Achieving Work and (Spiritual) Life Balance

Swedenborg Foundation

 

By Morgan Beard

If your goal is to live a spiritual life, then you may also have thought about ways to bring more meaning into your working life: a job that helps people in need, teaches those who are looking for knowledge, creates beauty or inspiring messages, champions truth and fights corruption. Maybe you feel called to make a difference in the world in a way that suits your unique talents. Then reality sets in. There are bills to pay and obligations to fulfill, and the jobs that are most rewarding for your soul are often the least rewarding for your bank account.

work+spirituality

How do you balance a mundane but financially sustainable working life with a desire for spiritual fulfillment? Does choosing one mean sacrificing the other?

When Swedenborg talks about working for a living, it’s usually in the context of charitas, a Latin word that’s often translated charity, but carries a broad sense of caring for or loving other people. In the following excerpt from his writings, the term is translated goodwill.

Goodwill itself is acting justly and faithfully in our position and our work, because all the things we do in this way are useful to the community; and usefulness is goodness, and goodness in an impersonal sense is our neighbor. As I have shown [elsewhere], our neighbor is not only individual people but also our community and the country as a whole.

For example, if monarchs lead the way for their subjects by setting an example of doing good, if they want their people to live by the laws of justice, if they reward people who live that way, if they give all people the consideration they deserve, if they keep their people safe from harm and invasion, if they act like parents to their countries, and take care for the general prosperity of their people—these monarchs have goodwill in their hearts. The things they do are good actions. . . .

Business people who act with honesty and without fraudulence are caring for the neighbor they do business with. So are workers and craftspeople when they do their work uprightly and honestly rather than falsely or deceptively. The same goes for everyone else—for ship captains and sailors, or farm workers and servants. (True Christianity #422)

There’s a real value in doing your job and doing it well, even if the job itself isn’t very spiritually uplifting. You may not have a very high opinion of politicians (and maybe justifiably so!) but if someone in a position of power acts the way that Swedenborg describes above, it could make a tremendous difference in people’s lives. Even people who don’t seem to have much power or influence—farmers, cab drivers, janitors, waiters, admins—can have a positive impact on other people just through the way they do their jobs and how they relate to the people around them.

In the passage above, Swedenborg mentions another key idea: usefulness. Some jobs are useful in big ways: doctors, for example, save lives. But every job has the potential to make someone’s life just a little bit better or easier, or to bring some small joy where there was none before. Think about the people around you. How many people do you help by doing your job well? How many people would you hurt if you did it badly? That’s why Swedenborg says doing things that are useful to others, or to society as a whole, is the same as doing good in the world. It can be that easy.

Ultimately, Swedenborg’s message is that it’s not what we do, but how and why we do it:

Goodwill is doing good to our neighbor daily and constantly—not only to our neighbor as an individual but also to our neighbor collectively. The only way to do this is through practicing goodness and justice in our position and work and with the people with whom we have any interaction, because these are the things we do every day. When we are not doing them, they still stay in our minds all the time; we think about them and intend to do them.

People who practice goodwill in this way become better and better forms of goodwill. Justice and faithfulness shape their minds and the practice of goodwill shapes their bodies. Over time, because of their form, they get to the point where everything they want and think about relates to goodwill. (True Christianity #423)

So maybe the question is not “How do I get a better job?” but “How do I do a better job?” Can you help someone in your workplace, or use good humor or a good attitude to brighten someone’s day? Can you appreciate the usefulness in even the most ordinary tasks? When you start thinking in terms of how to make other people happy instead of how to make yourself happy, Swedenborg says, that’s the first step to finding spiritual fulfillment—no matter where you are or what you do.

http://www.swedenborg.com/

The journey of grief

Dealing with crisis and grief

Are you having a hard time, and don’t know where to turn? Can’t seem to move past it?

Each of us has faced, or will face, a personal crisis in some form during the course of our lives. For some of us, it occurs when young, with the loss of a parent or other childhood trauma. For others, crisis comes in adult life. The precipitating event can be compared to the wake of a large ship that passes a little boat. The peaceful waters that were taken for granted now churn with trouble, threatening to overturn our lives.

The journey of grief

 by Rev. Clark Echols

 The teachings for the New Church explain that a belief in a God of love will carry a person through loss to a life that is not diminished, even if there is something missing.

Grief is a person’s spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical reaction to loss, which can begin before the loss actually occurs and persists until the grief reaction is no longer noticed. People in the helping professions know that a person’s experience of grief is short or long, mild or disruptive, mental or physical, depending on both obvious and subtle influences. You have experienced grief. Perhaps a favorite piece of clothing wore out, you moved away from friends, or a parent died. Perhaps you experienced panic, or depression, or despair, or sadness, or nostalgia, or anger, or something else. Maybe you experienced foggy thinking, an absence of emotions, uncontrolled emotions, a loss of appetite, joint pain, or any number of other sensations.

Your experience of grief will be unique, even though it may include states others experience. That you experience your own grief is wonderful, actually, because the Lord is accommodating His divine love and wisdom to you in a way specific to your spiritual and physical needs. This is the first observation from New Church ideas that can help you. The Lord actively leads you through a process which is governed by His rules of love. This will progress to completion, and He will return you to a balanced state in which you can again experience joy.

As the New Church teaches, love creates and maintains a spiritual connection; the tighter the connection, the more the loss affects us and impacts our spiritual and natural worlds.

Perhaps you have experienced a sudden loss: a pet died accidentally, or you were fired without warning. The experience shocks you, spiritually and physically, disrupting thought and even movement. These effects of the shock of the loss are so significant that researchers found they can be measured in the brain. Perhaps the Lord wants you to stop everything for a moment rather than do something damaging to your process of recovery. Typically, a grieving person either does almost nothing for some time, or merely “goes through the motions” on emotional autopilot. During this static stage, your identity is protected, allowing you to continue through the process without requiring permanent changes to your personality in order to cope. The Lord preserves your eternal welfare, even though you have lost something integral to your spiritual life.

Grieving includes using coping mechanisms to deal with your loss. Not everyone cries, but everyone needs the sphere of love around them. Like many, you may turn inward, reflecting on a picture bigger than you have ever considered before. The Word explains that this happens because what is mortal is put right next to what you want to be immortal in your mind and heart. You sense your own mortality as a new reality. If you experience sudden loss, you may feel a new fear of the future—a worry that you could die tomorrow. You may feel anxiety that you have not become a good person or that you have not achieved your life’s goals.

This tension creates an emotional rollercoaster that comes from resisting the Lord’s care, His providence, which leaves us unsatisfied and weary. The ride only slows and levels out as you acknowledge the reality of the loss and give yourself permission to experience sadness, loneliness or helplessness. Your intellect may find it hard to believe, but the fact is that when you let go and grieve—an act of will—you let God carry you through the process to the end of the ride, when you can walk on your own in the joy of being on solid ground.

Many who grieve notice that the story of the loss runs around in their minds in bits and pieces. Perhaps you have experienced this. Some of the bits are accurate memories of what happened, and you can feel badly, even responsible, for the loss. Some of the memories are inaccurate and cause you unnecessary distress. One way to discover the difference, and to be able to put the story “to bed,” is to tell the story. Of course, there will be more analysis, and perhaps regrets and resentment. But when these are put in the context of your eternal life and the eternal life of your loved one (if that is what you are grieving), the Lord puts the pieces together in a way that helps you overcome any distress. Given time and cooperation, the Lord will finish the puzzle of your life, and you can enjoy a whole picture.

Forgiveness is an important stage of grief for most people. When you forgive another, you let go of a burden. When you experience a loss, it is common to have trouble forgiving both others and oneself. Jesus teaches that forgiving is a spiritual act. But He points out again and again that to the degree that you spiritually let go of any thought or feeling that keeps you from forgiving, to that degree you find security and joy. When you grieve, you can become immersed in the pain of anger, resentment, regret and recrimination. These are all tied to merely natural thoughts and feelings. It is important to face what you really think and feel—what you label good and label bad. When you do, you welcome the Lord’s forgiveness and can then find the strength of heart and clarity of mind to forgive yourself and others.

By letting go and forgiving, you can begin to rebuild your life. Your work now becomes finding your own meaning for your life. Many have a change in faith. Many lose the religious faith that they had held. Many find a new confidence in their faith. The teachings for the New Church explain that a belief in a God of love will carry a person through a loss to a life that is not diminished, even if there is something missing. People who have an inaccurate idea of God (for instance, that He punishes us for our wrongdoings) will not have this resource and will find other ways of processing their grief. Of course, many of these means will work to some extent. But many of them, like abusing alcohol, are not only self destructive, but do not allow the process of grief to proceed.

You can take any number of actions to find meaning in your life. Many people begin new hobbies or return to old ones. Others take on opportunities to be of service. Some become better at their vocation, confirming their delight in doing something they love to do. In this way a person participates in redefining life. Thankfully, the Lord has provided that your loss does not diminish who you are: your personality and your place in His kingdom. However, YOUR world HAS changed! Your place in it has changed. Like an intricate mobile that has lost one of its weights, you experience a jangling, jarring tossing until the new balance is found, and slowly the bouncing settles down. There is balance, but it is a new configuration.

The Lord designed your spirit to seek and eventually achieve this balance. His loving care is always lifting you, countering the depressing effects of your loss. The warmth of His love continually radiates in your spirit. The process of grief is designed to bring your consciousness out of the cold and dark of loss into His presence again. You again take on the responsibility to live your life to its fullest potential.

The stages of grief are predictable but not uniform. They vary among circumstances and people. You have at hand a number of resources. The New Church faith may help you understand what is going on and explain why you feel the anger, despair, sadness, emptiness and pain. The Lord, especially through His Word, allows you to experience the feelings even as He alleviates them. The angels in your life, the loved ones who walk with you, hold you up when your knees buckle. There are many books and pieces of music that salve our wounds. Use them all, and your particular and unique grief process will proceed to a conclusion the Lord has designed just for you in the time He has provided.


By Rev. Clark Echols, counselor and pastor of the Glendale New Church.

This website contains a wealth of information about the New Church, and a practical, spiritual path to happiness. Read more about the beliefs of the New Church.

https://newchurch.org/

Full issue

DAILY INSPIRATION

“Nothing is permitted unless some good may come of it.”

Arcana Coelestia 6574

Scripture and the structure of reality

Those who have a faith-based worldview believe that God created the manifest universe. In fact, John 1:1-3 informs us that everything in the created world has its origins in the Holy Word.

If we contemplate John’s words rationally, rather than simply as a faith requirement, Scripture seems to be implying that the structure of the universe is patterned after the structure of God’s revealed wisdom.

Many physicists now believe that we live in a multi-dimensional or multi-leveled universe. As you move up this hierarchical ontological ladder, things are not only becoming more fundamental, they are becoming more abstract, expanded, non-local and non-physical.

In my upcoming book, Proving God, I argue that God’s Holy Word—which existed from eternity, was sent down from heaven, where its message found embodiment in the terrestrial words of human language. This divine order was the template for the multi-dimensional structure of the universe. Scientists call this order top-down causality.

Few theologians have considered the fact that if God’s Word came down from heaven, its original dynamics could not have been worldly, terrestrial, or physical. In other words, Scripture, on its most fundamental level, could not have described spatial qualities or physical events.

Heaven is certainly a non-spatial and non-physical realm. Therefore, for the Holy Word to exist in such a rarefied pre-space realm, before creation, it must have contained more abstract, expanded narratives with non-physical meanings. In fact, these higher meanings could ONLY treat of things referring to God’s holy qualities and the holy qualities of the Lord’s heavenly kingdom.

In the same way that energy and process can transition downwards into forms of stabilized matter, God’s Holy Word is a multi-dimensional document by which its primal sacred meaning descends into the constraints of time, space and matter, and its message takes on the appearance of a book containing literal history.

Reversing this top-down divine process through the human mind’s ability of symbolic abstraction while reading Scripture is what leads to spiritual enlightenment.

In other words, in the same way that matter and energy become more dynamic as the constraints of physical law are removed in higher levels of activity, the meanings of the stories in Scripture also become more dynamic when the constraints of the literal meanings of its words are removed.

That God intended for us to distill higher levels of meaning from the Holy Word is evidenced by the fact that Jesus spoke in parables only!

The Book of Revelation informs us that we will see the Lord in all His glory when He returns in the midst of clouds. If we remove the constraints of the literal meaning of the words “coming with the clouds” to its higher, psycho-spiritual equivalent, we will understand something deeper. Clouds symbolize mental obscurity.  God’s “return” will involve His breaking through our mental obscurity and doctrinal fog by revealing these higher levels of meaning to the human race.

The process of revealing these higher meanings is happening right now in the world. These higher meanings will shake things up for both scientists and theologians. The Second Coming is going to be an earth-shaking paradigm change.

Posted on December 6, 2008by thegodguy

https://thegodguy.wordpress.com/

http://www.provinggod.com

Posted in god, Inner growth, metaphysics, Reality, religion, science, spirituality, symbolism, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blind faith – Science or religion?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

blind faithEmotions can run high in the debate between religion and science. Just take a look at  the high-profile campaign in the United States to teach ‘Intelligent Design’ in schools. But is conflict inevitable because both sides are showing blind faith in their own version of reality?

Blind faith of scientists who deny a purposive life source

Despite the victory of Darwinism over creationism, it is hard to see how adaption from something like a single cell through natural selection can give an account for the development of human self-reflection, courage, honesty, ethical insight, ideology, altruism, and resistance to temptation. This is not to deny the truth about the facts of nature that science can reveal. But should we not also acknowledge the deeper side of human life revealed inwardly to those of a spiritual bent. To my mind, human consciousness derives from the human soul absent in other forms of life.

Those who believe that the origin of human existence is a spiritual Life Source are aware however that science firmly favours Darwin’s evolutionary theory, which is based on natural selection and chance factors in reproduction. Survival of the fittest means all human beings together with all animal life have descended from some one primordial form. Science it seems has no room for spiritual ideas such as a purposeful human creation.

Blind faith of creationists

The Darwinian view has easily seen off the creationists, who to my mind have failed
to notice the allegorical nature of the Genesis story. By this I mean that the story of the beginning of the world and the Garden of Eden is not a physics and biology lesson but rather a psycho-spiritual one.

Some modern theologians see the first few chapters in Genesis as a symbolic representation of the origin and dynamic development of the human psyche and
its consciousness in relation to its Source; an ageless model of each of us created in the image and likeness of God. Thus arguably the Garden of Eden is a picture of the state of trust in and obedience to God and the fall of humanity into reliance on self-intelligence and self-orientation.

To my way of thinking the Bible as a whole, if inwardly understood, shows the spiritual journey of humanity returning to a state of innocence. We have a tree of life in the first book Genesis and in the last book Revelation, both I think representing the reality seen through the depths of one’s spirit.  Understanding about life

‘coming from a God-given rationality, structured yet full of vitality and dynamism.”
(Helen Brown Do spiritual symbols mean anything today?)

According to this view trust in the Source is not one based on ignorance but is one with rational understanding — no blind faith but rather a realistic perception about meaning and purpose that takes into account all our understanding about life as a whole.

More people these days are rejecting the blind faith of religion expressed in traditional superstitions and unreasonable dogmas. People are more likely to want their spiritual intuition to be confirmed by rational discussion. Only the creationist will assume scripture is always literally true. I am arguing that people want answers to life’s issues informed by scientific education and the reasoning of common sense, as well as by spiritual knowledge and insight.

When theological doctrines such as creationism are seen to lack realistic sense, then I guess religion will start to be side-lined by those who use their rational minds.

Blind faith in scientific theories limited by naturalistic assumptions

I notice that likewise some scientists claim that random processes created human
life rather than any creative design. Is this not because there can be no scientific instruments to observe purpose and meaning? And because science is limited by its assumption that knowledge is limited to natural things like fossils and genes? I can’t imagine how there might be any scientific proof that science is the only means of acquiring valid knowledge.

Likewise when scientific theoretical concepts appear unlinked to the results of research then even to scientists they will seem more like fantasy than reality.

I wonder if you would agree with the following statement? In its naturalistic explanations and focus on the question ‘how?’ science deals with the level of thinking of the external rational mind, whereas, religion, with its focus on meaning and the question ‘why?’, appeals to the inner rational mind.

In other words when rationally presented, perhaps both science and religion are useful for communicating  different aspects of human knowledge and understanding: science for the outer, time-related, natural life and religion for the inner timeless spiritual life.

Blind faith due to arrogance

Does trouble not arise when some theologians or some scientists believe they know it all? Religion got it wrong in the past about the earth being at the centre of the solar system and today creationists claim the world was made in seven days despite all the evidence of science to the contrary.

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” Galileo Galilei (1600–1670)

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” Albert Einstein (1879–1955)

Scientists as much as religious people can fall into the trap of blind faith.

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

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

Posted on16th November 2011CategoriesMeaning of life, Religion, ScienceTags, , , , , , , , , ,, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

Live with less anxiety and more joy

WORRY CAN’T CHANGE OUR PAST OR FUTURE, BUT IT CAN RUIN THE PRESENT.

We choose the lenses with which we view the world. To correct our lens, though, we have to take steps to change:

Reflect on our attitude or perspective about a situation. When we see a negative pattern, take responsibility for avoiding that mindset. Realize that we have no power on our own. Pray to the Lord for His strength. Try to stop worrying. We have the ability, with the Lord’s strength, to meet any challenge. Use every opportunity to practice using this new lens. Remember that the kingdom of heaven is not out there, but within us.


When we learn to love and accept the situation we’re in, we find the power to change–not the situation–but our perspective.

Worry

During stressful times, when unpaid taxes still lie on the table, the children argue upstairs, and images of war flash across the news, hope and patience seem hard to come by. Worry seems inevitable. But how much can we really gain from our furrowed brow? Consider this quote: “Worry is like a good rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” Another way to think of the futility of worry is to imagine someone carrying around a suitcase of old junk that he doesn’t use. If he complained to you about his aching back, wouldn’t you suggest he drop the suitcase?

But we tend to do the same thing, feeling troubled, tired, and pulled off-balance. We hang on to our burden because (we think) something bad might happen if we let it go. But the answer is so easy. If we simply let go—if we trust in the Lord—we suddenly feel lighter.

We hear this same message from the Lord’s own mouth when He says to His disciples, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them…. Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Luke 12:22–24).

If we try to take the Lord’s command seriously, and avoid the habit of worrying, we can make a distinct difference in our inner nature. In the Heavenly Doctrines given through Emanuel Swedenborg, the book Secrets of Heaven 8474 describes the type of people who worry about the future: “They are not content with their lot, do not trust in God but in themselves, and have solely worldly and earthly things in view, not heavenly ones. These people are ruled completely by anxiety for the future….”

The passage goes on to describe, on the other hand, the kind of people who trust in the Lord: “Those who trust in the Divine are altogether different…in that they are not anxious, let alone worried, when they give thought to the morrow… They know that for those who trust in the Divine all things are moving toward an everlasting state of happiness….”

Impatience

Whenever worry enters our minds, another emotion tends to tag along with it: impatience. Often we grow impatient by worrying that life won’t turn out the way we think it should. We may unconsciously say to ourselves, “The Lord can’t handle it, so I’m going to worry for Him.”

Consider the following Biblical story, where King Saul becomes impatient with the Lord’s command, and relies on his own judgment instead. The setting is this: the Philistines have accumulated a huge army, and Saul is waiting for Samuel to offer sacrifices so he can go into battle with the Lord as his ally. “[Saul] waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, ‘Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.’” As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came” (I Samuel 13:8–11). When Samuel shows up, he’s not happy with Saul. He says, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. . . .now your kingdom shall not continue” (I Samuel 13:8–11, 13–14).

Just as Saul—when facing his enemies—worries about the risk of patiently following the Lord’s orders, we tend to feel the same way when we’re under pressure. We worry that if we follow the Lord’s way, it won’t turn out the way we want it to. Because of this impatience, worry, and lack of trust, Saul lost his kingdom. We also may lose out when we become impatient. Specifically, we lose:

Enjoyment of the situation. We think about being somewhere else or being with someone else, so we lose the delight of that moment. Infidelity thrives on this notion. Consider this quote: “A happy marriage is not about finding the right person. It’s about being the right person in the relationship.”

Forward spiritual progress. If we aren’t thinking about the present, we’re either worrying about the past or the future. We get concerned with time, and this skews our perception. We think physical, lower thoughts, and we forget higher matters. Worry can’t change our past or future, but it can ruin the present. When we dwell on the past or future, we lack motivation to make progress now.

Trust in the Lord. We begin to think the Lord isn’t managing the universe very well. Just as Saul lost the kingdom because he trusted his own agenda, when we trust in our own ideas, we make poor decisions. Scholar Christopher Syn wrote, “Anxiety springs from the desire that things should happen as we wish rather than as God wills.” This causes us to lose the kingdom—the happiness—the Lord wants us all to have.

So how can we achieve real patience, and gain back these things we’ve lost? First, we can make an effort to find contentment with what we have, and focus on being that person who is kind and loving rather than looking for that person elsewhere. Second, we can strive to make the best of our present situation, looking for opportunities to use our talents and reach out to others. And, finally, we can trust the Lord to bring good out of every situation, believing that what He says in His Word is true.

In his work, Secrets of Heaven (3827), Swedenborg explains how we can rise above impatience to an angelic state of love and acceptance, where time no longer matters: “When you are in a state of love…you are in an angelic state, that is to say, as if not in time…. For impatience is a bodily affection, and insofar as you are in it, so far you are in time…. By the affection of genuine love, we are withdrawn from bodily and worldly things, for our mind is elevated toward heaven and thus is withdrawn from things of time.”

In other words, if we focus on the fact that we’re not enjoying something, it becomes tedious. A student squirming in a class believes there’s somewhere else he needs to be. As soon as that bell rings, his whole world seems to change. But has it? We live in the world of our mind, our heart, our thoughts. A bell doesn’t change that world, but what we attach to that bell—our attitude—can change. Patience comes from being withdrawn from worldly things. When we learn to love and accept the situation we’re in, we find the power to change—not the situation—but our perspective. Because when we love something, we’re not paying attention to time.

Life is often compared to a journey. We can shuffle our feet and mope about the path we’re taking, but anxiety and impatience don’t change our speed or route. Instead, we can enjoy the scenery, confident that the direction of the stream of Divine Providence will steer us toward a more beautiful vista. So don’t waste today worrying. Cast your burden on the Lord. Take a glance at the flowers, or listen to the birds, and remember that the Lord is taking perfect care of each one of us, in every single moment.

By Rev. David Roth, pastor of the New Church of Boulder Valley in Colorado

This website contains a wealth of information about the New Church, and a practical, spiritual path to happiness. Read more about the beliefs of the New Church.

https://newchurch.org/

Full issue

The Opening of the Spiritual Mind

Lastchurch - The Eternal PurposeSelection from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

Something shall now be said about its [the spiritual mind’s] formation. The spiritual mind is formed from those things that are in man’s memory from the Word; for the memory is the storehouse … but these things are elevated therefrom in this manner:
First, there is given to man the affection of truth, which is called the spiritual affection of truth, which is that man loves truth because it is truth. This affection of truth is then given because when evils are removed man is in goods from the Lord, and good loves truth and truth good, and the two will to be conjoined. This affection is given by the Lord alone, because the Lord in heaven is Divine truth; and it is given by the Word, because the Lord in the church is the Word.

Secondly, those things that are from the Word in man’s storehouse … are drawn forth and purified by the Lord, and genuine truths are there discriminated and separated from falsities; for man’s spiritual mind can be formed only out of genuine truths, since heaven is in no other.

Thirdly, those truths are elevated by the Lord in a wonderful manner, and become spiritual; this is effected by the influx of heaven, and thus of spiritual things corresponding to natural; and these truths are there disposed into a heavenly form.

Fourthly, the truths that are elevated into the spiritual mind are not in a natural but in a spiritual form. Truths in a spiritual form are such as are in the spiritual sense of the Word, but truths in a natural form are such as are in the natural sense of the Word…. For this reason, when man after death becomes a spirit and his spiritual mind is opened, he no longer thinks and speaks naturally, but spiritually.

Fifthly, so long as man is living in the world he is wholly ignorant of what he thinks in the spiritual mind; he knows only what he thinks from that mind in the natural; but after death the state is changed, and he then thinks from the spiritual mind, and not from the natural.

(Apocalypse Explained 790:8)
April 16, 2017

What Do Your Cravings Say About You?

Swedenborg Foundation

by Morgan Beard

It’s human nature to crave things. Sometimes it’s as simple as, “Hey, I could go for some ice cream right now.” Sometimes it’s a deeper desire, like craving money or fame. It may not seem like anything unusual—after all, who doesn’t like something delicious to eat, and who couldn’t use a little extra cash? But Emanuel Swedenborg says that what we crave might reveal more about us than we think.

blog_craving

What we crave sometimes tells us what we lack. If we’re craving specific types of food, our body might be telling us that we need more vitamins or other nutrients. A desire for sweets could mean that we need a pick-me-up from the jolt of energy and the feel-good chemical serotonin that comes with eating something sugary. On an emotional level, craving items that we don’t need might indicate stress or negative feelings—getting some new luxury can give us a little rush of pleasure. Or, on a less tangible level, craving attention can mean that we feel unloved or unappreciated.

Swedenborg writes, “Craving is love reaching out. Whatever we love we constantly crave, and it is our delight, since we feel delight when we get what we love or crave. There is no other source of our heart’s delight” (Heaven and Hell 570). From the context, it’s clear that love here means something broader than love for another person. He’s saying that when we love something, it fills us, and we seek out more of it.

This can work in good ways or not so good ones. For example, let’s say a woman grows up without a lot of money, goes to school, gets a good-paying job, and is suddenly able to buy herself all the things she never had. Her self-esteem goes up; she feels better about herself. She works to get more and more money until all she can focus on is making money so that she can keep feeling better. Swedenborg calls this “love of the world”—a situation where people keep chasing material pleasures and are never satisfied with what they have. That love of wealth, power, or whatever it is we’re chasing becomes a fundamental part of ourself, the core of our identity. And no matter what, we always crave more.

Let’s say that same woman who grew up without a lot of money but got educated and became a wealthy professional puts love of others over love of self. Now she donates money back to the community where she grew up and mentors kids growing up in limited circumstances to help them achieve career success. This is what Swedenborg calls “love for one’s neighbor”—when we focus on using what we have to help other people rather than helping ourselves. And again, he says, the more we do good, the more that we want to do good. We crave opportunities to help others.

People are complicated. All of us are capable of being selfish one day and selfless the next, and it can be hard to know if we’re on the right track, spiritually speaking. Are all of our actions adding up to a positive inner state or a negative one?

When Swedenborg writes, “craving is love reaching out,” he’s letting us know that just as our physical cravings can be an indicator of our body’s health, our emotional cravings give us a barometer for our spiritual state. Those little impulses, itching desires, and outright compulsions that strike us throughout the day are indicators of what is happening within us. The things we are pulled to do tell us which way our inner status—or our “ruling love,” in Swedenborgian terms—is leaning. The things we crave most often are the things that dominate us mentally and therefore spiritually.

But what if we find that we’re being drawn toward these selfish types of desires? Swedenborg says there’s a remedy for that: regeneration, the path to spiritual growth. You can read more about it here, or for a really in-depth discussion, check out this compilation of Swedenborg’s writings on the subject.

http://www.swedenborg.com/