And when misfortune hits closer to home, our faith is challenged. The loss of a loved one, the failure of a business venture, a car accident, an unwelcome medical diagnosis, even a fight with a dear friend can leave us uncertain and unsure. We feel the tremors at our very foundation.

It is clear that a physical cave cannot protect us for long—not when the rocks are already breaking, the mountain is shaking, and the fire is raging. These are the times when we need something deeper—something more potent than the most powerful wind or storm or fire. This is when we need to listen for the “still, small voice” within us. It is the quiet, inner call to come out of the cave—to come out of our ignorance—and into the light of spiritual truth.

It is “still” and “small” because it does not force or compel. It is just a gentle whisper; and yet, it is infinitely more powerful than any force in the world. It is the power of truth from love.

Indeed, it is the truth from love that leads us out of our caves and into even greater light. Standing in the light of new truth, we begin to see that although the winds of misfortune may smash our business enterprises, God is not in the wind. We begin see that although earthquakes may shatter our homes and ravage our communities, God is not in the earthquake. We begin to see that although there are times when fires may rage, devouring fields and forests, God is not in the fire.

This is because God’s kingdom is not of this world. God’s kingdom is within each of us, in a still small voice that continually whispers, “Come out of the cave, and see the truth! I am not in the wind, or earthquake or fire. I am in you, leading you, guiding you strengthening you, whenever you freely choose to hear My voice and turn to Me.

God cares

The story about the murdered Galileans teaches us that God is not a God of punishment, nor is He the cause of human misfortune. Life will have its storms, and its tragedies, but God is not in the storms or the tragedies. When Elijah came out of his cave, he clearly saw that God was not in the wind, not in the earthquake, and not in the fire.

How are we to understand this? Does it mean that God is not concerned with the outer events of our daily lives? Does it mean that God is not involved when misfortune comes our way? It cannot be so. Emanuel Swedenborg writes, “The least things of all, down to the least of the leasts, are directed by the Lord’s providence, even as to our very steps” (Secrets of Heaven6493).

Somehow, then, God is deeply involved in every moment of our lives. But there is an important difference between seeing God as involved in our lives and seeing Him as the cause of our misfortunes.

In other words, God permits evils but does not cause them.

OK. But why does He permit them? Again, we turn to the teachings given through Emanuel Swedenborg: “Nothing whatever, not even the least thing may arise except that good may come of it” (Secrets of Heaven 6574). Misfortune, calamity, and disaster are permitted only if God foresees that some good may come out of them.

In itself, there was nothing good about Pilate’s murder of the innocent Galileans. But Jesus was still able to bring good out of this incident. He used it to teach a new way to think about the relationship between external events and God. And He used it to remind His listeners that they would be miserable unless they changed their way of thinking: “Unless you repent,” He said, “You will all likewise perish.”

Jesus then makes a similar point about how to understand misfortune. This time it’s not about a cruel murder, but rather about a natural accident: “Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think they were worse sinners than all other men” (Luke 13:4). Again, Jesus tells them “No.” This accident did not occur because these men were sinners. It was not a divine punishment for human sin. Jesus then uses it to illustrate His main point, which He reiterates: “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5).

In itself, there is nothing good about the massacre of innocent children in Newtown, the cold- blooded murder of college students in Blacksburg, a tsunami in Japan, or an earthquake in Haiti. But God can use any earthly event, no matter how tragic, to strengthen our faith and deepen our love. This is how He can bring good out of evil. But a good and useful result never turns evil into good, or wrong into right. And it never means that God caused it in order to bring about a greater good. Allowed it, yes; caused it, no.

The Kingdom of God

This world is filled with ups and downs, successes and failures, victories and defeats. There are storms, earthquakes and fires that destroy thousands of lives. These things happen—but God does not will or cause them. To look for evidence of God’s will in the outer events of our lives, whether it be the murder of the Galileans, the fall of a tower in Siloam, an earthquake in Haiti, or a bad call at a college hockey game, is to miss the whole point of Jesus’s teaching. As He said Himself, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

It all comes down to this: the kingdom of God is not of this world. It is within us, above and beyond the vicissitudes of time and space. Evil is permitted, it is true, but only so that good may come from it. It is never a divine punishment. Although God allows evil, He is constantly endeavoring to lead us away from evil into goodness, away from ignorance into light. Wonderfully, secretly, God is doing this continually in each of our lives—just as He led Elijah out of the cave so many years ago.


Rev. Dr. Ray Silverman serves as a professor at Bryn Athyn College and has authored many books including Rise Above It and The Core of Johnny Appleseed.

This article is an excerpt from Audio DVD’s “Introduction to the New Church” (updated and revised by Rev. Dr. Ray Silverman)

Full issue

DAILY INSPIRATION

“In the spiritual world, someone’s “name” does not mean her or his name alone but also her or his full nature.”

True Christian Religion 300:1

https://newchurch.org/get-answers/connection-magazine/gods-presence-in-suffering/why-does-a-loving-god-permit-evil/