The Great Swedenborgian Debate!

Once upon a time a denomination of the Swedenborgian Church hosted a debate between two Swedenborgian experts on various spiritual topics. The first panelist had suggested that hell was eternal, that the human will was totally corrupt and the kingdom of heaven was not easy to obtain.

The second panelist eventually agreed, reluctantly, that “hell,” at least as theologian Emanuel Swedenborg described it, is an eternal outcome. The reason why this agreement was not immediate was because it seemingly challenged the idea of God’s Infinite love and mercy—which is what gets church pews to fill up.

We now cut to the live and continuing discussion over the other two highly contested remarks made by the first panelist:

“Swedenborg states in many places in his theological writings that the human will has complete control over the human intellect and makes it conform to its own disposition,” said the second panelist. “Therefore, something in the human will must be good in order for individuals to discern and make the best moral choices. So the human will cannot be totally corrupt.”

The second panelist notices the first panelist is shaking his head and immediately begins to provide more supportive ideas for his belief that the human will is not totally corrupt.

“The human understanding is capable of learning and considering nobler ideas, like God’s Ten Commandments, which challenge us to transcend the flawed proclivities of our worldly will. These higher principles of living can last long enough in the brain so that one’s earth-bound will, little by little, gets used to heaven-bound thinking and begin to make better choices,” said panelist number two.

“Nope,” said the first panelist. “The will that we are born with, including all its inclinations and compulsions, is put off during one’s spiritual evolution and salvation. An entirely new ‘heavenly will’ must be created by the Lord God to set the process of salvation in motion. God does not make the old will better.”

Clinging to some residual effect of his earth-born will, the second panelist reacted as if this statement were a personal attack. “Read Swedenborg’s statement in his work Heaven and Hell, number 533. It suggests to me, at least, that the process of salvation is continuous and commences from the old will as it gets better information,” said the visibly irritated second panelist.

“You cannot simply pick a quote by Swedenborg to get the big picture,” replied the first panelist. “My statement that the human will is totally corrupt comes from a synthesis of many of his writings. If we are attentive and look further into this matter we learn that it is not from our native will that God conducts His work of salvation. The Lord works from what Swedenborg called ‘remains.’ These are affections and bits of information that a child experiences in life and the Lord secretly stores away for safekeeping within the unconscious or involuntary mind.  The remains keep the child inwardly connected to heaven and its angels. When the process of spiritual regeneration begins, the Lord activates a person’s remains so that it can become a matrix or plane by which a new will and intellect is generated. This can also be understood as the formation of both a new conscience and a spiritual body, capable of living in heaven’s unique ecosystem.”

“Well, even if you are correct, that doesn’t mean it is difficult to get to heaven,” said the second panelist as he sat back in his seat and folded his arms over his chest.

“Proper humility is the hurdle,” replied the first panelist. “Unfortunately, the human race is allowed to sensate on earth that life and goodness flows out from the person—rather than flow into the person from God and heaven. Even when novice spirits are being prepared for a heavenly life after their departure from this terrestrial orb, they can unexpectedly be put into a situation whereby they experience a most unflattering revelation. Spirits communicate their affections and thoughts with others of their spiritual community. Swedenborg observed an experiment where spirits were temporarily removed from the spiritual community their hearts and minds were intimately conjoined with. This separation caused these particular spirits to enter into a diminished cognitive state whereby they falsely perceived that all goodness and truth proceeded from themselves and was their own. When their error was pointed out to them they became indignant. (Angels have no such illusion.) Accepting such a reality is anti-intuitive to human experience from living on earth, and creates a real challenge to one’s worldview and self-esteem. Acquiring this kind of humility, which is angelic, is not as ‘easy as pie.’”

Dear readers, please comment on which debater you believe made the most convincing points.

http://www.staircasepress.com
https://thegodguy.wordpress.com/
Posted in god, Inner growth, Life after death, love, metaphysics, psychology, Reality, religion, spirituality, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Spiritual Astronomy

What is spiritual astronomy? It involves looking at the discoveries of astronomy in a novel and more personal way that can lead us to making similar spiritual discoveries about ourselves.

For instance, Galileo made the claim that the sun was the center of the planetary system rather than the earth. This was proven to be true. We can also make a similar spiritual discovery that the world does not revolve around us. When the Lord was in the world he challenged people to make exactly this same important discovery—by teaching that “Loving God and loving the neighbor” were the greatest commandments.

(By the way, it wasn’t Galileo’s science that got him in trouble with the church, it was his challenge to a literal interpretation of Holy Scripture. He believed that true science would not contradict Scripture if properly understood.)

Since Galileo’s time, astronomy has made additional discoveries that our sun is one of billions of suns in the Milky Way galaxy, which is just one of billions and billions of galaxies far out in space. Thus, when we measure ourselves against this vast universe we become less than a speck. So there is no premise by which we can rationally support and embrace self-conceit and self-importance. Again, the Lord taught humility, and to serve others.

Are your worldly hopes and wishes merely insignificant specks of dust in God’s Infinitely wise eyes? Or are your hopes and dreams worthy of divine notice? When you sincerely love others, God can find an abode in your heart and mind. You can then provide residence for something infinitely more vast and important than the entire physical universe!

 http://www.provinggod.com
Posted in god, Inner growth, love, Reality, religion, science, spirituality, symbolism, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Do I get my way too often?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

Who wouldn’t try to persuade their youngster to study for what they see as a promising career? Who wouldn’t pull out all the stops to influence investors to support their business? Who wouldn’t want to make their spouse feel the same way about having more children or a house move? It is surely normal for me to want the best for someone as I see it? Or is this sometimes as case of me wanting to get my way. Have things as I see fit?

I have to ask myself if my attempts at influencing others amounts to trying to make them think, act, or feel the way I do? get my wayAll this made me wonder just how I might assess the way I manage other people in my life. Do I try to get my way with others too often?

Do I try to get my way by force?

‘Hang on,’ I hear myself say. ‘I don’t force anyone to do anything. That would be selfish.’  Okay so before the kids left home, I seldom shouted at my teenage daughter to keep her  bedroom tidy. I seldom ordered anyone in the family to do their chores. In fact even now I  rarely if ever voice explosive anger, never mind any verbal abuse or any threat of violence to get my way. But perhaps I don’t even realise if I use less obvious methods of manipulation?

Do I try to get my way by nagging?

You may have heard of the young woman who thinks she will be able to change her man after they are married. Make him tidier, stop smoking or whatever. But he may be of a different mind. And when she fails to alter his bad habits, she may end up just nagging him which can cause irritation but no change of ways. Telling someone what to do or what to think doesn’t usually work because people like to decide things for themselves.

Do I try to get my way by telling?

Offering a point of view for their consideration and rational arguments to support it can be quite another matter. For this is respecting their personal choice. A father who insists on telling his daughter what to believe about politics, religion and so on, will appear as someone who thinks he knows best.

He may feel certain he is right. However, these days, less and less people will tolerate being told what to think. They really do prefer to make up their own minds. By claiming absolute answers to life’s issues, perhaps without realizing it, the father is arrogantly trying to impose his views. He would be advised to more humbly offer his beliefs for consideration and they even may be welcomed as his gift.

Do I try to get my way by being deaf?

Many parents have learned not to speak dogmatically about matters that are dear to their hearts. But some still don’t want to hear anything that might distract from their agenda. And so they sometimes fall foul of the mistake of turning a deaf ear to their teenager’s point of view.

This shows when they refuse to pay attention to anything that opposes them, saying things like “I don’t want to hear it”.  Or they may show a fierce look or glance, unpleasant tone of voice, or make rhetorical comments, or use subtle sarcasm. The trouble is how we come over to others is not always apparent to us, and we can get into unfortunate habits in how we communicate.

Do I try to get my way by being less than honest?

Making up excuses is something I have done at some time or other to cover up my  embarrassment or mistakes. Perhaps you have taken this a step further and been engaged spinning a yarn to the media on behalf of your company or to your friends regarding your achievements. It is not only ‘spin doctors’ who twist the truth to suit their own ends. The trouble is when dishonesty becomes a habitual method of trying to get our own way.

Like when we refuse to admit something obvious, or use weasel words to give vague, irrelevant, rambling, responses to evade revealing our real intentions. For we hope that only by changing the subject and keeping quiet about what we are up to, instead of giving a straight answer, can we hope to change someone’s mind or actions.

Am I on an ego trip?

Ray and Star Silverman in their book Rise Above It have given a Swedenborgian perspective on trying to get our own way. Whether we do this coercively or subtly, it is said to be a sign that we want to possess what belongs to another person for our own sake; having charge of what they think and believe.

Any apparent success in controlling someone feeds the ego trip that our ideas are more valid than the other person’s, and the illusion that what we want is more important than what he or she wants. A few people want to possess someone’s aspirations, values and even their deepest desires.

When you notice yourself starting to manipulate other people, perhaps for genuinely held reasons, you might however want instead to hold back. I find it helps me to remember the importance of giving respect to other people who need to find out things for themselves, be free to choose what they want, and take responsibility for their own lives.

Even though we each may have a specific superior talent for something or a more important social responsibility, nevertheless everyone has a significant role to play in the universal human family. Someone controlling their attitudes can rob them of their unique contribution.

In striving to overcome the love of power, I like to think I have discovered the power of love.

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

 

Posted on30th March 2012CategoriesEthics, Interpersonal EthicsTags,, , , , ,, , , , , , , , ,, , , , , , ,, , ,  Leave a comment

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Spiritual Contraception

We not only have the means to prevent unwanted births, we have adopted similar means of preventing ideas from inseminating our minds.

For instance, the Ten Commandments can be read, stored in the memory as data, but never acted upon. The Lord, while in the world, simplified these ten laws into two – loving God and loving the neighbor. Still, the Lord’s teaching of loving God and loving others can simply be filed away in the memory as mere data.

Anything that prevents God’s ideas from taking hold in the mind and not being allowed to grow into the mature and loving actions of one who seeks eternal life and blessedness is spiritual contraception.

The Christian doctrine of salvation by faith alone is just such a spiritual birth control pill. The reason is that faith alone stresses “belief” over “acts of goodness” for obtaining salvation and entry into the gates of heaven.

This is holy hogwash!

Believing alone is like allowing a concept to enter into one’s memory without the conceiving. In other words, when an idea is not allowed to germinate and change the way we act in the world, how can mere “believing” lead to our spiritual rebirth?

Rebirth implies real, tangible process.

What possible process is involved when ideas simply remain as un-germinated seeds in the soil of the human memory? Those who embrace the doctrine of faith alone point out that no one is perfect and that no human act or deed of goodness can help us gain the credit of the Lord’s righteousness.

The doctrine of faith alone allows Christians to overlook their personal flaws and serves as a prophylactic to the commandments and introspection. Such believers cleverly point out that an individual who seeks salvation through good deeds seeks his or her own merit. But they miss the point that, because people are imperfect, they must seek and pray for the Lord’s help in becoming a better person. One does not seek merit if he or she approaches the Lord with sincerity and humility. (And one cannot effectively seek God’s help unless one sees specific inclinations and compulsions that need overhauling.)

The other thing people tend to overlook is that good deeds are not sincere until someone tackles their personal flaws. Otherwise, a person can accomplish good deeds for the sake of reputation, self-promotion, and even to keep personal agendas hidden from the world.

Repentance precedes good deeds. This brings innocence to the deed.

Love is faith put into action. True faith is the love to do what is true. Love makes faith alive. The warmth of Love is how faith germinates in our memory and grows out into the living actions of our heart. Any religious doctrine that deters the growth and development of spiritual love in our lives is “rebirth control.”

God’s heavenly kingdom consists of mutual love. Mutual love is more than our possessing the right idea in our noggins. It necessitates doing the right thing from a spiritual conscience.

Posted on January 12, 2009by thegodguy

http://www.provinggod.com

Posted in god, Inner growth, love, psychology, Reality, religion, spirituality, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hope – But what to pin it on?

Turn on the television news, look at your bank statement, listen to your friend’s woes. Faced with the basic problems of living who hasn’t despaired of things ever turning out okay? How are you to be delivered from all that is going wrong with the world – the hate and violence, crime, stress, family breakdown, business dishonesty? What power for good is going to make a real difference? In what can you turn to for confidence about things improving?

Hope in bodily pleasure

One answer is to rely on bodily pleasure. Who doesn’t look forward to escaping home at the end of a fraught day and crashing out. Some people get a bit tipsy after work trying to forget their troubles. Or indulge in comfort eating. Those who are bored with life perhaps look forward to the excitement of a new sexual thrill or dangerous sport. Others may take recreational drugs to enhance their mood.

Whatever your fix, you will know deep down that it can’t be relied upon to make things better other than on a temporary basis. Bodily indulgence is just a temporary distraction that never really solves anything.

Hope in technology

How about counting on technological invention to permanently make life very different? Given time, engineers, who designed vacuum cleaners and washing machines, will probably create other labour saving equipment in the home. The electronics industry will probably change your life as much as did computers and smart phones.

But do machines make you any more contented? Do they reduce work stress or just give us more emails to answer? Do they help us cope with personal relationships or just take away our privacy whilst using social media? Do they liberate human beings from mundane work or just make people redundant?

Hope in politics

You might be banking on politics to make a real difference to your life. The hope is that it may produce a better world to live in. National government can provide solutions to social and economic problems by ensuring good public services such as education and health care. Can politicians do all this and at the same time protect the environment, encourage commercial enterprise and pay for our security? Certainly, they are happy to appeal for votes with policies claimed to meet the country’s need for good housing, high rates of employment, a sense of social justice, and a level of socially cohesion that enables good community relations.

The trouble is there seems in Britain to be a widespread disenchantment with the main political parties. Can we really hope politicians will offer us salvation from our economic and social woes or will they just be too busy slagging off the other side creating falsehood, fear and smear? How can national policies expect to radically change the way human beings behave towards each other in the home, and in the workplace? What the government do cannot make us show more respect for others, give us a social conscience, and reduce our self-interest.

Hope in therapy

Perhaps you should be looking to some form of counselling to rid you of unpleasant feelings like anxiety and depression. Talking with a friend or with a professional therapist is for you when going through a bad time or when you have emotional problems you can’t sort out on your own. You can hope that life will be made easier if you look at your problems in a different way and learn new personal skills.

Critics, however, point out that with over a 25% drop out rate from professional therapy, what may count is how you and the other person get on. What is called the quality of the therapeutic relationship. But choosing who is best for you to work with in confidence is virtually impossible in advance. Also although therapists may be seen as the new high priests, they can’t actually solve the deeper issues of life – tissues to do with your sense of identity, the meaning you attach to being alive, your eventual death and an unknowable future. Nor can they alleviate the socially caused problems that beset you, over which you have no influence.

Hope in oneself

Many will feel that if you want a job doing well then do it yourself. In other words in the end one has to put one’s hope in one’s own solutions to difficulties. Don’t depend on others but become more self-reliant. Taking responsibility for dealing with the mess you find yourself in can be liberating. It can reduce the feeling of helpless dejection by giving a new sense of control. This self-confidence may seem to be a good idea for those who feel they are managing life’s difficulties.

But when you are in crisis being confronted by failure, and factors beyond your own influence then you will be brought up sharp by the burdens of reality and a sense of helplessness. The need is to turn to something that is stronger then yourself to effect change. Members of AA turn to a higher power to help them abstain from alcohol.

Hope in the transcendent

In my view, in rightly rejecting the punitive and judgmental ideas of traditional religion, many people today nevertheless believe in a life force that gives nature its vitality. Others recognize a universal spirit which inspires humane compassion and love; and a divine providence that provides us with the opportunities for learning life’s lessons so that we can become wiser and calmer in the face of adversity.

hopeI happen to believe that what saves you, from all that is bad, is a humble acknowledgment that what is good ultimately does not come from the world or from yourself. For we humans are finite. Instead it originates in an infinite source of goodness itself, far beyond your or my own strength to create. A source of divine love and wisdom which is both mysteriously simultaneously transcendent beyond us and immanently present within us. To find a lasting sense of hope is to put one’s faith in this divine power. Perhaps that is why even in these secular times in Britain many people in crisis, who do not normally do so, pray to God when they are desperate for help.

Copyright 2015 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

 

Multiply Yourself – Everywhere!

Be honest. Don’t you wish everyone would think and be like you? If you could turn everyone else into “you,” the world would be six billion times better. I am not kidding.

Furthermore, you actually have the power to do so.

Not only would it be a good thing to turn everyone else into copies of “you,” God wants you to do precisely just that! In fact, it is actually one of God’s great commandments. The commandment is to love thy neighbor as oneself.

Confused? Let me explain.

God really does want us to look at others and see ourselves. But this is not to be understood as a spreading out of one’s self-centeredness in all directions. It is an act of humility.

When one person loves another as him or herself, he or she will then see the other in oneself, and oneself in the other. This spiritual love and consciousness is called empathy.

It is not the multiplication or the forcing of one’s will upon everyone else, either. It is the harmonious unification of the wills of many.

This unites one person with another. And even better, unites one society with another.

This union does not superimpose our likeness upon another person. Rather, it allows us all to take on the likeness of the Lord God, who is Divine Love.

Heaven is a likeness of the Lord because it consists of those who live in spiritual love and unity. Heaven on earth is the adoption of neighborly love by all its terrestrial citizens.

This is the deeper meaning within God’s command to be “fruitful and multiply.” God wants us each to increase the good in the world.

That would indeed make the world six billion times better.

Posted on September 5, 2008by thegodguy

Posted in god, Inner growth, love, psychology, Reality, religion, spirituality, unity | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

What’s so bad about a bit of self-pride?

Self-prideA bit of self-pride seems part of the positive trait of self-esteem.

Possible danger of self-pride

Yet we speak of pride before a fall. The story of Icarus is about a young man’s attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax. Icarus ignored instructions not to fly too close to the sun, and the melting wax caused him to fall into the sea where he drowned. In flying too high he is often seen as possessing overconfident arrogance. The proverb ‘Pride goes before a fall’ seems apt, implying suffering for those too cocky for their own good.

On the other hand, sounding superior and important are favoured traits in today’s tough competitive economic climate.  Even if you are not in business, you need to market your work skills in order to keep your own job or get another one.

“At home I am a nice guy: but I don’t want the world to know. Humble people, I’ve found, don’t get very far.” (Muhammad Ali)

And it is said that it can become counter-productive to be modest because you may not be taken seriously.

So is it really true that you will be like Icarus and suffer in some way as a result of being full of yourself and your ability? What’s so bad about a bit of self-pride?

Noticing the sacred in others rather than self-pride in oneself

In his book Essential Spirituality, Roger Walsh writes about noticing the sacred in other people.

He tells a story about an old woman sitting by the roadside outside her town who was approached by a traveller who asked “What kinds of people live in this town?”

“What were the people like in your home town?” queried the old woman.

“Oh, they were terrible!” fumed the traveller. “Liars, cheats, incompetents, you couldn’t trust any of them. I was glad to leave.”

“You’ll find the people in this town just the same.” Responded the old woman.

Not long afterwards, she was approached by a second traveller who also questioned her about the people in the town.

“”What were the people like in your home town?” she asked.

“Oh, they were wonderful!” exclaimed the traveller. “Fine, honest, hard-working, it was a privilege to be with them. I was so sorry to leave.”

“You’ll find the people in this town just the same. “responded the old woman.

So, how you see others and what you say about them reveals more about yourself than about them. You don’t want to seem to be a know-it-all full of self-pride who fails to notice the value in others. Few people want to appear big-headed about their own abilities at the cost of the abilities of others. Moreover, seeing what is valuable about others helps you be honest with yourself about your own limitations even when this is uncomfortable.

Seeing the sacred in life itself

Spiritually-minded people acknowledge a source of deeper energy and wisdom beyond their own mind. They ask how can one not feel humbled by the wonders of the universe, or when seeing the power of altruistic love manifest in the most extreme circumstances. We are so often exposed to the scientific view, of an evolution without purpose and a universe as a meaningless machine, that no transcendent sacred force — whatever we want to call it — is allowed to exist.

But then we are pulled up short by tantalizing glimpses, of a mysterious quality within nature — perhaps triggered by a beautiful sunset, the wisdom of birds and animals, or the vastness of space — glimpses that offer a truly awe-inspiring experience of something beyond oneself.   At such moments the mundane world is transfigured.

Such experiences, can lead to acknowledging a higher good and truth that exists beyond your own ability, and which is the source of inspiration for human effort. In this way of thinking, the focus is not on the strengths of humanity but on the strengths of the Divine presence within the human soul and accepting one’s dependence on this presence for finding tolerance, patience, and other virtue. Not, as do some Christians, in sanctimoniously promoting themselves as Godly and thus betraying a self-pride in being better than others. Instead, by genuinely bowing down to an origin of all that is good, the individual does not feel empty but full.

“Jesus is the God whom we can approach without pride and before whom we can humble ourselves without despair.” (Blaise Pascal)

Neither need one indulge in self-abasement as do some believers but rather celebrate one’s ability to be uplifted and share the spiritual power available: not in denying the inner strength in oneself but rather in recognising that it is received from a higher Divine source. A bit of self-pride might not be an appropriate attitude for those with this kind of true humility.

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