Do You Know How To Do Good?

Doing good is not a cinch, nor is being good as straightforward or as easy to understand as one might first think. It is actually a complex subject and demands our serious contemplation and brainpower.

I will try to share with you the main issues that thwart our being genuinely “good” in this short post.

The first issue concerns procedure. We know that we each carry selfish motives. So it is generally felt that we can offset this by merely starting to be good to others. Then hopefully, we next consider being on guard so as to not be hurtful or causing any harm.

This order is actually backwards and is not the gate to the Christian doctrine of charity.

We must concentrate on evil FIRST because it is seated in our heart. When our negative traits are not addressed first, they remain hidden in the heart and continue stain or taint our good deeds. As a result, we often miss the subtlety of our own hypocrisy and hidden agendas that lie beneath acts of kindness. It is much easier to detect these tainted actions in others – like when coworkers kiss up to the boss or politicians kiss babies.

Doing good deeds first does not remove our negative side. It covers it up!

To the extent that negative traits are not identified and consciously removed, they do not let the principle of mutual love enter deeply into the fabric of our character. This sets up the dynamic by which goodness becomes simulated in outward gestures.

Our physical actions can appear to the world as practicing the good works of charity. And while such actions do indeed accomplish some good, they are simply the rudiments of charity and are merely ways by which we are first initiated into goodness.

It is also not wise to provide assistance without discernment. You do not want to make your donations payable to the devil or to anyone who will turn such charity into harm.

Some people may indeed point to Scripture where it states that we are to help those in need, but from God’s eternal viewpoint we are poor judges of what people need most. Spiritually speaking, the poor in God’s eyes are those who have little knowledge of divine love and truth (spiritual currency). Therefore, if our acts of generosity do not go beyond giving money to the poor, helping the needy and less fortunate, these deeds will do us little good in the afterlife, where the true quality of our inner nature will come to the surface. The Lord wants us to love others from a deeper spiritual principle.

We are created by God and are therefore “organs” receptive of life from God. The important point to be made here is that although God loves each individual equally, God is not equally received by each individual.

We cannot increase our receptivity to God’s love merely by acts of goodness. We increase our receptivity to God in proportion to our efforts to resist negative impulses and ask for the Lord’s help to root them out.

It is by the removal of our bad tendencies that we can return to innocence. There is no other way to be “really good” and obtain the kingdom of heaven.

My source for these “elevated” views on doing good comes from Emanuel Swedenborg’s great theological work, “True Christianity.”

Posted on July 22, 2008by thegodguy

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Chapter XII. The Mind as the Two Kingdoms.

THE whole spiritual or internal mind is here presented in two degrees, the celestial and the spiritual. When by regeneration these two degrees are opened in man and stored with good and truth from the LORD, they answer to the two kingdoms, celestial and spiritual, into which the whole heaven is divided.

When the degrees of the spiritual mind are so opened and stored, then also the two degrees of the natural mind are cleansed of evil and falsity and replenished with good and truth of a lower degree, and form an orderly and correspondent base for the two kingdoms of the internal mind.

Every regenerate man is in one kingdom or the other according to his state of regeneration.

In the internal mind reside love to the LORD and love to the neighbor, and these heavenly loves ought to rule and qualify the loves of self and of the world located in the external mind. With the regenerate they do rule and impart a good and true quality to these natural loves.

But if the natural loves rebel and throw off the dominion of the higher, as with the wicked, they become evil, pervert the external mind, and close up the internal. This state of the external is called hell.

This diagram presents also a view of the two kingdoms of hell opposite to the two kingdoms of heaven. The satanic kingdom lies in the plane D, the diabolic in E. (Read DLW 273, and recur to the diagram; TCR 281 end; AE 740.)

In Last Judgment 14, the lowest hell (in the degree E and called the hell of devils), is said to be behind, because that which is lowest in the order from above down, and outmost from within out, is behind in the order from front back.

The satans mentioned in Apocalypse Revealed 97, 550 and 841 are in the degree D, the devils in E.

There is no discrepancy between the statement in one passage that devil is evil and thence falsity, and in another that devil is the love of self and of dominion thence. In one passage satan means falsity or the love of falsity and the evil thence, in another it means the love of the world, and thence the love of possessing the goods of others, in still another pride of intellect and of self-derived intelligence. A similar variety of statements occurs in regard to heavenly principles. It is said that the celestial principle or kingdom in heaven is love of good and thence of truth, and is love to the LORD and thence love to the neighbor; and that the spiritual kingdom is truth and thence good, or love of the neighbor and thence of the LORD. The good of the spiritual kingdom is intellectual good because the good there is from truth reduced to practice, thus truth which is intellectual is the essence of that good. Concerning the spiritual kingdom we read, –

“The angels of the second heaven are in spiritual love. Spiritual love is the love of truth, and in the supreme sense the love of Divine Truth which proceeds from the LORD, thus also love to the LORD but in an inferior degree to that in which are the celestial angels, for the celestials are in love to the LORD from the reception of Divine Good from Him; whereas the spiritual angels are in love to the LORD from the reception of Divine Truth from Him; the difference is as between love in the will and love in the understanding, or, as between flame and. its light.”- AE 831

The meaning in this passage is not that the spirituals have not will but that their will of good is formed by truth and is therefore intellectual. Inversely among the satans evil is the evil of falsity and is therefore intellectual, and inheres in the love of the world as a final end. Evil arising primarily in the will is voluntary and is the evil inhering in love of self as a final end; this is the ruling love among the devils.

This diagram illustrates True Christian Religion TCR 234, 235 and 236 and like passages throughout the Writings in which the angels are considered in two kingdoms and men in the natural degree below. The celestial angels are in B, the spiritual in C. In B is the celestial sense of the Word; the spiritual sense in C. The natural sense is in D, E, F, which together constitute the natural kingdom mentioned in 236. The higher celestial part of the natural sense is in D and the higher spiritual part in E; the merely literal sense, including the lowest spiritual and celestial element, is in F and answers to the life of the natural body.

The celestial degree and kingdom of the internal mind, is the primal abode of celestial perception, the spiritual degree that of conscience.

Perception and conscience flow thence into the natural mind, gifting it with natural perception which is celestial, and natural conscience which is spiritual.

Why Even Great Leaders Can Fall Into Scandal

How is this possible? How can these transgressions happen, especially when many such individuals often expound noble behavior? They clearly have a sense of right and wrong.

The problem is not civility or morality. It is one’s spirituality. Misconduct is not simply a “slip” or a temporary mental state of bad judgment. It is the rejection of the concept of sin.

Many dynamic individuals may understand that certain behavior is immoral and loudly condemn such behavior as going against the public good. But if these things are not seen as sins, they remain soldering in the heart and are merely kept hidden from the world for the sake of reputation.

This is why Scripture warns us to “clean the inside of the cup” (Matthew 23:26). If something is not viewed as a sin, the inside of the cup remains as it is.

What is not usually taken into account is that humans have an inner and an outer reality. Humans are both physical and spiritual beings. But these two realities of our life can be completely separated from each other. We can be outwardly good but inwardly challenged. This leads to hypocrisy.

This inner deceit has led to a faulty reasoning of modernity which has adopted the life-slogan and inner conviction that, “something is wrong only if you get caught.” But how is it that such individuals can do great things for humanity and gain our deepest respect and praise?

Great things can be, and indeed are, accomplished by those who do not inspect their inner reality. In fact, they are often more motivated to accomplish great things which can benefit others than those of a more humble animus. The reason is quite simple. Such individuals are inwardly driven by the powerful principle of self-love and have pride from the glory of their own self-intelligence. So, in order to succeed and gain proper recognition, they push themselves more than others to accomplish great things.

The Lord God often makes wise use of those who are intoxicated by the power of self-love. For instance, various ego-centered individuals have been quite successful in spreading the Holy Word throughout the world by their immoderate passion for quoting scripture and speaking about God from the pulpit.

The problem is that while such individuals can be of real value to others, they shoot themselves in the foot. The spiritual world (heaven and hell) consists of the inner realities of people. That can be either a comforting or scary thought.

It is wrong to think we screw up because “to be human is to err.” We get our humanness from God and increase it through following spiritual tenets and the Commandments. God is always focused on our inner realities.

Do you think the concepts of “sin” and “evil” have relevancy in our post-modern world, or are they simply archaic terms used by the unenlightened?

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Personal tragedy – How could I face it?

Personal tragedyPersonal tragedy visited Jack. Although in his sixties and retired, he still felt young. His whole life revolved around doing handyman jobs in his own home and in the homes of his three daughters. He greatly enjoyed the company of his family and their appreciation. But recently he was experiencing some troubling ailments.

First he noticed he was getting blood in
his stools. He put this down to
haemorrhoids, a common enough problem in his age group. However, it was when he started experiencing some abnormal bowel complaints that he took himself off to the doctor who immediately did tests. The results were rather worrying. The doctor explained that cancer gives people no symptoms or signs that exclusively indicate the disease and that he should see a specialist immediately for further examination.

Typical fears in response to personal tragedy

We can imagine how Jack felt. He was facing the prospect of taking some powerful drugs with all sorts of uncomfortable side effects. He dreaded the thought of likely skin changes and fatigue due to radiation therapy, and his imagination started to run away with itself as he dwelt on surgery. Would treatment work? Would his body be permanently impaired? Would he die?

How could Jack best deal with his fears? Just how does one face a personal tragedy?

Passive victim role in response to a personal tragedy

Some people respond to bad personal news by becoming a passive victim: repeatedly saying to themselves “It’s not right… I don’t deserve this… I am helpless.” It is as if they see a dangerous animal approaching and instead of doing something about it, they become paralysed. They had always believed the world should be fair and can’t seem to get their heads around the point that sometimes this isn’t necessarily so.

Not everyone allows himself or herself to become a passive victim of personal tragedy even when confronted by the most appalling circumstances. Many of the survivors of concentration camps were able to endure because they refused to give in to feeling victimized. For example Viktor Frankl in Auschwitz, whose basic human rights and possessions were removed, used his one remaining freedom to keep up his spirits. This was the freedom to choose his own inner attitude of mind in response to the outer horrible situation.

Making assumptions about the consequences of a personal tragedy

If you had been sent to a death camp maybe you would have feared the worst. But how would you have known? Assuming you are utterly helpless in the face of fate is a feature of being a passive victim. But no one can know the future. Frankl wasn’t to know whether he would survive or die.

If your baby were deaf, mute and blind, this indeed would be a personal tragedy and you would probably assume the end of the world for your child. But how could you know this? Through exactly this profound disability Helen Keller found an uplifting spirit and fulfilling adult life.

There was a man who had syphilis. His wife had TB. One of their four children dies and the others suffer from an incurable illness that is considered terminal. The mother is pregnant. What should she do? You might say she should have an abortion. If so, you have just killed the composer Ludwig Van Beethoven.

The prospects for anyone may seem dire. But how do you know? How do know what is going to happen in the next hour let alone the next month? Who can be so sure about what is going on around the corner?

“How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in
life!” (Marcus Aurelius)

Some things will be bad; a few things are exceptionally bad but not the end of the world. And no matter how bad it is, can’t you stand it? Can’t you adapt?

“Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them” (Epictetus)

Wanting to cast blame in response to a personal tragedy

In his book ‘Why does God let it happen?’ Bruce Henderson suggests that people often make the mistake of assuming that whatever personal tragedy God permits to happen in the world, he must be the cause. He also criticizes the belief that ill fortune is a deserved punishment for a past misdeed.

He puts forward an alternative religious view that God is like a parent who allows the children freedom to do as they choose even if this means mankind behaves badly at times with tragic consequences. According to this view, trying to impose total control over our behaviour or ways of thinking would stifle us and we would not be free to develop as individuals as we wish but instead turn out like pre-programmed robots.

A loving parent who allows the child freedom to make mistakes is one who wants to help as much as possible giving advice, offering support and encouragement and so on. The religious person trusts that likewise God is a loving parent whose divine providence is flowing into our lives to counterbalance the bad things we are experiencing. In other words it is claimed that a loving God provides some element of hope to make up for misery, some degree of sense to offset foolishness or an inflow of good feeling to compensate for evil.

Just as the child learns through mistakes so spiritual growth can sometimes only happen if first a person has to face and deal with something of personal tragedy.

I do believe that no matter what hardships we endure, God is with us all the time, lifting us up, helping us to find a way through, if we will only be open to this.

Copyright 2012 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Evil – Can anyone be so characterised?

evil
Ratko Mladic

Ratko Mladic was the key player and commander of the Bosnian Serb forces that tried to eliminate Muslims from large parts of Bosnia. His forces were responsible for much social evil, massacring eight thousand Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995: the brutal siege of Sarajevo between 1992 and 1995 resulted in the death of 10,000 people. His capture and trial for war crimes reminds us of the torture, mass rape, arson and genocide that formed part of this ‘ethnic cleansing’.

How does one explain these evil crimes against humanity? How could someone like Mladic fundamentally go against human values, and be outside of what civilisation universally sees as acceptable behaviour?

Can a person be evil?

When someone, like Mladic, or one of his followers, harms another person, should they be considered as evil? Or are they so out of harmony with themselves, they should be seen as sick or ill rather than wicked? This may be so. But even if no individual person is evil, this does not mean that some human behaviour cannot be properly considered evil. According to this second view evil is part of the process of individual choice rather than the quality of the person doing the choosing.

Is evil a useful term?

Some people ask whether the social context in which harm to human beings is done, calls into question the idea that such acts can be universally considered as evil. For them, standards of good and evil are only products of local culture, custom, or prejudice and that the very word ‘evil’ is an outmoded concept no longer fit for purpose.

However, others point out that what counts as evil is all to do with the individual intent, independent of culture. Arguably, those who are willing to go against moral codes will justify their actions if it suits them to do so, whether they be those ship captains and plantation owners who engaged in the slave trade, the Nazis who found mass extermination of the Jews acceptable, or the leadership of the United States Union Army’s massacre of “savage” Native American Indians.

Is evil an illusion?

The results of evil intent are real enough whether they be seen in times of war, suffering of victims of serious crime, or simply those on the end of spiteful gossip. But should we understand evil as a powerful identity that causes suffering in the world? Or is it just a man-made idea that has no reality? Should we ditch the idea of Satan as just old hat?

In one sense perhaps we should. Ever since Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic Church has defined evil as the absence of good. Just as cold is defined as the lack of warmth, and darkness the deprivation of light, so evil is defined in terms of good. To understand evil one thus needs to understand what is meant by good. For evil is its opposite. To appreciate cruelty one first needs to experience tender care. To comprehend malice one needs to know love. To understand a state of ignorance one needs to fathom a state of knowledge.

Where does evil come from?

Likewise for Swedenborg, evil is the inversion of good. He reckons disorder is the inversion of order, and falsity the inversion of truth. Evil is a quality of life which has no independent origin, but is a distortion of the one Divine life.

Using his psychic vision, he describes a way of life of human spirits in a hidden spirit realm, who choose hatred over love, and crime over justice. One is not normally conscious of their influence but if one continually allows their presence into one’s heart and mind, they are said to then prompt and urge cruelty, sexual violence, and self-ascendancy without any concern for human suffering. We don’t know if people like Mladic will join them in his after-life. But allowing himself to be constantly swayed by their impulses and thoughts, he can become crazed with evil, caught up in a crowd baying for blood. The madness feels overpowering and the individual is swept along apparently helpless to fight against the current.

Actually, Swedenborg says this seeming overwhelming power of evil is an illusion. For there is also a divine sphere of justice and humane concern which is available to us all. This good balances the evil flow. And so we have the freedom to inwardly turn in which direction we wish. But without turning towards what is good we would all be vulnerable to the inflow of cruelty and malice.

Many of us human beings sometimes choose to turn our back on the one Source of happiness and opening ourselves to evil impulses. This is when we put self above all else. That is when what we want determines all our actions together with the fear, pride and greed that accompanies self-love. Just look in at the criminal courts of justice and see what trouble can then be reeked; never mind the international court in the Hague where crimes against humanity are tried. Perhaps the Serb nationalists who still support Mladic will then realise the full extent of the evil their hero has really caused.

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

How bad a person am I?

How bad am IYou may feel undeserving of any happy destiny because you are fundamentally not okay with yourself. Well, for all I know you might well be consumed by a huge ego, be selfish, vain, bitchy, resentful, etc.  But I would like to ask how do we really know when we are basically bad? That would be quite a big conclusion to carry around on one’s shoulders. Here are four questions that might help your spiritual self-assessment.

1.      How judgmental are you about yourself?

You may not be as bad as you think if you have been focusing on or exaggerating the negative side and ignoring or minimising the positive.

“For all right judgment of any man or things it is useful, nay, essential, to see his good qualities before pronouncing on his bad.” (Thomas Carlyle)

We may be quick to pin labels on people. That’s why the tabloid newspapers sell so well. But being judgmental about oneself is a similar attitude. One can search out for and exaggerate one’s own defects just as easily as finding fault in others. Seeing oneself just in terms of one’s negative characteristics means forgetting such positives as one’s generosity of spirit or one’s desire to better understand the deeper side of life.

2.      Are you biased by an illusion of condemnation?

In many mythological, folklore and religious traditions, hell is a place of damnation i.e. eternal torture and punishment for bad conduct during life on earth. Even today we are influenced by this tradition. Condemnation of others can be paralleled by self-condemnation. The persecutory notion that bad people deserve to suffer is mirrored by the guilty idea that I, who am bad, deserve to suffer.

A very different view of hell however shows up the illusion of self-condemnation.  It is Emanuel Swedenborg’s teaching that in the next life no-one suffers punishment for any past misdeeds however wicked the person committed in the world. According to this view, what punishments do occur do not go on continually for ever because they are not retributions for wrongdoing committed on earth, but rather disciplinary reactions to minimise and deter criminal acts that selfish and cruel people commit in hell. Thus punishments in hell cease when external order has been restored.

From a similar spiritual perspective, it could be said that a loving attitude towards oneself would means cutting out all on-going guilt or self-punishment for any past bad conduct. In evaluating our  character we  shouldn’t be biased by any desire to condemn ourselves for past conduct however bad it was. A sense of self-acceptance is part of the healing process.

Easier said than done you might think. And so those drawn to religion hope they can find a sense of divine forgiveness to compensate for their difficulty in self-acceptance.

3.      Are you being premature in trying to reach any firm conclusions about yourself?

I guess we are all a bit of a mixture of good and bad.

“There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Sometimes we obey the law and behave ethically out of love for doing what is good and right for its own sake. Other times we only do what is good out of self-interest and would behave badly if we thought we could get away with it.

Psychological theories of personal development tend to focus on the notion of integration. Disparate personal fragments in our make up slowly begin to harmonise as our character is formed. My take on this is to say that the process is either one of regeneration or degeneration; spiritual growth or spiritual decline. I believe that over a life-time we gradually are forming for ourselves an all-pervading motivation for something good or something bad and are integrating all subsidiary compatible desires and discarding all incompatible ones.

However, according to spiritual philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg, this process of integration is not complete in this life: the values that deep down influence our hearts do not always come to the surface and unrelated feeling, pretentiousness  and difficulty co-exist and are manifest in different situations.

He says it is only at some point in the next life that we do eventually fully get in touch with our true self (what he calls our ruling love) when the spirit of who we are slowly begins to really show and the process of separating disparate elements can be accomplished.

 “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” (Luke 12:2)

Swedenborg’s evidence for his position was his own experience. Subjectively he was able to become conscious of an invisible realm in which his spirit existed and that as part of his journey within a spirit world he encountered both angelic people and also some very unpleasant individuals. Many of the self-centred spirit people wanted to be obeyed and praised and were quick to feel slighted feeling various shades of contempt, vengefulness, nastiness and cruelty. The caring unselfish ones however had the opposite feelings.

4.      To what extent does your bad side now rule your life?

Does your greed, vengefulness, or being unfaithful to your partner, amount to a spontaneous unconsidered urge? One view these days is that behaving badly is nothing much more than making an impulsive mistake through ignorance of what being good involves; not realising the consequences. On the other hand mistakes can somehow get intentionally repeated.

“To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character.” (Dale Turner)

I would suggest giving in to some bad impulse is one thing. Worse than this is deliberately intending to do something bad when knowing it is wrong in one’s heart such as using trickery and deceit, having contempt for others, etc Worst still is habitually delighting in such wrong-doing and looking for reasons to justify such behaviour. Worst of all is fully convincing oneself that such things are allowable and smart.

Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Cruelty – What is its source?

CrueltyCruelty is seen at the cinema and on the television. We read about it in newspapers. There is probably an element of cruelty in your self which you have no wish to have

Although you may not always recognise this cruelty in yourself, you probably do notice many forms of the shadowy side of human behaviour in others: someone being heartless, spiteful, nasty, cruel, or even brutal.  A task for personal growth is to learn to recognise the undesirable side of oneself. Hence the phrase most frequently employed by Jungian psychotherapists is `coming to terms with the shadow’. Jung was well aware of the reality of evil in human life.

Denial of cruelty and other evil

However, with a few other notable exceptions, psychologists and psychiatrists have, until recently, traditionally steered clear of speaking of evil per se. This despite the fact that virtually every culture has some word for evil.

“Most of us try hard to deny or avoid the reality of evil: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Or we attempt to neutralize it, dismissing evil as maya or illusion, as in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. It is tempting to deny the reality of evil entirely, due to its inherent subjectivity and relativity: ‘For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,’ says Shakespeare’s Hamlet, presaging the cognitive therapies of Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck.” (Stephen A. Diamond, clinical & forensic psychologist)

Some examples of cruelty in history

When Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in October 1935 with fantasies of wealth and revenge for Italy’s defeat there forty years previously, he ordered poison gas to be sprayed indiscriminately from the air on military and civilian targets alike.

Stalin’s son Yakov shot himself because of Stalin’s harshness toward him. Stalin had several painters shot who did not depict him “right”.

Historians have estimated Stalin’s regime killed millions of people. Vadim Erlikman, for example, makes the following estimates: executions — 1.5 million; gulags — 5 million; deportations — 1.7 million out of 7.5 million deported; and POWs and German civilians — 1 million: thus a total of about 9 million victims of Stalin’s repression.

Is illness the cause of cruelty?

What is the cause of such appalling behaviour? Surely not just ignorant carelessness of the pain one can cause others? Those who take a benign view of human nature as basically good wonder if criminality of the worst kind must be due to illness?

Hitler was the author of the death of six million Jews, countless soldiers and civilians on both sides killed. These are the actions of a mass murderer. Serious medical biographers conclude that Hitler wasn’t mentally ill. Whether his beliefs were rational is an entirely different matter. Books by like those of Henrik Eberle Was Hitler Ill?and Fritz Redlick Hitler: Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet conclude that he was sane according to any reasonable definition of the term, and fully responsible for his actions.  I would say he had a passion for more greatness or power and no concern for anybody else than himself.

Swedenborg on the source of cruelty

In the West we are familiar with the notion of an afterlife of individual existence in a state of heaven or hell. Hell has traditionally been seen by Christians as a place of punishment as a result of God’s judgment. However a very different view is that a forgiving and loving deity would condemn no-one to a hellish state of existence as a result of any wrongdoing on earth. This approach suggests that although hell is not part of the divine plan nevertheless it is permitted as an inner state of heart and mind shared with others because it is actually preferred by some people, for then they can live within the same sphere as  others who likewise want to be cruel and selfish and act in other inhuman ways.

This different view comes from Emanuel Swedenborg. He claimed that subjectively he was able to become conscious of an invisible realm in which his spirit existed and that as part of his journey within a spirit world he encountered some very unpleasant individuals. Many of these self-centred spirit people wanted to be obeyed and praised and were quick to feel slighted feeling various shades of contempt, vengefulness, nastiness and cruelty. The caring unselfish ones however had the opposite feelings.

But how does this account for inhuman actions in the world?

Swedenborg claimed that whilst the presence of these spirit people within his mind had become conscious, it usually remains unconscious with the rest of us. He says that spirit communicators had confirmed his experience that:

  • The spirits of self-centred people as well as that of caring ones are unconsciously present with every one of us as we live our lives in the material world.
  • Normally, these spirit people are totally unaware that they are with us as separate entities. Likewise we normally are unaware of them.
  • They therefore believe that what we remember and think is actually their own memories and thoughts. Likewise we identify their feelings as our own.
  • Because both sets of unconscious influences are balanced within our hearts and minds, we each have inner freedom to think and intend well or badly, honestly or dishonestly, fairly or unfairly. The source of our caring or nasty impulses arises outside of ourselves.  We are responsible however for which way we face. We can open ourselves up to the negative or turn our face against it, taking instead on board the positive.

And so Swedenborg’s spiritual theory not only accounts for inhuman desires but also our freedom and responsibility to make the right personal choices.

Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems