Notes on De Hemelsche Leer (DHL)
Click to see the text of De Hemelsche Leer, or The Epistles for the New Church
Dr. Leon James
see also Spiritual Geography
see also Theistic Psychology
see also Religious Psychology
I would be delighted to know your reactions.
De Hemelsche Leer is a publication consisting of a reprint of a small Dutch magazine from the 1930s authored by about a dozen men who formed themselves into a New Christian Church in Holland called The Lord's New Church Which is Nova Hierosolyma [the New Jerusalem] and is based on the Writings of Swedenborg. The publication ceased when these men passed away leaving behind the spiritual discoveries they made about Swedenborg's Writings. They themselves did not use the term "theistic psychology" but it's obvious to anyone who reads it that they acted rationally in all their argumentation, always being completely consistent in their systematic methodology. Their observations were grounded in empirical fact, either from the natural world or from strategically selected quotations in the Writings about the spiritual world. The new small and independent Church had to be created when these people ran into political conflict with their parent Church organization in the United States, called the General Church of the New Jerusalem, from which they were expelled by the Bishop. This is why they formed their own tiny Church enclave. All of this is fully documented through the letters and articles they wrote on each side and published in the magazine. The English translation is attributed to Theodore Pitcairn, one of the frequent contributors and an author of books and sermons in English about Swedenborg's Writings and the Church of the New Jerusalem, This is the New Church that is foretold in the Book of Revelations of the New Testament.
The conflict centers around the main idea of the Dutch group, as expressed in De Hemelsche Leer, namely, that the Writings of Swedenborg have a dual meaning. The surface meaning is what every serious reader and student can read and understand. The topics in the Writings of Swedenborg at this literal level of treatment include these things:
But underlying this vast and rich surface level of paragraphs and sentences (about 35 volumes in print), lies the hidden spiritual and celestial meaning. These inner levels are not accessible through a mere surface reading and understanding of the literal sentences of the Writings. No matter how much one becomes an expert Swedenborgian scholar, philosopher, scientist, or theologian, one cannot access the inner hidden levels of meaning in the ordinary way of reading text. This inner meaning can be unfolded only through the orderly process provided for our regeneration, a lifelong process of character self-modification described in great detail in the Writings of Swedenborg.
As an individual regenerates more and more, all the way to the end of life on earth, access is given to deeper and deeper levels of meaning in the Writings.
The Dutch New Church group came up with this idea by applying to the Writings themselves what the Writings say about the Old and New Testaments. The Writings say that the OT and NT were Divinely dictated or inspired in such a way that the surface level consisted of literal and historical statements while their inner hidden meaning were folded into the literal expressions through the laws of correspondence, known to the ancients and to the inhabitants of the spiritual world where we all congregate immediately after the death of the physical body. The Dutch group, perceiving that the Writings of Swedenborg were written by a Divine inspiration, concluded that they were the Word just as much as the OT and NT. Since much was being said in the Writings about the character of the Word, they applied all statements about the Word to the Writings themselves. This is what lead them to the new insights to be discussed in this article.
The parent Church in Philadelphia, called the General Church (GC), was unwilling to do this--that is, the leaders were unwilling to apply to the Writings themselves what was said therein about the OT and NT. They saw the Writings as the revelations that opened the "heavenly secrets" that lay hidden for thousands of years in the Old and New Testaments, and now were being revealed through the modern rational mind of Emanuel Swedenborg (he passed on in 1772). As a result, The GC group had no access to the inner meaning discovered by the Dutch group.
The Dutch group used the title Third Testament or Last Testament for the Writings (also: Latin Word, and: Final Testament). The notion of the Dutch group that the Writings themselves contained layered secrets seemed far fetched to others in the New Church (NC) who also accepted Swedenborg's Writings as Divinely inspired revelations. As you can read from the exchange of letters and articles published in De Hemelsche Leer, the parent New Church in Philadelphia was threatened by the new perspective called "The Hague Position," and saw in it an opposition to its existing intellectual climate and the administrative top-down episcopal structure that existed in that Church. The Dutch group, after its secession, survived for a brief decade, long enough to produce the Six Fascicles of De Hemelsche Leer and leave this record behind as an extraordinary intellectual legacy for theistic psychology. The Dutch group included some American ministers who returned to Philadelphia and founded a small American branch that survives today in Philadelphia with small branches in other countries.
I call this record of De Hemelsche Leer, the Epistles for the New Church, and they play for the New Church a similar role that the Epistles of Paul have played for the Christian Church, namely, the intellectual framework for its Doctrine or theology. The son of one of the members of the Hague Church, Rutger Perizonius, has restarted a modern version of the Dutch magazine, and it is now titled Hemelshe Leer. Several yearly issues have been published since 2001, including an article by me:
James, Leon (2002). The Substitution Technique: A Method for Extracting What the Writings Say About Themselves as the Word De Hemelse Leer, Vol. XIV No. 2 (April 2002), 103-109.
An important question to clarify is the relation between religion and theistic psychology. Many authors have argued that religion and science are not necessarily contradictory, and this also in the New Church (see the Glossary entry for New Church Mentality). theistic psychology goes further than any of these prior proposals.
Because it presents a spiritual methodology for theistic psychology. Without this methodology in the New Church age, we are forced back to a state of scientific atheistic monism. Dualist science cannot be born and thrive in the mind without this methodology by which we can map out the developmental steps of regeneration. This spiritual geography constitutes a scientific map of the human mind. I will provide full details for these claims. The text of De Hemelsche Leer is available here.
De Hemelsche Leer constitutes the Epistles for the Third Testament phase of our regeneration, in the same sense that Paul's writings in the Bible constitute the Epistles for the New Testament phase of our development. This is because De Hemelsche Leer develops the systematic methodology for the Doctrine of the Church (DOC), that is, the scientific methodology by which we can map the mind's stages of reformation and regeneration. De Hemelsche Leer gives us the methodology for theistic psychology. Through this methodology we have the means of extracting scientific knowledge from the literal of the Writings of Swedenborg.
1. Swedenborg's book titled Sacred Scripture (SS) applies to all three Testaments equally. This requires that the Doctrine of the Church (DOC), which is the theoretical work of theistic psychology, be developed systematically and objectively in accordance with the rules of investigation specified in SS. In order to achieve this, we need to think "the Third Testament" wherever in SS it says "the Word." This also applies to all passages in any other work by Swedenborg in which he discusses the Word. The result is our ability to extract theoretical principles about human development that are not available to anyone who merely pays attention to the literal of the Writings. The acknowledgment that the Word in the Writings apply to themselves opens the internalizing rational mind and allows it to become spiritual at first, then celestial--see discussions below.
This approach has an inherent limitation and qualification: namely, that this orderly extraction process matches the level of the reader. As will be shown below in detail, there are six major levels of progression in our regeneration and we can only understand and perceive at the level attained when reading the Writings. As we progress in our regeneration we are given perceptions of meaning at progressively deeper and higher levels, all the way to the wisdom and understanding of angels.
2. The externalizing literal of the Writings of Swedenborg are not the Third Testament, and they are not the Doctrine of the Church. This is because the Third Testament is said to be in the mind, or in the understanding, that is, in the rational. Similarly, the Doctrine of the Church is not in the literal of De Hemelsche Leer but in the understanding of De Hemelsche Leer. There is no understanding of spiritual concepts in the literal study of either the Writings or De Hemelsche Leer. The context that allows the spiritual understanding of the Third Testament is the same context that allows the spiritual understanding of De Hemelsche Leer, namely illustration of life (enlightenment from God). Our active cooperation is required in regeneration, and as we advance gradually in regeneration, we receive illustration when reading De Hemelsche Leer to the extent of our regeneration. The Doctrine of the Church is the spiritual sense of the three Testaments.
3. The pages of De Hemelsche Leer bring us proof that the Writings of Swedenborg contain endless layers or substrata of meanings that theistic psychology can extract from here to eternity. Without this proof and its reality, the Writings could not serve as the basis for the growth of theistic psychology. Hence De Hemelsche Leer may be considered as the first of the great methodological revelations in theistic psychology and I am the first scientist who has seen this and made it into a basic premise of the new dualist science. One can say this in another way through this formula:
internal sense of the Writings = theistic psychology
I will describe and comment on the scientific methodology originated by several contributors to De Hemelsche Leer.
The first illustration I present is the text authored by Rev. Ernst Pfeiffer who is one of the chief contributors to the Epistles of the New Church. It is located in the Third Fascicle pp. 90 to 116 and is continued in the Fourth Fascicle pp. 1 to 23. The matrices below were extracted from his text, which he presented as a commentary to another key contributor, H.D.G. Groeneveld's address at the Social Supper on December 30, 1928 (Third Fascicle pp. 86 to 90.)
The created universe, in itself, is receptive and passive, at all levels. God is the only active at every level. All activity is thus caused and directed by God. The method of governing every activity is through Divine influx into the created passive elements and processes in the universe. The Divine flows into the particle, atom, mind, society, etc. to create activity, behavior, growth, functioning. There are two types of influx: immediate and mediate. IMMEDIATE INFLUX is direct from God into all particles and functions. MEDIATE INFLUX is from the Divine through a series of levels called DISCRETE DEGREES. Immediate influx is unconscious or direct, while mediate influx occurs only within the human mind where it causes consciousness or conscious awareness, that is, a human self or person. This conscious awareness of oneself as a human person is called the AS-OF-SELF for reasons explained below.
The created universe is layered into discrete degrees from top to bottom, or from the celestial mind to the corporeal. Nothing of one degree can cross into another degree. Yet there is total and absolute interaction between discrete degrees, not by direct communication or contact, but by indirect LAWS OF CORRESPONDENCE that precisely map out which elements of one degree will be influenced by the activity of particular elements in a higher degree. In general terms, there are three discrete degrees, each having an external and an internal, so that in effect, we can think of six discrete degrees. The highest degree is the internalizing celestial and the lowest degree is the externalizing natural. The diagrams and charts below illustrate the six degrees with many details.
Swedenborg's Writings are an exposition of the laws of correspondence. He states that the ancients had a knowledge of these laws, calling it "the science of sciences." Subsequent generations, having abused these laws and applied them to produce magical powers and cults, lost the knowledge through Divine intervention. Swedenborg proves with thousands of examples that the Bible was written at three levels of meaning, separated by discrete degrees. The externalizing natural level is literal and historical. This was the meaning perceived by the prophets and the faithful in many generations. For the most part this is the meaning perceived today by Bible readers and students. However, as demonstrated by Swedenborg, all three degrees are contained in the literal verses and phrases and words of the Bible. This is a Divine property of the Word and cannot be otherwise. These degrees do not occur in any other writings but the Word. The second degree in the Bible verses is called the spiritual meaning and its topics or subjects include information and knowledge about the cognitions of Divine Wisdom or Truth. This also includes the history of the evolution of Churches on earth because the Church is most importantly in the mind, and so this knowledge about the cognitions of Divine Truth is a scientific description and explication of the cognitive part of the human mind into which these truths are received.
The third or inmost degree of meaning in the Word consists of topics relating to the affections of Divine Love or Good. This includes the history of the evolution of the created universe, most particularly the Incarnation of God as the Divine Human. This knowledge about the affections of good is a scientific description and explication of the affective part of the human mind into which these loves or goods are received. The laws of correspondences allow the reader and student of the Writings to extract the meanings at the two "hidden" degrees in it. This is called the inner sense of the Writings and the meanings extracted are called the Doctrine of the Church. It is plainly stated in many parts in the literal sense of the Writings that the inner sense cannot be extracted directly by oneself but is dependent on one's level of development. One can only extract meaning from the Writings at the level of development of the self at that time.
As the self develops in consciousness from the lower levels to the upper levels or degrees of the mind, deeper and more internalizing meanings or truths can be extracted from the Word. These deeper meanings can be rendered in words by those who perceive them but they can only be comprehended by others at the level they are at.
The human mind is a spiritual organ made of spiritual substances, unlike the brain that is made of natural matter. The two act together by the laws of correspondence. The mind has three domains at each level or layer (degree). The three domains are: affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor. The affective domain contains those organs that receive affections (loves, goods) that reside and act within this domain. Affections make up our feeling life that includes motives, purposes, loves, propensities, and so on. The cognitive domain contains those organs that receive cognitions (truths) that reside and act within this domain. Cognitions make up our thinking life that includes understanding, reasoning, imagination, and so on. The sensorimotor domain contains those organs that receive sensations that reside and act within this domain. Sensations make up our experiencing life that includes sensations, pleasures, motoric expressions or behavioral acts, and so on.
Human growth is the process of opening or activating deeper and more internalizing levels or degrees in the mind from infancy, through adolescence and adulthood, to old age. At the death of the material body, the human mind or spirit emerges suddenly in the spiritual world encased in a spiritual body that is identical to the physical body in every respect except that instead of material substances like iron, carbon, and hydrogen, it is made of spiritual substances from the spiritual sun of the spiritual world. This spiritual body and mind continue a personal and individual existence, living forever in the spiritual world in the company of others like oneself. Thus in essence we are born immortal individuals.
Consciousness is made of spiritual substances that stream out from the spiritual Sun in the spiritual world. Our mind is created to be a receptor organ for these spiritual substances whose variety is infinite, though all of them are in essence good and truth. Good corresponds to the heat of the spiritual Sun while truth corresponds to its light. The affective organ of the mind receives the heat or good, and the cognitive organ of the mind receives the light or truth. Every degree of consciousness is constructed with its own unique spiritual substances. The organ of consciousness gives us awareness of ourselves making possible the as-of-self or proprium. This conscious awareness of our self is from our consciousness. The higher the degree of consciousness that has become operative in our mind, the more internalizing the truths we can understand or perceive and the more internalizing the good that we can live. Consciousness is the only channel available to us for conjunction with the Divine. Our redemption from inherited evils and an unreformed character is dependent on our consciousness. Our regeneration thus depends on our consciousness. Through ever more internalizing rational truths our consciousness is gradually elevated when we cooperate appropriately. This elevation permits reciprocal conjunction with God or the Divine Human. This is angelic life to eternity in heaven.
The development of the human mind proceeds in an orderly series that has been revealed in the literal of the Writings of Swedenborg. The series of developmental phases can be divided into six main levels or degrees already familiar to most people as infancy, childhood, adolescence, early or young adulthood, adulthood, and old age. These six mental periods are spiritual in origin and obey spiritual laws of progression towards the celestial human state which is the only true human state as intended and created by God. The six degrees of the mind are discrete between the levels and continuous within each level. This means that no matter how long the growth continues within one level it cannot progress into the next level. The orderly procedure provided by God is that of "consummation" of a level before one can restart at the next higher discrete degree. The consummation is necessary in order to make visible the falsities and evils of that level. By rejecting these falisties and evils we are transferred to the next highest degree of consciousness, and the process restarts.
All states, except the last one called the Crown of all states, grow, progress, and are finally consummated. This means that spiritual perceptions and insights are given all along the progression and that these insights are dependent on where in the progression one is. Typically the initial or infancy period of any level receives the highest and most significant spiritual insights, when our love and enthusiasm for them is maximal. Then gradually there is a decline in our love and enthusiasm within that level of development. In the last period of that level, our insights and passion is fully consummated so that we no longer can benefit by staying in that level. If we stay, we continue to decline and begin to reverse the process. Now spiritual truths are turned into spiritual falsities and spiritual good is turned into evil. If we continue on this path, we are entering more and more into the hells of the mind where we are bonded to those who are already there, and to join them at last at the death of the physical body.
It therefore becomes all important and imperative that we make the transfer to the next highest degree of the mind when our lower degree is fully consummated. This we effect through fighting the temptations that God then provides for each of us, on an individual basis. There are natural temptations, spiritual temptations, and celestial temptations (see this article for more information). This crucial transition process is called The Coming of the Lord to each of us individually. The Lord comes at the consummation of the age within each degree so that we can ascend to the next highest degree. We cannot do this by ourselves. We have no power by ourselves to fight a single temptation because the entire hells are behind every temptation, and no one can withstand such compulsive forces. Therefore our only option is to appeal to God, to acknowledge God's Presence and true role in this fight, while at the very same time we fight as-of-self to resist and overcome. If we do not combine these two elements it is impossible to transfer ourselves into the next degree. We then decline to the sad end.
These processes of growth occur in the threefold mind, or spirit. Every human being has a threefold self called the three domains: the affective domain, the cognitive domain, and the sensorimotor domain. These spiritual organs or systems correspond to the three systems in the body: heart and circulation of blood (affective), lungs and pulmonary breathing (cognitive), and nerves and spinal column (sensorimotor). The affective organ of our mind or spirit is the locus of our feeling life that includes our intentions, motives, loves, and all their affections. Thus the affective organ has been called the will. The cognitive organ of the mind or spirit is the locus of our thinking life that includes thoughts, knowledges, reasonings, and all meaningful perceptions. Thus the cognitive organ has been called the understanding. The sensorimotor organ of our mind or spirit is the locus of our sensations and motoric proprioceptive feedback life that includes all information entering through our senses and internal body receptors. Thus the sensorimotor organ has been called the externalizing self. These three lives constitute all of the activities and processes involved in the development of our mind and consciousness.
God plays an active hands-on role in these mental or spiritual activities. Without this active and intense Divine management of our feelings, thoughts, and sensations, we would be left to our own intelligence (called our proprium.), and this inevitably brings us to instant consummation and permanent states of hell. God is not capable of changing us afterwards without destroying us altogether. This is not because God won't forgive our sins but because the human spiritual growth process is permanent and irreversible without destruction. This is a consequence of our immortality and of the organs of the mind or spirit which are constructed of substances from the spiritual sun. These create permanent forms and shapes that cannot be altered by God without destroying the whole individual self. Hence it becomes crucial and all important that we progress in our spiritual growth according to the Laws of Divine Providence, as provided for in the orderly consummation of each phase of growth and the ensuing transfer to the next phase by means of fighting with temptations provided by God. The consummation is necessary in order to make visible the falsities and evils of that level. By rejecting these falisties and evils we are transferred to the next highest degree of consciousness, and the process restarts.
The following matrix is arranged by DEGREES--the lowest degree at the bottom and the highest degree at the top. For a detailed explanation of the zones and their numbering system, please consult matrix 19 and 20 in part 3.
Note various properties of the matrix. The matrix is arranged by degrees and the corresponding age periods are given. Note that the order of age periods is different from the order of degrees. The bottom layer is the externalizing natural plane of existence. Its corresponding natural degree is the internalizing natural. These two interact only through the laws of correspondence. The internalizing is discontinuous with the externalizing. No part of one can ever touch the other no matter how far or wide we go at each level. There is no crossing point because there is no direct contact or influence. Only through correspondences can they communicate with each other, that is, be functionally related to each other, and thus acting together in consort. This also means that the externalizing can develop and grow to any extent but will never torch or turn into the internalizing. Thus, the externalizing can be very active while the internal is totally closed or unopened and inactive. Our consciousness at the externalizing natural level can continue to grow to any extent even as our consciousness at the internalizing natural level remains totally dark or non-operative. This reasoning applies to all levels in relation to each other.
For instance, the externalizing rational degree cannot be opened unless the internalizing natural degree is already opened and operative. The extent to which a higher or deeper degree of the mind can be opened is dependent on sufficient activity of consciousness going on at the immediately lower degree. These successive dependencies obey the laws of correspondence and are called representatives and signifcatives. Swedenborg explicates thousands of representatives and significatives that are contained in Bible verses. He also describes scenes he has witnessed in the spiritual world that provided him with living experiences of correspondences between spiritual thoughts and natural appearances. In actuality, the externalizing appearance of the spiritual world to the inhabitants there is made of these representations and significatives. For example, when Swedenborg saw someone from a afar, the individual's appearance, clothing, and surroundings corresponded to the person's thoughts and feelings. By this way, as inhabitants of the spiritual world, we can instantly know and recognize the mental character and intentions of approaching individuals. The externalizing responds to and is governed by the internalizing, and never the other way round, which is an impossibility.
The externalizing spiritual is entirely different and discontinuous with the internalizing spiritual. They only communicate by the laws of correspondences. Our consciousness in the externalizing spiritual degree can be compared to childhood while our consciousness in the internalizing spiritual degree can be likened to adulthood (see matrix1 above). Note the Descending Pathway: 1-5-9. The start of our consciousness is in infancy (Zone 1) which is in the externalizing celestial degree of the affective domain. This is what we admire and love about babies when it is still very perceptible, and it delights nearly everyone, young and old. Their mood and feelings and intentions are innocent, which is to say, that their affections are in direct correspondence with celestial inhabitants, that is, Angels of Heaven. Who are these celestial inhabitants? How did they get there? The answer is that these are individuals whose internalizing degrees of the mind all the way to the celestial were opened before they passed on into the spiritual world at the death of the body. Swedenborg calls them angels or angelic spirits. Those whose minds were unopened to any higher degree and passed on, are not capable of having any of their higher degrees opened. It is an impossibility. Swedenborg fully explains and demonstrates the basis for this fact.
As infancy ends and childhood begins (this involves a variable range of years), the next degree is opened. Thus, our externalizing spiritual consciousness (Zone 5) begins to be active. Children love Bible stories because of this. They feel a reassuring warmth in the idea of God--perhaps because they're never alone through that idea which they love. And Divine influx into that idea actually produces the experience of feeling calm and peaceful, and this to the extent that the child loves the idea of God. As childhood ends and adolescence begins a brand new consciousness becomes available to our mind's receptive organs. This is the conscious awareness and experiencing of the descending pathway 1-5-9 which begins with externalizing celestial feelings (Zone 1) engendering a correspondential activity in the externalizing spiritual thoughts (Zone 5) and exiting into a correspondential activity in the body, or externalizing natural (Zone 9). No wonder that we feel the enthusiasm and bounciness of life in our adolescent years! Our experience is rich because it contains two higher degrees within it (Zones 1 and 5). This descending staircase from heaven goes through Levels I, II, and III (see matrix above). It is the period of our sensuous consciousness and therefore externalizing and below our rational consciousness (Levels IV, V, and VI). Until we are ready to reverse this process to an ascending one, we remain in our sensuous consciousness. This is not yet fully human, fully adult. The full adult mature human begins in rational consciousness.
Young adulthood begins when our mind is opened to the internalizing natural degree (Zone 12). This is called the point of INVERSION from the descending pathway to the ascending pathway, or from sensual consciousness (which is externalizing) to rational consciousness, which is internalizing. For instance, when an adolescent begins to experience the idea of God in the affective domain of intentions, the individual begins to fear displeasing God. We now begin to deny ourselves certain thoughts and desires on account of God. This makes the idea of God more internalizing, more real, and the consciousness influx can occur at a higher level--which is thus opened. The higher degree cannot be opened until the lower degree becomes sufficiently active. For example, the adolescent participates in Church activities from the motive of wanting to relate to God or wanting to express obedience and love toward God. This internalizing natural consciousness (Zone 12) is totally new and captivating. Influx can now occur that builds up structures in our mind that could not exist before. Like self-esteem that comes from the voluntary submission to Divine commandments out of love and respect rather than fear. The internalizing natural consciousness is the true beginning our our relationship to God. It has matured into a personal love affair between the individual and the supreme Deity, thus fulfilling the First Commandment in the Bible.
For convenience, here is matrix1 again:
In the phases of the Descending Pathway (Zones 1 through 9) we come into states of externalizing good of the Human Divine from which we can perceive the new truths we need to overcome in the next series of temptations. This overcoming is effected as-of-self by shunning evils as sins while simultaneously recognizing that it is God who is fighting on our behalf against the entire hells and that we are totally powerless to do this from our own intelligence and will. But in the phases of the Ascending Pathway (Zones 10 through 18) we come into states of internalizing truth which we need to overcome in the next series of temptations so that we may come into the new good of the Divine Human. This overcoming is again effected as-of-self by shunning evils as sins while simultaneously recognizing that it is God who is fighting on our behalf against the entire hells and that we are totally powerless to do this from our own intelligence and will. Each new truth reveals deeper evils within ourselves so that new temptations can be given to us. It is only through this orderly series of temptations that we can be brought by God into closer and closer states of conjunction with Him, and thus be saved.
The Ascending Pathway: 12-14-16 is the true beginning our human-ness. It brings us rational consciousness (Levels IV, V, and VI). Yet the full stature of adulthood does not begin until our mind is opened to the internalizing spiritual degree (Zone 14). We are now capable of receiving more internalizing Divine influx through the mediation of the internalizing spiritual. The concepts we are now capable of understanding are deeper and higher, nearer to Divine Truth. If we write down these concepts or ideas in sentences of natural language, only those can understand them whose internalizing spiritual degree has opened. If we looked at such writings in our young adulthood phase of internalizing natural consciousness (Zone 12), we would have been totally unable to comprehend those sentences. Instead of comprehending, we would make something else up that suits the internalizing natural consciousness, and foolishly believe that that's what was contained in those sentences. The opening of this internalizing spiritual consciousness (Zone 14) allows us new powers not available before. Now for the first time we can begin the process of REGENERATION. This means essentially undergoing temptations at each level and overcoming them with a higher consciousness. This is impossible without a love and respect relationship to God as a Divine Human whom we can picture and talk to, and from whom we can receive, perceive, and experience Divine love and truth.
As regeneration proceeds through ever more internalizing temptations that are tailor made for every individual at the right time, adulthood turns into old age (Zone 16). this is the highest state of consciousness we can reach as humans, and we are not fully human until this state of mind is opened in us. The internalizing celestial (Zones 16, 17, and 18) affords feelings, thoughts, and experiences that were not possible until then. It reunites for the first time with the angels in whose company we were as infants. In old age we have come back home. Now our entire structure and physiology of the mind in all its internalizing and externalizing degrees can be operative simultaneously. This is the full human and we are then angels and ready to pass on and begin life in eternity as angels in heaven. Swedenborg describes numerous details about the societies of the heavens in which he was allowed to be present during his dual citizenship from age 57 to his passing on at 84.
The highest level of the human mind is the internalizing celestial degree (Zones 16,17, and 18). In this degree we are in the proper human or the celestial as-of-self. In short, the celestial self is the true human, the regenerated human. It is only in this degree that we act in full freedom out of true rationality. Only in this state is there RECIPROCAL CONJUNCTION with God. In earlier states of the mind there is conjunction with God, but not yet reciprocal conjunction from us to God. Immediate influx is universal but mediate influx is only from reciprocal conjunction. It is mediate influx that makes us truly human. This reciprocal conjunction is achieved gradually from birth to old age, as we go through the orderly series of successive states shown in matrix1 (Zones 1 through 18).
In general, we are born natural, then become spiritual, and finally celestial. But this takes place by the descending pathway, which is externalizing or sensual consciousness, then an INVERSION takes place (Zone 9 to Zone 12), and we begin the ascending pathway, passing through the spiritual states, and at last arriving to the celestial. Note that our very first state, or infancy, is an externalizing celestial state that is temporary (Zone 1). This state is called the celestial of the innocence of infancy. It is the innocence of ignorance, as the understanding (Zone 2) and the sensorimotor from that understanding (Zone 3) remain unopened until old age. This celestial of infancy is affective and unconscious, a state of unmerited grace from God. In contrast, the ascending pathway reached in old age (Zone 16) is called the innocence of wisdom of old age, and constitutes a complete as-of-self involving the three domains (Zones 16, 17, and 18). The descending pathway indicates the succeeding company of angels in our VERTICAL COMMUNITY. In infancy (Zone 1) we are with the celestial angels; in childhood (Zone 5) we are with the spiritual angels; and in adolescence we are with natural angels (Zone 9). Then the inversion takes place as we enter young adulthood during which we are in the internalizing natural state with the angels of the natural or first heaven (Zone 12). This internalizing natural state is also called a spiritual natural state. As we ascend into adulthood (Zone 14) we are in an internalizing spiritual state with angels of the second or spiritual heaven. And finally as we enter into old age we are in an internalizing celestial state (Zone 16) back in the company with the angels of the third heaven or celestial angels. This orderly progression must go on with every individual before the death of the body.
The orderly series depicted in matrix1 not only represents an individual's biography but the evolution of the human race as well. The human mind from the beginning of creation underwent each of these steps, the descending pathway first, then the ascending pathway. Swedenborg was given to investigate these steps by encountering representative samples of people from each evolutionary epoch called a Church. For instance, the first Church on this earth is called The Most Ancient Church and the people of that era were in the childhood state of the race, a state of the innocence of infancy (Zone 1). Swedenborg confirms that they were in direct communication or dialog with the angels of the celestial heaven as this was being populated more and more with each generation on earth passing from earth into the spiritual world. They did not have a written Word and neither did they have a rational as-of-self but knew everything they had to know for their regeneration immediately from the angels, from within. This Church was succeeded by the Ancient Church, after which came the Israelitish Church (Eber) and Jewish Church (Moses) which lasted until the establishment of the Christian Church though it continues historically today. The Christian Church lasted until the establishment of the New Church or New Christian Church through the Writings of Swedenborg which are also called The Second Coming of the Lord and the Third Testament (also: The Latin Word, the Last Testament, the Rational Word, the Word for the New Church, and others). Each Church represents the biological evolution of the human race and marks a distinct new degree of consciousness, ever closer to being a true and full human being, and therefore also closer and closer to God. This has been and remains God's purpose for creation, namely, to evolve the human race to ever purer humanness and thereby to ever closer conjunction with Him. For the closer humans are to God, as a race and as single individuals, the more He can convey to us powers of happiness, goodness, and intelligence to eternity.
There is a correspondential unity between evolutionary biology and history. For instance, the Old Testament is the Word written at an intellectual level suitable for children and the uneducated as well as the educated and theologian. On the surface it is a history book about the people of God extending over thousands of years. Geographical places are mentioned that are still there today and names of individuals who have left behind records and achievements documented in other books. Natural phenomena are described such as earthquakes or floods, many animals mentioned, besides cities, battles, and pestilences that befell some people. And yet, below the surface of these natural historical events, underlying meanings can be extracted by the laws of correspondence. These extracted meanings are discovered to be arranged in orderly series or taxonomies of spiritual biological facts and phenomena. This extraction process is rational or scientific, following a demonstrable and verifiable methodology accessible to all rational persons who seek truth in them for the sake of their closeness and love to God. Evidently God sees to it that every item mentioned in the historical content of the Word be precisely such that it corresponds to the internalizing meanings arranged in rational series. Though any rational person can expound Doctrine based on these extracted series only those can understand it who can see the series in themselves. A scholar or theistic scientist could create Doctrine through this methodology, but will not perceive what it actually stands for until the Doctrine is seen in oneself. Others who are more advanced in their regeneration process will be able to perceive much more in the Doctrine than its developer and creator.
Here is a matrix that summarizes the series discussed: MATRIX 2
Biology and psychology students are familiar with the expression "Ontology recapitulates phylogeny." This means that the developmental stages of a growing egg or fetus undergo a series of changes that correspond to the series of changes described by evolutionists for various species. Some common process operates on both. In theistic psychology we have a description of this common process because all natural phenomena are effects of spiritual causes. There is a law of correspondence that dictates what happens in one and therefore in the other. The spiritual and natural worlds are inexorably linked in this fashion from creation. The two matrices here discussed are a description of the principle "Individual development recapitulates the evolution of civilization." The evolution of civilization is the history of the race's major steps in becoming modern rational societies. Relying on Swedenborg direct investigations of ancient peoples through his dual citizenship, the two matrices show the correspondential relations between individual development of self and the history of the Churches on this earth. The Church signifies a society's level of moral evolution. The level of thinking of an era is the Church for the individuals of that time. There is a common process determining the steps of both. This common process is the degree of the mind that has been opened for that generation.
Degrees are the mechanics of the operation of the Laws of Divine Providence. This is the generator. All parts move only and strictly in unison as a whole. To God the universe is one. As Swedenborg expresses it, In God all things are one. This is the meaning of infinity and omnipotence. The more diverse things make a one, or unity, the more perfect it grows. To God all details of past, present, and future states of the universe are determined, governed, willed, and known. This is an infinity because the process is endless. The Third Testament focuses on this issue in multiple places and Works. In all this there is rationality and orderliness. All events, if they exist or can exist, occupy a pre-cast position in a rational and orderly series. This structure of reality is God's mind. Prior to the Incarnation, that is, the amazing event of God birthing Himself on this earth through a virgin woman, the human race had a mental development that went through three major stages corresponding to Infancy, Childhood, and Adolescence. These periods correspond to the lower regions of the mind. These regions in our mind are relatively externalizing to our main core, which is much higher.
The lowest regions in our mind are called corporeal and sensual. These are major components of the natural mind. This region of our mind overlaps with those of "lower" animals in that both are based on sensory input. The basis of our thinking at the natural level when our higher regions have not been opened yet, is like that of a clever ape. No doubt the cleverest of apes, but not yet human. The human begins with the rational. When the rational begins to be opened, the individual begins the journey to humanness. But the rational region also has a range of depth of development so that the lower regions of the rational mind is called externalizing rational, while the upper regions are called internalizing rational. There is an enormous difference between the externalizing and internalizing rational. The externalizing rational borders the corporeal-sensuous-natural region (animalistic). And so it is only a filter for these incoming sensuous facts about the natural world only. There is a huge step for society to take when it evolves from an animalistic natural state to a human rational state (externalizing rational). And yet the rational is not operating in a fully human manner until it abandons all the facts coming from the natural world (that is, from below), and filters through only those facts coming in from the spiritual world (that is, from above).
Such is the mind created, for dual citizenship, so that it can develop first through thinking based on sensuous consciousness, and then through an inversion, the basis of our thinking switches to rational consciousness. The first process is a descending pathway from infancy to adolescence because in these three phases of growth, the basis of our evolving thinking is sensuous input. This is our socialization and culture. It is the individual's horizontal community. After the inversion, our true human functioning starts and we become spiritual beings. Spiritual beings receive their experiential input from the spiritual world. As soon as our mental receptors in the internalizing degree are activated, the basis of our thinking becomes spiritual. From then on our feelings, motives, and acts are activated from a new degree of the self. There are three internalizing degrees of the self and of civilization. These are the internalizing natural, the internalizing spiritual, and the internalizing celestial. These correspond to the three heavens. They constitute our vertical community
It is common for the Incarnation to be associated exclusively with the Christian Church. This has an historical explanation. But from the perspective of theistic psychology, all religions are cultural expressions of a particular stage of human development. As fully documented in the Writings of Swedenborg, all religions that worship God have their own special place in the highest regions of the human mind. God is the God of all religions, and there is only one God. Those who point the finger at other individuals, saying they worship the wrong God, are exercising a political gesture, not a scientific one. Every religion in its highest achievement leads to the same one God. This is a scientific and universal fact that follows from the entire rational structure to be found in the Writings of Swedenborg. The highest level of the mind is the internalizing celestial. All religions point to this degree as their ultimate and final destination. Swedenborg has talked to individuals who are in this degree of the mind called the Celestial Heaven, and all recognize the same universal Divine facts no matter what religion they originally started out with and went through on the way up. There those below this degree of the mind, whom Swedenborg interviewed, and they all clung to their religion in more externalizing degrees. In these relatively more externalizing or lower degrees, they were intolerant and prejudiced, thus not at all celestial and scientific. When the universal facts are laid out for them by the celestial angels, they are not willing to receive the truths and reject them. Thus they remain forever outside the heavenly state of mind and consciousness, below the heavenly feelings, motives, decisions, and actions, and even contrary to them.
The purpose of religion is to conjoin the individual with God and God with the individual. Only in this conjunction can the internalizing degrees of the mind be opened, and the opening or growth is limited by the degree of conjunction. For the internalizing celestial of the mind to be opened we must undergo the process of regeneration through temptations. The precise moment of the death of our physical body is an event directly tied to this process. Our life in the physical body is for the sole purpose of opening the mind to its internalizings. If this opening process is no longer possible due to local circumstances surrounding the life of an individual, death immediately ensues, and the person is released from the physical body into its truly proper body, the spiritual body. Swedenborg has witnessed this process with thousands of individuals who passed on as they were extracted or "resuscitated" from the corpse. The process of extracting the spiritual body from the physical body, and thus freeing it into its world, takes about 36 hours under normal circumstances. Upon awakening the individual slowly emerges to the new consciousness of life in the spirit body in the spiritual body. At first the natural sensual memories and identity of the individual are retained to such an extent that the new "place" appears very similar to the old. Swedenborg was amazed to hear many doubt that they are now in the spiritual world, especially those whose minds were not opened to the internalizing degree and so did not take the existence of the afterlife seriously.
But gradually, within a matter of days and weeks, the externalizing sensual memories and thoughts are "quieted down" and moved out of immediate focus to the sub-conscious mind where it remains hidden and inactive. Instead there now emerges the internalizing levels of the individual that were not in direct focus in one's former life within the physical body. For instance, our conscious awareness of the affective domain (at all levels and degrees--Zones 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, and 16) is extremely restricted at all times. We are more conscious of the cognitive domain. We are most aware of the sensorimotor domain. During the initial period of our afterlife we are still cognizant mostly of our externalizing sensual memory and identity, which is located in the sensorimotor and the cognitive domains. But as we pass on into our "second death" we come alive fully in our internalizing parts of the functioning mind, that is, in the affective domain. When this happens we are a changed person in actuality and in appearance. Friends and family (in the spiritual world) no longer recognize us and we don't recognize them. To our new friends and family however, we are entirely familiar. Now for the first time we come into our own, or as the Old Testament prophet puts it, we are gathered to our fathers. Everyone who shares similar affective structures now are congregated by the inexorable geographic laws of the spiritual world. Like is congregated with like and the unlike cannot meet, do not exist for each other.
This is why reaching heaven or hell is not a matter of punishment or reward or choice, once we enter the spiritual world. It is our life in the physical body that determines where our spiritual body ends up--in heavenly regions of the mind or in hellish regions. Choice ends at death's door. Such as we are internalizingly upon leaving earth, such is our lot where we arrive. This makes it super-imperative for each of us to amend our character through regeneration and temptation. When we allow God, everyone's Divine Therapist, to bring us to particular individualized temptations and help us conquer them, then we can change our moral character from negative to positive, from selfish to altruistic. This we cannot do on our own, just as we can do nothing on our own but only through Divine power given us by influx. We are all born animalistic with the potential of being regenerated. If we cooperate with God in the process of regeneration, the spirit body that emerges at death is healed or "saved." If we refuse to cooperate, more and more we strengthen our vertical associations with those in the lowest regions of the mind called the hells. Our mind is formed into life with them and is unsuitable and impossible for life in heaven where those are whose minds have been opened to the internalizing degrees.
Swedenborg explains that our intromission into the internalizing degrees of the mind, or the three heavens, is by gyres. I did not understand the meaning of this until years after I first read it. My understanding today (in March 2001) is that the mind is constructed out of spiritual substances that are set in perpetual motion. The form or directionality of these motions is represented by a vortex. There are two fundamental motions to a vortex, clockwise and counter-clockwise. At every level and degree of growth, the mind builds upon itself with more and more of these vortex motions arranged in taxonomic correspondence with the regions of the spiritual world. Think of the brain. It is made of convoluted fibers twisting into each other in masses and clumps, each clump having different functions depending on its geographic location of the brain. The brain has this type of shape and organization because it corresponds to the mind's shape and organization. The mind is composed of layers of fibers made of immortal or permanent spiritual substances. The location of the layer, or its level of degree, determines its function: degrees of sensual consciousness (Zones 1 through 9 in matrix2 above) and degrees of rational consciousness (Zones 10 through 18). Not shown in this matrix are the opposite of these Zones.
Oppositeness in consciousness comes about when the vortex motion of the spiritual fibers that constitute the mind or spirit body, is gyrating in the opposite direction of the spiritual Sun and heaven. Hell is nothing but the exact opposite replica of heaven. There are numerous uncountable heavens in all three degrees just as there are numerous uncountable stars in the physical world. And yet, all the heavens are united into a one because they gyrate in compatible motion to create the unity within the diversity. A complicated mechanical machine like an airplane may have thousands of pieces of parts, each with their own shape, but these shapes must be consistent with the whole of the airplane, or else they oppose the working of the airplane, and even destroy it. The human mind or spirit body is an organic machine or psychobiological entity. When its parts depart from unity, there is dysfunction, and eventually cessation of all function. A virus introduced into our blood stream can quickly kill the body and end all circulation. It is opposite to the functioning of the body cells, like cancer, gangrene, or Alzheimer. The spiritual world, that is the mind of all individuals, gyrates in two opposite directions called heaven and hell.
At every level in each degree our mind grows like a plant made of spiritual substances. Growth of the mind means growth of those fibers arranged in shapes that are unique to every individual. Our sensory input, our experiences, our socialization, our culture and religion, are all determiners of these shapes and arrangements or taxonomies. Above all, our individual decisions, choices, and loves or passions, determine the unique shape of these permanent never-dying whirling vortices. Nothing of them can ever be removed from the self. This is why it is so critical that we undergo regeneration through temptations. God introduces a particular temptation to an individual at a particular time and phase of development for the purpose of laying aside the clumps that whirl in the wrong direction, and substituting in that place a new vortex clump that whirls in the heavenly direction. Thus the oppositeness of our evils can gradually be laid aside bit by bit, day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute. This process is called regeneration and is possible only while we are still in the physical body.
A mechanical analogy may be helpful to explain how the mind develops in organic networks that gyrate in one direction only. Suppose you want to secure a hook against the wall using a screw. Using a screwdriver you need to apply a forceful twist in the clockwise direction, and with each twist the screw gets further in and the hook fastens itself tighter to the wall, fulfilling its function successfully. But if you twist the screwdriver counterclockwise, no matter how often or with what force, the screw will not succeed to fulfill its function. The two motions, clockwise and counterclockwise are opposites. Living our consciousness in the internalizing degrees of the three heavens in our mind is only possible when functional preparation is made while in the physical body, before the spirit body is set free. Entering our heaven is possible only if, during our growth phase, we establish the heavenly gyres in our mental structures. Since we are born with inherited tendencies towards the love of self and all its associated evils, our natural tendency right from birth is to establish hellish gyres in our affective and cognitive organs. This is going down the stream and is easy in comparison to resisting the counter-gyres, battling with them, wrestling them down, stopping them, casting them to the side and keeping them chained forever. Whichever gyres we have established, remain forever.
Gyres in the mental organs cannot associate as opposites since opposites annihilate or neutralize each other. But since it is a necessity to have both types of gyres within the mind while we are being regenerated (but not thereafter), God governs the process by separating them and keeping a barrier between them that they may not interact. Counter-gyres are kept in the externalizing consciousness while heavenly gyres are retained in more internal levels of that degree. As the counter-gyres are stopped and made non-functional, they are removed to the side and below, tucked away, never to be re-activated except under special situations. For example, when an angel from the internalizing degrees is to meet a recently deceased family member, which sometimes happens, the angel descends into lower and more exterior degrees of the mind where the new arrivals are. To achieve this some of the old counter-gyres may be briefly reactivated. The Laws of Divine Providence exert a determining influence on the development of gyres and their interaction. God's love is so intense that there is ceaseless effort on His part to influence our as-of-self twists and turns in our daily and hourly lives. By mediate (conscious) influx God speaks to us through the voice of our conscience, constantly urging and nagging us to choose what's right and good. By immediate (unconscious) influx God constantly bends our inclinations and moderates our viciousness and selfishness. Gyres not only turn towards God, or away, but they also vary in strength or power or intensity. God moderates the intensity of our counter-gyres and limits their vehemence and destructiveness. In this way people who associate with the hells freely can be persuaded and guided into lesser evils. The hells are actually arranged in depth from weakest to worst and God saves many from ending up in a worse hell. If this moderating force were not exercised by the Divine Love and Wisdom, everyone would instantly cast themselves into the lowest possible hell--such has become the force of our fallen inheritance.
The vortex development within each level is achieved by making the levels recursive. Every level contains within itself a representation of all the other levels. This idea is familiar in biology since every cell of the body contains a copy or representation of the entire gene structure of the entire body. In other words the entire body is replicated by representation in each part of the body or cell. I searched for a name for this principle and have been using the word synecdoche, which the dictionary defines as "a figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole and the whole for a part." In this case it is not a figure of speech but a spiritual and psychobiological reality. All degrees are contained as a representation in every level or degree. This means that as we grow in a single level or degree, we must step through in consciousness, all the levels and degrees. The entire structure is recapitulated in the smallest part of it. The recapitulation accomplishes a different result at each level and appropriate to that level. It cannot be otherwise. This is how the growth of the spiritual fibers takes place. The recursiveness of this system allows for the establishment of the vortex in each clump at every level. The vortex is nothing but the stepping through from degree to degree, hence each degree must be stepped through at each level in order to establish the vortex.
A moral character is created by the self's striving to achieve self-articulated goals that are heavenly. An evil or depraved character is created by the self's striving to achieve self-articulated goals that are hellish. All strivings for goals are either heavenly or hellish--there is no other possibility. such is the human mind because such is the spiritual world or Divine Reality. God's mind is heavenly and everything that departs from it is unreality and hellish, opposed to the heavenly in each fiber and each motion of the fiber as it relates the the rest of the fibers that make up the immortal unique individual mind. The hellish regions of the mind are the hellish regions of the spiritual world. Only those gyres are possible in these regions that are opposite to the heavenly gyres. Swedenborg has described numerous experiments whereby individuals with hellish gyres were brought into a mental state where the internalizing degrees were--the three heavens. And it always ended very quickly as those individuals at first saw and heard nothing, and developed internal spasmodic motions they described as agony tearing them apart, like an airplane disintegrating under excessive and violent shaking. They thus cast themselves out of the heavenly sphere and revive as soon as they arrive back to their hellish sphere, never again wanting to visit the heavenly sphere.
This explains in scientific rational terms why hell exists and why it is not a punishment due to lack of forgiveness on the part of an unforgiving God. God loves nothing better than to take every individual into the heavenly sphere called eternity and bliss. The mind was constructed for this purpose. But God also acts within a Divine rational order, for only such an order is congruent with God's infinite Love and Wisdom. No other way is possible, no other way is reality. One may wonder why God constructed the human mind in such a way that it has the power to create opposite gyres in the mind. The answer is that without this power given us, we could not be truly human, we could not conjoin ourselves reciprocally to God, and we could not therefore be immortal being living in eternal bliss in heaven. The mechanism that allows us to conjoin reciprocally to God is called the as-of-self or proprium.
The as-of-self or Proprium
The as-of-self is a good alternative to the usual word "self." It is proven in many ways in the Writings of Swedenborg that the self has no power to act or do anything from itself because nothing created can act from itself. Only God can act from Himself or only the Divine can act from itself. Therefore all things in the created universe are called "passives" while all things uncreate that exist in God are called "actives." For example, love is an active while the affective organ of the mind is the passive for it. Similarly truth is an active while the cognitive organ of the mind is the passive for it. The self is thus a receptor organ for Divine love and wisdom, just as the eye is a receptor organ for sunlight and the objects it illuminates. In order to develop and grow each self we must have strivings in accordance with our loves and interests, and make decisions that are congruent with these. Out of these two acting together flow our actions. This is our life. Human beings are human to the extent that they act from rational choice in accordance with their heavenly goals. In order to keep this process actual we must have the feeling that we have a self from which we act. But since we cannot act from self (as just explained) God must give us the actual appearance that we do. Rationally we can understand this by using the idea of as-of-self.
The as-of-self appearance and feeling is achieved by God through the vertical community. We are hitched to one another in clumps, gyres, and series. The entire human race, past, present, and future, is hitched in this fashion. When we are faced with life we are faced with choices, and humans make choices rationally in accordance with their goals or desired ends. God uses the various elements of the vertical community to keep an individual in moral and intellectual balance. For instance, a particular temptation is provided through the Divine management of circumstances, which necessitates a decision on our part. Now God brings us into communication with spiritual societies from heaven and from hell. There is influx into our spirit or mind so that our thoughts correspond to one side in one moment, and to the other side in another moment, just like a battle or duel that is going on. Our thoughts and feelings are now activated, in turn from heavenly gyres and hellish gyres. At any instant in this process we can go along with one side or the other. We feel pulled in both directions, and the letting go of resistance in one direction is achieved by turning our mind towards that gyre and entering it, thus eliminating the other gyre. In this way we daily, hourly, and by the minute choose heaven or hell in our minute decisions. The cumulative memory and identity of these numerous decisions coalesces and the as-of-self. It thus grow without any power of itself, and yet it is truly the self. We feel that our self thus cumulated is our own.
If God were to create a heavenly mind without also giving it the as-of-self appearance of being able to be oppositional, then the self would not be our own, would not feel our own, and we would not value life, we would not have any happiness whatsoever. Clearly then hell is necessary so that we can choose heaven as of ourselves.
The following quotation from Swedenborg describes his mission to the world in a conversation he held with angels.
In the following quotation Swedenborg describes how he found his Writings in the spiritual world where they were shining with light from the holy things that were in it and protected by a cherub. The inscription NUNC LICET was inscribed on the wall of the temple where it was laid open. This Latin phrase means "It is now permitted" and the full inscription given below, says that it is now permitted to enter rationally into the former mysteries of the Word. This means that as we enter the internalizing celestial degree of our mind called "the Church of the New Jerusalem" (see matrix2 above) the former mysteries of the Divine are laid open to the internalizing rational of our consciousness. The mysteries are now scientifics laid down in the Third Testament (or the Writings of Swedenborg). This is then the beginning of theistic psychology.
Since the development of consciousness is recursive (see above) the sequence of degrees must be stepped through in our growth for each phase or degree. For theistic psychology and the New Church, this notion may be illustrated by the depth of internalizing understanding of doctrine as one proceeds with development.
The infancy or beginning phase of theistic psychology and the New Church begins when as adults we confirm the idea in our mind that the Writings of Swedenborg are a Divine revelation not given to the human race before. Those who are born into the New Church or are introduced into that religion in childhood, have not yet reached this state of the externalizing celestial degree of the mind with regard to their religion. When we are mature adults we need to re-confirm our childhood religion as adults, that is, thinking from our own self and not just obeying our parental beliefs. When as adults we confirm in our mind that the Writings are a Divine revelation unlike any before that given to the human race, then for the first time, we enter into the externalizing celestial consciousness. This is a sensual consciousness based on the literal of the Writings. In this state we feel happy that we have been privileged to perceive a new Divine revelation. We even feel superior to those who have not yet acknowledged this new revelation for humankind. At the same time we feel that the study of the Writings is a hardship; we find them arcane and difficult and foreign to our everyday culture. Sometimes we complain about it. We search for easier and "more modern" translations of the original Latin. We also hold on to other authors and books as being "inspired" and we feel we need these ties to those who have been seekers of truth and had a brilliant genius. We see contradictions and "errors" that we attribute to Swedenborg's culture and times and some things are necessarily outdated and not fully modern. (See Christen Blom-Dahl's list of Swedenborg's so-called "intellection failure".)
We then evolve into the second phase of childhood when as adults we become fully convinced that the Writings are not only a new inspired revelation, but the are actually the Word of God. This is an externalizing spiritual state of consciousness and is also sensuous. In this phase we believe that the Writings are a rational revelation and their meaning is the internal sense of the Old and New Testaments. As we read the literal text of the Writings our focus remains on the OT and NT of the Bible. These are considered the Word in greater measure than the Writings. The Writings take their strength and power from being an explanation of the internal sense of the OT and NT. In this state we do not fully recognize that the Writings are fully the Word in the same sense as the NT and OT are fully the Word. When reading the literal of the Writings and see the expression "the Word" our mind flips instantly to the OT and the NT rather than the Writings.
In the third phase of adolescence we are focused on understanding the Writings as Doctrine. We identify the literal of the Writings with Doctrine--calling them the Heavenly Doctrines--though we recognize that our understanding of the Doctrine needs to be deepened ever more as we go through life and practice our religion. This is an externalizing natural state in which we have a sensuous consciousness. We rely entirely on ourselves, on our own intelligence, to deepen our understanding of the Doctrines. We rely on the study of others to give us lectures, sermons, and summaries in our attempt to grapple with the Doctrines and make them our own understanding. Our life doesn't change much except for our striving to live our religion honestly and with integrity.
Then there is an inversion.
Before this inversion we remain in the state represented by the First Coming of the Lord in the New Church; after the inversion we advance to the internalizing states represented by the Second Coming of the Lord in the New Church. Before the inversion the idea that the Writings have an internal sense is rejected, as shown by a negative review of De Hemelsche Leer proposals:
But after the inversion, we see confirmation of the inner sense, as shown by this contributor to De Hemelsche Leer:
Sensual consciousness in the externalizing natural state is the lowest of the orderly states of spiritual progression and it is only in this state of full vastation and consummation that it is possible for the Lord to come to us. For the Lord's Coming is a sensual coming directly perceived. The consummation is necessary in order to make visible the falsities and evils of that level. By rejecting these falisties and evils we are transferred to the next highest degree of consciousness, and the process restarts. In historical terms there was only one Incarnation and Resurrection where God "came to His people" in a natural and physical presence on this earth about two thousand years ago. This physical reappearance cannot take place again, yet a sensual presence of the Lord in the literal of the Word is possible and necessary ("God was the Word and the Word was made Flesh"). The expression "eating the flesh and drinking the blood" refers to this coming of God to each individual when the age of development is consummated and another degree of the mind is opened. Eating and drinking refer to what we must do in our mind or spirit, that is, appropriating to ourselves the new and higher goods and trues given to us in the infancy phase of the next highest degree of development. Now we can receive higher trues and insights than before which will in time decline and be consummated in preparation for the next coming of God to us. This coming is not in physical presence but in spiritual presence, or a coming to our mind or spirit. This spiritual coming cannot take place except in and through the Word, that is, in and through the trues and goods we appropriate to our life as we read and are guided by the Word.
The fourth phase of our development (young adulthood) is the opening of the internalizing natural. This for the first time, gives us access to a rational consciousness of the Writings. In this new phase of the internalizing natural, or natural spiritual, we immediately recognize the Writings as fully the Word, having an externalizing literal in which is hidden the spiritual and celestial meanings, just like the OT and NT. Now for the first time we love to call the Writings The Third Testament (or the Last Testament). We have elevated the Writings to be fully the Word, equal to the OT and NT. We perceive clearly that we must not get "stuck" in the literal of the Writings, and become conscious of the dangers of doing that. The literal of the TT, like the literal of the OT and NT, are mere appearances of Divine truths and people can easily confirm by it anything they please, leading to heresies as abundant and false as there are in the religions based on the Bible. Now for the first time we realize that everything the Writings say about the Word, or Sacred Scripture, applies equally to the Writings. When we read the expression "the Word" our mind no longer flips to the OT and NT, but to the TT. Now we fully realize that everything said in the Work called Sacred Scripture (SS) and other books of the Writings, apply to the Writings themselves. We are in love with the idea that the Word for the New Church is the TT, even more than the OT and NT which were given in previous dispensations for the human race. From now on the OT and NT will be secondary, while the TT is primary, even though the Threefold Word is one, united, and inexorably linked and interdependent.
We reach the adulthood phase of development in theistic psychology, when we fully perceive that the Doctrine of the Church is not the literal of the Writings but must be extracted in an orderly way by means of correspondences applied to one's life. This is an internalizing spiritual state of consciousness--for the first time internalizing rational and truly human. The literal understanding of the Writings is mere scientifics. Anyone in any stage of development, within or without the New Church, can be a scholar of the Writings, even recognized as an expert. But not a single element of the Doctrine of the Church can thus be understood. This is because the Doctrine of the Church is spiritual and is revealed by the Lord directly and immediately while we read the Writings. Even if we write down the Doctrine as we perceive it, that language is in the natural, and even if others can read and teach that Doctrine as laid down in natural language, nothing of it will be understood unless it is directly, immediately, and personally revealed by the Lord. Now for the first time we have a true internalizing relation with God. The Lord must speak to us in the words of the Writings and point to their referents or meanings. These referents or meanings are nothing elements of our daily lives as we proceed with our regeneration. Now we fully realize and perceive that Doctrine is spiritual and incomprehensible without the referents in our lives. The Writings are about regeneration and we need to perceive Doctrine in it referring to the steps of our regeneration. Our ability to understand the elements of Doctrine from the TT is proportional to our progress in regeneration. Thus the Doctrine of the Church is an individual and personal revelation from the Lord based on the particulars of our life.
At last we come into the state of old age of our spiritual development, which is an internalizing celestial state. Now we can perceive that the Doctrine of the Church is the inner sense of the Writings. (See also this related article on the phases of religious development.) The same steps that needed to be taken and transcended when going from the Old Christian Church to the New (see matrix2 above) must be made when going from the sensual consciousness of the New Church, to the rational consciousness of the New Church. Here is a contributor to De Hemelsche Leer:
The Doctrine of the Church revealed to our celestial rational consciousness is therefore Divine, the Holy Spirit with us:
We begin the recursive sequence of development with the Descending Pathway, during which all truth or reality has a representative sensual consciousness. The three discrete phases of the natural, the spiritual, and the celestial are represented in the natural. The natural itself has three levels or layers: the corporeal (which is the lowest natural), the sensuous, and the natural proper which is the externalizing rational. Animals also have a corporeal consciousness, but they do not have a natural rational or externalizing rational. Thus in the descending pathway our awareness of reality is partly animal. Even with the upper range of the natural, the externalizing rational, which animals do not possess, we are not fully human because the externalizing rational is based entirely on the corporeal and sensuous representations of reality, and these are nothing but appearances of truth or reality. Thus our externalizing rational mind can only be aware of appearances of truth, not real truth.
Then we begin the Ascending Pathway as we cross the inversion point (see matrices above). Now we enter the internalizing of the human mind, which is the true human mind. This is because we are created spirits to live an immortal life in the spiritual world, and our physical body is a temporary condition. In the spiritual world as we move about and live our life in the spirit body our mind is conscious only of spiritual influx from that world. The appearances around us in the spiritual world are natural spiritual appearances. The mountains, the animals, the houses, the clothes, the food are all natural looking objects but of spiritual origin. They are made of spiritual substances, not natural. They are instantiated by God through the Laws of Correspondence so that what appears around us, or outside our consciousness, instantly appears and disappears, in accordance with our thoughts and feelings. Similarly with spaces, distances and time. And so while we are still in the physical body the development of our internalizing consciousness must be based on spiritual influx into the mind, not natural.
Spiritual influx for the development of our internalizing consciousness must therefore be rational, not physical. Whether you say rational or spiritual, it is the same, as long as you mean internalizing rational, not externalizing. The spiritual world is an internalizing world and is "located" "within" the natural world. For our spirit body to develop we must develop our internalizing rational consciousness, and this takes place within our natural mind, or above it. Whether you say within or above is the same. Our relation to God determines our state of life and as we develop internalizing consciousness we move closer and closer to God through closer and closer conjunction with God. God is Spirit and therefore internalizing rational, that is, Divine Rational. God is therefore Divine Human since whether you say Rational or Human it is the same.
During the Descending Pathway development of the human race (see matrix2), relation to God was possible only by representation, and so the three main Churches in that evolution of the race--Adamic, Noachic, and Israelitish, were representative Churches or religions. Conjunction with God was not possible directly but only indirectly through the mediation of angels. When God appeared to those people He did so by occupying the spirit body of an angel. After the Incarnation, an inversion took place and the subsequent Churches were true religions based on internalizing rational consciousness. Now God could appear directly in His Own Glorified Body, which was the Divine Natural. During the interim period while God was in the physical world---see matrix2), He was reluctant to perform Divine miracles, more than a few that are recorded in the NT, and only with those who already believed in Him as the Son of God. The reason for this is very important to understand. It is the same reason why no conscious demonstration miracles have been allowed after the Lord's departure from the physical world at Ascension.
Miracles are persuasive to the sensual consciousness. One's spiritual freedom is eliminated when one witnesses a Divine miracle. In the earlier Churches miracles were allowed because there was no opening of the internalizing rational consciousness in the human race. For instance, in the Adamic Church, miracles were routine such as direct dialog with angels of heaven and warning in advance of the individual's day of passing on--thus without "dying" as we know it today. In the Noachic Church, miracles were allowed in the direct witnessing of the laws and power of correspondences. In the Israelitish Church, miracles were allowed as recorded in the OT. During the inversion period after the Incarnation, miracles performed directly by the Lord were allowed for a brief period during the three years preceding the Ascension. At that time the NT records the Lord's warnings to His disciples that only a wicked generation demands miracles and that it is convenient for them that He depart from this world that they may gain true spiritual freedom through the Holy Spirit which He will send and which speaks only of Him and from Him. This is because the Holy Spirit relationship to God is an internalizing relationship.
Had the the Lord not departed from this World the human race would have not been able to evolve an internalizing consciousness but would have been stuck in sensual consciousness. God Himself in a Divine Natural (physical) body would have reigned as an earthly King capable of performing miracles, but not capable of conjunction with the actual human race. For the true human consciousness starts in the internalizing rational and He had to remove His sensual presence in order that He may come to us in the internalizing rational consciousness as the Holy Spirit.
This being the character of the internalizing rational it is important to understand that the literal of the Word, which is Holy and Divine, only affords us with a sensual conjunction with God and this is not a true conjunction but more like and an adjoining. It is only an appearance or representative truth, not a a reality. As we recursively step through the Zones of consciousness we recapitulate these steps of the Churches in historical evolution. At first, in our Descending Pathway from infancy, through childhood, through adolescence (Zones 1 through 9), our relation to the Word is by sensual consciousness as we study and reflect upon the literal of the Word. The First Coming of the Lord to us is through the mediation of the Celestial angels when we become convinced that the Word is Divine. Then, as we become conscious of the Word as God Himself we are in connection with the Spiritual angels, then as we enter the adolescent phase of our relation to God, we are with the Natural angels and begin to develop Doctrine from the Word, but only as natural sensual representations. This Doctrine is not yet true Doctrine for it is based on our own self-intelligence of the literal of the word, and is thus externalizing rational, not yet internalizing and spiritual. Even if we apply the laws of correspondence, the result is still sensual, not spiritual, and we can only see Divine truths in appearance, not reality.
With the inversion, we enter for the first time into the internalizing degrees of the rational and begin to perceive natural rational truth. This is the Second Coming of the Lord to us. We begin to see that the literal of the Word is not yet spiritual even if the Divine is within it (see matrix3). As we advance to spiritual adulthood, we are opened in the mind to the internalizing spiritual degree and begin to perceive spiritual rational truth. This is the true mature human consciousness. Now as we read the literal of the Word the internalizing spiritual truths are perceived as a direct revelation from the Lord and this becomes our true Doctrine of the Church. At last, in the age of innocence of the wisdom of old age, we reach the pinnacle of human consciousness in connection with the highest angels in the third Celestial Heaven. In this state we perceive celestial rational truths as our Doctrine when we read the Word. At last we are fully in the internalizing or spiritual sense of the Word, thus in full reciprocal conjunction with the Divine Human.
The development of a rational consciousness has not been understood before. Influential psychologists in the twentieth century like Carl Gustav Jung have advanced the notion that rational is opposite to or independent of the intuitive mode of thinking which was associated with mysticism, religion, and spirituality. But this idea was based on incomplete knowledge of the spiritual world. For instance, Jung, Gurdijef, Ouspensky and other influential psychologists and theologians were not aware of and never stated the most basic and simplest of all facts about spirituality, namely, that the spirit is the mind and the mind lives in the spiritual world. They were unaware and unconscious of the spiritual world, as no one except Swedenborg was empowered by God to report on his dual citizenship for 27 years. Swedenborg states that this is the greatest miracle performed by God since the beginning of creation. This greatest of miracles is the Second Coming of the Lord in His Divine Rational in the Writings of Swedenborg as the Third or Last Testament. Now that the Threefold Word--the OT, NT, and TT, has been completed, God's creation is complete. The evolutionary changes have been brought about for the opening of the internalizing rational consciousness of the human race--past, present, and future. This is a state of mind that renders us fully human. Now anyone anywhere in the universe has the ability to receive celestial rational truths to the extent that the individual is willing to proceed all the way in regeneration.
The orderly process of regeneration is the principal theme of the Threefold Word. By reading and studying the literal statements of the Writings of Swedenborg we put ourselves into communication with the Lord's Divine Rational to the extent that our motive is to know Divine truths for the sake of being guided to shun evils as sins against the Lord. We are born with innumerable inherited sins and we quickly add to the heap as we unfold in development from infancy to adolescence and beyond. Sins are character faults that we are tempted to act upon, follow, and cherish as so many false gods. If we give in, our character, which is our spirit, grows increasingly in counter-gyres by which we are inexorably tied to the hells with which we communicate as a vertical community (discussed above). No heavenly life in eternity is possible except through victory over temptations given us by the Lord in a careful and precise series. First natural temptations that strengthen our moral character. Then spiritual temptations that clear our mind from false beliefs and religions. Finally celestial temptations by which we are able to acquire the Lord's character of goodness whenever we give ourselves no credit but all the credit to the Lord. Then we are angels or true human beings. Regeneration then goes on to eternity because our humanness is infinite when based on God's Divine Humanity.
The development of internalizing consciousness empowers us with true spiritual freedom. Until then we do not have real freedom but rely on persuasion and mysticism in our belief systems. Any religion or spirituality that is based on sensual contact or communication does not allow the development of internalizing consciousness. The sensual can confirm the spiritual that is obtained through the rational, but the spiritual must not be based on the sensual but only on the internalizing rational. However it is necessary to start with the sensual and proceed in orderly series of steps to the rational. The sensual is based on the physical world and we are born sensual that we may develop and grow in this world. But when we enter the young adulthood stage we must suffer ourselves to be inverted so that the basis of our thought is no longer the natural world but the spiritual world. And there is only one source given us for conscious communication with the spiritual world, and that is the Word. People are brought to the Word through religion and all religions have a Word or else, Doctrine based on the Word. We are also brought into communication with God through our concepts about Him and our behavior towards Him. These concepts are also based on the Word as is our ritualized behavior towards Him. These rituals of worship are more important in the sensual consciousness phase. Later we acquire internalizing worship that is rational and particular.
The following diagram (matrix 3b) shows the Descending and Ascending Pathway of human spiritual development in relation to the threefold self:
The above diagram (matrix 3b) shows the dynamic events that occur during the descending and ascending pathways of spiritual development. The threefold self is the mind's three organs called the affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor. In the state of infancy there is a celestial sensual consciousness given through our association with celestial angels of the third or highest heaven. The focus of this influence is affective, and from this are the cognitive and sensorimotor events. As this phase is consummated, the focus shifts to the cognitive in the childhood phase for that level. This sensual consciousness is an externalizing spiritual state in association with the spiritual angels of the second heaven and the affective and sensorimotor events are from this cognitive focus. In the adolescence phase of the descending pathway the sensual consciousness is produced in association with the natural angels of the first heaven and its focus is on the sensorimotor. From this focus are derived then the affective and cognitive events that take place in this phase.
Inversion then occurs at the consummation of the externalizing natural phase of sensuous consciousness (adolescence). Then starts the ascending pathway, with a focus on the sensorimotor but from a rational consciousness this time (young adulthood). When this phase is consummated we are brought into association with the spiritual angels again as the focus shifts to the cognitive again, but this time from the internalizing rational (adulthood). At last when this phase is consummated we are brought back into association with the celestial angels with a focus on the affective, but in the internalizing celestial degree. This is our homecoming. Through this recursive process of spiritual growth each succeeding sub-phase brings us into new truths, goods, and perceptions, and as these decline over time and are consummated, new trues, goods, and perceptions are made available that allow deeper and deeper temptations, until we reach the internalizing celestial state (old age) and then we continue evolving on a daily basis to eternity without ever being consummated again. We are then in pure uninterrupted bliss to eternity marked by ever new perceptions on a daily basis, bringing us ever into closer conjunction with the Divine, endlessly.
Theistic psychology is the methodological extraction of knowledge from revelation or the literal of the Word. The diagram above (matrix4), portrays the relationship between the Doctrine of the Church, as demonstrated in De Hemelsche Leer, and science as demonstrated in Christen Blom-Dahl's work. The Descending Pathway of extraction (see matrix2 and matrix3 discussed above), involves taking up concepts and phenomena described by Swedenborg in the spiritual world and using orderly principles of extraction, formulating medical, biological, physical, chemical, etc., hypotheses that can be tested by scientific research. Blom-Dahl has made several such extractions and was able to confirm them by already established medical research in relation to t he phenomena he extracted. When this method reaches a more advanced development, predictions will be possible that will serve to guide scientific research for new discoveries or confirmations. The Writings of Swedenborg are filled with thousands of names, places, and numbers, even maps of the spiritual world and a detailed description of the relative placement of inhabitations by various ethnic groups and religions. Extracting scientific facts and principles from these descriptions is now a definite possibility--see the entry on spiritual geography and its relation to cross-cultural and social psychology. Others who are aware of this possibility may be mentioned such as the work of physicist Ian Thompson, and this New Church college professor:
Quoting from one of my email messages may also be informative in this connection:
The Ascending Pathway (see earlier matrix3), involves taking up concepts from the literal of the Writings of Swedenborg and using orderly principles of extraction, formulating Doctrine for the Church. The pages of De Hemelsche Leer contain many such demonstrations. The Web site of the Lord's New Church advertises a course on De Hemelsche Leer.
The above Number (Invitation 46) refers to our adolescent state of mind, which is externalizing natural and thinks from a sensual consciousness. Note especially the sentence "What did the miracles effect which were done in Egypt with the sons of Israel?" where Egypt usually represents externalizing knowledges or scientifics and the sons of Israel represent the Israelitish Church prior to the Incarnation (see matrix3 above). Miracles represent faith in the omnipotence of the Divine Human. "What did they effect" signifies that there is a lack of faith. In other words, our mental state of adolescence is so dependent on material evidence that we cannot have a true faith in the Divine Human. In contradistinction to this natural and corporeal mind there is the rational consciousness that begins to develop only after the Inversion takes place (see matrix3) and our new basis for thinking becomes the rational, not the natural. At first a natural rational that hovers between the two types of consciousness just as depicted by the Lord's disciples. But when that state of young adulthood ripens and is consummated, the adult state of the human individual can at last begin. Now at last our spiritual evidence and relation to God is totally purged of the sensual natural and is based entirely and purely in the internalizing spiritual mind. Now at last we have the true and full influx of the Holy Spirit. Our consciousness and basis of thinking is now based exclusively on internalizing evidence, that is, evidence from spiritual and celestial things from God in us. When this adult state is fully mature, our consciousness, and we, become truly and fully human for the very first time. This is called the old age state of the innocence of wisdom. At this point we have become angels, for the angelic or celestial spiritual state, is the true human, the end of our evolution as a race. It is also the beginning of individual evolution to eternity.
And the first and most immediate proof of God's living presence is the Word.
The Word refers to the literal text given to any nation in the form of Sacred Writings and containing Divine Revelations concerning our relation to the Divine. Thus we have the Three Testaments: Old Testament (Hebrew), New Testament (Greek), Last Testament (Latin). We read in Swedenborg's Writings about other than these three instances of the Word. But these three in particular are tied together in a rational series of meanings and principles that portray precisely the knowledge we need about spiritual laws that allows us to cooperate with God in our regeneration. Without this cooperation we cannot be regenerated and thus cannot reach full humanity in partnership with God. Hence the vast vast crucial importance of this new era in human evolution whereby we can now enter into the former mysteries with our internalizing rational consciousness. This was not possible to anyone before the Writings were completed in 1771. This is why Swedenborg, in the above quote (Invitation 44) says that the Word of the Writings "surpasses all the revelations that have hitherto been made since the creation of the world."
Theistic psychology as indicated in matrix4 above, is the orderly extraction process by which we acquire knowledge from the literal of the Word. The Last Testament is the Crown of Revelations because in it God for the first time reveals to us the inner workings of the Laws of Divine Providence by which we and the universe are created and governed. No prior generation had such a specific revelation in the literal. The Old Testament is very obscure in many places so that the mind is left uninformed and wildly speculating about the most basic pieces of information about what is spirit, what is the afterlife, what rational laws govern the world, why is marriage holy, what is life in heaven and in hell, what is sin and redemption, and so on. In the New Testament we have a lot more information about many of these things but always only in some suggestive way, never fully satisfying our rational curiosity. At last in the Last Testament, everything is disclosed. All the things mentioned above are laid out crystal clear in the literal of that Crown of the Word.
So one may ask in wonderment: What then is this extraction process? Why is it necessary since it is all laid out in the literal? But this question is quickly set aside when we read in the Last Testament that the Word cannot be the Word unless it is laid down in a natural or literal text within which is hidden the spiritual and celestial subjects and meanings. When we read that this is the character of the Word it becomes fully obvious to our mind that the Writings contain an infinitude of subjects and meanings, that is, of and infinitude of revelations that can be mined by generations and generations and never reach very far. This is superbly Good News! Now humanity (we, us) has an inexhaustible source of knowledge, both for science and for the Doctrine of the Church. This insures our future evolution to be only positive and beneficial and creative beyond our imagination. theistic psychology is a boon to humanity.
The above table (matrix 5) portrays the series of steps we encounter in the extraction process for both the ascending pathway to the Doctrine of the Church and descending pathway to science. This chart also applies to the evolution of consciousness in the history of science. Starting with the descending pathway (Infancy--see earlier matrices), the externalizing celestial state of science was achieved in Ancient Greece by such men as Pythagoras, Aristotle, Plato and others, who have given us the consciousness that Nature is a theater for playing out God's Mind. There is never a question in this state of mind about the separation of the Divine from natural things but a recognition that by studying natural laws and phenomena one is seeing the manifestations of the Divine. In this state conjunction with God is possible through science and religion.
When this state of externalizing celestial consciousness was consummated it was succeeded by the externalizing spiritual state of the Childhood of science. This period marks the beginnings of modern science starting with Copernicus and Galileo and ending with Descartes, Leibniz, and Newton. It brings us the consciousness that although God created nature, He has removed Himself from the equation and things are now run by natural laws, not Divine. It involves the persuasion that God does not intervene except in the case of miracles, far and in between. Thus one can study natural phenomena fully without the necessity of referring to God's laws and actions. This state is thus a distancing from the Divine which is now pushed into the background of life as we live it. God is tolerated not as a Divine person but some unspecified and infinite force or energy in the universe. No conjunction with God is possible in this state of mind.
When this phase was fully consummated it was succeeded by the Adolescence of science which is an externalizing natural state. In this state of consciousness nothing whatsoever is left over to God and in fact the idea of God is no longer allowed in science. Science has here become fully atheistic. The scientists of the 20th century as represented by Nobel Prize winners and by school textbooks not only omit God from science but are antithetical to the use of God in science. The existence of God has been fully laid aside. In this externalizing sensual state we are no longer able to believe a single internalizing rational truth. The spiritual thus vanishes from one's consciousness and one sits in total darkness as to inner things. Instead of believing and comprehending the spiritual this state of mind is seduced by sensual demonstrations of occult and psychic powers. Science remains in this atheistic counter-reality until a new theistic psychology is created following the completion of the ascending pathway.
Looking now at the ascending pathway in terms of historical evolution of consciousness, the initial phase of extraction from the literal of the Word represents the state of Young adulthood, which is an internalizing natural state. This involves an externalizing rational consciousness that is limited in scope and clarity, but it is already the beginning of a spiritual consciousness. This spiritual consciousness is absent where the Word is unknown (remember that all religions have their Word). Paul's Epistles in the New Testament exemplify this state of mind. Paul is able to distinguish between the natural man, or mind, and the internal spiritual man, or mind, and he discusses the conflictual dynamics between them. This state of consciousness lasted 17 centuries and includes the early Christian theologians like Augustine as well as the later ones like Luther. This internalizing natural state is not a purely rational consciousness but includes natural elements such as the sensual persuasion that rituals and prayers are effective means of salvation (rather than the actual reformation of one's character). For example, in this state of consciousness we believe that Baptism can save someone, or that those who are not born within the Church and receive Baptism, are damned. In this state it is also believed that some people's prayers, such as "saints," are more effective, and on this account prayer requests are practiced. Also that places of worship are valued as being nearer to God and more holy than other places, causing people to view Church attendance as a measure of one's faith. Moreover, this state of consciousness falls into many heresies or falsities of religion that can be seen with clear hindsight from the next phase of evolution. One example is the idea that being saved and entering heaven is a matter of God willing to forgive our sins. Later one can see that God is pure Love and Good and loves nothing more than to forgive all our sins, and yet, we cannot enter heaven unless we are adequately prepared for it, and this means that our character must be reformed and regenerated through daily battles with our temptations.
When this state is fully consummated we enter the Adult phase of consciousness which is internalizing spiritual. This now for the first time is fully rational and internalizing. This phase is so entirely different from the preceding phases that a new Word is necessary. This new Word was given through Emanuel Swedenborg and the process was completed in 1771 when he published his last work called The True Christian Religion just a few months before his passing into the spiritual world at age 84. The consciousness based on this new Word is called the New Church state of consciousness and involves only spiritual and celestial ideas about faith. Nothing in it is from the man Swedenborg himself but everything is from his experiences in the spiritual world as a dual citizen. In this internalizing spiritual state we are for first time able to comprehend, believe and perceive the internalizing rational idea of the Divine Human. Now we can clearly see that the spiritual is not separate from the natural, but within it. All natural phenomena are effects of spiritual causes. Swedenborg's Scientific Works which preceded his Theological Writings, exemplify this state of consciousness. The Theological Writings also give us this consciousness.
When this phase is consummated we are at last brought into the Old age state of the innocence of wisdom, which is an internalizing celestial state, the highest in the human mind. This is the crowning phase for theistic psychology and so far remains mostly for the future of our development. The birth of the celestial Doctrine of the Church among the handful of contributors to De Hemelsche Leer in the 1930s marks the beginning of this state of consciousness in human evolution. It is marked by an entirely new consciousness that is not yet available in the internalizing spiritual state of adulthood. Now in this new state of internalizing wisdom we experience direct communication with the Divine Human through the literal of the Third Testament. Unlike all the preceding states of consciousness, this is a particular and individual enlightenment that continues to evolve without ever being consummated to eternity.
These various relations are further represented in the next diagram (matrix 6) below.
The above diagram (matrix 6) again shows the descending and ascending pathways of extraction of knowledge from the literal of the Word, and in particular, the Latin Word or the Writings of Swedenborg. The externalizing celestial state of Infancy is exemplified in the work of Christen Blom-Dahl on medicine and physiology, Ian Thompson's work on physics, and mine on spiritual psychobiology, besides others that will be named in the future. This phase of consciousness depends on seemingly haphazard and unpredictable insights we receive as we read the Writings, then try to confirm them with the science that we are familiar with. This phase is to be succeeded by an externalizing spiritual state of consciousness that involves the systematic application of the laws of correspondences that takes into account the series or taxonomies that are hidden in the literal of the Writings. This now for the first time gives us a cumulative methodology. When this Childhood phase is consummated, the Adolescent state of science extraction is reached, which is an externalizing natural state that is fully in conformity with the literal of the Word . Now for the first time we have a science that is totally theistic based exclusively on Divine revelations. Beyond this point science turns into the Doctrine of the Church, which is entirely an internalizing state. There is a flip flop from sensual consciousness to rational consciousness and the descending pathway ends while the ascending pathway begins.
In the state of Young adulthood, which is an internalizing natural state, we rely entirely on the literal of the Writings. Our exegesis tabulates and arranges the statements of the literal and we are persuaded that our understanding of this literal is the Doctrine of the Church. But this understanding is not pure but full of our own self-intelligence and, meritoriousness attaches itself to our results. Only when this phase of literalism is consummated do we enter the internalizing spiritual phase of Adulthood.
Now for the first time our mind comes into possession of the true Doctrine of the Church. We can clearly perceive that our understanding of the Word has become internalizing rational, dependent only on the spiritual meaning that is hidden in the literal. This perception grows and develops gradually, matching our own work of regeneration. The more we advance in our regeneration, the more we come into possession of internalizing truths of Doctrine. We make use of correspondences in a systematic manner and are able to cumulate our knowledge and understanding of Doctrine. When this phase is at last consummated we enter for the very first time into the true human consciousness, which is an internalizing celestial state of mind. It is the old age of the innocence of wisdom when our understanding of the Word becomes spontaneous and automatic as it were, requiring no conscious extraction as before. We are enlightened by God as we read the Word or reflect on it in relation to the environment we can perceive sensually, just like the highest angels, and there is no longer any effort in knowledge acquisition. We simply know at once anything we want to know. This is the fully human state of life and continues to develop to eternity.
It is important to remember that we are dealing with a multiple or embedded recursiveness when describing the developmental steps overall, and within every level or degree. We go through the same representative steps many times, perhaps an indefinite number of times, from infancy to old age and the consummation of that phase. The consummation is necessary in order to make visible the falsities and evils of that level. By rejecting these falisties and evils we are transferred to the next highest degree of consciousness, and the process restarts. Then the transfer to the next highest level of development, avoiding the inevitable downgrading that follows when we fail to transfer after consummation. Through this downgrading our consciousness becomes more and more externalizing sensual, and at last, corporeal, where we imbibe innumerable falsities from mere appearances. No further regeneration is then possible since this can take place only through truths, at first externalizing, but after that, more and more internalizing.
Additional articles on this subject are contained in the diagrams linked below.
1 The Trigrammatic Universe
There are two heresies that arise in our mind regarding the proposals of De Hemelsche Leer. The first heresy is that the Writings of Swedenborg do not contain a spiritual internal sense that needs to be extracted out of the literal. The second heresy is that since the Writings of Swedenborg contain a spiritual internal sense, therefore the literal is allegorical and cannot be taken as historical events experienced by Swedenborg. Both these heresies need to be understood and avoided, in accordance with the perspective of De Hemelsche Leer. Historically today in 2001 both heresies are held and expounded, the first by members of the General Church of the New Jerusalem, headquartered in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, the second by members of The Lord's New Church Which is Nova Hierosolyma [New Jerusalem], also in Bryn Athyn. I will illustrate these points below.
By calling it "heresies" one may get the incorrect impression that I am criticizing these New Church organizations. Historically of course being a heretical was pretty bad as viewed from the ruling hierarchy, and heretics were severely punished. But fortunately these cruel times are over and now there is no need to attach any personal attack to scientific polemics in a public arena. In theistic psychology a heresy means an incorrect theory or explanation. With respect to the Doctrine of the Church, or the ascending pathway, a heresy means false doctrine or doctrine that is contrary to truth. All Three Testaments discuss heresies because false ideas arise almost by necessity to our progression within each degree. As discussed above, our consciousness within a degree progresses like a plant and its flower, then is consummated and declines to the bottom of the mind or spiritual world. A Divine deliverance is then necessary, and when we cooperate appropriately ad instructed in the Word, we are transferred by unknown Divine means into the next highest discrete degree of human growth in consciousness. We are thus progressively on our way to life in our heaven in eternity, which is the internalizing celestial consciousness.
Since heresies are discussed in all Three Testaments it is obviously of great importance for theistic psychology. It was stated above that historical evolution recapitulates the progressive series of development of individual biography. In the case of these two "heresies" we a have a living illustration of how history recapitulates ontogeny. This same series was true for the history of the Churches depicted in the charts above. Please remember that from the perspective of these two Church organizations this article would itself be seen as a heresy, just as they regard each other as heresies. In other words, theoretical differences in theistic psychology offer a special challenge to the people involved not to take discussions on heresies as personal attacks. If this type of reaction is inhibited by each involved then theoretical disagreements in such crucial matters for the human race can be tolerated as matters for theistic psychology to settle through rational methodologies. In my published articles in New Church Life, the official organ of the General Church, I have argued that New Church ministers, as sermon writers and instructors, are theistic scientists (see for example this article).
In atheistic psychology, a profession I have been part of all my life as a psychology professor, we have numerous basic differences, even disagreements, about theoretical issues such as behaviorism, rationalism, dualism, and so on. Special professional organizations exist of which we are member in more than one, that revolve around a particular "paradigm" which is the equivalent of "heresy" in atheistic psychology. When we wear one of the hats of these organizations, our statements appear as contrary or contradictory to those wearing another organization's hat. Amazingly, through such a process, science progresses. Similarly, the Doctrine of the Church progresses through the resolution of heresies. Thus humankind as a whole can progress to celestial enlightenment and "create" a heaven on this earth.
The theoretical debate that took place in the early 1930s between the Dutch branch of the General Church and the mother Church in Bryn Athyn (Philadelphia) is recorded in the pages of De Hemelsche Leer (see for example, Theodore Pitcairn's 1931 rebuttal of Alfred Acton's review of De Hemelsche Leer in these pages starting on page 29). For theistic psychology this is a fascinating and instructive record which I hope to analyze in a future article. Even a surface reading of the written exchanges and journal articles between the two parties shows clearly that they were on opposite sides of a paradigm shift. This shift in intellect and perspective is irrevocable and separates the two consciousness activities like a schism or split in the ground separates the two sides of the earth that was formerly of one piece. The view from across the split is then seen as a heresy. From that point onward a special challenge exists because this heresy is not only on the outside but within us. We therefore need to analyze the outside historical debating points available to us as a means to map the same contradictory coordinates in our mind. To the extent that we are honest and sincere, to that extent we are enlightened by the Lord and transferred in our consciousness to a place of more internalizing truth and thereby, a higher good.
The second heresy as mentioned above, is the teaching that since the Writings have an inner sense, the literal therefore cannot be taken as historically accurate. I was unaware of this point of view until a short time ago when I saw this statement on the Web site of The Lord's New Church:
When I saw this I experienced an immediate disagreements within me and my head began to shake in protest. I tried to formulate my thoughts by clicking on the "Contact us" button and wrote this e-mail message:
It is evident from this exchange that paradigm shifts in theistic psychology can prevent us from communicating adequately since the same phrases are seen in different light. This phenomenon is also clearly visible in the paradigm shift that separates the two sides in the pages of De Hemelsche Leer.
Heresies in our mind arise when some more internalizing idea that is born to us is processed downward towards the lower degrees of our mind. The Writings have compared the mind to a house with three stories, and a basement, with a staircase that connects the floors. When our consciousness is stuck in the basement, which is the corporeal level of the natural degree, we have little spiritual light or vision or understanding. The light is coming in through a small window high on the wall and as we look up we can see a shadow once in a while darting by. That is the extent of our ability to form a meaningful or real idea of spiritual things like God's omnipresence, heaven in a spiritual world, conjugial love, regeneration, and so on. When our consciousness goes up to the first floor we are in the natural mind with its inherited affections and culturally formed thoughts and activities. We look out from large windows into the surrounding area and we can notice many relations and details about the physical world and we can interact with it successfully to our benefit. But if we try to look up to the second floor, we see nothing but a ceiling, and we hear nothing. It's as if there were no second floor and we can easily lull ourselves into doubts, and at last into the conviction or persuasion that may not be a second floor and even if there is one, what possible difference can it make to us now. This is a heresy, a paradigm shift from theism to agnosticism. Fortunately for us, Divine Providence sees to it that we quickly look down again and forget about the matter until the next time we happen to be moved to look up and see the ceiling. This is far better than to confirm the false idea that there is no upper floor in the mind. (A diagram of the three floors and related relations are depicted in this article.)
But if we confirm the false idea we begin the retrogressive phase which leads us further to all sorts of other false ideas that seem true. The feeling that they are true becomes a total persuasion and it is then difficult to communicate with more internalizing levels of our mind. Now whenever new internalizing ideas are brought forth we will not see anything true in them. Thus we cut ourselves off from the new line of development in human consciousness. The belief has become a heresy and begins to rule all other ideas in the mind.
The first heresy discussed here is the idea in our mind that the Writings do not have an internalizing sense in the same way as the Old and New Testaments. After all, we argue within ourselves, the Writings are a rational exposition and exegesis of the OT and NT written not by a prophet but by a scientist and a revelator. In this mode of thinking we say, Yes, the Writings are inspired, yes they are Holy, yes we can call them the Word, but they are not the Word in the same sense as the Old and New Testaments. And this is obvious when you read all the passages in the Writings that discuss the Word, that every time without fail, it is referring to either the OT or NT. And it is rationally explaining to us the spiritual senses of the Word using the laws of correspondences and comparisons between passages to show their similar meanings. This rational exposition is Swedenborg's inspired explanations of the meanings revealed to him through his Divine mission as revelator by which he was introduced into a dual state of being fully conscious in the natural world and in the spiritual world simultaneously for 27 years. And so on. Our mind at this level resists abandoning the literal sense of the Writings and we want this to be the spiritual meaning or message. When we are given examples of spiritual meaning extracted from the literal by means of correspondence, one remains unconvinced that it is anything but rewording the literal. There are many such instances that occur in De Hemelsche Leer and I will discuss them in a future article--it takes up hundreds of pages in their articles and correspondence!
The second heresy discussed here is the idea in our mind that the literal of the Writings are not necessarily historically accurate or veridical since they were written in such a style as to best convey the spiritual meaning or lesson. In this frame of mind we feel that it is up to each instance of text for us to carefully examine and judge whether we are dealing here with a real historical event or phenomenon (historicity), or merely an allegory to convey another message related to it only by spiritual correspondence. Maintaining this position makes us feel better because it allows us to disregard those statements in the Writings that appear contrary to current scientific knowledge or belief. One instance that is often debated in New Church circles is Swedenborg's book called Earths in the Universe (EU) in which he describes his travels in the spiritual world and encounters with spirits who originated from the solar system other than our earth--the spirits of Mars, of the moon, of Venus, and so on, as well as the planets of distant stars in the cosmos. The mind naturally thinks that since these planets in our solar system do not have a human population, obviously these travels must be allegorical stories, or else Swedenborg was sadly misled by these wicked spirits he talked to. The second instance that has been much debated in New Church literature is Swedenborg's statement that the earth is the only female biological part and all plants and seeds are male forms, both the male and the female parts of a plant. Since this is obviously wrong according to what we know from science, we want to dismiss these types of statements in Swedenborg as of little importance because in any event we're always to look for the inner spiritual sense as the actual message. Besides, we can say that Swedenborg was only inspired but not perfect since he was but a man and so he was necessarily bound to the science and beliefs of his culture and times. By these types of reasonings we lose grip on the central idea that the literal of the Writings is Divine, and not just the inner sense. Can a Divine work not be perfect? Can it contain errors? Not so. I have never found erroneous statements, factual errors, or actual contradictions in any of the Three Testaments. Instead, there are appearances of contradictions, appearances of errors, appearances of mistakes that can and need to be resolved through the Doctrine of the Church (ascending pathway) or through theoretical explanations (descending pathway).
The assertion that earth is the female organ of plants all of which are male parts, is not a "mistake" Swedenborg made. We know from his biography and his scientific publications that Swedenborg was well versed in the knowledge of plant sexuality, anatomy, and the earth sciences (mineralogy, metallurgy, crystallography, etc.). When he wrote about the earth being female and the plants male, he wrote about it in such a way as to show his awareness that he was making a challenging statement. We need to follow the theistic psychology methodology to be able to extract scientific meaning from this new type of assertion or idea about the sexuality of plants. Rather than seeing it as a mistake we need to see it as a revelation about a new phenomenon, that is, a phenomenon at a more internalizing degree. Now we need to realign existing science and new revelation. A new kind of spiritual agronomy has been revealed here. What kind of new concepts do we need to add to our existing science that would give us a truer understanding of the internalizing of nature? I cannot answer this now but future researchers will.
As a matter of sound methodology in theistic psychology we need to avoid externalizing rational reasonings about the literal of the Word, by which we are lead to reject the idea that the literal of the Writings are Divine, that is, that they are the infinite Word in its full sense described in Swedenborg's book Sacred Scripture (SS). Doubting the literal of the Writings opens our mind to all sorts of false ideas and heresies from which it may be difficult to recover if we persist in them in a conscious and rationalized way. The contributors to De Hemelsche Leer were able to perceive a new idea that belonged to a new degree in the internalizing rational mind of humankind. This degree had not been opened in the New Church mentality from 1771, the year the last of the Writings was published, to the late 1920s and early 1930s when the Dutch Group began its studies. It was given them to discover that a paradigm shift occurs in their perception when they read the Writings and come across the expression "the Word." At that point they mentally substitute for it the phrase "the Writings" and continue to read. Then this powerful new perception arrives that allows the consciousness of the mind to ascend one degree. Then all of a sudden new ideas, new thoughts, new insights, new understandings start flooding the mind. They described these in plentiful instances throughout the hundreds of pages of De Hemelsche Leer. When I read this for the first time in 1985 I was lead to try it immediately, and lo! those new ideas suddenly started tumbling in. I was able to confirm from my own understanding and reasoning abilities that this method is indeed functional and true. The various articles in this Swedenborg Glossary constitute my attempt to lay before the reader the internalizing ideas that have come to the surface when reading the Writings with this new methodology.
The literal of the Writings must be viewed as the Divine Rational of the Divine Human, as explained in the Writings. During the Incarnation the Word became flesh and for the very first time provided humankind with a natural sensual proof of God. This major evolutionary step in the development of the human race came during the end of the adolescence of humankind and the beginning of the young adulthood, as shown in the various matrices discussed in this article. The Descending Pathway (Zones 1 through 9) was described as the phases of sensual consciousness, while the Ascending Pathway (Zones 10 through 18) as the phases of rational consciousness. In between is the Inversion. As we progress in our human selfhood or consciousness (Zones 1 through 18), we do not leave behind and forget the earlier phases. Rather, the earlier phases are rearranged and reformed, even reborn in a new form, so that they can now accommodate the higher form. This is absolutely necessary because all higher forms develop within the lower forms that must first be prepared for it. If you take away the lower form, or if you do not reform them to prepare them, the new higher forms have nowhere to reside or enter the self as part of our consciousness. This means that the externalizing sensual consciousness must form itself into a basis and containant for the internalizing rational consciousness. If we deny the Divinity of the literal of the Writings as the Divine Rational itself (the second heresy), we weaken or destroy our sensual consciousness of the Divine Human (Holy Spirit). The only sensual consciousness we now can have of the Divine Human is the literal of the Writings called the Third Testament.
The literal of the Threefold Word has a different relationship to God and the human race. In the literal of the Old Testament our sensual consciousness is tied to the Human Divine and the reception of Good immediately, but not yet the reception of internalizing truth. Initially, God appeared to the race through the intermediary of angels such as the angels seen by Abraham, Hagar, Jacob, Moses, and others. No direct consciousness of the Divine was possible since this rests on a rational consciousness. The literal of the New Testament written after the Incarnation and Resurrection, rests on the historical reality of Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God. This sensual consciousness is internalizing natural (young adulthood in earlier matrices above). After the Resurrection, our consciousness of the Divine rested on the rational perception of the Holy Spirit, and this ability was to remain restricted until the Second Coming, as made clear in the New Testament. With the Second Coming in the Third Testament, our brand new consciousness, or New Church mentality, rests on the literal of the Writings as the Divine Human's Rational. While the OT contains historical and prophetical parts, the NT contains historical parts, from both the natural world (the miracles of Jesus and the events of His ministry) and the spiritual world (the Book of Revelations), as well as doctrinal parts (Sermon on the Mount and other lessons). The TT contains historical parts and doctrinal parts, but does not contain prophetical parts.
Since the literal of the TT is itself Divine there can be no question about its validity and historicity. The literal must serve as a representation of our sensual consciousness when regenerated. The literal of the TT in heaven is not the same literal as what we have since angelic language differs greatly from ours and from each other in the three heavens. But each literal must serve that degree of the mind so that the spiritual and celestial can be contained in them. Since the literal is as Divine as the spiritual and the celestial, all the details mentioned and described in the literal must be true in the literal. When we adopt this methodology we will be lead to resolve apparent contradictions and facts that appear contrary to scientific fact. If science assumes this methodology it will be reshaped to align its theories with the rational truths in the literal of the Writings.
Here from the pages of De Hemelsche Leer is a fascinating explanation of the internal sense of a well known Memorable Relation in Sedenborg's work called Conjugial Love:
Another demonstration by Ernest Pfeiffer:
Our ability to perceive the Divine truths contained within the letter of the Three Testaments is proportional to the level of consciousness at the time we read or study the Word. As we progress from sensual to rational consciousness we make the largest single step in our growth process as human beings in a physical body. Now our sensual consciousness suddenly is much much brighter because it is illumined from within by the new rational consciousness. This rational consciousness (see matrices above), is itself developing in its levels or degrees. Our sensual consciousness of the Divine truths in Sacred Scripture thus becomes brighter and brighter. Now we have the actual perception of how the literal of the Word embodies the spiritual truths and how the literal has no relation to these spiritual truths except by extraction through knowledge of correspondences and reception of illustration (enlightenment).
Until then we can recognize that there is a truth there, we can lecture and write about it, but we cannot understand it. A particular internalizing truth becomes visible, lights up, the moment we are experiencing or reliving the correspondential things the truth is about. Every internalizing truth refers to something particular in us.
As our consciousness level develops we can perceive ever more internalizing truths in the Word. This is not because we are accumulating knowledge and sagacity in doctrines and Sacred Scripture. During all this accumulation process, the truth itself remains outside our self, outside our consciousness until each particular truth is applied and focused on our self--our struggle in the regeneration process, our resistances, our temptations, fears, victories, and happinesses. These are the actual referents--or topics, of Sacred Scripture. When a particular truth coincides or corresponds to some such referent in our life, then we can see and perceive that truth--but not before that, and sometimes not after that because our focus changes and things earlier may no longer be accessible. Nevertheless Divine Providence that supervises and manages these coincidences or correspondences, insures that the process of truth acquisition is recursive within levels over and over again. We have many opportunities indeed.
Much progress in consciousness growth can take place during temptations which is why the Divine Therapist is so intimately involved in these struggles. In temptations our prejudices, fears, and lusts are active in our sensual consciousness. We see them. The Divine makes an exhibit for us to witness about ourselves. At the same time we are given the perception that these injurious forms within our self are contrary and dead set against the earlier truths we already confirmed to ourselves as Divine truths. Now is our big choice, our moment of destiny. If we choose life and heaven we grow into that; if we choose against the truths we already know, we choose death and hell, growing into that. Sacred Scripture refers to the hells in our mind as "death" and when our consciousness is lowered into that state and immersed in it, we are called "dead." This is because we are not human in that state. Our human is dead in that state. Our human begins much higher in our consciousness, namely the internalizing rational (Zones 14 through 18), as already discussed above.
Temptations have this regenerative power because they allow the coincidence or correspondence between experience and truth. Since all particular truths point to a referent in our experiencing or behaving, we can perceive more internalizing truths when there is an alignment between truth and experiencing. The experiencing in temptations is carefully monitored and guided by God, our Divine Therapist. As we recognize our ongoing falsity, fear, or lust, God can raise our consciousness to a more internalizing level that matches the temptation. In this way there is a recursive spiraling upward--the Ascending Pathway --toward internalizing celestial consciousness. Temptations can be natural, spiritual, or celestial--see this article .
We reviewed above the first heresy discussed by De Hemelsche Leer as the idea that the Writings do not have a hidden internalizing meaning that needs to be extracted by correspondences and illustration. In this state of mind we are open to the dangers of literalism, which is the temptation of using the literal of the Word to confirm one or another pet falsity we cherish. We cherish these falsities because they are in accord with our lusts. We can retain these lusts and still feel righteous about it, if we can find scriptural verses and sentences that allow it. This is the practice of literalism in the Word. It is extremely dangerous spiritually because it can arrest the growth of our consciousness by limiting temptations to non-internalizing truths. Natural temptations can be used for the development of our externalizing rational consciousness. But spiritual and celestial temptations must be used for the development of our internalizing rational consciousness. The Writings in many places warn against literalism, as summarized in this number:
In other words, the literal of the Word can be searched by anyone who then finds a sentence here and a phrase there that can be used to support some false belief or evil practice. The history of religions is replete with selfish and cruel leaders who led their followers to extreme savagery and inhumanness in the name of Sacred Scripture. This week (March 2001) newspaper and television headlines across the nation report the story of how law enforcement agents took into protective custody several children from a home after neighbors reported cruel punishment by the parents. In an interview with reporters, the pastor of the Church the family belonged to, defended the practice of corporeal punishment by invoking the scripture "spare the rod and you spoil the child." He said that it is scripture that gives him and the parents the authority to impose corporeal punishment. According to police reports the children had welts and other bruises on the body from being tied, hung, and beaten with a belt "whenever they needed it for behaving very badly." I present this as an instance of the dangers of literalism when the Word is used without Doctrine. To those who obtain Doctrine for themselves from the Word it is easy to see that it is not good for parents to treat children this way and that it is an abomination to God to have children harmed this way. Doctrine would teach them that God is good, God is pure love, and cannot be used as an excuse for being cruel.
The sentence "spare the rod and spoil the child" must be interpreted within the framework of such a God. Similarly with all the other cruel things we read in the Bible that God is said to have ordered, such as the extermination of all the inhabitants of Canaan--men, women, children, and cattle, when the Jews at last entered the land promised to their ancestors. Doctrine within a framework of an omnipotent and purely loving God, teaches that these sad historical practices were not ordered by God because He is a non-loving God, but instead, reflect the cruel nature of the people of that generation who waged wars in that barbaric fashion. God allowed them these evils because He could not remove them from these evils without destroying them, and thus halting the progress of human creation. Doctrine teaches us an understanding of how Divine Providence operates the universe through Laws that are good and rational. These Laws of Divine Providence involve things that God wills or chooses, and also things that God allows or permits, thought He would not choose them. God's character and personality is reflected in what He wills and chooses; our fallen character and personality is reflected in what He allows or permits. God must allow the hells in our mind and rules them by their contrariness or resistances to the heavens in our mind. In this way, through the process of regeneration, our consciousness can ascend and descend again through the experiences He gives us, and especially, temptations, as discussed above.
A more subtle example of literalism, but devastating nevertheless, concerns what the Writings say about gender differences. The psychobiology of conjugial love often identifies women as representing love and men as representing wisdom. Also, that women are created to be "the love of their husband's wisdom." Our male chauvinism quickly grabs hold of these literal statements and explanations in the Writings and we use them to continue our rational domination of women. Similarly the statements that it is proper for women to be engaged in domestic concerns (house and children) while it is proper for men to have a career outside the home. When this male obsession is thus confirmed with the literal of the Word, we cease to be able to understand the internalizing truths of conjugial love, and thus put a stop to our regeneration. Moreover, a social environment is fostered that can be detrimental to the socialization and education of children, and can engender political conflicts within the community and between married partners. The Letters to the Editor in New Church Life, official publication of the General Church in Bryn Athyn Pennsylvania, demonstrate how this conflict leads to women expressing feelings of discrimination and alienation, as well as frustration. I've also observed similar negative views expressed on the online Swedenborg Discussion Forum by women who were raised in the Bryn Athyn community. I've also witnessed it in face to face encounters with individuals from the same community.
Of course discrimination against women by men is worldwide and universal across this globe. It has been since the beginning of the Fall, which refers to the point of full consummation of our consciousness within a particular level or degree of the mind. In the charts discussed above, this period or phase is called consummation. What needs to happen then is the Inversion from sensual to rational consciousness, so that the period of adolescence may end at its consummation, and young adulthood may begin. This is the great jump of humankind when we first actualize our born potential of becoming human. Our evidence for our behavior and morality is no longer based on anything from the externalizing natural world but on evidence exclusively from the spiritual world. Henceforth our new consciousness is rational, which is above the ideas and feelings based on natural facts and experiences (science, culture, and sensory experience). These earlier natural ideas and reasonings can now be seen by us from our upper floor--which is the rational degrees of the mind.
At first this new rational consciousness is not totally pure as it partakes of ideas still based in the natural world. This is the internalizing natural degree. It is a rational and spiritual degree, and yet it still acts sluggishly as if it were weighted down by natural ideas of time and space that still cling to the rational ideas. In this state of young adulthood, when applied to our New Church mentality, we are vulnerable to literalism, fundamentalism, sectarianism. Even when we acknowledge and believe that the Writings are the Word in the full sense, and thus have an internalizing meaning to be extracted by correspondences and illustration. Nevertheless, when it comes to some deep seated issues like conjugial love, a host of resistances experienced by men become visible, uncovering false beliefs and selfish feelings that were lying hidden and unknown. Then our wife in particular, and women in general, are treated as less than ourselves in our own estimation. To men in that phase of not yet purified spirituality, women's views are discounted in their mind and are worth nothing in comparison to their own views. This amazing arrogance of men is deeply hidden from their actual everyday mode of consciousness, but it is very visible and totally obvious to their wives.
When we resist the inversion from sensual to rational consciousness, and then again, from internalizing natural to rational spiritual, we men practice our opposition to conjugial love. This is because our vertical community is associated with spiritual societies that hate conjugial love and desire nothing more than to denigrate women. This influence on our mind is then hidden since the ideas it fosters are contrary to the ideas that we uphold in our life philosophy and official reputation. This is our work for our spiritual temptations, without which we cannot move on to the internalizing spiritual degree, the beginning of true humanity.
I have tried to make an inventory of the many ways we men behave towards our wife that are anti-conjugial. See this collection of confessions by husbands who have put off the literalism of the Writings for the sake of a more internalizing truth about husbands and wives. When our mind is in the grips of literalism we read the Writings selectively to find confirmations of our beliefs and we ignore other passages that reverse the representations, when women are wisdoms and men are loves. Doctrine must be developed from the literal that gives us an understanding why at one time women represent affections and loves and another time wisdom and truths. These comparisons should not be viewed as "contradictions" for the Word contains no contradictions or errors. The literal of the Writings is the sensual basis we have for the Divine Human's Rational. No contradictions or errors can be allowed in our mind about the literal of the Writings, but instead, we need to form Doctrines for ourselves that explain why what is there is there, and what it means spiritually. In this connection, see what I have formulated by the name of The Doctrine of the Wife.
In theistic psychology, both the Descending Pathway (science) and the Ascending Pathway (Doctrine of the Church), see diagram above, have a methodology for extracting truths from the literal of the Writings. For the Doctrine of the Church I would recommend this methodology regarding community issues such as gender roles, worship style, management and administration, education, qualifications for the priestly occupation, and so on:
This rule is extremely important because it save us from many heresies that are injurious to ourselves and the community. It's amazing to me how deeply these forces are implanted in us and occur at every level or degree of our development. I can cite a particularly significant case for this article. The contributors to the De Hemelsche Leer, despite the amazing new insights they brought forth from their rational consciousness, have yet fallen into this trap, which is a trap we all are tempted with in celestial temptations. After they were expelled by the mother Church in Bryn Athyn, the promptly formed themselves into a priesthood exclusively of men, with a doctrinal school or "Gezelshap" exclusively for men called Social Suppers, on which occasion they would present to each other the most recent of their new insights. Neither were women's voices or views allowed in the chief governing councils of the priesthood. They were acting as if the internalizing spiritual truths of the Church and Life were to be born in their minds and not in any woman's mind, or in their male mind alone and not in conjunction with their wife. This mindset was justified and reinforced, not by the Doctrine of the Church appropriately extracted, but by literalism. Passages were cited indicating that priests are male on account of the representations in the Writings and in Heaven. But other passages were deliberately kept away even though they are connected, such as the passages that teach that the inmost celestial wisdom is in the internalizing of women, while the wisdom of men is more externalizing. Also the passages saying that the husband and wife together make the consciousness of the Church and not the men on their own. These passages and the former should be reconciled by forming new Doctrine that can reconcile them. This I tried to do in The Doctrine of the Wife.
In the long run it is conceivable to me that the end result will be the same and that women will not serve as priests, to take up one of the issues. But this result will be achieved by an internal process through the Doctrine of the Church, rather than through an externalizing politicized and coercive process such as literalism and fundamentalism. To arrive at this happy result the men willingly must submit to the spiritual and celestial temptations that remain in their relation to their wives. This includes voluntary submission to the more internalizing wisdom that wives receive from celestial angels. Men must defer to the wisdom of their wives. Then they can be enlightened and thereby father the new Doctrine in a state of love, not faith alone. This new Doctrine will be loved by their wives and since they are modest and inwardly wise, they will hardly desire to compete with men in occupations that are open to them through their male representations.
Once more I would like to emphasize that merely quoting passages that appear to justify male decision-making as more weighty than female, is the practice of literalism. Even if many passages are collected, each one indicating a similar appearance, this collection does not constitute Doctrine. Doctrine must be extracted from the literal and confirmed by the literal, but it must not be the same as the literal. De Hemelsche Leer serves as a textbook on how to extract genuine Doctrine from the literal. Hence this document must be studied in order to gain an understanding of the process and method. But it is not the study of this document alone that can give birth to genuine conjugial love in our consciousness, but to the genuine understanding of it as applied to one's relation to the wife. This understanding can occur only to the extent of one's regeneration. Hence the importance of our temptations--see the "husbands confess here" article.
I would be delighted to know your reactions.
The matrices in this article is related to the work of Swedenborgian Physicist Ian Thompson, especially this article that explains the recursiveness of each degree: Discrete Degrees: A Top Down Presentation
The text of De Hemelsche Leer