Selection from Theistic
Psychology: The Science of Immortality
The foremost principle of learning in theistic psychology is that all thoughts are created by our loves. Therefore, in order to learn or acquire a new habit-skill, we must use our cognitive processes for thinking about what we are to do and how to do it. This cognitive process is an operation in the cognitive mind, which is a spiritual organ involving nerve fibers constructed from the substances streaming out from the Spiritual Sun. However, not a single cognitive operation is possible except through an impulse from the affective organ. You cannot think a single thought unless it is initiated by some love, purpose, or motive in the affective organ called "the will." All thoughts and their operations are goal-directed by an affection for the goal. The affection for the goal is called the motive. The motive is the essential cause or source of all action, behavior, or habit. (...)
This chart is adapted from Kay Alden's Theology 526 paper (see Reading List at end). She credits Rev. Willard Heinrichs for an earlier chart. See also Hugo Lj. Odhner's chart in The Human Mind for a related description (see Reading List at end).
The chart above represents many different passages from the Writings in which the anatomy of the human mind is discussed along with the geography of the spiritual world (see Chapter xx). The first two rows (1, 2) above the BODY represents our natural mind in which we are conscious on this earth. Row 1 portrays the natural mind before reformation and regeneration, while row 2 represents the natural mind that is being regenerated. During the regeneration of the natural mind by means of temptations (see Chapter xx), a new organic structure begins to open or develop within the external natural mind. This new organ is a degree more interior and gives conscious awareness of interior-natural, spiritual-rational, and celestial-rational correspondences. These progressively elevate the mind to the three heavens while we are still on earth thus being able to be illustrated or enlightened while reading Sacred Scripture. The progressive development of the interior-natural organ is proportional to progress in regeneration by means of natural, spiritual, and celestial temptations (see Chapter xx). Levels 3 and 4 continue to develop but remain unconscious until we undergo resuscitation after death (see Chapter xx).
The chart above shows that rational operation is a skill that has progressive levels based on one another. The lowest level of rationality operates reflexively once established. I call it "sensorimotor memory" or "body memory" and depends on the establishment of neural connections through dint of cumulative repetition. Rationality cannot develop in the absence of this basic operation. Immediately above this level is "logic" or "mechanics" (level 3) and reflects the mind's inborn tendency to organize incoming sensory input into an order that is compatible with higher rationality. Level 3 rationality allows us to differentiate between correct and incorrect. Another step up is needed (level 4) in order to understand the difference between fair and unfair, which is the basis of equity and morality. This level is called "reasoning" and constitutes our lower consciousness of true rationality or spiritual consciousness.
Level 5 is rationality proper and depends on our innate ability for intelligence. This allows us to differentiate between true and false, and is therefore the first spiritual level and the beginning of being human. Hence it is called higher consciousness. Level 6 is called "wisdom" and is the genuine form of spiritual rationality or consciousness. It allows us to differentiate between good and evil. (...)
First familiarize yourself with the following Chart. I made this chart in 1983 while I was reading Conversations on Education by William H. Benade (Bryn Athyn, PA: The Academy of the New Church Press, 1976, First Edition in 1888. Cf. pp. 135, 138, 140). It is edited for this presentation.
The chart is meant to be read from bottom up (1 to 4). Level 1 skills are called "corporeal" they involve the body. These are sometimes called "sensorimotor" or "psychomotor" skills in the psychology literature. Sensorimotor literacy is the lowest form of literacy upon which higher forms are based in developmental sequence. Level 2 skills are called "civil" because they involve "civics" or the performance requirements of public and social life--holding down a job or earning a living, participating in government and community life. Level 3 skills are called "moral" because they involve "moral reasoning" about justice and the assessment of guilt and responsibility for causing injurious behavior. Level 4 skills are called "spiritual" because they involve the ability to read the Writings and apply its knowledge to regeneration or character reformation for the explicit purpose of preparing oneself for the afterlife. These 4 levels are rational levels of mental operation. As the individual grows and matures, progressively higher levels of thinking need to be mastered in order to attain sufficient rationality to be able to understand the scientific meaning of Sacred Scripture or Divine Speech.
I made the following chart in1984 while reading The Science of Exposition: As Drawn from the Writings of the New Church (1915) by William Frederic Pendleton (The Academy of the New Church Press: Bryn Athyn, PA. Cf. pp. 320, 323, 328ff, 369, 377, 384). It is edited for this presentation.
The chart above uses a three-by-three matrix called the "ennead" or nine cells (see Chapter xx). It allows us to depict the developmental steps in a complete series. Note that the columns are to be read down for cells 1, 2, 3 (phase 1), up for cells 4, 5, 6 (phase 2), and down again for cells 7, 8, 9 (phase 3). In phase 1 the sequence of development is:
development in its first phase (cell 1)
The content of the curriculum is therefore adjusted for each cell according to its type (affective or will, cognitive or understanding, sensorimotor or outward behavior) and its phase (downward or upward direction of steps). Note that each phase consists of three steps that relate to acquiring three types of truths: sensual, natural-rational, and spiritual-natural or interior-natural (first heaven). Phase 1 is in the order--sensual, natural-rational, spiritual-natural. Phase 2 is in the order--spiritual-natural, natural-rational, sensual. Phase 3 is in the order--sensual, natural-rational, spiritual-natural. There is a cumulative effect from cell 1 to 9 so that the sensual truth of Phase 3 (cell 7) is different from the sensual truth of Phase 1 (cell 1), and so on. The matrix allows extraction of many relations not immediately visible, and these relations can be confirmed by appropriate passages in the Writings (predictive research) (see Chapter xx). The content of the curriculum in each cell that is shown in this chart needs to be confirmed by appropriate passages in the Writings.
I made the following chart in 1984 while reading Values and Objectives of New Church Education (1964) by Willard D. Pendleton (A series of lectures on New Church education delivered to the Educational Council, Academy of the New Church, Bryn Athyn, PA See. pp. 19-27).
The next chart is an ennead matrix of the development of the
"as-of self" which refers to the conscious appearance that we think
and feel in our self from our self. Our purpose in life is to undergo
regeneration by which we change our character from what it was from inheritance
to what it must become to live in eternity in heaven in conjugial love.
Regeneration is progressive and involves rational consciousness of higher and
higher truths from Sacred Scripture. The Writings give us many details
about the development and maturation of the as-of self as it is transformed into
a heavenly "proprium" or character. The chart below is my attempt to
map out these details. I made in 1988 while reading De Hemelsche Leer Third Fascicle (1930) pp.
73-144.(Swedenborg Genootschap, The Hague. Available on the Web at:
Elaborations of this chart and further explorations of the topic
with other charts will be found in this article:
The next two charts below represents three phases of rational
spirituality discussed in my book Moses,
Swedenborg, and Paul: Three Steps in Rational Spirituality (2003),
available on the Web at:
The above diagram is a basic anatomical chart of the human mind. You can see that it has three discrete levels – natural, rational, spiritual. Looking at the bottom half, you can see from the arrows that information from the natural world is captured by the sensory organs of the physical body and transmitted by corresponding effects to the natural mind. The natural mind has three sub-levels, to be shown later – corporeal, sensuous, and rational. The sensuous information is transmitted upward to the rational mind, or more accurately, the rational mind perceives the activity in the sensuous mind and creates an abstract representation of it called natural-rational correspondences.
Looking at the upper half of the chart, you can see that information from the spiritual world is captured by the spirit-body, located in the spiritual world. The spirit-body houses the mind. Information entering the spiritual mind is called celestial-rational correspondences and spiritual-rational correspondences. These are ways of thinking about Divine Truth. Note that the rational mind is pivotal and plays an intermediary role. It receives information from both the natural world in the form of natural-rational correspondences, and it receives information from the spiritual world in the form of spiritual-rational correspondences. Our enlightenment occurs when these three types of rational correspondences operate synchronously or simultaneously in our mind. This involves the celestial-rational correspondences to resonate with the spiritual- rational correspondences and the natural- rational correspondences all at once.
The Threefold Word (Sacred Scripture) is the source of natural-rational, spiritual-rational, and celestial-rational correspondences.
Without knowing and comprehending this fundamental duality between the natural and the spiritual-celestial, one cannot elevate one’s consciousness beyond the natural-rational level of atheistic science (monism or physicalism). One’s level of understanding, of thinking, and of feeling, remain at the natural level. One is incapable of comprehending the reality of the spiritual world, hence the reality of human beings. Despite this inability, God intervenes in the minds of every individual and implants rational ideas that the individual believes is form self. This illusion is necessary to maintain the motivation for learning and survival while we are still in animal consciousness. It also insures that society can survive, for it would not, if it were left to the human natural mind to run it.
The unconscious tutelage by the Divine, just discussed, ceases or changes in operation in the afterlife, which starts immediately after the physical body becomes a corpse. We begin our life in the spiritual world with a spirit-body, the same we had all along “within” the physical body, which now drops off, leaving the immortal spirit-body intact and free to live its new life in the spiritual world. This new life is of two separate forms, heavenly and hellish. It is necessary therefore to raise our consciousness above the natural level so that we may be prepared to live a heavenly life to eternity. If we do not, our thinking and feeling remains at the natural level of operation. Upon awakening in the other life we will find that we are incapable of living a heavenly existence. Instead, we sink into the hells of our mind from which few are willing to return, where we lose any good and truth we once may have had, and begin an endless progression of evil and falsity, insanity and unimaginable misery. The stakes are therefore could not be higher – eternal heavenly happiness and wisdom vs. eternal hellish misery and insanity. Only if we rise above the natural level of thinking and feeling can our consciousness comprehend the stark reality of heaven and hell, as it has been revealed by God.
While the outside portion of the rational mind is natural, the inside of it is spiritual. This is the form and function of the human organic mind. It is created with an outside rational portion that gets its information from the physical world. Within this natural-rational mind there is formed a spiritual-rational mind that gets its information from the spiritual world through Divine revelations. In other words, we are created and born into a dual existence, natural and spiritual. This dual existence must be based in organic forms and structures, or else it would be nothing. The organ of the natural mind and the organ of the spiritual mind are both constructed physiologically out of spiritual substances from the spiritual Sun, just like the organs of the physical body are constructed physiologically out of physical substances from the natural sun. When we comprehend this dual reality and assimilate it into our normal thinking, we enjoy a new consciousness of reality that may be called rational spirituality.
We can better control our individual spiritual development by knowing how rational spirituality has developed in the history of Western civilizations since individual biography recapitulates racial evolution. The Old Testament civilizations have elevated human consciousness above the animal level by assimilating the Divine spiritual message given through Moses into their everyday thinking and feeling. The natural-rational mind is a discrete level above the natural-animal mind because of the abstract idea of God which can be formed only by means of rational thinking. Animals cannot have the idea of God since their cognitive abilities are restricted to the physical order of the natural world. God is not part of this physical order. God is absent from the physical detection systems that have been created for the animal mind. It is not possible to discover God’s presence physically or by concepts based on physical order. Such concepts are called “materialistic” and “monist” because they cannot incorporate the fundamental duality. God is an idea that originates from the spiritual world, hence any human mind that assimilates this idea into every day reality, is raised to a higher consciousness of reality, a higher understanding, a higher operational level of thinking and feeling. Spiritual-rational thoughts from revelation and spiritual-rational loves from influx, constitute the content of operation of spiritual rationality.
These spiritual-rational loves from influx enter the mind of every human being but they cannot survive in the mind without spiritual-rational truths from revelations. First we must acquire spiritual-rational truths from revelations, then we can retain spiritual-rational loves from influx. In this way we become angelic beings.
Following the civilizations of the Moses revelations came the Christian civilizations of the New Testament revelations. These elevated human consciousness to a new level of thinking and feeling. The Moses revelations were cast in a local, sectarian frame that was hostile to strangers. The New Testament revelations were cast in a universal, personalized frame that was inclusive of the entire human race. The intellectual justification of the New Testament in the form of Pauline doctrine, dissolved the earlier sectarian forms of spirituality, beginning a new life of universality and Divine personalism. God is not only Divine but Human. It is impossible to have a relationship of love with an infinite Divine force. Divine love is essentially Human, as revealed and demonstrated in the Incarnation. A giant leap forward in understanding reality takes place when the infinite God is conceptualized as a Divine Human Person. This new idea of God cannot be formed in the natural-rational mind, but only in the spiritual mind within it. The spiritual mind is an organic form that responds to spiritual ideas from the spiritual world. By assimilating this new spiritual idea of God into our everyday thinking and feeling, we begin a new order of life immersed in rational spirituality.
But there is one more step to ascend. The intellectual justification that Paul forged out of the New Testament revelations, were contaminated with ideas from lower civilizations. Similarly, when individuals enter this phase of their spiritual development, their consciousness will remain somewhat general rather than particular, and may thus retain elements that are not genuine, leading to false ideas, even heresies that become a stumbling block to further spiritual development. Our understanding of reality takes its final step of escalation when we particularize the Divine Human Person by knowing how and where He operates in our mind.
This ultimate level of spiritual rationality has been provided for by means of new scientific revelations given through the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), a renowned and respected scientist in Sweden. The Divine Human Person wants a reciprocal relationship with each individual in order to become a conscious co-participant in our thinking and feeling. In order to achieve this possibility, God had make new scientific revelations never before given. These new revelations are given in the form of True Science. This makes sense since materialistic science is the ultimate achievement of the natural-rational mind. With the beginning of the modern mind in the 17th and 18th century, the rational understanding of civilization rose to its most abstract level so that it became capable of incorporating the new scientific revelations of God’s immediate involvement and co-participation in our thinking and willing.
Christian spirituality has undergone three phases of evolution – spiritual-natural, spiritual-rational, and celestial-rational. These three phases of spiritual rationality are embedded in the Christian view of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Third Testament (or Writings of Swedenborg). The revelations of the Writings thus complete the creation of the human race. Now God has at last revealed all the details of His Rational Mind by which He creates and manages every detail of the universe. All the mysteries of Christian spirituality that have been invented by the human intellect can now be enlightened by the objective and clear facts of theistic science. Mysticism and spirituality have been connected in the earlier phases of the race’s spiritual development. Attempts have been made to connect materialistic science and mystical religion. This attempt was unable to elevate consciousness into its next higher level. Other attempts involve connecting Eastern philosophies with Christian mysticism. This too yields no elevation. What is fully effective however, is connecting science with scientific revelations. This transforms atheistic science into True Science, theistic science, the science of God.
The mind is elevated in consciousness by means of Divine revelations. The human mind is created to operate in this way. These genuine spiritual ideas can be understood rationally because all spiritual ideas are from God’s Rational Mind. Christianity has received the scientific truth that God created the universe by means of Truth. Those outside of the Christian faith, like Gandhi of India, have also received this new scientific perspective and have incorporated it into their own religion and culture, as demonstrated by the life of Mahatma Gandhi who identified God with Truth. Since the universe is created out of Divine Truth in its infinite variety, it is clear that only a rational spirituality, that is, theistic science, can be the vehicle for forging our individual spiritual development. The level of our thinking and feeling can be raised to the celestial level by means of rational spirituality.
This book presents the three phases of rational spirituality that every individual needs to understand in order to elevate the consciousness to the angelic level. This is the true human level of thinking and feeling. People of all religions and philosophies can use this understanding to advance themselves in their consciousness within their culture and lifestyle. Religious traditions and practices are no barrier to consciousness raising by means of True Science. The Writings of Swedenborg appear sectarian when viewed from the surface since all Divine revelations reflect the culture and era of the revelator. But neither Jews nor Christians have an automatic entry pass to heavenly life and consciousness just because they acknowledge the Word of God as a Divine revelation. They must extract from it principles and doctrines for life and they must overcome the enormous resistance all people experience to the growth of spiritual rationality in their mind.
To the extent that these doctrines are applied to our daily thinking and feeling, they become systematic and effective techniques of self-change. God regenerates every individual through daily efforts of cooperation with Him. He provides us with specific experiences and challenges every day that are tailored to every unique individual in the form of temptations of conscience. God provides us with a conscience and doctrines of revelation, God provides the daily temptations, God provides the power for overcoming them, but we must provide the free choices by which we deny ourselves to love evil and its falsities, and compel ourselves to love good and its truths. The power is God’s but the choice is ours. He participates in setting up that choice in our mind and through the events in our environment. He gives us the power to think truth and choose good moment by moment, day by day.
This intimate and close cooperation and co-acting between God and every unique human being, has been fully revealed by God through the Writings of Swedenborg. This is the dawning of the age of True Science when all mystery is banished and rational spirituality furnishes humankind with rational loves and rational truths.