Dealing with depression

 by Rev. Clark Echols

Dealing with depressionSadness, like joy, anger and fear, is a normal human emotion. It is a gift from the Lord because it allows us to be conscious of who and what we love; we cannot experience love without feeling some sadness. People have noticed for millennia that going through periods of sadness or grief restores one’s mental, emotional, and spiritual balance.

However, sometimes a person is unable to manage his sadness on his own. Depression exists for many individuals, often brought on by a traumatic experience or a chemical imbalance in the brain. The medical community has helped by defining the disease of depression as a physical ailment that begins in the brain, and is felt in all parts of the body in a variety of ways.

In many cases, depression is caused when there is an interruption in either the brain’s production or reception of dopamine, the chemical that induces our feeling of joy.

There is a very real spiritual component to this ailment as well. As described in Divine Providence, “The state of the mind depends on that of the body. When the body is afflicted, the mind is as well, if only by being out of touch with the world” (142). It helps people to know that depression is a physical disease. It frees them from uselessly and harmfully blaming themselves for the ailment. It frees them to take a very wide view of what they can do to be cured. And it is quite common for depression to be cured if it can be attended to early in its appearance.

Therapists have a short, simple list of remedies for depression, although actually doing them requires more or less strength, courage and stamina depending on the severity of the illness. The list begins with physical behaviors – sleeping, eating and exercise in the right amounts in a structured routine. Then there is the mental skills – relaxation, focus, presence, attentiveness, which are grouped together as mindfulness practices. And finally, there is the spiritual component.

The spiritual component is not a physical discipline or a mental practice, although it needs to be expressed in our body and in our thought and feeling. An effective therapist will help the person identify their higher power, the Divine, God, or Lord as a loving, helpful, healing source of their life. And then the person seeks a spiritual sense of connection to their God. For instance, it is common for a person suffering depression to report that they feel forgotten by God.

The cure for depression involves all of these pieces. It is critical for there to be a stable, helpful relationship with God, a mindful way of thinking and feeling, and healthy behaviors. Each supports the other, and the cure is harder to achieve if one or more of them is not fully utilized by the person.

A typical scenario for a person is that they are traumatized by a loss. They can’t sleep, eat poorly, and don’t leave their bed, or at least their house, as much as a healthy person does. And then their thinking and feeling – the activity of their brains – is affected and they give a lot of time and energy to negative thoughts about themselves, their circumstances and the future (as distinct from sadness, anger or fear about these areas of their life). It is then that spirits associated with evil and false notions and desires are attracted to the person, and are able to attach themselves to the unconscious level of the person’s spirit.

The cure for depression can begin in any one of these aspects or as a combination. A person who has had a strong faith – a significant sense of dependence on God and appreciation of His presence in their lives – can be encouraged by a spiritual guide or therapist to be mindful of that faith, and can be instructed to use energy, thought and feeling, to create a sacred space where they can spend time in devotion. Perhaps they use Scripture, music, guided meditation or singing to bring the benefits of positive spirits into their unconscious. These spirits will restore the person’s balanced view of their life, and remind them of the inner strengths they have from their God.

A spouse or close family member can be with the person, and as they talk about the person’s thinking and feeling, they are able to reflect the function and dysfunctional patterns of thinking. The person can be alerted to the connection they maintain between negative thoughts and feelings by a person listening carefully.

A friend can take the person to, or bring in, a meal of good food, and go with them for a walk. Or if there is a form of recreation the person has loved, a companion in that activity can be encouraging.

The cure is achieved when the person’s spirit is fully engaged again in their thinking, feeling and acting. The person then not only feels connected to their God, but also to their community. They feel the fulfillment and joy of a life of usefulness, which is generated by an inner desire to love their God and do their neighbor good.


Clark Echols is a licensed counselor, and pastor of the Glendale New Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. For more information, visit www.clarkechols.com.

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DAILY INSPIRATION

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

Arcana Coelestia 6481

 

Foresight

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The Lord can see how the mind of a person is tending, towards evil or towards good. When the tendency is toward evil the Lord will provide circumstances which allow the person to recognize this and to bend away from that course on his or her own, leaving the person in freedom because he or she is unaware of any actions except his or her own.

In this way a person may turn toward a lesser evil, or even towards good, or – still in freedom – may continue deeper into the evil if that is the strong desire. The Lord’s foresight is in no way a predestination.

 

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Not So Difficult to Live the Life of Heaven

Lastchurch - The Eternal Purpose

Not So Difficult to Live the Life of Heaven

Selection from Heaven and Hell ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

It is not so difficult to live the life of heaven as some believe can now be seen from this:

that when any thing presents itself to a man that he knows to be dishonest and unjust, but to which his mind is borne, it is simply necessary for him to think that it ought not to be done because it is opposed to the Divine precepts. If a man accustoms himself so to think, and from so doing establishes a habit of so thinking, he is gradually conjoined to heaven; and so far as he is conjoined to heaven the higher regions of his mind are opened; and so far as these are opened he sees whatever is dishonest and unjust, and so far as he sees these evils they can be dispersed, for no evil can be dispersed until it is seen. Into this state man is able to enter because of his freedom, for is not any one able from his freedom to so think? And when man has made a beginning the Lord quickens all that is good in him, and causes him not only to see evils to be evils, but also to refrain from willing them, and finally to turn away from them. This is meant by the Lord’s words,

My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matt. 11:30).

But it must be understood that the difficulty of so thinking and of resisting evils increases so far as man from his will does evils, for in the same measure he becomes accustomed to them until he no longer sees them, and at length loves them and from the delight of his love excuses them, and confirms them by every kind of fallacy, and declares them to be allowable and good. This is the fate of those who in early youth plunge into evils without restraint, and also reject Divine things from the heart.

(Heaven and Hell 533)
January 4, 2015

How to Acquire Spiritual Faith, which is Faith ‘from’ Charity

Lastchurch - The Eternal Purpose

Selection from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

It is known in the world that there is a natural man and a spiritual man, as also that the natural man is worldly and the spiritual man heavenly; but still it is not known what spiritual faith is, and how it differs from natural faith.
(1) That every man has two minds, one natural and the other spiritual; and as it is the mind that wills and thinks, every man has also natural will and thought and spiritual will and thought. The natural mind wills and thinks like a man in the world, and the spiritual mind wills and thinks like an angel in heaven. From this it follows that as faith is in man, it, too, is natural or spiritual; and that natural faith is according to man’s will and thought in the world, and spiritual faith is according to his will and thought in heaven. It is said the will and thought, because all things from which man is a man have relation to these two, for from the will he acts, and from the thought he speaks. And as a man acts and speaks either from self or from God, so he wills and thinks either from self or from God. From this it is clear, in the first place, that there is natural faith and spiritual faith; and that natural faith apart from spiritual faith is to think such things as are in the Word from self, while natural faith from spiritual faith is to think such things as are in the Word from God; although this also seems to the man to be from himself.

(2) As every man has two minds, a natural and a spiritual, and the natural mind is opened and formed by such things as are in the world, while the spiritual mind is opened and formed by such things as are in heaven, and as the things that are in heaven are all spiritual, so a man’s spiritual mind must needs be opened and formed by such things as are in the Word, in which all things are spiritual because they are Divine. In the Word there are truths that are to be known and thought, and goods that must be willed and done; therefore it is by these goods and these truths that man’s spiritual mind is opened and formed. From this it follows, that unless the spiritual mind is opened and formed by truths and goods from the Word it remains closed; and when this is closed the natural mind only is opened and formed by such things as are in the world, from which man, indeed, derives a natural lumen, but such as has in it no wisdom from heaven. From this it is clear, in the second place, that faith is not faith so long as the natural mind only is opened, but that if the thought that a thing is so is called faith it is historical faith, which is nothing but knowledge from which the natural man thinks.

(3) That the spiritual mind may be opened and formed it must have a storehouse from which it may draw its supplies; since unless man has such a storehouse he is empty, and in emptiness there can be no Divine operation. This storehouse is in the natural man and it is its memory, in which everything knowable can be stored up and can be drawn forth from it. In this storehouse for the formation of the spiritual man there must be truths that are to be believed and goods that are to be done, both of them from the Word and from doctrine and preaching from the Word. These man must learn even from infancy. But all these things, however abundant they may be, although they are from the Word, are natural until the spiritual mind is opened; for they are mere knowledge. Thought from this storehouse is what is called faith by those who separate faith from good works in doctrine and in life.

(4) The spiritual mind is primarily opened by man’s abstaining from doing evils because they are contrary to the Divine commandments in the Word. If man abstains from evils from any other fear than this the spiritual mind is not opened. The following are the reasons why this is what opens the spiritual mind: First, that the evils with man must be removed before communication and conjunction with heaven can be granted him; since evils, which are all in the natural man, keep heaven closed, and yet heaven must be opened, for otherwise man remains natural. The second reason is that the Word is from the Lord, and consequently the Lord is in the Word, even so that He is the Word; for the Word is Divine truth all of which is from the Lord. From this it follows that he who abstains from doing evils because they are contrary to the Divine commandments in the Word abstains from them from the Lord. The third reason is, that as far as evils are removed so far goods enter. That this is so can be seen by man from natural lumen alone, for when lasciviousness is removed chastity enters; when intemperance is removed temperance enters; when deceit is removed sincerity enters; when hatred and the delight of revenge are removed love and the delight of love and friendship enter; and so in other cases; and this for the reason that the Lord enters, and heaven with Him, so far as man from the Word abstains from doing evils, since he then abstains from them from the Lord.

(5) But this shall be illustrated by examples. Take for illustration the four commandments of the Decalogue, “thou shalt not commit adultery,” “thou shalt not steal,” “thou shalt not kill,” “thou shalt not bear false witness.” These commandments are Divine, since they are in the Word. When anyone shuns and averts himself from adultery because of the fear that it is against the Lord, against heaven, and against the spiritual life, to be in accord with which is eternal felicity, he loves chastity and loves his consort, because true conjugial love is chastity itself. When anyone shuns and averts himself from theft because of a like fear as from adultery, he loves sincerity, and loves the good of the neighbor as his own good. When anyone shuns and averts himself from murders or from deadly hatred from a like fear he loves the neighbor and is in charity. When anyone shuns and averts himself from false testimony because of a like fear he loves justice and loves truthfulness, and this from the Lord, because from the Word; consequently when after death he becomes a spirit he is like an angel of heaven, and therefore becomes an angel of heaven. But when one does not shun adultery from such a holy fear, but from a fear for his reputation, and thus of the loss of honor and gain, or from a fear of the law, or of disease, or because of weakness, he is still unchaste, since he merely fears the world and the loss of his prosperity in the world, and does not fear the Lord, and thus does not fear the loss of heaven and of eternal life. In like manner when anyone abstains from thefts, from murders or deadly hatreds, and from false testimonies, from natural fear only and not from spiritual fear, he abstains from these from self and not from the Lord; and he who does this from self still remains in them; and no one can be withdrawn from these except by the Lord. From this it can be seen that the spiritual mind with man is opened by this, that from the Word he abstains from doing evils; and that it is opened in the same degree in which he abstains from them by shunning and turning away from them.

(Apocalypse Explained 790:3-7)
April 14, 2017

The Ultra, Ultra Miracle Of Life

Scientists are truly astonished that the laws of nature are bio-friendly—fine-tuned to allow for the emergence of life. When one considers that life has evolved in complexity to give us the human brain and personal-level experience (consciousness) things get even more astonishing.

While many scientists see an “apparent” intelligent direction in evolution, this direction is not deemed purposeful or designed. Rather, this is all the result of the contingency of random or chance mutations. Life is the result of a cosmic throw of the dice. Ironically, this cosmic crapshoot allows entities to appear with functions that express a mastery of science (which humans and their brains do not possess).

Furthermore, when you take into account that nature seems to display an incessant compulsion for self-organization, one can only assume that the dice are loaded.

In spite of modern science’s reluctance to embrace purposeful design, every organic process and structure serves a distinct purpose. Why is this significant? Well, science knows that anything put into motion seeks out its equilibrium. The miracle of life is that myriads of distinct actions are set in motion, yet all seek a common equilibrium! Every process and organic function must be coordinated and subordinated according to successive and simultaneous order.

This coordinated distribution of action is a bit much to ask of merely gravitating matter. Matter is not smart enough to orchestrate such a cooperative effort, whereby things gain distinction through togetherness.

Now fast-forward to the evolution of the human race. Here, a similar principle seems to apply. Individuals in society gain distinction from their selfless service to the common good of others.

Hmmm?

Even quantum physics is offering clues that existence is relationship and that matter is not the fundamental “stuff” of the universe. What is fundamental in nature is now seen by scientists as the “tendency to exist.” This tendency emerges from a non-spatial and non-temporal realm.

Hmmm? What possible non-physical dynamic could be represented by a “disposition” that endeavored to take concrete form through relationship and cooperation?

The answer is LOVE.

The essence of love is to unite. Love is psychical—a disposition of mind—and therefore a non-physical principle of agency.

Love is God.

This is just a small taste of the issues I will be tackling in my upcoming book, Proving God. My strategy is to put naturalism on its head, and show how time and space, plus all law and force in the universe, emerged from love’s dynamical nature.

In God’s universe, Love is not simply a passion or lively enthusiasm. Love is the ultimate science.

Posted on November 13, 2008by thegodguy

Posted in god, love, metaphysics, psychology, Reality, religion, science, spirituality, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using Swedenborg to Understand the Quantum World I: Events

Swedenborg Foundation

By Ian Thompson, PhD, Nuclear Physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National LaboratoryFor the last hundred years, physicists have been using the quantum theory about the universe, but they still do not properly understand of what the quantum world is made.

molecular_thoughts_hires

The previous physics (referred to as “classical” and started by Isaac Newton) used ideas of “waves” and “particles” to picture what makes up the physical world. But now we find that every object in the quantum world sometimes behaves as a particle and sometimes behaves as a wave! Which is it? In quantum physics, objects behave most of the time like waves spreading out as they travel along, but sometimes measurements show objects to be particles with a definite location: not spread out at all. Why is that? It is as though their size and location suddenly change in measurement events. This is quite unlike classical physics, where particles exist continuously with the same fixed shape. In quantum physics, by contrast, objects have fixed locations only intermittently, such as when they are observed.  So they only offer us a discrete series of events that can be measured, not a continuous trajectory. Quantum objects, then, are alternately continuous and discontinuous.

Why would we ever expect such a fickle world? Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) has some ideas that might help us. He describes how all physical processes are produced by something mental, or spiritual, and this can be confirmed by reason of the similarity in patterns between the physical processes and their mental causes. In Swedenborg’s words, there are correspondences between the physical and the mental—that they have similar structures and functions, even though mind and matter are quite distinct.

I need to state what correspondence is. The whole natural world is responsive to the spiritual world—the natural world not just in general, but in detail. So whatever arises in the natural world out of the spiritual one is called “something that corresponds.” It needs to be realized that the natural world arises from and is sustained in being by the spiritual world . . . (Heaven and Hell §89)

Although these ideas are not part of present-day science, I still hope to show below that they may have some implications for how science could usefully develop.

Swedenborg’s theory of mind is easy to begin to understand. He talks about how all mental processes have three common elements: desire, thought, and action. The desire is what persists and motivates what will happen. The thought is the exploration of possibilities for actions and the making of an intention. The action is the determined intention, the product of desire and thought that results in an actual physical event.

The [actions] themselves are in the mind’s enjoyments and their thoughts when the delights are of the will and the thoughts are of the understanding therefrom, thus when there is complete agreement in the mind. The [actions] then belong to the spirit, and even if they do not enter into bodily act still they are as if in the act when there is agreement. (Divine Providence §108)

All of the three spiritual elements are essential. Without desire (love), or ends, nothing would be motivated to occur. Without thought, that love would be blind and mostly fail to cause what it wants. Without determined intention, both the love and thought would be frustrated and fruitless, with no effect achieved at all. In everyday life, this intention is commonly called will, but it is always produced by some desire driving everything that happens. Here is the pattern:

      Spiritual                                                                   Natural
Desire + Thought Mental Action (Intention)  Physical Action, or Event, in the World

Swedenborg summarizes the relationship between these elements as follows:

All activities in the universe proceed from ends through causes into effects. These three elements are in themselves indivisible, although they appear as distinct in idea and thought. Still, even then, unless the effect that is intended is seen at the same time, the end is not anything; nor is either of these anything without a cause to sustain, foster and conjoin them. Such a sequence is engraved on every person, in general and in every particular, just as will, intellect, and action is. Every end there has to do with the will, every cause with the intellect, and every effect with action. (Conjugial Love §400:1–2)

Now consider Swedenborg’s theory of correspondences mentioned above. He says that there is a similar pattern between the details of the effects and the details of the causes. ”As above, so below,” others have said. So if mental action produces some effect in the physical world, then, by correspondence, we would expect a similar pattern between that physical effect and each of the three elements common to all mental processes. We would expect something physical like desire, then something physical like thought, and finally something physical like mental action. Do we recognize these patterns in physics? And if so, do we recognize them better in classical physics or in quantum physics?

I claim we do recognize them in physics:

  • We recognize the “something physical like desire” as energy or propensity. These are what persist physically and produce the result, just like desire does in the mind. They are in both classical and quantum physics.
  • We recognize the “something physical like thought” as the wave function in quantum physics. This describes all the possibilities, propensities, and probabilities for physical events, just like thought does in the mind.
  • We recognize the “something physical like mental action” as the actual specific physical outcome, a selection of just one of the possibilities to be made actual. This is a measurement event in quantum physics, the product of energy or propensity and the wave function, just like the product of desire and thought is the mental action.

We will discuss energy and wave functions in later posts, focusing here on the final step of mental actions and physical events. According to Swedenborg’s ideas, the structure of mental processes and the structure of physical events should be similar. So, too, the function of mental processes and the function of physical events should be similar. Can we tell from this whether we should expect a classical world or a quantum world?

One feature of thought and mental action with which we should be familiar is time. That is, we always need time to think! Without any time gap between desiring and intending, we would be acting instinctively and impulsively. Sometimes that works but not always (at least in my experience!). Most often, there has to be some delay, even some procrastination, between having a desire and fulfilling it. That delay gives us time to deliberate and decide on the best action to select. And, most importantly, if it is we who decide when to act, we feel that we act in some freedom. It feels better.

If the physical world corresponds to those mental processes, according to Swedenborg, what hypothesis do we reach about physics? It is that there will be corresponding time gaps between the beginning of some persisting energy or propensity and the selection of physical outcome. Remember that quantum objects are selected and definite only intermittently—when measured, or observed—while classical objects are continuously definite with no gaps. All this leads us to expect that physical events should not be continuous; that is, we should expect a quantum world rather than a classical world.

http://www.swedenborg.com/

Continue with Part II: Desire and Energy>

Ian Thompson is also the author of Starting Science from God, as well as Nuclear Reactions in Astrophysics (Univ. of Cambridge Press) and more than two hundred refereed professional articles in nuclear physics.

Visit our Swedenborg Studies bookstore page to explore our series of scholarly titles >

Read more posts from the Scholars on Swedenborg series >

God, Gravitational Order, and Love

 

 

Okay, put on your thinking caps.

It is well known in physics that once something is put into motion it seeks its equilibrium. What is striking about the physical universe is that everything is expressing motion. Even a brick lying on the ground is composed of atomic particles and subatomic particles that are in motion.

The whole universe is in dynamical process. Everything is undergoing some change and differentiation. The miracle of creation is that change and motion is organized into coherent structure. This means that change finds its equilibrium in some constant form.

The only way change can take on a constant form is through some cyclic action that subordinates and coordinates the process to continually return to where it started – like an orbit.

Time and space are both derived from change producing stable structure. There is no such thing as a coherent notion of time without regularity through periodicity. And time cannot acquire this regularity without something generating a space through repeatable process.

Whether we observe the motion of stars in galaxies, planets in solar systems, or biological process, everything finds its equilibrium in cyclic and organized repeatability.

This is why action always comes in discrete whole units (which is a basic concept in quantum theory). Systems introduce the concept whereby successive events are simultaneously subordinated and coordinated into a unity.

But scientists will tell you that motion and change is meaningless without an actual substance taking part in the action. Something substantial has to do the moving.

What primal substance could find its equilibrium in such complex and coherent ways? Such a substance would have to be self-initiating and self-referable. Why? It would have to be self-initiating because there would be no physical forces to push it before the creation event had taken place – its action would be the creation event! It would be self-referable because in order to maintain periodicity, every point of its progressive motion would have perfect reference to its beginning and end. Such a fundamental morphogenetic or non-physical form-giving substance could only be conscious endeavor.

This primal, non-physical substance is LOVE – God’s love.  Love represents the primal force and special initial conditions of the prenatal universe, before time, space, or matter existed.

Love creates a mind or orbit, which represents the parameters and boundary conditions of its operation. Active information adapts itself to love’s disposition, that is, gives form and measurement to love’s endeavor. This process is why mathematics (a product of mind) fits nature’s logical and ordered structure like a glove – the universe is an image of the logical structure of mind. This is also why the laws of the universe are fine-tuned to be profoundly bio-friendly.

In a unified universe, where everything conspires towards relational holism, everything must find its equilibrium in co-existence through cooperation and utility. This order is an orientation towards goodness. And goodness is a derivative of love.

Religion takes gravitational order and physics into the realm of values. Our values and life-choices represent the equilibrium end state and non-physical organization (biosystem) of our soul.

I have crammed a lot of stuff into this short post. I wanted to give you a taste of some of the topics I will be covering in my next book, “Proving God.” I believe it will be the best attempt yet at unifying science and theology and will challenge you to change your assumptions about both!

Posted on September 27, 2008by thegodguy

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