Physicists seek to discover first principles of the manifest universe. Why? These principles, if identified, would reflect the fundamental nature of reality and represent the origins of natural law and process.
Relativity theory takes us to an essential singularity where matter is crushed into a point of infinite curvature and gravity—which produced the Big Bang.
Quantum theory takes us to a state where the universe exists as a non-local foamy cloud of mere “tendencies to exist.”
String theory takes us back to a multidimensional state where nothing exists but energetic strings, membranes and blobs (of something or other).
Religion teaches that fundamental reality takes us to an Infinite God.
Scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg supported the latter, but applied scientific reasoning to his theistic position. Like some of today’s cutting edge thinkers he anticipated that the concept of causality could have its basis in a reality freed-up from involvement with time and locality. Swedenborg’s model of reality embraced a dynamical nexus between Divine (God’s) order and temporal order. In this model, various states of God’s love flow into (descend) into boundary conditions with increased constraints until finally finding expression in the spatio-temporal arena.
This means that the physical universe and its laws must be expressions or analogs of spiritual laws and God’s essential character. Swedenborg called these causal links between God and physical nature the science of correspondences.
To give you a simple example of this top-down causal relationship between spiritual (non-local) and physical terms, we can look at our mundane everyday expressions and language. The word “seeing” has its mental analog in the word “understanding” which in turn has its Divine analog in God’s Infinite “foresight” and “providence.” In each case the expression is self-similar (corresponds) but becomes less local and physical and more universal as it moves up the hierarchical ladder. This self-similarity allows linkage for God to act in the world. In a top-down causal scheme of reality, all God’s qualities represent first principles—and that which is responsible for the patterning principles and dynamics of the whole multi-tiered system that follows.
Heaven’s angels live in a non-physical realm and are cognitive of the first principles that are contained within all human expression. Every idea or concept that comes to an angelic being’s perception is immediately transformed into its “higher” equivalent or corresponding mental and spiritual quality.
The significance of this is that angels (and specially enlightened humans) perceive deeper levels of meaning within the narratives of Holy Scripture. According to Swedenborg, not only were angels able to apply new degrees of freedom to language but from this loftier viewpoint they could also identify patterns of lawful process and order within the sacred scaffolding and architecture of Scripture. In other words, God’s Holy Word could be studied as a multidimensional and scientific document with the potential of leading physicists to formulate a causal theory from a non-physical (pre-geometric but holy) matrix.
This is a game-changer!
In order to explain these ideas in greater detail, I have just completed a book entitled Proving God. It is now available on Amazon.
The authority and inerrancy of the Holy Bible has come under a new kind of challenge in the post-modern world. This challenge comes not just from atheists but also from a new crop of Christian theologians who no longer identify themselves as possessing an absolute deposit of inerrant sacred writings, or, of inheriting an infallible interpretation (exegesis) of the Bible’s message. Instead, this new theological movement is concerning itself with the core belief that Christianity proclaims a universal saving and transformational event. Everything else in religion is now seen to lead to a set of beliefs that are oppressive and destructive and needs correction.
Scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg would agree with this new Christian emphasis on God’s transforming love rather than on a mere “book” religion. But he also added an unexpected twist that challenges the relativistic character of modernity in its shift away from embracing the Bible as an absolute and closed deposit of truth (from above). He offered a new and deeper look at Scripture that both broke down the rigid walls of religious orthodoxy yet provided rational evidence of the authority, sacredness and inerrancy of the Holy Word!
He claimed that this authority, sacredness and inerrancy of Scripture was not to be found in its literal or historical accounts, but in its layered architecture, which contain deeper levels of meaning!
On one deeper level, Scripture embraces profound psychology. For instance, the biblical story of Jacob and Esau in Genesis offers a profound study of the growth of mind and the evolution of proper human behavior—according to the laws of God’s divine order.
Jacob symbolizes the human intellect while Esau represents the human heart, will, and volition. Psychologically, the growth of the human intellect involves the exploration of knowledge that can lead us to truth. This operation takes the lead. Then an inversion takes place. The intellectual path to finding truth leads us to the heart and that which most represents goodness in our value-system (all knowledge is evaluated according to its serviceability—its goodness). This goodness then begins to command the intellect and generates further knowledge. This mental process of inversion is symbolized by Jacob inheriting Esau’s birthright—the intellect gains command first. But as the biblical story unfolds, Jacob eventually returns to his older twin brother and becomes his servant‑the intellect now begins to serve the heart. Speaking psychologically, Jacob represents analytical thought while Esau represents a new synthesis. These cognitive functions are psychical brothers!
Deeper still (according to Swedenborg) the Bible stories relate directly to Christ’s universal work of transforming love—even the Old Testament! The same Genesis story of Jacob and Esau also symbolize the process of the Lord’s glorification when He lived in the world. This sacred process involved the Lord perfectly uniting His human essence to His divine heavenly essence. This unifying process is how the Word was made flesh and how the Lord became the Alpha and Omega. This also explains how the “Word” and the “Son” are synonymous (which would not be the case if the Old Testament did not refer to the Lord alone on some deeper level).
So the Holy Word is indeed God’s revealed wisdom—not merely the work of different human authors, written from various points of view by individuals who were influenced by the cultural, political, economic or personal circumstances of the times that they found themselves in. Simply put, human authors cannot write in the divine style of the Bible’s three-tiered narrative.
Why would God communicate in this multi-tiered way?
The reason is that God’s Holy Word needs to service both terrestrial humans and spiritual angels. God’s Holy Word has to be adapted to both kinds of brain systems. Angels easily grasp the deeper spiritual and divine meanings contained in Scripture but humans have to learn to think above their worldly ideas (materialistic ideology).
The Lord God is betting that this is possible for humanity. The big secret concerning the Lord’s Second Coming and Revelation is that it represents His “reappearance” within our minds and hearts via a new understanding of Scripture. I have just scratched the surface of what the future of religion will unfold.
Because Holy Scripture describes ancient battles and warfare, chariots are often mentioned. But according to scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, the driver, the horses and the chariot all refer to—and symbolize—qualities of the human mind and spirit!
Swedenborg claimed that Holy Scripture contained deeper levels of meaning. These deeper levels addressed the spiritual story of human salvation and God’s secret steps for securing human salvation. Symbolically speaking, a chariot represents one’s body of knowledge, worldview and faith-system (or doctrine of life). In other words, it represents the exterior “housing” (memory-data) which carries our beliefs and preferences.
The horses represent an individual’s emotional world, affection and love. Swedenborg stated that horses represent the love of learning—which carries one’s worldview to new “places.”
The rider or driver represents the intelligence and the wisdom of a person to maneuver their emotions and knowledge in the most advantageous and strategic way. The archer in the chariot represents the wisdom and intelligence by which an individual defends his or her worldview and attempts to convince. The archer’s arrows are “arguments” forged to make a sharp point in order to penetrate opposing views.
So the chariot, horses and riders symbolize various and distinct cognitive functions of the human psyche. But what about the connections between these mental functions that allow them to be subordinated, coordinated, and act in a unified manner? What do the connections correspond to?
Some people have asked me why I would mix the teachings of George Gurdjieff with those of Emanuel Swedenborg. Well, they both agreed that ancient civilizations employed this symbolism and allegory into their style of writing. But for me, Gurdjieff brought something new to the table. He said that the connections between the various cognitive functions were the flow of blood. Furthermore, Gurdjieff insisted that humans consisted of three distinct (discrete) species of blood!
This further insight can be applied to the symbolism of the chariot. The shaft that connected the chariot to the horse was the red blood. The reins that connected the driver to the horses was a “purer” blood, which modern science would describe as the electro-colloidal fluid/energy that courses through the nerve fibers. Finally, God was connected to the driver and archer through the “purest” blood or external blood of the soul.
Those who have read Swedenborg’s scientific and anatomical work know that he also classified blood into three similar and distinct species. And if one reads this material more closely it can be verified that these bloods do indeed connect the human body, mind and soul together.
I am sharing this unique information with you because my current book project Proving God seeks to unify science and religion. Most people know that religion offers us with ways to purify the heart. But there is also a scientific angle to salvation. When we apply God’s spiritual tenets to our lives, it affects the quality of our blood. Living a heaven-bound life actually cleanses and purifies the red blood and the purer blood (which Swedenborg called the animal spirit). Evil intentions and behavior particularly corrupts the purer blood (Arcana Coelestia, n. 4227).
If humans could see that God’s life flows into us and affects our hearts to do good, they would vigorously rebel. So God is very careful to allow the human race to believe and sense that life and goodness of heart issues forth from themselves.
This divine deception preserves our free will, which is essential to spiritual salvation. However, this state, in and of itself, is a form of trance since individuals are unable to perceive reality as it truly is.
Ever since the “Fall of man,” which began with God putting Adam into a deep sleep, the human race has been allowed to gain a strong sense of selfhood and ontological autonomy. So, the very concept that all life and goodness comes only from God is viewed as anti-intuitive. Again, the Lord God has permitted this outcome so that humankind would retain the free will necessary to make better life-choices and to prefer God’s tenets (as opposed to self-rule) later in life.
God allowed this condition to occur in order to allow humans the chance to eventually rise above our biological selves. I have been mocked for my suggestion that God hypnotized the human race in order to later de-hypnotize them. But the term hypnosis fits well with the higher or spiritual meaning behind the Genesis story of Adam being put into a deep sleep (“hypno” means sleep). This “deep sleep” was a diminished state of human cognitive function. Let me quote theologian Emanuel Swedenborg concerning this important topic:
He who is being regenerated believes at first that the good which he thinks and does is from himself, and that he also merits something, for he does not yet know, and if he knows he does not comprehend, that good can flow in from some other source, nor that it can be otherwise than that he should be recompensed, because he does it from himself.
Swedenborg claimed that humans originally had access to a higher mind and cognitive level by which they had direct experience of God’s love and spiritual energy flowing into and maintaining their very lives. However, human self-love and self-judgment became so attractive over time that God was forced to disconnect them from higher mind so that they could delude themselves from their misguided “bliss.” Without such a divine strategy humans would have lost their free will and the chance for eventually turning things around. Back to Swedenborg and the rest of his challenging quote:
Unless at first he believed this, he would never do any good. But by this means he is initiated not only into the affection of doing what is good, but also into knowledges concerning good and also concerning merit; and when in this manner he has been led into the affection of doing what is good, he then begins to think differently, namely that good flows in from the Lord . . . (Arcana Coelestia, Vol. V, n. 4145)
The idea that an individual begins to think differently represents enlightenment, or augmentation of one’s cognitive function. Since trance involves a diminished cognitive state, the process of spiritual evolution necessitates people “snapping out of it” and “waking up.”
The world needs a bold new church that is willing to greet its parishioners with a slap on the face from a cold wet rag! Unfortunately, most people go to church to feel good about themselves and find validation from others. We are all accomplished hypnotists.
What is spiritual astronomy? It involves looking at the discoveries of astronomy in a novel and more personal way that can lead us to making similar spiritual discoveries about ourselves.
For instance, Galileo made the claim that the sun was the center of the planetary system rather than the earth. This was proven to be true. We can also make a similar spiritual discovery that the world does not revolve around us. When the Lord was in the world he challenged people to make exactly this same important discovery—by teaching that “Loving God and loving the neighbor” were the greatest commandments.
(By the way, it wasn’t Galileo’s science that got him in trouble with the church, it was his challenge to a literal interpretation of Holy Scripture. He believed that true science would not contradict Scripture if properly understood.)
Since Galileo’s time, astronomy has made additional discoveries that our sun is one of billions of suns in the Milky Way galaxy, which is just one of billions and billions of galaxies far out in space. Thus, when we measure ourselves against this vast universe we become less than a speck. So there is no premise by which we can rationally support and embrace self-conceit and self-importance. Again, the Lord taught humility, and to serve others.
Are your worldly hopes and wishes merely insignificant specks of dust in God’s Infinitely wise eyes? Or are your hopes and dreams worthy of divine notice? When you sincerely love others, God can find an abode in your heart and mind. You can then provide residence for something infinitely more vast and important than the entire physical universe!
The Star Wars saga is one of the most celebrated film series in cinematic history. Beginning with the original film, A New Hope, and moving into the most recent films, The ForceAwakens and Rogue One, we enter a living mythology that contains deeper lessons right beneath its manifest content. Creator George Lucas has taken a symbolic approach to understanding the Star Wars story. Lucas was inspired by his study of comparative religion, mythology, and the writings of Joseph Campbell. Campbell, of Bill Moyers’s The Power of Myth fame, introduced to a wide audience the idea of studying mythology in the context of psychology and spirituality. It is no secret that George Lucas and Joseph Campbell had an appreciation for each other’s work, as most of The Power of Myth was shot at Lucas’s ranch.
Campbell was influenced by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung and his theories of archetypes and the collective unconscious. Jung’s approach to human psychology is rooted in a blended study of psychiatry, world religions, and mythology. During his time at university, Jung studied five major works by Christian mystic and scientist Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg places fundamental importance on understanding biblical texts from the point of view of psychological and spiritual symbolism. Instead of reading on a literal level the creation story in Genesis or the apocalyptic episodes of The Book of Revelation, for example, Swedenborg uses the language of correspondences to unpack the rich narratives into practical meanings that support transformative living.
This approach to understanding symbolism, as found in the writings of Swedenborg, Jung, and Campbell, can be applied to Rogue One. Though the entire Star Wars series is ripe for symbolic interpretation, Rogue One occupies a unique place in the full saga in that it can be approached as a stand-alone story (the action occurs outside the regular “episodes,” supplying background to A New Hope and concentrating on new characters both in the Empire and among the Rebel Alliance).
From the very start of Rogue One, Orson Krennic, Director of the Advanced Weapons Research Division, embraces the mission and ideology of the Empire. He believes that the Empire’s goal is to bring order and peace to the galaxy by creating the Death Star, a space station with the capacity to destroy entire planets. The selfish conquering and domination of others is what fuels the spirit of the Empire. Krennic is always willing to use others, even former friends, in his pursuit of personal power and gain. He believes that only he should have command over the Death Star and that his high Imperial rank should grant him an audience with the Emperor. In his meeting with Darth Vader on the hellish planet of Mustafar, Krennic is admonished by the Sith Lord “not to choke on [his] aspirations”—advice reinforced by an actual choke using the Force. Krennic can be seen smiling, even though he has been punished by Lord Vader.
Krennic’s behavior can be explored as a spiritual example of what Swedenborg would describe as a hellish life. Hell, for Swedenborg, is a state of mind and spirit that begins while a person is alive on earth. Chief characteristics of the populace of hell feature a denial of the Divine (or a supreme good); a selfish, ego-driven life; and even tendencies toward masochism (e.g., Krennic’s smiling after enduring physical pain). The “ruling loves” of such spirits fasten on dominating others and controlling resources. Any sense of community is superficial, because only for their own personal gain do such spirits work with others; they are not so much communities working to serve both themselves and the members of other communities but are gangs and organizations doing violence to others and in turn to themselves. As a member of the Empire, Krennic symbolizes this spiritual mindset spectacularly.
The source that powers the Death Star offers another symbolic parallel between Rogue One and Swedenborgian theology. The material used to power the laser beam that can destroy entire planets is called the kyber, or kyber crystals. These crystals also power the Jedi and Sith lightsabers, which are the weapons carried by those who use the Force. The Empire has been plundering Jedi temples to obtain large numbers of kyber crystals, which would swell the destructive power of the Death Star. The Force— the Divine energy that powers and sustains the galaxy and manifests itself in both positive and negative ways—has a special relationship to these crystals as well as to those orders that wield lightsabers.
Swedenborg’s primary thesis in Divine Love and Wisdom is that nothing but love and wisdom—which make up the force that rules and controls known reality—comes from the Divine. This energy from the Divine does not create evil, but it does flow into hell, where love and wisdom have been perverted into selfishness and ignorance. Similarly, the Death Star is powered by a perversion of the kyber crystals, the energy and purpose of which in the case of the Death Star have been corrupted to a level of destructiveness that can lay waste to entire planets. And such destruction can only be stopped by the Rebel Alliance, whose intentions are selfless and incorruptible.
The Crew of Rogue One
While the Empire (an immoral dictatorship and primary antagonist) and its evil Director Krennic are the central focus of the film, many spiritual lessons are to be gleaned by analyzing the Rebel Alliance (a heroic resistance movement striving to restore a Republic Force) and the crew of Rogue One. The mission of the crew is to steal the Death Star plans in order to destroy the evil space station. For the crew to succeed in their mission, they need to work together as a community. The same holds true for the Rebel Alliance. The struggle to stay together in the face of atrocities committed by the Empire is a foremost theme in the film. For the Rebel Alliance to overcome the Empire, they cannot stand on their own; instead, they must find a way to comprise a powerful alliance with each other to engage in the selfless act of saving the entire galaxy.
Swedenborg’s theological view on the nature of heaven and how one might lead a heavenly life is well illustrated by the behavior of the Rebel Alliance. While each of them struggles individually in the civil war gripping the galaxy, they come together as a crew to work toward their common goal. This is true of heavenly communities both in this life and in the next, according to Swedenborg. In heaven, each individual has a job that contributes to the well-being of his or her respective community, and the community as a whole finds profound bonding in caring about the supreme good of living in usefulness for others. Leading a heavenly life is focused, courageous, selfless, and loving. Everyone transcends egocentric behaviors by embracing the ways of the Divine.
The spiritual lessons taught in Rogue One speak to those of us seeking to be on the path of regeneration. We cannot hope to lead a life of positive spirituality and regeneration on our own. We need a community that supports us on this path and in which we can support others. It may be an old story, yet it is ever new: in the face of overwhelming temptations toward living a negative lifestyle, the Divine is with us, always. As the character Chirrut repeats throughout the film, “I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me.”
Colin Amato, MS, is a marriage and family therapist intern and also a Swedenborgian seminarian at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.
What makes the title of this post even stranger is that it is taken from the New Testament (Matthew 10:34-36 and Luke 12:53). Passages like this are why religion often gets a bad rap from those who point out these biblical absurdities and consider themselves more “enlightened.”
Why would a God of love instruct us to hate our closest relatives? Isn’t this a contradiction to the spirit of “loving the neighbor”—one of the two prime commandments upon which all the laws of the prophets hang?
The reason for the apparent contradiction comes from the fact that the true wisdom of this “odd” biblical passage lies much deeper than the literal meaning of its message. The path to becoming more spiritual includes the challenge of reading Scripture not just with one’s worldly eyes, but interpreting its passages with the eyes of one’s inner spirit.
When we switch from one set of “eyes” to another, an amazing transformation can take place in our understanding of the Lord God’s revealed wisdom. As an experiment, let’s see how this applies to the biblical passage of “making everyone in your household an enemy.” How can we see this biblical phrase through the eyes of our spirit?
The trick is to take any worldly term or physical object and find its psycho-spiritual equivalence (correspondence). God has created the physical world in such a way that all things in it represent some spiritual idea.
For instance, we entertain certain thoughts and feelings in the same way we invite special friends and guests into our home. Even more intimate to us are the ideas that make us feel the most at home. One’s belief system or worldview, and all its related values, constitutes one’s spiritual household. Our ideas and personal beliefs are the habitation of our soul.
This inner abode is where each of us really lives. We are what we think and love. And that is exactly where God takes aim when He wants to bring about spiritual change in out lives.
When the Lord came into the world, His ministry involved changing people’s value systems. He challenged us to make the many selfish and worldly ideas that we entertain in our hearts and minds, our real enemy. This requires us to make an inner inventory and a follow-up housecleaning. So we must kick these bad influences out of our house (spiritual abode).
Scientists and non-believers have often ridiculed religion because having a strong faith meant putting all the power of belief in ignorance alone. But true faith leads one out of ignorance. The Lord’s Holy Word is designed to lead us out of ignorance because its lessons are inexhaustible and contain layers of meaning.
I hope my example of “making one’s household an enemy” shows how the Holy Word can be easily misinterpreted by a culture which no longer is sensitized to these higher meanings and teachings.