De Hemelsche Leer--Part 2--The Literal of the Word
Theistic science is the activity of extracting knowledge from the literal of the Writings of Swedenborg. The subject matter of the literal of the Word is the regeneration of the human race through the regeneration of individuals. Regeneration is the process of gradually opening or activating all the degrees of the human mind. This is a growth process and proceeds in orderly ways, as described in Part 1 of this article. There are six discrete degrees to open or activate in their order. This is the same series of six degrees for the evolution of the consciousness in human history and in individual biography. In human history the developmental steps have reference to epochs in civilization marked by the quality of their intellectual understandings and consequent morality by which they lived and governed themselves as a society. In the Writings of Swedenborg each of these epochs is called a Church. The word "church" also refers to the intellectual development of an individual, especially the degree of unity between our understanding and our will, in other words the degree to which we live the life dictated by our knowledge, understanding, and faith.
All Sacred Scripture is written in a spiritual style. This is entirely different than the natural style of all our other books. The spiritual style of writing is only possible through Divine intervention. It is a style specifically designed for our regeneration. No other style can achieve this. The style of the Word of the Old and New Testaments is explained in the Third Testament, which is the name used for the Writings of Swedenborg used by those who acknowledge them as the Word. The style of the Third Testament is discussed and explained in De Hemelsche Leer. The extraction process can be pure, genuine, and comprehensible to the extent that the internalizing degrees of the mind have been opened. In other words it depends on illustration and regeneration. Illustration or enlightenment is the process of insight given by the Divine since the Word is a Divine Writing that embodies this special property.
Non-spiritual styles of writing do not have this property of being able to open one's internalizing consciousness. This is because the content or meaning of non-spiritual writings refers to physical phenomena and information, as processed by the natural sensual degrees of the mind. Spiritual writings, that is Sacred Scripture or the Word, is written by Divine guidance and determination, literally a dictation. The content and meaning of the spiritual writing style is not the physical world but the spiritual world or the mind. Atheistic science is based on our self-intelligence and relies on our natural mind while theistic science is based on our enlightened as-of-self from the Divine. The referents of spiritual writing is the mind and the events in it.
As-of-self enlightenment or illustration is the process of direct communion and communication with the Divine. It is through this organic or substantive process that we become conjoined to the Divine. Only through this reciprocal conjunction between God and the individual, is regeneration possible, hence eternal life in heaven. Without this regeneration and reciprocal conjunction the celestial mind cannot be opened or activated. When we pass on by leaving the physical body and assume life in our spiritual body, the quality of our life henceforth is entirely determined by the degree of the mind that has been opened in us while still in the physical body. From then on the mind can be opened further only in the degree already opened. When we have only the lowest degrees opened we live in a state called hell; when the highest degree is opened we live in a state called heaven. There are also levels within each of these states of mind. It becomes extremely important therefore that we cooperate actively with the Divine in our regeneration process so that the highest degree of the mind in us can be opened. A principal way that we achieve this cooperation is through living a life according to the degree opened in us and the opening of the degrees is accomplished through knowledge extraction from the Word or Sacred Scriptures. The Divine has provided therefore that there be Sacred Scriptures in every religion by which individuals can be regenerated.
Properties of the spiritual writing style are described in the work titled Sacred Scripture and many other parts of the Writings of Swedenborg. The writers who by Divine process are in the role of prophet or revelator, are only aware of the meaning of the literal of their sentences while the internal meanings that are hidden are not known to them except in some small measure that is dependent on the degree of consciousness opened in their mind. The prophets of the Old Testament could not be aware of the inner sense of what they wrote because the rational degree of consciousness was not opened in humankind until after the Inversion (see discussion below). Swedenborg's mind was opened all the way to the internalizing celestial degree so that he could communicate with the inhabitants of the highest heaven, but he and the angels are human finite minds and no one can become aware of the infinite meanings contained in the Divine writing style even though they cumulate their knowledge and understanding to eternity. Swedenborg reports that the inhabitants of all the heavens--Natural, Spiritual, and Celestial, use their version of the Word for knowledge extraction and communion and communication with the Divine. This is the method by which their regeneration continues to eternity.
Part 1 of this article described the developmental steps in human consciousness viewed historically as the evolution of the race and ontologically as the growth of the human mind. Six discrete degrees were identified in an embedded recursive dynamic so that each degree undergoes all six steps in recapitulation of the entire series. At the end of the sixth step within each degree there is a state of consummation at which point one either transfers to the next highest degree, or else there is a decline or devolution with no further progress possible, putting an end to regeneration. Not until the consummation of the internalizing spiritual (or externalizingizing rational) do we enter the last and fully human state called the internalizing rational or celestial (old age). During each degree of development we are associated with the angels of the three heavens, natural, spiritual, and celestial. The next chart (matrix 7) portrays these steps again but in addition you can see the various styles of spiritual writing in which the Word and its Doctrine were written in the historical evolution of the Churches. These steps are collated with the development of our consciousness in our own growth by identifying the representative sensory modality that corresponds to each developmental phase.
The race's infancy is described in the Writings of Swedenborg as an externalizing celestial state that starts the Descending Pathway. Swedenborg was able to visit with people in the heavens who were from this period of history on this earth. The consciousness that formed the basis of their thinking was a psychic sensual awareness or perception of the spiritual things within the natural world around them. They had direct communication with their ancestors who passed on and were in the heavens. This formed the basis of their socialization and knowledge. The sensory modality of touch represents the celestial angels because they are in conjugial love. When this consciousness phase of humanity was consummated, it was replaced with the next descending degree or the Noachic Church (see matrix 2 in Part 1). Their consciousness was spiritual sensual and well adapted for the Science of Correspondences. Their Word called the Ancient Word was written in pure correspondences; there were no actual historicals involved and they sound to us like some of the visionary language in the Old Testament. Swedenborg tells us that Moses and other OT writers had a knowledge of this Word and small parts from it are quoted in various places. Here is a relevant Number from the Writings:
When this consciousness phase was consummated, the Ancient Word was lost to history and the laws of correspondences survived only in a few instances like the Egyptian hieroglyphics and fables passed on to each generation. We read:
The new Word that was given to the Israelitish Church through Moses and the Jewish prophets was mostly written in historical narrative but visionary passages are common to many of the prophets. These passages are called "figurative speech" by Bible scholars but it was entirely unknown that this was not figurative or poetic speech but sentences written in pure correspondences, until the Writings made that revelation. It is still unknown to Bible scholars today since they do not make use of the Writings of Swedenborg. During the Lord's Presence on earth as a historical individual, and before His Ascension, the consciousness of the human race was undergoing a momentous change noted in all the matrices as the Inversion (see matrix 7 above). It appears to me that the Gospel of Matthew is written in an externalizing natural style as a transition vehicle across the Inversion. I therefore place that Gospel in the adolescence phase along with the Old Testament historical narratives and laws, thus still dependent on the sensual phase (externalizing natural presence of the angels of the first heaven, making possible the miracles of that period). But after the Ascension, the Inversion was completed and humankind entered the new rational consciousness in the internalizing natural presence with the angels of the natural heaven. It is in this state of mind that the other Gospels were written--Mark, Luke, and John, each representing a more internalizing phase of the internalizing natural (or natural rational). I place the Epistles of Paul and the other Apostles in this phase of consciousness (natural rational).
It appears to me that the The Book of Revelations written by John later than the Gospels, was intended for the development of the next highest degree, the internalizing spiritual (or externalizing rational)--consult matrix 7 above. John's visions in that Book are similar to the Old Testament visionary and prophetical passages, including the first 11 chapters of Genesis, that Swedenborg shows are also written by correspondences. This phase of consciousness--the spiritual rational (which is still an externalizing rational), was quickly consummated lasting only two or three centuries until the Council of Nice in 325 AD, according to Swedenborg. That Council introduced the heresy of "three Divine Persons in the Trinity" leading to the devolution of the Christian religion, according to Swedenborg's careful analysis. That phase went on for a long time, until 1771 when the Second Coming was completed in the Writings of Swedenborg. A new Word was thus given for the highest degree of human consciousness, ending the recursive cycle. In this full blown human phase our consciousness is established in all the degrees in an orderly series. The new degree of the celestial rational is the true internalizing rational consciousness and is never consummated. It develops continuously in an ever more internalizing rational and this to eternity. This is why the New Church, called the Church of the New Jerusalem, is referred to in the Third Testament as the Crown of Churches.
As you can see in matrix 7 above I have collated the "six senses" that appear to me to be representative of the six evolutionary phases of consciousness and forms their basis of thinking. The Most Ancient Word is written in a sensual celestial style that is based on the psychic ability to receive conscious influx from angels. This is a "sixth sense" that Swedenborg had as an infant and we can conclude that each of us has this sense during some parts of our infancy as we are then in the company of celestial angels. This state of consciousness is represented by the sense of touch. As we enter childhood our vertical community switches to the spiritual angels and we receive a sensual spiritual influx from them. This corresponds to the sense of taste. The next sense is smell which corresponds to the adolescence phase which is externalizing natural (or natural sensual). As we move across the Inversion the sensory mechanisms become "distal" in comparison to the three prior senses that are "proximal." Distal vs. proximal sensory functions is a distinction known to psychologists. The distal senses are hearing, sight, and rational illustration, since they allow us to collect information from parts of the environment that are not in direct contact with our body.
Hearing corresponds to the basis of thinking in young adulthood, which is internalizing natural (or natural rational). Sight is more distal than hearing and corresponds to the spiritual rational (or externalizing rational). Rational illustration of truths when reading or hearing the Word is the most distal and corresponds to old age consciousness, which is internalizing rational (or celestial rational). Our sensual consciousness (infancy to adolescence) is based on proximal contact; our rational consciousness, on distal contact. The two together, that is, the rational consciousness within the sensual consciousness, make up the full human functioning. Temptations involve thoughts and feelings we are aware of. When spiritual and celestial, temptations give us a sensual basis for our consciousness of the Divine presence within us. The rational consciousness must rest on the sensual consciousness and must be developed according to the order of growth provided.
Religious phases of behavior are explored in a separate article here.
The diagram below (matrix 10) shows that the Ascending Pathway is related to the Descending Pathway by being within it.
The zones were discussed in the earlier matrices in Part 1 Rational consciousness is within sensual consciousness and the discrete degrees communicate with each other not directly but indirectly through the laws of correspondence. It's important to realize that subsequent discrete degrees in the evolution of consciousness are born and grow within earlier discrete degrees. It is tempting to think that one "leaves behind" the former ages as one advances to the superior ages. But this is not the truth. Instead, the former ages or states must be activated and regenerated and kept pure and prepared for the reception or growth of the next highest degree by correspondence. Sensual consciousness must first be cleansed and purified and matured in its three representative degrees of our mind while we are still in the body and thus, natural people, not yet spiritual people or spirits and angels. Then, when this occurs by means of struggles with appropriate temptations, we reach the point of Inversion to the Ascending Pathway, and begin the opening process of the three degrees of rational consciousness. When all six degrees are opened, the mind can be portrayed as in the next diagram (matrix 11).
The diagram in matrix 11 portrays the rational within the sensual. That which is the containant (the sensual) is called externalizing and that which is contained within this externalizing is the rational and it is called the internal. The rational is the internal, while the sensual is the externalizing. The internal is contained within the externalizing. The internal is always higher and richer and more perfect than the externalizing. In the same way, the Divine which is infinite and perfect is contained within the natural, which is finite and imperfect. What is prior is more perfect than what is posterior. The internalizing forms itself within the externalizing and not the other way round. An idea of this may be had when we reflect on analogies in the physical world. The inmost and finest of nature are formed within the seed. The externalizing covering of the seed is corporeal and coarse but the internal gene that directs the development is finer and spiritual. Similarly, love or affection is within wisdom or cognition for love is the inner celestial essence while truth is the outward spiritual form. The celestial is within the spiritual and the two are within the natural.
The above diagram (matrix 11) corresponds to the zones defined in earlier matrices in Part 1. The Ascending Pathway (Zones 10 through 18) is within the Descending Pathway (Zones 1 through 9). The six discrete degrees of the growth of consciousness in human minds are nested or embedded within each other. The higher degrees are always within the lower degrees. The highest degree (called Old Age) is an internalizing celestial degree and it is the proper human degree. Not until this inmost or highest degree of consciousness is activated do we become fully human, in the image and likeness of God. Such are all the inhabitants of the Third Heaven called Celestial Angels. The beginning of the growth of the human mind is called Infancy and this is a celestial state (like Old Age) but it is an externalizing celestial state of sensual consciousness while Odd Age is an internalizing rational state of celestial consciousness. Between these two celestial states are all the other states of the mind. Further exploration of the states may be achieved by comparing this diagram with the earlier matrices in Part 1.
These six states also reccur within each state. This is the Law of Recursiveness of States, which I discuss in the earlier article under the topic of synechdoche.
Spiritual geography in theistic science is defined as the description of the mind in terms of geographic maps of the spiritual world as identified by Swedenborg. In his work titled Conjugial Love Numbers 75 through 82, Swedenborg describes several Memorable Relations. These are spiritual experiences, or travels, in which he visits the inhabitations of people who used to live in Asia in ancient times. In company with an angel sent to him by "the God of Heaven" he goes in search of information regarding conjugial love, that is, the nature of the marriages in ancient times with these peoples from Asia. They start with the East where the people from the Golden Age live, then continues with the people of the Silver Age in the South, then the people of the Copper Age in the West, and the people of the Iron Age in the North. This he calls the "circuit and progression of conjugial love" since it represents a devolution of the civilizations from Golden to Iron. Thereafter he continues with the civilization that is clearly hellish called the Age of Iron Mixed with Clay. These same periods of development of the human race are also discussed in Daniel's interpretation of the vision of King Nebuchadnezzar. The periods correspond the the degrees of the mind: Celestial, Spiritual, Natural, Sensual, and Corporeal. The relations are depicted in matrix 12 and matrix 13 below.
The chart in matrix 13 above shows that the devolution of civilizations from celestial to corporeal is tied to the degradation of the concept of conjugial love, or the level of understanding the people of that civilization had of marriages. In the infancy of the race on this earth called the Golden Age or Period, people had a celestial understanding of marriage. It was based on wisdom, which is the celestial degree of the mind. Wisdom is not possible without love, and so the love that properly goes with wisdom is conjugial love or true marriage love between one husband and one wife based on its holiness from religion. Unless marriage is seen from religion, it cannot be celestial or spiritual, but only natural. Why? Because so it is revealed in the Threefold Word. All Three Testaments specify explicitly that marriage is by God and in God, or else it is adultery and contrary to God and heaven. Wisdom is to acknowledge this revelation, to love it, and to live it. This is done by shunning adulteries as contrary to conjugial love and its mortal enemy.
In his dialog with a husband in the Golden Age heaven, Swedenborg is told that these people look upon adulteries with horror and abomination. They are most careful with the smallest details or subtle forms of this marriage destroyer, as for instance when they look upon the wife of a neighbor. They recognize and perceive her beauty, and they are inwardly affected by it--but only in the head and chest, and never never below that. There is nothing whatsoever of lasciviousness, pornography, or sexuality in this appreciation of the beauty and charm of another man's wife. The husband then revealed to Swedenborg and the visiting angel who accompanied him, that his wife takes care that the husband not fall into an adulterous thought or emotion. She is constantly present with him, he said, and he looks through her eyes and he lets her direct his thoughts. And so nothing of adulterousness or scortatory roaming love of the sex can be awakened in her husband's heart and mind. That society is protected from the influx of the hells through this vigilance of the wife and the cooperation of the husband. The man also confessed to Swedenborg that they have been in "eminent potency" with their wives for thousands of years now, just as if they were in the flower of their adolescence. But he added that this potency would be gone the very instant he had an adulterous or pornographic thought or emotion.
And so the Eastern Regions of our mind are called states of wisdom from conjugial love. We keep ourselves in that celestial state by actively cooperating with God in our daily life as we come into contact and temptation with adulterous and pornographic experiences. These abound in modern society where all six sensory mechanisms (see matrix 7 above) have been culturally tied to the roaming love of the sex with which we are all born, both male and female, though more strongly for men than women, according to the Writings. If this roaming or promiscuous love of the sex is not acknowledged and shunned as sin against God and heaven, our regeneration cannot proceed, and therefore our capacity to have eternal life in heaven is destroyed. This marriage love is called conjugial to distinguish it from conjugal. All marriages today begin in the externalizing of the mind and is a legal contract between a man and a woman to be tied by the rules and bonds of the marriage vow. Even if this marriage is in the Church and blessed by a priest or holy man, the marriage nevertheless is not yet spiritual or holy. It becomes spiritual and celestial and holy only with the ascent of the degrees of the mind of the couple. As they each ascend to the rational consciousness degree (see earlier matrices in Part 1), they enter an internal spiritual marriage, which then makes the natural marriage also spiritual and holy.
This is not yet generally known or acknowledged in our world today, namely that the highest form of our intellect and wisdom as human beings originates from marriage love or the love of one of the sex only. It is not known that the origins of sexual potency is Divine truth in the mind called wisdom. The origin of the male sperm or seed is genuine truth in the mind of the husband. Others who are not wise but foolish also have sexual potency, as is well known, but this is borrowed time based on borrowed truth, and vanishes soon after the individual's consciousness comes into the spirit body--after emerging from the physical body when it becomes a corpse.
To the extent that people depart from this Golden Principle to that extent there is a devolution taking place in their mind. The celestial inhabitants who are in the Eastern Region can look down to the Southern Regions and see there the inhabitations of the people from the Age of Silver whose consciousness has been opened to the spiritual degree, but not to the celestial. When these spiritual people look up to the East they see nothing but a blinding light from which they must turn away slightly so as to be able to see again. Such is the difference between the celestial and spiritual discrete degrees of our mind. Here Swedenborg also found conjugial love but in a lesser brilliance of understanding and acknowledgment. Their understanding was not based on wisdom of life and love exclusively, but partly also on self-derived intelligence. This lower form of life is reflected in their habitations which were magnificent palaces constructed of marble and alabaster. The celestial societies in the Eastern Region lived in large comfortable and beautiful tents, such as they were used to on earth at the period of infancy of the human race, its most pure sensual state called the externalizing celestial (see marches in Part 1).
Swedenborg and his angelic companion then traveled to the Western Regions where they met the inhabitations of the people who had lived in the Copper Age on earth (or Age of Brass). They lived in more modest wooden buildings to reflect the natural degree of their mind to which their consciousness was raised while on earth. They too had conjugial love but the basis of this love was from obedience to the religion of their ancestors which they retained in Principles and Teachings from the Ancient Word preserved with them. They did not have an internalizing spiritual or rational understanding of conjugial love like the people who inhabited the Southern and Eastern Regions of the spiritual world. As long as they were fully obedient to their rules and precepts of life they were protected from influx from the hells into their consciousness and were capable of living as angels to eternity.
But after that the downturn was so drastic that nothing whatsoever of conjugial love was left to the people who lived in the Northern Regions and whose minds on earth were opened only to the sensual degree. They were known on earth as the Iron Age Civilization. The husband Swedenborg talked to was opposed to the idea of monogamy, saying that, in his view, there cannot be any sexual potency with one wife alone since the interest would be killed by such monogamous restrictions. The husband also believed that it's dominance over women and the latter's subservience to the husband, that made polygamous marriage such a delight to men, especially the idea that the women would compete against each other and vie for the husband's attentions. He rejected the idea of equality between men and women.
From this sorry state of mind or spiritual region, Swedenborg and his angelic companion went downward to the Lower Regions where they encountered threatening and noxious environments instantiated to their eyes as dark forests and large deserts containing noxious animals and smells and degraded pools of water that appear as "lakes of fire and brimstone." The inhabitants of this region had only the corporeal degree of the mind opened while living on earth. They are described by Daniel as a kingdom of iron mixed with clay which does not cohere together and falls apart (Daniel 2:41-43). This represents the falsification of the Word which occurs in the mind when we use the literal of the Word to justify our own philosophy instead of using Doctrine to enlighten our understanding, which can only be done when we rely solely on what true Doctrine teaches as it enlightens our mind while we read the literal of the Word. The people of this age remained in the lowest degree of the human mind because they refused to allow religion to rule their mind. Instead of this heavenly guidance they opted for infernal domination, insisting that marriages are not from God, that they are merely human agreements set up for the convenience of society and they can be ignored by the clever whenever convenient and when they can get away with it. The man Swedenborg talked to laughed at the idea that sexual potency was based on truth in the mind, pointing out that wise men as well foolish have sexual potency. Neither would he acknowledge that marriages are holy, and considered all women as harlots. He said the men of his society boast of their scortatory conquests with the wives of others.
Thus Swedenborg's study of the circle of conjugial love was complete. He witnessed the celestial beginnings of marriage as sacred conjugial love between one husband and one wife. This represents the Eastern Region in spiritual geography because the spiritual Sun is in the East there. In that internalizing celestial state of our consciousness our gaze and focus is always on the Lord in every activity, and thus the angels who live there always see the Sun no matter which way they turn or walk. This is because the outside environment is a correspondential reflection of their internalizing focus. Then the devolution begins as this state is consummated during successive regeneration phases. From the East in our mind's consciousness we turn to the South, thus lessening our focus on the Lord, but still keeping Him in the corner of the eye. When this spiritual rational state is consummated we turn our focus to the West which no longer has the Lord in our eye but teachings from our culture. This externalizing view of the Lord is natural and yet it still is compatible with conjugial love as long as obedience to the traditional teachings of religion are faithfully and sincerely maintained. But when this period is consummated there is no more conjugial love left. Religion and holy monogamous marriages cannot survive in the sensual degree of our mind if cut off from the upper degrees. At last all religion is lost and all idea of marriage as holy, when we sink our consciousness exclusively into the corporeal degree. The only thing left here is animal roaming love of the sex based on the love of dominating women. But this only lasts for awhile, after which the roaming love of the sex is also consummated. Then it is turned into loathing for it and absolute and permanent impotence and sexlessness.
Theistic science is the methodological extraction of knowledge from the literal of Sacred Scriptures. The literal of the Divine Word contains infinite knowledge and has been given to humankind as a Divine gift to aid us in our regeneration. In his systematic and long term exploration of the spiritual world, Swedenborg has seen many of the versions of the Word given over the ages on this earth. The text of the Word is special, spiritual, and Divine. No other human writings can contain inner senses arranged in infinite series. The writer of the text of the Word is essentially taking dictation from God, but this is done in the writer's celestial degree of consciousness to which there is no access from our awareness. To our awareness the Divine dictation feels like an an inspiration from within that leads to thoughts from without. Thoughts are usually accompanied by visions and the text of the Word is produced externalizingly when the individual attempts to make sense and put into words these spiritual thoughts and visions. Out come the writings of the prophets and the revelators who have been specially prepared for this task by Divine Providence. Swedenborg says he was given to perceive that he had been prepared since childhood for the job of being the revelator of the Second Advent by living, writing, and publishing the Word for the New Church which he called "the Heavenly Doctrines" and "Heavenly Secrets." This is what we call today "the Writings of Swedenborg" or the Third Testament (also: Final Testament, Latin Testament).
Theistic Science is science as we can focus on the future of our society. The majority of my colleagues in science today at the beginning of the 21st Century, would not consider these articles as worthy of being called a scientific subject. While the articles on theistic science are asserting that in the future all science will be theistic. Such is the great gap, the inversion, that separates scientists today from spiritual realities. I have lived through this drastic perspective and until my early forties my intellect was part of it. I was raised in a sensual intellectual climate both from religion (Orthodox Jewish) and education as scientist (McGill University, 1962, Ph.D., Psychology). In terms of this climate I identified with the "left" or "soft science" because my interest in the "mental" was greater than my interest in the physical or physiological. My career orientation being ardent I felt a threat to my academic ambitions and held myself back from plunging officially into spiritual topics like God, Divine Providence, prayer, worship, spirit, Church, Bible, revelation, life after death, sin, rebirth, and so on. None of the readings I found in the literature gave me a way of discussing spiritual concepts within the scientific mode. I was confused and weak and hopeless. Alienated from both scientific and theological sides. English was my twelfth language but among all these languages (Yiddish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Rumanian, German, Flemish, French, Latin, Greek, Spanish, Esperanto), I had no language available to discuss spiritual things. Until 1981, when at age 43, while searching in our university library, in company with my wife Diane, for Bible commentaries, our eyes fell on a shelf of books written by one author named Emanuel Swedenborg. We each took a volume home and that evening marked the beginning of learning my thirteenth language--the language of the Writings, or the Third Testament of the Second Advent. This for the first time offers scientists a new modern and scientific revelation. I was reborn as a scientist. (See this article about my conversion.)
The articles I've written and collected together under the title Swedenborg Glossary and published on the Web since 1996, practice a new scientific methodology that I have named theistic science. It is the use of shared systematic methods of analysis applied to the literal of the Writings of Swedenborg for the purpose of extracting from it facts, information, or data about the spiritual and natural world, that is, about reality. An infinite amount of data can be extracted from the Word, about both spiritual and natural phenomena. But the extraction process is possible only through orderly methods provided for by the Divine Author of the Word. This orderly process is described in the Word and to the extent that it is followed methodically, to that degree the extraction process will be successful, yielding genuine Divine and true knowledge, not falsified ideas and delusions from self-intelligence. The scientific method is an insurance against individual delusions and falsification. However, even scientists who seem to follow objective methods of inquiry, can gradually drift away from truth and reality. Such has been science in the 19th and 20th centuries. Science has turned completely atheistic and no means was left to discuss true reality. And so science today is lost in the theater of appearances, thus, illusions. Theistic science is now being born for the future of humankind. Its method has become possible due to the Second Advent.
The growth of theistic science depends on the methodological extraction of knowledge from the Writings of Swedenborg. The content and level of the truths that are extracted depend on the degree or level of consciousness that is being applied to the extraction process. Truths are the food by which consciousness grows. The more internalizing the truths one comprehends, the higher the level of consciousness being activated or accessed by our conscious awareness. There are innumerable and unending truths within each of the six discrete degrees described in Part 1. For this reason there are innumerable resistances or stumbling blocks within each level of our consciousness. These spiritual stumbling blocks create a fog and dims rational comprehension even to total blindness. They create heresies and distortions in the literal text of the Word. The purpose of these resistances is to defeat our attempt to transfer to the next highest degree of consciousness. These resistances bring about the consummation of a growth level, and thereafter, its adulteration and degradation even to delusion and denial of truth. Hence it is important to map and detail these spiritual stumbling blocks to consciousness raising.
Version 2 of the above matrix is supplied by Swedenborgian physicist Dr. Ian Thompson who has been moved to work out a different ordering from the one I have above. After comparing the two orderings, his makes better sense to me. Perhaps I can describe the differences following the general discussion on stumbling blocks (to be done later). See Ian's fine article Discrete Degrees: A Top Down Presentation on which I will be commenting in Part 3.
The chart above (matrix 14) gives some of the stumbling blocks to spiritual truths that I have observed from various sources. These are beliefs and ideas that we acquire along the way of our seeking and they become a stumbling block as our consciousness grows. They interfere with the extraction process when we begin to read the Writings of Swedenborg. The ability to comprehend a truth from the Writings is dependent on the degree of genuineness of our reception. Opaqueness of reception due to these and other beliefs, distort or adulterate the meaning. Only through actual life, by struggling with our temptations on a daily basis, can our reception be genuine and pure, thus Divine. The good of our life determines the degree of internalizingness of the truth that we can receive unadulterated. Illustration from the Divine is given when we perceive in our own spiritual struggles what the referent or meaning is. As we struggle through our temptations we are given perception of how we illustrate what's being said. Comprehension from illustration is the witnessing of the referent in our own lives and struggles. We cannot receive or extract a genuine truth from the literal of the Word until the referent of that truth--its actual meaning--can be applied to self. Before that, the truth can only be seen opaquely, from a distance, as an abstract proposition. Even if we can explain that truth, we do not understand it or perceive it, until we see it illustrated in ourselves.
The classification of spiritual stumbling-blocks in matrix 14 above relates to my perception of the causes of each stumbling-block. Some of the causes are sensual appearances in the descending pathway; some are rational fallacies in the ascending pathway. It's important to remember that the series discussed in all the matrices refers itself to the sequence of steps we must undergo within each degree recursively. So the category "infancy" or "childhood" do not mean that these stumbling-blocks occur when we are children or infants but that they occur in the descending pathway within any degree we go through. Still, this classification needs to be further confirmed and justified by more study and research. Until then it can be considered as a hypothesis in theistic science--to be confirmed or modified as more insight is given to us.
Each of the false propositions will now be discussed.
This a stumbling block in the sensual consciousness of our externalizing celestial degree, which is also called the period of infancy (see earlier matrices in Part 1). It is the major new idea argued in De Hemelsche Leer against the spokespersons for the mother Church, as discussed in Part 1. When at first we perceive that the literal of the Writings is a Divine revelation, we assume that it is a revelation given to our rational mind, as indeed is the appearance from the literal statements in the Writings. And from this assumption we read the literal with comprehension and great delight at these wonderful new facts and knowledges about the spiritual world, the afterlife, the history of the Churches, and the process of regeneration. The more we apply ourselves to study of the literal, the more we feel that we know it, and even feel justified in thinking of ourselves as experts in the Writings of Swedenborg. But all this must be consummated or else it becomes a stumbling block to our further spiritual progress.
We are brought to our senses when we first read De Hemelsche Leer which I call the Epistles for the New Church. Here we are reminded over and over again about those passages in the Writings that explicitly in the literal say that the Word without Doctrine is like a lamp without oil, or like a flashlight without a battery. Now we start paying attention to these passages that before we sort of ignored or tucked away or applied it to something else. We used some strategy, or subterfuge, to remain opaque to the reception of the plain truth as stated in the plain literal. This is why the Word warns that its verses or sentences can be turned to support any heresy or foolishness. And it instructs us that we must extract doctrine for ourselves, each one according to their own mind and consciousness. Doctrine is individual, particular, singular, because it is internalizing understanding of truth to the degrees of the mind opened: internalizing natural, internalizing spiritual, and internalizing celestial. Paul said about the Old Testament that the literal kills but the spirit saves. The Writings assert in many places that the Word without Doctrine cannot be understood.
As we go further into this new consciousness about the Doctrine of the Church we begin to realize that there are two kinds of Doctrine we form for ourselves. One is externalizing and not genuine, the other is internalizing and genuine. The externalizing doctrine we form for ourselves as we become experts in the Word is based on sensual consciousness and self-intelligence based on natural experience and externalizing rationality. But the other form of Doctrine we gather for ourselves is called genuine in the Writings when it has nothing to do with self-intelligence or natural experience. It is based solely and purely on rational consciousness. All the information comes from the spiritual world, and none of it comes from the natural world. This kind of Doctrine cannot be acquired by the usual methods of study we learned when becoming experts in the Writings. The genuine Doctrine of the Church is spiritual from a celestial origin, and this can only be acquired when we follow the precise rules of extraction described in the Writings for the extraction of genuine Doctrine from the literal of itself. Some of the details of this growth process were discussed in Part 1 and above in this article.
As we read the Writings with delight in the new revelations unfolding before our eyes, we come across a few curious passages that we find charming but antiquated and not modern. Obviously, we reason to ourselves and to our friends, the literal of the Writings would have been different if they had been written today rather than in the 17th and 18th centuries. And obviously, we continue, it would have been written in a different style had the chosen revelator been an American or a Chinese. The man's culture comes through, necessarily, we argue. And yes, there may be a few errors here and there, like a missing paragraph number, or a wrong reference, or some scientific oddity, but all this does not detract from the intended meaning of the Writings as a rational revelation about spiritual truths and God's management laws, and especially, the inner spiritual meaning of the Bible now revealed in the Writings, which gives us the basis for the New Church and the future of humankind. We say and think these things in sincerity so that we may hold on to our sensual conviction that the Writings are the Second Advent, the new Divine revelation given as the basis for the New Church, long promised. So while the literal itself cannot be considered Divine in itself, and contains human flaws, the spiritual message is Divine, and therefore the Writings are the Word even though the literal itself is not Divine but contains flaws due to the human writer.
Unless this view is consummated, it arrests all spiritual progress.
This is because the Writings declare that the literal of the Word is God Himself. All three Testaments make the declaration that the literal of the Word is Divine and perfect and infinite. The literal cannot have any flaws or errors or cultural influences or scientific inaccuracies. For if the literal did have these impure things the Word would not be perfect in its literal. But it is declared that the Word is perfect in its literal. When we begin to think these things and confront ourselves with them, we are challenged to change our prior assumptions and explanations of those passages that we classified as mistakes or outdated science or Swedenborg's culture and times. Under this new rational pressure we are able to make progress, each in our own way. In my case I struggled with the descriptions in Earths in the Universe about the people of the moon, the people of Mars, of Venus, of Jupiter, and so on. One suggestion I read in the New Church literature is that Swedenborg was mislead by the spirits he talked to in the spiritual world so that he thought they were from the moon, etc., but in actuality they must have been from other inhabited planets. I could not agree with this because I thought surely the angles or the Lord would have told him this and would not have allowed to write these things under delusions. Swedenborg does mention here and there that he was forbidden to write about this or that, or that he was commanded to write about this or that. So the Divine supervision of his prose was direct and continuous.
Another explanation I read was that Earths in the Universe and many if not all of the Memorable Relations are allegories not unlike those told by the Lord in the New Testament or in other Sacred Scriptures. This I could not go along with either. Swedenborg swears to us and declares in all sincerity that all things in his stories about the spiritual world were actual true things that happened to him. I cannot conceive that he would mislead the reader in this way, thus breaking faith with his sincerity.
What allowed me to consummate these issues and make spiritual progress in my rational consciousness was to come up with a theistic science principle about knowledge-extraction from the Word:
For instance, people on the moon could not exist if they were made like us. Therefore if there are such people, they are not made like us. Or if they are similar to us, then we don't know things about the moon that will allow such life, etc. Either way, science opinion on this should be modified. Or, another example: Swedenborg says that the earth is the female for all the plants which are the male (both male and female parts). Rather than think this is a curious lapse or error--Swedenborg was fully aware of plant physiology and anatomy, we need to modify biology to allow for this view. Perhaps this view is more abstract and general then the more specific view and experience of male and female plant fertilization--with which Swedenborg was well familiar. As to a missing article or number, or a misapplied reference: We need to construct explanations for them other than that they are imperfections of an old Swede writing with a plume by the light of a candle. By doing this we consummate the issues and make ourselves ready to be transferred to the next higher level of rational consciousness.
When I first read the New Testament at age 40 the ideas I formed from it were purely sensual and not at all rational. I saw the Messiah as a human chosen by God to be the mediator and given special powers because of it, such as a virgin birth, or performing miracles and possessing arcane knowledge. I did not take many of its parts literally but figuratively, while others I took literally. For instance when Jesus declares that He and the Father are One, I took this to mean that the two of them are close, very close. When Jesus on the cross said to the thief hanging beside him, Today you will be in Paradise with Me, I did took today to be figurative. When Jesus said Eat my Body and Drink my Blood, I took it figuratively, though I did not quite know how to take it. When Jesus said at one time that Believing in Him is what saves, I took it literally. But when he said that we need to do good works and perform His commandments in order to be saved, I took it figuratively, or as a matter of degree allowing for imperfections and weaknesses and excuses.
When I was baptized as a Christian a little time later and attended Church services, I recited the Nicene Creed and sang the lyrics that gave worship to "Three Divine Persons in the Trinity." In the sensual recesses of my mind I saw God the Father (sometimes with a beard) and older than God the Son who was sitting besides Him. And the Holy Spirit I could not quite picture as a person but some power or force like electricity or something more abstract like telepathic energy. But when I first starting reading the Writings of Swedenborg shortly thereafter, the trinity of divine persons was no longer a possible construction for me. Now for the first time I began to understand the Old and New Testament references in a rational way rather than sensual. When I tried to discuss these new perceptions and meanings with those in the Church I had joined (Episcopal), there was no communication possible. The Writings fully discuss this rational fallacy of three Divine Persons and fully resolve the literal of Scripture that appear to give this impression. This fallacy, if confirmed in one's reasoning, arrests all further spiritual growth. If not confirmed, Swedenborg observed that people can be instructed in the afterlife about the truth. But if confirmed, the instruction is not accepted.
Our mind wants to oppose the idea that individuals are independent in their Doctrine of the Church. Our mind wants to hold on to the idea that the Doctrine of the Church is a Divine entity that has a Divine existence outside of us and that by dint of study and intelligent application we can acquire more and more of the pieces of this Divine entity. Thus when we write about or teach the Doctrine of the Church we are transmitting not our own understanding itself, but an understanding of the Divine knowledge. And yet the Writings say explicitly that the Doctrine of the Church must be inside of us if it's genuine. The Doctrine of the Church is our Divine perception or understanding of the spiritual sense of the Word. It is our reception and understanding. At first we don't want to think that our perception and understanding can be Divine. But when we study the Epistles for the New Church (De Hemelsche Leer) we begin to see that unless our perception and understanding is Divine it is not genuine Doctrine. Then we consummate these obstructions and begin to perceive in a rational way that what we discover as-of-self by way of Doctrine from the Writings is a Divine illustration or enlightenment. Now we work our reasoning backwards from this new perspective and begin to ask what kind of Church organization do we need when the Doctrine of the Church is from any individual who is illustrated from God. In some measure, the Dutch Group who contributed De Hemelsche Leer struggled with this but did not come to a proper resolution of it.
I see it as a major stumbling block in the sense that it opposes the orderly process of extraction. As long as one holds on to this opposition, one cannot proceed. Illustration is the actual process and so if you deny this, the actual process is hindered. I call this an externalizing spiritual stumbling block because the false idea is grounded in sensual consciousness, not rational. The idea of individual illustration in accordance with one's degree of regeneration or consciousness is a rational idea and the rejection of this rational idea is based on a false sensual idea. Hence I call it an externalizing spiritual stumbling block. The idea that we can use our rational intelligence to understand more and more internalizing truths from the literal is contrary to what is taught in the Writings where it is stated that no matter how much we study the literal of the Word, we cannot obtain rational truths from it as-of-self with our own intelligence and powers of study and research. This incapacity is referred to as an extraction process based on the "direct cognizance of the literal." Instead, internalizing rational truths can only be obtained as-of-self by being illustrated from the Divine. This illustration is individual and unique and personal and is proportional to the degree of regeneration or consciousness. Hence new insights and perceptions of apparently the same truth or passage in the literal constantly occurs as we advance in our temptations.
This view is usually held by people who read about Swedenborg but have not read the Writings. But it is also held by those who read the Writings in order to confirm the beliefs they already head beforehand. Those who believe and confirm the existence of psychic powers from sensual experiences and demonstrations can fall into this fallacy of believing that Swedenborg was a psychic in whom the powers were especially well developed. This view leads to the misunderstanding and falsification of all of the Writings. Not a single genuine truth can be seen in such a state of sensual consciousness. The Writings fully explain why psychic powers are not given to people as this would be injurious to their spiritual progress. Psychic perception is a celestial sensual consciousness given only in infancy when we are still in a state of total ignorance, and then it cannot hurt us. Babies are in celestial company and may enjoy psychic powers (see matrix 7 above). This state corresponds to the sense of touch which represents conjugial love. The idea that Swedenborg's Writings were written from himself and in accordance with his special abilities destroys the true idea that he was a revelator appointed by God to write the Divine Word. He also states that he had to be prepared by God since his earliest childhood for this job and that this is the greatest miracle ever achieved given the scope of his experiences as a dual citizen fully conscious in both worlds for 27 years.
This idea insinuates itself under the guise of reasonableness. It's a compromise demanded by people who are outraged at the idea that no one counts in history except Swedenborg. What about the other religions? What about the ascended masters of the East? What about the cumulative learning of culture and tradition and erudition? What about Ouspensky or Ericsson or Baba Ram Das and Bubba Free John? What about the prophets of the latter day saints? What about Baaha'i, Yogis, Gurus, Ching Hai, and many such examples that are given. But Swedenborg's Writings are not based on any spiritual, religious or humanist tradition. They stand on their own as a new modern revelation, unique, unparalleled, self-sufficient. This exclusive view is not based on mere loyalty or closed mindedness but on rationality and history. The Writings are sufficient in themselves, perfect, a Divine work given for the regeneration of the modern person. This conclusion is available to anyone who reads the Writings without prejudice. The Writings are Christian in the sense that it identifies God as Jesus Christ and upholds the Old Testament and New Testament as the Word of God. But they are actually a New Church and a New Word given as the Second Advent because the current Christian Church has reached its consummation.
The process of opening the internalizing degrees of the mind is a Divine work and can only be accomplished through the Word. No other writings are necessary and none can effect this other than the Word. People often write to me about other authors who have "said similar things" as what they come across in Swedenborg. But this is only according to appearance. No other author has said what Swedenborg has said since only the Writings are properly called the Word of God in a modern revelation, given to humankind to effect regeneration and salvation. Anyone can see this who reads the Writings without prejudice and for the sake of being enlightened spiritually. This stumbling block neutralizes the power of the Writings to effect regeneration. It is true that Swedenborg's theology is far superior and consistent and complete than any other theologian's books and systems. Nevertheless the system in the Writings is not Swedenborg's but the Divine's. This is explicitly stated in the Writings and anyone can see its validity whose eyes are opened by God to see it. And God opens the eyes of all who come to the Word for Divine instruction.
In another article I make a distinction between secular and religious Swedenborgianism. A secular perspective on Swedenborg wants to compare him to others who have written sagaciously about religion and spirituality, but a religious perspective sees the Writings as the Word, a Divine writing, unique and not comparable by any degree to any other author. The power of the Writings of Swedenborg comes from their being the Word, not from their vast erudition and genius. That they are the Word means that they are written in a special spiritual style so that the literal contains infinite series of spiritual meanings within it. These internalizing truths function to open the human mind more and more, to eternity. This is why the Writings are also in the heavens as a means for the inhabitants there to continue their regeneration. Swedenborg has seen the Writings in heavenly Temples where they shine so brightly as to surpass the light of the sun at noonday.
No one can maintain this who has read the Writings and whose eyes were opened by God. Marriage love called in the Writings Conjugial Love, is the love of loves, or the source of all other loves. Conjugial love is from the marriage of Divine Good and Divine Truth in God. This is a new revelation of the Second Advent. Many believe that marriages are holy because they are consecrated in the Church and a priest pronounces the couple to be married in the eyes of heaven and God. But this is only an externalizing justification and can lead to misconceptions. For instance, few religious people know that they will be a married state in heaven. The Writings reveal that the inhabitants of heaven are all in a married state. Reference in the New Testament about "not being given in marriage" relates to spiritual nuptials which must take place on earth, not in heaven. Spiritual nuptials in the Word always refers to the marriage of good and truth in our understanding and is essential for becoming spiritual and being regenerated, which must be done while still in the physical body.
If we fail to become spiritual, that is, be given by God into nuptials, while in the physical body, thus before passing on, we arrive in a spiritual body whose consciousness level is sensual and corporeal, like the people of the Northern Region and those in the Lower Earth discussed in the diagram above (matrix 12). These are the nuptials that do not take place in heaven because we must become spiritual prior to getting there. The New Testament gives the parable of the Ten Virgins, five of whom were foolish because they brought lamps without oil, and five of whom were wise because they brought oil with their lamps. Oil represents good while the lamp represents truth. Bringing oil with their lamps refers to those who have undergone the spiritual nuptials, that is, have undergone regeneration so that the rational degrees of their mind has been opened. They are admitted into heaven. But the others are not admitted and they find the door shut against them, that is, they are not capable of living in heaven because their consciousness has not been opened to the spiritual degrees.
To believe that marriages are not holy, and to believe that heaven is not a married state, are equivalent beliefs that arrest regeneration. Christians who believe that heavenly life is single because they interpret the New Testament literal in that way ("till death do us part"), can still become spiritual and be regenerated, as long as they do not confirm this false idea about heaven and marriage. But if they confirm this idea in their mind and in their Doctrine, they cannot become spiritual and be regenerated. It stands for them as a spiritual stumbling block.
In the New testament Jesus says that God is in Him, that God is in us, that He is in us. And in other systems of thought it is said that God is in me, or that a piece of God is in me. How are we to understand these things in a rational way? How can a person be within another person? How can a piece of God exist since God is indivisible in Whom infinite things are one--as explained in the Writings. And if God is in me, people think, I am part of God, I am partly Divine, I am God. They can thus say, the God in me greets the God in you. Is this the same God in me who greets himself in you?
These sensual ideas of God are not rational and limit the growth of our consciousness. The Writings fully explain the nature of God and how conjunction with God is possible. It is our conjunction with God that makes us immortal and capable of living in eternity. Without conjunction we drop into the bottom of consciousness, and this is called hell. The Writings explain that conjunction with God is based on our right idea or concept of God, and this idea of God becomes more and more rational, more and more internalizing, more and more true, as we progress in the growth of consciousness. To understand how this operates, we need to take into account what the Writings say about Divine influx and the distinction between immediate influx and mediate influx. The Divine flows into the essence or inmost of all created objects and qualities and gives them existence and subsistence. If the Divine influx ceases for an instant, the thing or quality vanishes from existence. All things thus have existence from being constructed out of this Divine influx. This is called immediate influx and is the same for all created things--mineral, plant, animal, and human.
But this would not be sufficient to create consciousness and conjunction with God. With humans, the only created things having consciousness, conjunction depends on mediate influx, in addition to immediate influx. Mediate influx is conscious and personal and particular while immediate influx is unconscious and impersonal and universal. Mediate influx is into the six degrees of the human mind, different at each level. Since the Doctrine of the Church is what opens our rational degrees, it is the very form of conjunction with God. It is referred to in the Writings as the Marriage of the Lord with the Church. The Doctrine within us is Divine and it is by virtue of this Divine within us that conjunction is effected. It is not a piece of the Divine that is in me but all of the indivisible Divine, but only according to my reception, or the degree of consciousness opened through temptations, as explained above.
The literal of the Word says that we are in God and God is in us. How are we to understand what this means? If we take it in a sensual way, it becomes a falsity leading to the idea that we have a piece of God inside of us, or that we are God in that sense. But we are correct if we take it in a rational way, that is, the Divine activity is in us in accordance with our accommodation requirements, which varies with each individual, or with one individual at different degrees of growth.
There is no ratio between the infinite and the finite, or between the Divine and created things or humans. Yet the infinite Divine can inflow in its entirety and fullness into created things. Our finite mind is created with the ability to receive the Divine influx. At first it seems to us that the finite must be within the infinite since the infinite is larger than the finite. But this is only a sensual consciousness of the relationship. The infinite is not related to place, time, or size. The infinite is within the finite, but apart from space and time. The infinite is within the finite, not the other way round. But because the Divine infinite is within our finite mind or consciousness there, it doesn't follow that therefore we are Divine in any way whatsoever. We do not gain Divinity by having the Divine be present within us. And yet the quality and purity of our understanding and life is dependent on the quality and purity of our reception of the Divine dwelling, which is within us by influx. There are no saints in the sense of gaining holiness through some means such as good works or strong faith or being chosen. Whatever Divine understandings and abilities we have is due to the Divine inflowing and nothing of it to ourselves. The highest angels who also have amazing powers, readily admit that none of this power is their own but God's inflowing, and the moment this inflowing ceases, there is no power or goodness in them.
A similar stumbling block is the idea that some people are saints in the sense of being holier than others. These holy people are seen as having special powers for praying and healing. Their prayers are more effective with God and heaven than other people's prayers and invocations. Various religious or spiritual institutions and groups have been formed on this belief. Praying to saints or invoking them for good luck is a similar idea that hinders the development of rational consciousness, hence of regeneration. Even the "prayers of the people" in a Church worship could insidiously embody this belief if one is persuaded that collective prayer is more effective on account of the number of people involved. These ideas are externalizing natural based on sensual consciousness and oppose the development of our rational consciousness.
A related false idea of the Divine is the belief that when we look at nature and its beauty we behold God. Some even go around pointing to things and saying, This is God, This is God. Nothing could be further from the truth. God is a Person, the Divine Human, the Word, infinite Love and Wisdom, the Creator, Redeemer, and Regenerator of all human beings for all time. To confuse God with God's creation is a sensual fallacy. God is at the essence of every created thing but is not that thing. God is within created things and these things are not God. It is permissible to see God's Glory in created things but not to confuse God with these things.
The Writings indicate that they are the Divine Rational in ultimates. They are the Word, and thus a work of perfection and infinite power. When we encounter something that appears like an error or an inaccuracy or contradiction, we need to reconstruct an explanation other than that they are actual errors or imperfections or inaccuracies. This is a task for the future of theistic science. But if our mind goes along with the idea that they are errors or imperfections we injure the progress of our rational consciousness. For the Divine Rational itself cannot be contained in anything but what is perfect. In Part 1 I have discussed two crucial heresies regarding the literal of the Writings.
The idea that we should overlook inaccuracies in the literal of the Word is a sensual fallacy and hurts our idea that they are Divine. I call this an externalizing spiritual stumbling block because it is grounded in a sensual fallacy. We look at the literal and see what appears to our own self-intelligence as an error or a misconception. Instead, when we come across something that appears to us an error, we should view this as a spiritual temptation with which we must struggle, not give in to. We need to rearrange our ideas of science in the light of the Writings, not the other way round. The Writings are a modern revelation given for the modern rational mind. They contain modern scientific revelations about the universe and its laws that we must use to revamp science, to recast it from an atheistic mode to theistic, that is, from delusional to real. Factual issues need to be looked at with a view to resolving them. Factual disagreements with the literal are an expression of sensual consciousness, and this needs to be consummated if we're going to move on to the next highest degree.
Swedenborg states that he has been prepared by the Lord from earliest childhood for the job of being the modern revelator of the Second Advent. This means that all the degrees of his mind, both externalizing natural and internalizing rational, have been ordered in such a way as to prepare him for writing the Word of the Third Testament. He also surveyed his scientific writings prior to his enlightenment and intromission into dual life and fond them compatible and harmonious with his subsequent theological Writings. Obviously then, everything Swedenborg wrote was from the Divine. His theological Writings have Doctrinal authority while his scientific Writings are written as-of-self. this is a difference indeed but it doesn't justify the conclusion that his scientific Writings are not Divine as the theological Writings are Divine. The future of theistic science is to elucidate the differences and we cannot assume at this point that we can make definitive statements about the difference, and certainly not, that the one is Divine while the other is not. But again, where it appears that Swedenborg's scientific Writings are outdated in the light of modern science, one should not conclude from this mere appearance that his science is wrong or outdated. Rather, science such as it is today ought to be reformulated to concord with both known facts today and his theories and explanations. I discuss this issue further in the following article.
The new scientific revelations in the Writings about the psychobiology of marriage are discussed in another article. Throughout the Writings in the literal we find explicit statements that identify the spiritual qualities and parts of the mind that correspond to externalizing natural representations. With respect to men and women, the many representations discussed extensively in numerous places in the Writings, include men vs. women, husbands vs. wives, boys vs. girls, grooms vs. brides, adulterous women vs. men whoremongers, young women vs. young men, old men vs. old women, kings vs. queens, priests vs. priestesses, male virgins and female virgins, male animals vs. female, and so on. The contrastive difference in each case relates to the affective vs. the cognitive organs in the mind. Affective organs are called "the will" and includes a collection of ideas that I can list by examples you can easily recognize: motives, feelings, voluntary, affections, desires, preferences, and so on. The Writings refer to the affective organ as "the will" which "receives" influx of "good or love." And the cognitive organ is referred to as "the understanding" which "receives" influx of "truth or wisdom." A list of examples you can easily recognize includes: thoughts or thinking, reasoning, imagining, visualizing, comprehending, justifying, and so on.
This distinction is so fundamental because the universe is created out of two substances: Divine Love (or Good) and Divine Truth (or Wisdom). These two infinite substances stream out of the Spiritual Sun, where the Lord dwells. They create themselves through infinite variation and diversity into the substances and the materials out of which the universe and our minds are constructed. Hence the division is necessary in our mind for two separate and different organs--one for the reception of good-substance (affective) and one for the reception of truth-substance (cognitive). These two organs make our will and our understanding. When these two act together we become fully human. When we're born, the affective and cognitive are divided, but when we're regenerated, they are reunited. The Writings thus present this process of regeneration in very extensive detail, like a medical or psychological textbook. The purpose is to provide the technology by which we can cooperate in our regeneration. For only then are we saved, that is, become fully human.
In the Writings, the affective and cognitive organs are compared to the male-female representations. Sometimes women, wives, girls, etc. are said to represent the affective organ (loves, affections, voluntary) and sometimes the cognitive (truth, wisdom, intelligence). The same is the case with men, husbands, boys, etc. because sometimes they are said to be "truth" and sometimes "love." The differences and distinctions have been carefully charted by many Swedenborg scholars, as for instance the contributors to De Hemelsche Leer, and I will discuss them in more detail in Part 3. The point to be made here with respect to spiritual stumbling blocks is that our inherited cultural tradition of male chauvinism (to use a term from 20th century American culture), puts a biased filter over our eyes when we read the Writings and causes us to focus in and be impressed by one representation of men vs. women, and ignore many others. Thus we use the literal statements of the Writings to justify some cultural inherited belief system. This is a spiritual temptation and we men must wrestle with it all our lives. As long as we hold on to male dominated ideas we are barred from conjugial love, barred from spiritual nuptials, barred from entrance into heaven as a husband to our wife. Instead, we begin spiritual life in the corporeal state of mind, and this is life in hell. So we have no choice but to get rid of this inherited stumbling block in our mind.
Here is an example of how this stumbling block operates. We come across one or more passages that say that men are born wisdoms and women are born loves. Also, that from creation, men are created to receive wisdom from God and wives are created to be the love of her husband's wisdom. The idea is that by uniting into one-hood as a celestial couple, the husband and the wife complement each other reciprocally, each providing a part that the other needs to be completed in creation. Thus only as a celestial couple united in conjugial love can we start talking about a full human being. This is demonstrated sensuously in heaven by the fact often observed by Swedenborg, that a couple in heaven from a distance appear as one Angel. This appearance vanishes when you get near the couple. You can see that one can take this idea from the literal and justify one's male chauvinism. Similarly, women can rely on such passages to reinforce in their own mind that men are meant to lead in terms of wisdom while women are meant to follow their men's wisdom. But these are fallacies based on appearances of the literal and motivated to justify and maintain some cultural practice. It is not a spiritual understanding, and in fact, opposes and contradicts and destroys the true spiritual meaning, message, and instruction.
We can struggle with and oppose this consummation and descent in our consciousness by studying De Hemelsche Leer which puts so much emphasis on charting the sequence of regeneration. We can come into spiritual knowledge of the Doctrine of the Church extracted from the Writings and gain a true understanding of conjugial love, which is that husbands give wives to direct the husband's thinking and conclusions. Men can be wisdoms when their thought processes are directed by their wives, but not when they direct themselves. This insight came to me in 1985 when I first read De Hemelsche Leer and called it The Doctrine of the Wife.
We need to look at this passage and realize that this is the kind of unity that conjugial love is made of. If husbands do not begin to practice this kind of unity, how will they be able to practice it in heaven? The practice of this kind of unity is called spiritual nuptials. If your mind is looking at this passage and says: "But it's about lust and adultery and looking at other women. I'm willing to have my wife direct my thoughts in that case. But when it comes to other things, I need to direct my own thoughts." And one thinks: "How else can I be an individual? What else does it mean that I have to develop my wisdom?" Or else: "but what about all the representations that show that priests are men--surely we cannot have women priests since this is contrary to Divine representation." And other such oppositions and resistances to what the passage above implies:
When this point of view is appreciated, that is, understood and loved, the husband can enter the spiritual nuptials and from natural conjugal love enter into celestial conjugial love. From then on he stops abusing and dominating women and making their lives miserable. When enough men are willing to do this, society can change and prepare for the advent conjugial love. This is heaven on earth. Would there be women priests in such an environment? Probably not because the women would not want to play that role. The women are enlightened by the Lord to know and perceive how they should direct their husbands' thinking and judgment. There would be no gender issues, no political opposition between the sexes, no administrative disagreements, and no domestic quarrels. All the men have to do is to allow their wives to direct their thoughts and judgements. This is the Divine reality of it. Look at the passage again. It says "when I look at other people's wives"--this means not just what it plainly says in the literal. To insist that that's what it means and that alone, is to deny that this phrase is the Word. Since it is the Word it has meaning beyond the literal. What is this spiritual inner meaning? We need to inquire into it by means of the Doctrine we already have gathered from the Word. And we need to help one another so that each of us can see more since the Lord distributes His infinite Wisdom in the Word to individuals unevenly in proportion to the degree of consciousness so far achieved--and this is a process of endless progression with each one.
The phrase "when I look at other people's wives," refers to our inherited tendency to love the wisdom we receive from the Lord as it is in us after reception. This love for our own wisdom in us as men or husbands is not allowed. If we engage in this forbidden practice we arrest our regeneration and plunge into our hell. No conjugial love or wisdom possible there! This is why it has been revealed in the Word that by Divine Providence the love of the man's wisdom is transcribed from being within him to being outside of him and in his wife. This is what it means to say that the wife is born to be the love of her husband's wisdom. In the passage above therefore, to say that "when I look at other people's wives," is to say that the husband opposes this transfer from what tends to be within him to what needs to be in his wife. This opposition is a celestial temptation and must be overcome. I have found that I need to overcome this opposition by harking unto the idea expressed as The Doctrine of the Wife. When the husband above says "For when I look at other people's wives, I see them through my wife, whom alone I love" he is saying what we must say to ourselves, namely, that we must love our wife directing our thoughts through her perception. This means that we must prefer her directing our thoughts to ourselves directing our thoughts, because this is according to order while the other is not.
This is what this sentence means above refers to: "we two look together, and so not the slightest spark of lust can enter in." Here "looking together" means that the husband avoids looking alone, and "lust" means that he thereby avoids loving within himself the wisdom from the Lord. For example, if the husband says to the wife, "Wife, in this matter this is how I see it and you should defer to me on it," he is in a state of loving the wisdom he receives from the Lord in himself rather than transcribed in her. Analyze this sentence which says it all:
"Capable of perceiving all my feelings" means that the Lord gives her perception of how she ought to direct the husband's thoughts. Many times I observed that my wife chooses carefully from this special ability she has from the Divine. She chooses when to intervene in my thinking process and when to leave it alone. The important thing to remember is that when she does decide to intervene I must moderate and control my resistance to her intervention. If I disagree, I must not give in to it. If I go along but don't like it, I must not give in to that. No other choice is left to me but the one the Divine is urging on me from within: Go, Leon, Go! Love it! You shall love your wife directing your thinking in all matters without exception. And so we can go on with our regeneration.
See this article on Wife and Husband as the Conjoint Self.
I've struggled with this stumbling block myself for a while but mostly I'm aware of the issue from reading statements made by others. This is a spiritual temptation in our growth of rational consciousness. It represents a denial of omnipotence to the Lord. We reason this way: "God is omnipotent of course and foresees everything. He also directs everybody's thinking and deciding. So why would He allow some people to get lost so much that they must live in hell forever. Why can't the Lord eventually reform these people and so lead them out of hell?" Or else, this: "Hell is a kind of punishment, isn't it? Those people may insist on wanting to stay there but they're not in their normal state of mind. Why can't the Lord eventually get them out of such a miserable existence? Is there not an end to their suffering?" These ideas are not rational or spiritual but purely sensual and corporeal. It is being conscious of the externalizing mind only and ignoring the internalizing mind. If hell were some planet on earth then indeed it might be thought justly that this is not a lot or fate that should last forever. But hell is the individual's mind. The descent into these regions is gradual and progressive. At each step spirits are present as administrative overseers from God. There is never a moment when the Divine ceases to communicate and moderate those who are in those states. Divine omnipotence and goodness lies in this. Moreover, the hells are allowed only so far as they can be made to accept uses. The hells play a vital role in our regeneration by providing point and counter-point to our dilemmas. They play a role in managing the evil and lawless on earth, including the law of karma whereby evil returns to the evil doer--as stated in the Writings. Also, every time a New Heaven comes into existence, an opposite new hell also comes into existence. Such is the human mind.
This is an internalizing celestial temptation and stumbling block to our regeneration The point is that we should be getting rid of our pet peeves and cultural beliefs and base our morality on the Doctrine we extract from the Word. This is the only way we can develop true rational consciousness and become spiritual. The Writings explain the issue of inheritance and that by inheritance we are born with all the evil inclinations our parents picked up from their parents, plus all the ones they acquired in their lives prior to our conception. And the Writings explain that therefore the mind cannot be regenerated and prepared for human-hood in eternity, unless we are given a new spiritual birth (being reborn). This means growing a new mind from spiritual input only which is pure and not corrupted by inheritance. This means forming new thoughts and feelings. But this cannot take place unless we cooperate in our regeneration. This takes the form of being willing to struggle with temptations and gaining victory over them by choosing what the Word and the Doctrine dictate we should do, think, and love.
To say that everybody is born good inside--after all look at babies, and so on, is to pursue a political agenda, not a spiritual regeneration by means of truth and good. The Writings reveal that infants are with angels and this is the goodness and happiness that they transmit to us to our great great delight. We are inwardly moved by it. But this is not the baby's but the angels' goodness. The baby's inheritance is then laid aside. But soon it comes to the fore if the baby is going to grow mentally and spiritually. And then we have tantrums and rebelliousness and all kinds of wickednesses. These things come out of the infant and child because they are there at birth. Then the process of regeneration can begin in the ways provided for by God, as discussed in this article.
This is an internalizing rational or celestial temptation and arises from one's personal agenda, that is from our proprium that needs to be regenerated but likes to oppose that process. It's an irrational assault on our celestial perceptions that the Word cannot be partial because the Word is God and God is not divisible. Either the Writings are the Word or they are not, but they cannot be in between. If they are the Word, they must be fully the Word. If they are fully the Word, wherever something in the Writings is said about the Word, it must apply equally to all Three Testaments. This is rational and true. If you've been taught differently, set it aside. The Writings instruct that we cannot merely accept the teachings we receive in the Church and in schools, or even at home. We must evaluate each teaching from a critical analytical point of view. This is why we all must become experts in the Writings. We all must study the Writings every day like Manna. Nothing can be more critical for our regeneration than this knowledge. Nunc Licet is an injunction from the Writings. It means Now It Is Permitted. It is referring to the new revelations of the Writings that are given so that our mind can become spiritual and rational. This cannot be achieved by membership or by worship or by occasional studies. We need to apply ourselves to the study of the Writings more than we spend time watching TV or some other reading and hobby. Only then can our mind be ordered by the Writings, both internally and externalizingly.
This stumbling block is called a heresy and was dealt with in Part 1.
see also Spiritual