Suspicion – How to overcome it?

Do you give the man in your life a warm embrace in order to sniff for any strange perfume? Or scroll through your partner’s phonebook, when she’s not around, checking for any new male contacts?

suspicionSigns of sexual jealousy in others may sound funny but if you are the one experiencing suspicion it can be very distressing. It may need some spiritual healing.

Like when one feels both afraid, yet compelled, to search through one’s lover’s trouser pockets or purse for any incriminating evidence. Of course the distrust may be well-founded or on the other hand completely unwarranted.

Having a general attitude of suspicion

Not all distrust is to do with possibly being cheated on. You may be the sort of person who often feels uneasy and wary of people in general. The suspicion is that they will seize on your mistakes and try to blame you for absolutely anything that goes wrong. So you get in the first blow finding fault in their behaviour. It is as if aggression were the best form of defence.

Having a distrust of the world can be unpleasant because we continually need to check out if people are doing us down. In addition, having suspicion about others, we do not easily form personal relationships; for to get close to someone would involve putting ourselves in a vulnerable position where we might get hurt. We do not want to risk them betraying us if we start to depend on them. Yet keeping ourselves to ourselves we feel lonely.

Reduce suspicion by looking for the good in others

I would say that the key to a trusting attitude is to look for the good and concern in those we encounter and deal with the faults of others as gently as with our own. We are in a state of peace inside only when we are seeking or finding peace around us. Looking for the good in others may mean for example making an effort to understand the other person’s point of view. By becoming more aware of where he or she is coming from, we then give ourselves a better chance to more accurately distinguish between innocent remarks, fair criticism, as opposed to things said only in anger of the moment, and hostile put downs.

Using your will to overcome suspicion

Looking for the good in others when we usually look for the bad in them requires an effort of will. We do not often find the idea of `will’ in modern psychology. One exception is in psychosynthesis psychotherapy created by Roberto Assagioli.  According to Assagioli everyone can have, or has had, the experience of freely willing but possibly not with full awareness or understanding. He said that people vary in the extent they explore, develop and use their will to develop their life.

Finding a new heart is a crucial part of our spiritual healing.  A charitable heart is looking for the good in others and valuing them for the potential good they can do. It means treating others as oneself. This is universal advice. As Jesus said: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” Likewise the Buddha said “Hurt not others with that which pains yourself”  and we find similar advice in the Hindu tradition that says “Treat others as you would be treated yourself”. If you are suspicious by nature yet believe in love and light as the divine force behind the universe so you can convince yourself that finding a new trusting heart is quite possible.

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

Posted on18th March 2011CategoriesHealing emotions, Spiritual healingTags, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,, , ,

Stress – How to find lasting relief?

stressDo you hear yourself saying I don’t have the time – to do all my job requires, spend quality time with the children, to relax with my partner, fix the car, weed the flower bed and mow the lawn, etc.

Feeling under pressure most of the time is not good for your health. If you are feeling hassled by life, with people, who you would normally expect to cope with, getting on your nerves, the strains on you will be beginning to show; nervous tension, sleeping poorly, or getting more than an ordinary amount of headache, upset stomach, back pain, and short illnesses.

As everyone knows reducing stress in your life can make you a happier and healthier person. But what to do about it to get lasting relief?

There are plenty of remedies for stress around.

The trouble is many of the usual ways of coping with stress are just illusory solutions, such as being distracted by an exotic holiday location, or relying on alcohol or medication to calm you down: these can only provide temporary relief.

Some remedies like regular physical exercise and healthy eating are more helpful in the longer run: also taking regular rest breaks, reducing the number of activities in an over-busy schedule and learning better how to relax.

However, there is likely to be resistance to these things built into your way of thinking. You resort to comfort eating, feel too weary to go for that brisk walk, feel you can’t spare time from work. Perhaps you just feel too tense to attempt to relax properly.

Work-related stress

One way continuing stress shows up is depressed mood. A study published by the American Medical Association, estimated that ‘depression’ costs American employers $44 billion in lost productivity every year.

A survey reported by CFO magazine for corporate financial executives summarised the reasons why high achieving employees quit their jobs. Out of the five potential causes cited by HR professionals that top-performing employees would leave, not one of the reasons included stress. However, when asked privately the employees reported work-related stress as the number one factor for leaving a company. What makes this misunderstanding even more startling is that those same HR professionals acknowledged that workers have been working longer hours than normal for the past three years – and will most likely continue the overworked pace for the next three years. We might speculate that this is due to the recession although these days long hours seem to be built into the industrial climate in America and some other capitalist countries. We might ask about the emotional state of those employees still in their jobs working in such a culture? Such a pace of work doesn’t seem sustainable. Why don’t they leave too for less demanding work? Why can’t some people just say ‘no’ to unreasonable demands made on them?

The cause of stress is partly within ourselves

People seem to vary as to how much stress they can deal with before reaching their own breaking point. The cause of stress is something outside of oneself but don’t some of us also add to the load that life weighs down on us by having unrealistic hopes and fears? Excessive demands are a bad thing, but often they come from yourself. Being on the go all the time and you may become exhausted. Expect to get promoted and you may feel more held back and agitated if you are not. Look forward with certainty to having a child and you may feel more disappointment if you do not get pregnant.

I would suggest what is required is an expansion of our focus to include not only the problem but also what is most meaningful and valuable in our lives. And I believe this is how spiritual teachings can help: they oblige us to reflect on how our feelings are affected by our beliefs about how things should be.

The stress of being alone

In his book Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea, Steven Callahan describes how when he was sailing across the Atlantic alone, his boat struck something and sank. He was set adrift on a rubber life raft struggling to survive.

“Deprivation seems a strange sort of gift. I find food in a couple hours of fishing each day, and I seek shelter in a rubber tent. How unnecessarily complicated my past life seems. For the first time, I clearly see a vast difference between human needs and human wants. Before this voyage, I always had what I needed — food, shelter, clothing, and companionship — yet I was often dissatisfied when I didn’t get everything I wanted, when people didn’t meet my expectations, when a goal was thwarted, or when I couldn’t acquire some material goody. My plight has given me a strange kind of wealth, the most important kind. I value each moment that is not spent in pain, desperation, hunger, thirst, or loneliness.”

A Buddhist perspective on stress

From a Buddhist perspective the problem of stress is to do with an attachment to something. If you are feeling impatient and frustrated and want something in a hurry, what idea are you clinging on to? It is likely to include the word ‘must’. “I must have more money”, or “more success”, or “immediate gratification”, or “more appreciation”. “I must be right.” “Must get my own way.”

Confusing what one must have with what one needs.

A Swedenborgian perspective on stress

According to spiritual philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg, peace and contentment (the opposites of stress and tension) are spiritual qualities: and you will be disappointed in so far as you prioritise the things of the world rather than the things of the spirit. In other words, if you have a mainly self-centred way of looking at things and place materialistic goals at the centre of your life – looking first towards excessive consumption, social status and bodily pleasure – then anxiety is inevitable.

Copyright 2014 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Spiritual Occupations

A Sermon by Rev. James P. Cooper

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1,2)

As we go through life in this world, we try to behave in such a way that we will “make it” to heaven but we all wonder what it will be like when we get there, what kinds of things will we do to keep ourselves busy all day long. But in order to get a better grasp on what spiritual occupations are like, we must look carefully at the loves that lie within our earthly occupations, and look closely at what the Heavenly Doctrines teach about life in the spiritual world. We read from the Heavenly Doctrines

“The works of the mind are intentions and endeavors, and the works of the body are utterances and actions. Both of these proceed out of a man s internal life, which is of his will or love. Whatever does not terminate in works, whether it be internal things or external things, these are not in the man s life, for they inflow out of the world of spirits but are not being received” (AR 868).

If earthly works are not terminated in actions they are not part of a person s life. Is it not also true that heavenly works must be terminated in heavenly actions for them to be part of the angel s life? Is not the spiritual world the mediate cause of the natural world? Do not the spiritual principles of the one apply to the other? Are not the angels in the loves of their life more perfectly than are people? Does this not mean that there must be as many spiritual ultimations of uses as there are angels? Is not the perfection of uses in the Grand Man of Heaven directly related to the variety of uses performed in the spiritual world?

Life descends from the Lord, through the spirit, and is terminated in a person s actions. For an angel, this life descending is terminated in his spiritual activities. There must be spiritually “physical” activities as a foundation for the influx of life from the Lord just as there must be an organic of natural substances of the spiritual body to rest upon as a foundation. Without determination, a spiritual cause is a breath of air, performing no use. And without use, in this world and the next, there is no real life.

Angels perform spiritual uses. An angel has a spiritual body through which he senses the spiritual world, and by means of which he acts. It would seem, then, that when an angel is present with a person, providing a means for influx from the Lord, his spiritual body would be performing some spiritual activity that represents that function perhaps planting spiritual tree in the spiritual garden.

In heaven, every angel delights in performing uses for others, and they are given food and clothing freely from the Lord. They love their work, He loves to give them the things they need. They earn, but have no sense of needing to earn, no sense of the relationship between time worked to rewards given. Rather, rewards and honors are given according to each individual angel s elevation of use and accumulated wisdom. Angels are never jealous of each other s riches, but instead, they feel joy that the other is permitted such a wonderful and elevated use. For example, imagine if a friend has been saving for a long time for something he really wanted, but that you yourself had no desire for, something you would not envy. Then think of the happiness you would feel when he finally succeeded in getting it. This would illustrate the unselfish joy of heaven.

In hell there is no delight in use. There, they wish only to do things that bring pleasure to themselves, the loves of self and the world rule. Thus they hate to do anything that might be of any benefit to another (unless they think that it will be a way of getting something). Yet even though they are of this nature, the Lord loves them too, and provides for them. But in hell the food and shelter are only provided in direct relation to their state of external order. They may want to do evil, but when they do, they are severely punished, and they are not given any food unless they keep themselves in order and perform the tasks required by their angel supervisors. This points out the tremendous importance of use. Even the devils must perform duties that are analogous to uses. They are completely external, but still they must be done. One might think that hell could be organized in such a way that devils do not have to work that the denial of their loves of self and the world would be torment enough. However, central to this idea is the false idea that hell was created to be a place of punishment for those who do not follow the Lord. The Lord punishes no one. Hell has been created by human beings and permitted by the Lord out of His love for everyone. Devils are of such a character that it would be unendurable torment if they were forced to live in heaven because it is totally alien to them. No worse torment could be thought of or experienced than for a devil to be forced to be present with the angels under the light and heat of the spiritual sun. It is a further aspect of the Lord s love that they are punished into external order and uses in hell, for they are such that they would kill each other if not restrained by angels who love order so much that they can associate with them. The Lord created us to live to eternity in heaven. We are free to choose hell if we wish, but we are not free to end our life.

These spiritual principles also apply to people in the world because the Lord s kingdom on earth is the church. This means that when a person comes into the truths of faith from the Word, begins to understand them, and apply them to his life, he is coming into the genuine life of the church, the life that leads to heaven. In order to do this we must practice self-examination and repentance, and amend our life; for good works are not really possible until truth is seen and applied in life.

When we shun a sin, the opposite love will be implanted in our hearts by the Lord therefore, after we have done works and won in temptation with the Lord s help, we come into the life of heaven, that is, the church is formed within us. When we become a church, we still continue to work in the world, even though love becomes more important, still, every love must have an ultimate expression, and so we continue to work in the world, but with renewed strength and joy. As the love of our married partner grows, so does our desire to express it in a great variety of external forms embraces, gestures, gifts, offers of help, and many others. In the same way, as our wisdom increases, we find new ways to do things that will bring delight to others, our loves continually seek new forms to express themselves.

The Writings teach further that “works” are not exactly the same thing as “occupation,” except that on earth works can be the same as occupation. It depends on the motive, the ruling love, the spiritual cause. Take for example a laborer working 40 hours a week soldering parts into circuit boards on an assembly line. If such a person were in the love of self, he might work to avoid the loss of his reputation if he were fired. He might try to do a good job to keep the paychecks coming regularly. Again, he may be inspired to work hard and do a good job so that he can afford to buy expensive presents for his children so that they will “love” him. Perhaps he sees himself in his children, so by giving them gifts, he gives gifts to himself. If the love of the world rules in him, he might do a good job because he wants to enjoy the pleasures of the world that his wages can buy.

On the other hand, if he is in the affection of natural truth, he may work hard and do the best job he can because he believes that this is what he should do. His pleasure from the job might be that he enjoys seeing the solder melt perfectly into the joint, making a perfectly finished product.

If he is in an affection of spiritual truth, and genuine love towards his neighbor, perhaps he might see that he is not just soldering joints in a circuit board, but rather he may reflect that the circuit board is part of a larger system, which might then be used in a truck which is used to carry useful goods to stores. He begins to see that his work stretches out in a hundred directions, touching many people, bringing them work, profit, and pleasure that they would not have if he did his job poorly and the truck kept breaking down. He thinks of all those people who depend on him doing his job well, and works with pleasure for them.

While this illustration may seem mundane, it does illustrate the true nature of spiritual occupations, for in heaven, each angel performs some task or occupation, not just to keep busy, or because the goods are needed (since every necessity is provided by the Lord), but they work because each one of them perceives that he is a part of the whole of heaven, and that his actions, as led by the Lord, contribute to the corporate life of heaven in a meaningful, unique way. On earth, any occupation can be a use, if the love within it is love to the neighbor or the Lord. In heaven, the physical tasks that the angels perform are representatives of each angel s own ruling love, so all occupations in heaven are uses.

Having spent a great deal of time considering the source and nature of heavenly duties, we now turn to a partial list of occupations that hopefully will help us get a feeling for what we will be doing to eternity. The doctrines point out that it is extremely difficult to enumerate because the various occupations are numberless each individual angel will have a unique occupation that is perfectly suited to his loves and abilities. However, we are told that each society has its own particular duty. Further, we are told that all the angelic jobs fall into one of three types ecclesiastical, civil, and domestic; and that those things that pertain to the general good are performed by the wiser angels, and those that pertain to smaller groups by the less wise, and so on.

As said above, all societies are distinct according to the use that they perform. Those uses are diverse, yet all those listed seem to have one thing in common, that they are all forms of education in some degree. There are societies employed in

Taking care of little children.

Instructing the boys and girls who have acquired a good disposition from their education in the world, and in consequence have come into heaven.

Teaching the simple good from the Christian world, and leading them in the way to heaven.

Teaching and leading the various heathen nations into heaven.

Protecting newly arrived spirits from being infested by evil spirits by helping them learn the customs of heaven, and keeping them away from those who want to enslave them with their lies.

Attending to the spirits who are in hell, and preventing them from torturing each other beyond what is permitted.

Attending to those who are being raised from the dead.

In general, angels from each society are sent to people on the earth to watch over them and to lead them away from evil affections and consequent evil thought, and to inspire them with good affections as far as they will receive them in freedom.

Those who in the world have loved the Word and eagerly sought in it for truths, not with honor of gain as an end, but on account of uses of life both for themselves and for others, are concerned with ecclesiastical affairs in heaven. These serve as preachers. Those who in the world have loved their country, and have loved its general good more than their own, and have done what is just and right from a love of what is just and right, are concerned with civil affairs. They are all in the delight of their work and labor from a love of use, and no one from a love of self or of gain. (See HH 383-393)

In the same way that you cannot solder circuit boards here on earth by just sitting around thinking about doing it, in heaven, your use must be expressed representatively by doing some activity with spiritual ultimates. In confirmation of this, we read the following

“…Ten men can do works that appear alike in externals, but which are unlike even with all of them, because they come forth out of a different end and cause, and the end and cause make works to be either good or evil; for every work is a work of the mind, and consequently such as the mind is, such is the work. If the mind is charity, the work becomes charity; but if the mind is not charity, the work does not become charity; yet both can appear alike in externals. Works appear to men in an external, but to angels in an internal, form; while to the Lord they appear such as they are from inmosts to outmost” (AR 76 Cf. AR 141, 641).

We all wonder what our lot in the other life will be. We wonder if we will be worthy of heaven when we are called. We wonder where we will live, what our neighborhood will be like, who our friends will be, what we will have to do that will keep us interested to eternity. We need not worry, though, for the Lord has assured us that there is a place for us there, where we will be happy to eternity, for He Himself taught us, In My Father s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you (text). AMEN.

1st Lesson DAN 610-23

(Dan 610-23) Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. {11} Then these men assembled and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God. {12} And they went before the king, and spoke concerning the king s decree “Have you not signed a decree that every man who petitions any god or man within thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter.” {13} So they answered and said before the king, “That Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, does not show due regard for you, O king, or for the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.” {14} And the king, when he heard these words, was greatly displeased with himself, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him. {15} Then these men approached the king, and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is the law of the Medes and Persians that no decree or statute which the king establishes may be changed.” {16} So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” {17} Then a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his lords, that the purpose concerning Daniel might not be changed. {18} Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; and no musicians were brought before him. Also his sleep went from him. {19} Then the king arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions.

{20} And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” {21} Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! {22} “My God sent His angel and shut the lions mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.” {23} Then the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God. Amen.

2nd Lesson JOH 141-14

(John 141-14) “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. {2} “In My Father s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. {3} “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. {4} “And where I go you know, and the way you know.” {5} Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” {6} Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. {7} “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” {8} Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” {9} Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, Show us the Father ?{10} “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. {11} “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. {12} “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. {13} “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. {14} “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. Amen.

3rd Lesson HH 387, 389


It is impossible to enumerate the employments in the heavens, still less to describe them in detail, but something may be said about them in a general way; for they are numberless, and vary in accordance with the functions of the societies. Each society has its peculiar function, for as societies are distinct in accordance with goods (see above, n. 41), so they are distinct in accordance with uses, because with all in the heavens goods are goods in act, which are uses. Everyone there performs a use, for the Lord s kingdom is a kingdom of uses.

389. All things in the heavens are organized in accordance with Divine order, which is everywhere guarded by the services performed by angels, those things that pertain to the general good or use by the wiser angels, those that pertain to particular uses by the less wise, and so on. They are subordinated just as uses are subordinated in the Divine order; and for this reason a dignity is connected with every function according to the dignity of the use. Nevertheless, an angel does not claim dignity to himself, but ascribes all dignity to the use; and as the use is the good that he accomplishes, and all good is from the Lord, so he ascribes all dignity to the Lord. Therefore he that thinks of honor for himself and subsequently for the use, and not for the use and subsequently for himself, can perform no function in heaven, because this is looking away backwards from the Lord, and putting self in the first place and use in the second. When use is spoken of the Lord also is meant, because, as has just been said, use is good, and good is from the Lord.


A Sermon by Rev. Daniel W. Heinrichs
Preached in Boynton Beach, Florida February 9, 1992

“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

The Lord claimed to be the promised Messiah. The leaders of the Jews the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees disputed His claim. We would note that those who denied His claim and rejected Him based their case on an erroneous interpretation of the Scriptures. They claimed repeatedly that His teaching was contrary to the law given through Moses. Time and again the Lord showed them that His doctrine was not contrary to the law, but its fulfillment gave it deeper meaning a spiritual meaning to the law. But because the Lord refused to be bound by the rigid, self- serving interpretations which the scribes and Pharisees placed on the law, they branded Him an imposter, and continually attempted to discredit Him.

Because their minds were so warped by their sensualism they totally failed to see the true nature of the Lord’s teaching. What were their primary concerns? Ceremonial washings, the observance of feast days and sacrificial offerings. They were utterly blind to the weightier matters of the law: judgment and mercy (see Matt. 23: 23). Therefore the Lord advised them: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (text).

The Lord has revealed that everyone during infancy and childhood is sensuous. One’s thoughts during that period of development are formed solely from bodily and worldly sensations entering through the five senses (see AC 5126:2, 5497). These physical sensations are stored up and form a physical plane in the mind called the corporeal memory, or the memory of material ideas. As the child grows up and begins to reflect on the things in this plane of the memory and forms conclusions from them, a reorganization takes place and a new plane is established called the natural memory, or the memory of immaterial ideas. If one matures and cultivates the rational faculty, he then reflects on the things in this plane of the mind and so is able to perceive the truth which is in that which has been learned (see AC 5497).

The things of sense are one thing, knowledges in the memory another, and truths another. They are formed successively, the higher from the lower. These planes of the mind are distinct in their formation and they remain distinct. A person can be thinking at one time in one plane and at another time in another (see AC 5774:2). Thought from the lowest plane is called sensual thought, from the middle plane, natural thought, and from the third plane, rational thought. There are thus three distinct degrees or types of thought: sensual, natural and rational. Every thought that we have emanates from one of these planes and derives its quality from it.

Like the Jews referred to in our text, all of us are prone to think from the lowest or sensual plane of our minds. Since it is the first plane formed it requires no effort of the will or intellect to think in this manner; it is, as it were, spontaneous. Yet if we are to perceive and understand truth we must rise above both sensual and natural thought to rational and spiritual thought.

Truth is above nature. Because it is from God, it is in its essence spiritual. In its descent from God the Divine truth is successively clothed, or finited, and in this manner creation took place. That creation took place by a successive finition of Divine truth is clear from the first chapter of John’s gospel. There God is identified with the Word, or Divine truth, and it is declared that the world is made by Him, that is, by the Word or Divine truth proceeding from Him. Thus the objects of nature are appearances of truth on the material plane. The laws of nature which govern the objects are appearances of truth on the plane of nature and are thus called natural appearances of truth.

With this in mind we can see that when we think from the two planes of the mind based on, and formed from, the realms of matter and nature, we are not thinking from truth, but from appearances of truth sensual and natural appearances of truth. Such thought tends to obscure and obliterate a perception of spiritual truth. It drags the mind down.

The Writings state: “Unless man’s thought can be elevated above sensuous things so that these are seen as below him, he cannot understand any interior thing in the Word, still less such things as are of heaven … for sensuous things absorb and suffocate them” (AC 5089:2). For this reason, we are told, those who abound in worldly learning alone have greater difficulty than the simple in understanding spiritual truths, for their minds are immersed in material concepts to such a degree that the mind cannot be elevated to perceive spiritual realities (ibid.).

To illustrate the truth of this, Swedenborg relates the following experience: “It has sometimes happened that I was earnestly thinking about worldly things, and about such things that give great concern to most persons, namely, about possessions, the acquisition of riches, about pleasures, and the like. At these times I noticed that I was sinking down into what is sensuous, and that in proportion as my thought was immersed in such things, I was removed from the company of angels. By this means it was also made plain to me that they who are deeply immersed in such cares cannot have association with those who are in the other life. For when such thoughts possess the whole of the mind, they carry the lower mind downward, and are like weights which drag it down; and when they are regarded as the end, they remove the man from heaven, to which he cannot be elevated except by means of the good of love and of faith. This was made still more manifest to me from the fact that once when I was led through the abodes of heaven, and was at the same time in a spiritual idea, it happened that I suddenly began to sink into thought about worldly things, and then all that spiritual idea was dissipated and became nothing” (AC 6210).

That reliance on, or trust in, sensual appearances obscures truth is apparent even on the natural plane. The record of history bears witness to this fact. Basing their conclusions on the evidence of the senses, people believed for centuries that the world was flat. Until very recent times matter was believed to be solid. These are appearances which, on the evidence of the senses, are very convincing. However, when the mind is elevated to the realm of causes to a consideration of immaterial ideas and the operation of laws then these appearances are seen to be fallacious, and as a hindrance to a true understanding of the natural world in which we live.

If there must be an elevation of thought in order to rightly understand the truth behind, or within, natural phenomena, how much more must this be the case if we are to understand the truth about spiritual things. For this reason the Writings continually urge us to raise our minds above the senses and think spiritually if we wish to understand spiritual truths. In the words of our text we are not to “judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment”(John 7:24). That is, we are not to think from the appearance of the senses but from revealed Divine truth, for judgment is predicated of Divine truth and the thought derived from it (see AC 9857).

We are privileged, as was no former church, with a revelation in which spiritual truths in abundance are laid open to the sight of the understanding in clear rational language. As a church and as individuals associated with that church, we have the opportunity, if we will, to think spiritually.

What do we mean by thinking spiritually? Many people associate the word “spiritual” with what is vague and incomprehensible. This is not the kind of thought which we have in mind. The Writings apply the term “spiritual” to that which is living and eternal, to that which is real and substantial though not material. To think “spiritually,” therefore, is to think from that which is real, living, substantial and eternal; that is, from Divinely revealed truth.

We would note here an important distinction one that is frequently overlooked. It is one thing to think about spiritual truth and quite another to think from it. All of us do the former when we listen to sermons or doctrinal classes and read the Lord’s Word. This is not spiritual thought. We do not wish to belittle it, for it is a very important means. The fact is, we cannot arrive at the end except through the means. We must first learn the truth before we can think from it. All too often we go no further.

Because of our hereditary nature, there is a strong tendency for us to think of religion and life as being two separate, distinct things. On Sundays, and on other occasions when we are engaged in worship, we focus our attention on spiritual matters. When this is over, we tend to recede from thought about spiritual things. In our day-to-day living we are apt to allow ourselves to a great extent to be predominantly influenced by the attitudes and thought of the world around us.

We might ask ourselves: How many of the decisions we make are arrived at after a careful consideration of Divinely revealed principles of truth? Some might suggest that this is carrying religion too far! If we think like this, then we too are thinking from worldly appearances.

All religion is of life. That is, the truths of religion are applicable to all phases of life. Indeed they were given for no other purpose than that they may be applied to our lives every aspect of our lives. In the minds of some the question may arise: “How can we be expected to know what truths or principles apply to a given situation?” The answer to this question is simple: If we seek to be enlightened by regular reading of the Lord’s Word, and avail ourselves of all the means provided by Him for our instruction, both public and private, we will learn those truths which apply directly to our lives. And if we pray to the Lord, He will enlighten us to see those truths we need to know in order to live well.

The truths revealed by the Lord in the Writings especially should be the principles from which we think about all things. As New Church people we should always be willing to examine the attitudes and opinions we hold to see if they are in agreement with the principles of truth which the Lord has revealed. And let us remember: a thing is not true or right merely because many people believe it, nor is it true and right because we have always believed it. It is true and right only if it is in agreement with what the Lord teaches. We would also note that because of our hereditary nature, we are inclined to favor those ideas which are in agreement with our own ideas, ideas which further our own selfish interests. It is therefore of great importance that we always be willing to re-examine our thoughts and attitudes.

The truths which the Lord reveals should, little by little, become the fabric of our thought. When we approach the problems of daily living, we should ask ourselves questions such as these: In what way does the thing I am considering contribute to the Lord’s end in creation? How does the doctrine of use apply to the situation under consideration? What relation has this problem to the degrees of the neighbor? Does the course of action I am considering come under the laws of Divine providence or under the laws of permission? What laws of Divine providence are applicable to the problem I am wrestling with?

If we are serious about living the life that leads to heaven we will seek to formulate our opinions, thoughts and attitudes from the truths of Divine revelation. We will cultivate the habit and practice of thinking from spiritual principles about all things. We are told that when what is spiritual reigns in a person, it affects and as it were tinges all that the person thinks, wills and does, and causes the thoughts and the actions of one’s will to partake of the spiritual, until at last these become spiritual in him (see AC 5639:2).

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3). Amen.

Lessons: I Samuel 16:1-13, John 7:14-31, DLW 248, 249

Divine Love and Wisdom 248, 249


It was shown above that there are three degrees of the human mind, called natural, spiritual, and celestial, and that these degrees may be opened successively in man; also that the natural degree is first opened; afterwards, if man flees from evil as sins and looks to the Lord, the spiritual degree is opened; and lastly, the celestial. Since these degrees are opened successively according to man’s life, it follows that the two higher degrees may remain unopened, and man then continues in the natural degree, which is the outmost. Moreover, it is known in the world that there is a natural and a spiritual man, or an external and an internal man; but it is not known that a natural man becomes spiritual by the opening of some higher degree in him, and that such opening is effected by a spiritual life, which is a life conformed to the Divine precepts; and that without a life conformed to these man remains natural.

There are three kinds of natural men; the first consists of those who know nothing of the Divine precepts; the second, of those who know that there are such precepts but give no thought to a life according to them; and the third, of those who despise and deny these precepts. In respect to the first class, which consist of those who know nothing of the Divine precepts, since they cannot be taught by themselves they must needs remain natural. Every man is taught respecting the Divine precepts, not by immediate revelations but by others who know them from religion, on which subject see The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Concerning the Sacred Scriptures (n. 114-118). Those of the second class, who know that there are Divine precepts but give no thought to a life according to them, also remain natural, and care about no other concerns than those of the world and the body. These after death become mere menials and servants, according to the uses which they are able to perform for those who are spiritual; for the natural man is menial and servant, and the spiritual man is a master and lord. Those of the third class, who despise and deny the Divine precepts, not only remain natural but also become sensual in the measure of their contempt and denial. Sensual men are the lowest natural men, who are incapable of thinking above the appearances and fallacies of the bodily senses. After death they are in hell.

Spiritual but not religious – Good or bad?

Spiritual but not religious – Good or bad Posted on June 10, 2014 by Ed. Some school governors in Birmingham England have been accused of attempting to impose and promote a narrow faith-based ideology in secular schools. Should we be encouraging spiritual rather than religious education?
What does spiritual mean?

The word spiritual is something to do with individual issues of human identity and personal development: hence seeking the sacred and the mystery of life beyond ones sense of selfhood.
What does religious mean?

Being religious seems to be having a sense of identity with and commitment to a community of fellow believers and an acceptance of the external authority of religious teachings. Beliefs tend to be couched in terms of theology, mythology and metaphysics.
Are some people spiritual but not religious?

I think it is helpful to think in terms of 4 rather than 2 types of person:

Materialistic and non-religious
Religious but not spiritual
Spiritual but not religious,
Spiritual and religious


One definition is the attitude that physical well-being and worldly possessions constitute the greatest good and highest value in life. Such a person is less likely to pray or meditate.
Religious but not spiritual

Research has found that people are religious in different ways. A so-called ‘extrinsic’ orientation is said to be characteristic of those who are disposed to use religion for their own ends. Religion is regarded as useful because it can provide security and solace, sociability and distraction, status and self-justification. Such a person can be said to turn to God without turning away from self. Prayer is likely to be restricted to participation in public prayer.
Spiritual but not religious

A ‘quest’ orientation involves an open-ended, responsive dialogue with existential questions raised by the contradictions and tragedies of life. There is an interest in inner directed experience and perception but not in any ideas in religious teaching or mythology coming from external authority. You may hear such a person say

‘What is true for you is not true for me.’

Commentators refer to a range of ‘pick & mix’ beliefs and loosely defined framework of implicit world views about life. Such individuals tend to meditate rather than pray.
Spiritual and Religious

What has been called an ‘intrinsic’ orientation is said to be finding one’s master motives for life in religion. Other needs, strong as they may be, are regarded as of less ultimate significance, and they are, so far as possible, brought into harmony with religious beliefs. Such a person lives his or her religion.

I would suggest that here there is an attempt to relate in prayer one-to-one with an image of a personal yet transcendent God.

Being religious means accepting the value of knowing about divinely revealed ideas in religious culture and also being spiritual means finding the divine spirit within inner experience.

From the perspective of the spiritual philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg, the doctrines learned from one’s religious tradition should be seen only as a stepping stone towards inner enlightenment.
Why do many people reject religion?

Many are turned off religion by a punitive image of deity and what are seen as other superstitious supernatural beliefs. They dislike the hierarchy of organized religion in so far as ordained clerics authoritatively tell them what to believe. Better when those in a position to do so offer to share their insights.

The religious doctrine held by some Christians is that what one believes is what really matters for salvation, rather than having a charitable heart. But surely living as well as believing one’s faith is necessary for spiritual experience? Such people are probably seen as hypocritical. Others have an excessive concern with buildings, and money to support the external side of religious ritual and ceremony.

Different faith traditions teach different things. I can’t help but conclude that each religious tradition has a different mix of what appears to be true and mistaken ideas. I like Hinduism’s idea of the moral intent and actions of an individual affecting their future inner well-being: I like Buddhism’s idea about craving and attachment as the origin of suffering: I like Islam’s emphasis on the oneness of God: and I like Christianity’s view of Christ as the human face of God. But there are also ideas that can be found in some strands of all these faiths, too numerable to list here, that I dislike and do not find credible.
Can we hope in a new spiritual era of civilisation?

I would like to think that more coherent ideas about personal life are now possible: this might be due to what I think I can detect as a growing inner freedom from dogma and authoritarianism of all kinds.

According to Swedenborg, an enlightened civilised way of living can more easily be formed in the main with those outside of the old established religions. The reason he suggests is such people don’t identify with mistaken doctrines which have distorted the truth about what is spiritual.

At the same time, in entirely rejecting ideas from religion, I feel there is a danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. For example you might discard religion’s moral rules of conduct because you see them as moralistic and judgmental turning people into sinners. In so doing I would suggest you may not have noticed the spiritual principles underlying notions of right and wrong which are to do with giving guidance about an angelic way of heavenly life.

Another example is to do with the tendency, of those who are spiritual but not religious, to be attracted to only private practices aimed at self-enhancement and fulfillment which run the risk of being self-regarding. This means missing the chance to belong to a community of shared belief where social commitment to the spiritual welfare of others is an important focus.

Religion offers us the chance to find trust in a forgiving compassionate personal God. I think I can recognise some other remaining pure elements from the world’s faith traditions from which the next spiritual era can develop. My gut feeling is we need to ensure faith schools develop tolerant attitudes towards other faiths and prevent them taking their religious cultural focus too far.

Copyright 2014 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems
This entry was posted in Meaning of life, Religion and tagged extrinsic, faith, intrinsic, materialistic, quest, religion, spiritual. Bookmark the permalink.
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One Response to Spiritual but not religious – Good or bad?

July 1, 2014 at 11:45 pm

religion is for people who are afraid to go to hell,spirituality is for those who have been there.



A Sermon by Rev. Kurt H. AsplundhPreached in Bryn Athyn January 30, 1994


“Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fall. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for medicine” (Ezek. 47:12).

The final chapters of the prophecy of Ezekiel recount a great vision of a new city and a new temple in Israel. Our text, taken from this vision, describes a river of healing waters coming from the sanctuary. Along the banks, on both sides, grow wonderful trees that bear fruit every month and whose leaves never wither. “Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for medicine.”

There is an unmistakable similarity here to John’s vision of the Holy City in the final chapter of Revelation. Both tell of a river of life-giving water flowing from the throne of God; both tell of trees with fruit and leaves, fruit for food and leaves for medicine, the “healing of the nations.” The visions of the great city and temple with its river and trees of life should be an inspiration to us all. These are visions of the New Church. Both picture the vitality and importance of the New Church. Through it there is to be a healing of all the nations.

When we look at the world in which we live we see a desperate need for healing. Many evils are plainly evident. False ideas abound. We can look inward too. There is a world that lives in us as well as a world around us. We would have to admit that there are evils and falsities in this personal world of ours. Our responsibility to heal ourselves is immediate, and our influence in this private world is greater than elsewhere. Here again the New Church is vital for a healing.

But what is it that the New Church has to offer the world which is so vitally important? What does the New Church provide for each one of us that is unique and powerful?

One answer may be found in the symbolic meaning of the text, especially what is said of the leaves of the trees that they will be for “medicine.” The same is true of the Tree of Life which John described. Its leaves are for the healing of the nations. What is meant by these leaves? What do they have to do with the New Church or with us? These are questions we will answer presently, but first a word about the Last Judgment, what many people call the Judgment Day, which preceded the establishment of the New Church.

One of the unique teachings of the New Church in the Christian world is that the great judgment promised in the Scriptures has already taken place. It was not the end of the world as some believe. It was a judgment and a reckoning in the spiritual world. The prophecies of the overthrow of kingdoms, the darkening of the sun, the falling of the stars of heaven were fulfilled in the spiritual realm where all people are together after death. These pictures of the Last Judgment were symbolic of a reordering of the heavens and the hells by the Lord. The Last Judgment was an exposing of the real nature of hidden evil loves and false teachings by which people had been held captive for centuries. When the Lord revealed these, finally, people could be free from them.

One way we can imagine the nature of this great change is to think of the effect of a new discovery or a scientific breakthrough in the scientific community. Traditional thinking is shaken, overturned, perhaps completely rejected. Everything has to adjust to the new evidence. Schools of thought that have held sway become discredited. Beliefs and practices have to change.

The Last Judgment was this kind of change with regard to religious truths and deep-rooted religious beliefs. It was not, as most had assumed, a reordering of the political and ecclesiastical structures of this world. So we are taught, “the state of the world hereafter will be altogether similar to what it has been heretofore, for the great change which has taken place in the spiritual world does not induce any change in the natural world as to the external form … ” (LJ 73). In other words, the world will continue after this judgment much as it has before. There will be divided countries, war and peace, various religious sects teaching different interpretations of doctrine and practicing distinct rites. Since this judgment took place in the middle of the 18th century, we have more than 200 years of history showing that life in the natural world has continued unchanged.

The great change is an internal one. The Last Judgment has effected a new state of spiritual freedom. We are told that the people of the church will be “in a more free state of thinking” on matters of faith and about spiritual things.

What is the significance of this? This is far-reaching. To have spiritual freedom is the greatest and most precious of life’s treasures. We can compare it only to having natural freedom a much less important gift. Yet we prize our natural freedom. We fight for freedom and may be willing to die for it. The ability to choose what we shall do, where we shall live, and how we shall live is important to us. How much more should we prize the inner freedom that allows us to know what is true and right and to love what is good and useful. It was such a gift that Solomon, the king, chose when the Lord said: “Ask! What shall I give you?” And he said, ” … give to Your servant an understanding heart … that I may discern between good and evil … ” (I Kings 3:5-9).

Spiritual freedom involves being free from false ideas, seductive theories and perverted thinking. Spiritual freedom involves the ability to discern evil affections, destructive loves and selfish motives. To discern and identify these allows us the freedom to decide whether or not we will be swept up by them and carried away by them to certain unhappiness and slavery.

Spiritual freedom was what the Lord meant when He said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word … you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32). He added: “Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (Ibid. 34).

The Last Judgment has released the world from the grip of false doctrine; it has given each of us the opportunity to know the truth and to throw off the bonds of spiritual slavery.

This is where the New Church comes in. After the Last Judgment the Lord established a New Church in which the spiritual sense of the Word has been disclosed and interior Divine truths revealed. This church is pictured as the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven. That city signifies the doctrine of truth, foursquare, solid, and beautiful. Within its walls, straddling the river of water from God, is the tree of life, bearing its fruit every month and having luxuriant leaves said to be “for the healing of the nations.” Let us focus on those leaves.

We are told that the leaves of the tree signify “rational truths.” In the Word, a man is often compared to a tree, its fruit meaning his goods of life, its leaves his rational thoughts. So in the first Psalm the man who loves the law of the Lord is said to be like a tree by the water which brings forth fruit and whose leaf does not wither (see AC 885).

The leaves of the trees in our text were said to be for “medicine,” as the leaves of the Tree of life were to be for a healing. “Here [the word] `tree’ denotes the man of the church in whom is the kingdom of the Lord, its `fruit’ the good of love and of charity, its `leaf’ the truths therefrom, which serve for the instruction of the human race and for their regeneration, for which reason the leaf is said to be for `medicine.’ Further concerning this, we are taught that the leaves for the healing of the nations signify “rational truths … by which they who are in evils and thence in falsities are led to think soundly and to live becomingly” (AR 932:2).

Here, then, is a vital function of the New Church both for us as individuals and for the world in which we live. We have a mission to preserve and extend the state of spiritual freedom which was brought about through the Last Judgment and assured by the establishment of the New Church. The doctrine of the church delivers the spiritual rational truths which can bring about a healing. These truths are the necessary basis of that healing process. Without them, the hells will prevail, for we will not even know that we are in spiritual slavery. Listen to this teaching: “One reason why man does not … desire to come out of spiritual servitude into spiritual liberty is that he does not know what spiritual slavery is and what spiritual freedom is; he does not possess the truths that teach this; and without truths, spiritual slavery is believed to be freedom, and spiritual freedom to be slavery” (DP 149).

It is vitally important then that truths should be known and believed; “for man is enlightened by truths,” we are told, “but is made blind by falsities” (AC 2588:8). “Truths make evils manifest … but from evil none can see what is good and true … ” (HH 487).

Every New Church person should follow the example of Solomon and ask of the Lord a wise and understanding heart. It will be the unique capacity of those who love and study the Heavenly Doctrine of the New Church to discern the quality of their states and the quality of the civil, moral and natural states of the world around them. This is the special intelligence and the special use of the church. How can spiritual freedom be preserved and extended without some ability to see through appearances, to make critical analysis and practical judgment? This is not from us or according to our degree of knowledge. As Joseph said when they called him to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh, “Do not interpretations belong to God? It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (Gen. 40:8; 41:16). The “truly human mind,” we are told, “acknowledges that God alone thinks from Himself, and that man thinks from God” (DP 321).

That we should think from God and not from ourselves is the key to understanding the nature of the truly rational thought that will characterize the New Church. Only such thought can be a medicine for the healing of the nations. The doctrine describes true wisdom. “All have the capacity to understand and to be wise,” we are told, “but … they who ascribe all to the Lord are wiser than the rest, because all things of truth and good, which constitute wisdom, flow in from heaven, that is, from the Lord there … ” (AC 10227).

What makes a person truly rational, truly wise? Again, the doctrine is clear: while many in the world suppose that a rational person is one who can reason acutely about many things, and so join reasonings together that conclusions may appear like truth, “this is found in the very worst of people,” we are told, ” … [people] … who are able to reason skillfully and persuade that evils are goods and that falsities are truths, and the reverse” (AC 6240:2). The Heavenly Doctrine rejects this as the mark of rational wisdom. They state instead that “the rational consists in inwardly seeing and perceiving that good is good, and from this that truth is truth … ” (Ibid.).

Again, we are taught that “by the capacity to be wise is not meant the capacity to reason about truths and goods from memory knowledges, nor the capacity to confirm whatever one pleases, but the capacity to discern what is true and good, to choose what is suitable, and to apply it to the uses of life. They who ascribe all things to the Lord do thus discern, choose, and apply … ” (AC 10227).

The fact that we must ascribe all things to the Lord is shown and signified in the visions of the New Church we have referred to before. Both in the prophecy of Ezekiel and in the book of Revelation we read of the trees being nourished by the river of living water flowing out from God’s sanctuary or throne. It is the man who trusts in the Lord that is like a tree with roots by the river, whose leaf will be green even in the heat, whose boughs will bear fruit even in drought (see Jeremiah 17:7,8).

In the world today there is little recognition of the importance of spiritual truth. Few realize that wisdom in life is from a spiritual origin, not a natural one. Few realize how vulnerable rational thought about civil, moral and natural matters is to worldly opinions and emotional impulses. Reflect on the current issues and controversies that fill the pages of our papers and news magazines and that find a ready audience on our TV screens. What kind of reasoning do we find? Are justice and morality prevalent? And what about our own lives? Where do we turn to find direction and to make right decisions that affect our marriages, our jobs, our children?

Someone once said that the Writings of the church do not teach us about education. We may smile at that. Do they speak of any of our natural concerns? Do they tell us how to conduct a business? Do they provide legal guidance? Do they instruct us about mental depression? Yes, the Writings speak to all of these areas of life though not necessarily directly. What they provide is a spiritual perspective on every aspect of natural life. With this perspective the New Church person is able to reflect on natural life with rational wisdom, to see what is good and useful, to identify what is false and worthless. Without such a perspective, a person is awash in a sea of natural emotion and opinion, adrift from the basic principles that grant true freedom. This is taught directly in the Heavenly Doctrine. There we are told that “man would have no freedom of choice in civil, moral, and natural things if he had none in spiritual things … . From that spiritual freedom man has a perception of what is good and true, and of what is just and right in civil matters … ” (TCR 482).

It is said further, “when light from heaven flows into these things, the man begins to see them spiritually, and first to discriminate between the useful and the non-useful. From this he begins to have an insight as to what is true … From this then man has perception … Wherefore the knowledges of spiritual things must be with man in his natural in order that there may be spiritual perception; and knowledges of spiritual things must be from revelation” (AC 9103).

What could be more important to our life in this world than the knowledge of spiritual principles of faith? These are not simply theological abstractions. They are the insights that give us true rationality. We live so much of our life indiscriminately, without reflection or rational thought. Or else we respond to it with customary reactions based on previous training or prejudice. In either case, we are not free. We are either spontaneously moved by a natural affection of questionable origin or bound by a rigid traditional response. We have not made a choice, much less a truly rational choice.

The New Church has been established by the Lord that we might be free! free of the urging of natural affections; free of the false attitudes and theories that permeate the thinking of this world. What greater use could we perform in the world and for ourselves than to guard and use our opportunities for spiritual freedom? This is a clear and urgent need. It can be fulfilled only by the wisdom that the Lord has given for the New Church. For He has showed us a “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:2). Amen.


Lessons: Ezekiel 47:1-12; Rev. 22:1-7; AC 10227:2, 3

Arcana Coelestia 10227

[2] All have the capacity to understand and to be wise, but the reason one person is wiser than another is that they do not in like manner ascribe to the Lord all things of intelligence and wisdom, which are all things of truth and good. They who ascribe all to the Lord are wiser than the rest, because all things of truth and good, which constitute wisdom, flow in from heaven, that is, from the Lord there. The ascription of all things to the Lord opens the interiors of man toward heaven, for thus it is acknowledged that nothing of truth and good is from himself; and in proportion as this is acknowledged, the love of self departs, and with the love of self the thick darkness from falsities and evils. In the same proportion also the man comes into innocence, and into love and faith to the Lord, from which comes conjunction with the Divine, influx thence, and enlightenment. From all this it is evident whence it is that one is more wise, and another less …

[3] By the capacity to be wise is not meant the capacity to reason about truths and goods from memory knowledges, nor the capacity to confirm whatever one pleases, but the capacity to discern what is true and good, to choose what is suitable, and to apply it to the uses of life. They who ascribe all things to the Lord do thus discern, choose, and apply; while those who do not ascribe to the Lord, but to themselves, know merely how to reason about truths and goods; nor do they see anything except what is from others, and this not from reason, but from the activity of the memory. As they cannot look into truths themselves, they stand outside, and confirm whatever they receive, whether it be true or false. They who can do this in a learned way from memory- knowledges are believed by the world to be wiser than others; but the more they attribute all things to themselves, thus the more they love what they think from themselves, the more insane they are; for they confirm falsities rather than truths, and evils rather than goods, and this because they have light from no other source than the fallacies and appearances of the world, and consequently from their own light, which is called natural light, separated from the light of heaven; and which light when thus separated is mere thick darkness in respect to the truths and goods of heaven.