Social Justice is not Spiritual or Eternal Justice

It is honorable to care for our neighbors—even on a global scale. It requires a good heart to be concerned for others. But is ensuring equal rights the same thing as everyone being assured of a roof over their heads, healthcare, and big screen TVs? Is our idea of equal rights the same thing that God thinks it is?

I agree that we should all pitch in to banish human suffering to make each others’ lives better and happier, but it seems that such moral and charitable efforts should not be focused solely on that which can rust, be stolen or eaten by moths.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19)

We do not live forever on this earth, in spite of modern medical advances, improved distribution of food or increased comfort and convenience from modern innovation. These worldly things are important in God’s creation—only as long as they are serviceable towards our living a heaven-bound life.

A government can legislate a level playing field for all its citizens yet not offer any help towards a person’s eternal wellbeing and soul. So in terms of truly living an “upwardly mobile” life, we can have all the creature comforts of this earth and enjoy great physical health but still be counted among the disabled, sick, homeless, oppressed, poor, starved and miserable!

Unlike worldly social justice, heaven is not an entitlement program. According to theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, the concept of helping the downtrodden and less fortunate was looked at quite differently in more ancient civilizations. Instead, they understood whether a person was less fortunate or not from their spiritual situation. Here is a quote from Swedenborg:

The Ancient Church distinguished into classes the neighbor or neighbors toward whom they were to perform works of charity; and some they called “maimed,” some “lame,” some “blind,” and some “deaf,” meaning those who were spiritually so. Some also they called the “hungry,” the “thirsty,” “strangers,” the “naked,” the “sick,” the “captives;” and some “widows,” “orphans,” the “needy”, the “poor,” and the “miserable;” by whom they meant no other than those who were such as to truth and good, and who were to be suitably instructed, led on their way, and thus provided for as to their souls. (Arcana Coelestia, Vol. 6, n. 4302)

In fact, in order to get individuals re-focused towards spiritual matters and eternal life, God often will make use of misfortune, sorrow and human suffering ( Arcana Coelestia, Vol. 1, n. 8  )

Social justice is a hot topic right now. Tell me what you think.

Posted onby

https://thegodguy.wordpress.com/

 

Posted in god, health, Inner growth, Life after death, love, Reality, religion, spirituality, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

http://www.provinggod.com/

A daring work that unifies Science and Theology
by challenging many of the world’s current beliefs about both

Proving God

Heaven and Hell

spiritual wisdom home page

life after death

spiritual wisdom logo

Heaven and Hell

You must be joking! ‘Heaven and Hell,’ what images do they conjure up in today’s world. Heaven- cute little cherubs with wings, sitting on fluffy clouds, playing harps or feasting in paradise without ‘Weight watchers’; Hell- mediaeval tortures, spooky red devils with horns and tails, furnaces, fire and brimstone (whatever that is.) Either way count me out!

And yet do you, like me, have a sneaky suspicion that there must be something more to this life. Do you ever wonder whether life carries on in another dimension and if so what it could be like? Do you ever think that there just might be some grain of truth in these out dated concepts of heaven and hell?

We often use words like heaven and hell to describe our own inner feelings. If everything goes wrong at work and the things that we attempt are thwarted and leave us frustrated we might feel that we have had a ‘hell of a day.’  If things go right and we feel pleased and happy we talk about ‘being in heaven.’ We can see from this that there is a relationship between how we feel and heaven and hell. Heaven and hell essentially are states of our mind or inner being and not physical places of either bliss or torment. Our actions and reactions, our thoughts and deeds, our loves and desires build heaven or hell within us.

Emanuel Swedenborg tells us that when our physical body dies the essential person, the spirit or soul passes into the spiritual world. Although the spiritual world may appear insubstantial to us on earth it is ultimate reality.

In the spiritual world there are communities where groups of people live and work together as in this natural world. We ultimately find ourselves living with communities with whom we feel at ‘home’ and who have similar natures to our own. If, whilst on earth, we have tried to think of others before ourselves, have had a belief in an entity greater than ourselves and tried to live according to principles then we should find ourselves living in a heavenly society. We really should be ‘in heaven.’

If, on the other hand, we have spent our lives being awkward, miserable, intolerant, selfish and dare we say plain ‘evil,’ then it is easy to see that being in a community of ‘angelic’ people would be anathema to us. We would be happier being in a company of like- minded people where we could continue to ‘make life hell.’

The choice is ours.

http://www.spiritualwisdom.org.uk/heaven-and-hell.htm

FREE ON LINE

http://www.sacred-texts.com/swd/hh/index.htm

To purchase a copy of Heaven and Hell by Emanuel Swedenborg from the Bookshop click on this image:

http://www.spiritualwisdom.org.uk/bookshop.htm

 

Astral Plane – Real or Imagined?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

astral planeThe astral plane is said to be another dimension of reality coexistent in space with our physical world. It is featured in the television show Charmed, in which it is described as a realm of “spirits and energies” and a place where time does not progress.

Carl Jung practised what he called ‘active imagination’ and reported that in his mind he regular met and consulted an old man called Philemon. Whether one calls this degree of consciousness a psychic, mental or astral plane, it is one where all feelings and thoughts become detectable: just as noticeable as physical objects that are visible to our natural eyes.

You might wonder if Jung was projecting his expectations or hopes onto an imagined guru figure who had no independent existence? Perhaps all so-called experiences of the astral plane consist of mistakenly attributing what is imagined in the mind to an objective reality.

On the other hand, arguably we are distracted by sensations from the day to day physical world and so do not experience the existence of any spiritual reality beyond it.

The Neanderthals 100,000 – 25,000 years ago buried their dead in graves containing food and flint implements that would then be needed. And throughout human history there has been belief in the reality of an afterlife in a non-material plane of existence.

So is the astral plane real or imagined?

Common idea of astral plane

Hindus, Buddhists, Theosophists, and Anthroposophists, amongst others, give accounts of events after death which are basically very similar. After death the soul is said to consist of the astral body – the personal consciousness – that is fully parted from the physical body. The individual then enters into a state in which one’s past life is reviewed in-depth and desires and emotions are re-experienced, the soul perhaps inflicting its own purgatory on itself. This suffering is said to bring purification after which the astral body too is allowed to dissolve away.

Astral plane and Swedenborg’s ‘World of spirits’

There is a fascinating account of the astral plane actually arising from personal experience lasting many years. Eighteenth century visionary, Emanuel Swedenborg, wrote it. He called this astral plane of life ‘the world of spirits’, a transitional level of the ‘spiritual world’. The spiritual world is said to be the inner world of mind of which we usually only have full consciousness after our bodily death.

In his book Window to Eternity, Bruce Henderson has pointed out the reasonable as well as detailed way Swedenborg wrote about the spiritual world. He says this demonstrates that this is not just one man’s fanciful imagination; it is a special vision.

Visual aspects of Astral plane

According to traditional spiritualism, after death the soul eventually wakes up in some land, a realm of consciousness created by the desires of the individual. Likewise Swedenborg reports that the surroundings he experienced in the ‘world of spirits’ reflect the thoughts and feelings of its inhabitants. Whether or not thoughts and feelings are good and rational, or bad and illusory, these inner states of heart and mind are represented by corresponding natural qualities and things. Light or dark: warm or cold: beautiful or ugly.

Afterlife process in Astral plane

Swedenborg wrote that there is nothing that a person has ever sought in him or herself or done in secret that can be concealed after death. All things and each single thing are then laid open as clear as in daylight. However he says all the secret things in one’s life are not suddenly revealed to others. Our inner character only slowly can manifest. But in this way our selfish attitudes can be eventually seen for what they are and, if we will, turned away from. In so far as we do not do so we suffer the consequences as a sort of self-inflicted punishment.

Something similar to this is taught in Tibetan Buddhism. The Bardo is a state between death and rebirth. ‘The Tibetan book of the dead‘ describes the individual being aware of a radiant colour light of pure reality. This is the chance of the self to obtain Nirvana, by abandoning ego existence and becoming one with the light. But most souls are not willing to be reunited with the light of this stage. The self then acquires a karmic body formed by the action of past thoughts and deeds and encounters all the deities that are projected by its own mind both benign and vengeful, loving and judgemental in accordance with its beliefs and conditioning whilst on Earth. Judgement and punishment follow.

This description of the afterlife process parallels that of other occult traditions where the astral body creates its own reality until the desires and emotions which drive it have been purged.” (Donald Watson)

Ruling love and the astral plane

It is widely thought that the astral body gravitates to a level appropriate to its make up on the astral plane. This is probably the reason that some religions insist that right emotions are more important that actions or beliefs. Similarly, Swedenborg would say that the crucial thing is one’s intentions. However, he fastens on the general intention that rules our heart.

According to this idea underlying all the various interests, desires, goals we have is one pervasive and prevailing love, the love that rules you. It develops through many personal choices made in life. It is what turns up when we reflect on the things that please us most.

“It is not necessarily what comes into your mind… that reveals your true character, but what you do with those thoughts or would like to do if you could.” (Bruce Henderson)

In Swedenborg’s ‘world of spirits’ your ruling love points you in one direction or its opposite. Let’s consider those souls orientated towards a higher plane of spiritual consciousness because they are ruled by good intentions. He claims that right thinking replaces their illusions. Those, however, with an opposite orientation, ruled by selfishness, according to Swedenborg, find what insights they have will be replaced by illusions. As this process takes place he says the person gravitates to the community of like-minded souls.

In other words, we surround ourselves with thought forms in keeping with our astral states: and our desires and emotional attachments rule our existence on the astral plane after death. I would suggest that in this way we form our own heaven or hell.

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

 

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

 Posted on 21st June 2016 22nd June 2016Categories Consciousness, Mystical experienceTags , , ,  Leave a comment

Living in Two Worlds                       

spiritual wisdom home page

 

meaning of life

Living in Two Worlds                       spiritual wisdom logo

One of the problems with our busy materialistic world is that we seem to get very little time to think more deeply about what is going on in our lives. Everyday is made up of all sorts of practical and physical activities. We go to the shops and buy food. We cook our meals and wash up. We clean the house and read the newspaper. We mow the lawn or put our feet up in front of the television. We go to work by car or bus or train and come back late and tired. So much can get crammed into one day that we begin to feel unable to cope or at the other end of the scale we may have so little we can do that we feel lonely and cut off from the world around. If we are blessed with all our senses we can see the world around us, we can hear it, touch it, smell it and taste it. And particularly in spring and summer, when all sorts of flowers are coming into bloom, the physical world around us offers a wonderful array of stimulants for our senses. And we mustn’t forget our interactions with other people: a wave across the street, a smile to a passer-by, a chat over coffee, a lengthy phone call, a letter from a friend, a kind word or a loving kiss. There is so much going on in our physical world that it is not surprising that many people live as though there is nothing else – that everything that goes on in our lives can be explained in physical terms.

But is this really so?

red roseImagine you are holding a fragrant rose in your hand. You see the wonderful colour and texture of the flower, you touch its soft and smooth petals and you smell its intoxicating fragrance. So far you have been involved in a physical way with this rose but how does it make you feel? Do you feel happier and a little brighter inside, does a smile come over your face, does it evoke distant memories, do you feel more peaceful, do you feel more loved or more loving? In a wonderful way that rose, out there in the physical world around us, has touched something deep inside you and you have responded.

Or imagine that you have just received a letter from somebody you knew a long time ago. You open the letter, see who it is from, and read the first few lines. They are just ink on paper but how do you feel? Do you feel surprised and pleased, does a feeling of warmth grow within as you recall your past friendship, are you transported back to another time and place, do you now feel close once again? Just like the rose, something as physical as ink and paper has touched you deep inside and you have responded.

These are just two examples of the countless situations we can find ourselves in when we realise that there is something much deeper to our lives than our physical being. Whilst our lives appear dominated by the physical world around us there is another world within us of feeling and thought where our deepest experiences take place and where we develop our real character. It is our inner world where, for example, we can feel deep joy when we are very close to someone we love and deep pain when we are separated.

Throughout the ages wise people have realised that we live in two worlds at the same time, a physical outer world and a deeper inner spiritual world. The problem is that we get so absorbed by the state of our physical outer world that we don’t spend enough time on the spiritual world within us. How many people, for example, struggling in a gym to improve their physical well-being, would spend just a little time on spiritual exercises to help them develop their inner world? Is this not a distorted view of our priorities?

Jesus highlighted the need to change our priorities in favour of the inner spiritual life when he said:

“Do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you”.  Luke 12:29-31

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the visionary Jesuit priest, wrote in the 20th century:

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience”.

Emanuel Swedenborg not only recognised that we are living in two worlds but also that when we die our real inner spiritual self goes on living:

“As regards the soul, which – it is said – goes on living after death, it is nothing else than the actual person living in the body. That is, the soul is the person’s inner self acting in the world by means of the body and imparting life to the body. When his inner self is released from the body the person is called a spirit and then appears in a completely human form”. Arcana Caelestia 6054

Should not our emphasis be on developing the quality of our inner life rather than worrying excessively as we do about our outer physical world?

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart.”  Helen Keller

For an article on time and spiritual state follow this link: Time and Spiritual State

Top of Page

http://www.spiritualwisdom.org.uk/two-worlds-meaning.htm

You have a Soul, a Physical Body, but everything in between is up to you!

Religion is simply about how to live a heaven-bound life. And, if one humbly and sincerely loves God and the neighbor, reaching God’s heavenly kingdom of mutual love does not require one to be a neuroscientist.

So why did Emanuel Swedenborg provide so many extra details on the process of spiritual salvation? The average person who lives a life of goodness from spiritual principles does not really need such doctrinal “overkill.”

A hint comes from a statement once made by George Gurdjieff that “the more one knows, the more effective one’s efforts can be.” The purpose of religion is to change our lives to become better people. Therefore, Swedenborg offered the extra information for those who wanted to understand the actual “science” behind salvation (all process proceeds according to the laws of order).

Religion basically informs us that we have a soul and a physical body. Because we have souls, the human race can survive death and live in a spiritual realm. But what Swedenborg (and Gurdjieff) brings to the theological table is that the human soul still needs to be embodied in a way that allows an individual’s personal identity to be put into a non-physical structure and organically transferred to a different realm.

According to Swedenborg, God’s living force flows into our souls—through heaven—and down into the hearts and minds of us people living on earth. But this divine influence flows through us like water through a sieve—unless a person makes the effort to allow God’s love and truth to become “fixed” and permanent in his or her life.

Swedenborg discovered that the true human soul is even beyond the consciousness of angels. So we cannot live in such a rarified sphere after death. What happens is that the Soul creates a spiritual body inside the physical body—based on the things we LOVE and seek! In other words, instead of being the mere result of our parents’ genes (which is a genetic “crapshoot”), the spiritual body is who we really are and deserve to be!

Swedenborg claimed that a person’s blood is a physical analog of an individual’s loves, affections and passions. Not only do people have different appetites, the human digestive system extracts nutrients that bring the chemical makeup of a person’s blood into concord with their affections. He claimed individuals even extract different qualities from the atmosphere (atmospheric and ethereal salts) in our respiratory systems to further promote this concord. And finally we all draw in different kinds of knowledge from the world (including religious doctrine). From these multi-sourced “foods” the soul fashions our real spiritual body using the substances that correspond to our life choices and values (loves).

We tend to view the human mental faculty of understanding and reasoning as a cognitive function. But Swedenborg claimed that the human understanding is an organized body of knowledge that forms one’s innermost bio-complexity. In the same way the physical body consists of organs that digest and prepare food, the human understanding contains non-physical analogs of these same organs by which the spirit can digest and prepare information. Angels, and those who live in heaven, have developed spiritual bodies that can receive and digest an even nobler food or quality of information—God’s teachings and tenets.

The spiritual body develops (crystallizes) within our physical bodies as we live out and act on our chosen principles of life. When individuals leave their physical bodies behind after death, they find themselves living in the environment that most suits their spiritual bio-complexity. Those who gravitate toward heaven or toward hell have differently organized spiritual bodies. Again, the soul can only create our inner reality and spiritual body from the things we hold dearest in our hearts and minds. (If the soul did not comply with our strongest wishes our very bio-fabric would rip apart!)

I am sharing these ideas with you so that you can have a more visceral notion of the consequences of one’s behavior. My new book Proving God contains a chapter entitled “The Science of Salvation” which puts the discussion of human salvation into clear scientific language!

https://thegodguy.wordpress.com/

Posted in god, Inner growth, Life after death, love, metaphysics, Reality, religion, science, spirituality, unity | Tagged, , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

http://www.provinggod.com/

 

A daring work that unifies Science and Theology
by challenging many of the world’s current beliefs about both

Proving God

Sell your soul – Could you do it?

Posted on24th November 2011CategoriesEthics, Ethics & Politics, Private EthicsTags, , , , , , , , , , ,, , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

4 Our Spiritual Guardians

Swedenborg Study.comOnline works based on the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

Swedenborg

4 Our Spiritual Guardians

“The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.” Psalm 34:7

Angelic Mediations

At creation, as recorded in the book of Genesis, God said, “Let us make man in our image after our likeness.” Some have been disturbed by this wording, which suggests that many Divine creators might have been at work. And the Hebrew word for God is Elohim, which is a plural construction. It is a “plural of eminence” used for the one God; but only when the Divine truth is referred to, for truth displays the manifold powers and aspects of God. Many Divine laws concurred in man’s creation. The same word, elohim, is however used also for the false gods of the nations and even for the angels and prophets who receive Divine truths.73 And in the spiritual sense, the six days of creation describe the process of man’s regeneration, the name Elohim being used to indicate that in regenerating man the one God acts through innumerable agencies, and that it is through the ministry of angels that He leads, awakens, governs, and disposes man’s spiritual life and thus bestows upon him the truly human qualities which are meant by the image and likeness of God.74

The inmost soul of man, or the human internal, is indeed not affected by this angelic ministry. For it is, in degree, far above the angelic heavens and is acted upon only by the Lord whose life inflows into it by an immediate way.75 But as to the interiors of his spirit or mind, and as to his ruling love and its inner thought which does not fall within the consciousness of man himself, he dwells in a society of heaven or of hell.76 And as to his natural, or what is the same, his rational mind and its conscious thought and will, man is—in all but realization—an inhabitant of the world of spirits.77

The body of man is under the general influx of heaven. It is in the order of its creation and governed by the soul. Spirits are not adjoined to man’s body,78 and do not affect its life and its states directly; nor do they have any part in the expression of our thought and will in speech and act; for this influx of the mind into the body follows orderly laws outside of the control of either men or spirits.79

Spirits do however “inflow” into what is thought and consciously desired by man. Their hidden operations are what make possible man’s conscious life and affection, and manifest themselves in us as impulses, imaginations and reasonings. The angels, on the other hand, act upon man’s interiors, and produce no perceptible effects in man’s mental life. For their influx is “tacit.” It does not stir up material ideas or object-memories ;80 but is directed to man’s ends or inner motives, which are not consciously articulated in man’s mind, but which are none the less efficient and secretly powerful.81 The angels also rule and regulate the evil spirits who are near a man, generally without the knowledge or perception of these spirits.82

Guardian Angels

The revelations of the Second Advent lay bare the magnificent order of the spiritual empire of the Lord, in which the Lord correlates the finite wills of all men, spirits, and angels, and holds them in mutual freedom, under the rule of a law which is able to guarantee a sense of “as-of-one’s-self” life to every living being on every plane, yet is able to weave their uses together for the creation of a glorious form wherein the happiness of each one is reflected to all and that of all to each.

To every man the Lord has assigned two guardian angels, one celestial and one spiritual.82 This is not an arbitrary number. It results from the fact that man’s will and understanding, at every stage of life, each have a ruling state and quality which responds to that particular influx which is most kindred to it. And each angel in heaven also instinctively seeks that ultimate expression for his life which most closely corresponds to his love. For life descends to ultimates. Yet the angel does not desire to descend to the level of merely external human life, or to face again the imperfections of earthly conditions, such as are reflected in man’s outward thinking. He dwells with man in the community of those spiritual riches of the internal man with which man’s supraconscious thought is stored; which include not only childhood “remains” of innocence, but all the later states of faith and worship which abide where moth and rust do not corrupt.

In this life, man is not conscious of his spiritual treasures, or of the brilliant wealth and glory that is concealed within his vague spiritual perceptions. They come to him only as the stirring of something of charity, or as occasional enlightenment and delight in truth.83 The spiritual thought of man flows into his natural thought, which in turn clings to his memory. With Swedenborg, the case was indeed different. With him, by a Divine provision, a certain separation took place between the thought of his spirit and the thought of his body. And he could therefore perceive the presence of the angels and spirits who were with him; which is not possible to ordinary men.84

It is not possible for guardian angels to see the man with whom they are, although they know when they are with a man. To lead and moderate his affections, and to modify and bend them in various directions as far as man’s free will permits, is indeed one of the specific functions of angelic service.85 The angels observe if any new hells are opened; and if man brings himself into any new evil, they close those hells as far as man suffers it. They dissipate foreign or strange influxes which may tend to harm man, calling forth goods and truths from man’s mind to combat the evil put forth by the wicked spirits; and they are vigilant every moment in regard to man’s safety.86 They attentively and continually notice what the evil spirits and genii with man are intending and attempting, and they feel great joy when they perceive that their service has made it possible to remove some evils and to lead man nearer heaven.87

These angels, or angelic spirits, were seen by Swedenborg “near the head” of man. Yet it does not appear that they visualize the man. Unless they reflect, they think no otherwise than that they are the man—but the interior man, the man as to his interior thought which man does not yet consciously realize. If they reflect, they are able to discern that they are angelic spirits,88 and have been with a man; even as we know that some impulse we feel came from spirits. But the angelic spirits consciously perform the use of extending the Lord’s protection to man. And the union at the time is intimate: they dwell in the man’s affections,89 live themselves into his inmost unconscious life, and feel the utmost sympathy with all the good thoughts which thence issue into man’s mind.

They consider man as a brother and even defend his faults against too intensive self-criticism; or, on the other hand, they may keep him within sight of his evils.90

Yet angelic spirits are not aware of what man is doing or thinking in the externals of his thought. For their sphere is that of the interior memory.91 And especially is this the case, Swedenborg notes, at this day when angels cannot have any direct conjunction with man.92 The angels therefore have an ardent longing that the kingdom of God Messiah might come so that a closer conjunction might be brought about between them and mankind.93

In most ancient times, as still on certain other earths, spirits were at times able to communicate openly with men and converse with them. The spirit is then reduced to the state in which he was when on earth; his external memory is aroused so that he assumes again the whole complex of his former natural thought; and then the interior sight of the man is opened, and they appear to each other as if both were men together.94 In such a way angels appeared to the prophets. But at this day such vision is rarely given, lest men be compelled to belief. On the other hand, even today, those men who think abstractedly from the body, while in meditation, interior reflection, or sustained abstruse ideas, are sometimes seen as to their spirits in their own society in the spiritual world.95 There such are easily distinguished from other spirits; “for they go about meditating and in silence, not looking at others and apparently not seeing them; and as soon as any spirit addresses them, they vanish.”96

Swedenborg’s Testimony

Because Swedenborg thought profoundly, he would, like other men, normally have appeared at times in societies of angelic spirits. But the peculiar state of Swedenborg was such that he could maintain himself in independent abstract thought and thus consciously converse with spirits and enjoy spiritual sensation even while in bodily wakefulness.

When his spiritual thought was not abstracted from the thought of material objects he was invisible to the angelic spirits. For material objects cannot be reproduced as such in the spiritual world; and the ideas of such objects in time and space cannot be expressed by the universal spiritual language. But when he became “in the spirit”—that is, when material ideas were separated from his spiritual thought (and only those material ideas which were in entire correspondence with the spiritual ideas were at all active)—then he became visible to the spirits, could perceive their wisdom, and consociate with them as one of themselves. It was thus that Swedenborg could explore the heavens and live the life of angels and spirits. It was thus that the treasures of the spiritual sense of the Word, and every Divine arcanum, could be conveyed to his mind and be grasped in enlightenment and later, under Divine inspiration, could be written in rational natural language, “clear as crystal” (DV 6).

But Swedenborg’s mission also gave him an opportunity to instruct angels about their relation to men. We do not imagine that when he visited some heaven he reduced all the angels there into the state of that class of angelic spirits who “are with men” and are called “guardian angels.” Still, Swedenborg was sometimes allowed to direct his spiritual thought into natural thought, and thus—by way of experiment —show approximately the change which occurs when angelic spirits are with men.

Thus it is told how certain angelic spirits, when they retired from Swedenborg into their own spiritual society, came into a spiritual state and into supereminent ideas of spiritual thought and into the understanding of spiritual speech and writing which conveyed this thought most accurately and fully.97 But when they returned to Swedenborg, they found themselves to have come into his natural state and were entirely unable to express their spiritual ideas or to understand the speech or writing of heaven : but they could now think only in terms of Swedenborg’s thoughts or, rather, converse with each other by his ideas and speak to him only by the natural languages that he knew. In other words, from their ordinary state as angelic spirits they had been reduced to attendant spirits, by their directing their attention to his thoughts which were conjoined to his natural memory. Yet they were still able to converse openly and consciously with Swedenborg as a person, for he was in a state widely different from that of other men, and was obviously a different individual from them. Some of these spirits actually accompanied him to his home, and as he began to write they could see through his mind a moth which was walking on his paper.97 This is not possible to our attendant spirits.

The State of an Attendant Spirit

From these incidents it is very clear that our guardian angels are—for the sake of their use—reduced into a state resembling man’s. Angels principally inflow into the interior thought which a man is unable to perceive within himself because it is in the realm of ends and is not articulated to his conscious reflection. This interior thought they assume as their own, implying an accommodated state not comparable to angelic wisdom itself. Since it is true of all angels that

their common basis must be the human race on earth ;98 and since man is the plane upon which the thoughts of the angels rest; it might perhaps seem strange that angels attendant upon man are reduced into man’s own general state. For if this is so, whence comes the progress of the heavens?

The answer must be that the angels have access to mankind as a general basis even when not serving a use as man’s guardians. And it is indeed said that the particular spiritual beings who “are with men” are not from heaven or from hell, but are spirits who as yet await their judgment or final preparation.” But such statements do not contradict the principle elsewhere laid down, that spirits who are with men can indeed be from hell or from heaven. If from hell, they must be such as are not confined there but who—not having been as yet fully vastated—have emerged into the world of spirits for a more complete vastation and are thus in the state of the world of spirits, or in something of a natural-rational state. In the case of angelic guardians, they—whether spirits or angels—must also be reduced into the state of man’s natural thought and life. And the general rule may thus be seen that the guardian spirits with man are all emissaries or representatives of some spiritual society either in heaven or in hell. In other words, they are “subject-spirits.”100

If all angels were reduced into a state attuned to that of man, it would defeat the purpose of influx and guardianship. Instead the Lord provides that each angelic society should act upon man through intermediates. These may be spirits in the world of spirits into one of whom the angels of the society concentrate their thought, and whom they inspire with their own illustration and power so that he may act for them and from them. Or else, one of the members of that society serves as an emissary and subject. In either case the subject acts and speaks and thinks from the society; he thinks nothing from himself, although he feels entirely as if he did so from his own choice and his own thought. The greater the numbers in a society who thus “turn themselves” to some spirit and direct their “intuition” into him, the greater power and clarity does this spirit possess.101

Through these particular spirits the currents of life and illustration are directed to the varied states of man, so as to stir particular states in his mind, without rousing the whole dormant will of the proprium. For his will, from heredity and birth, is entirely evil in tendency. His will is a malformation which can receive only the life of hell. If there should be a sudden excitation of the whole of this life, all would be over with man. He would be submerged in a flood of passion and fantasy; and heavenly influx would be impossible.

The Lord has ordained otherwise. He has provided that man’s native life shall not suddenly exhibit all its hideous potentialities, but that it shall be revealed only little by little while earth-life progresses—aroused only so far as it can be comprehended by conscious thought. In other words, the Lord has provided that there shall be no general influx into the conscious part of the mind, but that man’s responsible life shall be carried on in the understanding by states of thought and will that develop gradually; and that all the forces of the spiritual world shall have their representatives near man and shall balance each other’s influence, and so leave man in freedom.

The Number of Our Attendant Spirits

In general, each man has four attendant spirits. Two angelic spirits are present. The other two are the subjects—respectively—of the hell of “genii” and the hell of “satanic spirits.” These four are generally invisible to each other, with the exception that the good spirits see the evil spirits whose wicked intent they seek to frustrate.102 And none of them see the man with whom they are, but only his affections.103

The intimacy of these spirits with man’s whole mind may be seen from the revealed fact that the spirits near to man think that they are the man and, if evil, are unwilling to admit that they are no longer living in the body, although this could easily be shown them if they were willing to reflect.104 The appearances upon which their self-deception rests are indeed strong. For such spirits, while they are near man, possess or assume his whole memory! Angelic spirits would assume his whole interior memory; other spirits his exterior memory105 with all his past, with his whole personality, his active self; yet all this without disturbing man’s feeling of self-life and freedom in the least. Nothing of a spirit’s own natural memory is permitted to be active. Spirits forget themselves and their own natural past, lest confusion should result in man’s mind by their communicating their memories to him. Several spirits, forgetting their own identities, may at the same time suppose themselves to be the man, and yet man be happily oblivious of their illusions !106 Each spirit would then take, from the mazes of man’s memory, all that harmonizes with his own affection, and man may thus find himself torn by opposing delights. But all the attending spirits, because they thus identify man’s mind with their own, act as his friends.107

Spirits generally do not remain long with a man but are always changing according to man’s advance in age or state. A striking exception to this rule is suggested in the teaching that death does not separate conjugial partners, “since the spirit of the deceased dwells continually with the spirit of the one not yet deceased, and this even until the death of the other, when they meet again and reunite, and love each other more tenderly than before, because in the spiritual world.”108 But that the partner is always in the state typical of an attendant spirit is not said, and in no wise follows.

From a certain relation we judge that these four special attendants, or at least one among them, may be the same for a long time. In the presence of Swedenborg, and through his memory, spirits could sometimes become aware with what men they were closely consociated. Such consociate spirits resemble their earthly alter ego, sometimes even as to dress. One such spirit declared that he could understand clearly all that the man he attended said, but that the man could not understand the things he, the spirit, said. Another admitted that he thought and spoke from a certain man on earth as the man did from him.109 But this realization was exceptional, due to Swedenborg’s presence.

Without an associate spirit with an affection similar to his own, and thence perceptions of a like kind, a man could not think analytically, rationally or spiritually.110 The attendant spirits may take on the man’s whole memory or only a part, and remain with the man as long as they represent a general state. As the man advances from childhood, both his angelic guardians and his infernal attendants are changed. In infancy, angels of the celestial type, including infant spirits, are with him and insinuate innocence. In childhood, spirits of the natural heaven are close, instilling an affection of knowing. In youth, spirits of intelligence, subjects of the second heaven, are his guardians. And in old age there attend, if man permits, spirits of wisdom and mature innocence, who communicate with the third heaven.111

Yet more remotely there are hosts of other spirits, good and evil, who make temporary use of the shifting ideas of man’s memory and arouse in him passing delights and tentative affections, without so fully identifying themselves with the man. In this variety man finds a freedom of choice, and his thoughts are through them extended to new societies in heaven or in hell.112 Every moment there passes a swift flow of such spiritual associates—like specific radio-currents to which our mind is tuned in—to inspire, maintain and enrich the colorful procession of our thoughts, evoking old memories, suggesting new connections of one idea with another, inducing new moods of courage or dismay, and kindling flashes of new perceptions.

People whose thoughts are fixed upon sensual objects have few spirits with them,113 while with men whose ideas are more interiorly active and are constantly “multiplied and divided,” there are obviously very many more associations made with spirits, good or evil.114 With those who think abstractly there are therefore many spirits in constant flux.115 But it is intimated that those who are led more according to spontaneous order—as for instance children in their innocence—need fewer spirits to govern them than do most adults. Adults, who act from prudence and are apt to resist the truths of faith more stubbornly, require a greater force of spirits to reform them.116The orderly thing is for these spirits to be adjoined when man’s affections are stirred. But there are also “strange influxes” from spirits who are not invited by man’s real consent, but who induce moods of sadness, melancholy or homesickness.117

Such nostalgia seemingly results from spirits who fail to leave man when his state changes, but become attached to the idea of certain places and objects and induce the man to return to them at least in thought. Our guardian angels then have the task of driving such spirits away, by concentrating his interest on some use and bending his affections towards spiritual things.

Spirits Rest on Symbols

Spirits find their resting-place with man in the “ultimates” of his mind—that is, in external signs and symbols which are indications of his inner purposes and loves. To avoid confusion and to prevent strange and unwanted influxes, man has to order his life by self-imposed habits and established externals of worship and morality. The object of all the sacraments, rites, blessings, and institutions of the church is to help to introduce our spirit into heavenly societies. Baptism is a most striking example. For is not its avowed purpose to transfer a man into the society of his faith—into the company of souls who rejoice in the heavenly doctrine and who can protect him against “wandering spirits?” Is not the Holy Supper a means for introducing our spirit into heaven, and a sealing (in the sight of all spirits) of our desire to become the children of God. Is not every good habit of worship and piety, of order and cleanliness, of industry and courtesy, an ultimate protection against strange spirits who would insinuate fantasies, doubts, and conflicts and thus harm our devotion to the uses which we have freely assumed ? Inauguration into the priesthood ensures—so far as the candidate permits—the guardianship of societies which love the priestly use and the salvation of souls, and which encourage interior progress in this use. Betrothal, marriage, and priestly blessings of all kinds have within them the same intent—to assure an interior progress by conjunction with our heavenly guardians.

In each case, these ceremonies are marked by specific acts or procedures which set the person apart, not only in the eyes of men but also to the minds of spirits. Spirits do not see the man baptized, but the memory of the act inheres as a permanent and ineradicable basis of association with spirits of his faith, and as a fulcrum for the presence of angelic societies. The impress of the rite in the external memory is made a symbol for the celestial and spiritual “remains” and for the deep stirrings of charity and faith which at the same time are insinuated in the interior memory—a memory which is forever exempt from any infestation by evil spirits. The knowledge of baptism becomes the center for a gathering group of ideas open to spiritual influx. The Writings aid us to become aware of the spiritual significance and effect of our external acts, customs and decisions. The real issues of our life have to do with the question as to what unseen spiritual associates we invite to linger and lodge in our mind, our imagination, our thought, and our heart. And spirits are associated with our minds by many seemingly inconsequential and trifling circumstances, which yet have deep symbolic significance. Even as a world of emotion can be stirred up in us by the sight of a rose or a child’s toy, so spirits see—in the objective things of our memory—great depths of associated meanings which have immense importance for them and hence for us. This is the basic reason for correspondential rituals.

The mind is ritualistic. We are compelled to resort to ritual to compensate for the fact that we do not fully comprehend the simplest elements of our own thought. We recall an object, and may have to be content to recollect that it once suggested a world of particular meanings—meanings which we ourselves now have forgotten and cannot fathom or explain ! But the spirits with us—they understand ! They cause a host of “such things as were adjoined” to be lifted up around our material idea of the object, as an undulating sphere of associated ideas. By such “spiritual wings” the inner meaning of the object is elevated from the grave of the memory into what we call “consciousness.” “Thereby man has apperception of a thing.”118

In other words, without spirits we could not be humanly conscious—could not interpret our memories into meanings. Our words and memory images would be without sense or import unless there were spirits who can, by their peculiar power and prerogative, see and gather all the implications and arouse all the thoughts and delights that are interiorly attached to these dead symbols. Their prerogative is to see spiritual relations—to see the whole thought with its complex roots and branches. Even with the help of his attendant spirits, man can see only the vaguest generals.118

It is thus clear that a man can think and will only together with the spirits who are with him.119 The teaching that “spirits and men are in each other’s thoughts and affections”120 is countered by another which shows that “everything of thought and affection flows in through spirits and angels,”121 by a third, which states that men and spirits “are not conjoined as to thoughts, but as to affections,”122 and by a fourth, which tells that spirits do not introduce thoughts into man, but only affections.123

It is indeed the affection of the spirit which flows in. But so far as this affection is in accord with man’s interior affection which is built up from his free choice, it can also flow into his understanding and manifest itself there as perception and thought. Man is active as to memory-ideas; the spirit is active as to the affection which carries its own wisdom or meaning within it; and so the two act as one, man and spirit in one mental act which each senses as his own.

Man as a Plane for Spirits and Angels

The evidence presented in the Writings concerning the relationships of spirits and men is very complex and extensive, and as it is largely descriptive in character, it leaves room for uncertainties and for various interpretations. Thus it is the general doctrine that “angels and spirits cannot be separated from men” ;124 yet their life is in effect quite independent as far as all appearances go. We are convinced that angels are not always in the need of assuming some man’s interior memory as their own, any more than all spirits need to identify themselves definitely with man’s personality and natural memory.

Angels who are not assigned to particular men are at greater liberty to use the memories of many men at the same time for their basis. “Many men can at the same time serve as a plane for one angel,” we read. “The Lord so arranges that what is absent in one may be [found] in another ; He also composes one thing from many, so that it may still serve simultaneously for a plane.”125 And if mankind were deficient, it would be possible for the natural memories of spirits to be sufficiently activated so as to become a fulcrum and plane for angelic ideas.126 In fact, things from the memory of an intelligent man may serve for such a plane whether he be thinking about them or about other things, or even while he is asleep. Whatever in the memory of mankind and of spirits might correspond to an angel’s active affection can be called into use as a reflective basis for his heavenly perceptions—as if the whole human race lay before him as an open book, in order that no impediments may prevent his progress into ever greater wisdom.125

But a special widening of the vision of the angels occurs when men on earth read the Word reverently. For the natural thoughts of the man are then not so limited or so colored by his own states as ordinarily. He is in Divine ultimates. And the angels with him then “pay no attention whatever to . . . those things which are in the thought of the man at the time he reads it,” nor to those things which are in the sense of the letter; but only to the interiors of the Word, from the man.127

Angels in this state “take delight in the man because of the wisdom which then flows through the Word to them.” But this approbation of the man is an afterthought.128 They are not aware of the man. They are perhaps reading the Word as it exists in its spiritual form in heaven, and the things within the Word appear to them “as if they thought them from themselves”—appear presented before their eyes “in a celestial and spiritual manner, with innumerable representatives, in the light of life.”129

The question might be raised as to what would happen if the race on some earth in the universe should perish—which is a possibility as a result of man’s freedom to separate himself from the Divine and to rush into unchecked wickedness and race suicide, despite the Lord’s intervention.130 The answer is given that the heavens from the inhabitants of that earth would then be “transferred” to rest on the minds of men on some other planet.131 It was to prevent such a contingency that the Lord came in the flesh and that the written Word was provided as a perpetual ultimate.132

Angelic Perception of Our Word

There are two groups of teachings about the way in which human states affect the angels and qualify their wisdom. On the one hand it is said that the angels are in greater clearness as to the spiritual sense “when little children are reading the Holy Bible” or when the reader “pays no attention to the things he reads and has no perception of them.” Then “the sense and perception of those things are elevated to the angels more distinctly than when the natural human mind is also active.”133 And the general doctrine is given, that when the Word is read by men who are in the life of faith, the spiritual things of the continuous internal sense “lie open to the angels . . . even if they who read do not attend to its meaning.” And the Jews, when in states of external holiness, could also be a means by which the Word was presented before the angels; for the correspondences communicate, whatever the quality of the person who reads, if only he acknowledges the Word to be Divine.134 “All the wisdom of the angels is given by means of the Word, since in its internal and inmost sense it is the Divine wisdom, which is communicated to the angels through the Word when this is read by men and when it is thought from. . . . “135

It would seem that man’s wisdom and understanding do not necessarily have any part in limiting the angelic perceptions. What is more essential to angelic illustration seems to be the quiescence and silencing of our natural imagination and the states of our proprium. Then the angels can use us for a reflecting plane, and can see the interiors of the Word of God in its own glory and light.

But it is otherwise when the angels become our guardians. They then accommodate themselves to the particular spiritual things, be they few or many, which we have appropriated unconsciously within our interiors. They are then performing a use; and a use implies certain temporary sacrifices, which eventually are rewarded by still ampler delights. Our most loftly intellectual states are usually not reached in the midst of our uses. A teacher, for instance, must at times enter into the deeper perceptions of his subject by further studies in his field, and he then feels a delight of wisdom. Afterwards he accommodates himself to others and speaks, so far as possible, in their terms, in order that he may convey his message to them. He is not then in the delight of wisdom, but in the delight of his use; and his illustration is very much affected by the response to his efforts, and the reception which he meets will finally make for a conjunction of thought between teacher and pupils.

Thus it is quite comprehensible that there should be a difference of illustration with the angels when they “are with men”—a difference due to the different qualities of the personal states of the men. “As are the ultimates, so are the primaries.”136 Concerning this we read:

“If the men who are reading the Word or thinking or preaching from the Word, are wise, then the angels do not know it, but still the wisdom of their thought falls into them (illa) as into its plane, . . . and they are entirely unaware that it so happens.

“Angels have told me that they are sometimes in great wisdom, sometimes in less, sometimes in clarity, sometimes in obscurity; and that their thoughts are variously directed to the quarters, now this, now that; and that they are in greater clearness or obscurity according to the direction—but that they are [then] not turned to themselves,

but to man; and that thence they know that [they are turned] to the human race where such things are to which they are determined. They said that they have this from much experience; and that when [they are turned] to those things which are in my thought from the Heavenly Doctrine, they are then in greater clearness than otherwise.”137

We may therefore understand how the changes of state with the angels are based upon their uses to each other and to men; how the wisdom of heaven is derived from the Word when this is read by men; how the wisdom and delight of the angels inflow into regenerating men and make it possible for them also to perceive the depths of the Word so far as their natural cognitions allow; and how there is thus a conjunction of thought and life between angels and men—with a lifting of man’s mind and a gracious accommodation on the part of the angels.

For this is a part of the angelic use. And thus although, when man enters with attention and understanding into the interior meaning of the Word, the perception of the angelic spirits is in a measure limited by the alien elements that man may introduce, yet it is better “if man also is at the same time in light” and thus be conjoined with the angels. The higher angels—who love others more than themselves—gladly perform this use. But angelic spirits of a lower order may, at times, instinctively snatch away man’s illustration and delight, by failing to enter fully into their use as guardian angels.138

If man’s mind is furnished with light from the Heavenly Doctrine—and if he loves the Lord and holds evils in aversion —he will not demand so great accommodation or sacrifice of illustration on the part of his angelic guardians. The angels can then retain great wisdom, and will—in all but appearance —consociate their conscious thought with the as yet ineffable depths of the man’s thought, in a common enlightenment.139 This is the manner in which heaven and earth may again be conjoined through the Word.

New book: Starting Science from God.
Links theism (religion) to science (psychology and physics) without reduction.

http://www.swedenborgstudy.com/index.html

Webmaster: IJT@swedenborgstudy.com

http://www.sacred-texts.com/swd/index.htm

http://www.eswedenborg.com/

http://www.smallcanonsearch.org/

%d bloggers like this: