What is truth and how can it help me?

what is truthIt is so easy to feel limited by the circumstances of life – lack of job opportunity, inadequate housing, illness, or relationship difficulties in one’s private life. Who hasn’t experienced one or more of these things? Or knows someone who does? If you feel burdened in this way, you will be less free to feel good about yourself and about the future, less free to make the effort to deal with problems, or less free to find contentment. You are likely to have negative ways of thinking and thus be vulnerable to what can be called the illusion of life. By this I mean being captured by fear of poverty, by anger with the job, by frustration with an ailing body, or by shame of past misdeeds. Perhaps there is a truth that illuminates negative thinking. If so what is truth? And how can it set us free from the illusions of life?

Geoff story

Geoff was getting weary. He worked long hours for a paltry wage as a care assistant at an old peoples home. His stiff joints and aching muscles were getting him down and occasionally he felt he might end up living in the home himself one day. He rode to work on his scooter through good and bad weather alike, dodging through the traffic and risking life and limb when sometimes surrounded by heavy transport vehicles. It would be easy for him to feel fed up fenced in by his situation. Yet he usually seemed to have a cheerful manner and rarely missed a day’s work. He appeared to get on well with the other staff, usually had a chat with the elderly residents and didn’t mind doing the dirty jobs like changing someone’s soiled clothes.

What is truth?

What was Geoff’s secret? The answer seems to be that he had cottoned on to the idea that there is a positive way of looking at things which frees us from oppressive feelings. As a result he stopped making up excuses, telling himself easy lies, and believing in nonsense. Instead he relied on a higher truth that lights up the darkness.

What is truth? It can take many forms. Here are a few examples. It can be seeing the opportunities all around for finding a sense of satisfaction. It can be an awareness of having an inner spirit that lasts for ever. Also it can be valuing the enriching knowledge one possesses. In addition it can be believing in a forgiving and accepting divine spirit that wipes the slate clean of our past misdemeanor. All these are possible answers to the question ‘What is truth?’

What is truth in relation to work?

One may be to all appearances in a dead-end job. But how does one know it will lead nowhere? The truth is every moment of our lives presents us with opportunity. It’s not so much what Geoff did but rather how he did it. He found that cleaning the toilet or making the tea if done with a willing spirit makes all the difference between feeling bored and feeling good. It’s a chance to feel you belong, to have a laugh, to make a new friend, to learn a bit more about the business, to feel someone’s appreciation of what you do: being useful even in doing an unpopular job that others would consider beneath them. Some jobs can bring their own satisfaction even if no-one but the individual receiving some benefit from you notices. Here then is part of the answer to what is truth.

What is truth in relation to our identity?

We each have a physical body. But how do we know that is all there is to us? There seems to be a growing interest these days in what is called the human aura. This is said to be like a coloured sheath that encloses the physical body, and which provide clues to the state of the individual’s health. A hidden anatomy is often understood to comprise seven or more centres of vital force, the chakras.

Geoff had a slightly different take on the idea of having a hidden anatomy. He was attracted to the idea that people who are in a heavenly state of mind grow young as to their personality. He believed in the idea that he had a spiritual body that will endure beyond the death of his tired out physical one. Having this positive idea seemed to release him from any fear of his future demise. Here is another answer to the question about what is truth.

What is truth in relation to wealth?

Some people are inwardly wealthy – having a wisdom that is not to do with cleverness or remembering lots of factual information. Some can suss out what others are up to, some can fathom deeper ideas behind what is written, some have a psychic sensitivity, some can plan with clear-headed judgment. Geoff was outwardly poor having not been well educated and not well read. But inwardly he did seem to have a rich stream of ideas to do with the important things in life. I believe that we too can be enriched by loving what is deeply true and humbly attributing such knowledge not to our own ability but rather to a higher source of truth.

What is truth in relation to healing?

Geoff had not lived an untarnished life. There were a few things he had done in the past about which he had been ashamed. But now he felt all that had been put to one side. He no longer thought about those careless moments when he had drifted off the right path he had been following. For him the truth is that there is an intangible sense of being accepted – a healing force within the universe.

What is truth? – a conclusion

I believe that to be conscious of the sort of things that were true for Geoff is to be in touch with our true self: an inner state of mind capable of receiving the presence of the divine spirit as it enlightens our thoughts with compassion freeing us from the traps of daily living.

“Infinite love is the only truth. Everything else is illusion.” (David Icke)

Copyright 2014 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Posted on25th November 2014CategoriesEnlightenment, Latest post, Meaning of lifeTags, , , , , , ,,

Why am I not healed?

Conventional modern medicine has made great strides, the main progress having been focussed on specially formulated chemical substances and sophisticated surgical
techniques with their high-tech electronic aids.

This has led to some truly amazing advances, but it has also resulted in specialisation and an approach to the whole subject of ‘health and wholeness’ which has been increasingly concerned with the ‘point of pain’ rather than the ‘person in pain’. This can result in the treatment of symptoms whilst an underlying cause may go undetected.

The person in pain

The human spirit that thinks, feels and experiences is neither chemical nor
computerised, but a living consciousness with non-physical (as well as
physical) dimensions. The realisation that beauty is more than skin deep is
equally true of health. The whole person is more than the outer physical shell.
There is increasing reason to question the underlying conviction of
conventional medicine that ultimately all disorders have a physical cause that
can be treated by surgery or chemistry.

Emanuel Swedenborg maintained that there is an intimate relationship between the human spirit and the human body; between the spiritual plane and the natural plane of
life. The spiritual plane is the plane of causes; the natural that of effects.
For anything to come into being it will have a spiritual origin. In the case of
diseases this can be due to a spiritual condition within ourselves or the
spiritual environment around us, or a combination of both. This is not to say
that it is all in the mind; very far from it.

A magnificent cathedral is not only in the mind, but its origin was in the mind. Its bricks and stones are a natural expression of those who built it; their sense of a sacred space – a
deeply felt spiritual reality of feeling, thought and imagination. If this is true of the buildings we inhabit, is it not very probable that it is equally true of the bodies we live in – the temple of the human soul?

To change a house to suit our needs requires thought and imagination as well as the right materials. It is surely reasonable to expect that both physical and spiritual action are needed to complement each other in health care too.

 Inner and outer health

Emanuel Swedenborg, writing during the time of the early beginnings of conventional
medicine, whilst accepting it has value, points to deeper spiritual causes:

“Things existing in the natural world are nothing else than effects; their causes exist
in the spiritual world. … If the natural part of a person’s being were
separated from the spiritual part it would be separated from the entire cause
from which it has its being and so from all that brings it life. Even so, this
does not make it impossible for a person to be healed by natural remedies, for
the Lord’s providence works in co-operation with means such as these.”
(Arcana Coelestia sections 5711, 5713)

For some, the priority is physical health, with health and wholeness of spirit,
whilst acknowledged as important, seen as of lesser importance. Swedenborg
takes a very different view. He looks at the larger perspective of life that
only has its early beginnings on the earth-plane of existence. He seeks to show
us the over-riding importance of the health and wholeness of the spirit or soul
which lives on long after our bodily outer shell.

Divine Providence, he maintains, is concerned with our physical health, but this is of secondary importance compared with the inner needs of the heart, mind and life itself
which are not material at all, but spiritual.

The placebo effect

Modern medicine well recognises that disease, stress and anxiety are significant
health risks, and the list of ‘stress-related’ illnesses includes digestive,
coronary and cancerous conditions. Too often, however, the positive placebo
effect, where recovery takes place through faith in the treatment, even if
phoney, is simply seen as something to eliminate in a clinical trial. With
notable exceptions few have looked at this as a means of healing, when it is unquestionably
powerful in its potential effect.

In looking to use and understand this ‘effect’, a constantly recurring theme in
Swedenborg’s writings needs to be reconsidered. He maintains there is a
corresponding link between spiritual and natural levels of being. Many
recognise that effects emanating from our inner state, very similar to the
placebo effect, work in a variety of ways on our health.

Consider how the ‘spiritual pollution’ of personality caused by unresolved conflicts, worry,
hatred, envy and grief undermines not just spiritual well-being but, in time, physical health also. On the positive side few deny the effects of love, humility, forgiveness, peace and prayer in the promotion of health at all levels of our being. It is high time we accepted the challenge to outgrow the myth that our state of health is no more than the state of of the molecules of which the body is composed, and face the importance of developing inner health and wholeness. Diet has its place, but so does devotion, faith and forgiveness.
It is not a case of ‘either/or’ but the holistic ‘both/and’ that accepts and affirms the spiritual dimension in healing.

Those who are not healed

To penetrate the problem of those who ‘do the right things’ yet still do find
healing, whilst others do, we need Swedenborg’s clearer understanding of
underlying causes, and the relationship between inner and outer, between
spiritual and material. Spiritual growth and the unfolding of the real meaning
of our lives involves light and dark, good and bad, health and dis-ease.

All our experiences serve a use and for the many who cry ‘why me’ there are a few,
who like the Christ, say ‘why not me’. Whilst Swedenborg does not maintain
‘these things are sent to try us’, he is clear that they are only permitted if
it is possible for some eternal benefit to our spiritual health to result.

Copyright 2012 Clifford Curry

Posted on4th August 2012CategoriesMeaning of life, SufferingTags,, , , , , , , , ,

Miraculous cure – Is this possible?

miraculousA 74-year-old woman’s lower right leg was covered in waxy lumps, eruptions of angry red and livid purple. Tests confirmed the worst suspicions: it was carcinoma, a form of skin cancer. Despite receiving no treatment over a period of a few months the tumours miraculously disappeared. There was nothing in the biopsies, or the scans. The patient believed it was the hand of God; she had kissed a religious relic just before what she saw as miraculous healing set in. However, medics call this a rare case of spontaneous remission although they cannot account for it scientifically.

Like the patient, believers in faith healing assert that the miraculous curing of disease and disability can be brought about through prayer and/or other religious rituals that, they say stimulate a divine presence and power. The term miracle means an event that is contrary to natural law. There have been claims that faith can cure blindness, deafness, cancer, AIDS, and many other disorders and injuries.

Attitude of religious people to miraculous healing

Miraculous healing was said to happen in biblical times like Christ’s healing of the blind, deaf, lame and other diseased people. If it really happened then, why not also now?

One might wonder about the many millions of Catholics who have made their pilgrimage to Lourdes over the years where the waters are alleged to have miraculous healing powers. Some amazing recoveries have been claimed as miraculous cures but little is said about the vast majority who make no dramatic improvement.

When most don’t get miraculous healing does this make them doubt their religion? Or do they assume they are not good enough for God to want to heal them?

The lack of cure didn’t put off the 72 percent of Americans in 2004 who said, according to a Newsweek poll, they believed that praying to God can cure someone, even if science says the person doesn’t stand a chance.

Can this be true or is it just wishful thinking? Is this attitude just a historical remnant of a pre-scientific age when the Christian church depended on the belief in miracles and superstition? Aren’t people today in secular society more likely to be more rational about such things?

Miraculous events in biblical times

According to Emanuel Swedenborg, spiritual philosopher, in biblical times, there was less capability than now of perceiving the deeper side of life without myths to engage and illuminate the mind. These narratives were usually believed as literally true and people were more naturally-minded. Many needed to believe in miraculous events as a way of thinking about a higher power.

The followers of Christ believed in their leader’s bodily resurrection only because they said that he came to eat with them after his death. According to the Gospel account, one of them, Thomas, was not even convinced until he was allowed to personally examine the wounds in Christ’s hands and side that had been inflicted during the crucifixion.

If miracles were to take place today, such events would soon dominate the mass media and be regularly seen on television news, and nearly everyone would be compelled to believe in supernatural power even against their inclinations. Swedenborg argues that such compulsion would take away our freedom to think clearly about the pros and cons of a spiritual orientation to life.

Belief compelled by miraculous events

I would suggest that in the 21st century we live in new times when we are able to explore rational ideas and have the freedom to hold reasonable doubts. Swedenborg’s point is that it is only in this free way can we really sense and willingly take on board the idea of a higher degree of reality that transcends the material world. Belief freely adopted endures in the heart. It lasts because it is not based on what is sensational, or what others say but comes from an inner acceptance and commitment to a different way of life.

This freedom is said to be vitally important. It allows us to adopt what beliefs we choose and within social boundaries conduct our private lives as we please. It permits us to observe what we get up to and form our own assessment of our conduct as we wish either from the perspective of the world or from our idea of higher values. It allows us to take responsibility for what we do and feel remorse and try to reform only if we so choose.

This is the freedom of thought we have when looking up at the night sky to stand in awe at its vast majesty. To feel wonder at the spell of the sea with its fathomless depths. To marvel about the dreams that fill every period of sleep and what might be their personal meaning. For some people the very breath they take each day of their life is amazing and life itself is a miracle. They don’t need it proved to them by supernatural events that defy any rational explanation.

Seeing the miraculous in the ordinary

The body heals itself. When a virus invades it, the body sets up a process to repel the invader and, after illness, recovery sets in. Medicine and other therapies help this process that according to religious people originates from a God of healing love and wisdom. They say if you put your faith in this miraculous Source it opens your mind to an inner world that goes beyond time and place taking you to quite a different level. This is a kind of faith healing although not what is usually meant by the term.

Your spiritual beliefs may affect your chances of recovery from disease not through a miraculous cure but rather by connecting you with what you perceive as the loving essence of life, encouraging your moderate healthy life style and providing social support and thus emotional help that can only improve your mental state and immune system. Is it this spiritual inflow rather than a supernatural event that can nurture your healing?

“Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle.” (Marianne Williamson spiritual writer)

Copyright 2016 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author Heart, Head & Hands

Posted on28th February 2016CategoriesLatest post, Other aspects of spiritual healing,Spiritual healingTags, ,

Healing – How does it work?

healingIf you are sick or injured then you are likely suffering discomfort or pain, lacking vital energy and hindered in ordinary functioning. Healers in complementary medicine use differing symbols and language to describe their experiences in healing. The question arises, ‘Is there a common factor across acupuncture, homeopathy, aromatherapy and other practices in alternative medicine that makes people well?’

All healers encourage sufferers to make a conscious act of turning towards what they see as a natural healing energy in life that can holistically restore the body and mind.

Inner sickness

When we are ill or injured we want to get better and want our wounds to be healed. However, in addition to bodily sickness, probably all of us have personal problems in living, although we don’t always realise it. How does healing for non-bodily problems work?

Blindness

One clue can be found in the way we use language. Just as diseases of the eye can make someone blind, so we speak of blindness in terms of not understanding some important matter, say to do with personal life at home or work. You might have a blind spot in your life if you fail to notice what you do is upsetting your family. You might be going up a blind alley if you agree to something but don’t know what you are taking on. You turn a blind eye to some serious fault in your child not seeing what needs to be tackled.

This way of thinking about blindness is in terms of not understanding higher principles of living in relation to what is true about oneself. This could be due to lack of learning and experience. Or it could be due to blindly following some ideology or way of thinking without bothering to search for the truth for its own sake.

Sometimes we think of non-bodily ailments as due to a sick mind or sickness of the soul. You might feel discontented due to a sense of meaninglessness; an inner state of blindness not seeing what human existence is really all about and having no deeper connection to what is going on in your life.

Deafness

Similarly we may use a proverb to speak of deafness. A child absorbed in play may not hear a parent asking for the toys to be put away. It is as if the request is falling on deaf ears. “Can you hear me Tommy?”

Likewise at work a boss may sarcastically ask a worker “Hello? Are you deaf? I’ve asked you three times now when you would have the report finished.”

If you are told something you don’t want to know, you may not pay sufficient attention. Not everyone listens to advice regarding diet and physical exercise. Without noticing your difficulties, how can you start to work on them? Without listening to critical feedback how can you perceive your faults?

Arguably, the sick of mind are deaf to healthy and realistic thinking, being blinded by illogical and unrealistic habits of thought. In a similar manner one could say an ailment of the soul is due to not attending to, and thus feeling separated from, one’s higher sense of self and from sharing its intention and discernment.

How often do people deny some emotional problem, say related to stress or problematic relationships, because they don’t want to have to face up to it?

“None so deaf as those that will not hear. None so blind as those that will not see.” (Matthew Henry)

Healing and inner sickness

If you are afflicted by unhealthy states of mind you may well be interested in having your inner well-being restored.

How then does healing work for non-bodily conditions? Orthodox medicine uses pills and surgery to treat the body directly. It is usually assumed that consciousness is a product of, and at the mercy of, something material like the brain or the kidneys. Yet the natural healing energy is something of spirit, that links in with human consciousness. Healers think this can affect the physical body. In other words something nonphysical can change something physical. Often this nonphysical thing is thought of as the power of love.

According to Swedenborgian writer Rachel Martin, to reduce the inflow of inner disorder of a person, many practitioners think there needs to be a movement from fragmentation and separation towards wholeness and integration. A restoring of order, balance, and right relationship between the one being healed and the universe.

Consequently, it has been suggested that the mysterious life force can also heal inner disorders of the spirit. In other words, once the barriers are removed, this higher state of the spirit naturally flows in to heal our inner self. For example a sense of uplifting beauty in nature is apparent to those who go out into unspoilt countryside away from industrial slums. A sense of well-being comes to those who practice affirmation of what is good, rather than cynically focusing on all that is bad. A feeling of peace and calm is experienced during meditation after you learn to neglect alarming thoughts and distracting worries. One result of a sustained meditation practice is said to be an increased ability to dis-identify with the disharmony one experiences both within and around oneself.

This healing process can be conceived as cyclical – pictured in the natural cycles of days and seasons – rather than a steady linear progression. By regularly accepting and trusting this healing presence, the person gradually lets go from holding on to the ‘little self’ which had only led to anxious concern, small-minded attitudes and self-interested action.

Religious idea of healing

The religious perspective on healing also focuses on the idea of a natural healing force which operates once blocks to it’s inflow are removed. By regularly praying, people of different faith traditions become more aware of, and turn away from, selfish attachments and unethical thoughts. By turning towards what is seen as good and right, the individual becomes in touch with a being of healing love and wisdom, known traditionally as God.

“Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.” (Psalm 30:2)

Copyright 2015 Stephen Russell-Lacy

Author Heart, Head & Hands

Posted on30th October 2015CategoriesLatest post, Other aspects of spiritual healing,Spiritual healingTags, , , , ,, , ,

Addiction – A form of spiritual slavery?

Addiction means that when you crave something, you engage in habitual self-destructive activity driven by obsessive thought. This happens in drug dependency, alcoholism, compulsive gambling, and compulsive eating. We can extend this idea to include any activity that we have repeatedly failed to eliminate from our lives and that is detrimental to inner well-being – both our own and those around us. There are many hidden and subtle forms of addiction. We can become driven by a compulsion in just about any area of life. Examples include watching porn when you crave sexual excitement, verbal cruelty when you crave expressing resentment, or when you crave power or success at any cost.

External force in addiction

We subjectively sense these patterns of thought and behaviour as aspects of our own being. However they can also be seen as learned behaviours due to external events. For example if we receive abuse, we are likely to become abusive or associate ourselves with an abuser. If we experience sarcasm, we are likely to become sarcastic or associate with those who are. None of us can escape the results of negative life experience.

“We don’t want to eat that second piece of pie. We don’t want to snipe at our children or spouse with snide comments. We don’t want to work overtime every day, leaving us with no family time…. But these good impulses to escape the addiction are dwarfed by the power of the possessing forces.” (E. Kent Rogers, Co-Founder of the Loving Arms Mission)

addictionAnd so a key element of addictive craving is when one’s desire has become a slave to something external to oneself. If things have got as bad as this then it amounts to enslavement: a dependency which is often so subtle that we fail to distinguish our own will from that of the external force.

Steps to Freedom from addiction

According to this idea that external forces are wedded to one’s sense of self and will, there is no chance of getting rid of them without a great deal of help.

After many failed attempts to free yourself from your craving, you probably have come to realise that you have no power over your addiction. If your own will has been hijacked you have no chance of yourself of making any change.

According to the Twelve Steps Recovery Program, the first crucial step towards freedom is to admit you are powerless over the force of the addiction and that as a result your life has become unmanageable.

The divine spirit of healing for addiction

We need somehow to access something pretty powerful to rescue us from the habits which have taken over our life causing us such misery. This is where a spiritual approach may be said to come in. It encourages a belief that a power greater than oneself can restore one to sanity and asks us to decide to turn our will and our lives over to the care of what we understand to be the divine spirit of healing.

Lies in addiction

In his book “12 Miracles Of Spiritual Growth”, E. Kent Rogers suggests that the addictive force tells us lies in which we come to believe.

“I don’t have a problem”

“The addiction or habit is who I am”

“I can overpower the addiction on my own”

“I cannot change”

He points out that the lies can be seen to be unreasonable. The first two are mutually exclusive and the second two also contradict one another.

Alternative ways of thinking might be to say that you do have a problem in so far as you have given your life over to destructive forces within you, but you yourself are not the problem. Only with the help of the power of the divine spirit of healing which is greater than yourself, can you be set free.

Depiction of addiction

In the book, Rogers recounts the biblical story about a man called Legion, someone not in his right mind who lived alone among the tombs. He had often been chained hand and foot but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. Night and day he would cry out and, against his own will and better judgement, cut himself with stones. This man was enslaved to an evil force; a pawn to their destructive whims. There could be no better depiction of addiction as a living hell. When he saw Jesus Christ from a distance he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. And was healed of the evil spirits said to possess him.

In our current era, where scientific thought is the dominant way of thinking, it is difficult for us to relate to the idea of evil spirits, let alone demonic possession. However, are there not spirits of the past living within and animating us? Are these not the external forces that take over the will of the addict?

According to this way of thinking the spirits caused the man to abuse himself with stones even as he moaned and cried out in agony. Likewise, we moan with anguish as we watch ourselves sink further into self-destructive behaviour. Like Legion we live as if alone even when in the presence of others, feeling isolated from them and not making meaningful connections. Like Legion, who lived among the tombs, we also are amongst the dead in the sense that we when are possessed by addiction, we experience our own spiritual death and decay.

But like Legion, can we not find healing from spiritual slavery by asking for help from a divine healing power greater than ourselves?

Copyright 2014 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Asking for help – Is it that difficult?.

asking for helpIs life giving us too many headaches? Or have our circumstances dramatically changed for the worse? We say that we are “fine” and that we are in control. But deep down we know we are not. The first step is to admit to ourselves when we actually do need help. So why not try asking for it? If we do not ask, how can we expect to get any advice or assistance?

Why asking for help can be difficult.

There may be embarrassment discussing a personal matter with someone we know. “I really ought to be able to manage my own life without troubling others with my difficulties.” “What will they think of me if I tell them my problems?”

We may assume we don’t matter enough for anyone to want to bother to do anything for us. “No-one will want to help me.”

Or we might think that no one would understand the problem or that there can be no solution possible. “My life is in far too great a mess to be saved.”

Asking for help is dangerous because actually accepting help is likely to involve our changing something — scary stuff if that sounds uncomfortable. No longer can we pursue easy solutions to the problem like for example engaging in comfort eating or retail therapy.

How to start asking for help 

If we do get round to asking for help, it is first useful to be clear what we think we need. Whether we need advice, encouragement, or practical help, we need to ask for it specifically.

At the same time, it is sensible to be flexible. What someone offers may be unexpected. Therefore, we need to be ready to explore alternatives. People tend to feel uncomfortable about helping the unprepared or the narrow-minded. This means being willing to listen carefully to what they suggest.

Asking who?

I saw a woman walking into a council refuse tip to get rid of a long florescent light tube. She unfortunately tripped over and dropped the tube that exploded in a puff of smoke. It looked and sounded dramatic. Her elderly friend was following on behind and at that moment seeing the prostrate woman and hearing the explosion, she exclaimed `Oh God, God’ and rushed forward. This friend may not have been religious but was she not asking for God’s help without even realising it? Perhaps he did answer her prayer for although she was a bit shocked, the fallen woman got up and dusted herself down. It turned out that she had suffered no injury.

If the help needed is beyond the capability of loved ones or friends, we may decide to ask God for assistance. When desperate, agnostics and even atheists have admitted to trying prayer. After all what had they got to lose?

Of course the religious and unreligious alike are all capable of trying to use God like some Father Christmas figure. We can even try bargaining with him. Give me what I want and I will always do this or that for you.

Motivation behind asking God for help

The psychologist William James reported on a man called David.  This fellow was someone with many problems. His religious worship and pleas for help were in vain. Then it came to him that it was self-interest behind his devotions rather than any respect for the wisdom of God. It was his own happiness and not the will of God that had pre-occupied his heart. He saw he had never done anything for God, only for himself. If we pray only for ourselves how can a God of love for all, hear such prayers?

When praying with a sincere heart it is useful to speak specifically about the issues that we require help with. We could then ask God to give us new purpose, a healthier frame of mind in facing our troubles, or more light on how we can better serve our family and community.

Perhaps praying is something we have rarely done before. So how can one go about this? Like David, we may feel that God is not answering our prayers. True, we may not be hearing a voice answering but I would suggest there will always be a response. Sometimes we may be unaware of an answer because it is not what we have expected. As we try to pray for help we may realise something about our own attitude e.g. like David that it is too orientated towards self rather than any concern for anyone else. Already the prayer is being responded to without our noticing.

If we do ask then we might well get an answer we understand – but this answer may not be what we would have wanted! Actually, many inwardly religious people believe that divine power can spiritually help all people, no matter into what terrible state they have got themselves into.

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

Inferiority – How to heal this feeling?

inferiorityDo you feel lower in status or ability than others? Perhaps you find yourself engaging in self-disparaging self-talk from time to time. ‘I can’t do this as well as them’; ‘I fall behind because I’m basically too slow’; ‘They look down on me because I’m not good enough’. Here we have a sense of inferiority causing doubt and uncertainty, feelings of not measuring up to standards, and a lack of self-worth.

Consequences of feelings of inferiority

As a result, others around you may note that you are the sort of person who seems unsure of yourself often seeking attention and approval, someone who feels inadequate to deal with anything without relying on them for encouragement and reassurance. When these feelings of inferiority really get you down then you have a state of mind that you may inwardly realise needs healing.

Being at risk for a sense of inferiority

To have a sense of inferiority, you don’t have to be a member of an ethnic minority, be poor and out of work, have a physical disability or have a childhood memory of failing to live up to parents expectations, but, if you do have any of these, you may be more at risk.

Perhaps you happen to believe that people who are successful are more important, or that people of a certain race, or state of health are at the top of the list. Maybe your self-criticism has some measure of truth but, even if true, does this make you a lesser mortal than the majority of humanity? An inferior sort of human? Doesn’t everyone have their own weaknesses as well as strengths?

Some healing suggestions

Open yourself to healing by:

1. Catching yourself running yourself down. Instead get into the habit of being fair and reasonable regarding your strengths and weaknesses. What you say to yourself may be unfair if you are exaggerating your negative side.

2. Affirming the idea that no matter how others denigrate you, we all deserve respect and happiness because of unconditional love that is the spiritual source of all things. A good parent loves the disabled child as much as the able-bodied one not because of their abilities but because of their needs.

3. Watching out for manipulators – individuals who seem to like to put you down in subtle ways that are not obvious. Perhaps this can be heard in their tone of voice, sarcastic asides, and focusing on negatives about you without much in the way of any positives. These people want to feel superior and so they try to cause you inferiority feelings. They are practised at knowing how to detect weaknesses and once found, they use someone’s weaknesses against him or her.

4. Remembering a spiritual perspective. I really believe that healing of the spirit will happen if you have a deep desire for living a full life of usefulness unencumbered by self-doubt, and anxiety.

Story

There is a story in the Bible about a loving mother who approaches Christ for help because of her concern for her suffering daughter said to be possessed by demons. The mother is a Canaanite – a nation in the story the Jews despise.

As a woman she is a second class citizen in a culture dominated by men. This was the case two thousand years ago in Palestine and is still the case in some parts of the world now. Considered more like property, she functions more like a servant, and a producer of children than someone to be cherished as a loving companion. She has a husband who by law is allowed to divorce her for any reason. Enough, one might think, to give anyone strong feelings of inferiority.

On top of that she is intimidated by this religious teacher – first ignored, then told to go away, and then suffering his stinging words saying his mission is not for her people’s benefit and that she is nothing better than a dog.

Nevertheless, she is not put off by his inattention and rudeness but shows humility and love in her renewed plea. As a result the story tells us the healing takes place.

In his book 12 Miracles of Spiritual Growth, E. Kent Rogers suggests that if we are possessed by feelings of inferiority, we would be wise like the woman in the story to be persistent in our efforts to find healing and be willing to struggle with God as the source of all healing.

If we are tired of the way our self-depreciation, inhibits our ability to love and connect with others, if we are saddened by the way our self-hatred affects others negatively then we will be empowered to tenaciously petition God for healing until we receive what we want. “(E. Kent Rogers, Swedenborgian writer)

So if you are troubled by a feeling of inferiority why not be persistent in humbly asking for help in private prayer?

Copyright 2014 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems