This is a portion of Chapter 5 Research Methods in Theistic
Psychology in Volume 1 Substantive Dualism of a Web published book titled Theistic Psychology: the Science of
The analysis presented in this section clearly shows that the scientific sense of the Old and New Testaments is entirely independent of their historical and poetic sense which serves for the Jewish and Christian religions. People from other religions can read these Sacred Books of Divine origin, but they may not see them as universal, of equal relevance to all peoples. They may have their own religious literature which is more relevant to their cultural group. And even if they appreciate the universal significance of the Bible, it remains in their eyes a historical ethnic tradition to which they may not belong.
Few people know about the details of the scientific revelations in the Writings of Swedenborg. One of the main revelations is the unveiling of the code of correspondences in which the Old and New Testaments are written. This section shows how this is done by Swedenborg. When we consider the decoded meaning it turns out that it is about the anatomy of the human mind and how every person can develop spiritually as a way of preparing for immortal life in the spiritual world. It has absolutely nothing to do with the historical narrative in the literal meaning of the New and Old Testaments.
It would be totally impossible to figure out this hidden meaning without the code of correspondences. The Christian Bible is the most published book in the world and if you check the library shelves you will see that more books have been written about the Bible than any other book. Despite this amazing intellectual effort, not one author has ever even suspected that the Bible is written in a code, which when decoded, yields a textbook of theistic psychology. All sorts of other ideas have been fabricated, but the actual reality, as explained in this book.
So the Old and New Testaments turn out to be science books of universal relevance to every person, regardless of religion, culture, or century of birth. No religion or ethnic group can claim primary ownership or destination of the Old and New Testaments. The are Divine scientific revelations given to humanity independently of religion, culture, or century. This was not known about the Bible until the Writings of Swedenborg made the revelation.
So now every religion can claim the Old and New Testaments for its own background, since the purpose of religion everywhere is to prepare the individual for immortality. IN that basic sense religion has been more scientific than science, given that science has become atheistic and ridicules the idea of immortality. Religion is far closer to being scientific since it teaches that there is one God and that our souls or spirits are immortal. But now we have something far more scientific than religion, namely theistic science based on the Writings of Swedenborg.
It’s important to understand that nothing can take away the
connection people feel towards the Old and New Testaments and the Writings of
Swedenborg as the source and center of their religion—Jews, Christians, and New
Church Christians. The fact that these books of Sacred Scripture also have a
scientific sense hidden within in no way weakens their sacred function as books
of religion for Judaism, Christianity, and the
The literal religious sense of these sacred writings are not affected in any way by the fact that there is also a scientific sense hidden within. This too was intended by God to bring untold benefits to humankind. This is easy to understand when you consider what is this scientific sense that is brought by the science of correspondences, the laws that govern the relationship between natural phenomena as effects and their spiritual causes. This kind of science supports religion. As the analysis in this sections shows, the content or subject matter of Chapter 22 in the Book of Genesis, is the anatomy of the mind and the steps of spiritual development. The purpose of this science is to give human beings everywhere the ability to change their inherited character and to prepare it for life in heaven to eternity.
It is clear therefore that the purpose of religion and theistic science are the same, namely, to prepare people for their life in eternity. Religion and science use different methods and different concepts. Both are needed for improving life on earth and preparing it for life in the spiritual world.
We are going to review how the Writings extract the scientific sense of the Old and New Testaments using the code of correspondences. This code is like a DNA code because it consists of the scientific laws that describe the exact relationship between natural events as effects and spiritual events as causes. Note that Swedenborg did not invent this code. Nor does it represent his attempt to interpret the Bible figuratively, as some have done. Rather, Swedenborg observed in the spiritual world what happens when he reads Bible verses in the natural world. Since he had dual consciousness he was able to see what spiritual events were happening when particular natural events were occurring on earth.
Note also that this code is the spiritual DNA of natural events, so that it is not restricted to reading the Bible. This is what makes it scientific. The code is about the scientific laws that interconnect the two worlds. The reason that the Old and New Testaments are written in this code is that these books of Sacred Scripture are Divine Speech. The words and verses spoken by God through the mind of earthly prophets, were heard as well by the inhabitants of the spiritual world. Everything God imparts to the human race follows this sequence of descent from God. It first goes through the three heavens (see Chapter 12) and only then into the minds of people who are still living on earth.
The books of the Old and New Testaments therefore exist in heaven, as witnessed by Swedenborg, but in their spiritual language. Swedenborg also saw the Writings that he himself had authored. Although he wrote every line himself, from his own thinking and understanding, he wrote only what he was inspired to write by the Divine Human Himself. The Writings complete what the Old and New Testaments have begun, so that the entire revelation took these three sets to complete. Hence they are called the “Threefold Word,” because Divine Speech is called the Word.
You can see from this that the Sacred Scripture we possess has a relation to the Sacred Scripture in the spiritual world. This relationship is that of external to internal. Divine Speech starts in its inmost form as received in the celestial language of the highest heaven. From there it filters down to the spiritual language of the intermediate heaven. From there it is filtered down to the spiritual-natural language of the lowest heaven. From there it is filtered down to the world of spirits where the natural mind are of the people still on earth. This is the level that we are familiar with, namely, the literal text of the Threefold Word in natural language, and then translated, into different natural languages.
It’s crucial to realize that the celestial meaning (Third Heaven) is contained within the spiritual meaning (Second Heaven), and both are contained in the spiritual-natural meaning (First Heaven), and all three are contained in the natural meaning (the versions known on earth). Once you realize this, you can also see that all four levels of meaning are also in our mind since the anatomy of the mind is the same as the geography of the spiritual world, as already explained.
Since we are only conscious in the natural mind, while still on earth, the only way we can know what the three inner meanings are is by using the code of correspondences to decipher, or extract, each of the three inner meanings. This is what Swedenborg has done. He has applied the code of correspondences to the verse by verse, and word by word analysis, of the entire books of Genesis and Exodus, in the Old Testament, and the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. In addition he adds numerous samples of verses from the other books of the Old and New Testaments to demonstrate that they too use the same code of correspondences as in these three books.
I will illustrate in some detail how the Writings achieve this amazing result. You will note two types of proofs that we are dealing with Divine Speech, which is totally unlike the speech authored by human beings. Ordinary books do not have these three sets of inner meanings that one can extract from the literal using the universal code of correspondences. The first type of proof is that the same code of correspondences applies to all the books of Sacred Scripture, even though they had dozens of different authors over thousands of years, and none of them knew anything about a hidden code in what they were writing.
The second type of proof is that the inner content of major portions of these books refer to events that were to happen hundreds of years later. This is known to some extent from the literal sense in the case of visions and prophecies. It is believed that prophets were given visions and voices that they wrote down and that the content of what they wrote, at the literal level of meaning, refers explicitly to events to come, like famines and plagues, or wars of captivity and liberation, or God’s Incarnation event. But it was unknown, until the Writings, that hidden in the literal meaning of the visions and prophecies, and of the histories and poetry, there were three other meanings of a spiritual and celestial content.
For instance, as in the passages to be examined below, it is shown that the Abraham story of the Binding of Isaac to be sacrificed on the altar (Genesis Chapter 22), contains in its inner meaning the mental struggles experienced by Jesus when a Divine Child growing up among the Jewish nation thousands of years after Abraham’s biography. How could this be possible unless the Abraham story is Divine Speech dictated to Moses? This secret lay hidden in the Old Testament story for all these centuries without a single human being on this earth suspecting its existence. Of course the inhabitants of the tree heavens knew some of it because to them the Old Testament appears in its celestial and spiritual meanings. To us on earth, it is only now that our natural mind is allowed to know it. This new revelation to humankind is called the Second Coming.
All this is crucial for theistic psychology given the fact that the struggles undergone by the Divine Child and later Adult, are of evolutionary significance to the human race. These mental struggles of the God Incarnate on earth are actually new mental pathways the God-Man created for all human beings. These mental pathways did not exist before; they had not yet been created so that no human being could have those thoughts and feelings. And yet, without those thoughts and feelings it is impossible for human beings born on earth to regenerate, that is, to develop a spiritual character, and without this, no one can enter eternal life in heaven. The entire human race, past, present, and future, was thus in danger of becoming one enormous hell to eternity.
This is because the people in the hells had evolved to such an extent that they were able to fabricate false ideas that kept everyone prisoner to them and allowed hellish traits to become their normal way of operating and living. This influence of the hells over the human race had to be broken by God but without destroying the human race. God could not destroy human beings that He had created to be immortal. He had to save them, first by delivering them from the grip of the hells, and second, by giving them the mental means of resisting and rejecting the hells. These mental pathways or techniques did not exist and could not be created except in one way, long foreseen and provided by God as part of creation and evolution. This way was God’s Incarnation as an ordinary human being.
But the growth and development of this ordinary human was however different from the ordinary. Humans have a human father, and a human soul from him. But the Divine Child had a human mother but His Own Divine as the soul. Jesus was therefore God in the natural mind of an ordinary human. This ordinary human had to be educated and informed from the Divine soul within Himself, who He really was and what He came to accomplish. The passage below gives us details about what Jesus accomplished in his mind in relation to the hells, how he fought and ordered the hells by creating new meanings, or new spiritual truths, by which the hells were subdued and contained within their sphere, no longer able to threaten the spiritual survival of every human being on earth and in the world of spirits.
Once Jesus went through these struggles or “temptations,” He had created the means by which all human beings could henceforth struggle with the hells they are born with, using the new truths He had created. These new truths were promulgated through Divine Speech, written down as Sacred Scripture by specially prepared individuals.
This is what makes these revelations scientific. The developmental steps Jesus went through are the developmental steps every human being can go through and achieve liberation from hellish traits. Theistic psychology describes and studies these new mental techniques for character reformation or spiritual development. Hence we can call the source of this new knowledge “scientific revelations” and the inner sense of Divine Speech as the “scientific meaning” of Sacred Scripture.
A crucial aspect of this revelation which makes it scientific, is that it is verifiable by anyone who is willing to use appropriate and effective empirical verification procedures. The developmental steps and anatomy of the mind that is revealed here apply to the sequential events that every individual must go through. Anyone who is willing to step through the full sequence of regeneration can observe and monitor each step along the way through the method of spiritual self-witnessing (see Chapter 5, Volume 2).
I will make a running commentary as we go through each selected passage. We begin with the text of Genesis that contains the Abraham story of the binding of his son Isaac.
Genesis 22, Verses 1 to 19:
1. And it came to pass after these words, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham; and he said, Here am I.
2. And He said, Take I pray thy son, thine
only one, whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and get thee to the
3. And Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his boys with him, and Isaac his son; and he clave the wood for the burnt-offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God told him.
4. On the third day, and Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
5. And Abraham said unto his boys, Abide ye here with the ass, and I and the boy will go yonder, and we will bow ourselves down, and will come again to you.
6. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife; and they went both of them together.
7. And Isaac said unto Abraham his father; and he said, My father; and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood; and where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?
8. And Abraham said, God will see for Himself the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son: and they went both of them together.
9. And they came to the place which God told him of; and Abraham built there the altar, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
10. And Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
11. And the angel of Jehovah called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham; and he said, Here am I.
12. And He said, Put not forth thine hand upon the boy, and do not anything unto him; for now I know that thou fearest God, and thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only one, from Me.
13. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw, and behold a ram behind, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went, and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son.
14. And Abraham called the name of that place, Jehovah-will-see, as it is said to this day, In the mountain Jehovah will see.
15. And the angel of Jehovah called unto Abraham a second time out of heaven.
16. And said, By Myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only one,
17. That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed, as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall inherit the gate of thine enemies.
18. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast harkened to My voice.
19. And Abraham returned unto his boys;
and they rose up, and went together to
In this chapter in the internal sense the Lord's most grievous and inmost temptations are treated of, by which He united His Human Essence to His Divine Essence; and also the salvation by this union of those who constitute the Lord's spiritual church. (AC 2764)
The Lord's most grievous and inmost temptations are treated of (verses 1, 3-6, 9-11). Concerning the unition of His Human Essence with His Divine Essence, or His glorification, by means of them (verses 2, 11, 12, 16). Concerning the salvation by the Lord's Divine Human of the spiritual, of those who are in charity and faith, within the church (verses 2, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19). And concerning the salvation of those who are in good, outside the church (verses 20, 21, 22, 23, 24).(AC 2765)
Note the overall summary of the Chapter given here, namely, that Genesis 22 deals with the “most grievous” temptations Jesus had to undergo. Other chapters deal with other temptations. Keep in mind that the purpose of God’s Incarnation was to produce a situation in which the ordinary human mind of Jesus, His natural mind, was to face the false ideas of the hells by which they were keeping the people on earth from developing their heavenly character. Meanwhile, the natural mind of Jesus would be fed information about spiritual truths from His Divine Spiritual Mind, and with these new spiritual truths, Jesus could defeat the arguments and persuasions of the people in hell. The God-Man on earth had to face the same hells we face, the same false belief systems that justified holding on to hellish traits. No human being was able to come up with these new truths that were needed to defeat the arguments, persuasions, and influence of the hells upon the Fallen inherited natural mind.
Jesus allowed His inherited human natural mind to be exposed gradually to the falsities and persuasions of the hells, defeating them one by one by means of the new spiritual truths. In this way, He made steady progress towards His final goal, which was to completely neutralize the hells and contain them within their habitations in the “lower earths” of the spiritual world. Jesus had to enlighten and regenerate His inherited natural mind. This could be accomplished only by means of temptations. Why?
Because this natural mind He inherited could not be compelled from above, without being destroyed. Jesus could have compelled His natural mind to obey, but this would only have driven its attachment to the hells even more, making it impossible for this natural mind to be regenerated and glorified or made one with the Divine, just as our natural mind makes a one with our spiritual mind and celestial mind. Since the natural mind could not be compelled from above, there was only rational or scientific method Jesus could use to remove all the evil attachments that was in this rational mind from heredity through Mary. This method was the same that we must use to regenerate our natural mind, namely, undergoing a series of temptations.
What happens when our natural mind faces temptation? For instance, for years we may have gotten used to driving aggressively. Almost everybody does it at some times. It’s part of our culture. You see your parents going it, characters on TV, in video games, all your friends. And so you continue to accept your behavior. This acceptance is a tie to certain hells that you’ve inherited and reinforced in yourself by maintaining it as a habit. Say you realize one blessed day that aggressive driving is a hellish trait. You suddenly realize in horror that you’ve been breaking Divine Commandments since aggressive driving puts others in danger and upsets them, adding to their stress.
Clearly a habit that results in endangering and upsetting others cannot be a heavenly trait. You try to tell yourself to stop being aggressive behind the wheel, yet your corporeal and sensuous mind are doing the driving and reacting, not your enlightened natural-rational mind. Yet the natural-rational mind cannot compel the lower natural mind to obey. The lower natural mind is out of your control because some hell society is in control, by an inherited built in connection. The only way you can free yourself is by enlightening the lower rational mind so that it voluntarily from its own self, breaks the connection by rejecting it as something you reject because it is from hell. This takes re-training or self-modification efforts which consist of self-witnessing your feelings, thoughts, and actions, keeping track of them, evaluating them, then rejecting them and acquiring new habits that are opposite, until one gradually ceases to be an aggressive and impatient driver and starts to be a supportive and peaceful driver.
What allows your lower natural to reject the hellish trait it has gotten used to and finds satisfying?
Only the process of temptation. For instance, you may hurt someone badly one day as a result of the way you drove. Suddenly you are face to face with your own evil. If you then take to heart you will feel shocked that you are this way, that you engage in this evil. If you don’t try to explain your evil away, and if you believe in God and heaven, then you will feel like rejecting your long term habit and its satisfaction. The temptation is the doing something that is opposed to your beliefs. You injured someone due to your impatience and you now can either justify it and be damned, or recoil from it and be saved. Every temptation provides a fine line balancing point between choosing evil or good. This apparent equality is carefully maintained by God for every individual for it is the only method of salvation available. No temptation is permitted by God to face us unless He can provide this fine line balance. A temptation that is overwhelming, preventing free choice, is never permitted, as has been revealed in the Writings.
And so the only way the inherited human natural mind of Jesus could be regenerated and made Divine is my subjugating it with temptations during which He had the choice of accepting or rejecting His old belief system. The Writings reveal that Jesus went through all the temptations human beings go through so that He could conquer all the hells, not just some of them. Each hell had a particular persuasive hold on the unregenerate inherited natural mind of everyone on earth. Jesus had to face them each in turn and conquer them by fabricating new truths they could not oppose. These new truths came down into His natural conscious mind from His unconscious Divine Mind, until at last all the hells were conquered with all the new truths that were needed.
Once this was accomplished, His ordinary natural mind died in the crucifixion, and He then resurrected with a Divine Natural Mind and Divine Natural Body. I present these details here as a context to understand the passage we are analyzing. These details are given in other passages not presented here, but see the many references to other Numbered Paragraphs with the passage.
The Divine Natural Mind and Body is called the Glorified Human. In the passage above it is said that “He united His Human Essence to His Divine Essence.” This means that He Glorified His Human. From now on God was to be called the Divine Human, and anyone on earth or in the spiritual world, can be aware of Him, communicate with Him, be led by Him, and thus be saved for eternal life in heaven. In the passages below we shall see more details about these struggles and how they took place. The reason we must acknowledge and communicate with the Divine Human is that this is the only way we have access to the new truths He created while on earth.
Our heavenly life is inside these truths. Unless we appropriate these new truths as our own by understanding and love, we have no heaven to go to or to dwell in. Our heaven exists inside these new truths. Heaven is a property of rational consciousness. Our only entry point to our heaven is through the development of our rational consciousness. This must be accomplished through gradual regeneration by temptation.
Continuing with the presentation:
Verse 2. “And
He said, Take I pray thy son, thine only one, whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and
get thee to the
The paragraph above is awesome to contemplate. Isaac was a
real person and Moriah was a real mountain in the
Let’s look at how the passage extracts the details of Jesus’ mental struggles and development, by applying the code of correspondences. Recall that Divine Speech is written in this code because the code is determined by the laws of correspondences that scientifically define the interconnectivity between the natural and spiritual worlds. God creates through scientific laws because all things are created by means of spiritual light and heat from the Spiritual Sun, and spiritual light is the same as truth. Hence truth is a substance by which God creates all things. Things cannot be created out of nothing, as some erroneously believe. Things must be created out of something, namely, the spiritual substance of truth. Rationality is the application and derivation of truth in the mind. This is why heaven is constructed out of our rational consciousness.
Continuing with the passage:
He said, Take I pray thy son. That this signifies the Divine rational begotten by Him, is evident from the signification of a "son," as being the rational (see n. 2623); here the Divine rational, because by the son is meant Isaac; and that he represents the Lord's Divine rational has been shown above (n. 1893, 2066, 2083, 2630). And as the Lord made His rational Divine by His own power, as has been often said, by "thy son" is also signified that it was begotten by Him (see n. 1893, 2093, 2625). (AC 2772) (…)
Note the many references to other Numbered Paragraphs in the same Work called Arcana Coelestia (=Heavenly Secrets in Latin), which runs for 12 volumes in English translation. Swedenborg painstakingly proves every little detail of every assertion he makes about correspondences in the Old and New Testaments. The paragraph above is from Number (AC 2772). You can see from the progression of the Numbers in the references (numbers in parentheses) that he keeps track of all the single proofs he gives earlier, to make sure the reader can retrace the development of any one sub-topic and proof. You will also note in the subsequent passages below, that the Writings are rooted in the verses of the Old and New Testaments, and also, that the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings make up one unit called the Threefold Word.
The paragraph above reviews these prior proofs of correspondence in Sacred Scripture:
(a) whenever “son” is mentioned, the scientific reference is to our rational mind (not the sensuous mind, not the spiritual mind).
(b) whenever “Isaac” is mentioned, the scientific reference is to the Rational Mind of the Divine Human.
(c) whenever “thy son” is mentioned, the scientific reference is to the origin or formative state of the rational mind.
At one level of meaning, the scientific reference in “thy son” is to the Divine Human’s Rational Mind. At another level of meaning, the reference is to our regenerated mind or heavenly traits. “Thy son” is a natural correspondence for what mentally we think of as the “originating idea.” The originating idea of a plan or formula is also referred to as the “father” clause. We also use the term “fathering” a concept or trend in fashions, etc.
These connections exist because our language contains built in correspondences between physical events or qualities and mental or spiritual qualities and references. As pointed out elsewhere, the ancient civilizations had a knowledge of correspondences, which had been passed down the generations from the most ancient celestial race (see Chapter xx). In modern times the knowledge was forgotten or turned into myths and fables. To some extent the science of aesthetics is aware of correspondences. Emerson took the idea of correspondences from the Writings and turned it into something different, namely, poetic and artistic vision or feeling.
Continuing with the Chapter being analyzed:
“And offer him there for a burnt-offering.” That this signifies that He should sanctify Himself to the Divine, is evident from the representation of a burnt-offering among the Hebrew nation and in the Jewish church, as being the most holy thing of their worship. There were burnt-offerings and there were sacrifices, and what these represented may be seen above (n. 922, 923, 1823, 2180). Their sanctifications were made by means of them, and hence it is that by "offering up for a burnt-offering" is here signified to be sanctified to the Divine, for the Lord Himself sanctified Himself to the Divine, that is, united His Human to His Divine by the combats and victories of temptations (see n. 1663, 1690, 1691 at the end, 1692, 1737, 1787, 1812, 1813, 1820).
 It is a common belief at this day that the burnt-offerings and sacrifices signified the Lord's passion, and that by this the Lord made expiation for the iniquities of all; indeed, that He took them upon Himself, and thus bore them; and that those who believe are in this manner justified and saved, provided they think, even though it were in the last hour before death, that the Lord suffered for them, no matter how they may have lived during the whole course of their life.
But the case is not really so: the passion of the cross was the extremity of the Lord's temptation, by which He fully united His Human to His Divine and His Divine to His Human, and thus glorified Himself. This very union is the means by which those who have the faith in Him which is the faith of charity, can be saved. For the supreme Divine Itself could no longer reach to the human race, which had removed itself so far from the celestial things of love and the spiritual things of faith, that men no longer even acknowledged them, and still less perceived them. In order therefore that the supreme Divine might be able to come down to man in such a state, the Lord came into the world and united His Human to the Divine in Himself; which union could not be effected otherwise than by the most grievous combats of temptations and by victories, and at length by the last, which was that of the cross. (AC 2776)
The above passage discusses the meaning of “sacrifices” in the Old and New Testaments. References are given to earlier Numbered Paragraphs where the details are first proven, one by one. Here, in summary form, it is recalled to the reader that sacrifices in the Old Testament were commanded because they represented, or symbolically stood for, the Incarnation event. Recall that the Incarnation event was the greatest evolutionary step in the creation of the human race. It began a new age for humankind, an elevation of the human consciousness to God. The Incarnation event created a visible Divine Human in the external world. This became necessary when the human race on earth had falsified and distorted Sacred Scripture available to them. This distancing from Divine Speech destroyed their spiritual rationality.
They were unable to love God except externally, for personal
benefit, reward, or power. People born on earth were at the edge of doom,
invaded and controlled by evil spirits from hell, who held on to them by these
falsities and their evil loves. A God visible on earth was not yet a
possibility, not yet part of the evolution of the race’s consciousness of the
Divine and of their future in eternity. God had foreseen this from creation,
and when the time was ripe, God Incarnated as a Divine
Child born of a virgin in the
Jehovah, the infinite Human Divine God, came out into the external world to create a visible God out of Himself. For reasons already discussed above, this task of “glorifying His Human begotten in the world” had to involve treacherous and disturbing temptations He had to suffer Himself to undergo with that portion of Himself that was not yet regenerated.
Once the task was accomplished, the Glorified Divine Human was visible in our rational consciousness. Every person since then has been given the capacity to picture the visible Divine Human, to read the Divine Speech of the Divine Human in Sacred Scripture, and to love the Divine Human with such intensity that we can strive to arrange every detail of our daily life for His sake, for the sake of our love for Him. By acting, thinking, and feeling for His sake in accordance with His Word, we are able to elevate our consciousness to heaven and to abide in heavenly life to eternity.
God’s commandment that we love Him more than anything, is for this reason only, that if we follow that commandment, He is then able to give us what He longs to give us—life in eternity in heaven in the maximum conjugial bliss and happiness possible, endlessly increasing. This is what He commands us to love Him more than anything. The Divine Commandment a scientific built in process for mental development, not something that God desires for being worshipped or glorified by humans. In the passage below, more details are given on how this scientific mechanism works.
Continuing with the analysis of the Chapter:
 Hence it is that the Lord can from His Divine Human illumine minds, even those far removed from the celestial things of love, provided they are in the faith of charity. For the Lord in the other life appears to the celestial angels as a Sun, and to the spiritual as a Moon (n. 1053, 1521, 1529, 1530, 2441, 2495), whence comes all the light of heaven. This light of heaven is of such a nature that when it illumines the sight of spirits and angels, it also illumines their understanding at the same time.
This is inherent in that light, so that in heaven so much as anyone has of external light, so much has he of internal light, that is, so much of understanding; which shows wherein the light of heaven differs from the light of the world. It is the Lord's Divine Human which illuminates both the sight and the understanding of the spiritual; which would not take place if the Lord had not united His Human Essence to His Divine Essence; and if He had not united them, man in the world would no longer have had any capacity of understanding and perceiving what is good and true, nor indeed would a spiritual angel in heaven have had any; so that they would have had nothing of blessedness and happiness, consequently nothing of salvation. From this we can see that the human race could not have been saved unless the Lord had assumed the Human and glorified it. .) (AC 2776)
Here again in this passage it is repeated that the Divine Light or Truth, and the Divine Heat or Love, were inverted into their opposites by the time it reached our conscious level in the natural mind here on earth. There was an inability of the human race on earth to be moved by this process of filtering down, which had worked before, but no longer. Therefore it was necessary for the Visible Divine Human to be created in the consciousness of the race.
The above passage gives us this amazing scientific revelation: that spiritual light from the Spiritual Sun is actually an event of enlightenment of our consciousness by means of the clear vision of full understanding. Spiritual light is received differently by people in accordance with their ability or willingness to understand scientific truths about God and human development.
The highest angels are the top consciousness people in the universe, being closest in apparent location to the Spiritual Sun. Those of us who get there, or reach that inner state of consciousness, are called “celestial angels” and we live in the Third Heaven to eternity. We are the first human contingent to receive the Divine Light and Heat, that is the Divine Wisdom and the Divine Love from the Spiritual Sun. From the minds of the celestial angels, it filters down to the minds of the angelic spirits in the Second Heaven, and finally to the angelic spirits of the First Heaven. From them the Divine Light and Heat are transmitted to the internal-natural of those who are undergoing regeneration on earth.
This means that they are enlightened in their natural mind and conscious awareness. They are able to receive interior confirmation of truth when they read it. It is not possible to misguide them with a wrong scientific theory or belief system. The are able to see through falsities and to recognize what is from heaven and what from hell, that is, what is good and what is not good, what is true and what is not true. They are liberated from the daily emotional spin cycle (see Chapter xx). The live in conjugial love and feel blessed in what they possess from the Divine Human, whom they keep before their focus of attention every day and every hour of the day. They look forward to their conjugial life in heaven. They progress in wisdom and love throughout the days of their life on earth, and thereafter, in heaven to eternity.
The rational mind is regenerated from top down. First, the natural-rational mind, through one’s knowledge and love for Sacred Scripture. Second, the sensuous mind, through self-witnessing one’s threefold self (see Chapter xx). Finally, the corporeal mind, through physical disciplines performed for the sake of regeneration or character reformation (see Volume 3 of A Man of the Field:
When the natural mind is being regenerated at these three levels, there is a new physiological formation within the natural mind that becomes operational. This new portion is more interior than the natural-rational operations of the mind, which means that it is capable of higher consciousness available to our awareness. This superior interior portion of the natural mind is called the “spiritual-natural” and also the “interior-natural.” These refer to the level of our consciousness or ability to understand and see scientific facts about God and human development. This superior understanding requires an enlightened state, which is a mental state resulting from our reception of spiritual light in the interior-natural organ of the natural mind. IN this state of enlightenment we become capable of communicating with the angelic spirits of the First Heaven. We have spiritual perception while still on earth.
With this new organ developing in the interior of our natural mind, we become capable of perceiving ever more interior degrees of meaning within Divine Speech. The deeper we can understand Sacred Scripture the higher our perception of scientific truths about our mental development or regeneration. The higher our conscious awareness of these interior truths, the more we can be regenerated, and the higher the state of life that we enter and develop further in eternity.
There is an orderly and lawful process by which this new spiritual organ develops within our natural mind and conscious awareness. First, we acquire understanding and perception similar to the level of thinking and feeling of the angelic spirits in the First Heaven. Their consciousness is within the spiritual-natural degree of operation, and this is the level we can first become conscious of.
As we progress in regeneration or character reformation, the interior-natural organ develops a more interior level of operation equivalent to the angelic spirits of the Second Heaven. This level of our understanding is far above that of our first phase of enlightenment, called the First Heaven. Now we use in our thinking spiritual-rational correspondences, not merely natural-rational as before.
Finally, we progress to the third degree of spiritual consciousness, equivalent to that of the Third Heaven. The interior-natural organ is now fully developed and we are able to perceive and understand celestial-rational correspondences of Divine Speech. We have the wisdom and power of perception of angels on earth.
It is this kind of developmental facts that this passage refer to, along with their earlier references, the content of which I am filling with my commentaries.
Continuing with the Chapter analysis:
 Hence then anyone may infer what truth there is in the idea that men are saved if they only think from a kind of interior emotion that the Lord suffered for them, and took away their sins, however they may have lived; whereas the light of heaven from the Lord's Divine Human cannot reach to any but those who live in the good of faith, that is, in charity; or what is the same, those who have conscience. The very plane into which that light can operate, or the receptacle of that light, is the good of faith, or charity, and thus conscience. (That the spiritual have salvation from the Lord's Divine Human, may be seen above, n. 1043, 2661, 2716, 2718.) (AC 2776). (…)
This passage illumines the current (2004) controversy and
popularity of Mel Gibson’s move The
Passion which, according to commentators, is a faithful rendition of the
last 12 hours of the life of Jesus according to the Gospels of the New
Testament. The movie has broken all attendance records in the history of
movies, both in the
All of this emotion and religious fervor is based on the belief that it is Jesus’ extreme suffering and sacrifice on the cross to which they owe their salvation and future life in heaven. It is thought that Jesus takes away their sins through His sacrifice for them and the whole human race. And the more they can identify and empathize with the pain Jesus endured, the more they feel that their faith strengthened and renewed. The movie of Jesus’ crucifixion plays up the gory violent details of blood and bone breaking. It’s as if the director wanted to express his strong faith by using his best talents to show up the blood and gore, to make sure the audience can sufficiently identify with it or be moved by it. This emotional response is what people interpret as their faith being strengthened.
The above passage (written around 1745), refers to this
belief system as “the idea that men are saved if they only think from a kind of
interior emotion that the Lord suffered for them, and took away their sins,
however they may have lived.” This belief system was common among the Lutherans
The passage above states that we cannot be saved vicariously by Jesus “however they may have lived.” If this were possible, the Divine Human would instantly save every human being. Why would He not? If there are unsaved people, that is, people who sink into hell in the afterlife, it’s because God could not prevent such a terrible fate for them. The passage explains what constitutes being saved. They are saved “who live in the good of faith, that is, in charity; or what is the same, those who have conscience “ It explains that heaven in eternity is located within that state of conscience.
The merit of Jesus cannot be attributed to anyone—unless the individual lives a life of conscience. This is why Jesus says so often in the New Testament “Follow Me,” by which He means “Do my Commandments,” which He specified globally as “Love Me” and “Love your neighbor,” by which He means, lead a life of conscience and develop your skills so that you can be useful to others and society. This is what saves. And to accomplish this, the individual must be helped by Jesus, the Divine Human, must appeal to Him, for no one has power on their own, not even to overcome a single temptation.
Left to our power and our own devices we would not regenerate from within but only from without, so that within we remain with our evil tendencies and affections. Upon the second death, these hellish loves and falsities finally come out, and pull us down to the hell in our mind. The only way to be saved is to be change one’s character through conscience and reliance on the truths of Sacred Scripture.
Continuing with the Chapter analysis:
“And went unto the place of which God told him.” That this signifies His state at that time according to perception, is evident from the signification of "place," as being state (see n. 1273-1277, 1376-1381, 2625); and from the signification of "God saying," as being to perceive from the Divine (n. 2769, 2778). As regards the state itself, it is described in this verse, that is, the state which the Lord assumed when He underwent temptations, and here that which He assumed when He underwent the most grievous and inmost temptations. His first preparation for that state was that He entered into a state of peace and innocence, and that He prepared the natural man in Himself, as also the rational, so that they should serve the Divine rational, and that He adjoined the merit of righteousness, and in this manner elevated Himself.
These things cannot be explained at all to the comprehension, or be presented to the idea, of anyone who does not know that many states exist together, and these distinct from one another; and who does not also know what a state of peace and innocence is, what the natural man is, what the rational man, and also what the merit of righteousness is; for he must first have a distinct idea of all these, and must also know that the Lord from His Divine could induce upon Himself whatever states He pleased, and that He prepared Himself for temptations by inducing many states. Although these things are in obscurity as of night with men, they are nevertheless in clearness as of day with the angels, who being in the light of heaven from the Lord, see in these and similar things innumerable things distinctly, and from the affection flowing in at the time perceive ineffable joy. Hence it is evident how far human understanding and perception fall short of angelic understanding and perception. (AC 2786).
Note the scientific meaning of “place” in Divine Speech, namely mental state. Sacred Scripture frequently mentions a place in the historical narrative and in poetic visions. This shows that God is frequently discussing the topic of mental states, and this is because the purpose of Sacred Scripture is to elevate our understanding from the natural to the spiritual, so that from the spiritual we could reorder the natural mind from its inherited state of disorder to a new arrangement of order as defined for us by our Creator for the sake of our salvation. Salvation refers to the acquisition of a heavenly character that God can keep in maximum happiness to eternity.
The passage above says that “He prepared the natural man in Himself, as also the rational, so that they should serve the Divine rational.” In other words, God Himself was in charge of the mental development of the Divine Child, God’s own Incarnation or appearance in the physical world. God is present everywhere, as is well known, but it is not widely known yet that God is present everywhere in space but apart from space. The infinite God cannot be limited to physical space, which is His creation. Neither can the infinite be divided but is always the same as one. The only rational scientific answer is that God is present equally in all space but apart from space. God is one, and there is no pluralism about His Presence and Identity as the Divine Supreme Person. God does not appear in multiple places to many people, for this would be a division of Himself into many parts, and that is not rationally possible for the infinite Being. Instead, God is present equally with every created object or mind, not in the created structure itself, but apart from it, or underlying its inmost framework.
This underlying inmost framework is not in space because it is spiritual, and the spiritual is not in space. Nor is the mental in space since the mental and the spiritual form a one. For the same reason God cannot in the minds or souls of people in the sense that this is accepted in some Eastern philosophies and belief systems. We cannot rightly say, “the God in me greets the God in you,” since God is not in me and not in you. No part of me is part of God. Instead God is said to “dwell” in me, or to dwell in the soul of every human being. This means that God dwells in me but apart from me. In other words, God and I can be co-present. Or, God and I can be adjoined to each other, but never “conjoined,” meaning an overlap or sharing of parts.
In the entire explication of Genesis Chapter 22 it is being shown how God-Man as a Child on this earth, made Himself go through developmental mental states as He transformed his inherited and evil natural mind by struggling with the falsities of the hells that kept people captive to them. Having created these new mental pathways or truths, the Incarnate God-Man brought salvation to the human race, meaning, that any individuals who wanted to could now transform their inherited evil natural mind into a heavenly mind that can live there to eternity. In this passage we are told that it is God who prepares us for the temptations we must undergo in order to become aware of our falsities and evils, so that seeing them in us, we may reject them as no longer of us.
We need the right kind of thoughts and feelings to accomplish this. God supplies the right kind of temptation at the right time when we are in a state of mind in which we can accept His fighting for us against the hells. We cannot fight on our own for we cannot resist the hells. We must therefore acknowledge that the Divine Human fights for us just as He fought for Himself when He subdued the hells by the new mental truths He revealed to Himself from His Divine.
Every human being anywhere can now obtain salvation for heaven by mentally stepping through the pathways established by the Incarnate God during His life on this earth. These pathways have been revealed in scientific terms through the revelations in the Writings of Swedenborg. We are analyzing here portions a few Numbers in Arcana Coelestia, one of the works of the Writings, a portion that extracts the scientific sense of Chapter 22 of Genesis in the Old Testament. The passage above that “many states exist together, and these distinct from one another” and that we need to know “what a state of peace and innocence is, what the natural man is, what the rational man, and also … that the Lord from His Divine could induce upon Himself whatever states He pleased, and that He prepared Himself for temptations by inducing many states.”
Continuing with the analysis:
“On the third day.” That this signifies completeness, and the beginning of sanctification, is evident from the signification of the "third day." "Day" in the Word signifies state (n. 23, 487, 488, 493, 893); as also does "year," and in general all periods of time; as an "hour," a "day," a "week," a "month," a "year," an "age;" as also "morning," "noon," "evening," and "night;" and "spring," "summer," "autumn," and "winter;" and when "third" is added to these, they signify the end of that state, and at the same time the beginning of the following state. As the Lord's sanctification is here treated of, which was effected by temptations, the "third day" signifies completeness, and at the same time the beginning of sanctification, as also follows from what has been already said.
The reason of this signification is that when the Lord had fulfilled all things He would rise again on the third day; for the things that were done, or that would be done by the Lord when He lived in the world, were in the representatives of the church as if already done (as also they were in the internal sense of the Word); for in God to be and to become are the same; indeed all eternity is present to Him. (AC 2788)
Here we find out that when considering their scientific meaning, words in Sacred Scripture relating to time and period, like day, year, age, winter, morning, night, etc., refer to the variety of specific mental states we undergo in regeneration or spiritual development. “On the third day” refers to a mental state that completes a particular phase of development, given that the number 3 in the Word always refers to that which is complete or completed.
The passage reveals that when God-Man suffered Himself to be crucified, He did this on account of its spiritual correspondence, in accord with what was written about Him in various Old Testament passages. And also, because everything God does is for the entire human race for all times. His Speech is therefore by correspondences, as explained above, and also His specific actions, like arranging for His Own Crucifixion and suffering Himself to carry it through. It was after all He Himself who gave the idea and the power to those men to do this to Him. Hence the act of Resurrection on the third day after His burial.
The Glorified Physical Body that He made to arise from the tomb was completely pure and untainted by the former inherited deficiencies and tendencies to evil. IN fact, we are told that the risen Natural Body was made one with the Divine so that it could now be called the Divine Natural Body of the Divine Human. This Divine Natural Body can be seen in the Spiritual Sun, which is a hot aura of Love and Wisdom around this Body and emanating from it in infinite quantity.
Continuing with the Chapter, here, regarding the scientific meaning of the number 3 throughout samples of Holy Scripture:
 Hence the number
"three" was representative, not only in the
Let us return unto Jehovah, for He hath wounded, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up; after two days He will revive us, on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live before Him (Hos. 6:1-2);
Jesus said to the Jews, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. He spake of the temple of His body (John -21; Matt. 26:61; Mark ; ).
 When they came into the land of Canaan the fruit was to be uncircumcised three years, and was not to be eaten (Lev. 19:23).
At the end of three years they were to bring all the tithes of their increase in that year and lay it up in their gates, that the Levite, the sojourner, the orphan, and the widow might eat (Deut. -29; 24:12).
David was to choose one of three things: seven years of famine in the land; or that he should flee before his enemies three months; or a pestilence in the land three days (2 Sam. 24:12-13).
So in the following passages:
Peter denied Jesus thrice (Matt. 26:34, 69 and following verses).
The Lord said to Peter three times, "Lovest thou Me?" (John 21:17).
Also in the parable, the man who planted the vineyard sent servants three times, and at length his son (Luke ; Mark 12:2, 4-6).
They who labored in the vineyard were hired at the third hour, the sixth hour, the ninth hour, and the eleventh hour (Matt. 20:1-17).
Because the fig tree did not bear fruit for three years, it was to be cut down (Luke 13:6, 7). (…) (AC 2788)
I’m only presenting a small sample here to indicate that Swedenborg was painstakingly careful in proving the scientific sense of some word by showing how it had the same sense in all other passages in Sacred Scripture, even though they were written by different people at vastly different epochs.
Continuing with the Chapter analysis, we are given a lot more details about the progressive development of His mental states, the same mental states we must go through, by “following Him” or stepping through the footsteps and pathways He created.
“And will come again to you.” That this signifies conjunction afterwards, is also evident without explication. As the Lord's most grievous and inmost temptations are treated of in this chapter, all the states that He assumed when He underwent these temptations are described. The first state is described in the third verse, the second state in this verse, the third state in the verse next following, and the rest afterwards.
But these states cannot be expounded to the common apprehension unless many things are first known, not only respecting the Lord's Divine, as here represented by Abraham, but also respecting His Divine Human as represented by Isaac, and respecting the state of this rational when He engaged in and underwent the combats of temptation (this being the "boy"); and also what and of what quality the former rational was, and also the natural which it had; and likewise what the state was when the one was adjoined to the other, and what the state was when they were more or less separated.
Moreover many things concerning temptations must be known, as what exterior and interior temptations are, and hence what were the inmost and most grievous temptations the Lord had, and which are treated of in this chapter. So long as these things are unknown, the things contained in this verse cannot possibly be described to the comprehension; and if they should be described, even most clearly, they would still appear obscure. To the angels, who are in the light of heaven from the Lord, all these things are manifest and clear, indeed blessed, because they are most heavenly.
 Here we will merely say that the Lord could not be tempted at all when He was in the Divine Itself, for the Divine is infinitely above all temptation; but He could be tempted as to His human. This is the reason why when He was to undergo the most grievous and inmost temptations, He adjoined to Himself the prior human, that is, the rational and the natural of it, as described in verse 3; and why He afterwards separated Himself from these, as is said in this verse; but nevertheless retaining something by means of which He could be tempted; which is the reason why it is not here said, "Isaac my son," but "the boy," by whom is meant the Divine rational in such a state, namely, in a state of truth, prepared for the most grievous and inmost combats of temptations (see n. 2793).
That neither the Divine Itself nor the Divine Human could be tempted, must be evident to everyone simply from the fact that not even the angels can approach the Divine, much less the spirits who induce temptations, and still less the hells. Hence it is manifest why the Lord came into the world, and put on the human state itself with its infirmity; for thus He could be tempted as to the human, and by means of the temptations subjugate the hells, and reduce each and all things to obedience and into order, and save the human race which had removed itself so far away from the supreme Divine. (AC 2795)
The passage above explains further what I have already discussed in my commentaries above.
Continuing with the next selection (remember that I’m skipping and sampling):
As regards the putting on of the various states by the Lord which is here treated of, they cannot but be unknown to man, because he never reflects on his changes of state; which are nevertheless going on continually, both as to what is of the understanding or the thoughts, and as to what is of the will or the affections. The reason of his not reflecting upon them is that he believes that all things in him follow in natural order, and that there is nothing higher which directs; whereas the case is that all things are disposed by means of the spirits and angels with him; and all his states and changes of states are therefrom, and are thus to eternity directed by the Lord to ends which the Lord alone foresees.
That the reality is so, has become most fully known to me now by the experience of many years. It has also been given to know and observe what spirits and angels were with me, and what states they induced; and this I can solemnly assert-that all states, even to the least particulars, come from this source and are thereby directed by the Lord. It has also been given to know and observe that in every state there are a great many others, which do not appear, and which together appear as one general state; and that these states are disposed in relation to the states which follow in order in their series. With a man these things are done by the Lord; but with the Lord Himself, when He lived in the world, they were done by Himself; because He was Divine, and the very being of His life was Jehovah. (AC 2796)
In the above passage are stated in summary form many amazing scientific revelations about the operation and development of the human mind. You can see in this passage several key principles in theistic psychology discussed frequently in this book. Let’s list them in the order they appear in the passage above:
1. As individuals grow their mind goes through a series of phases, just as the physical body goes through visible maturation steps. Each phase consists of a series of developmental mental states and there is never a time when this flow of states ceases.
2. God is in charge of the operation of this series with every individual from the moment of birth to eternity. The series could not proceed without God’s immediate involvement, moderating one step and preparing the next step in advance by adjusting the current step, and so on.
3. The series of developmental steps brought on by God moment by moment can be monitored by the individual through “reflection” or spiritual self-witnessing (see Chapter xx). People don’t do this ordinarily because they are in the negative bias mode of living their daily lives, even if they have an active religious life in the community. Spiritual self-witnessing is to monitor and evaluate the sequence of mental states in any specific situation or task activity. It is thus a spiritual discipline in the service of our regeneration efforts (see Volume 3 of A Man of the Field www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/volume3-nonduality.html
4. The negative bias mode of living is to operate on the assumption that “there is nothing higher which directs.” Theistic psychology is based on the positive bias assumption, which is that “all things are disposed by means of the spirits and angels with him; and all his states and changes of states are therefrom.” This is discussed in theistic psychology under the topic of the “vertical community” (see Chapter xx).
5. The vertical community refers to the fact that, as stated in points 3 and 4, every developmental step in our mental operations is managed closely by God, not immediately, but immediately, “by means of the spirits and angels with him.” This is the vertical community to which every human mind on earth is connected and without which we would have absolutely no mental activity. God always follows this principle of mediate action, which is His method for maintaining the total networking of the human race, so that whatever happens to one individual anywhere affects in some way every other individual anywhere. What a stupendous concept! And how grand! It has been revealed that to God the entire human race appears as one (see Chapter xx).
6. But the operation of the vertical community is more specific than this universal networking effect. God connects us and reconnects us, moment by moment, to different “spirits and angels” that make up our vertical community at any one moment. God uses these more direct and specific influences as a Divine Therapist who lovingly and wisely manages our regeneration needs—what things we need to become aware of when, or, what kind of experience we need to be prepared for the next phase.
7. Swedenborg confirms these revelations about the vertical community by careful scientific observations extended over a period of several years on a daily basis. Through his unique dual consciousness, he was able to see the spirits and angels in his own vertical community, who they were, what their character was, and how often they were exchanged for different spirits and angels. “Spirits” is the name used for people who pass into the afterlife and are resuscitated a few hours later in the world of spirits. “Angels” is the name used for people who enter the afterlife, and shortly thereafter, are elevated to their heavens.
8. The character of the spirits and angels in our vertical community determines our mental state. Our mental states are “induced” by our vertical community. For instance, suppose you are standing in your bathroom flossing your teeth. God has to bring certain spirits and angels into your vertical community to allow you to perform the flossing activity. Our freedom of choice is maintained in every detail by balancing the vertical community to include good spirits and evil spirits. For instance, when I floss, I experience many kinds of celestial temptations that challenge my love for doing a good job at flossing. I have to overcome the impulse to hurry and skip parts. Many issues like this arise during the daily routine that takes about three minutes. How to hold the floss for most effectiveness. How to curl it and uncurl it so the circulation in the finger isn’t cut off. How to be efficient and not use up more floss than is necessary. And other temptations and resolutions (see Chapter xx). God manages every little detail of my mental states during flossing. And the management method involves the vertical community.
9. The organization of mental states is hierarchical (“in order in their series”), like the top down syntactic construction of a sentence when we talk. During self-witnessing we can confirm this organization or “series.” At first many mental operations appear as one undifferentiated whole, as when we try to describe flossing prior to self-witnessing. We can hardly mention a few things about it. But after some self-witnessing effort we can mention hundreds of things about it. The passage tells us that “in every state there are a great many others, which do not appear, and which together appear as one general state.”
Continuing with the next paragraph of the passage:
 The changes of state with man as to what is of the understanding and as to what is of the will, and the order in which they follow on, as also the series through which they pass, and thus how they are bent by the Lord as far as possible to good, it belongs to the angels to know.
The wisdom of the angels is such that they perceive all these things most minutely. Hence it is that these things which are revealed in the internal sense concerning the changes of state with the Lord, are clearly and distinctly perceivable by the angels, because they are in the light of heaven from the Lord; and they are also in some degree intelligible to a man who lives in simple good; but they are merely obscure and as nothing to those who are in evil, and also to those who are in the deliriums of wisdom; for these have obscured and extinguished their natural and rational light by many things which have induced darkness, however much they may believe that they are preeminently in light. (AC 2796)
The above passage reveals an important and special feature of theistic psychology. It is stated that when our consciousness and character is raised to the celestial level of our mind (“the wisdom of angels”), we gain the capacity to observe our mental operations in great detail. It is like the people who train themselves in linguistic analysis and are able to recognize in their mind the syntactic hierarchy that generates the sentence they are hearing. Or it is like expert chess players who are able to look at a position on the board and recognize in it a pattern of relations with which they are very familiar and can instantly reproduce from memory. In our angelic mind we can recognize the details of where we are in a series of our mental operations.
Even more startling is the revelation here that the clarity with which we can be aware of our mental operations depends on the progress we’ve made in our regeneration. While we are undergoing mental states that are evil in thoughts and feelings, we are unable to accurately observe ourselves. As we move on to heavenly or good traits, we become progressively more conscious of the details of our thoughts and feelings. This serves our spiritual development, since regeneration involves becoming more and more aware of the details of our thoughts and feelings, so that we may modify them appropriately.
Continuing with the next selection:
“To slay his son.” That this signifies until whatever was from the merely human was dead, is evident from the internal sense of these words; for they signify the Lord's most grievous and inmost temptations, the last of which was that of the cross, in which it is evident that what was merely human also died. This could not be represented by Abraham's son or Isaac, because to sacrifice sons was an abomination; but it was represented so far as it could be, namely, even to the attempt, but not to the act. Hence it is evident that by these words, "Abraham took the knife to slay his son," is signified until all that was merely human was dead. ). (AC 2819)
Note the assertion that human sacrifice is an abomination, and yet Abraham was planning to sacrifice his son because it seemed to him that God was commanding him to do so. The fact is that God abhors all sacrifices, as indicated in several places in the Old Testament as for instance:
Thou delightest not in sacrifice, that I should give it; burnt-offering Thou dost not accept. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit (Ps. 51:16-17).(see AC 2180)
The Writings reveal that sacrifices were not commanded but
permitted by God because the people of the Old Testament insisted on a worship
based in animal sacrifices, and had God not permitted this, they would not have
accepted the religion from Moses. In consequence, God gave them strict rules on
the procedures and rituals for carrying out sacrifices, as we can read in the
book of Leviticus in the Old Testament. The dimensions and construction
materials of the
Every single detail of size, material, color, or ritual act, was commanded because they were all natural correspondences to spiritual meanings or realities. The inhabitants of the heavens were closely involved with these details since Sacred Scripture or Divine Speech originates from God and then filters down through the three heavens to the natural mind and hence to a written record in a natural language.
All sacrifices were natural events or rituals that represented by correspondence some detail about the Divine-Man’s life and work on earth. These representations were endowed with Divine power. The Divine power within the representative acts and meanings caused a “conjunction” to occur between “heaven and earth.” In other words, the minds of the people who worshiped with these representatives were affected, and so were the physical events around them, like the weather, the crops, the fertility, the national unity, the international peace. Had these representative worship rituals not been permitted to them the connection between heaven and earth would have been disturbed and rendered less effective and beneficial. The worship rituals had to be spiritually representative otherwise they would not have involved the people in the spiritual world and thus the contact between heaven and earth would be broken.
In the scientific sense “to slay his son” (in the passage above) refers to the slaying of the Lamb of God or Jesus on the Cross. By this Divine act—dying on the cross—“ what was merely human also died.” To the disciples and angels who did not want Jesus to die, Jesus said that He must die. Why must He? Is He not the omnipotent God? The answer is that He is the omnipotent and He could have not done this to Himself, but He chose to do it because this is what was foretold in Divine Speech for many centuries. Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Word of the Old Testament, referring thereby to the fact, not known to anyone on earth, that every detail of the sacrifices represented something about the Work He came to earth to accomplish, and this Work was to struggle with the hells and subdue them by means of the new truths His natural mind fashioned, as discussed several times above. “Hence it is evident that by these words, ‘Abraham took the knife to slay his son,’ is signified until all that was merely human was dead.” ). (AC 2819)
Continuing with the next passage:
 That it was known from the most
ancient time that the Lord was to come into the world, and was to suffer death,
is evident from the fact that the custom prevailed among the Gentiles of
sacrificing their sons, believing that they were thus purified, and propitiated
to God; in which abominable custom they could not have placed their most
important religious observance, unless they had learned from the ancients that
the Son of God was to come, who would, as they believed, be made a sacrifice.
To this abomination even the sons of
Once again it is stated in the passage above that sacrifices were not God’s choice but the people’s choice to which God agreed under strict conditions. The idea that we are saved by the sacrifice of the Son of God on the cross is an idea that has remained intense and rooted in for many centuries in the Catholic and Protestant religions. It is not surprising therefore that this topic is treated of so often and in such detail in the Writings, which are the revelations of the Second Coming, and thus revealing all the hidden secrets about the representative nature of the Jewish sacrifices.
As pointed above, the current intense reaction to the movie The Passion (of Christ) demonstrates that this idea is still operational in the psyche of Christians as a whole. If you listen to Sunday sermons in Church or on TV from any Christian denomination you will note once again that the death of Jesus on the cross is made the centerpiece of the religion and worship. Hence it is extremely important for people to discover what the Writings reveal regarding sacrifices and salvation.
Continuing with the next sample, which lists references to prior Numbers where these points were demonstrated in detail:
That the evils and falsities in a man who is being regenerated are subdued by temptations, not abolished (n. 868): That truth has the first place in combat (n. 1685): That man combats from the goods and truths which he has acquired by knowledges, though they be not in themselves goods and truths (n. 1661): That evil spirits and genii excite the falsities and evils in a man, and hence come temptations (n. 741, 751, 761).
That in temptations man thinks that the Lord is absent, whereas He is then more present (n. 840): That man can by no means sustain the combats of temptations of himself, because they are against all the hells (n. 1692 at the end): That the Lord alone combats in man (n. 1661, 1692): That by means of temptations evil genii and spirits are deprived of the power of doing evil and inspiring falsity in man (n. 1695, 1717): That temptations come with those who have conscience, and more acute ones with those who have perception (n. 1668): That temptations rarely exist at this day, but in their place anxieties, which are of another character and from another source (n. 762): (AC 2819)
Sacrifices represent atonement of sins, meaning that God forgives us, that we are therefore purified of the sins, and now continue life in peace and safety. When God-Man incarnated, He taught the people that sacrifices represent Him, and that now that He has incarnated, no more sacrifices are to be performed. Instead, a new method for the forgiveness of sins has been initiated for the human race. This new method is internal, not external. In other words, it is mental or spiritual, not natural and physical. The human race now is able to be liberated from the grip of the hells that make us sin. This new method consists in character reformation, which to be successful, requires that we step through the mental paths created by Jesus when alive on earth. This means thinking the new truths and feeling the new feelings that the God-Man created for the human race.
You can see rationally that the new method is the only method, and that the prior method of sacrificing did not work except for the earthly benefits. The people arriving into the afterlife were not able to enter heaven no matter how much they sacrificed and were benefited by it on earth. This is because they merely expected their hellish traits to be forgiven, not to be taken away. People kept sinning after the sacrifices, necessitating the continue practice of sacrifices all one’s life on earth. But thereafter, the sacrificing was of no use because in the afterlife the inner character takes over by necessity of spiritual law. They were then instructed about what they really need to do, but to no avail. They were unwilling, for the most part, to undergo character reformation in the spiritual world. Hence they sunk down into the hells of their minds, regardless of the sacrifices they performed.
In the passage above we are informed once more that the only way one can be saved is by character change, and the only way we can reject our hellish traits is by temptations. As indicated in earlier discussion, temptations are brought on by specific experiences arranged and timed for every person by God. God fights for the person and overcomes, not the person through one’s own power. We cannot glory in the victory of overcoming temptations because it is accomplished By the Divine Human, not by us. Yet we must agree and cooperate. Temptations are not brought to anyone who will not agree and cooperate with God, which we do either through our knowledge of Sacred Scripture, or through our conscience, or both.
Temptations are mental struggles or “combats from the goods and truths which one has acquired by knowledges.” We cannot undergo temptations until we either know some Divine truth from revelation, or we have a direct intuitive perception from our inborn conscience that something is evil or good. The knowledge or perception of what is good or evil must precede the temptation. For instance, in natural temptations, we must have knowledge of the physical dangers we run if we do not overcome and do the right thing, like flossing regularly or staying honest on the job. In spiritual temptations, we must have knowledge of heaven and hell, of God’s Commandments, and the danger we run if we do not overcome and cling to the truths of our faith or theistic science. In celestial temptations, we must have knowledge of our loves, of how they affect others as well as ourselves, and the dangers we run if we do not overcome and cling to the love of God and the love others.
Continuing with the next passage, which lists more references where temptations were discussed in earlier Numbers:
That men spiritually dead cannot sustain the combats of temptations (n. 270): That all temptations are attended with despair respecting the end (n. 1787, 1820): That after temptations there is fluctuation (n. 848, 857): That the good learn by temptations that they are nothing but evil, and that all things are of mercy (n. 2334): That by temptations goods are conjoined more closely with truths (n. 2272): That men are not saved by temptations if they yield in them, nor if they think that they have merited by them (n. 2273): That in every temptation there is freedom, and stronger than out of temptations (n. 1937). (AC 2819)
Note that undergoing temptations is an orderly and scientific process that goes through specific steps to which we must adapt appropriately or else the temptation is rendered ineffective for spiritual development or character reformation. One of the consequences of temptations is to discover that we “are nothing but evil.” In other words, by inheritance we acquire such a vast number of evil traits and tendencies, that we are filled with evil impulses all the time, even when on the surface we appear to be good and decent. But this is only a surface put on as the temptation demonstrates to us.
The above passage explains that “by temptations goods are conjoined more closely with truths.” This is why temptations require that we already have some knowledge about physical dangers of risk, spiritual dangers of truth, and celestial dangers of love. We have spiritual truths, but instead of spiritual goods we have spiritual evils. The temptation process contains and restricts the evil and replaces it with good, which is conjoined to the truth we already have. Regeneration is therefore the process by which God attaches goods to the truths we have acquired from moral teachings and Sacred Scripture. Now we can act from love by means of truth, which is what constitutes heaven.
Continuing with the next sample:
“Behind, caught in a thicket.” That this signifies entangled in natural knowledge, is evident from the signification of being "caught," as here being entangled; and from the signification of a "thicket" or "tangle" as being memory-knowledge-explained in what follows. That the spiritual are held entangled in natural knowledge in regard to the truths of faith, is as follows. The spiritual have not perception of good and truth, as the celestial have, but instead of it conscience formed from the goods and truths of faith which they have imbibed from infancy from their parents and masters, and afterwards from the doctrine of faith into which they were born. They who have no perception of good and truth have to be confirmed by knowledges.
Everyone forms for himself some idea respecting the things he has learned, and also respecting the goods and truths of faith; for without an idea, nothing remains in the memory otherwise than as an empty thing. Confirmatory things are added thereto, and fill up the idea of the thing, from other knowledges, even from memory-knowledges. The confirmation of the idea itself by many things causes not only that it sticks in the memory, so that it can be called forth into the thought, but also that faith can be insinuated into it. (AC 2831)
This passage gives us the scientific meaning of “tangled” and “thicket” which refer to plants, bushes, and vines. Throughout the text of Sacred Scripture references to vegetation signify things about the cognitive organ of the mind, while animals signify things about the affective organ of the mind. The thickets, and tangles of vines and branches are natural correspondences to conceptual hierarchies and taxonomies.
For example, if you’re familiar with the logical classification system known as Roget’s Thesaurus you will recognize how the meaning relations reach across semantic categories, like intertwining branches. The reason branches and vines grow in this fashion is because they correspond to mental properties, in this case cognitive structures that overlap in meaning. Few people knew of this connection between plants and the cognitive mind until it was revealed in the Writings of Swedenborg.
Different types of branches or vines correspond to different features of the cognitive networks we all have in the mind and memory structures. “Thicket” represents “memory-knowledge” which designates whatever we have acquired externally by experience and are stored representatively in the cognitive organ. The reason this is being discussed here is that our Fallen race is materialistic and monist in terms of memory-knowledges we acquire in our daily life on earth. All our memories come from what we experience through the senses in the external physical world.
It is stated in the above passage that “the spiritual have not perception of good and truth, as the celestial have, but instead of it conscience formed from the goods and truths of faith which they have imbibed from infancy from their parents and masters.” We are being referred to as “the spiritual” in contrast to the “celestial” race that existed prior to the Fall. The split-brain race that came into existence after that original race, did not have dual consciousness. The only source for their knowledge of good and evil came from a “conscience” formed by “the goods and truths of faith” we acquire through our socialization process. As a result, we are “held entangled in natural knowledge in regard to the truths of faith.” In other words, our semantic categories about the world and reality, and specifically our ideas about God and the afterlife (“truths of faith”), are “entangled” in natural categories that ignore the spiritual categories from which they originate and to which they are connected by the laws correspondence. We need to know and recognize this prior to opting for the positive bias perspective on science and reality.
Continuing with the passage, which will give us further details about the anatomy of our mind and how it functions, specifically regarding the three types of perception through which we raise our consciousness and develop spiritually:
 As regards perception in
general, since few know what perception is, this must be declared. There is
perception of what is good and true in celestial and spiritual things; there is
perception of what is just and equitable in civil life; and there is perception
of what is honorable in moral life. As regards the perception of what is good
and true in celestial and spiritual things, the interior angels have this
perception from the Lord, the men of the
Spiritual men, however, have no such perception of good and truth in celestial and spiritual things, but instead of it have conscience which dictates; but as before said, this conscience is formed from the knowledges of good and truth which they have imbibed from their parents and masters, and afterwards from their own study in doctrine and in the Word; and in these, even though not entirely good and true, they put their faith. Hence it is that men can have conscience from any doctrine whatever; even the Gentiles have something not unlike conscience from their religion.
According to this passage, the three types of perceptual operations are as follows:
(a) perception of what is good and true spiritually
(b) perception of what is just and equitable in public behavior
(c) perception of what is honorable and moral in personal behavior
The perception what is good and true spiritually is a capacity of our celestial mind. The most earliest generations on this earth had that kind of perception since they were conscious in both worlds, as Swedenborg was. When we enter our heaven following the second death, we are in our celestial mind, either the highest portion of it called the “Third Heaven” or the lowest called the “First Heaven.” However, note carefully that it says that those of us “who are in love to the Lord, have it.” This is very encouraging indeed. It means that there is a special organ within the natural mind that can give us this celestial perception.
As explained above in one of my comments, the natural mind has the capacity of containing a spiritual organ that can replicate in a representative way the higher order mental operations taking place in the unconscious spiritual and celestial mind. This spiritual-natural organ gives us full conscious awareness of spiritual truths and goods by means of higher order correspondences (see Volume 2 of A Man of the Field:
The development and operationalization of the spiritual-natural organ is dependent on our regeneration or character reformation efforts. These efforts must be motivated by love for the Divine Human and the knowledge that our heaven is within the Divine Human’s Rational Mind. To the extent that we can align our rational mind to the Divine Rational Mind, to that extent we gain perception of spiritual truths and celestial goods, right here on earth, in full consciousness and awareness. We are then in a state of spiritual enlightenment.
The passage above also informs us that conscience gives us intuitive perception of what is good and true spiritually, though this is imperfect in comparison to the rational perception of spiritual truths in our new spiritual-rational organ, just discussed. The imperfect nature of conscience comes from the fact that its content is mixed through socialization practices and religious belief systems, many of which are not spiritually true but can lead one to spiritual truths. These are called “mediate truths and goods.”
For example, the worship by sacrifice which was discussed above, was not in itself true and good, not something that actually prepared their character for life in heaven. But when the sacrificial worship, even if pagan, was taken sincerely, it contained the fear and worship of God. This was sufficient to establish for them a life of conscience. When they arrived in the afterlife, this life of conscience now formed the basis for their instruction in actual truths and goods, which they were then willing to accept. Thus they entered their heavens.
Here is what we are further told about conscience and the importance of spiritual self-witnessing:
 That the spiritual have no perception of the good and truth of faith, but say and believe that to be true which they have learned and apprehended, is sufficiently evident from the fact that everyone says that his own dogma is true, heretics more than others; and that they are not able to see the truth itself, still less to acknowledge it, although thousands of things should declare it.
Let everyone explore himself and see if he is able to perceive from any other source whether a thing is true; and if when a thing most true is made manifest to him he still does not fail to acknowledge it. As for example, one who makes faith the essential of salvation, and not love: even if all should be read before him which the Lord spoke concerning love and charity (see n. 2373), and if he should know from the Word that all the Law and the Prophets hang upon love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor, he will nevertheless remain in the idea of faith, and will say that this alone saves. It is otherwise with those who are in celestial and spiritual perception. (AC 2831)
Evidence is mentioned here showing that our spiritual race living by conscience evolves all sorts of belief systems (“faith”) that are contradictory to each other and fall into “dogma,” which refers to unscientific conclusions based on no evidence yet enforced on others. These contradictory and dogmatic variations of human conscience shows that conscience is not pure, like spiritual perception, but mixed up with socialized and ethnic belief systems. At this level of mental operations “they are not able to see the truth itself, still less to acknowledge it, although thousands of things should declare it.”
An example given elsewhere in the Writings is the dogma of “faith alone saves,” which is erroneously based on some things Paul says in the Epistles and which Luther elaborated on when establishing the intellectual basis of Protestantism. This dogma declares that since no one is capable of fulfilling “the Law” in Sacred Scripture, we cannot be saved by our actions, but must rely on blind faith in the saving power of the Blood of Christ who died for us. As a result, preachers and teachers tell the people that they are saved by this blind faith, even if they do not reform their character. This is because God no longer looks upon their sin, now that they are saved by the sacrifice of the Son of God on the cross.
The Writings show the many places in both the Old and New Testaments where it is declared, even by Paul, that we are not saved by a faith of rituals and declarations, but only by ceasing to sin and living a charitable life according the commandments, both in their letter and in their spirit. Hence it is said above that “they are not able to see the truth itself, still less to acknowledge it, although thousands of things should declare it.” The thousands of things that declare the truth are the many references in Sacred Scripture that warn us that only when we stop our evil thoughts and feelings can we enter heaven.
The passage above refers to those who “who make faith the essential of salvation, and not love,” which is another dogma frequently rejected in Sacred Scripture, including Paul in his Epistles. Even though the relevant passages in Holy Scripture are shown to them, they “nevertheless remain in the idea of faith, and will say that this alone saves,” and that “when a thing most true is made manifest to him they still do not fail to acknowledge it.” Such are the disadvantages of a conscience based on blind faith that ignores the sayings of Sacred Scripture in one place, and pick only those places that support the dogmatic beliefs.
Continuing with the passage, we receive more explanations on the nature of perception and its evolutionary origin:
 As regards the perception of what is just and equitable in civil life, however, those in the world who are rational have this, and also the perception of what is honorable in moral life. These two perceptions distinguish one man from another, but by no means do such men for this reason have the perception of the good and truth of faith, because this perception is higher or more internal, and flows in from the Lord through the inmost of the rational.
 The reason also why the spiritual have no perception of the good and truth of faith, is that good and truth are not implanted in their will part, as with celestial men, but in their intellectual part (see n. 863, 875, 927, 1023, 1043, 1044, 2256). Hence it is that the spiritual cannot arrive at the first degree of the light in which the celestial are (n. 2718), but have what is obscure in comparison (n. 1043, 2708 at the beginning, 2715). That the spiritual are entangled in natural memory-knowledge in respect to the truths of faith, follows from this. (AC 2831)
The perception of what is good and true in public and personal life comes from the development of the natural-rational mind. One does not have to belong to a religion in order to be a useful law abiding citizen and a moral neighbor. We learn to act rationally on the natural plane of life and society by suppressing our irrational and evil impulses. This suppression is not possible to maintain once the person is regenerating because these evils are brought out by the experiences of temptations. But those who do not suffer themselves to undergo regeneration arrive in the afterlife, as Swedenborg talked to some of them, and demand that be admitted to heaven since they had lived a useful and moral life. But when they are taken to their second death, which means that they are immersed in all their internal loves, the evil that was suppressed now feels liberated like a genie in a bottle, and they trot off to their hells.
This must be taken very seriously if you care about your eternal future. The Writings explain that we are able to be aware of our suppressed evils except by temptations, and these are brought to us only if we are prepared to fight and overcome, that is, are prepared to undergo a series of temptations for the sake of character reformation. As further explained in the following passage:
 The reason why in the Word memory-knowledges are called "thickets," is that they are comparatively of such a character, especially when the cupidities of the love of self and of the world, and the principles of falsity, seek for them. Celestial and spiritual love is that which disposes into order the knowledges which are of the exterior memory; and the love of self and of the world is that which perverts the order, and disturbs all things in it. These things the man does not take notice of, because he places order in perverted order, good in evil, and truth in falsity. On this account these things are in entanglement; and also on this, that the things of the exterior memory, where these knowledges are, compared with those in the interior memory, where rational things are, are as in a thicket, or as in a dark forest.
How shady, opaque, and dark it is there in comparison, a man cannot know so long as he is living in the body; for he then supposes that all wisdom and intelligence are from this source; but he will know in the other life, when he comes into the things of his interior memory. That in the exterior memory, which is proper to man while he is living in the world, nothing is less to be found than the light of intelligence and wisdom; but that all is relatively dark, disorderly, and entangled there, may be seen above (n. 2469-2494). (AC 2831)
A “thicket” represents the way our thinking gets entangled when we rely on our own self-made ideas about God and regeneration. We start with a love for evil and a resistance to character reformation that forces us to give up our evil delights and pet ideas. This is called the “cupidities of the love of self and of the world, and the principles of falsity” that support these evil loves. When we are in such a lost state, whatever we experience as delightful is called good and true. We completely lose the ability to distinguish between actual good and truth and actual evil and falsity that masquerades in our own eyes as good and truth.
The only way out of this terrible and dangerous life dilemma is to compel ourselves to learn spiritual truths from revelation and to order our natural mind so that it agrees with the revealed spiritual order. As soon as we are committed to doing this, God brings new knowledge by which we can fight our temptations and progress steadily in this regeneration path. The more we acquire rational consciousness from scientific revelations, the more we can disentangle the spider webs of false beliefs that keep our evils in place.
Continuing with the next passage, which gives us more detail about how we get entangled in the exclusively natural perspective, ignoring spiritual revelations:
“By his horns.” That this signifies with all power in regard to the truths of faith, is evident from the signification of "horns." "Horns" are mentioned in many places in the Word; and there signify the power of truth from good; and in the opposite sense the power of falsity from evil; here the meaning is that the spiritual who are signified by the "ram" are entangled in natural memory-knowledge with all their might in regard to truth, and hence that they are deprived of the power of perceiving truths. For the more anyone consults natural memory-knowledges, and sticks fast in them in his animus and mind in regard to the things which are truths of faith, the more does he lose the light of truth, and with the light, the life of truth.
Everyone may know this from experience, if he attends and reflects, from those who say that they can believe nothing unless they comprehend that it is so by means of the things of sense, or of memory-knowledge. If you explore their quality, you will find that they believe nothing; and moreover that nothing seems to them more wise than to ascribe everything to nature. There are many also who say that they believe although they do not comprehend; when nevertheless, in secret with themselves, they reason equally as others do from the things of sense and memory-knowledge concerning the truths of faith, as to whether a thing is so. These either have a kind of persuasion breathed in from the love of self and the world, or they do not believe at all. Their quality is manifest from their life. Both classes are indeed in the Lord's spiritual church, but they are not of the church.
They who are of the church are in a life of good, and have faith in truths; but the spiritual have faith in other truths besides those which have been impressed on them from infancy, and which they have afterwards confirmed to themselves from doctrine or from some other source. Such is the state of the spiritual, which state is here described by the "ram caught in the thicket by his horns" (see just above, n. 2831). (AC 2832)
In the passage above we find out that the scientific sense of “horns” refers to “the power of truth that is in faith.” In the Writings “faith” is used in two ways—blind faith and rational faith. Blind faith characterizes religion while rational faith characterizes theistic psychology. Both truths and falsified truths are referred to in Sacred Scripture by the horns of animals because horns represent the animals power to fight and defeat its enemies. Truths have power to defeat evils but falsities also have power to defeat goods. It all depends on how the person uses the truths or the falsities.
A ram’s horns represent the power of false beliefs to entangle us in the thicket of a natural life devoid of spiritual development. As it is said above, “The more anyone consults natural memory-knowledges, and sticks fast in them in his animus and mind in regard to the things which are truths of faith, the more does he lose the light of truth, and with the light, the life of truth.” Here, blind faith is being referred to, not rational faith which is based on an enlightened understanding from Divine scientific revelations.
The negative bias perspective is referred to in the above passage as “those who say that they can believe nothing unless they comprehend that it is so by means of the things of sense.” Materialism denies the spiritual because the spiritual is not perceivable by the physical senses. About those who think this way it is said that “nothing seems to them more wise than to ascribe everything to nature.” Thinking this way keeps them in irreality. But it is not only the materialist who falls into this mental trap. Those who have a religion of blind faith do not examine the logic of their belief system. They say they believe because it is faith and they do not have to understand its mysteries. They may belong to a religion but “they are not of the Church. Their quality is manifest from their life.”
For spiritual development we must go beyond the religious truths “which have been impressed on us from infancy.” We must examine the teachings of our religion and belief systems in the light of rationality and science, not atheistic science which denies Sacred Scripture, but theistic science which examines and scrutinizes Sacred Scripture for its scientific revelations.
Continuing with the next selection that discusses the role of faith and charity in our spiritual development, that is, the role of truth and love:
“In the mountain Jehovah will see.” That this signifies charity, by means of which it is provided by the Lord that they should be saved, namely, the spiritual, is evident from the signification of a "mountain," as being love and charity (see n. 795, 796, 1430). That "Jehovah will see" denotes the Lord's providence, or what is provided by the Lord, was said just above (n. 2837). Here charity is spoken of, and not love, on account of the difference between charity and love (see n. 2023). That the spiritual are saved by charity, and not by faith separate from charity, is evident from many passages in the Word. With charity and with faith the case is this: charity without faith is not genuine charity, and faith without charity is not faith.
That there may be charity, there must be faith; and that there may be faith, there must be charity; but the essential itself is charity; for in no other ground can the seed which is faith be implanted. From the conjunction of the two mutually and reciprocally is the heavenly marriage, that is, the Lord's kingdom. Unless faith is implanted in charity it is mere memory-knowledge; for it goes no further than the memory; there is no affection of the heart which receives it; but when it is implanted in charity, that is, in the life, it becomes intelligence and wisdom. Charity without faith, such as is with children and with upright Gentiles, is only ground in which faith is implanted-if not in the life of the body, still in the other life (see n. 1802, 2280, 2290-2309, 2419, 2589-2604). (AC 2839).
In the above passage it is stated that we (‘the spiritual”) are regenerated for heaven “by charity, and not by faith separate from charity.” This is known to everyone who is familiar with the teachings of the Old and New Testaments, namely that “charity without faith is not genuine charity, and faith without charity is not faith.” I hear this issue debated frequently on Christian radio broadcasts. People would call in the talk show presentation and ask about how do they know they are saved since they still feel like living in their old habits, and do. So they want to know if they are saved or not? The standard answer given is that they are saved as long as they were sincere in confessing their faith in Jesus, and that He died to save them form their sins. Then they are told that there is a process called “sanctification” by which the Holy Spirit leads them to show their faith in their life. Then they are told that that to live a life of faith means to go to Church, to seek fellowship with other Christians, and to confess their faith in Christ publicly to anyone who will listen. But is this really true?
The Writings show that it is not true. The life of true faith is not fellowship, Church attendance, and confession of religion, but charity, which is defined as changing how we think and act so that we do things for the sake of others, not just for the sake of self. As long as we are mean to people, or care more about our own comfort zone, we do not live a life of charity. For instance, in our work, we need to be honest and sincere, considering the uses we se serve and for which we are paid. Doing a good job and being useful to neighbors, family, and society—this is the life of charity that leads to salvation. Faith without this charity is useless for salvation, as witnessed by Swedenborg when he monitored what happens to people who arrive in the afterlife with a strong faith not based on a life of use and caring for others at least as much as caring for self. They have no faith they can hold on to in the afterlife because it is not based on altruism. They sink down into their hells where many profess faith but don’t mean it.
The New Testament frequently warns us that faith can only be “implanted” in charity since “in no other ground can the seed which is faith be implanted.” Salvation consists of the “heavenly marriage” which refers to the conjunction between our faith and our charity, that is, our understanding of truth and the doing of it. In the Writings faith refers to rational faith or theistic science. Faith implanted in charity means that we are motivated to live the truth we know, and when we proceed in this way, our faith “becomes intelligence and wisdom.”
Continuing with the next selected portion (remember we are skipping in between Numbers):
“As the stars of the heavens.” That this signifies the multitude of the knowledges of good and truth, is evident from the signification of the "stars," as being the knowledges of good and truth (see n. 1808, 2495). The spiritual are they who in the Word are in various places compared to the stars, and this owing to the knowledges of good and truth which they have; but the celestial are not so compared, because they have not knowledges but perceptions; moreover the stars illumine the night, and the spiritual have a light of night (as from the moon and stars) in comparison with the light of day in which the celestial are. (That the spiritual have comparative obscurity may be seen above, 1043, 2708 at the beginning, 2715.) (AC 2849)
When Sacred Scripture or Divine Speech filters down to the word “stars” in a natural language, earlier scientific meanings can be derived from this word if we know what it is a correspondence to in the spiritual world. In the passage above it is revealed that the spiritual or mental correspondence to stars are the knowledges of good and truth. God refers to the mentality of the split-brain race on earth as stars that are both countless and providing light at night. Our mentality is spiritual, that is, intermediate between natural and celestial. Our celestial mind is as far above our spiritual mind as the light of the sun is far more brilliant than the light of the moon and stars at night.
God-Man on earth has prepared the mental pathway we can take to reach our celestial mind. The pathway that leads from the spiritual to the celestial is called love. When we love to do something we notice that we have an insight into it that others do not. We comprehend more at a glance that they can and we can fix it and improve it. This is the case with some physical activity like a hobby or specialty. It is even more true in the spiritual world where love is far more powerful than the entire nature with its cataclysmic energies. If, when we arrive in the afterlife, we are willing to love the Divine Human, this love instantly illuminates our surround and fills it with heavenly sights, sounds, and odors. Such is the creative power of love in the spiritual world.
If we are willing to love the Divine Human, our consciousness is immediately elevated to its highest potential in whichever developmental phase we are going through. When we are reading Sacred Scripture with the same love, acknowledging the Sacred Scripture as the Speech of the Divine Human, we are enlightened to our highest potential of understanding within the phase of regeneration that we are in. We perceive ever more detailed scientific meanings within the Divine Speech, meanings which are infinite in number and fitting together in endless series and spirals expressing ineffable heavenly forms that cannot be expressed in a natural language.
The more we continue progressing in our heavenly character development the more we penetrate into the endless semantic space of God’s Rational Mind. The more we are willing to receive Divine love from the Divine Human, the more we can love the Divine Human, and the more we love the Divine Human, the deeper and deeper we are capable of penetrating into the Divine Rational Mind, along with its celestial delights and blessedness. It is not necessary to postpone this mental state until “we get there.” The celestial state is available to us now through the spiritual-natural organ within the natural mind, discussed above.
We need to understand the what is at stake here and its mechanism. Does it make a difference to you if you end up in the First Heaven rather the Second, or the Third? It is stated in the Writings that once you undergo your second death and enter heaven, your position of entrance remains fixed to eternity. In other words, your basic foundational mental state does not change to eternity. Within this basic mental identity state, you can experience an endless series of progressions of new states to eternity. But you cannot ascend to a higher foundational state or identity. So the people who enter the First Heaven stay there forever, and the same with the Spiritual and Celestial Heavens.
In the mental states of our First Heaven our consciousness is called interior-natural or spiritual-natural. In other words it is similar to the consciousness we have here on earth after we have been regenerating progressively. I say similar because in actual comparison the inhabitants of the First Heaven are more purely enlightened than what our enlightenment is in the spiritual-natural organ discussed above. Our enlightenment is representative but not actual, as long as we are in this world tied to a physical body.
Because of this representativeness of higher states within our interior-natural organ, if operational, we are able to know and understand the difference between the mental states of the three heavens. You will spend your day very differently if you dwell in the First Heaven of your mind vs. the Second or Third. Swedenborg describes the occupations and cities of all three heavens. People in the First Heaven have thoughts and feelings that project a daily life that is similar to what it was like for them on earth, but cleaned up of any evil or degradation and disorder. Swedenborg saw shops, shoppers, carpenters, civil officials, games and sports, Churches, beautiful houses and palaces. These outward appearances, like a beautiful dream, were instantaneous creations of their loves and wisdom, endlessly varied and involving their creativity, so that the people felt fully blessed.
Life in the Second Heaven involved the people there less in sensorimotor activities and more in verbal and intellectual exchanges and studies. They loved to debate and hold conferences on various issues of interest, which varied endlessly to their great delight. Their habitations, clothes, and art were distinctly superior to what Swedenborg was able to see in the First Heaven. Their thoughts and understandings filtered down to the First Heaven where they were transformed in the minds of people there, to the subjects and knowledges they were interested in, all having to do with the trades, commerce, sports, and government.
Life in the Third Heaven is so superior to that in the Second Heaven that the subjects forming the thoughts and perceptions of the people there are incomprehensible to the people of the Second Heaven. When people in the Third Heaven speak to one another or reflect to themselves, the celestial meanings filter through to the minds of the people in the Second Heaven. They then experience an internal enlightenment and excitement at the new thoughts and insights they are able to have. These thoughts and insights are the spiritual correspondences of the celestial subjects that filtered down.
In summary, the differences between the three heavens in our mind are vast. The thoughts, insights, and feelings we have at these three levels are vastly different in excellence and power. When we love sensorimotor activities and involvements the most, we are in our First Heaven. When we love cognitive activities and involvements the most, we are in our Second Heaven. When we love affective activities and involvements the most, we are in our Third Heaven.
Continuing with the next sample:
“And as the sand which is upon the sea shore.” That this signifies the multitude of corresponding memory-knowledges, is evident from the signification of the "sea," as being memory-knowledges in general, or a gathering of them (see n. 28, 2120); and from the signification of "sand," as being memory- knowledges specifically or in particular. Memory-knowledges are compared to "sand," because the little stones of which sand is made, in the internal sense signify memory-knowledges (n. 643, 1298).
It is here said that they shall be multiplied "as the stars of the heavens," and also "as the sand of the sea shore," because the stars or knowledges have relation to the rational, but the sand of the sea shore or memory-knowledges to the natural. When the things of the rational man, namely, the goods and truths of knowledges, agree with those of the natural man, namely, with memory-knowledges, so that they make a one, or mutually confirm each other, they then correspond. To this correspondence the Lord reduces the rational and natural things of man when he regenerates him, or makes him spiritual. From this cause it is that both the stars of the heavens and the sand of the sea shore are here mentioned; otherwise one would have been sufficient. (AC 2850)
The passage above discusses the all important topic of the difference between our natural-sensuous mind and our natural-rational mind. The natural-sensuous mind is called “sand” and “ocean or sea,” while the natural-rational mind is called “stars.” Rational mental operations are called stars while observational data from sensory input is called “sand.” Our thinking and reasoning process when sticking to the input data is lower in insight or understanding to that of more abstract and rational thinking about the data. We call this higher operation an explanation or a theory of the data. As stars are far above the sand, so are rational explanations far above mere sensory observation of phenomena.
The passage above says that “When the things of the rational man, namely, the goods and truths of knowledges, agree with those of the natural man, namely, with memory-knowledges, so that they make a one, or mutually confirm each other, they then correspond.” This is something God accomplishes in our mind as we are being regenerated by Him, to the extent of our willingness to cooperate. Our natural-rational mind or understanding is reformed first by means of Sacred Scripture, if we study it with love. Then our natural-sensuous and natural-corporeal are brought into agreement with the rational so that we become an enlightened heavenly person here on earth.
Continuing with the next Number:
“And thy seed shall inherit the gate of thine enemies.” That this signifies that charity and faith shall succeed in the place where evil and falsity were before, is evident from the signification of "inheriting," as being to receive the Lord's life (see n. 2658); here, to succeed in the place, because when charity and faith are in the place where evil and falsity were before, then the Lord's life succeeds there; from the signification of "seed," as being charity and faith (see n. 1025, 1447, 1610, 1941); from the signification of a "gate" (explained in what follows); and from the signification of "enemies," as being evils and falsities, or what is the same, those who are in evil and falsity: in the internal sense of the Word these are signified by "enemies" and "foes." (AC 2851)
The historical event in the Bible of God blessing a person’s descendants used to intrigue me prior to starting to read the Writings. Similarly, when a patriarch or prophet blessed somebody it was often in the form of blessing their offspring, that they should be numerous as the stars or the sand. I tried, but failed, to be impressed by such an event. To me it was not such a big deal whether my descendants were very numerous, or even frankly, extinct. I did not have the same feeling for a continuation of my line. Why did some others care so much, I wondered. I came up with the idea of “blood lust,” which later I found discussed in the Writings.
It turns out that blood lines do not count in the afterlife. When we ascend to the heavens of our mind we find there others in their heaven. It seems that we are sharing the same heaven in the spiritual world. Swedenborg observed that when people first get there, the are welcomed by others. When the newcomers see the people there they have the amazing strong feeling that they are coming back after a long absence. Everyone is so inexplicably familiar and everyone looks like they belong to one family.
This external appearance is instantiated by correspondence to their ruling love. At their second death, people seem to themselves to arrive in a city that feels familiar, where others who feel like old friends, welcome them as neighbors. Everyone ends up in the city or society where others already dwell who share the same category of ruling love. There is an endless variety of ruling loves, and an endless variety of the affections controlled by a ruling love. As a result, there are endless cities and societies that make up the overall Heaven called the Grand Human (see Chapter xx).
When we dwell in the consciousness of our heaven in the company of “affectional similitudes” of one another, we do not recognize or know the natural origin of any of the people there. Remember that the process of the second death quiets the natural mind so that in our heaven we have no memories of earth, therefore no memories of children and parents on earth. Swedenborg observed the plight of parents who never fully gave up the blood lust attachments. They had been parents who accepted their children’s faults because nothing their children did could be wrong in the parents’ eyes.
As a result, when they passed on and entered heaven, they were fine, but when their children passed on, they had the strong desire to descend to their natural mind so that they could meet the children in the world of spirits. All desires in heaven are automatically instantiated, so that they were suddenly out of their heaven and back into the world of spirits where they greeted the children, now grown up, with great affection and joy.
The children, now adults, progressed toward their second death by displaying the hellish traits they brought with them. The parents were horrified but they could not break the contact of affection they felt for them. They were forced to witness all the horrendous evil of their children coming out in far greater intensity and proportion than what they knew them as on earth where they merely looked upon these as cute quirks or forgivable weaknesses of character. They suffered much and for many sequences of negative mental states, until at last they were so devastated that they were able to desire to be cut off from their children. The instant they felt this desire, it automatically brought them back to their ranking love, and hence, back to their familiar and beloved heaven and friends there.
We find the same warning in the Writings about forming an inner friendship with a friend who is of an opposite genius. Inner friendships are permanent, crossing over into the afterlife, and are difficult to break there, involving much suffering. External friendships with anyone cannot hurt us because nothing that is external remains operational at the second death.
The passage above is about the scientific sense of “And thy seed shall inherit the gate of thine enemies.” Why does God care about such things? Or why does God go along with Abraham’s blood lust? There are two parts to the answer. First, God does not care about such things but God permits them for the sake of the salvation of the people who insist on it from their free choice. God’s mechanism for giving His Divine Speech to humankind was to filter it through all the layers of the human mind, starting with the highest heaven there. By the time it reaches the lowest portion of the mind, known as the natural mind, the words of Divine Speech seem natural, referring to trees, animals, peoples, events in cities and countries that still exist today.
But God’s Speech did not start that way! Instead God said something about how we can cooperate with Him in our regeneration for heaven. But these words automatically get transformed by the universal laws of correspondence as they descend from high consciousness to low consciousness in the human mind. Now, through the Writings of Swedenborg, the code of correspondences has been once again revealed to the people on earth. Swedenborg shows us how to apply this code to get back what was there originally before it filtered down into the natural mind. This Section is an example of how this is done for Genesis Chapter 22.
When we apply the code of correspondences to Sacred Scripture we derive immensely more from it than the prophets who received it in his natural mind as it descended from heaven, and then wrote it down. Often the Old Testament verse begins with God instructing the prophet to write something down, as in this passage:
Jehovah said, Son of man, take a
stick and write on it, For Judah and for the children of
This passage would be quite puzzling about God’s seemingly
odd ways. But now we know that the natural meanings can be decoded by
spiritual-natural correspondences to obtain the scientific sense contained in
Divine Speech when it is in our celestial and spiritual minds. The Numbered
Paragraph section in the Writings where this passage from Ezekiel is discussed
(AC 3969) is in connection with explaining the meaning of
But as yet scarcely anyone knows that these things are meant in the Word when the name Judah is mentioned, the reason being that the historical descriptions of the Word are thought to be simply historical descriptions, and the prophetical utterances to belong among such things as have fallen into oblivion, except for some of them from which doctrinal inferences may be drawn out. No belief exists that those descriptions and utterances have a spiritual sense within them, because at the present day no knowledge exists of what the spiritual sense is, or indeed of what the spiritual is.
And the chief reason for this is that the life which people lead is the natural life. This is such that when they have that life as their end in view or it is the only life they desire, it blots out both spiritual knowledge and faith - so much so that when spiritual life and a spiritual sense are spoken of, these are like something that does not really exist or else are something unpleasant and depressing which, because it does not accord with natural life, they find distasteful.
Such being the condition of the human race at the present day it neither understands nor wishes to understand by the names mentioned in the Word anything else than the nations, peoples, individual persons, regions, cities, mountains, or rivers, which those names denote. Yet in the spiritual sense names mean real things.
 That 'Judah' in the internal sense means the Lord's celestial Church, in the universal sense His celestial kingdom, and in the highest sense the Lord Himself may be seen from many places in the Old Testament where Judah is mentioned, for example, from the following: In Moses…(AC 3969)
There then follows different passages from various parts of the Old Testament and in each case the scientific sense of Judah is the celestial portion of the human mind where heaven is. This is truly amazing and cannot be explained except as Divine Speech. Recall that these Old Testament books were written independently by dozens of prophets over many centuries. How could it be that what they wrote down in visions and voices and historical events contain the same scientific sense hidden within it and transformed into historical events and their details. How could this be? The only rational explanation is that it is Divine Speech which has this characteristic of always containing the same scientific sense hidden, or filtered down and transformed, in the words of historical narratives and poetic expressions.
Continuing with the next selection:
 As regards the signification of a "gate," there are in general two gates with every man; the one opens toward hell, and is opened to the evils and falsities therefrom; in this gate are infernal genii and spirits; the other gate opens toward heaven, and is opened to good and the truths therefrom; in this gate are angels. There is thus a gate which leads to hell, and a gate which leads to heaven. The gate of hell is opened to those who are in evil and falsity, and only through chinks round about above does anything of the light from heaven enter, by means of which they are able to think and reason; but the gate of heaven is opened to those who are in good and the truth therefrom.
 For there are two ways which lead into man's rational mind-a higher or internal one, through which good and truth from the Lord enter, and a lower or external one, through which evil and falsity come up from hell. The rational mind itself is in the middle, and to it these ways tend. That mind, from the goods and truths which are in it, is compared in the Word to a city, and is called a "city." And because it is compared to a city, and is called a "city," gates are attributed to it, and it is often described as being besieged and stormed by enemies, that is, by evil genii and spirits; and as being defended by angels from the Lord, that is by the Lord. (AC 2851)
This passage is packed with anatomical facts about the human mind, facts which are used in theistic psychology to build our rational understanding and spiritual consciousness and to apply it to the daily needs of people in society. The scientific sense of “gate” and related concepts like “city” ,“street”, “pavement” and so on, refer to the structural parts of the rational mind, at all three levels (see Chapter xx). Here we are given anatomical facts about how information enters our cognitive operations.
There are two paths of information sources to our conscious mind here on earth, one from above, namely the spiritual world, called the “gate of heaven,” and one from below the natural mind, called the “gate of hell.” Our hellish habits develop and mature by using the information from the hells in our mind, coming up from below into our corporeal and sensuous mind (see Chapter xx). The rational mind is in between. The lower or external portion of the rational mind is called natural-rational. The upper or inner portion of the rational mind is called spiritual-rational and celestial-rational.
The rational function of our mind therefore is the key to our salvation or life in heaven to eternity. Our lower natural knows evil from hell. Our higher natural knows good from heaven. As long as we are still on earth, God keeps a perfect balance between these two rational operations in every individual. In this way, we are always free to choose which we reject. Only such free choices, rejecting the evil information and delight, can permanently separate us from them, leaving behind only the good delights and truths, which are from heaven.
Continuing with the text we are analyzing:
The infernal genii and spirits, with their evils and falsities, cannot come further than to the lower or outer gate, and in no case into the city. If they could get into the city, or into the rational mind, all would be over with the man. But when they come so far as to seem to themselves to have taken that city by storm, it is then closed, so that good and truth no longer flow into it from heaven except as was said some little through chinks round about. From this it is that such persons no longer have anything of charity or anything of faith, but make good consist in evil, and truth in falsity.
From this also it is that they are no longer truly rational, although they seem to themselves to be so (n. 1914, 1944). And it is from this that they are called dead men, although they believe that they are more alive than others (n. 81, 290 at the end). These things are so because the gate of heaven is closed to them. That it is closed to them manifestly appears and is perceived in the other life; as also on the other hand that the gate of heaven is open to those who are in good and truth. (AC 2851)
Note the scary part: “If they could get into the city, or into the rational mind, all would be over with the man.” By “all would be over with the man” means you and me. We are the split-brain spiritual race. Our immortality depends on our rationality. The “infernal genii and spirits” come to the entrance “gate” of our rational mind when they enter the corporeal, climb to the sensuous, and are seeking to have the rational justify their presence. They are then seeking to take the “city” by storm, the scientific sense of which is that that our “doctrine” of life, our principles of living, our morality and rationality, are in danger of concocting and fabricating a justification for what is happening in our sensuous and corporeal minds.
Our natural conscience and moral principles are at stake, and if we have religion, our spiritual conscience and salvation are at stake. This is mental process that people need to self-witness in themselves so that they may be prepared to undergo temptations whereby God delivers them by removing these particular hells at our gates, containing them forever from coming to these particular gates again. There are numerous particular hells at our gates every day and they must be removed one by one through spiritual self-witnessing and temptations. In this way we may go on with our spiritual development and not be stuck before a seemingly insurmountable barrier.
What happens to us when we fail this test and go ahead and develop rationalized justifications for actual evils in our corporeal and sensuous minds?
In other words, what are the consequences in our mental operations when we justify a hellish habit we witness in ourselves?
The passage above gives the answer in these terms: “But when they come so far as to seem to themselves to have taken that city by storm, it is then closed, so that good and truth no longer flow into it from heaven except as was said some little through chinks round about. From this it is that such persons no longer have anything of charity or anything of faith, but make good consist in evil, and truth in falsity.” How devastating to discover this! The consequence of justifying our hellish habits in thoughts and in feelings is to stop the flow of good and truth into our celestial mind!
This is devastating to the individual. I say that it is scary because if there is no good and truth flowing into our mind, there is nothing to stop the hellish habits to multiply in my personality. I have no protection from this or that desire, this or that fanciful attraction, this or that pleasure I can experience. Without protection, I give in to them, all of them, and my fate is sealed. I now am a devil in company of devils. The instant I pass on and become a spirit, I precipitate myself into the hell of my mind and there I find all my friends, all the genii and infernal spirits I had been with in my pleasures and cupidities on earth. We embrace each other like long lost friends. We recognize each other’s faces and emotions.
But after the delirious welcoming exchanges, conditions change. They are much further into the insanity than I am, perhaps than I will ever be. But now I have to live with them. So I become their victim and I suffer endlessly to eternity, except when it’s my turn, and my desperation is so great that I become the torturer and my they become my victims. O what pleasure and infernal glory I then feel, -- for a little while, because soon they take over again, which never fails. So this is the life that awaits me if I let them storm my city, meaning, if I justify my corporeality and sensuality regardless of their being hellish rather than heavenly.
The picture I draw above is not a fantasy created by fear. It is the very thing Swedenborg had observed many times. It is also the very same process of events he observed in heaven, when we are willing to undergo character reformation by means of spiritual self-witnessing and temptations in which we call upon the Divine Human to fight the hells on our behalf.
Note that when we justify a hellish enjoyment or habit we “make good consist in evil, and truth in falsity.” This is a process of thinking that requires rational operations, though applied to an irrational goal. Some of the sub-elements of the mental reasoning sequence are rational in themselves, but when they are placed together with irrational sub-components, the end-goal of the sequence will be irrational. But to us in that mental state, we ‘”make good consist in evil, and truth in falsity.” This is Divine scientific revelation. It becomes a key principle in theistic psychology.
Using our rational syntax to justify evil is equivalent to introducing a virus into your mental components. It is an actual damaging physiological operation in the spiritual neuronal fibers of the natural mind. Popular wisdom says, Misuse it and you lose it. You can see this spiritual principle operating in the destruction of our rational mind through its misuse. What happens if you use a sharp knife to cut a brass handle? The knife utility is reduced, perhaps destroyed so you need to sharpen it again. Our rational syntax misoperates when used to justify a hellish idea because our heaven is in our rational, the upper portion of the rational called the spiritual-rational mind and the celestial-rational mind. These upper portions of our mind cannot remain operational unless the natural-rational retains its integrity of operation, without a virus.
It is like gangrene or cancer that spreads to all portions of the physical body unless surgically or chemically removed before it starts spreading from the point where it entered the body. In fact, the aggressive and invasive injurious operation of gangrene and cancer possesses this property from the invasive and injurious operations of the hells in our mind. The enter through our lowest and weakest point—our corporeal and sensuous mind. These are the weakest or most susceptible to the hells because the inherited traits and tendencies are very strong in the lower portion of the natural mind.
As the passage above says, when we begin to justify evil interests and goals we “are no longer truly rational, although we seem to ourselves to be so.” We become inured, uninfluenciable by reason and rational discourse. We have become a god to ourselves, recognizing ourselves as the highest executive officer of our choices. “And it is from this that they are called dead men, although they believe that they are more alive than others.” This is the built-in self-destructiveness of using our intelligence to defend the hells in us. We believe we are alive, better off, free, at the very moment that we are chained to awful things to come.
“These things are so because the gate of heaven is closed to them.” This means that the source of our rational syntax, which must remain online to operate, is cut off. We pull out the plug on ourselves when we rationalize one of our evil habits or enjoyments. It is not the evil enjoyment that destroys us, as sometimes believed from a religious perspective. More scientifically, we can see that it is the justification of evil enjoyment that destroys our rational syntax, which eliminates the heaven in our mind. Yet it is this rational heaven, or “rational faith,” that we must have to live in eternity in conjugial bliss.
Continuing with the following portion of the selection:
 As regards the "gate of enemies" in particular, which is treated of in this verse, it is with man in his natural mind. When man is wholly natural, or not regenerate, evils and falsities occupy the gate; or what is the same, evil genii and spirits flow into it with cupidities of evil and persuasions of falsity (see n. 687, 697, 1692); but when man becomes spiritual, or is being regenerated, then the evils and falsities, or what is the same, the evil genii and spirits, are driven away from the gate, or from the mind; then goods and truths, or charity and faith, take their place; which things are signified by its being said, "thy seed shall inherit the gate of thine enemies." This takes place in particular with every man when he is being regenerated; and in like manner in the other life with those who come into the Lord's kingdom; and it also takes place in the general body, or in the church, which is composed of many. (AC 2851)
You may notice that when we are trying to give an example of evil and hell we think of Hitler, serial killers, and terrorists. Sometimes I think that this serves to hide from ourselves how close and ordinary hell and evil are. For instance, when we think of evil and hell we do not think of our playing the music too loud or tailgating somebody while driving home. We do not think of the “f” word that constantly drips from our lips, nor of leaving our dirty dishes in a sink used by others. Yet these are evil and hellish traits that will provide an entrance for the entire hells. If we justify these ‘little’ hellish things because we don’t do the big ones, we are introducing a virus into our natural-rational operations. As sure as hell, the virus will spread and infect the entire rational mind until we are a dead man. These operations are scientifically described in theistic psychology.
The passage above says that “When man is wholly natural, or not regenerate, evils and falsities occupy the gate; or what is the same, evil genii and spirits flow into it with cupidities of evil and persuasions of falsity.” This is discussing the vertical community (see Chapter xx). Prior to character reformation, or regeneration, our rational is wholly natural, which is why it is called the natural-rational mind. We receive no input from above, that is from the spiritual mind, because it is not yet operational in our consciousness. We do not as yet have a spiritual organ built up within the natural mind. Character reformation is a built in skill that every individual can perform by means of rational principles, either from moral teachings or directly from Sacred Scripture. When we begin this intentional and conscious process, it becomes our goal. We are motivated to proceed with it. As a result neuronal fibers and networks are being built up in the spiritual organ within the natural mind. This has been discussed above.
The more this spiritual organ grows within the natural mind, the more rational we become spiritually. Our consciousness or ability to understand spiritual-rational ideas, is elevated and enlightened by spiritual light from the Spiritual Sun that is within Sacred Scripture or Divine Speech. When reading Sacred Scripture we are then given perception of its scientific sense by applying the knowledge of correspondences and discourse analysis (see Chapter xx). This scientific sense is the rational thinking we need to elevate our consciousness into reality and truth. This is what our heaven is made of, and hence, our salvation and eternal life in conjugial bliss.
The passage above indicates what the scientific sense is of the verse of Sacred Scripture we’ve already referred to above, "thy seed shall inherit the gate of thine enemies." The scientific sense applies to every human being. “To inherit” refers to regeneration for heavenly life, not only while we are still on earth, but also in the afterlife, and not just for individuals but for society and civilization.
Continuing with the next selection:
 This was represented by the
Our sister, be thou thousands of ten thousands, and let thy seed inherit the gate of those that hate thee (Gen. 24:60).
 That such things are signified in the Word by the "gate of enemies" or of "those that hate," may be seen from the following passages. In Isaiah:
I will kill thy root with famine, and I will slay them that remain of thee. Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou art melted away, O Philistia, all of thee, for there cometh a smoke out of the north (Isa. -31);
to "kill the root with famine, and to slay them that remain," denotes to take away the goods and truths which had been stored up interiorly by the Lord. (…)
 In David:
They that dwell in the gate plot against me, they that drink strong drink sing songs (Ps. 69:12);
"they that dwell in the gate" denotes evils and falsities, and also the infernals. (…)
 It may be seen from these passages what is signified by the "gate of enemies," namely, that it is hell, or infernal spirits, who are continually attacking goods and truths. Their seat with man as before said is in his natural mind. But when a man is of such a character as to admit goods and truths, and thus angels, the infernal spirits are then driven away by the Lord from that seat; and on their being driven away, the gate of heaven or heaven itself is opened. This gate is also mentioned in the Word in various places; as in Isaiah:
A song in the
 From these passages it is manifest that the "gate of heaven" is where angels are with man, that is, where there is an influx of good and truth from the Lord; and thus that as before said there are two gates. Concerning these two gates the Lord speaks thus in Matthew:
Enter ye in by the strait gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat; because strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matt. 7:12-14; Luke 13:23-24).
Moreover the gates to the New
Jerusalem and the gates to the new temple are much treated of in Ezekiel, and
also by John in Revelation, by which nothing else is meant than the entrances
to heaven (see Ezek. 40:6-49; 43:1-2, 4; 44:1-3; 46:1-9, 12; 48:31-34; Rev.
21:12-13, 21, 25; 22:14; Isa. 54:11-12). Hence
I presented these detailed selections to demonstrate that the vastly spread out books of the Old and New Testament all share this thing in common, namely, that they are written in a natural language that follows the code of correspondences, even though the prophets who wrote them had absolutely no idea of this property of the Divine Speech they were writing down. The Divinity of the Bible is asserted and firmly believed among most Christians today, as indicated by polls and popular commentators. This is a religious blind faith based on sincerity and tradition. They feel this way even though they cannot prove that the Old and New Testaments are Divine Books, and even though they have doubts here and there about some parts that appear bizarre and incomprehensible.
But now we have entered the Age of the Second Coming initiated as a spiritual-rational revolution through the Writings of Swedenborg. The laws of correspondences that govern the interconnectivity between the natural and spiritual worlds have been revealed to the human race at a period or age when science and rationality have entered public schools and all institutions of society. Now we can extract the scientific sense of Divine Speech given to humanity. There is no more need to turn away from bizarre text in the Holy Book. Knowledge of correspondences allows us to reconstruct the spiritual-rational message in Divine Speech. This is the level of meaning and consciousness that we need to develop spiritually as an individual and as a generation. This is the level of meaning we need to be willing to suffer ourselves to undergo character reformation.
Continuing with the next selection:
“In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” That this signifies the salvation of all who are in good, is evident from the signification of "being blessed," as being to be enriched with celestial and spiritual good (see n. 981, 1096, 1420, 1422); here, to be saved, because spoken of those who are saved (that "to be blessed" has a comprehensive meaning is well known); from the signification of "seed," as being the faith of charity (see n. 1025, 1447, 1610); and from the signification of the "nations of the earth," as being those who are in good (see n. 1159, 1258-1260, 1416, 1849).
 Moreover in these words there is contained the following arcanum: that through the church (which is here the "earth," n. 662, 1066, 1067, 1262) those are saved who are out of the church; for as just stated, "thy seed" denotes the faith of charity; and no others are in the faith of charity than those within the church, for the faith of charity is truth of doctrine adjoined to good of life. The case is this: The Lord's kingdom on earth consists of all those who are in good, who though scattered over the whole earth, are still one, and as members constitute one body.
Such is the Lord's kingdom in the heavens, where the whole heaven represents one man, which is therefore also called the Grand Man (n. 684, 1276); and what is wonderful and hitherto unknown, all parts of the human body correspond to societies in heaven. And therefore it is sometimes said that some societies belong to the province of the head, some to the province of the eye, others to that of the chest, and so on, which correspondence will of the Lord's Divine mercy be spoken of by itself. (AC 2853)
The passage above answers the troublesome issue of whether or not only those are saved who are “in the Church.” It is traditional for religions to believe this, which shows that religions are cultural rather than universal and cross-cultural. I saw an exchange on TV the other day that illustrates this ingrained belief and how it creates conflict in society which is always more diverse than one religion. Two people were being interviewed on a news show. The topic was the current smash hit movie The Passion (of Christ). One interviewee was a Jewish rabbi whom I have seen on several other shows over the past couple of years. He displays an aggressive style and frequently interrupts others while they are talking, not letting them go on, talking over them, raising his voice. I found him annoying every time I’ve seen him. The other interviewee was a woman Christian activist who had started a Web site promoting the idea that Christians should go see the movie because it strengthens their faith.
The rabbi was arguing that the movie was anti-Semitic because it presents Jews in a negative light and because it inflames bigots to hate the Jews. The woman was arguing that it is an accurate portrayal of the New Testament’s descriptions of the Crucifixion. The rabbi was incensed that society is forced to be exposed to the New Testament which is prejudicial to him and to Jews and other religions. The woman said she cannot back off the Gospels which declare that Jesus is the way, the truth and eternal life for all humanity. The rabbi screamed that she is forcing her heaven on him and taking away his heaven. He confronted her: Yes or No, are you saying I cannot have my heaven without Jesus? She repeated that she cannot back away from what the Gospels declare. The host then put an end to the debate.
The revelation of the scientific sense within the Old and New Testaments puts an end to this kind of religious warfare. From the perspective of religion, the rabbi can keep his ideas from the Old Testament and the Christian woman can keep her ideas from the New Testament. But both can now investigate and learn that the Old and New Testaments contain the same scientific meaning, which is for both of them, and for all religions. In the passage above, and many others in the Writings, it is revealed that “through the church those are saved who are out of the church.” The scientific sense of the word “church” in Sacred Scripture is the rational mind that is to be regenerated from being merely natural to being spiritual-natural. Hence the church is the method of character reformation in all religions through the commandments that the members are to follow in daily life.
“Those within the church” refers to the state of mind we are in when undergoing character reformation through Sacred Scripture or morality based on it. This is referred to as those who “are in faith and charity” which means when we are rejecting some evil habit for the sake of our spiritual development or the heaven of our eternity. Those who are outside the church refers to our state of rebellion when we are justifying our evil traits so that we can continue to practice them. The passage asserts that our rebellious mental states during regeneration (“out of the church’) are overcome by our states of obedience (“within the church”).
But in addition, the passage applies to the meaning of Church as an institution of religion. When read from a religious perspective, those who are “within the Church” designate practicing Christians while those “out of the Church” designates non-Christians. That everyone is saved means that we can give up religious conflict. The Christian woman on the news show discussed above could free herself from social conflict if she could have answered the rabbi that he too is saved by Jesus, even if he doesn’t wish to acknowledge the New Testament as Divine.
Of course he has to be a man of sincerity and conscience because even Christians are not saved if they are not sincere and do not live like their religion dictates. But anyone anywhere is saved if they arrive into the afterlife and are willing to receive instruction about the scientific sense of the Sacred Scripture they had been worshipping. If they were sincere in their religion and conscience, they gladly receive the new scientific truths that are universal and apply to all. If they are not willing to let go of their sectarian views, and if they reject the scientific sense which they are taught, they remain in the state of mind they came with and cannot become rational, cannot enter the rational heavens of eternity. These universal laws apply equally to Christians and all others. No one enters heaven by declarations of faith of any kind.
Swedenborg witnessed numerous heavens, each adjusted to the peculiar genius of the inhabitants there. Once in heaven there are no Christians vs. non-Christians and there are no religions in the natural sense they exist on earth. Everyone in all the heavens know and study the scientific sense the Sacred Scripture of their recognition. Divine revelations have been given various times to various peoples in the history of earth, a history that is traced and explained in the Writings.