Alternations of NO Life and of REAL Life in Regeneration

A portion of a passage from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
When man is being regenerated, he receives life from the Lord; for before this he cannot be said to have lived, the life of the world and of the body not being life, but only that which is heavenly and spiritual. Through regeneration man receives real life from the Lord; and because he had no life before, there is an alternation of no life and of real life, that is, of no faith and charity, and of some faith and charity; no charity and faith being here signified by “cold” and some faith and charity by “heat.”

As regards this subject the case is this: Whenever man is in his corporeal and worldly things, there is then no faith and charity, that is, there is “cold” for then corporeal and worldly things, consequently those which are his own, are at work, and so long as the man is in these, he is absent or remote from faith and charity, so that he does not even think about heavenly and spiritual things. The reason of this is that heavenly and corporeal things can never be together in a man, for man’s will has been utterly ruined. But when the things of man’s body and will are not at work, but are quiescent, then the Lord works through his internal man, and then he is in faith and charity, which is here called “heat.” When he again returns into the body he is again in cold; and when the body, or what is of the body, is quiescent, and as nothing, he is then in heat, and so on in alternation. For such is the condition of man that heavenly and spiritual things cannot be in him along with his corporeal and worldly things, but there are alternations. This is what takes place with everyone who is to be regenerated, and it goes on as long as he is in a state of regeneration; for in no other way is it possible for man to be regenerated, that is, from being dead to be made alive, for the reason, as already said, that his will has been utterly ruined, and is therefore completely separated from the new will, which he receives from the Lord and which is the Lord’s and not the man’s. Hence now it is evident what is here signified by “cold and heat.”

That such is the case every regenerated man may know from experience, that is to say, that when he is in corporeal and worldly things, he is absent and remote from internal things, so that he not only takes no thought about them, but feels in himself cold at the thought of them; but that when corporeal and worldly things are quiescent, he is in faith and charity. He may also know from experience that these states alternate, and that therefore when corporeal and worldly things begin to be in excess and to want to rule, he comes into straits and temptations, until he is reduced into such a state that the external man becomes compliant to the internal, a compliance it can never render until it is quiescent and as it were nothing.

The last posterity of the Most Ancient Church could not be regenerated, because – with them the things of the understanding and of the will constituted one mind; and therefore the things of their understanding could not be separated from those of their will, so that they might in this manner be by turns in heavenly and spiritual things, and in corporeal and worldly things; but they had continual cold in regard to heavenly things and continual heat in regard to cupidities, so that they could have no alternation.

(Arcana Coelestia 933)
January 13, 2015

Reincarnation – How plausible is it?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

reincarnationMore people in the West are becoming interested in the concept of reincarnation. They are attracted to the idea that the human spirit lives on beyond death. I suspect they have lost patience with two specific doctrines of traditional Christian religion.

Instead of reincarnation, final destiny according to actions in one life

The first of these is that one’s soul is judged to eternity on the basis of how one behaved in one’s short life on earth. Given the unequal range of hereditary and environmental influence, on the face of it, there seems to be too short a time in one life to provide sufficient opportunity for one’s destiny to be decided.

Instead of reincarnation, final destiny according to beliefs in one life

The second doctrine is that one can be judged as deserving eternal damnation because of lack of belief about Jesus Christ. It smacks of a God of condemnation rather than one of love. The first doctrine seems unjust and the second abhorrent.

Reincarnation as not a final judgment

In contrast, the Eastern religious idea of reincarnation is that the soul or spirit of a person returns to live in one or more new bodies, giving us more than one life-time to be purified of our weaknesses and failings.  It does seem more reasonable to suppose that a gradual improvement of the individual spirit takes place rather than a sudden change.

Swedenborg’s account of the spiritual world as an alternative to reincarnation

However, there is an alternative way of thinking to that of reincarnation that takes account of these problems. This is to do with Emanuel Swedenborg’s account of the spiritual world.

If you believe everything that is alive in the body belongs strictly to the soul (or spirit), then it follows that the spirit is the actual person. In line with this is the experience of Swedenborg that when a person’s body is separated from his spirit at death, he or she is still a person — still alive having a spirit body and retaining a complete personal memory.

This would mean the continuation of your personal identity in a spiritual world and thus no loss of your present personality in any new incarnations in the physical world. You wouldn’t have to keep repeating the whole process of childhood, teenage and adult mental and emotional growth.  Nor could you be blamed for any impairments or deformities as signs of past wrongdoing in a previous life which is a problem with the doctrine of reincarnation.

Swedenborg says he has psychically observed how individuals in the next life continue to spiritually develop; a growth that depends on the character they have formed on earth. This observation is in line with the idea of karma that what one does in this present life will have its effect in the next life: what we sow we will reap.

Retention of individuality

He indicates that after death spirit people retain their individuality and pass through stages something similar to what we might say are different kinds of psychotherapy. He claims this will involve you firstly in self-exploration: secondly in a stage where any attitudes, desires or habits of thought, that are out of line with your basic character, are removed: and thirdly in a situation where you will be able to learn more about spiritual life if you so wish. In other words, as long as you are genuinely sorry about your wrongdoings, these can be forgiven and set aside.

Phenomena apparently supporting reincarnation

One phenomenon, apparently supporting the conclusion that one has had a previous existence, is that of déjà vu – sometimes finding a place or person familiar although not actually previously seen and thus knowing what to expect. Another phenomenon that seems to support reincarnation is the memory of past life as revealed in regressive hypnosis.

My own view is we should try to distinguish between this evidence and its interpretation. I do believe these actually are evidence of past lives — but not the individual’s own past lives.

Swedenborg testifies from his psychic journeys that all spirits in the spirit world are men and women who once lived on our physical plane when they were in the body. I am persuaded by his experience that there is a psychic presence of these spirits of dead people with all of us on earth. It’s just that we cannot ordinarily see them.  I cannot see or hear them but I believe that their desires and thoughts come into my heart and mind; feelings and ideas that I mistakenly assume to be my own. Swedenborg says I am free to choose which one’s to ignore and which one’s to listen to and act on.

He writes that these spirits are normally not permitted to communicate from their own memories. However, for some reason, that admittedly is not clear to me, he says it does sometimes occur and, when it does the person recollects something he or she has never seen or heard.

So the explanation of the experience of past lives that I offer, is of an occasional overstepping of the boundaries by spirits associated with people leading them to believe they must have lived before.

Instead of thinking of reincarnation in terms of human souls reincarnating in new physical bodies, we could think of the Source of all life repeatedly reincarnating through each new created soul. We could also think of this Creative Source being reborn again and again within each person who is willing to receive the Divine inspiration during an eternal process of personal regeneration in this life continuing in a next world of spirit.

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

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

Posted on9th November 2011CategoriesMeaning of life, Other aspects of meaningTags, , , , , ,, , , ,, , , , , , ,, , , , , ,,  Leave a comment

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/

Chapter XXIV. The Third Degree of Regeneration.

< Chapter XXIII. The Second Degree of Regeneration. ^ Discrete Degrees ^ Chapter XXV. The Wicked. >

THIS diagram presents man regenerated to the highest or celestial degree a of his spiritual mind. The corresponding degrees of the natural, b and c, are also regenerated and conjoined to the highest. He now enjoys celestial perception. He leads a life the highest, purest, and happiest possible, performing uses the most essential and universal, the life and use of celestial love and wisdom and of inmost innocence and peace. The measure of every recipient faculty in every plane is full. The lower degrees of the spiritual mind opened and lived through as he passed on to the highest are closed beneath the one he now inhabits. Still, gathering their harvests of good and truth and garnering them in those lower planes, he extracted their celestial essences and bore them with him to his lofty home where the very primitives of the life and delight of the lower degrees bloom and fructify to eternity. (AC 5114; HH 208.)

The whole natural man (except the gross body to be rejected) is joined to the spiritual mind and ever after acts as one with it, the willing servant of a heavenly lord and master. Dying in this state man rises to an abode in the celestial heaven.

From the above concord of the natural with the spiritual there is however this abatement, the vanquished but not exterminated evils from the father and any actual evils that may have existed, though dormant, still remain in the circumference of the spiritual-sensual and spiritual-corporeal. These evils by the force of the ever increasing good within are continually pressed out into the farthest verge of that plane, where (though dormant) they cannot but emit deleterious effluvia which must sink from the highlands where the angels reside down into the lowlands surrounding the hells. (AC 4564, 1414, 1444, 4551, 4552.) In the above abatement must be included the limbus so far as tinctured with actual evil therein enrooted or affected by the influence of unexterminated evil in the higher degrees.

ON page 59 we deferred our interpretation of the teaching that with those who come into heaven, the limbus is below and the spiritual above, but the reverse with those who come into hell. The whole passage is as follows:

“The soul which is from the father is the man himself, and the body, which is from the mother is not in itself the man, but from him. The body is only the clothing of the soul woven of such [substances] as are of the natural world; but the soul is of such [substances] as are in the spiritual world. Every man after death lays aside the natural which he carried from the mother and retains the spiritual which was from the father, together with a certain limbus of the purest [substances] of nature around it; but this limbus with those who come into heaven is below, and the spiritual above, but the limbus, with those who come into hell, is above, and the spiritual below; thence it is that a man-angel speaks from heaven, thus what is good and true; but that a man-devil speaks from hell while from his heart, and as it were from heaven while from his mouth; this he does abroad, but that at home. “- TCR 103

This cannot mean that the limbus of the wicked is above their spiritual organism. Natural substances being created from spiritual must be below them and be their base. The wicked being in inverted order esteem the sensuals and corporeals of the limbus as more valuable than the spiritual, thus above the spiritual. With the good, true order is preserved, they hold the spiritual as above and the sensual as beneath. (AC 5076, 5077, 5094, 4552; TCR 402.)

We say man receives the Divine Love and Wisdom; but strictly these are of such order and force that no finite human organism could bear the least contact with them. What then is received? Men are organized of created substances spiritual and natural and receive life from the LORD which in itself is the inmost activity of the Divine Love and Wisdom. (TCR 471, 472.) Even this life cannot be received as it is in the LORD but as flowing forth from Him and moderated by the substances of the sun of the spiritual world and the atmospheres through which it passes. This proceeding Divine is dual, the activity of the Divine Love inmostly affecting man’s will and the activity of the Divine Wisdom affecting his understanding, producing in them states correspondent to Love and Wisdom in the LORD. (TCR 39.)


Previous: Chapter XXIII. The Second Degree of Regeneration. Up: Discrete Degrees Next: Chapter XXV. The Wicked.

Chapter XXIII. The Second Degree of Regeneration.

< Chapter XXII. Adult Life. – First Degree of Regeneration. ^ Discrete Degrees ^ Chapter XXIV. The Third Degree of Regenerat

RECALLING Chapter XXII, the present diagram will need but little explanation. It represents man at the close of the second great step in regeneration. Dying at this stage he ascends to the spiritual or middle heaven. During this period man is brought into combat with deeper evils and falsities than in the first stage namely the evils and falsities of the second degree of the natural mind d and of the limbus f but he is sustained by more interior goods and truths in the second degree of the spiritual mind, a. Thus the second degree of the spiritual mind becomes founded on the cleansed and regenerate second degree of the natural mind and of the limbus. The middle degree of the natural mind is filled by an influx of good and truth from the middle degree of the spiritual mind and is conjoined to that degree and makes one with it. The interior seat of thought and affection and of spiritual power is now elevated into and fixed in the middle degree of the spiritual mind. Here also conscience holds its interior seat; its exterior seat being in d.

The warfare against the evils of the middle degrees of the natural d and f, causing their removal, was not carried on by the goods and truths of the spiritual mind directly upon those evils but through goods and truths stored as remains in the natural.

When the regenerate man rises after death into his appropriate heaven are his lower degrees elevated into that higher plane? No. -His lower degrees necessarily remain in their proper planes with which they agree in substance, structure and quality. These are conjoined with and quiescent under the higher. Nevertheless the man, now an angel, appears in the higher plane opened for his conscious enjoyment.

Opening a higher or a lower degree in an angel or a spirit causes his appearance in that degree, and closing the degree causes his disappearance. So it is that angels and spirits ascend and descend on that great Ladder (or way with steps) within themselves which was set on the earth with its head reaching to heaven.

With the wicked the natural degrees are closed above and opened below. In the good those degrees are open above and closed below. These opposite states cause separation and cause the good to appear above and the evil below. This with change of locality by change of thought, answers the question on page 59.

How can spirits travel in the spiritual world clothed as they are with the limbus belonging to the natural world? Their travel is effected by change of state causing also an outward sensation and appearance of travel as with man. To such travel the limbus is no impediment. Swedenborg and the prophets experienced such travel in spirit even while clothed with the gross body. (HH 191-199; TCR 280; Inv. 43, 52; U. 127, 128, 129.)


Previous: Chapter XXII. Adult Life. – First Degree of Regeneration. Up: Discrete Degrees Next: Chapter XXIV. The Third Degree of Regeneration.

Chapter XXII. Adult Life. – First Degree of Regeneration.

< Chapter XXI. Growth During Youth. ^ Discrete Degrees ^ Chapter XXIII. The Second Degree of Regeneration. >

 

DURING minority there was an ascent through the degrees of the natural mind C even into its highest b and at the same time a descent of heaven through the degrees of the spiritual mind B into its lowest a, meeting between the two minds. This is shown in the three preceding diagrams.

Standing now at the threshold of adult life man can under the LORD enter heaven if he will and allow heaven to flow down into his natural, by discrete degrees successively. Such is the structure of the mind, such the order of heaven, and such the nature and order of regeneration. (AE 940.)

During minority, the course was upward in the natural mind and downward through the spiritual. Thenceforth, should the man become regenerate, it will be the reverse-up through the spiritual, down through the natural. The first great step in this process is the opening of the lowest or natural degree of the spiritual mind a and elevation of the man into it with the descent of influx thence into the highest degree of the natural mind b, and into c the highest degree of the limbus which is the lowest scat of thought and affection, and thence into word and deed by the gross body.

This first step in adult regeneration, may be elucidated. The lowest degree of the spiritual mind a having been previously stored with good and truth is prepared for the man’s entrance into it; he then rises into it and plants therein the interior seat of his thought and affection. Thus he begins to be a distinctively spiritual man but has not yet become so, especially not permanently so. To ensure this result the highest degree of his natural mind b and the corresponding plane of the limbus c must be cleansed of evil and falsity and appropriate good and truth adopted in their stead. (AC 3539 and 6724.) Evil and falsity can be removed only by combat in obedience to the Divine command to shun them as sins, for the LORD can work in man to remove his disorders only when man co-operates with Him. (AE 790 [b].) This combat is waged by good and truth on the LORD’s side against evil and falsity assaulting on the other. The goods and truths immediately brought into use as the hosts of the LORD in this combat are those;already stored in these degrees (b and c) during youth, But these goods and truths cannot combat and expel the evils and falsities from these degrees except as infilled and animated by the higher goods and truths in a of the spiritual mind. Thus the combat is primarily between the spiritual mind and the evils and falsities of -the natural mind. The spiritual mind however fights from its own goods and truths by the goods and truths of the natural mind. (AC 6724, AE 176, 790.) Then the spiritual rests securely on the natural and the man thereafter holds his interior seat in that lowest degree of the spiritual mind. This degree of the natural mind is now conjoined with the spiritual and makes one with it. The man dying in this state goes to the lowest or natural heaven because he is regenerate to the natural degree of his spiritual mind and to the corresponding degree of his natural mind. This first great step of regeneration requires years for its accomplishment, with most persons, many years. Neither does it always actually commence at twenty-one years of age.

But cannot man be saved unless this degree be completely regenerate in this world? Yes. If the work be well commenced it will be completed in the other world. (TCR 571.) With most who are saved, indeed with an who are properly saved by entering into heaven, that is who cultivate in themselves the heavenly marriage of good and truth, the spiritual mind is opened and as to their interior life they live distinctly and clearly within. There are however a few in whom that mind is neither strictly closed, nor properly open. These acknowledge God and shun as sin but have little or no concern about truths, being content with a few simple ideas. Truth as well as good is requisite to open the spiritual mind and secure elevation into it. As they do not lead a wicked life but a certain species of good life they neither close heaven against themselves nor properly enter it. Their abode after death is in the very lowest part of heaven, or in the outskirt of a superior heaven, where they perform service under direction of those who are in heaven. (DLW 253.)

When a man with the lowest degree of the spiritual mind, opened and the highest of the natural regenerate enters his appropriate heaven the unremoved evils of the two lower degrees of the natural mind are thereafter held in quiescence, chiefly by the goods and truths appropriated in the higher degrees. The like occurs with him who is so far regenerated as to enter the spiritual or middle heaven after death. His lowest natural degree is yet tainted with evil, but the two higher degrees of the natural mind being purified, the evils of this degree are held in quiescence. It is different with him who enters the highest heaven because (as will be seen in Diagram XXIV) every degree of his natural mind is cleansed of evil and filled with good and truth.

There is a difference between evil from the father and evil from the mother. (Chapter XVIII.) The evil which is from the father (resident in the three degrees of the natural mind C and thence in the spiritual-sensual and spiritual-corporeal), cannot be expelled, but only removed from the centre to the circumference and there held in subjection and, as it were, lifeless, to eternity. But the evil from the mother may be dispersed as regeneration descends through the degrees of the limbus. (AC 1414, 1444, 1573.)

Dispersion of the maternal evil does not involve the rejection of the limbus as an organism but only a change of state by expulsion of impure substances and disorderly forms and the appropriation of other substances pure and orderly. The good and truth of -the paternal degrees rest on corresponding states in this material plane, the limbus, as their ultimate base. Even the gross body becomes purified in proportion to the regeneration of the higher degrees-a change effected by rejection of impure substances and incorporation of material substances pure and orderly.

As the unremoved evil in the two lower degrees of the natural mind with him who dies in the state presented in this diagram is held forever quiescent in those degrees, so the undispersed evil of the two lower degrees of the limbus is held in quiescency by the power of the good appropriated in the regenerated degrees above. “Every place whereon the sole of your foot shall tread shall be yours, no man shall be able to stand before you, JEHOVAH your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land that you shall tread upon.” (Deut. xi, 24, 25 ; Gen. ix, 2.)

From earliest infancy remains have been stored preparatory for regeneration in after years. (Pages 67, 73, 75-83, 85.) During adult life there are added new good by an internal way and new truth by an external way. This increase continues after death but only of good and truth of the same degree as appropriated during life in the world. After death no new degree can be opened. Angels of a lower heaven never become angels of a higher, nor do the higher fall to a lower. While in the world man acquires a certain measure of good or evil which after death he neither transcends nor falls below. (AC 7984; S.D. 4037-9.)

The cause of this permanence is that the limbus, the plane of the natural memory, then quiesces. During life this lowest mental plane was active and usable under volition and could be changed in quality and thus made the basis of new openings of the higher degrees. But in quiescing after death it becomes fixed. Should a degree higher than that attained in the world be providentially opened it could not be held permanently because this opened state would not be terminated in the limbus. No spiritual degree nor state of a degree can endure except it rest on the limbus, the indestructible base and containant of the whole spirit and of all its states. (DLW 257; D.W. in AE VIII, quoted pp. 54-56.)

Why does the limbus quiesce? When man becomes a spirit he must close the memory of natural things and enter into interior consciousness without which he could not properly inhabit the spiritual world. Were not the limbus then quiescent he would relapse into it and thus be withdrawn from conscious life in the states and scenery of that world. When a spirit for a special purpose experiences temporary activity of his natural memory he is withdrawn from the consciousness and memory of things spiritual. This exercise of the material memory however causes no permanent change of its state. During life the limbus is clothed with the gross body which furnishes a reactive plane for the operation of the natural memory. When this reactive plane is removed by death the natural memory quiesces and the spiritual memory is opened.

Should the limbus not quiesce at death the spirit could not thereafter permanently retain his interiors in due form and order as they would have no unchangeable ultimate; the regenerate could not then be preserved forever in heaven, nor the wicked in hell. (AC 2469 to 2494; S.D. 4037 to 4039.)

Nor does this quiescence merely fix the happy state of the angels in the degree to which they have advanced, but as the Divine acts by universal laws this quiescence also holds the evil in their life’s love without possibility of either descent or ascent to other degrees than those opened in their perverted minds and founded in the limbus during life in the world. “As the tree falls so it lies.”

The fixed state of the limbus fixes the interiors because interiors must be and flow according to exteriors, so that no permanent change can be made in the interior without a corresponding change in the exterior.

“Unless the natural assist, no birth of interior truth exists, for it is the natural which receives into its bosom interior truths when born, since it gives them ability to come forth. In regard to the things which are of spiritual birth, reception must be wholly be in the natural. This is the reason why, during man’s regeneration, the natural is first prepared to receive; and so far as this is made receptive, so far interior goods and truths can be excluded [that is, begotten by the interior, and received and brought forth by the exterior], and multiplied. This also is the reason why, if the natural man be not prepared to receive the goods and truths of faith in the life of the body, he cannot receive them in the other life, thus he cannot be saved. For man has with him in the other life the natural memory or the memory of the external man, but in that life they are not allowed to use it (see 2469 to 2494;) wherefore it is as a foundation plane into which interior goods and truths descend; and if that plane is not receptive of the truths and goods which flow in from the interior, the interior goods and truths are either extinguished, or perverted, or rejected.”-AC 4588.

The quality of man’s affection and thought and thus of his state of life depends entirely on the agreement or disagreement of his natural with his spiritual mind or what is the same on his natural being rightly or wrongly receptive of Divine influx through his interiors.

The spiritual mind is always in true order. But influx thence into the natural mind becomes natural good and truth embodying spiritual and thus regenerating the natural C only so far as the limbus is regenerated. (DP 119, 120.) Hence,

“The thought of spirits and angels is terminated in she natural, for they have all the natural memory and its affections, but they are not allowed to use it. Although they are not allowed to use that memory, still it serves them as a plane or as a foundation, so that the ideas of their thought are therein terminated; hence it is that their thought is such as is the correspondence [or non-correspondence] of their natural with the rational.”-AC 3679.

The natural corresponds or discorresponds causing rationality or insanity according to life in the world which life determines the state of the limbus and this unalterably fixes the state of the spirit or the angel.

The numberless inner evils of the natural mind C are enrooted in the limbus D wherein they present themselves as one.

Cupidities within, the man sees not; these are known to the LORD alone. But the LORD can remove them only when man who is together with Him in the limbus fights against them there as seen by the light of truth. Thus their basis is removed, and the inner mind is cleansed. Good and truth can then descend from the spiritual mind into the natural mind C, regenerating it, become enrooted in the limbus, and be rendered as act and speech by the gross body. Good and truth thus implanted in the natural band enrooted in the limbus D are also permanently enjoyable as to their interiors in the spiritual mind B. (DP 119, 120, 125) The “internal man” in these passages of Divine Providence is the natural mind C, the “external man” is the limbus and gross body. (Chapter XV.)

Thus far as to the quiescence of the limbus.

The temporary activity of the limbus above alluded to is caused by the spirit or the angel being for the time so joined to man’s externals as to furnish a reactive base for the purpose.

Another feature of regeneration pertaining alike to him in whom only the first degree of the spiritual mind is opened (as shown in this diagram) and to him whose states are represented in Diagrams XXIII and XXIV, should be especially noted. Since the spiritual mind is formed of spiritual substances of a purer kind and the paternal natural C is formed of spiritual substances of a grosser kind therefore good and truth flow from the spiritual into the natural simply by taking on a more compound form.

But they cannot flow from the natural mind into the limbus and gross body in the same manner, as these are composed of material substances, and hence as already stated undergo renovation by rejection of impure natural substances, and incorporation of such as are pure,


Previous: Chapter XXI. Growth During Youth. Up: Discrete Degrees Next: Chapter XXIII. The Second Degree of Regeneration.

 

Character – How does change happen?

There may be individuals with a radically reformed character. Several theories offer reasons why this may be possible.

After having been a bad person, is it later possible to become a much better individual? To be a genuinely reformed character? To develop personal virtues which are the opposites of previous reprehensible conduct?

Is it possible to replace a life of crime with honest living? Swap an erotic interest in children for normal sexual desire? Convert a streak of violence to self-control? Or change being consumed by self-hatred into compassion for and acceptance of oneself?

Is radical transformation of character really possible? And if so how might one suppose this can happen?

characterCharacter of Oskar Groening

The so-called ‘Bookkeeper of Auschwitz’, Oskar Groening played his part in a monstrous crime against humanity. As an enthusiastic young fascist who regarded the Jews as subhuman, he had willingly made an oath of loyalty to the fanatical Waffen-SS. A junior NCO, his secret role was to count out the money the Nazis stole from the Jews and engage in a sham bureaucratic process sorting out their luggage. This deceived the prisoners arriving at the death camp into believing one day their property would be returned, so as to keep them calm and ready to accept orders not knowing their real fate.

Later in life he revealed that during the war he had seen the Jews as the enemy on the home front and saying “we exterminated nothing but enemies”. However, he volunteered his complicity in one of the greatest crimes in history, even knowing this honesty about his ‘former self’ meant his trial and, if convicted, his probable death in jail. He wanted his testimony to be used to challenge those who deny the Holocaust took place. “I saw the gas chambers. I saw the crematoria. I saw the open fires. I would like you to believe these atrocities happened”.

Is this an example of a radical change of character?

characterCharacter of Muhammadu Buhari

Another possible example is that of former dictator Muhammadu Buhari who ruled Nigeria in the mid-1980’s. He sent soldiers to the streets with whips. Around 500 politicians, officials and businessmen were imprisoned in his campaign against waste and corruption. Critics of the regime, including the Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti, were also put behind bars. Buhari passed laws allowing indefinite detention without trial and imposed a decree to restrict press freedom, under which two journalists were jailed. The execution of three young men, led to international outcry. The war against indiscipline was carried to “sadistic levels, glorying in the humiliation of a people,” wrote the Nobel laureate for literature Wole Soyinka.

However, later in life Buhari has managed to persuade Nigerians he is a reformed character who respects civil liberties. Is he really a born-again democrat who will never return to his autocratic ways and human rights abuses? There is reason to think so. He wants to manage the future for the better by beating corruption and challenging the Islamist militants. He has contested the presidential election three times and lost, and ended up in court perhaps thus showing his commitment to the rule of law.

Theories of character change

So how can anyone radically change? I believe the various theories have both an element of truth and error in them. Here are some of the main ones on offer.

  1. Everyone is basically good. It is thought we just need the right social environment, (e.g. available employment, accessible health care, satisfactory housing, educational opportunity, good family upbringing, and so on) to change our character for the better.
  2. There is a restorative force in nature. It is thought we need techniques of healing which can harness this.
  3. There is a deeper reality beyond us (consisting of benevolence, compassion, justice, joy, peace etc.). It is thought we need an appropriate form of personal therapy or spiritual practice to learn to connect with this.
  4. There is a higher universal consciousness beyond that of the perspective  of individual awareness. It is thought it is possible to discover the latter through practising control over body and mind.
  5. There is a Divine Being with power to free us from ignorance, sorrow and evil. It is thought we need to devote ourselves to and believe in this.
  6. Each person has an inner freedom of decision together with a higher perception of what is true and good. It is assumed we are obliged to make ethical choices in line with this.

Swedenborg and character change

The religious theories of character change often involve the idea of a transforming divine power. According to Swedenborg’s philosophy there is a Divine Being who consists of pure love and wisdom from which good things flow into the world e.g. human insight, virtue, hope, understanding, and contentment. This creative force, he maintains, is the power that enables character improvement.

His view is that before we can be changed inwardly, we need to co-operate with this inflow. This can start to happen as one practises self-examination of daily life without either fooling or punishing oneself. Each time we resolve with the strength of the Divine Being to change our ways in line with what we are learning about ourselves, he says we can hope to be gradually transformed with enlightened feelings.

Copyright 2015 Stephen Russell-Lacy

Author Heart, Head & Hands(http://spiritualquestions.org.uk/2012/10/heart-head-hands-ebook/)