Dr. Leon James
Professor of Psychology
First published on the Web: 1999
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TOC \o "1-3" \h \z \u **** Before You start: Diagnostic Test Your Rational Spirituality ****
Before You start:
Diagnostic Test Your Rational Spirituality
It would be helpful to you to compare the distance between where you are starting from and where you end up when you complete the study of this book. I created this test to help you estimate that distance. Each question has three alternatives and you are to pick one of them that best represents your views on several spiritual topics. I provide an Answer Key and an explanation of how to interpret your score.
Please page through to the Appendix at the end where the 100 questions are located.
The expression “The Writings” is being used throughout to refer to the books written In Latin by Swedish scientist, Emanuel Swedenborg (1668-1772). These are available online along with collateral works and search engine:
Many public and academic libraries also carry one or more Swedenborg books. They can also be ordered from local and online bookstores.
Selections from the Writings are given in Section 19 and are arranged by topics of relevance to the discussion.
A person without religion does not become spiritual, but remains natural (Swedenborg, CL 149)
We know from the Writings of Swedenborg that the most ancient civilizations on this earth were pre-industrialized people with the mental ability of communicating with their departed ancestors. Swedenborg was given the opportunity to talk to them in their heavens where they live happily to eternity, as will be fully explained in what follows. While they lived on earth in a physical body they were able to be in conscious mental contact with those who had departed and were inhabitants of heaven. This celestial communication between heaven and earth was the source of their knowledge about the world, heaven, and God. As a result, their perspective on reality was objective and realistic, hence dualist and theistic. For them dualism was not a belief or a religion, but a scientific reality. They did not have to invent philosophies, theologies, and theories about the source of life, the immortality of human beings, the existence of heaven and hell, and the laws by which God operated both worlds, the natural world of earths and the spiritual world of heavens and hells. This was not mystery to them but science -- clear understanding based on empirical facts. Whatever information they needed about reality, they were able to access through the vertical community of their ancestors. They were celestial people, conscious of the operations in their celestial mind, which gave them a sensuous consciousness of both this world and the spiritual world. This dual consciousness was the source of their science.
And where did the inhabitants of heaven have their scientific knowledge from?
From God. Such is the character of life in the heavens, that truth and good streams into the mind from within. Knowledge is not something that needs to be acquired by learning and discovery. All knowledge is from God. While attached to the physical body we are compelled to discover some knowledge on our own. Scientific revelation has the character of being wrapped in endless layers of appearances of truth. It seems that we have to exert mental effort to read it and comprehend it. But at some point we are no longer attached to the physical body and we take over conscious control of the spirit-body during our resuscitation into the world of spirits. As we enter the uppermost level of our mind called heaven, there is a radical change in how knowledge comes to us. In that state our will is in the inmost and our understanding is on the outside of it. Scientific knowledge or truth streams into consciousness from the spiritual Sun, which first enters the will with its spiritual heat or love, and then exits into the understanding with its spiritual light or truth. This inward source of scientific knowledge is blocked to consciousness while we are attached to the physical body.
You can see therefore that the most ancient peoples on this earth did not need an education and a scientific institution to know the properties and laws of natural events. Whatever scientific facts they wanted to know came to them from those in the heavens with whom they were in communication.
An important component of their knowledge was called the Science of Correspondences. This involved understanding the rational hierarchy of discrete degrees into which the two worlds were created, and by which they are maintained in synchronous action. The spiritual world is the source of all causes while the natural world is the theater of their effects. Every event or quality in the natural world is an effect of some prior corresponding spiritual event or quality, the two being linked as effect and cause. Neither world can survive without the other for they are locked into synchronous correspondence by pre-established Laws of Divine Providence. A world of causes (spiritual world) cannot exist without a world of effects (natural world), and vice versa of course. Further, all events in the spiritual world are from the same source which is the spiritual Sun. It is the source of all causes in the spiritual world, and therefore of all effects in the natural world. Hence all spiritual and natural phenomena are produced by these laws of correspondences by the spiritual Sun.
 'It would be too tedious to explain how creation progressed from its first beginning. But while I was in a state of enlightenment I perceived that by means of the light and heat from the sun of your world, one after another spiritual atmospheres were created, which are in themselves substantial. Because there are three of them, and they therefore have three degrees, three heavens were made, one for angels in the highest degree of love and wisdom, one for angels in the second degree, and a third for angels in the lowest degree. But because this spiritual universe could not come into being without a natural universe, in which the spiritual one might produce its effects and perform its services, at the same time the sun which is the source of all natural things was created; and through this in the same way, by means of light and heat, three atmospheres were created to surround the first three, like a shell round a kernel or bark round wood; and it was finally through these that the globe with its lands and seas was created from the earth consisting of soil, stones and minerals, to be the home of men, animals, fish, trees, shrubs and plants. (TCR 76).
The spiritual Sun is uncreate, which means that it was not created but always existed. All things that exist were created by means of the uncreate infinite substances in the spiritual Sun. Its heat and its light are the foundation substances of all created things. This spiritual heat is nothing else then Divine Love, and this spiritual light is nothing else than Divine Truth. To accept this idea you will need to start thinking about love and truth as substances, and of the will and the understanding as organic receptor organs of these spiritual substances.
An analogy might be to compare the Science of Correspondences to the modern day Human Genome Project, which, upon completion, will yield a database of the identify of all the approximately 30,000 genes in human DNA. The Science of Correspondences allowed the people of these ancient civilizations to recognize what spiritual phenomenon was the cause of each natural phenomenon that was detected by their physical senses. In other words, they possessed dual sensuous consciousness, at once natural and spiritual. Since natural phenomena are corresponding effects produced by spiritual causes, dual consciousness empowered them to sustain a temporary environment of paradise on earth. Our inability today of living in a paradisal peace is due to the loss of the science of correspondences so that we sometimes see truth as falsity and falsity as truth; also, we see good as evil and evil as good. As a result of this mixed up perception we create an inferno instead of a paradise.
These ancients may be called celestial minds because the upper portion of their mind was opened, activated, and fully conscious. This gave them a sensuous celestial consciousness in addition to sensuous natural consciousness. Their rationality and science was not based on separated physical observations of correlated effects, such as is the case with today’s materialistic science. Their science was a True Science. It was a theistic science because it was true to their empirical observations of both worlds, not merely the natural world. They could thus observe that the spiritual world had a spiritual Sun while the natural world had a natural sun. One Sun was alive, the other dead. They could empirically observe that the natural world was dead, and that the life of plants, animals, and humans was not at all in the natural world, but in the spiritual world. The physical bodies on earth were merely receptor organs of life streaming forth from the rays of the spiritual Sun. These rays enter our spirit-body in the world of spirits and thereby descend from the upper to the lower portions where we become conscious of their corresponding effects. The corresponding effects consist of a conscious awareness of spiritual light in the form of natural correspondences or “topics.”. All natural topics in our awareness all day long are produced by means of such influx and its correspondences. Our thinking and willing operations would cease instantly without this continuous influx streaming in from the moment of birth to eternal immortality.
The most ancient peoples on earth could comprehend from inner rational enlightenment that the stream of light and heat streaming out of the spiritual Sun was composed of living uncreate substances identified as love and truth in infinite quantities and varieties. Plants and animals were created in an outward physical form, built from within a discrete degree, upon a framework of rational truth called Divine Wisdom (or Truth). You can see therefore that uncreate substances of the spiritual Sun form the inmost discrete framework of created physical organs and objects. Physical organic forms like plants and animals, are capable of receiving life in various degrees. The chemical and geological levels receive life in the lowest degree. Then the plants, which have an organic form that is superior to rocks or liquids. Then animals, at various levels of receptivity in accordance with their organic forms. And at last, human beings whose form is an image of God, can receive life in the highest degreed called angelic or celestial.
The most ancient celestial civilizations on this earth were able to comprehend that the human mind was the most perfect creation and the purpose for which all creation existed. They did not feel the need or motivation to use their knowledge of True Science to create an industrialized society such as later civilizations have produced. They were wisely content in a peaceful unhurried environment in which they could mature as young adults and then make the joyful transition to heaven. They did not experience death as agony or fear, but as a pleasant transition into a celestial environment that did not possess the heaviness and fixedness of a material natural world. Instead, their external environment in heaven was now a spiritual construction, instantaneously produced, living and changing constantly, reflecting the inner life of feelings and thoughts of the inhabitants there. There was no need in heaven to gather stones for their dwelling places and cut down trees, and nail them together. Their magnificent palaces sprang up instantaneously under the laws of correspondences, and the amazing objects within, the rich garments, the delicious foods, the incredible art work, the striking architecture of gardens and lakes – everything sprang up instantaneously as constructions of the mind by the power of correspondences.
Swedenborg was able to visit with these earliest inhabitants of our planet when he visited the heavens where they now live. He was amazed at the rationality and intelligence they have. Their celestial consciousness gives them a comprehension of reality that is impossible to fathom in our natural mind. They are full of innocence, in mutual love, ready to share what they have, and they live in conjugial love, one husband and his wife, the two being soul mates, yea, united into one soul so that from two they became one. Despite their age being thousands of years, the appearance of their spiritual body was that of the flower of adolescence. When you see a couple walking at a distance the two actually appear as one angel. They were amazed and saddened to hear from Swedenborg that the people on earth have strayed so much from their path that all knowledge of correspondences is lost, and that almost no one lives in conjugial love. They were unwilling to hear details about the scortatory and adulterous loves that permeate the race now, as it was too shocking to their innocence.
What happened in the intervening thousands of years since they had departed earth? Historically it is known as “the Fall.” This refers to the decline in innocence, rationality, and knowledge of correspondences, sad events that were brought about by a gradual and cumulative turning away from rational spirituality and True Science. At first only a few people entered upon this nefarious course. They were isolated on earth, kept away from the inhabitations of the others. When these people entered the world of spirits at their death, they had to be kept separate from the heavenly inhabitations to prevent them from causing disturbances in the peaceful and Divinely obedient life that was part of being in heaven. The places they were kept in was called the hells. With the course of the generations entering the world of spirits, more and more people entered the hells as well as the heavens. There thus evolved two sets of populations in the spiritual world, celestial and infernal. Those still on earth were now born in an entirely new condition. First, they had no direct sensuous access to the spiritual world. The only information they were able to glean from the dual universe was that which came in through the physical senses. They were now totally ignorant that they were immortal, that there was an afterlife, a heaven, and a hell. They had become merely natural minds, thus similar to animals. This is called the Fall of the human race.
As a result God introduced a new phenomenon in the evolution of the human race – from sensuous consciousness of Him to rational consciousness. It was the beginning of rational spirituality in the human race. Henceforth God would make scientific revelations about Himself, heaven, and hell through the mind of chosen individuals whom He would put into a state of trance and produce visions of the spiritual world that they could then describe and record in writings. These prophetical writings were collected together into a set known as Sacred Scriptures or the Word of God. Now all the generations were able to read from a physical book what their dual reality was like. This was the beginning of a new rationality of the human race. The old spirituality was based on direct sensuous consciousness of the dual universe. With their outer physical sensory organs they were able to know the natural order, and with their inner spiritual sensory organs they were able to know the spiritual order. When this dual sensuous consciousness ceased with the Fall of the race, knowledge of the spiritual world and the afterlife was lost. The human race on earth had become natural. This was reflected by the evolution of a new brain – the split-brain race.
The early civilizations on this earth were composed of celestial people, as just discussed. Their mind was unified so that whatever was in their will, externalized in their understanding, and ultimated in their physical actions. They were not capable of thinking one thing and saying another, nor of any deceit or disinformation. This unity of the mind was reflected by their possessing a single brain. After the Fall, the mind of the people on this earth was divided. The unity was broken up by God who provided a new method for the human race to know Him and the journey of joyous immortality in heaven, which was the purpose God created the dual universe. This new method was called regeneration of the mind. Now the will and the understanding were no longer united as they were in the celestial people. Now people were born with a will filled with tendencies and loves that were opposite to those of the celestial people. The understanding however was like a blank slate. Nothing from the spiritual world could enter the consciousness of the mind, and so it was born totally dark, turned off. This fundamental mental change was reflected by the action of correspondences as the brain splitting into two parts, the left brain for the understanding, the right brain for the will.
As the infants of this new split-brain race grew and became socialized, their understanding was gradually filled with both falsities and truths. Falsities are opposites and denials of truths, while truths are the revelations from Sacred Scriptures. These revelations were summarized in every society and ethnic group in accordance with their specific conditions of life and culture. Thus arose numerous religions that taught doctrine to the children and the adults. These were called Doctrines of Life and they were acknowledged as Divine Commandments to be followed now in order to enjoy a blissful eternity in the afterlife.
By inheritance the will is filled with natural motives for acquiring knowledges. When we acquire information about spiritual topics our will responds to the content, testing it whether it agrees with its dominant loves. If the spiritual information contradicts what the will wants, the information is rejected. But if the information is compatible with the dominant loves, it is adopted and expanded in scope and importance. By this method we develop a unified mind that is mixed with evils, goods, falsities, and truths. This is not a stable situation since evil fights with good in the will, and falsities fight truths in the understanding. God participates in the tremendous tug of war struggle in our daily affairs as we are pulled and pushed by these two opposing forces. If God were to leave people to themselves, the outcome is predetermined. Inherited evil in the will gradually and inexorably banishes all good from itself, and surrounds itself with falsities manufactured by the understanding, so that the two can make what’s called an “infernal marriage,” which is a marriage from hell, taking the people to hell in the afterlife. The inevitability of this awful outcome meant that the human race was doomed and creation could not survive.
God then had to assume the role of a Divine Savior. He had to intervene in the mental operations of every split-brain individual by a supernatural intervention. God had to break into the natural consciousness of human beings on earth by a series of steps which took many millennia and centuries to accomplish. The Writings describe three fundamental steps in this Divine intervention process. They can be understood in relation to the Word of God or Sacred Scripture. The first phase of intervention to raise human consciousness covers the period of the Old Testament civilizations. Human consciousness is raised by means of Divine Truth. We can receive Divine truths from revelation in Sacred Scripture. The Old Testament was written through the minds of dozens of authors over several centuries. In other words, Divine truths had to descend and externalize in form so that they may be suitable to the genius of the people of those civilizations. Divine truths are perfectly rational because they originate from God’s Divine Rational mind. It is by this mind that God creates the dual universe and manages it. Divine Truth is the acting arm of Divine Love. Love by itself cannot act, but it can through truth. Truth is therefore the outside form of love or good. Everything that was created was created by love through truth. Therefore every created thing or quality contains love and truth at its essence. And whether you say love or you say good, it is the same. And whether you say truth or wisdom, it is the same.
By reading, studying, and reflecting upon Divine truths, our consciousness is raised. This is how our mind has evolved from creation. We become enlightened from knowing that there are two worlds, that the two are connected, that God rules all the details, that we are immortal, that our blissful eternity in heaven or our miserable fate in hell will be determined by the choices we make in accordance with the Divine truths in our understanding. Enlightenment brings us to the edge of salvation. Once again God has placed the human race on this planet into a position of freedom to choose between evils and goods, and between falsities and truths. It is called the edge of salvation because we are first given the rational understanding of our real condition. We can then actualize that salvation by beginning the mother of all battles – which is our struggle at character reformation by means of temptations – first natural, then spiritual, and a t last celestial. The Divine truths in our enlightened understanding are temporary visions of reality as it is truly. We see God rationally. We can be filled with rational loves by acknowledging Him as a Divine Human Person, and loving Him by obeying His Commandments. He can then intervene in further ways that He could not before. The reason He could not help us before in this new way is that we were not sufficiently prepared so that we were unwilling to be helped in this way. Had God insisted on helping us in this way before our readiness being complete, we would have lost our spiritual freedom to choose heaven or hell. And without this choice, we cannot be made human and happy to eternity.
God supervises every detail of our character reformation or regeneration, or else it would fail. The extent to which He can intervene in our conscious understanding is limited by our willingness to learn deeper rational truths than what we start out with. We cannot rest in the spiritual growth process. We must progress continually, or retrogress. Our spirituality must become more and more rational in order to become more and more celestial. Celestial spirituality is the highest form of rational spirituality that human beings can attain. We begin our rational development with a natural understanding of spiritual truths (or Divine truths). We read Sacred Scripture and are instructed in religious doctrine. This initial phase is a natural understanding of spiritual truths. This is the Old Testament phase of cultural evolution. We read about who is God and what God wants from us and why. All our thoughts and feelings in this regard are natural-rational. In other words we think of God naturally, as a Divine King who wants us to follow His Commandments and to worship and to give Him glory. We think of heaven as a place of reward for our good deeds, and for our origin of birth and the inherited blood we carry. We think of hell as a place of eternal punishment for sins and misdeeds. We think of these things in a natural way.
For instance we think of heaven as something that will be created on this earth, or some other planet, after the earth is first destroyed. Or we think of hell as prison where we are tortured and held against our will. We think of angels as a separately created race to serve God who wants to be praised and gloried all day long and all night. And other such characteristics that natural kings would have and natural societies on earth.
The Old Testament phase brings the mind to a higher level than the natural level ever could attain by itself. The idea that there are two worlds, natural and spiritual, is a degree of rationality that the people of the Old Testament could not yet attain. Those who acknowledged the Old Testament as Divine Truth were raised above the level of others who had fallen into natural forms of religion called cults and myths. For example the ancient Greeks, had a culture that transmitted remnants of truths left over from the celestial civilizations. These remnants were no longer genuine but filled with falsities. For instance, instead of one God they had multiple gods. They were locked into this myth, believing it to be true. As a result they were not able to develop their rational spirituality having met a dead end in their religious myths. But when the Old Testament was completed, people were able, if they were willing, to receive rational and scientific facts about God and the spiritual world, thereby elevating their mind from primitive superstitions to a rational description of God, who He was, what He wanted, and what methods we were to use in our regeneration. By adopting these truths, our spirituality becomes rational, that is, in accordance with true reality as revealed by God.
But this level of rational spirituality is but an intermediate step. It is not genuine rational spirituality but a lower from of it created to allow us to progress further. For instance, the rational mind rebels against mystery and obscurity. It desires to attain a scientific understanding of all things, including God and heaven. This rational is encouraged or empowered by God to begin to see inconsistencies in Sacred Scripture. For instance, on the one had we are told that God is perfection itself, omnipotent, and loving. On the other hand we are told that God is demanding, punishing, and even retaliates out of anger when people sin or break His Commandments. How can the two facts be reconciled? This creates a strain in the rational mind. Some people respond to this mental strain by beginning to doubt that Sacred Scripture is really Divine, and eventually turn themselves away from the Word, and begin to think with thoughts that deny God, heaven, and hell.
Others respond to the inconsistencies by turning the rational mind away from them, and calling them mysteries of God that the human mind can’t quite comprehend. Or else, it is said that these mysteries will be understood in the afterlife. In this way, rational spirituality declines. New doctrines are introduced that give a false interpretation of Sacred Scripture. Heresies and insanities abound, making it difficult for those in them to turn back, hence to regenerate their character. More and more people come into the afterlife with an unregenerate character. They are unwilling to receive the truths they are given and taught, and sink down into the hells of their mind from where they are stubbornly unwilling to return.
It is was necessary therefore for God to provide new revelations in order to raise the rational spirituality of the race. Spiritual evolution must progress in successive steps. When we are regenerating today, you and me, we go through the same steps that history went through because individual biography recapitulates racial history. When the Old Testament phase of evolution was completed in the human race on this earth, the New Testament phase was initiated by the Incarnation events, and subsequently by the writings that are collected as the New Testament. The Divine truths are now cast in a higher version of rationality than ever before. The Old Testament mentality of a natural God gives way to a new mentality of a spiritual God. Now for the first time the human race is capable of thinking about a heaven and a hell that is not out there on the planet, but in here in the mind. This is a discrete and fundamental leap in rationality. The human race could not have received this Divine Truth prior to the Incarnation. The Incarnation was a physical intervention in the natural world. This has never happened before. In Old Testament days God appeared as an Angel, as Burning Bush, as a Thunderous Living Voice, as a sacred place with mighty powers like the Ark, or as the invisible force of the universe. These methods of appearance, or Epiphany, were indirect and distant. Where was God in the burning bush? Where was God in the Ark or Temple? The mind could not form a rational description of God that was actual and true.
But with the Incarnation, the sensuous-rational mind had physical proof of God’s existence. He was now a historical figure, born a citizen of a country, walking about making miracles and teaching followers, then dying, resurrecting, and ascending to heaven again, where He came from. Now He was in this world; now He is in the spiritual world. This is rational proof of the dual universe. Later generations who did not see Him nevertheless are able just as well to rationally confirm His existence by acknowledging the events of the New Testament as true. This acknowledgment raises our rationality to a new high. Now we are able to think about spiritual topics in a spiritual way, not merely natural way.
For instance, heaven is not a place but a state of mind. Hell is not a prison but an environment created by the mentality of the people who are there. God is not like a natural king who punished His subjects when he gets angry. God never gets angry since He is pure love, yet the people who turn against Him become insane and now begin to see Him as the opposite of what He is. This is why God talks and appears in the Old Testament as an earthly king, not because He is that way, but because the Old Testament mentality sees Him that way. He permits this distortion of Him for the sake of establishing a basis for a higher spiritual mentality. When we receive the New Testament mentality, and acknowledge it, and desire to live by it, we ascend to a new level of enlightenment far above what was possible before.
For instance, our thoughts and loves become more rational. When we think of sin, we think of intention, not merely the overt deed. Breaking the marriage vows is called adultery in Sacred Scripture. In the higher phase of rational spirituality we can see that if we fantasize adultery, enjoy it, consider it permissible because it is only in the mind, we are committing a sin just as much as when we carry it out in deed. This is a higher level of consciousness since it elevates the significance of mental events to be equal in importance, or more important, then outward actions. This is more rational because outward actions are nothing but the automatic expression of inward thoughts and feelings or intentions. We may hide or inhibit our outward actions to avoid being punished by norms and laws, but we try to do them secretly if we think we can get away with them. Thus our character remains inwardly such as it is, and we are not regenerated. Now with the New Testament mentality we can see more rationally that heaven cannot be given to us by God as a reward, or else God would, since He is pure love. But He cannot. God can bring us to heaven only if we have heaven in our mind, that is, only if our thoughts and feelings are true and good. Thoughts and feelings must be changed by our struggle to regenerate or else they remain such as they were. We can also in this new rational spirituality that the human race is united in God’s eyes and that entering heaven has nothing to do with the blood of our ancestors or with our standing in society. God is personal, in addition to being universal.
But this new rational spirituality is itself still in an intermediary stage as shown by the fact that it contains many obscurities that are turned into mysteries. For instance, how does our rational mind explain the Incarnation? If God is omnipresent, how can He now be this Divine Child, or that Adult Man who died on the Cross and was Resurrected? And how can God die? The rational mind of the civilizations of the New Testament came up with various explanations based on the natural understanding, rather than based on spiritual understanding. One of these was the idea that there were not one, but two Divine Persons. One was called the Father, the other the Son. Father God and Son God were in heaven when the Son God decided to descend and Incarnate so that He might become a Holy Sacrifice that would placate the Father God and be right again with the human race, so long as the people accept the idea that their sins are forgiven by Father God solely on account of the noble and Divine Sacrifice of the Sun God who Incarnated. And after the Sacrifice, the Son God returned to heaven to be with Father God again. This explanation fails to satisfy the rational mind.
All sorts of inconsistencies and irrationalities are detected in the story. First and foremost, how can there be two Divine Persons “each of whom is God” (according to the Christian Creed). Realizing this logical impossibility, the intellectuals of the New Testament Mentality again came up with various explanations. One is that this one of those mysteries, an answer to which we shall only know in heaven. Another idea was the that the Son God is Divine but He is not as high as the Father God whose role is Creation, while the Son God’s role is Redemption. This idea led to injurious heresies, one called the Arian heresy, which said that the Son God was the Messiah, and so a lesser god than the Father God since the Son was born human.
None of these explanations satisfy the rational mind, and once again the human race was poised to slide back in consciousness and away from Divine Truth, the only reality and science there is. The slide backwards was so intense and prolonged that 20 centuries after the Incarnation and the writing of the New Testament, our public schools teach materialistic science and are even forbidden by law to teach the true role of God in every natural phenomenon. The consequences of a backsliding consciousness were devastating and horrible. The human race on earth turned spiritually insane since the start of these irrational explanations of reality. Materialistic science and secular humanism became the mentality that captured the governance of society.
The new rules that were formed for human interactions were inhuman and beastly, so that nations turned against nations, waging war with each other and bringing much suffering. Similarly, neighbor turned against neighbor as they became competitors to each other in business, sex partners, politics, sports, traffic, and humor. Hostility became normal and accepted. Physical, mental, and economic abuse became commonplace. Entertainment and art became brutal and obscene. People stood in long lines to get to watch a movie that portrayed violence, adultery, murder, deception, indecency, pornography, blasphemy – and the more of these things were portrayed, the more people were willing to pay to see it. The majority of marriages ended in divorce after much suffering, and it became normal for children to grow up in single parent homes.
Individual lives and lifestyles reflected the spiritual insanity within Fallen materialistic humanity. The consciousness of a spiritual link to heaven died out. As a result the mechanism was turned off by which goods can be received from God through influx into the spiritual mind. Prior to materialism, the human mind operated with a consciousness of heaven so that influx into the spiritual mind may be effective and could descend into the natural mind where the individual experienced enlightenment. With this enlightenment in the understanding, God’s influx of good could enter the will. The Divine good is within truth just as heat is within sunlight. By retaining a consciousness of Divine Truth in our understanding, we are able to receive Divine good in the will. This good is what we need to live the heavenly life. This good is the good of character and is given in endless variety – the capacity to love, the desire to conjoin, the motivation to persevere, the love of truth, the attraction to innocence and purity, the capacity to learn, the strengths and virtues of character – these are the goods we receive from God that make us genuine human beings in the image of the Divine Human Person.
Without consciousness of God, or dualism, this venue of reception for goods is interrupted. If we are not open to receiving these heavenly goods, there is only one other alternative available – the reception of evils. There is no in between, only this absolute duality from creation. No other possibility exists. Every single thing on this earth and in the spiritual world is either from heaven or from hell. No other possibility has been created. Therefore every single thought or emotion we have is either from heaven or from hell. Either heaven or hell is the source of every particle and content of the mind. Friend, if you learn to keep in mind this one universal absolute fact, you will be saved for eternity in heaven, and in the meantime, you will live a joyous life here on earth.
The reception of evil in our character is obvious. We are mixed bags of a fallen humanity. We live a daily life of mental pollution. Inwardly we rage against everyone. To our loved ones, we are abusive with various intensities, some brutal and cruel. Our marriages end in divorce. We quarrel with one another. We overeat, under-exercise. We make many mistakes. We are forgetful. We are disobedient and selfish, harmful and arrogant. At the same time can show loyalty, patriotism, friendship, productivity, inventiveness, industriousness, and many more. We are thus mixed minds with a split-brain without the power to purify ourselves. What happens to mixed minds with split-brains? Some people theorize that the good they have done and possess in their character will outweigh the bad, and a just and merciful God will not keep them from heaven.
This is a balance theory of Divine equity in judgment. But it is a fantasy. The truth, as revealed by God in True Science, is that evil and good cannot mix for evil destroys good by corrupting it and changing into evil. Evil is nothing else than good changed in that way. The mixed character theory cannot save you for the evil you actually love will destroy the good you think you love. You will then realize that the good you thought you loved, you actually hate. It was just a kind of a put on. God allows this mixed mind operation for the sake of the individual’s reformation and regeneration, for without allowing mixed minds on earth, no one could be regenerated and saved for heaven. A way had to be provided for regenerating the mixed mind of the split-brain race on earth.
God had to intervene again, for the third time, and now at last He was able to give the final revelations of the Threefold Word. This had been God’s plan since the beginning – to give three collections of revelations – the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Writings -- to allow the new split-brain humans to be regenerated and to be made whole again, and single brained, like the celestial people. This is the meaning of the expression the “Threefold Word.” The re-elevation of the human race to celestial status was planned in three steps of rational spirituality, in accordance with the discrete laws of correspondences revealed in the Writings. The first phase was the collection of scientific revelations called the “Old Testament” given in Hebrew, which raised the human mind from pre-scientific thinking -- idol worship, superstition, and barbarism -- to the first step of a scientific civilization, a first step in rational spirituality. It established the rational idea that the universe is operated by a rational Divine intelligence called Jehovah the Creator who is Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent. The idea of one God in relation to the universe raises the mind’s consciousness from materialistic and sensuous darkness to rational consciousness. When people think and feel from a perspective of monotheism, they are operating rationally. This is obvious since all rationality comes from Divine Truth in our understanding. God is the source of all rationality and operates everything of the universe by means of rational rules of operation. Knowing anything about God is therefore operating at a rational level. Denying God is evidently thinking insanely and irrationally since in actuality God is the source of all.
The rational idea of God revealed through the Old Testament, eliminated the insane and illogical theories that captivated the minds and lives of most people at the time the Old Testament was given to the human race. This chief rational idea of one God, became the source of other rational ideas, like the idea of omniscience. Prior to this, people were captivated by the idea that they could hide from God, or that they could play one god against another, or that God was limited in power due to other godly-forces of Destiny. Another idea was that since we are limited humans, we are always going to be mixed good and bad, but that what matters is the balance – are we more good than bad. Under this irrational idea many justifications have been found for not having to regenerate the character. We can excuse some of the bad with the good, so that we can keep that bad with us, maybe take it to heaven. Or even that the bad can be regularly washed away by purification rituals. The result of all these explanations was to create a culture with arrested spirituality. A second Divine intervention became necessary. It was time to give humanity the second portion of the Threefold Word.
The New Testament got rational spirituality going again by eliminating these irrational justifications of evil in the self, and placing a brand new focus on the intentions, not the deeds. It was a higher more logical science. An analogy is represented by the science of linguistics when considered over the span of my professional career. Prior to the 1960s, linguistics was in the external behavioral phase, not unlike ritual religion and superstition. Sentences were analyzed by breaking them up into functional categories such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs. In this first phase of linguistic science, there was no consciousness of what caused a sentence to be what it is. Linguists could only organize sentences in terms of their surface visible structures like adjectives, nouns, verbs. Then a paradigm shift took place, largely by means of the ideas of Noam Chomsky at MIT who proposed that sentences are produced by inward rational operations and that we need to investigate what they are. “Intentions of the speaker” became a new scientific concept that led to great new strides in linguistics. It also had a decisive influence on the course of psychology.
The New Testament presented a new more advanced paradigm of science. It established scientific dualism, which is the rational idea that God has created a dual universe, one natural or physical, the other spiritual or mental. Furthermore, there is a cause-effect relation between them, so that the spiritual moves the natural, not the other way around. In other words, the mind moves the physical body, not the other way around. Therefore when we commit an evil act that is injurious to others, it is the evil intention that is the cause of it. Similarly, when we commit a good act of use to others, it is the good will or good intention that is the cause of it. Finally, when we commit a good act of use to others, it may not have a sincere motive, but a hypocritical one, and in that case the good act does not count as good, but counts as evil. Similarly when we commit an evil act, but then repent of it, the intention is changed and the evil is shunned and avoided. The person is then no longer guilty of the former evil.
This type of reasoning elevated the scientific consciousness of the civilizations that were influenced by the New Testament. For example, people started thinking about the causes of the visible things they see around them. In this way a cause-effect science in general came to be established, razing civilization to a new rationality.
This rational approach could have worked in terms of furthering spiritual development of the race had it not been for the many heresies and mystical doctrines that obliterated the rational gains in the New Testament. Therefore the Christian world was warned to expect a Second Coming of the Lord. This was in everyone’s consciousness for many centuries. All sorts of new heresies were invented as to how this is going to take place. Absolutely no knowledge of it was available, only speculation. The Lord prevented any such knowledge from becoming known. The human race could not receive this last portion of the Divine Revelation without being harmed by it. When we are exposed to a Divine truth prior to our ability to comprehend it, we turn the truth into its opposite, thus harming ourselves. The Lord carefully hid this new knowledge of the Second Coming until the 18the century when Emanuel Swedenborg began publishing the Writings. These were completed when the last of about 30 volumes was published by Swedenborg in 1772. In these volumes the full blown answer is given about what is the Second Coming and how is it going to take place.
A redemption has also been accomplished by the Lord at this day, because at this day is His Second Coming according to prophecy; by which, having been an eye-witness thereof I have been made certain of the truth of the foregoing arcana. (Coronis 21)
To-day the Second Coming of the Lord is taking place, and a new church is to be established (TCR 115)
At last the Lord has revealed Himself in His Divine Rational as a True Scientist. We now have the answers to all the puzzles of mystery and heresy that plagued all the prior civilizations since the celestial beginning of the race on earth. Now it is permitted to go into these mysteries of ages in a rational way, so that the rational mind can be fully and perfectly satisfied that there is nothing that can puzzle us that has not been revealed. It is this method that the Lord has chosen to conjoin Himself to the human race, and to permit the human race to reciprocate by clinging to Him with our rational mind. The Second Coming marks the new evolutionary era of celestial consciousness by means of the rational spirituality of True Science.
This book is about the journey every individual is embarked on, the journey to heaven or hell. It is about how to avoid hell and end up in heaven by developing our rational consciousness of Divine Truth.
Since therefore I was desirous of knowing whether there were other inhabited worlds, and what they and their inhabitants were like, I was allowed by the Lord to talk and mix with spirits and angels from other worlds. (Swedenborg, EU 1)
Yes, because it meets all the standards of science, which is that a scientific explanation must be rational, must fit in with what’s already known, and must be verifiable by empirical observation and capable of being disconfirmed by data gathered by others. Any explanation that meets these criteria is a scientific explanation.
The explanations in the Writings are rational. I have gone through the nearly 30 volumes and have been impressed and delighted at its extraordinary rationality and consistency. There is a substantial literature on Swedenborg, as you can expect, and it is generally recognized that he was an unusual genius with vast knowledge of the sciences and the classics. The Writings have been admired for their strict rationality, sometimes criticized for it by those who would prefer seeing the expression of more fuzzy passion. The Writings are a model of rationality for science, theology, and philosophy.
explanations in the Writings fit in with everything that’s been known and
understood in Western Christian literature, science, and history. The Writings
are a continuation of the Old and New Testaments, and complete the collection
of Divine revelations called the Threefold Word. The Writings analyze the major
theories of theology, philosophy, and science from Aristotle to
CONCERNING THE RESUSCITATION OF MAN FROM THE DEAD, AND HIS ENTRANCE INTO ETERNAL LIFE
Being permitted to describe in connected order how man passes from the life of the body into the life of eternity, in order that the way in which he is resuscitated might be known, this has been shown me, not by hearing, but by actual experience. (AC 168)
I was reduced into a state of insensibility as to the bodily senses, thus almost into the state of dying persons, retaining however my interior life unimpaired, attended with the power of thinking, and with sufficient breathing for life, and finally with a tacit breathing, that I might perceive and remember what happens to those who have died and are being resuscitated. (AC 169)
Celestial angels were present who occupied the region of the heart, so that as to the heart I seemed united with them, and so that at length scarcely anything was left to me except thought, and the consequent perception, and this for some hours. (AC 170)
The angels who sat at my head were perfectly silent, merely communicating their thoughts by the face, so that I could perceive that another face was as it were induced upon me; indeed two, because there were two angels. When the angels perceive that their faces are received, they know that the man is dead. (AC 173)
An aromatic odor was perceived, like that of an embalmed corpse, for when the celestial angels are present, the cadaverous odor is perceived as if it were aromatic, which when perceived by evil spirits prevents their approach. (AC 175)
As soon as the internal parts of the body grow cold, the vital substances are separated from the man, wherever they may be, even if enclosed in a thousand labyrinthine interlacings, for such is the efficacy of the Lord's mercy (which I had previously perceived as a living and mighty attraction), that nothing vital can remain behind. (AC 179)
When the celestial angels are with a resuscitated person, they do not leave him, for they love everyone; but when the soul is of such a character that he can no longer be in the company of the celestial angels, he is eager to depart from them; and when this takes place the spiritual angels arrive, and give him the use of light, for previously he had seen nothing, but had only thought. (AC 182)
Afterwards there seems to be something gently unrolled from the face, and perception is communicated to him, the angels being especially cautious to prevent any idea coming from him but such as is of a soft and tender nature, as of love; and it is now given him to know that he is a spirit. (AC 185)
He then commences his life. This at first is happy and glad, for he seems to himself to have come into eternal life, which is represented by a bright white light that becomes of a beautiful golden tinge, by which is signified his first life, to wit, that it is celestial as well as spiritual. (AC 186)
One of the most dramatic empirical demonstrations in the Writings is the proof that the Old and New Testaments are written in the code of correspondences, the same code that relates spiritual phenomena to natural phenomena generally. This is most impressive because the dozens of authors of the Old and New Testaments wrote independently over many centuries. Unbeknownst to them, what they wrote down was in a code, the same code!!
Isn’t this impressive? Most impressive? Does it not stand as a historical and scientific proof of God’s existence and intervention in the minutest details of the world and the mind?
Finally, verification. Are the explanations and facts reported in the Writings verifiable? Yes, they are, and they will be, by every individual approximately 36 hours after death. Swedenborg interviewed many “novitiate spirits” who are the people who have just gone through resuscitation and are beginning to figure out where they are. When told by the attending nurses that they are now in the world of spirits, some are joyous, whether they knew in advance, or are happily surprised. Others are disbelieving, making up other explanations, for example, that they have been transported, they don’t know how, to another place or island, and they need to find their way back home. But soon everyone is compelled by the events to acknowledge that they are now spirits in the afterlife of heaven and hell.
Some scientists reading the above verifiability test would not be impressed, this I know full well. They want verifiability now, not when they depart forever. But here is the news straight from heaven: They are not going to get it. There is no verifiability of the spiritual world while connected to the physical body. The reasons for this are medical and will be explained in the book. Now the only question left is this: Is a rational explanation disqualified from science when it is not verifiable prior to death? Some scientists might say yes, but some might say no. I’ve been a career scientist for forty years and am still on the job, and my answer is No, the rational explanation is not disqualified even though it is verifiable only at the death of each scientist.
The Writings do not merely give us a grand theory of heaven and hell. Swedenborg has been admired by many famous authors in the 19th century and some people consider his writings as important works of literature and philosophy. This is also true no doubt. But more than that, the Writings make it fit in with what’s known in history and science, and with pragmatism and behaviorism. And, as I mentioned, there is the demonstration of the code of correspondences in which the Old and New Testaments were written in. This alone makes the Writings completely unique in the history of ideas.
The human mind has the capacity to operate at different levels. Lower levels of operation are called “animal” while higher levels are called rational, spiritual, and celestial. Each of the three discrete levels of the mind – animal (corporeal, sensuous), rational, and spiritual-celestial – gives us a different perspective and insight on life and reality. Our perspective of reality is known as “consciousness” or “conscious awareness.” Human beings have an innate striving to elevate their consciousness. This is a genetic built in feature of every human mind. Consciousness is elevated when our perspective on reality jumps to the next level of operation. The entire course of human history has been marked by a sequence of civilizations that rise in human consciousness, from animal, to rational, to spiritual, to celestial. Individual development recapitulates historical evolution. Every human being is created with the same human mind marked by a collection of unique qualities. We are born into the animal level of consciousness. We develop our mental capacities as we mature, rising as adults to the level of rational consciousness. As we advance in maturity, our rational consciousness leaps to a new level of thinking and feeling called celestial-rational consciousness or rational spirituality.
The link between animal consciousness and rational spirituality is the rational mind. This spiritual organic form characterizes humans and distinguishes them from animals. Animals have a natural mind similar to our natural mind, but only in its lower portions. The upper portion of the human natural mind is far more evolved than the highest portion of the minds of animals. This upper portion of the human natural mind possesses an internal structure that is not formed from the natural world but from the spiritual world. It is called the natural-spiritual mind. We thus have access to two orders of information, one natural, the other spiritual. It is our dual mind that allows this dual access.
Access to spiritual information is only possible by knowing and understanding Divine revelations. Divine revelations are given in Sacred Scripture by means of the mind of individuals who have been prepared by God to fulfill this role. These Divine revelations cannot be understood by means of thinking and feeling at the natural level below the rational. By acknowledging and comprehending these Divine revelations we are elevated in consciousness from the natural level to the spiritual level. We begin with natural-rational thinking and feeling, then we rise to spiritual-rational thinking and feeling when we take in the Divine Truth into our understanding. The Divine Truth in our understanding is what elevates our consciousness to the enlightened level. We then become aware of two synchronous orders of reality, natural and spiritual. Natural-rational thinking reflects the information from our physical senses. This order of reality denies the existence of something that is not physical. Therefore when it hears rumors of the spiritual world, it denies it, or else, reinterprets it in natural terms. On the other hand, spiritual-rational thinking understands and perceives the spiritual within the natural.
Rational spirituality is a biological developmental process of closer access to God. Studying it allows us to elevate our consciousness all the way to the top of the human mind called “heaven.” This book provides information and explanations on how we can avoid the bottom of our mind, called “hell,” and rise to heaven. All the information and its explanations, are obtained from the Writings of Swedenborg (approximately 30 volumes).
This 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 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 from 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.
I am educated with a Ph.D. (which I obtained in 1962) and am experienced in the behavioral sciences. I am a successful, practicing, academic scientist, and you can see my list of publications (www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy/leonpublish.html) and some of my current activities in the public eye as a noted expert on aggressive driving issues--see a list of my media interviews during the past few years (www.DrDriving.org/about ). I am well trained to make a scientific and professional presentation on many subjects--see a list of articles and book chapters you can read online (www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy/leonarticles.html ). My purpose in the present article is to connect with your mind long enough to describe a satisfying rational answer to the all important questions of “Where am I going?” The answer is rational, scientific, practical, useful, satisfying, pan-human, non-sectarian, good, wise, loving, and perfect in all ways. This answer is not from me, which is why I can use these superlative terms to describe it. It is the answer God gives in a new Divine scientific revelation that has been made available to the human race through the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772).
Access to all the books of the Writings and collateral works is available on the Web:
In summary, my presentation tries to establish the following six points--see how many of them you're interested in:
(1) The mind and the spiritual world (afterlife, heaven, hell) are one and the same, yet with a difference. They both have the same overlapping three-layered levels of structure – natural, spiritual, and celestial. These are in discrete degrees and relate to each other by the pre-established Divine Laws of Correspondences revealed in the Writings.
(2) Our thoughts and feelings are spiritual substances in action within spiritual organs called the understanding and the will. They are not "emergent" phenomena or non-entities in so called “pure” consciousness. These substances stream out of the spiritual Sun, in the midst of which the Lord can be seen by the inhabitants of the heavens. This infinite Divine influx enters every created thing and forms its inmost framework.
(3) The inner character we build up by the way we live is actually the spiritual body in which we live forever in the afterlife. This spirit-body is not material and temporary, but substantive and eternal. It is the body people have in heaven or in hell.
(4) Our condition or fate in the afterlife is completely determined by the inner character we bring with us, which thus completely determines the level or quality of our life in eternity (from varieties of the heavenly to varieties of the hellish).
(5) If we take conscious, voluntary, and dedicated daily charge of our character reformation, to make it grow good and right, it is guaranteed to grow into a well formed and healthy character, that is, a well formed and healthy spirit-body, which then lives in a blessed and productive state of life forever called "heaven." Character reformation is by means of victories in temptations.
(6) If we don't take conscious, voluntary, and dedicated charge of our character, to make it grow good and right, it inevitably grows into a deformed and sick character, that is, deformed spirit-body, which then lives in a miserable state of life forever called "hell."
(7) Character reformation, called “regeneration,” is a lifelong struggle in preparation for heavenly life. It is the only condition we must meet in order to enter heaven to eternity. Regeneration requires (a) rational consciousness or understanding of the scientific revelations in the Threefold Word; and (b) rearranging our thinking and willing in accordance with this new understanding.
(8) Our progression in regeneration goes through three levels of thinking and willing – ritual, faith, and True Science. In the ritual phase, our consciousness of God is natural, our salvation is sectarian, and our view of the world is materialistic. In the faith phase, our consciousness of God becomes personal and universalist, and our view of the world is dualist. In the True Science phase, our consciousness of God takes a final step and becomes particularistic and scientific.
(9) Each of these three phases has three successive states, yielding nine zones of rational spirituality, as represented in the “ennead matrix.”
The words that are underlined in these nine items refer to concepts that are repeatedly discussed in this book. Look our for them. They constitute the semantic skeleton you’ll need to build up in your mind to become spiritually enlightened. Here they are again:
(1) mind and the spiritual world; discrete degrees; Laws of Correspondences
(2) substances in action within spiritual organs; spiritual Sun
(3) inner character; spiritual body; heaven; hell
(4) our fate in the afterlife
(5) character reformation; healthy spirit-body; temptations
(6) deformed spirit-body
(7) regeneration; rational consciousness; Threefold Word
(8) ritual, faith, True Science
(9) nine zones of rational spirituality; ennead matrix
If you're interested in one of these, you will be interested in all nine because they form a logical set. You can also see why I said that the subject of this book is important and vital, don't you agree? What can be more vital? You'll find my e-mail address at the beginning and end of the text. But before you write me, I ask that you read on some more, so you can react to what I say in a deeper sense than your immediate reaction to the introductory remarks. Thanks.
This surpasses all the revelations that have hitherto been made from the creation of the world. (Swedenborg, INV 44)
This book is about the most important and vital question every one needs to answer in a rational way. It's the question of “Where am I going?” -- in the sense of my life, my future, my death, my afterlife, my immortality, my heaven or hell, my God. These are endless versions of saying simply: “Where am I going?” Why is this question so important and vital to you, to me, to every human being? After all, this is some philosophical stuff, isn't? Actually, this subject matter is not philosophical, not evangelical, not spiritistic, or cultist. Neither is it entertainment, fiction, poetry, or fantasy. This subject is about what is reality, or what is “my” actuality. So it is practical and scientific. People acquire the biased thinking that science is not about God, heaven and hell, and other supernatural things. This bias belongs to materialist science which denies that the study of the natural world has anything to do with God or supernatural things. But this is obviously a mistaken view if God intervenes in natural phenomena, and if our mind is immortal so that heaven and hell are a continuation of our temporary life of experience and physical phenomena on earth. The natural and the spiritual are part of one reality or one dual universe, and to deny this is irrational and harmful to our discovery and understanding of reality. Hence also our ability to cope and live effective lives.
I'm going to provide you with a presentation that contains a rational description of an unbiased science that is capable of investigating and understanding the cause-effect relation that exists between natural phenomena and spiritual phenomena. These two are interrelated like cause and effect. Of course, to be acceptable in a rational way, the presentation cannot rely on persuasiveness or dogmatism, or technicalism, these being barriers to the immediate apprehension of truth. My presentation will stick to the rational and empirical, so that the only requirement you have as a reader is to keep going until the end. At that point, expect to have become an enlightened human being -- to some degree. At least in vision or understanding. To actually become the truth that we understand, it is necessary that we live accordingly. The moment we start living according to the truth, as we understand it, we become spiritually enlightened. This is because the inner light of understanding that we call spiritual enlightenment, flows in from within into our spiritual mind at the very instant we execute an act in accordance with and for the sake of the truth that we know. This decision or act according to truth as rationally understood, is called “doing good works.” Heavenly good flows into every good work and gives spiritual enlightenment. And along with spiritual enlightenment comes wisdom, love, celestial bliss, full confidence, and the power and might of angels.
Our modernistic society and permissive social life provide a laissez faire agnosticism and a relativistic moral norm for every individual to endorse and internalize. We are content to remain in a lukewarm attitude towards heaven and hell. A common point of view is to say: “Well, maybe there is a God, maybe there isn’t. Why do I have to worry about the afterlife now -- whether there is one or there isn’t one. When I die, I get to find out anyway. If there is nothing, that’s it, there is nothing. If there is something, a heaven or a hell or whatever, I’ll see it. That’s all there is to it. Who is there who has ever come back to tell us? Let’s just see. For now, we have all of this. Let’s enjoy it. It won’t last forever.”
What is this attitude but pure foolishness and reckless self-destructiveness? Here is why.
The only reason such a non-argument is kept in the mind is that internally, in one’s private cognitive chamber, one believes nothing about the supernatural and one is ignorant of everything spiritual. Just consider what we would do if we were given notice that we must vacate our home, our city, and be taken to a distant island where we will have to survive on our own. What would we do in the few days we are given as warning? We would prepare for our impending departure. We would try to find out information about the destination and bring with us whatever we might need to survive—clothes, money, utensils, a gun, rope, a fishing rod and tackle, a dictionary of the language used on that island, a map, etc. Do you see what I’m trying to point out? The only people who would not do preparations are the people who do not believe that they will be transported to that island in a few days. Similarly with the afterlife and its condition of life called heaven or hell to eternity. You can be lukewarm about it if you do not actually believe that you are being taken there in just a few years, or unpredictably sooner.
Such disbelief is the most costly mistake one can ever make. For if you are wrong and there is a heaven and a hell, and you arrive in the afterlife unprepared for heaven, your lot will be far more miserable than you can imagine now in your worst fears, and this state of misery is to last with you forever! Is it possible to make a more costly or injurious mistake?
What then is the rational response to the idea that there is a heaven and a hell? What would a scientist or engineer do? What would a wise person do? An intelligent and adaptive response to the question “Where am I going?” is to investigate and become informed.
We obtain information about the supernatural from religion, theology, philosophy, and popular writing and culture -- all offer information and opinion on this vital subject. There is a convergence of thinking that people who are good, end up in heaven, but people who are evil end up in hell. There is also general agreement as to what is good vs. evil. For instance, a good person is engaged in some useful work or activity, can be counted on to be loyal to duties and obligations, normally obeys laws and social norms, respects others, owns up to responsibility, is a decent person, and refrains from hurting others or damaging their property. But an evil person is selfish, takes advantage of others, doesn’t mind hurting them for gain and convenience, misleads and abuses people, loves to corrupt innocence, ignores the laws when inconvenient for self, doesn’t respect social norms, deceives and plots against others for personal gain, and cannot be counted on to be loyal or honest. When the physical body dies, people awaken in a spiritual body and continue life in either heaven or hell, depending on what their mind or character is like. Those who have a good character are capable of living in heaven and those who have an evil character are only capable of living in hell. Heaven and hell merely reflect the two sides of the immortal human character.
Sometimes we like to argue that good and evil is in everyone and people are generally mixed, possessing good traits and motives, and evil traits and motives. People sometimes like to quote the New Testament story where the “teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. And instead of punishing the woman, He said to them: "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." (John 8:7). This passage is sometimes used to justify the idea that in the eyes of God everyone is guilty of sin, and that we ought to forgive sins instead of holding against anyone. This interpretations and justification is not in the original passage. What is the Lord teaching us through that passage in the New Testament Word? The Lord has revealed it in His Second Coming in the Writings. And it is this. Heaven and hell are within the human mind but separated, just like heaven and hell are in the spiritual world, but separated by the world of spirits. No one can migrate from heaven to hell or from hell to heaven. Once a person enters either heaven or hell, it is permanent, forever, to eternity. This vastly important scientific fact has been revealed.
We therefore have a choice whether we are going to love the hell in us or the heaven in us. Everybody is mixed in the sense that we have loves that are from our heaven and we have loves that are from hell, the two types of loves never mixing in our mind, kept separate by the Lord. In other words, while we desire to love something from hell, we must descend to our hell by lowering our consciousness, lowering our level of operation in thinking and feeling. But when we desire to love something from our heaven, we must elevate our consciousness to heaven, and this can be done through the Threefold Word or from its influence in our socialization environment. All societies encourage a life of virtue and health, sometimes hypocritically, but always officially and idealistically. There are no societies that advocate vice and ill health, again often hypocritically, by condoning and practicing social evils.
Entry into heaven is not something we do externally, by credentials and achievements. It is not an external reward for certain deeds. Heaven is your own mind, the top of it, where your consciousness operates with celestial-spiritual correspondences of God, that is, of Divine Good and Truth. We acquire this operational capability by rational spirituality, which is the ordering of one’s thinking and willing according to the Doctrine of Life that we extract from the Threefold Word by understanding it rationally and scientifically. Entry into heaven is a medical decision: Is your mind prepared to handle the environment of heaven? Can you survive when you’re cut off completely from any evil love? All the people in hell, which is a very large number, are incapable of feeling alive if you surgically remove the evil loves in their consciousness. Hell is a sort of spiritual insane asylum for people who are unwilling to live in heaven by giving up their evil loves.
When I first reflected on this idea from the Writings, I felt relieved – O, good. If I end up in hell I can always give up my evils for the sake of living in heaven. This was a dangerous thought for it has the potential to lull me into thinking that I do not need to struggle desperately to get rid of all my evils, and that it’s enough if I get rid of most of them, or some of them that are really bad, etc. This kind of merit economy is deadly, that is, leading to hell forever. Later I read in the Writings that all those who end up in hell are given the opportunity to visit heaven, and some do. When they are elevated into the heaven in their mind, they respond by swooning and feeling agony and life leaving them, and they instantly cast themselves back into their abode in hell where they are revived by the evil loves they can enjoy there as their very life.
In many circles today, both outside and inside the various religious and Church organizations, it is not fashionable to talk about hell, and even less so, about hell forever. The idea goes against the grain of liberalism, universalism, permissiveness, tolerance, ecumenism. But I will show that this is a mistaken orientation and ignores what has been revealed in Sacred Scripture. For instance, the Bible explicitly teaches about hell and it makes no sense to doubt the existence of hell just because it is politically incorrect to think that many people, maybe the majority of people, are in hell rather than in heaven. It may not be politically correct or philosophically convenient to keep the idea of hell around, but the consequence of ignoring the revelations of God is to cut oneself off from the knowledge of truth and consequently, the power to be regenerated in preparation for heaven. Regeneration is the lifelong progressive process of character reformation, from evil to good, and involves our daily effort to fight our evils by means of the Divine Truth from revelation. The scientific rationale of this position is given in this book. I agree that one can have a knee-jerk reaction to the distasteful notion of hell, and especially, a hell that is forever. But the distaste comes from not knowing what it really means scientifically to say that there is a hell, and how the system works so that some people end up in heaven while others in hell. When we are told by a priest, minister, teacher, or parent “Stop doing that or you’ll go to hell,” we learn to ignore this and later, we evolve the notion that there is no hell.
But I will show that there is a hell, and also, what you need to do to get there – not much, for we are born with all sorts of tendencies and preferences that take us to hell unless we reform our character. So this is the purpose of this presentation and why it is worthwhile for me to write this, and for you to figure it out: We are on our way to hell, each one of us, from birth, and therefore we need to change something to avoid that place, so that we can end up in heaven instead. “A firebrand snatched from the fire.” That’s what this brief life on earth is for, namely, to give God the opportunity to snatch each one of us from this easy downward slide to hell forever. Why the situation is like this, and why God let it go this far, and many other puzzles, will be explained rationally in what follows. Read on.
Every person has a conscience and will power to refrain from doing evil, and thereafter, to learn to do good. This is called regeneration or character reformation. That’s all that is required for preparation for the life of heaven. Those who have reformed their character then start an eternity of happiness as angel couples in heaven, blissfully in love and growing in higher knowledge daily to eternity. Those who have not reformed their character then start an eternity of misery as devils, satans, genii, and sirens in the many hells provided for the endless exploration of the fantasies and insanities of the deformed human mind. This is then the clear choice. Nothing could be more clear. And yet, complications have arisen, false beliefs that oppose the simple truth of salvation and immortality.
For centuries now, in the Western mind and consciousness, there has been a religious suspicion cast upon “doing good works.” Generation after generation learns the idea that religious life consists of “faith alone” and that our salvation has been “bought” by the sacrificial death of the Son of God on the cross. By this act of redemption we have been reconciled to God the Father in whose eyes we are clean once more, despite our evil character and evil loves. All that needs to be done, according to this view, is to believe that Christ died for you on the cross. This doctrine becomes ingrained in the mind while we are still children and unable to judge rationally whether such an idea makes sense. Those who question the rationality of such an idea are thrown back on another idea, namely that “faith is blind” and that we shall not fully understand the mystery of redemption until we live with the Lord in heaven. Afterwards, as we become young adults, we begin to wonder at this doctrine of sacrifice and salvation by the blood of Christ.
It appears to the developing rational mind that God would not have the same sentiments and attitudes as a feudal lord, angry at his citizens, depriving them of life’s necessities and comforts, having no pity or compassion for them, keeping them away from himself, his face turned away, removing his spiritual heat, his love, his truth from us, keeping us in the pit of darkness and need. Then, all of a sudden, He can turn His face to us again, He can see us in pristine innocence, ignoring our love of evil and our arrogance and cruelty to one another, reconciled to us once more, as before. And what causes this radical and sudden switch? The willingness of the Son of God to suffer the agony of death by torture, to spill His innocent blood like a sacrificial lamb, for no other reason than His passionate desire to save us, to have us be reconciled to His Father, as before.
This rational reaction against the mystery of the doctrine of sacrifice, is described in the Writings of Swedenborg from both sides of the great spiritual divide. Swedenborg was well versed with Christian Reformed Theology, being the son of a Lutheran Bishop and receiving a classic education. At age 57, at the height of his brilliant scientific career, he was granted dual consciousness, as will be explained below, so that he became able to speak with the departed spirits living in the spiritual world. He discovered that every individual is resuscitated a few hours after the physical body is dead. One awakens in the spiritual world in a spirit-body with the same feeling of “me” that one knew in the physical body—all the memories and all the affections and loves are intact. One then continues life to eternity. With his dual consciousness, which lasted for 27 years until his passing on at age 84, Swedenborg had the opportunity to observe and talk to thousands of people in the spiritual world who were being resuscitated, and many others who had been in the spiritual world for thousands of years and could still remember and discuss their life on earth. Swedenborg was particularly interested in talking to Christians about their faith, and their belief in “faith alone without good works.” He studied their reasoning process as to how they justified the idea that good works are not counted for one’s salvation, but blind faith in the doctrine of salvation by sacrifice.
Following the initial phase of life in the world of spirits, which may last up to a few months, one grows more and more inward. Our consciousness and understanding is now determined not by what we had in our external personality, but what we had in our interior mind or character. Our interior motives or loves govern our life but we learn to hide them when we discover ourselves to be selfish, evil, and inclined to irrational judgments and savage actions. We therefore put on a surface personality that acts as our agent in the outside world. Our interior self that pulls all the strings and supplies all the motives, stays hidden, feeling free to be arrogant, contemptuous, self-righteous, cruel, and stupid. This interior self is the real self, and not the external personality we put on for show and is just an agent that will eventually be silenced and laid aside in the world of spirits. Now our real self emerges to the surface. The external appearance of our spirit-body reflects this new interior self now come to the fore. Swedenborg observed two types of loves in these interior places of the mind—heavenly and hellish. In the spiritual world this becomes easily visible since the outside is forced to reflect the inside and can no longer be hidden.
The diagram below depicts the relation between God as the Divine Human Person, and human consciousness.
As depicted in the diagram above, human consciousness has its origin in what proceeds from God as the Divine Human Person. Every individual human being is human (rather than animal or plant) solely from this cause, namely, the influx of humanness into every individual’s mind. This influx of humanness is by means of substances streaming forth from the spiritual Sun and into individual minds. This spiritual influx of living Divine substances is received by organs created for their reception. These organs of reception for Divine influx holed together into a whole which we call the mind of the person, and also, the spirit of the person. The spirit-body is the essential human anatomy and physiology and contains the mind and its organs. The physical body with its brain is an exact replica of the spirit-body and its mind or spirit. The shape and physiology of the physical body is determined by the shape and physiology of the spirit-body, and the two are connected by the synchronous action of correspondences.
The mind is built into three layers or levels of operation. Each layer or level has an organ called the will, on the interior, and another organ around it on the exterior, called the understanding. These two organs operate together by synchronous correspondences. The operation of the understanding organ is by means of the influx of Divine Truth, which is an infinite spiritual substance streaming forth endlessly from the spiritual Sun and proceeding into the created universe, including the minds of human beings. The reception of this spiritual substance called Divine Truth is in the understanding of human minds, but not so for animals, plants, and physical objects or energies. In human minds the reception of truth is called “mediate influx” and results in human consciousness. But there is no mediate influx of truth into other created things, but only immediate influx, and this influx does not result in the phenomenon of consciousness.
Consider the following chart that describes the course of influx from God.
Divine Human Person
Good and Truth
Influx originates in the Divine Human Person who is in the midst of the spiritual Sun. The two infinite substances streaming out of the spiritual Sun are called good and truth. The heat of the stream is good, and the light of the stream is truth. These two infinite substances are one in God, but as they emerge from the spiritual Sun and enter the human sphere, they separate into the unconscious immediate influx of good and the conscious mediate influx of truth. The immediate influx of good is received unconsciously by the organ of the will in the mind, while the mediate influx of truth is received consciously by the organ of the understanding in the mind. Note that influx enters the highest portion of the mind called celestial, then descends into the next lower discrete portion called the spiritual mind, and then into the lowest portion called the natural mind. Prior to regeneration, we are conscious of only the natural mind, so that the mediate influx into the celestial and spiritual mind, is not yet conscious, but it has the potential of becoming conscious with advancing regeneration. The opening of the spiritual and celestial mind is by means of revelation which contains celestial truths, spiritual truths, and natural truths.
The activity of the celestial and spiritual mind becomes conscious in the natural mind by correspondences. To accomplish this, God creates an interior portion of the natural mind. This interior organ is spiritual so that it can reflect by correspondence the ongoing activity in the spiritual and celestial mind. When we pass into the afterlife, we gain full conscious awareness of the spiritual and celestial mind that had been gradually opened by means of regeneration.
Note also that the influx continues into the lowest portion of the natural mind but goes through a receptor filter that inverts the influx into its opposites – good into evil, and truth into falsity. The natural mind has its opposite in the infernal natural mind. The spiritual mind has its opposite in the infernal spiritual mind. The celestial mind has its opposite in the infernal celestial mind. This is because every heavenly good and truth is turned into its opposites, and since there are three discrete degrees of heaven there must be three discrete degrees of hell.
It is the spiritual organ of the understanding that gives us the power of experiencing living consciousness. What is consciousness? Few people even have an opinion, let alone any knowledge of what it is. I’ve been in the field of Psychology for 40 years and though there are books and articles on the subject of consciousness, there is no knowledge of it. People write about theories and speculative, imaginative, and abstract accounts of what consciousness might be. But now True Science gives us a full scientific revelation from God the Creator and Manager of every individual’s consciousness.
So we now know, as just explained, two fundamental things about consciousness. First, we know that it is a spiritual substance originating in the infinite spiritual Sun and streaming out into the created universe, both the spiritual world and the natural world, both into humans and into animals, plants, and physical objects and energies. Second, we also know that the quality of this Divine influx exists in two discretely different modalities, called mediate and immediate influx. Only the mediate influx creates the phenomenon of consciousness and it is operative only in a particular created organ of reception called the human understanding.
True Science gives us many more details of this fundamental process of creation and existence. Creation is out of the substance of consciousness streaming forth from the spiritual Sun as spiritual light or Divine Truth itself. Divine Truth is the substance that makes up the inner framework of every created object or quality. What a tremendous scientific revelation! It is scientific because it is about the mechanism by which physical objects are created. Every physical object or quality is brought into existence by a successive sequence of steps called its “successive order.” This causative chain of being remains in “simultaneous order.” If you take any object or quality and analyze its constituent structure of discrete degrees, you are identifying its simultaneous order. This simultaneous order is an exact replica of the object’s successive order. Hence we can say that all successive order in creation is replicated in all simultaneous order after creation. An analogy might be the rings we can notice on a slice of a tree trunk. Counting the rings gives an accurate estimate of the tree’s age. The tree’s successive order of growth produced each ring with advancing age, and this successive order is replicated in the slice of the trunk that shows us the rings.
This scientific revelation to the human race globally, will facilitate new theories in physics in which consciousness becomes the basis of all matter. True Science as we know it today from the Writings is much more advanced any current notions in physics which is still weighed down by materialistic compunctions. One can expect that the early proposals of this new paradigm in physics will not be dualist and will redefine consciousness in abstract natural terms, rather than spiritual, as in True Science, where it is recognized that the consciousness is not abstracted matter but concretized spirit. Consciousness is a substance which is far superior to matter in that matter is temporary while substance is permanent or eternal. Matter exists in finited space-time limits while substance exists in infinite and uncreate states. Substance is the underlying framework of matter. Every physical object, from sub-atomic particle-wave to galaxy, has an underlying substantive framework that gives it body. The outward object is natural while the inward substantive framework is spiritual. This dual character of all objects is a tremendously useful scientific revelation. Now we know that the source of all substances is the spiritual Sun.
Consider the fact that every tree, stone, water molecule, or protein cell is made of a piece of the sun. Earth is a piece of the sun and so everything on this earth must be a piece of the sun. You can say therefore that the sun is the underlying physical framework of every object on the planet. Now we can another step. Consider the fact that the natural sun also has to have an underlying framework. Logic tells us that the underlying framework can’t be the same as the thing itself, or else it is not an underlying framework. So if the sun is the underlying framework of every thing on the planet, what is the underlying framework of the sun? Fair question, but the answer is not known unless we turn to scientific revelations. True Science describes the spiritual Sun as the underlying framework of the natural sun. Skipping for now all the details, we can nevertheless rationally conclude that the spiritual Sun is therefore the underlying framework of every physical object on the planet.
And what is this underlying framework from the spiritual Sun? It consists of the spiritual light and spiritual heat that is carried inside the light. Spiritual light from the spiritual Sun streams out into creation and begins it as the first step in a successive order by which this spiritual substance proceeds from the spiritual Sun and creates by successive steps of layering itself with more and more limits, until it reaches an outer layer called natural limits. Every object of this outer natural layer will therefore contain, like the rings of a tree, a replica in simultaneous order of its steps of creation. Therefore the initiating substance from the spiritual Sun will be in the inmost or central ring of the object. And what is this inmost constitutive substance of every physical object or quality? It is spiritual light within which is spiritual heat. And spiritual light is called Divine Truth and spiritual heat is called Divine Love. This proves then that every thing in its inmost is Divine Truth and Love. And Divine Truth is nothing else then Consciousness Itself, the source of all human consciousness in the mind. We now have a scientific explanation of why it can be accurately said that this is fundamentally a Human Universe made of Truth and Love at its core.
The diagram and chart above depict some of these details. Note that the Divine Human Person, who can be seen by angels in the midst of the spiritual Sun, is the origin of influx. Whatever is streaming out of the spiritual Sun is the Divine Truth and the Divine Love of the Divine Human Person. This is because that’s what the Divine Human Person is in Constitution or Essence. In His essence or inmost being, He is infinite Divine Love, and in His outward existence, He is the infinite Divine Truth. These are the two substances -- celestial and spiritual -- streaming out of Him into the created universe. Love is a celestial substance while truth is a spiritual substance. Both come in infinite and inexhaustible varieties. These two infinite substances are uncreate and have the capability of transforming themselves into created things by a process of exteriorization, or self-limitation. The light of the stream of influx is nothing else than actual Divine Truth, and the heat within this light stream is nothing else than actual Divine Love.
Substance contrasts with matter. All things in the natural world are constructed out of material elements and compounds. But all things in the spiritual world are constructed out of the two substances, celestial (=love) and spiritual (=truth). Substances are not in time and space, while matter is. For example, a house in the natural world is constructed of materials like stone and wood, while a house in your dream is constructed out of substances (thoughts and images). Feelings and thoughts are constructed out of celestial and spiritual substances (love and truth) streaming into the mind. A house in heaven is constructed out of celestial and spiritual substances from the spiritual Sun. Clearly, the house in your dream is more like the house in your heaven than your house on earth. In the spiritual world a house is maintained in existence as long as your feelings and thoughts are conscious and connected to it. There is no time limit or spatial restrictions to your house in heaven, as there is to your house on earth. In the spiritual world, whatever thoughts and feelings you have exteriorize by correspondence to create the specific appearances of the sensory environment. On earth this is not so. Your house remains fixed as is, no matter what your thoughts and feelings are. Material houses are partially independent of your mind, but substantive houses are completely dependent on your mind. Those who are in hell have thoughts and feelings that exteriorize as dark caverns and huts rather than magnificent houses or palaces.
It takes a high level of abstraction to be able to comprehend the idea that truth and love are substances. The mental effort it takes to understand how truth and love can be substances, produces a more abstract and rational intelligence or wisdom. Our consciousness operates from influx at three discrete levels, and the resultant conscious awareness and perception is different at each level, so different, that a lower level can never comprehend a higher level no matter how much it improves at its own level. It is like a staircase having three steps separated from each other by several hundred feet. How are you going to get to the top? No matter how much you walk and shuffle at one step, you will never get to the next step. The only way is to find a way of being transported up by some entirely new method that is radically different from walking and shuffling. Similarly with consciousness, which is like walking and being transported.
The three discrete levels of the organic physiological mind are called natural or natural-rational (lowest), spiritual or spiritual-rational (intermediate), and celestial or celestial-rational (uppermost). Consequently we experience the phenomenon of consciousness at these three steps or discrete levels of operation. The thoughts and feelings we have when the natural consciousness alone is operative, are at the level of animals, though at a more advanced stage. In other words the physiology of the natural mind is more advanced with humans than it is with animals. This is the reason that humans use a natural language for communicating at a distance and for abstract thinking, while animals have only crude signaling systems in comparison. But in addition to having a more advanced natural mind, humans also have two additional organs of a higher construction which animals do not possess and can never possess from creation. These two higher organs are called the spiritual mind and the celestial mind.
The state of a person's mind in the natural world determines its state in the spiritual world. (Swedenborg, TCR 816)
When we are born, our physical body is born in the physical world and our spirit-body is born in the world of spirits. The two are connected by the laws of synchronous correspondences. When the physical body is disconnected by its death, the spirit-body continues its immortal life in heaven or hell. This spirit-body is what houses the natural mind, the spiritual mind, and the celestial mind. Therefore when we appear to ourselves to “awaken” in the world of spirits, our consciousness of self and our memories are all present because they were located all along in the natural mind, which was born in the spirit-body and remains there forever. The natural mind is formed by the information we obtain from sensory input through the physical body. The physical body and the natural world are therefore necessary to form the natural mind, but this formation is not in the physical world but in the world of spirits where the spirit-body is.
As the natural mind develops and grows, so does our natural consciousness. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to us influx is reaching the natural mind by correspondence with the operations that go on in the spiritual and celestial mind. These operations of influx in our higher mind are unconscious. We become conscious of them only when they reach the natural mind. What reaches the natural mind is not the influx itself, which is spiritual, but the action of synchronous correspondence of the spiritual upon the natural. Our natural consciousness is therefore the result of the activity of the natural mind. This activity is nothing but a correspondential effect of the activity in the higher mind (spiritual and celestial). Of course the natural mind cannot see or be aware of the higher mind and when we read in scientific revelation of the existence of the higher mind, we do not comprehend it except in a natural way. Natural level consciousness consists of thoughts and feelings that reflect the order of the natural world. Everything in this order is different from the order of the spiritual world. The lower cannot comprehend the higher consciousness.
Clearly then, the natural mind is capable of replicating representatively and consciously, the activity of the spiritual mind, which is unconscious while we are earthlings. The natural mind has therefore the capacity to grow into more advanced phases that can represent the higher stages in a conscious mode. This is accomplished physiologically by the growth of a new organ in the interior of the natural mind. This new interior portion of the natural mind is called the interior-natural mind or the natural-spiritual mind. This interior-natural mind is a discrete degree within the natural mind proper, which is why it has the capacity to represent consciously the spiritual and celestial operations of the higher mind. The opening and growth of the interior-natural mind is effected by God in proportion to our willingness to be regenerated, that is, our willingness to undergo spiritual and celestial temptations.
The diagram above shows the proceeding of influx as it descends into human consciousness. Note the line of descent or exteriorization from the Divine. First reception is heaven. After going through the three discrete layers of heaven, in sequential order, the influx of Divine Truth has been changed by the minds of the people in the three heavens. By the time Divine influx has filtered through the lowest heaven, it is discretely different from what it was on its descent, because a lower heaven cannot recognize anything directly from an upper heaven, but only indirectly by means of correspondential reaction. Finally, when the mediate influx exits the lowest heaven, it enters the world of spirits. This is where are located the spirit-bodies of all the humanity alive on the many earths in the natural world. They are all on their way to eternal life in the same spiritual world. Now the course of mediate influx as it enters each sprit-body, replicates the course of influx across the heavens because the structure of the human mind is the same as the structure of the spiritual world, and in fact, overlaps with it completely since there is no extension or spatial location in the spiritual world.
The influx from the highest or celestial heaven enters the highest or celestial portion of the mind in the spirit-body. Of course we have no consciousness of this operation or action. Next, influx enters the middle heaven below (called the spiritual heaven) at the same time that it enters the mid-level mind called the spiritual mind. Next, mediate influx from the Divine enters the lowest heaven (called the natural heaven) at the same time that it enters into the lowest mind, called the natural mind. At this point the influx becomes conscious by means of the correspondences to it in our natural mind. These correspondences are the conscious thoughts and feelings in our natural mind.
Note from the diagram above that the beginnings of Divine mediate influx with humans are in the heavens, and this is called human higher consciousness. The content of this influx is truth and good, which are the substances of the spiritual Sun. These substances make up the stream of influx that is received by the organs of the mind. Influx therefore is a physiological process of the mental organs which are created as organs of reception for spiritual and celestial influx. The organ of the understanding receives the light of the stream, which is actually nothing else than Divine Truth, and the organ of the will receives the heat of the stream, which is actually nothing else than Divine Love. The reception of this stream creates the phenomenon of consciousness, or conscious experience, in every individual. The content of this consciousness is therefore fixed, embedded, and recorded by physiological synapses that are made of spiritual fibers in the spirit-body. Since spiritual fibers or substances are uncreate and immortal, the form and character of the mind is permanent and immortal, indestructible. Whatever we once felt or thought, remains part of us to eternity.
As portrayed in the diagram above, the good and truth substances stream into the world of spirits from the lowest heavens. From this the influx enters the lowest or natural mind. Since the Fall of the human race on this earth, the natural mind automatically filters the influx of good and truth and converts it into evil and falsity, as portrayed in the diagram above. The content of evils and falsities are opposite to the content of goods and truths, hence the consciousness of evils and falsities is called lower consciousness. The lowest form of consciousness is the content of thoughts and feelings in the corporeal mind when separated from all upper portions of the mind above it. That is called the hells.
You can see from these True Science revelations that spiritual development is no less physiological than physical development. Also, that consciousness raising is the process of receiving truths and loves from influx without distorting them or changing them into the opposites. By changing inflowing Divine truths and loves into their opposites, we keep our consciousness at the animal level, trapped in the natural mind of understanding and willing. When, at the death of the physical body, we make the consciousness transition into the spirit-body, our quality of experience and life is determined by how high our mind is operative. If we arrive with the celestial mind operative, we experience the life of eternal heaven, but if we arrive with only the natural mind operative, we experience the life of eternal hell. What determines how high our mind becomes operative, is the process of regeneration. This refers to the lifelong struggle to change our inherited character into a new one arranged in the order of heaven by means of revelations which we study, take to heart, and use to guide our daily thinking and willing.
In the spiritual world there is perfect correlation between beauty and wisdom, between good and truth. Those whose interior self is filled with good loves and true ideas appear beautiful as angels. But those whose interior self is filled with evil loves and false ideas appear ugly and monstrous as devils. Angels and devils cannot be together in the same sphere because the good and truth in the angels obliterates and destroys the evil and falsity in the devils. As a result, the spiritual world is divided into heaven and hell, where people have their permanent abode, and there is an impassable barrier between these two.
Swedenborg discovered that many who believed themselves to be devout believers with a strong faith, found themselves with an interior self that was the opposite of what they believed on the outside of their conscious awareness. They now laughed at their former faith and believed nothing. They saw their own evil loves, their own hatreds, their own arrogance, their own cruelty, their own hatred of monogamy and charity, their own disdain for the very idea of Lord and God—when they saw all this in themselves, they did not judge it and condemn it. Instead, they defended these things and they associated with others who were like minded, who loved gossip and slander, who were amused by the misfortune of others, who were openly envious, scortatory, adulterous, blasphemous. These things are the things they loved in their interior self.
The Writings are the revealed Divine Truth that the Lord has given humanity in His Second Coming. He wants to open the eyes of humanity, to raise our consciousness and loves to the heavenly state of bliss. He has provided this new revelation to open our eyes of understanding so that we are able to understand in a rational and scientific way, what it takes to get to heaven. Not the sacrifice of someone else, not even God, can change the interior self, and its loves and ideas. If God were to change our interior self without our awareness, what would happen? Our annihilation as human beings forever. This is too much of a fate to endure or to impose. Even life in hell is better than annihilation. If we are annihilated, we can no longer be human, but if we are devils, we still can become angels, the moment we want to. All it takes is the willingness to abandon evil loves and to acquire good loves. That’s all it takes to change a devil into an angel. It is not an act of God that can do this, for this would result in annihilation. Clearly then, we must change our character voluntarily here on earth, or else we cannot be saved for eternal happiness in heaven.
The Writings use the expression “doing good works” to refer to the work of uses in life. This means that we must live our life for the sake of others at least as much as for the sake of self. In other words, all the daily choices we make could be either for self or for others as well as for self. For example, we can let the television or music blare from our room, or we can think of the room mates and neighbors. We can drive dangerously and think of ourselves, or we can drive carefully and think of other drivers and pedestrians. We can let ourselves go and be overweight, or we can reign in the appetite and increase our physical workout. Etc. There is no mystery here, no great complication. Everyone can understand this. Everyone knows what is good or bad, decent or selfish, and we all have ideas about God from culture and education. God gives us all a conscience as well. You can see therefore that every human being, regardless of background, can work at becoming a good person according to the truth one possesses. That’s all it takes to develop an interior self that is filled with good loves and true ideas. And with these, we can enter heaven and grow in intelligence and love endlessly, in company with others, but especially with one’s soul mate or spouse.
Note this very important fact: only those people who tried to be good on account of God or the afterlife, had a good interior self, one that is capable of heavenly life. All those who tried to be good on account of some other reason, did not have a good interior self, but an evil one. What were these other reasons? Some put on a good personality for reputation and honor, others for gain or influence. Others did it out of fear or shyness. But with these motives only the external behavior and personality are good, that is, appear to be good, but the interior self is not changed. It is filled with contempt for others and religion. The interior self can be totally insane spiritually, but show none of this externally, while maintaining an appearance of sanity and normalcy. External motives cannot change interior loves and ideas, but interior loves can change external ones. The motive to be good on account of God, the afterlife, heaven and hell, is an interior motive, and in fact, it is the highest motive in the human mind, as explained in the Writings. This motive has the power to change the interior self, to transform it from loves that concern only the self, with which we are born, for loves that concern others, thus mutual love for the sake of unity with God.
The idea that we are saved by faith alone rather than by character change for the sake of faith, has therefore become a major stumbling block in the mind that opposes the new truths revealed by the Lord in His Second Coming. Nevertheless, every individual can see from reason that blind faith without character change is not a realistic or true idea of religion, but a distortion and misunderstanding of Scripture. And every individual has a reason by which to be able to inspect these new truths that the Lord has now revealed through the Writings of Swedenborg. Since they are completely rational revelations, everyone can judge for themselves. There is no persuasion involved. No mystery. No data that we do not have access to ourselves.
The truth I discuss is not my truth but God's truth. God's truth is beamed into every mind from within, yet few can see it or understand it. This is because few listen to it and value it. The only truth there is, is God's truth. No truth exists that is not God's truth, which is the truth given to us by God. When you begin to see God's truth, or simply, truth, you will experience an extraordinary desire, even compulsion, to tell others of this truth. This compelling feeling of sharing truth is built into the truth we receive. The reason is that genuine truth can only be received within good. In other words, when we strive to be good by doing the right thing, truth is implanted by God in this striving to be good. The effort we exert is called a motive, purpose, love, or affection. When we act right from the desire to be good, God then strengthens and extends this desire for good within our character. The desire to be good has tremendous power in it. And one of its powers is to receive truth from God as the earth receives a gestating seed. There is no other way of receiving spiritual truth from God but in the effort of being good or acting right.
Good and truth do not exist separately but act only in unison, just like the lungs and the heart act together for the body’s survival and well being. When we discuss truth, we do not yet possess actual truth. The truth is then only in our memory, which is external to our actual self of feeling and existing. The actual self is our life of love and feeling, while thinking and knowing truth is merely a reflection of our love and feeling. But acting or behaving according to the truth in our understanding, is our life, for it is love that acts by means of truth. Truth therefore is not within us until it is in our will to act right. Once truth is implanted by God as a seed in our understanding, it begins to multiply astronomically as we continue to strive to be good and to act according to the truth we understand. Good is the origin of all love, and truth is the origin for all wisdom. Love and wisdom are inseparable since good and truth are inseparable. Truth is the outside form of love. Love appears in the world by means of truth. Love does not act by itself but my means of truth. Truth does not act from itself but from love. Love is the Divine Essence and truth is the Divine Existere. In the Divine Human Person, love and truth are united as one. Love is His Divine Essence while truth is His Human Essence. These verities sound abstract before we fully comprehend them. The better we comprehend them, the higher our consciousness is elevated. When we operate from a higher consciousness of truth, our thinking and feeling about everything is raised to a new operational level.
God also gives us the power to transform or distort good into evil, and at the same time, to change truth into falsity. Similarly, we can transform love into hatred and other infernal lusts, and at the same time, we can distort wisdom and intelligence into insanity and foolishness. The same good and truth, or love and wisdom, flows in from God into every person, and it is the individual who then has the spiritual freedom to filter and transform them into either something that is compatible with love and wisdom, or into something that is contrary to them. If we change truth to its opposite we become spiritually insane and forfeit the capability of heavenly life.
The desire to share the truth is not present when we seek truth as part of our strategy to get ahead of others or to compete with them. Spiritual truth can be seen only by those who desire to see it for the purpose of becoming a better person, because as we improve our character we grow closer to God from whom we can then receive love and wisdom, or what is the same, genuine good and genuine truth. To be a good person and to act right according to truth, is not possible from ourselves but only from God. From our own self we can only remain an evil person filled with falsities that we believe to be truths. This is how we are born, namely, spiritually inverted and morally perverted, so that when Divine good and truth flow into us from within through the soul, we disperse them and transfix them into their opposite. If we do not love God but ignore or deny Him, we cannot be genuinely good, because good is from God only, along with genuine truth. We may act as if we are good, but this is only an outward put on. We may even believe that we are good, but this is only a convenient persuasion or self-serving fantasy. Neither is truth from any person, but from God alone. Both truth and good are from God alone and an individual can have truth and good only from God, that is, when we acknowledge God and affirm our love for Him out of free choice. Therefore, to receive good and truth, we must first acknowledge God.
Every individual who possesses genuine truth, possesses God's truth received from Him. Truth is received by the mind in accordance with one's ability to understand rational ideas. There are simple truths that are rationally simple, and they can be understood by all, even the uneducated. These simple truths are enough in themselves to allow one to love God and to live a life of conscience that prepares the mind for heaven, to the extent that one uses the truth to shun inherited evils. There are also more complex truths that demand a mind trained in rational thinking. This training can be intellectual, artistic, or scientific. Truth in itself, as it flows down from God, is absolute and Divine, but it is received with variation depending on each individual's mental state and preparation. The more we shun our known evils as sins against God, the further we are regenerated by God from within, as a result of which we also grow in understanding and enlightenment.
One day I had been meditating on the creation of the universe. This was noticed by the angels above me to the right, where there were some who had several times meditated and reasoned about the same matter; so one of them came down and invited me to join them. I passed into the spirit and accompanied him; on my arrival I was brought to the prince, in whose hall I saw as many as a hundred assembled with the prince in their midst. . (Swedenborg, TCR 76).
The name I use for the approach in this book is “True Science,” and also “theistic science” and “ scientific dualism” (see the articles available from this directory: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy/instructor/gloss.html
I have included only rational concepts and scientific or empirical methods.
By "scientific" I mean any rational explanatory account that is tied to empirical facts verifiable through observation by anyone under the appropriate test conditions.
It is known that rational is universal, and is a property of the human mind with which we are born and which we can exercise as part of our racial evolution. Societal activities are governed by the rational to the extent that they are effective. We have lawyers, accountants, legislators, and judges to see to it that rational methods of evidence presentation and conclusion are followed. We have engineers and economists who plan our environment and are required to write rational reports and justifications for their planning. In science, every method and approach, every school of thought and specialization, is governed by rational steps of operation and evaluation. Architecture and art are based on rational principles of harmony and interrelationships. Survival is a function of adaptation, and in humans, adaptation is the outcome of rational principles.
I have been trained as a practicing scientist for several decades to learn what is rational reasoning and how to operate within its scope to give meaning to facts, data, evidence, logic, inner consistency, outer harmony, specificity, and unitary coherence. This is possible for me only because Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1771) was a superb and honest scientist and the Writings he left us are thoroughly and consistently rational, empirical and scientific. He is the only writer in all of human history that has been able to retain this high quality of scientific standards on this topic of "What is real? Where am I going?", and includes scientific explanations of the afterlife, the mind, Sacred Scripture, heaven, hell, and God.
Quoting Swedenborg at the beginning of the book titled Heaven and Hell:
The arcana revealed in the following pages relate to heaven and hell, and also to the life of man after death. The man of the church at this date knows scarcely anything about heaven and hell or about his life after death, although all these matters are set forth and described in the Word; and yet many of those born within the church refuse to believe in them, saying in their hearts, "Who has come from that world and told us?" Lest, therefore, such a spirit of denial, which especially prevails with those who have much worldly wisdom, should also infect and corrupt the simple in heart and the simple in faith, it has been granted me to associate with angels and to talk with them as man with man, also to see what is in the heavens and what is in the hells, and this for thirteen years; so now from what I have seen and heard it has been granted me to describe these, in the hope that ignorance may thus be enlightened and unbelief dissipated. Such immediate revelation is granted at this day because this is what is meant by the Coming of the Lord. (HH 1)
The principal reason why Swedenborg is absolutely unique is that he was given access to the spiritual world in full wakefulness for 27 years. His Writings are empirical in that they are based on this daily experience, which included various experiments he was allowed to conduct to investigate various phenomena and properties of the spiritual world. His contemporaries were well aware of Swedenborg's intellectual commitment to science in all matters of human understanding, including the understanding of the spiritual. He wrote only as a scientist about phenomena and observations no other individual in human history has had access to. Though Swedenborg was well known to many key writers of the 18th and 19th centuries, he has been systematically kept out of the history of science literature in the 20th century. This is why he is not known among scientists today. And the fact is that most scientists today would still vote to keep his writings out of the scientific literature. No one in science today is allowed to talk to Aristotle or Newton in the spiritual world, and to angels and devils, and call it part of science. No one in science today is allowed to cite Swedenborg’s Writings and call them science, as I have done. I am therefore defying science as it is today, attempting to stimulate change towards what will be called the True Science.
Sometimes as scientists we are troubled when we must evaluate an experiment for which we have inadequate equipment to verify the observations that have been reported to prove the hypothesis. We rely in that case on reputation of the researcher and the publication venue, which is often a scientific journal containing only articles that have been peer reviewed and approved as meeting the usual standards of scientific method. In the case of Swedenborg’s observations of the spiritual world, the verifiability issue becomes even more difficult since no one has the equipment he possessed, namely dual consciousness, or the ability to observe the phenomena of the spiritual world.
Nevertheless, this is not an absolute caveat since there is the certainty that everyone will possess this equipment when passing from this world to the spiritual world. Swedenborg only did what everyone can do, except in a special order, not given to anyone else. He was given sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world while he was still a man in a physical body on earth. But what he reports is verifiable by anyone who reaches that world. The experimental conditions to be met to verify Swedenborg’s observations are available to anyone who attains that condition. An analogy might be to consider the special insight that mature people have compared to their earlier years. Younger people cannot verify the insights of the mature people, yet they will be able to verify those observations when they meet the conditions of maturity. What Swedenborg reports is not secret or subjective, but public and objective. More people can verify Swedenborg’s observations than people who cannot, because more people live in the spiritual world than on this earth.
Furthermore, copies of Swedenborg’s Writings exist in heaven, are read by angels as Divine Truth. They do not associate the Writings with Swedenborg, whom they have no knowledge of. When they read it they are not conscious of the literal meanings and descriptions in the sentences. They are conscious only of the inner spiritual sense of the Threefold Word, which deals with celestial ideas only, ideas incomprehensible to us while still on earth.
(See this article on Overcoming Objections to Swedenborg's Writings Through the Development of Scientific Dualism.
Note that my presentation of “true science” (which is theistic) is not a response to a wish to unify science and religion, as this has been attempted many times from many fields of scholarship and persuasion. Instead, I ask rational questions about the mind, God, heaven, and hell, as a scientist or lawyer might ask when investigating an event or claim: Is the mind something real? If yes, then it is part of science and rational inquiry. Is God real? If yes, then it is part of science and rational inquiry. Is the afterlife real? Then it too is part of what science wants to investigate. Science, through rationality and empiricism, investigates whatever has reality. Just because we want to investigate the reality of God or heaven doesn't mean that we are into religion--we are still in science, investigating something real. No one has ever convinced me that science has any limitations in the rational and empirical investigation of real things. Nevertheless, given that science has been distinctly atheistic and monistic for a couple of centuries, it may be less confusing for now to use the expression "theistic science" by which I mean the scientific and rational inquiry of God's reality and relationship to humans, including afterlife, heaven, hell, and Sacred Scripture or Divine revelations.
There are two ways of approaching God as a scientific issue, one negative, the other affirmative. Both involve making a premise that cannot be independently proven. The negative approach allows scientists to remain materialistic, monistic, and atheistic by saying: “We start with the premise of atheism and monism. We will give up this premise if there is proof of God’s reality. The proof must be by means of materialistic methods.” You can see that this position insures the retention of the atheistic premise, which itself is not provable. On the other hand, the affirmative approach allows scientists to abandon the unproven and unprovable atheistic premise. This is what I did. First, I had to realize that the atheistic premise of science is not provable. This reduced its persuasive hold on my mind. Second, I had to find out from Divine revelation, or Sacred Scripture, the rational explanation of why God does not appear in the physical world and put an end to the mistaken premise of atheistic science. This question can only be considered or investigated from the affirmative approach. One must first grant that God exists and manages the universe by means of rational principles. Then one is in a position to investigate these rational laws or principles of reality.
The Writings of Swedenborg are a Divine revelation about reality, about God, the human mind, heaven, and hell. The Writings present a full and coherent rational explanation of the interaction between the natural and spiritual world, and the laws by means of which phenomena in both worlds can be understood and interrelated. It is revealed that God has created the human mind to consist of several levels or layers of functioning, the lowest being called hell, and the highest being called heaven. In the lower regions we function at the corporeal and sensuous level of operation. This level is similar to that of animals. At the next higher level in our mind, we function at the natural-rational level, which marks the progress of civilized life on earth. At the next higher level, we function at the spiritual-rational level, and at the highest level possible, we function at the celestial-rational level of operation, consciousness, and understanding. We are born at the lowest level with the capacity to reach the highest level.
The journey for becoming human, then angelic, is the journey of our loves and their quality. Our animal loves are corporeal and pre-civilized, not yet rational and human. Next, our natural-rational loves take us to feelings of community and thoughts of science and art. Next, our spiritual-rational loves take us to feelings of mutual love, love of God, and understanding of Divine Truth. Finally, our celestial-rational loves take us to feelings of unity and oneness with God and with each other, and the interior perception of Divine Truth. Note that this journey of elevation and evolution of the human mind is achieved by means of the rational—at first in a natural version, next in a spiritual version, and at last in a celestial version.
The celestial-rational is the highest and inmost of the mind where the true human begins. Not until then do we have truly human feelings and perceptions. When we are separated from the corpse, we awaken in our spirit-body in the world of spirits. Our fate to eternity is then determined by this spirit-body, that is, the feelings and thoughts it contains. Remember that feelings and thoughts are immortal organic substances that gradually build up our spirit body as we live our life in the physical body. Such as are the loves we bring with us, such is our fate in eternity. If we arrive with feelings and thoughts below the rational level, we sink down into the corporeal level of the mind, and life there is called hell. But if we arrive with rational feelings and thoughts, we rise to the spiritual and celestial levels of the mind, and life there is called heaven.
God cannot appear in the physical world today to settle the matter of His existence for science. Why not? Because, as the Writings reveal, such an event would destroy science, and society, and will result in preventing anyone from acquiring spiritual-rational and celestial-rational loves. This would condemn the entire future human race to hell. This terrible result would obtain because God’s appearance in the physical world violates and tears apart the fabric of the natural world as it is conjoined to the spiritual world. The details of this explanation are rationally and fully justified in the Writings. It makes complete sense to me, and would to anyone who is motivated to read it with rational understanding and consistency. The human mind as two modalities or organic venues for consciousness: sensuous and rational. Understanding this difference is the key to understanding why God cannot physically appear to science to settle the matter of His existence.
God has appeared twice to the consciousness of the human race on earth. The first, at the Incarnation, when God appeared as a Divine Child in a physical body, and grew to adulthood, then exited the natural world to dwell in the spiritual world where He can be seen by the inhabitants of heaven. While God was on earth, He had a dual role, called Father and Son. The Father role did not change and continued to manage the details of the universe. But the Son role was new in human evolution. It was a new creation of God in relation to humanity. Whereas before God in the Father role was invisible in His infinity, now in His newly created Son role, He was visible to all humanity, both on earth and in heaven. This new visibility allowed the human race to evolve much further and higher in the human mind since God’s visibility enhances contact, communication, and conjunction. God in the Son role can therefore bestow on every individual the celestial-rational loves that make us truly human, truly like God, because more from God. God’s appearance again in the physical world would reverse this evolution, so that from rational consciousness the human race would slip back into sensuous consciousness of an earlier and lower phase or level of operation.
The way science can progress now is not by obtaining physical proof of God’s existence, but by strengthening the rational consciousness of God through theistic science. Science can now accept God by rational understanding, not by sensuous demonstrations. God’s infinity and omnipresence cannot be understood sensually, but only rationally. From the sensual perspective, omnipresence is impossible, but from the rational perspective, it is clear and comprehensible. The Writings are a Divine revelation given for the building up the rational consciousness of humanity. Hence it is that God made a Second Appearance on earth to the rational mind within the pages of the Writings of Swedenborg. Now the human race can have a clear view of God, and science can become the True Science, theistic and rational, through and through. Now science can lay hold on true and genuine reality, on benign control of the environment, on human happiness, knowledge, and mutual love, on the present and the future. This is the new age of the Second Coming which marks the evolutionary completion of the human race, the human mind, human consciousness. No mystery has been left about God, the universe, life, and the afterlife. The final and last revelation has been given. Within the literal meaning of the Writings there is hidden an infinite amount of new knowledge for humanity. The Writings give us the methods we are to apply to extract this vast knowledge for all time to come. Though this is not yet known generally, a few people already know it, and I am one of them. You can be too. Quoting from Swedenborg:
Once, when the interior heaven was opened to me, and I was conversing with the angels there, I was permitted to observe the following phenomena. Be it known that although I was in heaven, I was nevertheless not out of myself, but in the body, for heaven is within man, wherever he may be, so that when it pleases the Lord, a man may be in heaven and yet not be withdrawn from the body. In this way it was given me to perceive the general workings of heaven as plainly as an object is perceived by any of the senses. (AC 3884)
True Science based on the scientific revelations in the Writings is not divisive, sectarian, or limited by history or culture. God as a subject of discussion is divisive only in the outward form of religion and politics, since religion has an animated externalized life at the edge of culture and nationalism. Divisive sectarian religion is based on corporeal and sensuous feelings and thoughts. These are in the lowest portion of the mind’s operation. Sectarianism is not yet fully human because it is based on exclusion and division, while the genuine human is based on acceptance and unity. Within all external natural religious behaviors and beliefs, there lives an internal. This internal is the rational mind, and it operates at the three levels mentioned above: natural-rational feelings and thoughts, spiritual-rational feelings and thoughts, and ultimately, celestial-rational feelings and thoughts, which is the genuine human that leads to mutual and unity.
When you bypass external forms of religious behavior, and go to what is within it, you find the levels of the rational mind. This is the same mind that studies universal laws of reality, thus science. Science is a universal explanation of all events, including religious behavior. Science is at a higher rationality in the human mind than external religions. If external religion looks at science, it sees nothing except something below itself. But if science looks at religion, it sees religion and politics below itself as cultural phenomena. What is below cannot look at what is above, for it sees nothing, but what is above in the mind can look at what is below, and see everything in detail. Religion cannot explain science, but science can explain religion. Note well: atheistic science such as we have today cannot explain religion because religion is above it in the mind. Religion is the understanding of rational concepts like God and mutual love, while atheistic science is so low in rationality that it cannot give a meaning for rational concepts like God and the spiritual world. But True Science is based on Divine revelations, therefore it is in the highest portions of the human mind called spiritual-rational and celestial-rational. Knowledge of God based on True Science is higher in the mind than knowledge of God based on religion. The religious knowledge one possesses may be entirely true, yet this truth is at a lower level than the truth of True Science.
Understanding the ideas in True Science, as based in the Divine revelations of the Writings, gives us a closer position from which to view God and our relationship to Him. This greater closeness is due to the more interior rational understanding that is provided by Divine revelation. God is the highest rational from whom all other rational comes from and is embedded in. God has two infinite substances within Himself that is His very life, namely, love and wisdom. From this Divine Love and Wisdom God creates a universal aura called the Spiritual Sun. Infinite amounts of spiritual heat and spiritual light emanate from this Sun. This Divine emanation goes forth from the Spiritual Sun, and as it does, it creates distance between God and the emanations. These distances are fixed by means of atmospheres or levels of division and separation in the emanations. Each fixed atmosphere has particular properties and creates specific phenomena according to these properties. As the atmospheres multiply and create more and more distance from the Spiritual Sun, the properties, events, and phenomena become less and less rational, more and more physicalized or materialized. At last, in the ultimate of atmospheres emanating from the Spiritual Sun, is the physical universe or the natural world.
Human beings are born with dual existence. Their mind is in the rational atmospheres called the spiritual world, while their physical body is in the lowest atmosphere called earth or planet. Our mind, which is in the spiritual world, is still asleep to the spiritual environment and is not receptive to incoming spiritual phenomena. In this first phase, the mind is conscious only of what comes from the sensory information streaming in from the physical body. The mind is unconscious of the spiritual world that surrounds it as long as it is tied to a physical body. When this body becomes a corpse and can no longer transmit sensations, the mind is separated and suddenly becomes receptive to the spiritual environment where it had been all along. Subjectively this feels like an awakening. Hence it is said that novitiate spirits, or new arrivals in the afterlife, appear to themselves to be awakened from a sleep.
Since the fabric of the universe is made of the emanations and atmospheres of the Spiritual Sun, and since the Spiritual Sun is Divine Love and Divine Truth, therefore everything in the universe has a rational basis. Truth is the rational substance out of which the emanations from the Spiritual Sun are created. At the ultimate atmosphere furthest removed from the Spiritual Sun, is the material world of atoms, electrons, protein, and minerals. An atom is therefore a piece of truth. A physical law or number is therefore a piece of truth. A rose, a rock, a river, a planet, the mind of a human being, heaven and hell, all are pieces of truth. Nothing else exists except pieces of truth from the Spiritual Sun. You can see from this the supreme importance of the rational at its various levels. In fact the human mind is an exact map of the spiritual world, so that all the layers of the universe created by the emanations are exactly reproduced and imaged in the human mind. Hence we can say that the journey from birth on earth to eternity in heaven is a journey from the lower portions of the mind to its highest portion. This journey is made by truth, within which is love, for truth is nothing but the outside form of love. Love and truth are the constituent blocks of reality.
Religion is the first step for opening the human mind and starting the journey upward, back to God where our soul is. As you read on, you will come across diagrams and tables that will help you to visualize the patterned observations I make about our religious life. Religious life has an external cultural aspect that might feel threatened by my presentation. But if you're willing to go deeper into the foundations of your religion, you will find mutual agreement between all of us. This is the value of theistic science. It leaves the surface culture-based disagreements behind, and constructs a scientific platform of agreement and pan-human understanding. You will not have to leave your religion behind, only enrich it with inner meaning in your own life and future.
To say that atheistic science can validate or enhance religion is not true since atheistic science is below the rational while religion has rational ideas from revelations. But it is accurate to say that theistic science, or True Science, validates and enhances religion because both are based on revelations. True Science is the most specific and advanced of the Divine revelations ever given to humanity. The Writings of Swedenborg are this Divine revelation called the Second Coming, which opens the new evolutionary age of celestial-rational understanding and consciousness, the final frontier in human creation that leaves behind ignorance and mystery.
True theistic science can also be called “scientific dualism,” an expression that contrasts with “scientific monism.” Atheism and monism are central elements of nonduality, which is the philosophical perspective that all dualities or categorical contrasts are illusions of the human mind. Nonduality sees a unity between material and spiritual substance, between human and Divine, between evil and good.
(See Volume 3 of A Man of the Field: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/v1ch1-nonduality.html )
Nonduality is based on the negative principle and the denial of every duality. Atheistic science denies that there is a spiritual world, denies that there is a God who creates and manages the details of the universe, denies that the building blocks of the world are spiritual and celestial—namely, love and truth. In contrast, theistic science is a scientific dualism because it bases itself on the Divine revelations given in the Writings, and every concept so given is a duality, never a nonduality. Divine rational truth is presented in the form of dualities, and therefore also, every detail of the universe. Scientific dualism is rational while monism is pre-rational. Every human mind develops by an orderly process and monism is the first phase of self-intelligence by which we develop our rational mind, first the lower external rational, but later, the upper internal rational that is of spiritual and celestial origin, hence from God’s Intelligence and not from self. The Writings declare that scientific dualism is spiritually sane while monism is spiritually insane. We begin our young adulthood in a state of mind that is spiritually insane because we rely on self-intelligence or on the intelligence of other human beings more than on God’s Intelligence given to us in revelations. Atheistic science, being based on monism and nonduality, is a phase of pre-rational thinking that is replaced later in development, by rational thinking based on dualism found in the Divine scientific revelations of the Writings.
In the dualism of True Science, God is real, and both the natural and the spiritual worlds are real. The external natural mind gets its data from the natural world, while the internal rational or spiritual mind gets its data from the spiritual world. We are thus born dual citizens--our natural mind connected to the physical body in the natural world, and our spiritual mind within a spirit-body in the spiritual world. The natural mind and the spiritual mind are interconnected and operate together though we are only aware of things within our natural mind. The physical body and its natural mind are connected to the spirit-body and its spiritual mind by the laws of correspondence. At the death of the physical body, the spirit-body along with its rational mind becomes conscious of itself, and we awaken in full conscious life in the spiritual world. This process of awakening, or resuscitation, has been described in detail by Swedenborg who was able to observe the process hundreds of times (see especially his work titled Arcana Coelestia, Volume 1).
There is an additional puzzle that must be cleared up before going along with the ideas I’m presenting. One may wonder how atheistic science could be responsible for modern civilization, which would not be possible without the advances of science and engineering over the centuries of evolving knowledge and industry. If atheistic science is based on a false premise about the universe, so that its explanations are spiritually insane, how could scientists continue to cumulate scientific discoveries and theories able to bring about and maintain the modern world we live in? The answer from the perspective of theistic science is that modern civilization is brought about by God, not by the scientists. While we operate within the premises of atheistic science, we are immersed in spiritual insanity in our lower mind—the natural-rational level of operation. The upper portions of the mind are not spiritually insane. This spiritual rationality is unconscious and protected by God from being influenced by the lower natural mind built on self-intelligence. The rationality of scientific operations and experiments is to be attributed to the unconscious spiritual-rational mind and not to the conscious natural-rational mind. The conscious portion is spiritually insane, because from self-intelligence, but the unconscious portion is spiritually sane, because from the spiritual world and God. With True Science, the conscious natural-rational mind and the unconscious spiritual-rational mind are realigned in harmony with each other.
You can see from many facts in our society that there is an obvious discrepancy between the general rationality of civilization and science, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the irrationality that is rampant with individuals. Crime and abuse are rampant and the divorce rate is over fifty percent. Current surveys indicate the majority of people are depressed at least once a day, that their daily round of activities is full of negativity and unpleasant emotions, that they are overweight, constipated, addicted to pain killers and sex performance drugs, and beset with anxieties, hostilities, resentment, and unfulfilled lives. Surely this is not the syndrome that goes with rational people and rational communities. Most evidently, people are not yet at the human rational level of operation where the peace of heaven is sensed, where rational loves arrange things in harmonious order, and where Divine Truth is understood and loved. The conclusion therefore must be that the apparent rational progression of civilized societies and science, is to be attributed entirely to God’s rationality at work within the unconscious portions of the human mind, and nothing of it can be attributed to the rationality of humans.
One important question must be answered here, if the discussion is to satisfy the rational mind that reads this and reflects on it: “If God can exert his omnipotence to keep civilization progressing in a rational direction, as just said, what keeps Him from exerting that same power to keep individuals rational and positive in their daily lives, instead of the opposite?”
Consider this quote from the Writings:
CONCERNING PROVIDENCE AND FATE.
I spoke with spirits concerning Providence, and some also were present who believed somewhat in fate; and it was shown them how the case stood. They supposed that all things were accomplished out of absolute necessity; and, thus, that the whole life was the unavoidable force of circumstance; consequently, that the Lord was bound by necessity; therefore, that there was nothing except this to keep things in existence; and that this is the Divine. But they were shown that they have entire freedom; and if freedom, then there is not necessity, because there are so many contingencies which bear man, in freedom, to opposites. This was exhibited by means of pebbles, which were so placed as to form a certain figure: then, if necessity required that one pebble should be placed in order after another, and thus that man [should arrange them] from necessity, nothing further would follow; but [it was shown] that the case is this: that the pebbles are put, now here, now there, so as to appear dispersedly; and this according to freedom; and the Lord foresees the form, namely, that in which man, from freedom, wills [to arrange his life]; but He determines for him, from other considerations, and so foresees the form, and permits him to go hither and thither, so that the moments of his life appear like scattered pebbles. But the Lord then sees whether he fills up that space between them; He sees what is lacking and where; and, then, continually, what is next in order, after a hundred or a thousand years; and so forth.) (SEM 4692)
The answer, found in the Writings, is that God does all things necessary and loving, and withholds Himself from doing certain other things that humans can imagine could be done. God avoids doing things which are detrimental to our preparation for heaven. This goal is the highest in God’s Mind. He creates each individual soul on some earth in the physical universe, and this soul has the capacity to live in conjugial bliss increasing daily to eternity. Conjugial bliss is what a husband and a wife feel in heaven as they live in such perfect unity that it is unimaginable. This is the marvelous goal, almost beyond belief, that God has with each individual. It is now revealed to humanity that God created the physical universe to fill it with planets, and to increase their number at an explosive rate to endless time. Each planet is created to be the birthplace of immortal spirits, temporarily clothed in a mortal physical body. After a few decades of preparation, the individual’s mind is ready to abandon the physical body, to assume the spirit-body and to continue heavenly life to eternity. God’s Divine loving purpose is therefore to increase the population of the vast heavens from numberless planets with spirits and angels who are capable of receiving God’s love and truth in purity and innocence. What an amazing revelation! It is full of warmth and love, wisdom and power. How reassuring it is to find out that God is so close and so involved in the minutest detail of our day, of our thinking and reasoning, and of our loves and attractions. Moment by moment God not only knows about these micro-details of every human being, but participates in a determinative way, interferes with its course and progress, keeping things from being remembered while bringing other things to the fore, and so on. God is more intimate with each of us than any two beings can be, even soul mates in heaven.
It is therefore puzzling to rational reflection why God doesn’t intervene to get rid of the plagues of evil and falsity that has gotten hold of the fallen human psyche. Generation after generation these evils and falsities are transmitted by heredity and by culture. The Writings explain that God ceaselessly strives to bend the thinking of the human race, to guide people’s involvements with good things, and to withhold them from much worse evil than they already are in. God already does everything that is Divinely possible. So there is only rational conclusion: human beings have been given by God the capacity to resist Him. Humans have zero power, and whatever they do is powered entirely by a cooperating God who knows what the individual is attempting to do and supplies the power in the background. This is a necessary conclusion if you want to remain rational. The assertion “God is omnipotent” has this necessary meaning. “Omni” means all, and “omnipotent” means all power. Logic tells you therefore that we have zero power, or that nature has zero power, etc. All power is God’s power and ceases instantly when God ceases to apply that power, whether it is the power of a whirling electron in an atom, the power of a heartbeat, or the power of the mind to have a rational thought or to remember some information. God also gives us the power to resist Him, to oppose Him, to turn His truth into its opposite falsity, and to adulterate His good into its opposite evil.
The Writings explain that God gives us the power to deny and reject Him in order to give us the power to acknowledge Him and to love Him.
This is a rational idea that needs to be thought through carefully and studied for full understanding. But you can already see no doubt that these two things must go together. If we are given the power to acknowledge God we must also have the power to deny God. To acknowledge God means that we do so voluntarily, as of self and in complete freedom. Freedom means that we can choose either way, or else it is not freedom. The nature of love is such that it only exists in freedom. Not so hatred, which exists in slavishness or spiritual slavery, also called in the Writings “infernal freedom,” such as devils have in hell. But good spirits and angels have freedom to love God and acknowledge Him, His Divine Truth, His omnipotence in their lives. Swedenborg talked to many angels in their heavens and they declared to him that their greatest experience of freedom is when they recall that they have zero power and the Lord has all power in their willing, thinking, and doing moment by moment. And so the inhabitants of heaven have no worries or negative emotions of any kind ever, because they live in “the peace of truth,” in the “current of Divine Providence,” in which moment by moment their thoughts and feelings are formed by the Lord’s Proprium or Persona, whom they love with the greatest intensity.
Since the heavens are formed by love and truth from the Lord, the hells are formed by people who destroy the love that flows in from God and falsify the truth that also flows in. Therefore every heaven has a counterpart hell in which the same loves and truths that forms that particular, are adulterated and falsified to form that particular hell. While we are on earth our mind is an image of heaven and hell, containing both, so that we have the freedom of choice at every moment to follow heaven or to follow hell. There is no other choice that God allows. It is obvious that today in our society people choose hell over heaven the majority of time. God cannot prevent this and still maintain spiritual freedom in every person. Therefore God creates for every individual all sorts of opportunities to reverse the trend in oneself, to reject hellish things and to choose heavenly things. This is called regeneration or character reformation. The Threefold Word has been given by God to insure than humans have the Divine Truth to choose in their lives. This Divine Truth has been revealed in infinite plenitude in the Threefold Word, hidden in its exterior meanings but available for extraction by means of the methods prescribed in the Writings.
Correspondences have all force, so that what is done on earth according to correspondences has power in heaven; for correspondences are from the Divine. Those who are in the good of love and of faith are in correspondences, and the Divine effects all things with them... All miracles in the Word were effected through correspondences. The Word is so written that every minute thing therein corresponds to the things in heaven; hence the Word has Divine force, and conjoins heaven and earth. (AC 8615)
Therefore in order to remove all doubt as to such being the character of the Word, the Lord has revealed to me the Word's internal sense. In its essence this sense is spiritual, and in relation to the external sense, which is natural, is as soul is to body. This sense is the spirit which gives life to the letter; it can therefore bear witness to the divinity and holiness of the Word, and convince even the natural man, if he is willing to be convinced. (SS 4)
My presentation relies on three sets of scientific revelations: the Old Testament (Hebrew Word), the New Testament (Greek Word), and the Third Testament (Latin Word), which refers to the Writings of Swedenborg. Together, the Three Testaments are called the Threefold Word, and constitute a direct open line of communication between God and the individual who is reading the Word with the acknowledgement and belief that it is the Word of God given by means of human minds as intermediaries. Such were the prophets of Israel, the Gospel writers, and Swedenborg. The Hebrew Word was a revelation for the natural-corporeal mind and is written at that level of reception, relying on physical demonstrations of God’s presence. The Greek Word was a revelation for the natural-sensuous mind, relying on the sensuous existence of the Incarnation. The Latin Word is a revelation for the natural-rational mind, relying on the modern scientific level of thinking. What is most unexpected and almost incredible to the natural mind, is what the Writings reveal about the Old and New Testaments.
This is the revelation that the literal sentences of the Old and New Testaments are written in a secret code not known to the writers themselves who had their attention focused the historical and descriptive account they were giving, which was interpreted by commentators as visionary and poetic language, by no means always clear, and containing strange metaphors and seeming repetitions and exaggerations, especially in the Old Testament. What is marvelous is that Swedenborg goes through a verse by verse and word by word analysis of the Books of Genesis, Exodus, and Revelations, along with thousands of passages from the rest of the Bible. This word by word and phrase by phrase analysis proves beyond the shadow of any doubt, that the Threefold Word is written in a Divine language that no other human writings compare to. The literal meaning of the Threefold Word can be decoded by applying the knowledge of correspondences. This translation changes the message from the literal-historical to the spiritual-rational. The spiritual-rational meaning contained within the literal meaning can be understood only at the spiritual-rational level of thinking (zone 6 and above). Examples will be given in what follows. If you read Swedenborg’s Arcana Coelestia, you will have a full knowledge of these correspondences and of the spiritual topics that the Word addresses and teaches in its “internal sense” (or “spiritual sense”).
Section 19.8 below presents several passages from the Writings relevant to correspondences.
Note: The Writings are available online along with collateral books at this Web address:
When these facts become known to scientists and scholars generally, it is bound to be seen as a proof of God’s direct intervention in the smallest details of individuals and nations. The historical events, names, places, objects, and numbers discussed in the Word were written independently by dozens of authors over hundreds of years who had no idea of the fact that they were writing in a code. Every historical event and detail described in the Bible is accurate, according to the Writings, and yet it is not the reason the details have been recorded. Only those details are recorded that add up to a coherent sequence of the spiritual-rational things being discussed in the underlying or inner sense of every verse and chapter. For instance, when details of the journeyings of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph are decoded through the knowledge of correspondences, what emerges is a scientific treatise on the human mind, how it must go through stages of development from the corporeal-sensuous level, to the natural-rational level, and at last to the spiritual-rational and celestial-rational levels. The details of the adventures of the patriarchs and other characters mentioned, add up to an internal spiritual series that is rational and descriptive of the human mind, of our relation to God, of heaven and hell, of angels and devils, of love and wisdom, good and truth. These are the topics of the Word when the literal is decoded.
Anyone who does not know that the Word has an internal sense which is not visible in the letter will be utterly astonished by the idea that spiritual realities too are meant by the numbers used in the Word. The specific reason for his astonishment is his inability to use numbers to give shape to any spiritual idea, when yet the spiritual ideas known to angels present themselves as numbers, see AC 5265. The identity of those ideas or spiritual realities to which numbers correspond can, it is true, be known; but the origin of such correspondence remains hidden, such as the origin of the correspondence of 'twelve' to all aspects of faith, the correspondence of 'seven' to things that are holy, as well as that of 'ten' and also 'five' to forms of good and truth stored up by the Lord within the interior man, and so on. Even so, it is enough if people know simply that such a correspondence does exist and that by virtue of that correspondence each number used in the Word denotes something present in the spiritual world, consequently that what is Divine has been inspired into them and so lies concealed within them. (AC 5291)
And equally amazing is one more detail. The correspondences between the literal meaning of the Word and its coded inner spiritual meaning, are not arbitrary like some human code but generic to reality. Correspondences reflect the universal laws that cause spiritual and natural events to occur in synchronous relation to each other. Every natural event or quality exists by means of a corresponding spiritual event or quality. Neither can exist alone. For instance, a horse in the Word is a coded term for intelligence. Different types of horses are mentioned, as well as donkeys, assess, camels, and other animals that carry riders. Each type of horse refers to some aspect of human intelligence and the level of thinking operations in the human mind. Further, Swedenborg observed this thousands of times, that whenever he was discussing human intelligence with someone in the spiritual world, horses of various types appeared in the environment. Similarly with other correspondences that decode the Word. When he was talking to evil spirits, the environment turned into deserts or swamps, and noxious animals could be seen like snakes, dragons, and scorpions, while foul smells reached his nose. In other words, there is close connection between the secret code of the Word and the external phenomena that are routinely observed in the spiritual world. Quoting Swedenborg:
In hell every lust of evil when visually represented appears like a noxious creature, as a dragon, or a cockatrice, or a viper, or a bird of night, or an owl, and so on; and similarly do the lusts of evil appear in a wicked man when he is viewed by angels.
All these forms of lusts must be changed one by one; and the man himself, who with respect to his spirit appears as a human monster or devil, must be changed to become like a beautiful angel; and every lust of evil must be changed to appear like a lamb, or a sheep, or a pigeon, or a turtle dove, as the affections of good in the angels appear in heaven when visually represented; and to change a dragon into a lamb, a cockatrice into a sheep, and an owl into a dove can only be effected step by step, by rooting out evil from its very seed and implanting good seed in its stead. (DP 296)
The natural meaning of the Word and its corresponding spiritual meaning show exactly the same relation as there is between the spiritual world and the natural. There is therefore objective evidence that the knowledge of correspondences unveiled in the Writings are actual laws of interconnection between the spiritual and the natural. Quoting Swedenborg:
A knowledge of degrees is like a key for opening the causes of things, and for entering into them. Without that knowledge, scarcely anything of cause can be known. For without it, the objects and subjects of both worlds appear so simple as though there were nothing in them beyond that which meets the eye, when yet the things that appear are as one to thousands, indeed, to myriads, compared with the things which lie hidden within. The interiors which do not lie open can by no means be disclosed except by a knowledge of degrees. (DLW 184)
Miracles have not been done from causes sought out from nature ... Miracles related in the Word were done by means of influx from that prior world into this posterior one, ... by means of bringing such things as are in the spiritual world, into corresponding things in the natural world, so that the things which come forth actually in the spiritual world are actually brought into such things in the natural world as correspond. (Invitation 60)
Correspondences have all power ... what is done on earth according to correspondence, avails in heaven, because they are from the Divine. All miracles recorded in the Word were done by means of correspondences. (AC 8615.3)
There is a correspondence of sensuous with natural things, a correspondence of natural with spiritual things, a correspondence of spiritual with celestial things, and finally a correspondence of celestial things with the Divine of the Lord; thus there is a succession of correspondences from the Divine down to the ultimate natural.
 But as an idea of the nature of correspondences can with difficulty be formed by those who have never thought about them before, it may be well to say a few words on the subject. It is known from philosophy that the end is the first of the cause, and that the cause is the first of the effect. That the end, the cause, and the effect may follow in order, and act as a one, it is needful that the effect should correspond to the cause, and the cause to the end. But still the end does not appear as the cause, nor the cause as the effect; for in order that the end may produce the cause, it must take to itself administrant means from the region where the cause is, by which means the end may produce the cause; and in order that the cause may produce the effect, it also must take to itself administrant means from the region where the effect is, by which means the cause may produce the effect. These administrant means are what correspond; and because they correspond, the end can be in the cause and can actuate the cause, and the cause can be in the effect and can actuate the effect; consequently the end through the cause can actuate the effect. It is otherwise when there is no correspondence; for then the end has no cause in which it may be, still less an effect in which it may be, but is changed and varied in the cause, and finally in the effect, according to the form made by the administrant means. (AC 5131)
From all this, once you spend the effort of studying it, you gain a complete rational understanding of reality, the connection between the spiritual and the natural, the Laws of Divine Providence by which the universe is managed, and the regeneration and evolution of the mind, the spirit-body, and eternity.
If you are still thinking, “But where is the proof?” you need to continue reading this book and it will become clear to you that no other explanation can be given for the facts presented, namely, that the code of correspondences in which the Threefold Word was written is the same code by which natural phenomena on the planet are effects produced by spiritual causes. The cause-effect relation in the universe follows the same code as that which relates the natural meaning of the Threefold Word to its spiritual meaning. And finally, that Swedenborg visually observed the natural appearances as effects produced by spiritual loves as causes (e.g., evil and hostile intentions of a spirit in the world of spirits, produce or project an environmental appearance of caves, deserts, and noxious animals and stenches).
Rational spirituality tends away from religious sectarianism, prejudice, or irreverence for other religions who have their own form of Sacred Scripture, handed down from their ancestors. The rational approach of True Science insures that sectarianism and fundamentalism are understood in terms of their mental mechanism in relation to spirituality and salvation. Most readers will not be familiar with all Three Testaments of the Threefold Word, and some may not be familiar with any. This is not a necessary stumbling block to acquiring knowledge from True Science. Just translate the ethnic names like Moses, David, Jehovah, Jesus, Adam, Jacob, Jerusalem, and so forth, to your own historical events. These names are local names for global concepts. All people, nations, or races each have their own religious history, and their own prophets and leaders. They all have a name for God. These are external names. Internally, there is one true name that is revealed to all at some point.
The Threefold Word was given for all of humanity and will last endlessly in the natural world. To people in the modern age, the literal of the Old and New Testaments appear sectarian and exclusionary rather than universal and inclusive like the Writings. But this is only an external, historical appearance. When the literal meaning of the Three Testaments is decoded, what is left is the spiritual sense, and this sense is devoid of historical names, places, and nations. These names and events are given not for their own sake but for the sake of their representative meaning in relation to correspondences. The referents that are signified by these representative names and events – what are they?
They are mental states of the human mind being regenerated. Every human being must be regenerated to enter heaven. Therefore the inner spiritual meaning of the Threefold Word has been given by God to assist us in regeneration. Regeneration is a spiritual medical process performed by God on every human being. God’s performance is limited by our willing cooperation expressed as willingness to struggle as-of self in temptations. There is no other way for any human being born on this planet to reach heaven but by this process of regeneration. This is a question of spiritual medics, not theology or religion. True Science has now been given to humankind which details this crucial process of spiritual medics in regeneration. These crucial scientific revelations clearly appear in the Threefold Word when one applies the Laws of Correspondences to the words and concepts in which the Three Testaments are composed. When this process of extraction or “scrutation” is applied, the names of people and places, and the natural events in the narrations, all disappear in consciousness, and what is perceived is the mental state that the representatives designate.
This is how the inhabitants of the heavens perceive the Threefold Word when they read it there. They see nothing of the natural things being mentioned such as names, places, numbers, battles, time, possessions, weddings, garments, floods, animals, harvesting, journeying, eating, sleeping, dying, being born, being sick, getting old, etc. These details about the natural things in the Threefold Word are not seen by spiritual eyes. Instead, they see the “representatives, significatives, and correspondences” that these natural things have within them, in their spiritual plane or degree. This spiritual plane contains only what is Divine since the inmost framework of every physical object is the spiritual Sun, as already discussed.
There exists a crucial difference between the literal meaning of the Threefold Word and its spiritual meaning. The literal meaning appears culture-bound and time-bound rather than universal and all inclusive. This is why the literal meaning of the Threefold Word is claimed by three different incompatible religions – the Old Testament by Judaism, the New Testament by Christianity, and the Writings by the New Church or New Christianity. But the spiritual meaning of the Threefold Word does not have this external appearance tied to cultures and times. The spiritual meaning of the Threefold Word is pan-human, on this earth, on the other earths, and in the heavens of all the humanity from the distant galaxies. The societies of the heavens do not have religion as part of their identity. But the have True Science based on their reading of the Threefold Word in its inner spiritual meaning. The Threefold Word is an instrument of consciousness for all humanity because, in its inner spiritual meaning, it is Divine Truth Itself in infinite and endless variety prepared from creation to be the vehicle of rational spirituality upon which the human mind is carried to endless and eternally increasing joy.
Clearly then, the inner spiritual meaning of the Threefold Word is for all humanity, and when it is acknowledged and recognized as the revelations of True Science, sectarianism of religion will no longer interfere. Then at last the Threefold Word will be for all peoples and cultures. What the literal took away due to human cultural divisions, the spiritual restores to rational humanity, taking the Threefold Word out of its historical and cultural context, and placing into a pan-human scientific application.
And so the divisions of religion disappear when we enter inward into the spiritual-rational. Few are those, today or in the past, who realize that God is rational, that the created universe is rational, that the underlying framework of the physical world is a rational substance called “truth within which is love.” Another way of referring to this is “rational loves.” Few people know that love is nothing without truth and truth is nothing without love. Love must be within truth, driving it, animating it, giving truth life and purpose, goal and intentionality. Many philosophers would argue that the notion of a “rational love” is a contradiction in terms. It is popular to see love as mythical, mystical, ineffable, and experiential, and thus opposed to “logos” which is rational conceptual discourse. But True Science now shows that love is the underlying framework of truth, just like wood is the underlying framework of a particular chair, or heat is the underlying framework of cooked meat. You can’t have one without the other. Love is within, invisible, truth covers it, visible. Clearly then, if we think of the “rational” in our mind, which is truth in our understanding, we must also think of the “love” in our will that is united to that truth as its underlying framework. Hence the phrase “rational loves” is perfectly suitable as a scientific reference for one process. The uniting of love with its truth is called “the Heavenly Marriage.” When this marriage is in our celestial mind, we are in heaven.
We are born in the Fallen civilization of the split-brain race, as discussed above. Instead of the Heavenly Marriage we are born with the “infernal marriage” in us. This refers to selfish loves, which are hatreds, and distorted truths, which are falsities. The union between hatreds in our will and falsities in our understanding, is called the infernal marriage. Regeneration is the medical process of surgically removing this infernal marriage and replacing it with the heavenly marriage. This is done by God in the mind of every human being, but effectiveness is limited by the individual’s willingness to reject evil delights one has come to like. We can use the expression “irrational loves” or “insane loves” to refer to these evil delights prior to regeneration. All human beings are born filled to the max with these spiritually insane loves, regardless of civilization, culture, religion, or intellectual ability. Hence a new revelation, to be acknowledged as True Science, was given to humankind to address that part of the mind that is above religion, culture, and ancestry. These lower things are not removed or hindered in any way. True Science is within these lower things.
The same True Science is hidden within all religious ideas, regardless of cultures and times. This was not known before, so surface differences acted as dividers and separators between religions. These will remain, but only on the surface. All those from each religion who are willing to enter in the spiritual ideas of their religion will find there True Science, the same True Science that is in the Threefold Word. True Science cannot be detected by the Old Testament alone. It cannot be detected by the New Testament along with the Old Testament. True Science can only be detected by putting the Three Testaments together as one unit called the Threefold Word.
Few realize that love and truth are rational substances out of which the universe is constructed. Most people have an idea of truth as something abstract, mental or logical, not substantial like rocks, clouds, and the brain. And yet Swedenborg shows from revelation and empirical observation that truth is the substantial light that streams from the spiritual Sun, establishing atmospheres at further and further distances, until the ultimate external distance is reached in the natural world with its suns of physical matter and energy. So the origin of the natural suns and stars with their associated planets and nebulae is this substantive light of truth streaming from the Spiritual Sun. Truth is not abstract, but a spiritual substance out of which matter and mind are formed.
The manifestation of the Lord, and intromission into the spiritual world, surpass all miracles. This has not been granted to anyone since the creation, as it has been to me. (Swedenborg, INV 52)
Swedenborg's revelation is the mightiest and greatest of all revelations because they come through the rational mind of a modern well-placed and respected Swedish scientist in the 18th century. There is no precedent for it anywhere in human history. There is no equal event in the history of the universe. Swedenborg at age 57, at the height of his renowned and professional career, had an apparition from Jesus Christ, of whom he had thought of as “God Man” since early childhood when he is reported to have talked to angels--his father was the Lutheran Bishop to the royal family. The Lord announced to him that he had been prepared for a special task which He expected Swedenborg to now fulfill. It was a very very touching moment, and he describes it in the Journal of Dreams (JD) he kept in those days (1740 onward). Over the next few months he was given trance like experiences, following which he was able to recall communicating with departed spirits. However, these experiences were completely tied to his reading Bible verses, each verse tying him to a different experience. He noticed that there was a clear relationship between the content of the verse, and the experience he witnessed in the spiritual world through his spiritual mind which had now been rendered conscious to allow him to accomplish his Divinely appointed mission of revelator.
He started an extensive set of notes in which he described the empirical relationship between verse content in the Bible and events in the spiritual world that he became involved in. Soon he discovered a pattern which he called "spiritual-natural correspondences” according to the name the most ancient peoples used for their spiritual perceptions. At that time, the human race on this earth was directly connected to the departed spirits who lived in heaven as angels. Subsequently this direct sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world ceased, so that rational consciousness was henceforth going to be the only means of knowing and perceiving the spiritual. Swedenborg then realizing that the Bible was written in verses that had a double layered meaning, and that he had been given the Divine assignment to expose and describe these empirical relationships.
Is there any way of explaining away this relationship as some coincidence or exaggeration or mistake? There is no other way to explain Swedenborg’s discovery than that it is the work of God that has been revealed to humankind. Think of it, my friend. Historical and biographical events happen to these ancient peoples and individuals. Details get recorded by scribes and prophets over many centuries from about 1300 BC to 100 AD, the period during which the Hebrew and Greek Word were written by dozens of individuals. And yet, as Swedenborg is able to prove, every detail fits perfectly in its position in an overall message of awesome proportions. The writers did not know that the words and verses they are writing down have a universal code encrypted in them, so that an uninterrupted rational series of underlying topics is being treated of in excruciating detail. How could this happen by coincidence? This would be a foolish conclusion.
You can see rationally that this is a Divine Work. God made sure that the dozens of writers over hundreds of years wrote down only those words and sentences which formed an accurate underlying meaning. That underlying meaning, hidden by the code of correspondences, was the real, the actual message the Divine wanted to reveal to humanity. There is no other rational explanation. If you reject it, you reject rationality and condemn yourself to spiritual insanity and foolishness, as well as to evil and ultimately to life in hell in eternity. What a way NOT to go! Therefore think and live. If you accept the rationality of this long hidden message, you accept its Divine authority, and you are beginning to be saved for heavenly life by ordering your mind into a rational system that is capable of receiving heavenly life.
Therefore in order to remove all doubt as to such being the character of the Word, the Lord has revealed to me the Word's internal sense. In its essence this sense is spiritual, and in relation to the external sense, which is natural, is as soul is to body. This sense is the spirit which gives life to the letter; it can therefore bear witness to the divinity and holiness of the Word, and convince even the natural man, if he is willing to be convinced. (Swedenborg, SS 4)
Why did God hide this knowledge for all these centuries, and why is God now revealing it?
The answers are revealed in the Writings. These are God’s answers to humanity. God desired to reveal the spiritual knowledge hidden in His Word because this knowledge elevates the human mind to heaven. Therefore God was preparing the human race for this revelation. The Threefold Word took 31 centuries to write out—from the fourteenth century BC to the seventeenth century AD. And there were prior versions of God’s Word that were revealed to the ancient peoples prior to known historical age. The human mind is constructed in such a way that it acquires rational and spiritual consciousness by means of knowledge of Divine truths. Natural consciousness is acquired first, from self-intelligence and the physical environment. This is the animal level of life, and for us, it is the pre-human or quasi-human level of life. It appears on the outside that we are rational human beings capable of evolving a civilization that is rational and viable. But the fact is that it is God who is managing things so that they turn out viable and rational. If it were actually left to human self-intelligence, everything would quickly collapse into chaos and insanity, thus not capable of survival and evolution.
We are so constructed that we have the capacity to operate at a human level, thus far above the animal level as supervised by God. We take the journey upward by developing our rational capacities to think and understand rational concepts that are removed from the sensory observations and organization. The sensory organization is a lower form of operation for the human mind. We develop a higher organization in the regions of the mind above the corporeal and sensual. The natural mind thus evolves in layers as we grow—corporeal layer of thinking and feeling, sensuous layer of thinking and feeling, natural-rational layer of thinking and feeling, spiritual-rational layer of thinking and feeling, and at last, celestial-rational layer of thinking and feeling. These are the gradations of human consciousness by creation. Only in the upper regions of operation, that is, the spiritual-rational and celestial rational levels, do we enter the genuine human life. This life is called heaven, and it awaits every individual immediately upon resuscitation from death, approximately 30 hours after we are separated from the corpse. But only the individual whose mind can be opened to that degree. The others sink down into the lower regions of their mind where they eek out a sad and hellish existence to eternity, full of willfulness and insane fantasies they are unwilling to give up.
Should any one of them decide to give them up, they would be instantly taken up to their heavenly sites in their mind. But when they experience what it is like, they feel that none of their affections or loves can have an life there. They thus fall into a swoon or unconsciousness or feel the searing burning touch of truth and love, which they cannot support because it is against what they desire. They therefore throw themselves back into hell, into the bottom regions of their minds, where they feel somewhat revived, capable of expressing their insane and cruel fantasies, and cruel practices on each other, taking turns in torture, living for the moment it is their turn to torture someone else, even as they are tortured. Such is their insanity and willfulness.
Rational consciousness is the only method provided by creation to open the heavenly regions of the human mind. This consciousness is acquired from acknowledging and understanding Divine revelation given to the human race over the course of its history. In the Judaeo-Christian history, God’s spiritual-rational ideas are hidden in the Letter of the Threefold Word – the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings. Knowing and understanding the ideas and principles given in the Threefold Word, arranges the mind in a heavenly form so that one can feel and think in a way that is heavenly. This then becomes our life to eternity. The power to elevate consciousness and open the spiritual levels of the mind resides in the spiritual-rational ideas that are contained in the spiritual messages of the Threefold Word. One can read the Threefold Word without acknowledging that there is a hidden message to be extracted by applying the code of correspondences.
But those who are willing to acknowledge such a possibility can discover it for themselves by studying the code of correspondences given in the Writings, and applying it to each sentence in the Threefold Word. The moment one starts doing this, one is enlightened from within. Such is the power of the spiritual-rational correspondences. These are actually forms of higher truth that descend from heaven and enter the mind from within. There they meet up with the Letter of the verse, or its literal meaning. The instant these two meet up in our conscious mind, we experience enlightenment. This occurs because the spiritual-rational truth hidden within the literal meaning, is now perceived within the natural-rational truth of the literal meaning. To consciously see the spiritual meaning within the natural meaning, is called enlightenment.
Enlightenment is the resultant effect in consciousness of the Lord’s Co-presence. God is present within the spiritual meaning because this is from Him, and what is from God, remains Divine in our consciousness. The Co-presence of God in our conscious awareness, moment by moment, and hour by hour, all day long, is called the angelic life. God’s Co-presence causes us to be lifted up to Him. This lifting up process of consciousness takes place by an opening of the uppermost portions of the human mind. The mind at birth contains all the levels and portions it is capable of from creation. But only the lowest part, called the corporeal and sensual mind, are opened with the developing child and young adult. In mature adulthood, the next level of the mind can be opened or made operational. This occurs when we acquire intelligence by study, education, practice, and experience.
Once the natural-rational mind is opened, which is the middle layer, the adult can begin reformation of character, which is called regeneration. The self-modification efforts are empowered and made to succeed when we appeal to God for help, knowing that God wants to give it, is ready to give it, and gives it. Our appeal to God brings us closer to Him, especially if we are sincere. This means that we teach ourselves to love Him, to respect Him in our mind, to strive to know His revelations, and to follow them as guide. We thus incorporate the Divine truth from without, from the literal meaning of His revelations. We apply this truth to our life, to our moment by moment choices, emotions, and intentions. This application is done in the Co-presence of God. It is accompanied with shame, remorse, fear, and repentance. We compel ourselves to shun the evil thought or delight, to judge it in the light of truth, to condemn it, to banish it, to withhold ourselves from doing it. We do this over and over again until God puts an end to it by removing that evil tendency in us. We are born with innumerable such evil tendencies that must be removed by this process of regeneration.
To the extent that we do this, and at the rate that we do it, we become more and more enlightened, which means that our conscious awareness is raised to the uppermost portion of our mind called heaven. This is where God resides in our mind. God cannot descend below this level in our mind. Instead, at the lower levels, God exists only in appearances of truth called correspondences. The lowest portion of the mind called corporeal-sensual is filled with sensuous correspondences such as order, pattern, beauty, variety, harmony, contrast, reciprocity, and many others. These can be turned by the mind into opposites such as disorder, randomness, ugliness, sameness, disharmony, confusion, isolation, and many others. You can see that natural-rational correspondences in our mind are based on sensory input. Therefore, natural-rational correspondences cannot open the higher portions of the mind, which require a different input, not from the natural world through the physical senses, but from the spiritual world through the rational senses called the inner sense, or the inner eye, or spiritual understanding. This spiritual understanding requires the opening of the middle level of the mind, which is called the rational level of thinking and feeling. This level of consciousness is above the natural order of things. It is a closer level to God and His Co-presence in our mind at that level is holier, closer, and more loving. That is, we can accept or receive more intense loving from Him.
This more intense loving is made possible by the presence of spiritual-rational correspondences. These appearances of Divine Truth are more genuine, less distorted by the natural mind. Hence our consciousness rises to a new level of inner spirituality, though not yet to the celestial level. With the conscious awareness and perception of spiritual-rational correspondences we are empowered to a higher degree so that God can reveal to us our deeper faults and weaknesses, those that oppose and resist the development of our celestial mind, or heaven. Now we begin a new higher phase of our regeneration through this higher enlightenment. Now we attack these new more subtle evils in our tendencies, over and over again, until God can remove them. As they are removed, He can also open and operationalize the heaven within us. We have now at last begun our new state of life as a genuine human being, as intended and crated by God. This now begins an endless of progression of further development to eternity.
You can see from these considerations that God could not reveal the spiritual-rational truths to the minds of the generations that were not yet prepared for it. Had He revealed it to them, they would have rejected it, and profaned it, that is, used for evil or selfish purposes. This would have destroyed their capacity to be rational, hence to be human and exist in their heavenly state. Clearly God could not do this. Therefore the spiritual-rational ideas were hidden in a code, to be revealed later, when the generations can understand it and accept it. This age has now come—since the 18th century when the books of the Writings were written and published by Swedenborg. Since then, the Writings are gradually spreading around the world, having been translated in many languages, a work that continues today by the few who have found and recognized this priceless human treasure. So it happened with me, when I came across the Writings in 1981 while browsing the shelves in our university library. My mind had been adequately prepared by science and an interest in spirituality. I was able to understand the Writings and from then on my mind has been rearranged and reformed in harmony with this knowledge. This rearrangement was produced not merely by my understanding the Writings, but by applying this understanding to my life – thinking, willing, intending, and feeling. Any human being, regardless of cultural background, can now read the Writings and rearrange the mind into a heavenly form. By this means we guarantee our eternal happiness. Nothing in this world can be more important than that task.
But what about the vast majority of people who do not find the Writings, do not read it, or even, having read it, do not care for it?
The Writings explain that every individual awakens in the world of spirits at the death of the physical body. This occurs of “resuscitation” takes approximately 36 hours. Upon conscious awakening in the spirit-body we assume a new life of immortality that will never end. We have freedom to explore what that life is going to be. But in the course of time, no more than a few months, speaking subjectively, the individual undergoes an inevitable physiological change whose result is that the interior loves and motives come to the fore of the character so that they are now in the open and striving to fulfill themselves. This is a moment of great enjoyment as people suddenly feel freed from inhibition and suppression. At last they can act overtly how they really feel. At last they can pursue their passions, whatever they are. Swedenborg witnessed these things happening as he was in their company for 27 years. The Writings explain that those who arrive in the world of spirits with an unregenerated character often surprise themselves that they hold these emotions and desires hidden within. This is especially true of those who had a religious life that was only outward rather than inward, as will be explained in what follows. But there are many who arrive with a strong conscience, having spent a lifetime on earth compelling themselves to follow inner standards of right and wrong, of good and bad. Since they have this inner capacity through a life of conscience, they are able to accept new instruction about God and heaven. Even if they had no prior religion or regardless of their prior religion, they are now capable of accepting new truths they did not know before. This instruction in new truths is arranged for them by God through appropriate others from the heavenly region who love nothing more than to open the rational-spiritual consciousness of newcomers so that they may be admitted to heaven where they are.
Your fate in heaven or in hell depends therefore not on your religion, sin, atheism, or belief system. It depends only on your inner character, whether it is regenerate or not. I predict that as the decades and centuries progress, more an more people will be exposed to spiritual-rational correspondences through the spread of True Science in public education and the popular culture, until at last it has become universal. Thus the human race will be lifted to its next phase of evolution.
The dawning age of True Science has now been initiated. God is the only True Scientist and His rational ideas are the only genuine truths by which the human race can become angelic. These new scientific revelations are given through natural language and historical events, by necessity, since the natural mind will not accept the rational version of it in the form of theistic science. But after the mind is developed through sectarian religion and materialist science, the rational or spiritual mind can be opened and scientific revelation accessed and described.
The presentation that follows is not that science and religion are compatible, but that they are each part of a necessary progression of the human mind. The surprising thing is that True Science, or rational faith, ends up on top, while mystical faith and ritual faith end up at the bottom. To figure this out, please read on. To those who are Christians, I can say, Fear not, your faith will be vindicated, not contradicted. To those who are Jews, I can say, be not offended by the appearances, God is the God of all people. To the Muslims I can say, it is permitted to search for scientific truth, even in heaven. To the Buddhist I say, the right posture is always the one that points to good. To the Baaha'i I can say that unity is achieved through perfection in diversity, not homogeneity. To the Hindu I can point to the marvels of heavenly places that are mentioned in their religious texts. Their mythical stories embody the idea of spiritual geography, which is the idea that places and names are states of mind in every individual. To the atheist and secular humanist I can say, Behold, this is the supremacy of science over religion, but not the atheist kind, the theistic kind.
If you asked me up front, what is the most important conclusion of this presentation for your own benefit, I would say "character building for your eternal life." In other words, this presentation gives you the scientific rationale for the need to take charge of your character building as preparation for your afterlife, which starts a few hours after your physical body is dead, as observed many times by Swedenborg. The character we inherit is born attached to harmful tendencies which if allowed to proceed, necessarily corrupts the entire character, and you end up an evil, selfish person who believes to be a good person. And that's spiritual death. In other words, that fixes you with a permanently sick character that is passed on to your spiritual body at death. The final result is that you cannot tolerate any other life from then on but a life in the hellish parts of your mind, in company with others who are also in similar low lying places of the mind, or of the spiritual world. Together you form a society of torturers, taking turns in inflicting horror on others who then get their turn against you, and this to forever. Nothing can be more scary and discouraging than to contemplate that fate. Would you not want to take step to avoid it? That’s what I told myself.
You will find rational proof, and empirical proof, that your inherited evils can be healed by a process provided by God, called the Reformation and Regeneration of your character. That's what this presentation is really about. If you are deep into your religion, this study will only strengthen your worship and loyalty to the truths that are contained in your religion. If your religion contains falsities put there by people's errors of selfishness, then this presentation will allow you to see them, isolate them, set them aside, without hurting the rest of your religion. If you don't have a religion, you can jump directly to True Science by studying the Writings of Swedenborg. The result will be the same, namely, the regeneration of your character and the adequate preparation of your mind for heavenly life which can start immediately after death.
Are you ready? One approach that helps me stay focused on sequences of rational paragraphs such as these, is to read the sentences out loud, as if to someone present, or, as if you're recording on tape. With a little practice, you can achieve this effect by reading the sentences “out loud to yourself” as it were, which is easier since it doesn’t involve the speaking musculature except in vestigial form, hence it is not as tiring. I believe this helps our understanding because it slows down the semantic input. It helps if you read it with meaning. It helps tremendously if you're willing to re-read a sentence more than once, before going on, unless it's crystal clear. It's not easy rapid reading with half of your mind solving some other issue in your mind. Since the mind doesn’t stay completely focused, we can compensate by repeating sentences and paragraphs before going on.
Treat yourself well, and avoid assuming that you're dumb or lack something, if an idea or explanation seems obscure or unclear. Treat me well in your mind, and avoid assuming I'm being ridiculous or arrogant, if an idea strikes you as unacceptable or offensive. If you have that sense, keep trying to understand it by going over it again. Neither blame yourself, nor me, nor the idea. Instead, re-read it again and exert your will upon it, forcing your rational mind to consider it. Remember this: you are not doing this alone. God supervises every detail of your understanding or lack of it. And He does this by means of connecting your spirit to others in the spiritual world. As you read one sentence you might be connected to this spiritual society, and as you move on to another sentence, you might be connected to another society, and so on. God is in charge of your mental progression, of every single detail of it in your mind. All you need to do is to put up the effort as if from yourself. Do not sit there meditating, waiting for influx of truth from God to hit you or enter you. This cannot work in that way. Influx of truth from God is solely and only through rational understanding of His Word, the Letter of it first, then the inner coded meaning, and at last, the spiritual enlightenment of understanding spiritual-rational ideas and concepts. Once you are enlightened, you can continue more easily and rapidly in your progress in True Science.
To be enlightened means that you can operate in the spiritual-rational region of your mind. You are then conscious of spiritual-rational ideas, meanings, or truths. These are dualist, and far above the sight of natural-rational ideas and concepts we have from self-intelligence and other humans.
All of this is possible only if you're going to assume that what I say here is possibly the truth. I call this the positive bias, and it is the only approach I know of that lets you open your rational mind when your natural mind opposes it, as it naturally does.
The Writings of Swedenborg present an integrated and comprehensive developmental theory of the psychology of regeneration. Three successive phases of individual growth correspond to three historical phases in religion. This is a situation where cultural history recapitulates individual biography . In other words, knowing the history of religions allows us to draw parallel developmental changes in individuals of every generation. For instance, in the history of Christianity, the three evolutionary phases of religion are evidenced by the content of Sacred Scripture, namely the Old Testament (in Hebrew), the New Testament (in Greek), and the Third Testament (in Latin). These three Testaments represent the characteristics of the three phases of religious behavior which we may call, respectively, the Moses phase, the Paul phase, and the Swedenborg phase. In other words, every individual who undergoes regeneration or character change for the sake of the afterlife, goes through these three phases of spiritual development. How deeply and significantly we move within each phase depends on our own willingness, as shall be explained.
The Moses-phase of religion is least internal, or relatively external, in the sense that the laws of conduct are not rationally justified to the believer but given as Divine Commandment to obey. Whatever is done from understanding is higher spiritually than that which is done from obedience, authority, persuasion, or blind faith. Following a Divine Commandment from understanding is a higher spiritual understanding that following the same Commandment out of obedience, respect, or fear. In the Moses phase of spirituality we follow prescribed rituals dictated by tradition and denominational membership. Verses of Scripture are applied to life in a literal sense without concern for its more interior or spiritual sense. The spiritual sense of all Divine Commandments give us a rational understanding of God and how He regenerates our character by means of daily temptations.
The diagram below shows the sequence involved in regeneration of our character. First, it is the Lord who regenerates since human beings have zero power of their own to do anything. Second, the Lord arranges circumstances around us and prepares our mind within us, so that we may go through a temptation on some particular occasion. Third, our reaction must be an as-of self struggle in which we compel ourselves to oppose the impulse that attracts us to evil delights and to obey our conscience. The Lord infuses power into this self-compulsion. Without the struggle and pain of self-compulsion it is not possible for the Lord to regenerate us – or else He would do so with every person from birth onward. But an angel cannot be created out of us except in spiritual freedom of choice and self-compulsion according to conscience and doctrine. Fourth, our self-denial allows the Lord to cut off our association with the spiritual societies from whom comes this particular evil delight. As the old association is cut, the Lord can connect us with new spiritual societies from whom we receive good loves and delights.
We can see rationally that giving us Commandments to follow is the process God uses to gradually modify our inborn evil character. Those who are taught the Divine Commandments in childhood have both a conscience and religious doctrine to rely on in the fierce struggle against daily temptations. Those who did not receive a religious education, nevertheless have the doctrine of morality embedded in their cultural and intellectual socialization process. They also have a doctrine and a conscience, but since this doctrine is natural, not spiritual, the Lord can only bring natural temptations, which they can overcome by means of their rules of morality. The Lord gives them the power to overcome in their moral struggles, and thereby the Lord establishes protected and hidden “remains” in their character, which can in the afterlife, be used to receive genuine spiritual and theistic ideas, wherewith they can enjoy a heavenly existence. We can see the outcome of failing to follow a commandment of religion, conscience, or moral dictate, namely, that we get stuck with much evil which prevents us from being regenerated, which is the healing of our inherited evil character. Without being regenerated we cannot be saved for heavenly life. What an awesome and terrible tragedy!
We need to understand the resistance we experience to spiritual development in phase 1 thinking and feeling. In this fundamentalist phase of religious behavior we tend to be orthodox, literalist, dogmatic, and intolerant, and there is a lack of clear separation between cultural and religious loyalty. I call it the Moses-phase because the Five Books of Moses (or Pentateuch or Torah) represent the spiritual mentality of the Old Testament civilizations that spanned for many centuries in history. This is a pre-spiritual religious orientation, in which external rituals, prescriptions, and proscriptions are strict and unforgiving, exacting harsh punishment and retribution upon the unfaithful and disloyal. Compliance is from external fear and superstitious or magical beliefs, and is attendant with the hope of reward or merit. In this phase 1 consciousness, spiritual status differences are based on one's degree of compliance and earned merit through strict literalistic adherence to ritual. This idea of the spiritual is not actually a spiritual idea but a natural idea of a spiritual topic. There is no bogus spiritual only bogus natural regarding the spiritual. Everything that is actually spiritual comes to us from God through the vertical community of influx. Religious superstitions and magical beliefs in prayer and ritual, are not spiritual beliefs or perceptions, but natural beliefs regarding spiritual topics. Only by crossing into phase 2 consciousness can we receive and understand spiritual ideas regarding spiritual things and regarding natural things.
Ritualizing is a form of literalism. For instance, while growing up in an Orthodox Jewish sub-culture, I was raised to perform prayer rituals on several required occasions during any ordinary week day, and many more rituals added on the Sabbath and other holy days that were to be observed. The reading of prescribed daily prayers were required in the morning, late afternoon, and late evening. Blessings were required before a meal, after the meal, when drinking or eating anything at any time, when witnessing a natural disaster, when seeing certain things on the street (e.g., a funeral, a Christian priest, a police officer, a physically challenged or handicapped person, a deformed face or body, a corpse, and many other such things). Each occasion had its own prayer written by the sages and rabbis over the centuries. Each enclave, tribe, ghetto, or orthodox grouping kept track of their own rituals and they overlapped with each other to the extent they shared a common history or were in physical contact. In the broad sense, all these rituals had to harmonize with what was in the Old Testament and the cumulative historical writings and cited opinions of the Rabbis that are recorded in the Talmud, Toiswes, and Rabbinical Commentaries and books of Jewish law and jurisprudence based on the Old Testament.
Now here is a totally remarkable fact: I did not understand these prayers in the Hebrew language, yet this did not reduce their power or necessity in the minds of my family and tribe. I was drilled to read ancient Hebrew phonetically and required to memorize large chunks that were needed for these daily prayer rituals. As far as I can remember, there was never an emphasis on understanding the recited text. This was not considered important or essential, only the memorizing and the reciting at specified times. Among my cousins and uncles, the understanding of Hebrew was mostly limited to reading the prayers phonetically without being able to translate them into the vernacular language, which was Yiddish or the European language of the region. The result, as I could ascertain later as an adult, was that the majority of Orthodox Jews who performed these prayer rituals every day, did not understand the meanings that went with them except for a few words here and there. This fact alone proves my point: that the fundamentalist phase of religion is based on literalism, which involves the idea that the words and the act of saying them have a magical power to move Heaven or God. The strength of the magical power varies with the holiness or merit of the person saying it. More than once that I can recall, I accompanied my mother to visit the reigning local Rabbi of the tribe or group, or else a visiting Rabbi who had a reputation for extra holiness. The purpose was to have the holy man intercede on behalf of someone, either my mother or some relative, involving an issue of sickness, pregnancy, or financial undertaking. After the intercessionary prayers, money was expected for the service.
This pattern of reliance on the superstitious power of external rituals and holy objects, is evident in other religious groups that are in this fundamentalist phase of development. History tells us that most Catholics up to the middle of the twentieth century, were required to hear and recite prayers in Latin, a language they did not understand. When the Bible was first translated into a common language by an Englishman in the 16th century, he was arrested and decapitated for it. Of course, shortly thereafter, the King James translation was commissioned under a royal edict. Not long after that, the Protestant Revolution started with its new reliance on one's personal study and understanding of the Bible as a requirement of faith.
In general, there are so many rituals that evolve over time that less and less members of that religion understand all the particulars. In the course of time, most members no longer understand most of the rituals. At this point the spiritual value of the rituals declines, and sometimes becomes anti-religious or cultist, harming all its adherents. Ritual turns into magic, which is used for selfish and evil purposes and corrupts the practitioner. Subconsciously they get more and more involved with evil spirits who lead them towards themselves in hell, and their spiritual development is arrested totally and forever. When they pass on, the spirits they had been with await them and take them to their abodes in hell from which there is no inner desire to return, ever.
Evils are as it were heavy, and fall of themselves into hell; and so also falsities that are from evil (HD 170)
All religions that are in the fundamentalist phase evolve similar behaviors involving the personal use of holiness and merit that may be attached to some physical object or person. Holy shrines and miracles performed by holy men exist in all major religions on our earth when they pass through their own Moses phase. Intercessionary prayer, either for expected voluntary offerings, or for charged services, are offered in many Christian churches today, and is a mainstay feature of radio and television evangelism.
Besides the magic or power of ritual and holiness, sectarianism leads to an anti-scientific attitude and orientation that is harmful for intellectual and rational development. An example is the doctrine of Creationism, which is the rejection of scientific knowledge and rational thinking whenever these appear to be contradicted by a literal and unenlightened reading of the Old Testament.
The Moses phase is based on the emotion of external fear, which is external or below the spiritual level. Phase 1 is only an entrance place for regeneration, but not quite, unless it is followed by phase 2. The motive to move on to phase 2 is the motive of religious universalism and personalism, which allows a relationship to a Divine Human God that is entirely independent of one’s culture or ethnic background. This new higher mode of consciousness removes the evils of sectarianism which befall those who stay at the phase 1 level of thinking and feeling. Sectarianism prevents regeneration of our inherited evil character. In my own case history, I was in my early forties before I moved into the Paul-Phase of Christianity. It happened when I decided to read the New Testament for the first time! One week I was in the Moses phase and in the next week I was in the Paul phase. The transition was accompanied by strong emotions of fervor and joy. Some of these changes I experienced are described in these articles:
The Story of Our Conversion: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy/instructor/gloss/conversion.html
The Coming Swedenborgian Revolution: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/499s98/shintani/logos.html
6. Phase 2 – Mystical Faith or the Paul-Phase (Personalism, Universalism)
What is beyond religious ritual? Why is religious ritual by itself, without rational meaning or understanding, harmful to one's intellect and spirit? In what way is religious ritual by itself similar to superstition, cult, or black magic?
These issues must be rationally resolved in our mind if we are to enter the second phase of spiritual consciousness. Ritual is a physical, corporeal, and natural activity and involvement. There is nothing holy in the natural part of the ritual itself, nor in its performative execution. There is nothing holy in the ink on paper of the verses of Sacred Scripture. My childhood years were obsessed with ritualistic fears that are natural consequences of fundamentalist rituals: What I must do if I forget to say the appropriate prayer before I took my first swallow of water in the morning, or what to do if I started evening prayer before I could see three stars, or if I wore my new shoes without having said the new shoes prayer before putting it on. I heard adults around me curse someone with such and such plagues for doing something or not doing something. There definitely was the implication that the curse had power. Superstition was mixed with holiness and sacredness, so that it was not easy for anyone to tease them part by rational reflection, even if they had the rare motivation to do so.
The natural history of sectarianism, when it's not transcended into the next phase, is to engender a series of degrading personality traits that harm self and society:
resistance to assimilation.
These mental attitudes and values operate at the Moses phase of spiritual consciousness. It is not yet rational, not yet good, not yet true. It is a corporeal spirituality rather than a sensuous or rational one. The Writings reveal that those who arrive into the afterlife with their mentality or spirituality developed no further, consistently make choices that involve them deeper and deeper into evil and insanity, so that their fate is to end up in hellish habitations and regions in the spiritual world. They end up in those regions in the afterlife because their mind is an image of hellish things, having been formed in this life by negativity, selfishness, stupidity, and the inward hatred for God, heaven, innocence, chastity. They have evolved a mind set that is against good things and true things. While in this world, they could be this way and still appear normal citizens, even successful people. But as soon as they transition into the spirit-body, their interior character comes to the fore, no longer inhibited by fear or gain. As a result, they sink into the hells where their life is exciting at the beginning, but gradually turns into misery and suffering that cannot be described. The Writings give us many details of the unenviable lot of these people – it is scary and nearly incredible.
Clearly, then, it is most important to not get stuck in this first phase of spiritual consciousness. There is only one condition that must occur in order for anyone in any religion to move from the sectarian phase of their spirituality (phase 1) to the personalist phase (phase 2). It’s this: the understanding, and acceptance, of the idea of scientific dualism, that is, the idea that we are simultaneously citizens of two worlds, one natural, the other spiritual.
Note carefully the word “simultaneously.” Even in our first phase of spiritual consciousness we can accept the idea of successive dualism, which refers to the belief that the natural world is going to be destroyed and a new spiritual world will be established. This does not allow the idea of a simultaneous dualism. Phase 1 spiritual thinking rejects the idea that we are in both worlds right now. This does not make sense and does not appear logical in that mode of thinking. But when we take a rational step upward in our mental operation we become enlightened, which means, that it is obvious to us that we are dual citizens right now. We reflect for instance on the nature of thoughts and feelings in our mind, and we ask, ”Where are they?” and “What are they made of?” Our rational understanding informs us that thoughts and feelings cannot be weighed and measured because they are not material or physical entities. They are mental entities, and we are sure that mental means spiritual because we are told in the Word of God that love and wisdom are spiritual. And so we realize that mind is the same as spirit, and that the mental world is the same as the spiritual world. Perhaps we do not yet understand the details fully, as we will in our phase 3, but we understand the general rationality of it.
This second phase in our race’s spiritual history was initiated by Jesus of Nazareth whose many sayings depend on this one saying He said to His disciples who wanted to know where is God's Kingdom: Heaven is within you. With this one brief saying, a new spiritual paradigm was ushered in – phase 2 in the spiritual evolution of the race.
6.2 New Testament Sayings of Jesus and their Spiritual Meaning
Study the following table. Note especially how the Word of the New Testament introduces a whole new set of ideas about the existence of spirits, demons, evil angels, devils. In the Word of the Old Testament not much is revealed about these entities. In the New Testament we are given new scientific facts about the nature of these demons and how they communicate with the people on earth. Obviously, the evil spirits are in the spiritual world and so is our spirit. They can therefore interact. There are also consequences to our physical body on earth because our spirit and our physical body are tied to each other by the Divine laws of correspondences, as these have been revealed in the Word of the Third Testament, or the Writings. You will note that in the following Sayings of Jesus many scientific details about the spiritual world are revealed.
Our spiritual consciousness is elevated to phase 2 when we acknowledge these facts as scientific and rational.
This may be a stumbling block to you, dear reader. You may feel threatened in your faith, or else in your secular beliefs. How can the sayings of Jesus in the New Testament 2000 years ago be considered scientific today by a modern person?
You can understand this puzzle if you’re willing to hear the answer. This means to lay aside your opposition to the idea that the New Testament contains scientific revelations. You would not oppose the idea if it could be shown that the idea of scientific revelations being given in the Threefold Word does not in any way detract from the idea that the Threefold Word is the Word of the Lord and is the unchanging everlasting absolute Divine Truth from beginning to end. The two ideas can be taken separately and independently, as well as reinforcing each other. This can be demonstrated by rational consideration.
First, the Threefold Word, being a Divine document, contains an infinite amount of knowledge and wisdom. Second, this source of endless knowledge can be mined by all the generations of humankind that are still to come, and who will receive the Threefold Word as the Divine Truth from the Lord. Third, the knowledge that can be extracted from the Threefold Word concerns reality, the universe, creation, regeneration, heaven, hell, Divine Providence and its laws of operation, the method of creation and maintenance of the universe, the anatomy of the human mind, the forces of evil that oppose morality, the life after death, the relationship between our behavior and our fate in eternity, and many other things. Clearly, this information is scientific information. God is the one and only True Scientist whose Divine Rational Mind has planned and created this universe, and now manages it with absolute rational rules and laws by means of Divine truth in infinite variety. If this is not science, then what is?
Science is the systematic investigation and explanation of reality. If you assume that God exists and that the Threefold Word is His Divine Truth, then you can grant that the knowledge and understanding we have from this Divine Truth is science. Truth is science and Divine Truth is Divine Science. “Science” is a Latin word meaning knowledge (from the verb “scire” to know). All knowledge is science, as long as the knowledge is rationally constructed and evaluated. The essence of science is rationality, and the highest rationality is spiritual rationality. The Threefold Word contains the highest truth and is the source of all rational spirituality. Without the scientific revelations contained in the Threefold Word, science is condemned to materialism, monism, and spiritual insanity. In this life spiritual insanity does not break forth to the outside visible and conscious world, but remains locked into the unconscious spiritual mind. When we make the transition to the afterlife, barely 36 hours after the death of the body, we awaken in our spirit-body and feel fine, for a few days. But inexorably the outward personality and social put-ons and scripts that we brought with us in the mind, fall away, discarded like old clothes, and the inner loves come to the fore. Then spiritual insanity shows itself, and there is no other place to go but downward in hell, where we share a very sad fate with others who are also spiritually insane. All this can be avoided by action now.
Let your rational spirituality develop and grow. Let your faith be stronger as a result of learning the facts of True Science. These are the scientific revelations in the Threefold Word. We need to take them into our mind, to form our ideas from them, to eliminate all ideas in our mind that are contrary to them, and to perform our daily tasks in accordance with them. This is the purpose God has given us the Threefold Word. It is called regeneration and involves the struggles of character reformation. We can perform this task more effectively by using scientific methods and facts revealed by God. I call it True Science because it is science, and because it is true. All other science is not science and not true. Only God’s Science is True Science. And we can take up True Science into our mind, into our understanding, into our acceptance and love, and then God can elevate us to the celestial human state called heaven in eternity.
If you are more ready to accept the idea that the New Testament is a collection of scientific revelations, we can proceed with an analysis of some of the Sayings of Jesus, to show what scientific revelations are contained in them. The following selections give many details concerning how we are to move from phase 1 thinking and feeling to phase 2. You will note that the scientific information is not in the literal meaning but in a deeper spiritual meaning. Take for instance the first mentioned item in the Table, which talks about Jesus driving out demons and about the Kingdom of God having arrived. Where is the science in this?
There is much science evident in this if you are joining scientific dualism by accepting the idea that there is a spiritual world and a natural world, each with its own laws and phenomena. Since we have no sensory perception into the spiritual world it is obvious that for us to know anything about it, God must reveal it to us. Hence the necessity of scientific revelations in the Threefold Word. We can pick up scientific facts in every sentence of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings. Here, looking at what the Lord says to us in Matthew 12:28, we can see that demons exist – which is a scientific fact we must be aware of, and that demons prevent us from entering heaven (“the kingdom of God”). Getting rid of demons must therefore be the prime task we each set for ourselves in this life. It is more important even than getting rid of a deadly virus that attacks our physical body. The Lord also reveals in this sentence what medical methods we must use to get rid of the demons, and that is given in the words “I drive out demons.” Only the Lord can drive out our demons, and therefore we must turn to Him and His medical advice for how to get rid of the demons.
Phase 2 Interpretation
The Kingdom of God is the spiritual realm, and it includes, heaven, hell, and our mind or spirit, with which demons or spirits interact.
A “rich man” designates all those who are in phase 1 or the Moses Old Testament state. The “kingdom of God” is the spiritual realm in our mind, that is, phase 2 understanding. One cannot enter phase 2 without abandoning phase 1. To get into the Paul phase, one must give up the Moses phase (“rich man”). To get into personalism (New Testament perspective), one must abandon sectarianism (Old Testament perspective).
“Tax collectors and prostitutes” designate that part of our external natural life, or religious ritualism, which is harmful to others (like dishonest tax collectors referred to here) and insincere in their show of love (like prostitutes are known to be). External rituals by themselves are corrupt and spiritually useless. We can become spiritual, that is, “enter the kingdom of God,” when we abandon our external corrupted and self-serving ritualisms, for the sake of internal purification of the mind.
Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.
“Taken away from you" indicates that the phase 1 external sectarianism cannot become a spiritual entry point to the inner realm of heaven within you. Rather, you must adopt a system of worship that produces its fruit, that is, becomes internal, which is the true worship or "fruit" of religion. Internal worship regards our intentions, not merely our outward deeds separate from our intentions. “Fruit” refers to successful character reformation by which we become sincere and have good will towards the neighbor.
"The time has come" refers to the crossing from phase 1 to phase 2 religious behavior. This was not possible before. "Repent" means to acknowledge that one's phase 1 worship is not yet spiritual or heavenly, thus, it is self-centered and based on false doctrine (e.g., meritoriousness, personal holiness, predestination or "being chosen"). "The Good News" marks the beginning of a new human evolution in which internal worship (New Testament state) becomes possible. Only external worship was possible before (Old Testament state).
"The secret" refers to the existence and availability of the inner church (inner worship), that is, the opening of phase 2 religious behavior. "To you" refers to those who hear and accept this revelation, and have made the decision to abandon their external ritual worship in the form of fundamentalist sectarianism, trading this in for an internal worship of personalism. "To those on the outside" refers to our refusal to hear and accept this revelation of the existence of an inner worship. "Everything is said in parables" means that for them, the statements about inner worship make no sense, that is, they see nothing in the “good news" even as they continue to cling to the former external worship and idea they had of God. To them, their external worship seems internal, and they do not acknowledge another worship that is internal.
“Tasting death" means rejecting the "good news" of new internal worship now available, the result of which is spiritual death, or eternal life in the hellish parts of the human mind. Those who "are standing here" are our thoughts and feelings when in a state of inner worship. These phase 2 thoughts and feelings are entirely different from our thoughts and feelings in phase 1 external worship. Instead of leading to hell, this inner worship leads to Heaven, which is "to see the kingdom of God coming with power,” that is, with the reality of truth. These are those who “do not taste death.”
"To be thrown into hell" is to stay in external worship which leads to corruption of character or "sin" (e.g., sectarianism, hatred, literalism, intolerance, pride, meritoriousness). This process delivers the person to hell after the death of the body. The "eye to be plucked out" refers to our self-intelligence which is inside all our religious concepts in the state of external worship, and is attached to a virulent virus called "meritoriousness" or egotism. "Two eyes" means unreformed sectarianism, stuck in external worship which is merely natural and egotistical.
"Little children" refers to a mental state of reception to truth, that is, a lack of resistance to truth. Resistance to truth is something we acquire as we leave off being children, part of which involves a motive on self-reliance. When, as adults, we hear the "good news" of internal worship and dualism, we have a resistance to it. To overcome this resistance, we must revert to a state of innocent acceptance of inner worship revealed to us in the Word ("kingdom of God"). This "belongs to children" means that inner worship is available only after we reject our former Moses-phase of fundamentalist sectarianism, which is based on salvation by performing external rituals, not on internal recognition and adoration of God as one’s personal Savior (phase 2 “Personalism”). “Little children” represent this inner worship on account of their innocence and absence of egotism and self-reliance.
"The disciples of Jesus" refers to our acceptance of the new revelation of inner worship (phase 2 Personalism). "The rich" refers to the intellectually rich, those who rely on secular humanism and materialistic science, and have gathered much knowledge that arouses resistance to dualism and the inner state of eternal heaven. The Moses-phase is called "the rich" because it attributes to self what belongs to God (merit and holiness gained by performing prescribed rituals). This reliance on self is spiritually deadly because it opposes inner worship, hence leads only to life in hell forever.
“Disciples” of Jesus refers to His followers, those who accept the “good news” of inner worship. They are called "poor" because they give up the external worship that keeps self at the center, and God on the side (or outside). The "poor," that is, those who give up self-reliance and merit, are "blessed" which means that they are undergoing the mental or spiritual process of rebirth, reformation, and regeneration, the result of which is eternal life in Heaven.
"Those born of women" are the thoughts of our external worship, which is merely a natural birth, not spiritual, because it relies on literalism of revelation rather than a spiritual interpretation of it. The literalism leads to natural sectarian thoughts rather than rational universal thoughts. "John the Baptist" represents our Old Testament worship based on literalism and ritualism. John being "the greatest" designates the highest possible form of phase 1 worship. The "least in the kingdom" refers to the initial beginnings of phase 2 worship, and this is "greater than John" because it is in a new paradigm and cannot be reached by going further and further with the old paradigm of worship.
"Fit for service" refers to continued development in our New Testament Paul- phase of inner worship. It is not the ultimate phase. Continuing the process of development in this inner worship is necessary, for it is not the final purpose of our journey. To "look back" means to resist the inward journey after beginning it. It means to fall back on the Moses phase of external worship. To "put our hand to the plow" is our inward journey to the celestial mind that is within us. This inward journey is like tilling the ground of our mind. This represents our daily effort at improving our character. In this inward journey, we must rely exclusively on spiritual ideas, and if we fall back or "look back" to our former natural ideas, we cannot complete our journey to heaven.
"The sick" refers to our external worship that prevents our rebirth and regeneration in preparation for Heaven. "To heal" means to begin the process of rebirth, that is, reformation and regeneration, and this is accomplished when we accept the good news that the state of inner worship we are seeking, is "near you," that is, it is no farther than our thoughts and feelings. We must abandon our current thoughts and values, which are grounded in self and the material world, and begin daily life with new thoughts and feelings, those that are "near you" or inside of you. Our mind has an outside (which is called the natural mind), and an inside, which is called the rational or spiritual mind.
"Gnashing of teeth" refers to false beliefs. Swedenborg witnessed the sound of grating teeth coming from those in the spiritual world he conversed with about their false beliefs, which they took as truths, e.g., "Gnashing of teeth in the other life comes from those who believe that nature is everything and the Divine nothing (AC 5568)." Abraham" and the patriarchs and prophets, designate our external imagination of Heaven in the Moses phase. In this external belief system, we will see ourselves falling into our old idea of hell as some corporeal prison camp where we are held against our will ('thrown out").
People from all compass directions indicate all the religions of earth. "The feast" refers to their admission into the inner spiritual realms of the mind ("kingdom of God"). The former sectarianism of history and race will be replaced by the personalism of humankind, where we can see all people as children of the One God. The Word of the Third Testament (or Writings of Swedenborg) reveals that the perfection of Heaven is increased by its multi-religious composition, each Heavenly religion uniquely and most appropriately suited to each "mental genius" dispersed through the Earths in the Universe.
"Pharisees" refers to our Moses phase of external worship. Our religious idea in that state, of what is spiritual ("the kingdom of God"), is so external and materialistic, that it requires Heaven to be a natural phenomenon, in physical time and space, for us to see it, and hence to believe that it's something real. But the inner world of spirit, or Heaven and hell, cannot be perceived with the physical senses ("with your careful observation"), because it is a mental state ("within you"). The mind is the spiritual world. When the mind, or spirit, is extirpated at the death of the body, it is resuscitated within 36 hours, and awakes in a spiritual body in the spiritual world.
"To be born again" means to abandon our exclusive reliance on thoughts and feelings based in the natural mind (Moses-phase). We cross the threshold into the personalist New Testament Paul-phase, when we reject the idea that our Heavenly place is assigned to us in accordance with our merit, or personal effort at performing strict rituals of religion. We are reborn when our thoughts of ourselves begin to accept the new idea that all humans are God's children and that God does not show preference to a racial or religious group. Inner worship is personal, because spiritual, while outer worship is sectarian, because only natural.
Innumerable scientific revelations are contained in just these few verses of the New Testament. Let’s mention a few:
(1) There are demons and they can keep us from heaven.
(2) There is hell and we have to take care not to end up there.
(3) Only the Lord can defeat the demons, and therefore we must turn to Him to do it in us.
(4) To have an enlightened consciousness, we need to abandon sectarian thinking and feeling.
(5) To prepare ourselves for a life in heaven we must focus on reforming or elevating the inner life of thinking and feeling.
(6) There is external worship of ritual and tradition, which we get first, but then we must replace it with internal worship which looks to the reformation of our intentions and delights, that these may become purified for heavenly life.
(7) God gives us the choice of choosing spiritual death, which is life in hell, or life in heaven.
(8) Preparation for heavenly life is a gradual process of daily struggles to shun evil thoughts and feelings.
(9) Heavenly life is for the entire human race, regardless of religious denomination.
(10) Heaven and hell are in the mind, which overlaps with the spiritual world. They are not “places” or “locations” but states of mind.
(11). The only condition that makes heavenly life possible is the reformation and regeneration of our character, that is, our thoughts and feelings.
As we mature in our intellectual potentials, and to the extent that we cultivate discipline of character and conscience, we enter the Paul-phase of religion or spiritual consciousness. Now our religious behavior extends inward to our thoughts as well as our external conduct. We become intent in keeping our mind from being polluted or corrupted by selfish tendencies that are harmful or, are inconsiderate of others. Consider this earth-shattering, evolution-splitting statement by the Lord in the New Testament:
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matt. 5:28
The mind of the Pharisees, that is, our mind in the external phase 1 worship, cannot fathom this Divine statement. How can we equate a sexy daydream with actual adultery in the act. What are the limits of this amazing statement? Does that mean that if I enjoy sexy movies, novels, or magazines and feel aroused, I'm committing adultery and will go to hell unless I change my mind about it? Yes, that's what it means. This is one of those "hard sayings" the Lord's audience was complaining about. Indeed, Swedenborg once accompanied a group of newcomers in the spiritual world for a visit to one of the Heavenly cities. After the men talked to some celestial husbands who greeted them, they were introduced to some young women, still not married. The men silently admired their grace and beauty. But the women quickly withdrew themselves. Later, one of the angel husbands explained that the young women ran away when the men started having lustful thoughts. To which they replied: How is it possible to see and appreciate such beauty of the female sex and not feel aroused? Indeed, one cannot--unless you have trained yourself to do it, while still in the physical body in this world before you pass on.
Such training of oneself is crucial because it confronts our Moses-phase thinking, and challenges it to a death duel. This kind of inner battle is called a spiritual temptation. In the Moses phase we have only natural temptations. The Old Testament gives us a number of episodes called temptations, as in these:
Joseph resisting the seductive advances by Potiphar's wife
David giving in to his unlawful union with Uriel's wife Bathsheba
Abraham binding Isaac to sacrifice him according to God's directive
Samson giving in to Dahlia's entreaties and revealing to her the secret of his hair
Our natural mind, bound to the literal meaning of these events, sees each of them as a trial by God to test the people’s loyalty to the ritual command of God. Keep yourself holy means keep yourself separate. The Jewish soldiers were commanded to avoid any intimate contact with women prior to battles in order to keep their body pure and unsoiled by corporeal desires and contact. Uriah touched the Holy Ark that was on a chariot being transported back to the City of David. He was trying to stop it from tumbling to the ground. He died for it, because it is not the intention that is regarded in this Moses phase, but the deed itself. It is an external view that fails to make internal distinctions, and thus gives a false view, an imagined view that fits with one's prejudices, and delights us in them.
Similarly, in the Moses phase we are not capable of understanding the personalist, universal, and symbolic idea that "neighbor" means "any human being" and therefore one is not allowed to mistreat strangers and enemies. In the external natural Moses phase, "Love thy neighbor" means love your family, friends, and all those that we like or share a fate with. To the extent that we accept the New Testament re-definition of "neighbor" as universalist and personal, namely, excluding no one, to that extent we have crossed into the inner worship, the spiritual worship of the New Testament.
The circle of application for being considerate to others now greatly expands. In the Moses-phase we define "neighbor" as those who are of the same ethnic or denominational group ("tribe", “blood relation”). In the Paul-phase we turn more inward towards the race's common humanity and feel compelled to give the status of "neighbor" to all human beings, irrespective of ethnic-denominational identification. As we be begin to think more interiorly we focus less and less on the external features of culture and religious ritual or regulation. The sentences of Scripture are understood in a more spiritual and personal sense, and one is affected more by the spirit than the letter. Compliance to faith becomes more personal and individual rather than congregational or public. In the Moses-phase "holiness" of a person corresponds to consciensciousness of obeying all regulations with religious fervor. In the Paul-phase holiness is detached from "religious works," that is, from merit or reward, and instead is seen as something imparted to all the faithful through membership status (e.g., those who are baptized). In the Swedenborg-phase (to be discussed later), holiness is no longer seen as a quality of the individual and one's membership, but of God's conscious rational presence within the individual when engaged in striving for good and truth for the sake of character reformation and regeneration.
Quoting from the Writings:
When the disciples could not heal the lunatic, Jesus said unto them, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?" And Jesus healed him. And he told the disciples, that they could not heal him by reason of their unbelief (Matt. xxvii. 14, and following verses).
Jesus came into his own country, and they were there "offended in him, he said, A prophet is not without honor save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief" (Matt. xiii. 57, 58).
The reason why the Lord called, the disciples men of little faith when they could not perform miracles in His name, and why He could not perform miracles in His own country on account of their unbelief was, that the disciples did indeed believe the Lord to be the Messiah or Christ, the Son of God, and the prophet of whom it was written in the Word. They did not yet, however, believe in Him as God Omnipotent, and that Jehovah the Father was in Him; and so far as they believed Him to be a man, and not at the same time God, His Divine, to which Omnipotence belonged, could not be present with the disciples by faith. For faith causes the Lord to be present, as said above; but faith in Him, as a man only, does not cause His Divine Omnipotence to be present. This also is the reason why those cannot be saved, who, at this day in the world, look to His Human only and not at the same time to His Divine; as is the case with Socinians and Arians.
 It was for a similar reason that the Lord could not perform miracles in His own country, for they there saw Him from infancy, as any other man; and therefore they could not attach to this the idea of His Divinity; and if this idea is not present, the Lord is indeed present in a man, but not with Divine Omnipotence; for it is faith that causes the presence of the Lord in man according to the nature of the perception concerning Him. Other things a man does not acknowledge, and so he rejects them. For, in order that the Lord may accomplish any thing in man by faith, His Divine must be present in man, and not out of Him.
"Many of the people believed on" Jesus; "and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?" (vii. 31).
"These signs shall follow them that believe; In my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover. They went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following" (xvi. 17-20).
 That it is a miraculous and not a saving faith which is there meant is evident also from this fact, that the Jewish nation believed in Jehovah only on account of His miracles. For they were external men; and these are moved to Divine worship only by external things, such as miracles, and these strike their minds. A miraculous faith was also the primary faith with those among whom a new church was to be established; and it is also the primary faith with all in the Christian world at this day, therefore the miracles performed by the Lord were described, and are also preached. For the primary faith with all is a historical faith, which afterwards becomes saving when a man by his life becomes spiritual. For it is first of all to be believed, that the Lord is the God of heaven and earth, and that He is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, infinite, and one with the Father. It is necessary that these things should be known; and so far as they are mere knowledge, they are historical; and historical faith causes the Lord to be present, because it is an intuition of the Lord from the nature of His Divinity. But still that faith does not save, until a man lives the life of faith, which is charity; for he then wills and does what he believes. And to will and to do pertains to the love; and Him whom faith causes to be present love conjoins. What those miracles which the disciples were to do signified, and those which were done by them in the beginning of the church, as the casting out of demons, speaking with new tongues, and others, may be seen above (AE 915)
God gives faith to everyone, but those only receive it who practice that love (Swedenborg, Letters 17)
Historically, Paul of Tarsus was a tremendously well suited person to be the Divinely chosen architect of the Christian New Testament Doctrine that has stood now for 20 centuries. Today’s evangelical work is still almost exclusively centered in Pauline doctrine. His education and training prepared him for the ability to construct an intellectual edifice for justifying the Christian Messiah, using the precise language and thought of Old Testament sectarianism as rendered by Moses. Paul was in the Moses-phase of religion when he was persecuting his fellow Jews who had become the new Christian converts. He then stepped into the Paul-phase of religious behavior after his vision of the Lord and heavenly things, and he was instantly converted thereby, as is recounted in the Book of Acts in the New Testament. From a Jew, He became a Christian. Overnight, his spiritual consciousness rose from phase 1 to phase 2. This is not the normal case of course, since people are not taken up to heaven in spirit, as he was. His conscious vision of the spiritual world turned him into a scientific dualist. This was the reality he had seen. It was not a dream or a theory. Heaven was a real thing. There are two worlds. In his Moses phase of consciousness, Paul did not know this. There was nothing in his Jewish faith to indicate to him that the spiritual world and the natural world are synchronous, existing now, together. Beliefs based on the Old Testament expect the afterlife to be at the end of the world, at the resurrection of the dead, who in the meantime are sleeping souls somewhere.
There was no consciousness of the idea that when people die, they undergo resuscitation within a few hours, and begin their new life as a spirit. The Lord revealed this to His disciples, but since it went contrary to their tradition, they were unable to receive it, as explained in this passage from the Writings:
People after death - who are then called spirits or, if they have led good lives, angels - are utterly amazed at what the member of the Church believes about himself. For he believes that he will not see eternal life until the last day when the world is destroyed, and that at that time he will be reclothed with the dust that has been cast away; when yet one who belongs to the Church knows that he rises again after death. For who does not say, when someone dies, that his soul or spirit is in heaven, or in hell? Who does not say about his young children who have died that they are in heaven? Who does not comfort a person who is [incurably] sick or one who is condemned to death by saying that shortly he will enter the next life? And one who is in the throes of death and has been prepared for it does not believe anything different. Indeed such a conviction about a person's rising again after he has died is what leads many to claim that they have the power to release others from places of condemnation and to admit them into heaven, and to say masses for their souls. Is anyone unacquainted with what the Lord said to the robber, 'Today you will be with Me in paradise', Luke 23:43, or with what the Lord said about the rich man and Lazarus, that the former was carried off into hell, whereas the latter was taken by the angels into heaven, Luke 16:22, 23? Or is anyone unacquainted with what the Lord taught about the resurrection when He said that God is not the God of the dead but of the living, Luke 20:38? (AC 5078)
But now Paul was granted a supernatural experience of direct sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world. He instantly became a dualist, knowing from empirical observation that there are two synchronous worlds, natural and spiritual, and that we move from one to the other. We do not need to wait for a general resurrection of the dead in order to enter heaven. Every individual enters the spiritual world upon death. Paul now had the science that there exists a spiritual world and that that’s the place of the afterlife. Paul saw the Lord who had recently gone through the death experience, and the Lord was now in His own Kingdom ministering to all the departed souls. Ah, so this was the Lord’s magnificent mansions He promised His followers. It is right here and now, in heaven. It is not in the future, when the natural world should end and all the dead rise together to take up their new life.
Ah, so this is what the Lord meant when He said to the man on the cross who was next to Him, “Today you will be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) The Lord said “Today” -- not in the future when all the dead should rise. And, Ah, this is what the Lord meant when He explained that God “is not the God of the dead but of the living (Matthew 22:33). And, yes, this is what people mean when their child dies and they say that it is now with the angels in heaven. People don’t think that their child is asleep in limbo somewhere, but now, right now, the child is in heaven with God. People are given some perception of reality in relation to their departed child. For now they become synchronous dualists and forget about the general resurrection of the dead in some future era.
And so everyone can become a scientific dualist and move up in consciousness, like Paul, from phase 1 to phase 2. But not like Paul in method, for direct sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world today would interfere with the development of our rational consciousness of God called the Holy Spirit. Today God protects us from witnessing miracles, supernatural apparitions, spirit possessions, or otherworldly visions as in the days of old. The Writings explain why God has to protect us from these sensuous demonstrations of His existence and power. God wants us to know Him with our rationally spirituality so that He can elevate us to His Heaven, and He can do this only after He implants and develops our rational ideas and understanding of Him. This is why He has now revealed Himself in His Divine Rational. The Writings as True Science bring to humans the ideas about the Divine Human Person and how He creates and administers the universe. In it is in these ideas that He can come to us in His Divine Rational Presence or Holy Spirit. When we acquire this rational consciousness of Him we begin to live with His constant daily co-Presence in everything we think and will. It is in this rational consciousness of His constant co-Presence in which He can insert the heavenly life.
You can see therefore why God protects us from direct sensuous consciousness of Him while we are on earth and still developing and maturing our rational consciousness. Once we make the transition, our spirit-body is ready for heavenly life. At that instant we receive direct sensuous consciousness of heavenly life and we can perceive the miracles of His influx and the instantaneous creation of the environment by correspondences. Then we have an angelic life, having developed our rational consciousness here on earth, and receiving the new sensuous consciousness of heaven in the afterlife. It cannot be done in the reverse order. Hence it is that miracles, spirit communication, and otherworldly visions are not allowed today. Instead, rational consciousness gives the apperception that every event in our life and environment is a miracle, and we can see God from the Back Parts, as Moses did, in hindsight, understanding His Divine Providence but not being able to predict it in advance or to control it.
By not demanding predictable miracles, we strengthen our reliance on rational revelations in Sacred Scripture. Through this reliance on Divine Truth in the Word, one gains in rationality since one is closer to the Divine Truth than before. Reliance on the revealed Divine Truth brings us closer to that truth, hence to God who is the source of that truth, consequently closer to Him. It is Divine Truth in our understanding that enlightens and raises our spiritual consciousness, but the amount of the rise is proportional to our rational understanding of it and our rational love for it. To love Divine Truth means to have it in the will, that is, to think it and not to think contrary to it, and to do it and not to act contrary to it. Divine Truth understood rationally raises spiritual consciousness, and this to the extent of the interiorness of the rationality – whether natural, spiritual, or celestial. This depth depends on our will, or the extent of our love for the Divine Truth that we receive in our understanding. This love for the truth is proportional to the extent that we live according to our understanding of it. We can know the truth but it shall not make us free until we put it in our will, and live it.
The central idea of the Mosaic religion, in which Paul had been extensively trained, was that we become impure and unsavory to God when we commit sins, unless we follow God's precise laws about ritual purification from sin. And this meant animal sacrifices, an ancient practice that was widespread in the middle east at around the time when the Hebrews, having left behind their slavery in Egypt, were to conquer the Land of Canaan (or Holy Land). The Book of Leviticus (Old Testament) is replete with very precise instructions about when to sacrifice, what animals to sacrifice, how to prepare them for the kill, what to do with the blood, how to dispose of the carcass, which parts to eat and which to burn, and many other details of timing and accompanying mandatory ritual procedures. To depart from the prescribed ritual sometimes meant instant death. To the external worship of the natural mind, this concrete physical act of killing animals ritually, was required as evidential proof before one could feel really forgiven and pure once more. This level of relationship with God is external. It is not yet spiritual because not yet rational. God is a rational spirit, the only True Human in whose image we are created. Therefore to actually relate to Him, we must be at the rational level of thinking and loving. Prior to this step in spiritual development, God has to relate to people by means of physical rituals, especially involving blood and sacrifice.
At the time of the Lord on earth, and the few years following during which Paul wrote the Epistles to the Churches, sacrifices were still being practiced on a daily basis at the Temple in Jerusalem. Some of today's Orthodox Jews in Israel have declared that they support a return to animal sacrifices. These are actually still being practiced in parts of Islam today, as we can witness on CNN television (e.g., in Iran and Afghanistan). The external fundamentalist thinking gets immersed in this corporeal level of worship unless the corporeal involvement is transcended, and one enters the new mode of thinking that is the New Testament mode. It occurs in every religion whose doctrine is literalist or fundamentalist. I am not suggesting that people who belong to Islam or Judaism must convert to Christianity. I am discussing here universal or pan-human spiritual evolution of the human race. Every religion is an adequate venue for providing its adherents all three phases of spirituality—fundamentalism (phase 1), universalism (phase 2), and True Science (phase 3). The Writings reveal that all religions have their heavens for the adherents who have undergone character reformation through their faith. Swedenborg visited the heavens of Christians, Muslims, and Jews.
As well, those who live contrary to the dictates of their religion, whatever it may be, are in the hells. Whether we end up in the heavens or in the hells is not determined by our religion. It is determined by the level of our spirituality, which refers to the extent to which we love good and have made good a habit in our character. The Writings reveal that God makes sure that every person knows what is good and therefore can love it or turn away from it. If they love the good that God reveals to them, they are forming a character in their spirit-body which can live in heaven. If they do not love the good that God reveals to them, they then love the good that they seem to themselves to have, and this is not good but evil. Therefore they love evil and call it good. But when they arrive in the afterlife, they are forced to call it what it is, evil in themselves they are unwilling to let go. Thus they sink of their own accord into a life of hell and insanity forever.
A case in point is my own history. I was born an orthodox Jew in Rumania in 1938. By the time I studied in college (at McGill University in Montreal, Canada) I counted myself as an agnostic-atheist kind of thing. At age 40 I felt drawn again to the Old Testament and to my childhood prayers and chants. However, I was not drawn to establish my membership in any Jewish church. This was strictly a private and personal development. Three years later I read the New Testament for the first time. I became a dualist overnight. What the Old Testament couldn’t do for me, the New Testament did instantly. For the first time I understood what faith meant. It was not something distant, traditional, and tribal, but something close by and personal. That suited me well. I saw that there is a natural and a spiritual. I started living in the hope and certitude of resurrection and everlasting life. I could understand that we are immortal spirits and that my future in eternity depended on how I lived my life here. Religion became an actual thing, a scientific thing, a rational thing. Sin was not a theoretical something designated by God who won’t forgive unless you placate Him. Sin was my thinking and intending, when it was contrary to the Lord. I was thus able to move out of the Moses phase and into the Paul phase of consciousness and understanding. I was saved. Thank you Lord. Now I knew what to live for, and how. Cynicism and dread vanished, replaced by reality and optimism.
In my mind I did not have to change my religion in order to make this ascension in my own consciousness. I now called myself a Christian Jew (or Messianic Jew) and I still saw myself in the afterlife as a Jew. I did not “convert” from Judaism to Christianity. Rather, I deepened my spiritual consciousness, raising it to a more rational and scientific level. I say rational and scientific because what else can you call it and accurately reflect the actuality? I had gained new knowledge about reality, vital knowledge I needed to know in order to act appropriately and avoid the dread and horror of hell. This was not a ritual but a character change, the learning of new skills of self-science and the science of the spiritual world. As a scientist I became a dualist. It would have been inconceivable to me to keep this new knowledge isolated for my religion and not let it affect my scientific work. My science expanded in scope to meet my expanded notion of reality.
One year later I found the Writings and began to read it as the new Word of God, the Divine Truth of the Second Coming. Within a few weeks the new knowledge elevated my spiritual consciousness to phase 3. It is from this new perspective that this presentation is given. My point therefore is that, as the Lord took me through the three phases of religion, I was not required that I change my childhood religion. In phase 3 spiritual consciousness, religion itself is no longer a practice in the sense that it was in earlier phases. Look at the names for the three phases: Ritual Faith, Mystical Faith, and Rational Faith (True Science). In the last phase the Threefold Word of God becomes a science text because it is the source of endless knowledge about scientific dualism – the structure of the mind, the mapping of the spiritual world, the relationship between the two, the inner invisible construction of objects in the natural world in terms of substances from the spiritual Sun, information about life in the heavens and the hells, the rational laws by which God manages the universe, and many other things.
Now, since it has been granted me to be in the spiritual world and in the natural world at the same time, and thus to see each world and each sun, I am obliged by my conscience to communicate these things. For of what use is knowledge unless it be communicated? (Swedenborg, ISB 18)
This new knowledge revealed by God is True Science. Swedenborg reports that the angels in heaven do not have a religion, but they know True Science from the Threefold Word of God, and they can confirm every detail by observation and experience. My entrance into phase 3 consciousness took place when I began to see that the Threefold Word of God is a comprehensive and complete scientific revelation, a supreme gift to humanity from the only True Scientist, the Creator Himself who has revealed Himself to humanity as the Divine Human Person in His Divine Rational Mind, whereby we are saved and made immortal in heaven. Rational spirituality is to acknowledge, understand, and love this Divine Human Rational. While the Lord was on earth, growing up as Child, He created mental pathways for all human beings to traverse from inherited hell to attained heaven. Now these pathways are in place and every individual anywhere can traverse the path that leads to eternal life in the Divine Human Person.
You can call it Rational Faith or True Science, for are these two not the same? When I first read in the Writings that faith is truth and truth is faith, I was amazed. Until then my culturally received idea had been that the word faith means belief rather than fact or truth. What kind of faith is equal to truth? That kind of faith which is rational and scientific. Those who are of the New Church and acknowledge the Writings as the Word of the Second Coming, may be taken aback at this notion that rational faith is True Science. I believe this is a reaction from tradition and is understandable. There is also a certain fear that if the Writings are presented to the world as scientific revelations, the world would reject the Writings and discredit what appears on the surface to be outdated science from the 18th century. Wishing to avoid the Writings from being rejected as outdated science, the New Church mind wants to deny that the Writings are a scientific revelation, but wish to assert instead that the Writings are a religious or theological revelation.
It is my position that the Writings are both. Which is why I define True Science as the scientific revelations of the Threefold Word. In other words, I’m making the same claim about the Old and New Testament as well. Each of the three Testaments of the Threefold Word constitute scientific revelations at their own level of thinking. The Old Testament introduces rational spirituality by establishing the duality between God and creation, including human beings of course. The acceptance of this duality makes the mind more rational because it is the truth and reality. Prior to this concept of omnipotent monotheism there were all sorts of irrational beliefs regarding multiple gods, animism, or the belief that everything is alive, and nonduality, or the belief that human beings are gods or are God. The Old Testament also reveals that God is a Person who feels love towards every human being, and sometimes anger, so we ought to fear God and obey His Commandments. This God-human interaction enlarges the rationality of the mind and keeps it closer to truth and reality. It prepares the human mind for science still to come, which requires abstract thinking developed by education and training.
The second step in spiritual rationality is created in the human mind by the ideas of the New Testament, which enlarges the scope of scientific revelations beyond what they were in the Old Testament. The scientific revelations in the New Testament are more precise and a discrete degree higher in rationality. The New Testament reveals God as a Visible Human Person motivated solely by love. Scientific details of the afterlife abound in the New Testament while they are almost completely absent in the Old Testament. This establishes the new spiritual rationality of the New Testament to be a discrete degree above that of the Old Testament. Now the human race on earth expands its rationality to include the dual existence – flesh and spirit. This duality prepares the mind for the abstractions of modern science. If you can think of “spirit” as a reality that is not part of the natural world, you are greatly expanding your capacity to think of modern concepts like energy, quantum, space-field, relativity, natural law – all of whom depend on the mind’s ability to think with absolute or categorical dualities (mass vs. energy, particle vs. wave, vacuum vs. field, absolute speed vs. relative speed, universal application vs. local application).
Take for example the idea of the Holy Spirit, revealed in the New Testament. This is the name for the Divine Truth that is given to the human race by the Visible Divine Human Person (Jesus). When we reflect in a scientific way on the concept of the Holy Spirit, we are led to a great expansion of our rational understanding of the universe and we prepare our mind for further great scientific discoveries. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth, and it is asserted that it is the Spirit of Jesus. In other words the Holy Spirit is Jesus, the Visible Divine Human Person born on earth, in whom there is the invisible infinite Divine Father Creator. This is what the New Testament renders repeatedly, e.g., “The Father and I are one” and “If you’ve seen Me you’ve seen the Father” and in other ways. As you continue to analyze this scientifically you are led to all sorts of rational issues that need to be worked out. Mentioning just one here, I would point to the difficulty of the idea that a Visible Divine Human Person called Jesus, born on this earth, could now be in the mind of every human being as the Holy Spirit. This is of course the result of Divine omnipresence, which in itself is a rational idea that expands the mind still further. It’s different with the Old Testament where we think of the Father Creator as infinite and invisible. This lesser picture of God is less realistic, less scientifically accurate. The New Testament brings the rational process a discrete degree further by creating an order in the mind of the human race that encapsulates this invisible Father Creator in the Visible Body of Jesus. God is infinite in both within Himself and outside of Himself.
The New Testament also rationalizes the afterlife and brings it into the open. It reveals that heaven and hell are states of the human mind and that they already exist there. They are not places where you go in this world but states of mind in which you live in the afterlife. This tremendously enlarges our rationality for until then it was believed that heaven is a natural place in the natural world after it is destroyed and recreated as a suitable environment for the Kingdom of God. But now the New Testament reveals otherwise. Heaven is already here in your mind. You are already immortal. You determine your fate by how you live. How you live within your mind matters more than how you live outside with your body, for the mind is immortal, but not the body. These scientific details in the New Testament prepare the human race for the Age of Reason in the 18th century. It is significant to note that the Renaissance, which prepared the way for the Age of Reason, was stimulated in a central way by the New Testament rationality – Virgin birth, Divine Child, Holy Spirit, Last Supper, Resurrection, Ascension.
The Age of Reason created a rational environment that allowed the introduction and survival of an entirely new ascended rationality called the Second Coming of the Lord to the human race. The scientific revelations of the Writings created and established True Science. This is the third and final step of the race’s ascendancy to full fledged spiritual rationality. This is the true essence and destiny of the human race, for each individual to ascend to the top of their human mind, and there to encounter an eternal heaven with all others. This is the final frontier, the Crown of Churches, the ultimate of scientific revelation. All the puzzles that mystify us in the New Testament rationality are now laid out in the open, explained, connected from first to last. We now know the inside structure of every object. We now know that chain of mechanisms that run the universe by laws of correspondences across discrete degrees. We now know the secrets of the human psyche, its ties to the hells, and to the heavens in a vertical community that encompasses all of humanity. Endless series of scientific ideas are enfolded in the sacred scriptural style of the Threefold Word, to be extracted by endless numbers of future generations.
This New Church, truly Christian, which at this day is being established by the Lord, will endure to eternity, as is proved from the Word of both Testaments; also it was foreseen from the creation of the world; and it will be the crown of the four preceding churches, because it will have true faith and true charity. (Swedenborg, CORONIS 0)
Much of the resistance to the idea that the Threefold Word is science, comes from all sorts of false ideas about science that we acquire along the way from many sources in our culture. I’ve been a professional career scientist and professor for more than four decades now. One thing I know well is science, scientists, scientific method, scientific reports, history of science, philosophy of science, statistics, research methods, scientific analysis, scientific assessment, and much more. Therefore I use the expression “True Science” in that careful way that scientists analyze their subject matter. The subject matter is God and how God creates and manages every scientific phenomenon and property. If you tell a scientist in a lab that the building is being subjected to abnormal gravitational pull that affects the experiment being run, would not the scientist say, “What makes you think so?” and would not the scientist consider the information offered about the building’s special condition? Scientists are influenced and convinced by rational arguments involving observational data and theoretical meaning built up by a prior history of research on the topic. Here the topic is how God influences and determines the phenomena that scientists study and attempt to control.
Scientific revelations have now been given by God to humanity in the form of the Writings of Swedenborg. These revelations meet all the criteria of scientific assessment -- theoretical, observational, and rational. Therefore an unprejudiced scientist would lay aside current traditions not rationally justified, and investigate the scientific revelations in the Writings. I have done this now for over two decades of intensive research. I have critically examined the scientific revelations in the Writings – about 30 volumes -- which I was competent to assess from the perspective of the science of psychology and human behavior. And my conclusion is that these scientific revelations meet all the requirements of science in incorporating its data and explanations into science.
While I was doing this critical analysis of the Writings, my scientific work has become dualist and theistic. This refers to the fact that my scientific thinking now takes into account God’s role in the phenomena that psychology studies. The exact nature of this role has been revealed in the True Science of the Threefold Word, so that I can make rational use of this information in constructing psychological explanations for human behavior. I started my scientific career drilled in the fundamentalist sectarian phase of thinking. Anything that consisted in any way of dualist category must not be addressed or acknowledged in science. The idea of God as a co-participant in determining events was not allowed in any scientific research or writing. If God was so mentioned, it was automatically excluded and ridiculed. As a career conscious individual I learned to stay the course of atheistic science.
Scientists who go to church, synagogue, or mosque and engage in ritual prayer offered to God, are splitting their intellectual self into two – weekend and weekday, or daytime and evening. During the week they do their work within the atheistic framework. During the weekend they behave as believers and worshippers. Thus, their science is not fully genuine. It is not true science that considers things rationally, not politically or traditionally. In the future this scientific schizophrenia will surely disappear and scientists will speak with a single tongue and a dualist perspective. You can see that true science concerns itself with what’s truly real, not what’s imagined. The monist science of today deals with an imaginary universe, in utter ignorance or darkness as to what’s real. What’s real has been revealed by God, the only One who can reveal it, for God is the only reality. Exclusion of God from the study of reality and its phenomena does not make rational sense. The universe has reality only because it is God who is upholding its framework and managing its evolution. True Science is therefore theistic since this the true reality.
But true science can only be reached through stages. It is the third phase of spiritual development in the individual. Every individual starts life in phase 1 consciousness (zones 1, 2, 3), which is corporeal and sensuous in zones 1 and 2. The level of thinking and feeling in that state is pre-rational, therefore pre-spiritual and pre-human. We appear human as we grow up, become socialized, and begin life as an adult in our own right. We begin a career, we get married, we parent children. Surely all this is the work of humans, is it not? I imagined so myself, never doubting it, until I started reading the Writings. There it is revealed that we only appear to be human in this natural state of mind. Outwardly we perform complex physical and intellectual activities, to an extent that no animal can even begin to match us. But this only proves that we are by far the most intelligent of the animals on this planet – as science books in public education generally teach today.
In the early states of phase 1 level of operation we are no more than clever animals. We do not have true rationality, which only begins with phase 2 level of thinking and willing. What does it take for the individual to move up from phase 1 to phase 2 thinking and perspective? The answer is dualism. When we make our religion and our science one thing, reconciling science with the Word of God, then we enter phase 2 consciousness and understanding of Divine Truth. It is understanding Divine Truth that raises consciousness, and the more interiorly we understand it, the higher our consciousness is raised, and consequently, our level of loving, thinking, and living. The Writings reveal that it is impossible for human beings to discover anything whatsoever about Divine Truth. The only method God has provided for humanity to know Divine Truth is by revelation in His Word or Sacred Scripture. The Threefold Word is Sacred Scripture. It is God’s revelation of Divine Truth to the human race. God allows us to appropriate Divine Truth to ourselves when we acknowledge the Threefold Word as Divine Truth, strive to understand it rationally, and love it enough to apply it to our daily willing and thinking. As we appropriate more and more of Divine Truth, which is infinite and endless, we grow in consciousness, and from animal we become human, and from human we become angelic. It is in this heavenly state that we are truly human. This heavenly state begins with phase 3 and goes on endlessly to eternity.
While we are in phase 1 mode of living and being, our external mind appears sane and logical even as our internal mind is insane. The Writings reveal this amazing fact about human beings. We are insane on the inside; sane on the outside. The sanity of the outside is not caused by the insanity of the inside, for this would be impossible and is not rational. Rather, the sanity of the outside is maintained by God despite the insanity on the inside. If God did not do this, no one born on earth could be regenerated for heaven. Instead, every individual born on earth would quickly end up in hell. There would hardly be any human life left. People would live like animals, produce offspring and after a few short years, wake up in hell. This would not be a human universe, or a universe for humans. It is for this rational motive that God maintains our sanity on the outside, despite the insanity on the inside. God cannot remove the insanity on the inside, as already explained, because freedom of choice would be lost, and without this, we cannot become human.
God therefore works to maintain a sense of freedom in our internal self so that we can think as we please and love as we wish. At the same time, God ceaselessly urges and unconsciously prods every individual to remove the spiritual insanity. God gives the individual the power to remove the insanity. More accurately, God Himself removes the insanity to the extent that the individual gives free consent to it. Such is the great insanity of our generation that few people are willing to give consent. Thence it is that, as Swedenborg witnessed, many who arrive in the world of spirits quickly sink into hell, and only few rise to heaven. Phase 1 thinking leads to hell so it must be left behind, transcended as soon as possible in one’s biography.
To leave the old paradigm of phase 1, we must adopt a new thinking about Sacred Scripture that takes its departure from the idea that the Word of God is written in spiritual symbolism or correspondence. The New Testament repeatedly refers to Old Testament concepts and gives them a new spin, a universalist application, away from the old sectarian mind. The New Testament refers to the Moses-phase as "hard hearted" which means the desire to follow the strict literal expression of a Scriptural verse or commandment, rather than its interior spirit or intent. The mind in this external form of reasoning does not think rationally, and wants to excuse one's selfishness and dishonesty by hair-splitting, that is, by making arbitrary distinctions that are convenient for one's side, allowing one to justify not having to change or reform. The Lord in the New Testament accuses humanity of such self-serving bias when He refers to how we ignore the substance, spirit, and intent of religious Law, while busily performing its letter, and thereby claiming righteousness for ourselves. The Lord warns us to amend this outlook by "washing the inside of the platter" and not just the outside.
The outside of the cup or platter is the fundamentalist phase of thinking that wants to be justified by external ritual only. By this means we desire to retain our corrupted thinking inside, along with our pet beliefs and evil loves. The Lord advises us to "sell everything" and follow Him, which means that we must not try to understand spiritual things by means of natural ideas. Natural ideas are the ideas we produce from our self-intelligence and experience. These must be abandoned or “sold.” Spiritual ideas are the ideas we receive from the Word of God. To “follow Him” means to obey His Word, to acknowledge that is Divine Truth revealed to humanity. And then, once the Word is acknowledged, we must order our life accordingly, our outward life of doing and behaving, and our inward life of thinking and willing. Both of these must be reformed by means of the power of Divine Truth in our understanding. This power must be received in our understanding first, then in our willing. If it remains only in our understanding, it is lost.
Paul was brought to face his own sectarianism which he obtained from his education and culture. He was unable to face this in himself throughout the years of the Lord's preachings and miracles. He was hostile to the Lord and furiously persecuted the Lord’s followers. He was in an insane state of mind as shown by the fact that he denied the Lord, who is the Divine Truth itself. At last, he was evidently forced into reality through a supernatural experience in which his internal spiritual mind was opened by the Lord and Paul could see with his own eyes and understanding, the reality of the spiritual realm and of Christ's reign there. No other known person was allowed this experience after Paul, until Swedenborg, seventeen centuries later. In the Writings of Swedenborg we find the answer why this was not allowed. The seventeen centuries between Paul and Swedenborg was a period of evolutionary preparation for the opening of the rational mind of humanity.
At the time of Paul and the Apostles, the only method available for spiritual perception was by prophetic vision, which was the elevation of the natural mind into an abnormal state of inward perception. Of course the natural mind had no way of understanding these spiritual perceptions, since only the rational mind can understand them. The prophets of old did not understand the meaning of their own spiritual visions. Their rational mind had not been opened. They could only perceive the sensuous experience of the vision, but they could not rationally understand it, therefore not spiritually but only naturally. Swedenborg on the other hand was a modern scientist. His mind had been prepared so that his rational was opened by the Lord so he could experience the spiritual world rationally as well as sensually. Swedenborg was the first man in human evolution to have both rational consciousness and sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world. In most ancient times there was a sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world, but not yet a rational one.
In the Writings it is revealed that we have two minds, one external or natural, the other internal and spiritual. Further, this spiritual mind is purely rational by construction. And still further, since Heaven is constructed of purely rational substances called Divine Truths, you can see why the external mind has a natural interpretation of Heaven while the internal spiritual mind has a rational understanding and view of Heaven. The Moses-phase worship is pre-rational or sensual, while the Paul-phase worship is rational. However, you will see that the rational also has an external and an internal. The Paul-phase Christianity is an external rational view, while the Swedenborg-phase Christianity is an internal rational view. Only the latter is fully and purely rational, hence genuine and celestial from God.
Since the early Christians were still in sensual or pre-rational consciousness, all the prophetic visions experienced by the Early Apostolic Church were in the subconscious mind, not the conscious. When Paul was taken up to Heaven, he was like John, "in the spirit" but in a trance. They had to be awakened from their vision, and in this waking conscious state, they were able to report the sights and sounds they could remember, but not the meanings, very much like a vivid dream we describe later. But this is not what happened to Swedenborg. Although he spent a few months in trance like visions at the beginning of his spiritual experiences, at age 57, he quickly learned to be consciously present in both worlds simultaneously, and this for 27 years uninterruptedly, on a daily basis. See this entry quoting him on how this happened:
Here is an important question to consider: What happened in the intervening 17 centuries between Paul and Swedenborg to allow conscious presence of the spiritual, so that Swedenborg was able to be consciously present in the spiritual world while all prior prophets were only in a trance state?
The answer is: Rationality through modern science.
Is that a surprise? The Apostolic mind was pre-scientific and pre-rational, yet science education and perspective is necessary to open the rational mind. Without opening the rational mind, we cannot accept as real anything that is not physical, because the natural mind, which is outside or below the rational mind, is made of natural or physical sensory information exclusively. All abstract ideas based on physical sensory input, remain sensual in meaning despite their abstracted nature. The idea we have of God and Heaven may be abstractly defined but they remain pre-rational or sensual in consciousness. The ideas and concepts of the natural mind are time-bound, space-bound, and identity-bound. Even abstract concepts like "nationalism" and "value" are inherently bound to place or local content. The universal injunction of altruism and the love of the neighbor, is interpreted in a natural sense when we operate at the sensuous or pre-rational level of thinking. God and heaven and hell are interpreted in a natural way, including what is sin and forgiveness.
And when Peter asked Him how many times he should forgive one who sinned against him, whether it should be as many as seven times, He replied:
Not up to seven times, I tell you, but up to seventy times seven times. Matt. 18:21, 22.
I have been told from heaven that the Lord forgives everyone his sins, and never punishes him for them, or even imputes them to him, because He is love itself and good itself. Nevertheless the sins are not wiped away by this, for it is only by repentance that they can be wiped away. For if he told Peter to forgive up to seventy times seven times, is there anything that the Lord Himself would not do? (TCR 409)
All spiritual topics are understood naturally in the pre-rational phase of operation. The Threefold Word is understood naturally. No idea in the natural mind can be spiritual because all spiritual ideas are purely rational and can be formed only in the inner or spiritual mind where spiritual-rational thinking and feeling are operative. For instance, the idea of God in the Moses phase is a natural idea as shown by the fact that we separate self from God. God is a force outside of us. He may be distant or absent, even as natural phenomena play themselves out. In this phase 1 level of religious operation, we want to close this distance to God by doing things that bring God closer, like ritual, prayer and sacrifice. The fact that we have an idea like "God is watching us" or "God knows what I think" indicates that our idea of God is still natural and external. This distinction will become more evident as we continue the discussion. You won't have a distinctly clear view of the Paul-phase until you look back on it from the Swedenborg-phase.
You may experience resistance to the idea that your relationship to your God is not rational and spiritual. But this idea is taught by God in the Threefold Word. God is a spirit and all spiritual operations begin in the spiritual mind, not the natural. But since we have no consciousness except that which we have in the natural mind, we resist the idea that there is another unconscious mind where the spiritual really begins. This appears to us to put God out of our reach and it appears to threaten the relationship we’ve already developed to God and Sacred Scripture. But yet you have the option and capability of considering what is said here in a rational manner, keeping earlier attitudes and definitions apart for awhile, resting in the assurance that what is being said here is enhancing and strengthening your relationship to your God and Sacred Scripture, and in no way threatening or hostile to it, to the Church, to your religion and belief system.
The distinction between sensuous and rational consciousness is taught in the Writings. The natural mind develops from sensory input of the physical environment. This is phase level of thinking because the thinking is ordered and specified by the order and arrangement of the physical world. All the mind does in sensuous consciousness is to create more abstract representations of sensuous information. For instance, in monist science today, a trend has gained momentum in the past century, to consider human consciousness, and the mind generally, as an “emergent phenomenon” produced by the activity of the brain. Note well: this idea of consciousness “emerging” from the brain, is that all the phenomena of the mind, such as thinking, reasoning, perceiving, interpreting, feeling, willing, intending, remembering, etc., come into existence as productions of brain activity. Since brain activity is physical, involving cells, synapses, and electrons, whatever is produced by these physical operations remain physical. This is a logical necessity. Therefore the concept of “emergent” conscious phenomena are nothing but abstractions of the physical operations. These abstractions are natural, in the natural order, because they are produced by natural operations. In this way, scientists have found a convenient way of discussing the mind without haven’t to depart from monism and materialism. This is phase 1 level thinking and reasoning.
But phase 2 level of operation is radically different. Here we acknowledge dualism, that is, that natural is from the natural world, and spiritual is from the spiritual world. Therefore the mind must be dual: the natural mind constructed out of sensory input and its abstractions; the spiritual mind constructed out of the input of rational-spiritual concepts from revelation in Sacred Scripture. The meaning of concepts like mind, consciousness, God, heaven and hell, are now dualist, while this was not possible before in level 1 operation. Phase 2 operation is called “enlightened” because it recognizes a spiritual world within the natural, or, a spiritual world above the natural. Similarly, a spiritual mind within the natural mind, or above it. The spiritual and the natural always act together, tied synchronously to each other by Divine Laws of Correspondence.
Phase 1 level thinking is called pre-rational because the rational begins only within the spiritual. Unless you understand this point clearly, you will continue to experience resistance to what is being said here about the three phases or levels of operation in thinking and feeling. The Writings reveal the many details of the mind’s anatomy. Consider these points from a neutral and logical perspective. The natural mind is a miniature version of the natural world. Scientists, lawyers, and managers in industry and business, use natural logic to make decisions. This kind of thinking can be called natural-rational to distinguish it from spiritual-rational. The natural-rational is also called the external natural because the natural mind is outside of the self, while the spiritual mind is inside. The outside—inside distinction is dualist, which means that they are related in discrete degrees by correspondences. “Discrete degrees” refers to the arrangement of the universe in terms of three levels: natural, spiritual, and celestial. These three levels operate synchronously, or simultaneously, but their interaction is never direct or continuous, but discontinuous. This means that no mater how much you improve in your natural thinking, you cannot enter spiritual thinking. The movement from phase to phase 2 cannot proceed gradually or continuously. At some point in phase 1, one must ”jump” to phase 2 by beginning an entirely new way of operating, unrelated in any way whatsoever to the earlier phase of operation.
This jump in consciousness from phase 1 to phase 2 is achieved by the introduction of rational consciousness, which was not operating in phase 1, or sensuous consciousness. There is a discrete jump between sensuous and rational consciousness. No matter how much you improve in your sensuous consciousness, you cannot enter into rational consciousness. Instead, rational consciousness can be entered by beginning an entirely new type of operation, not possible in the natural mind, but possible in the spiritual mind. The only issue remaining to be understood is by what mechanism or method do we all of a sudden begin this new type of phase 2 operation in the mind.
The answer is that it is God who opens the spiritual mind, unconscious to us, when we fulfill a certain condition or requirement in our phase 1 thinking. That requirement is the acquisition of spiritual-rational concepts from the Threefold Word. The Writings are written in a natural language at a rational or scientific level. To develop rational-spiritual consciousness (phase 2) we must apply the literal meanings of the Threefold Word to our own biography, our own mental states. The Threefold Word is written on the surface in a natural style though its topics are spiritual. Merely understanding the literal meaning of the Threefold Word does not open our spiritual mind. But the moment we apply any of its truths to our own biography, the Lord opens a portion of our spiritual mind. This is the condition or requirement for moving from phase to phase 2 operation. In other words, the “jump” is accomplished by means of an unseen miracle—God operating behind the scenes, activating the spiritual mind which we have by creation or birth. This mind remains closed until we are ready to make the jump. That is, until we are ready to apply Divine Truth from the Word to our willing and thinking every day, every hour. The Lord enlightens us at that point, opening a new level of conscious operation, which was either unconscious before, or totally closed, not yet activated.
Once we are enlightened, we become consciously aware of our new phase 2 consciousness. We are now conscious of the operation of our spiritual mind, to some extent, since this opening is gradual. And remember that there is another jump awaiting us as we move into phase 3, the real human phase where our angelic nature begins. But when we are still in phase 2 operation we become consciously aware of a new type of understanding called “rational consciousness.” We are familiar with “sensuous consciousness” but not with rational consciousness. Note that there are two kinds of sensuous consciousness, one natural, the other spiritual, and both of these are different from rational consciousness, or spiritual-rational consciousness. For instance, when you awaken in the afterlife in your spirit-body, you see yourself on the outside having a body just like before, and seeing other spirits in their spirit-body. The external appearance of the spirit-body to the eyes of the spirit, or new arrival in the world of spirits, is similar to the external appearance of the natural world. This is sensuous consciousness. While on earth attached to the physical body, we have sensuous consciousness of the physical world. While in the world of spirits, we have sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world. Spirits, devils, and angels all have sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world and can see with their eyes around them.
But those who live in the hells have only sensuous consciousness without any rational consciousness. But those who live in the havens have sensuous consciousness as well as rational consciousness.
Sensuous consciousness is automatic from the spirit-body, while rational consciousness is voluntary, depending on our willingness to acknowledge Divine Truth and love it. The devils are not willing to do this. In the spiritual world, rational consciousness determines where we live, that is, in what mental state of thinking and feeling. In fact, the Writings reveal that there are three discrete levels of rational consciousness above the hells. We can be in a spiritual-natural state of thinking and willing, in which case we live in the region of the spiritual world called the “natural heaven” (also, the “First Heaven”). The inhabitants at that level of operation are called “good spirits.” One discrete level of thinking above this is called the “spiritual heaven” (also, the “Second Heaven”), and its inhabitants are called “angelic spirits.” Finally, at the highest level of rational consciousness, the thinking and feeling is called “celestial-rational” and the inhabitants in that mental state are called “angels” (also, the “Third Heaven”). These details are revealed in the Writings.
You can see therefore that in order to achieve heavenly life of any sort you must develop you rational consciousness before you pass on so that your spirit-body has the capacity to rise instead of sinking in the spiritual world. And the only way that God has provided for the development of rational consciousness is by means of revelations in Sacred Scripture. As we begin studying the Word from a natural perspective, we acquire a concept of God, and of heaven and hell, that are dualist. This opens our mind to be dualist, which means that both our natural mind and our spiritual mind are being opened and made operational by God. However, this occurs only to the extent that we love and live the truths we learn from the Word. The Lord waits until we begin to reform our life according to His Word, and once we do, He opens our rational consciousness of Him and our journey towards Him. As we continue our reformation and regeneration, that is, our character reformation according to the Word of God, our level of thinking is raised to the spiritual level more an more, and eventually to the celestial level. Then for the first time we become truly human, truly rational, truly spiritual.
When our mind becomes educated and we learn to think abstractly with natural concepts, we prepare ourselves for the opening of the rational mind, which alone can perceive spiritual things given that spiritual things are purely rational. Paul was an educated man, knowing Aristotle, Plato, Socrates. And yet, neither the Ancient Greek scholars nor Paul were able to think rationally, but only naturally. Aristotle's God was an abstraction of the natural--it was pre-rational. Plato's realm of the ideal and the divine were abstracted natural ideas, no different from science fiction stories about advanced civilizations and psychic powers of time travel or simultaneous alternate realities. There is nothing spiritual in them, because nothing rational, only something abstract derived form the natural. This assertion cannot be understood unless you allow for the physiology of the mind revealed in the Writings of Swedenborg. The external mind is purely natural, the internal mind is purely spiritual. As well, the spiritual consists of substances in the spiritual world streaming from the Spiritual Sun. This Sun is the Lord's Proceeding and He can be seen visually in the midst of this Sun by the inhabitants of the Heavens. Swedenborg has actually seen this many times and has discussed the phenomenon with the celestial inhabitants. The light streaming out of this Sun is Divine Truth in substance and the heat streaming out within it is Divine Love in substance.
These two Divine substances are purely rational and create the atmosphere and life of Heaven. Only those can live in this atmosphere whose internal rational mind has been opened and matured through religion and science while still living on earth. Without these revelations about the inner mind and the character of Heaven no one could form purely rational ideas of the spiritual realities and thus be prepared for life in Heaven. When we arrive in the other world (a few hours after the death of the body), we either rise to Heaven with our rational mind, or sink into hell with our natural mind. Sensuous consciousness of the spirit-body is granted all spirits, but those who have a rational consciousness within the sensuous, can rise to heavenly life. Those who have resisted and rejected the rational-spiritual ideas of the Word, arrive without an internal rational consciousness, so they cannot avid sinking down in the corporeal regions of the mind, which constitute the hells in the spiritual world.
It should be mentioned here that the rational mind in heaven is encased in a corresponding spiritual body that provides every sensual experience that the physical body had, but far more perfectly and intensely. No rational mind can exist except as tied to a sensual body . The rational exists within the sensual, and the two make up heavenly happiness, bliss, and pleasure. Those who arrive with their rational mind unopened remain in their natural mind. The spiritual body they then have corresponds to their natural mind within which there is no rational mind opened or functioning. Hence the experiences they have are purely sensual as projected by this spiritual body. While the environment of the heavenly inhabitants is bright, warm, beautiful, varied, and artistic, the environment of the hellish inhabitants is dark, cold, horrendous, homogenous, and utterly lacking in aesthetic interest. They see around them what their corporeal minds project in fantasy and delusion. Their nightmarish lot is unenviable, especially since it gets worse and worse for them as they continue to mature forever inside delusions and irrationalities.
I will discuss the true rational when we get to the third inner Swedenborg-phase or the phase of True Science. For now, we are still dealing with Paul within the context of his natural mind, and what he had to accomplish intellectually to justify the Christian faith to Jewish men. Paul was led by the Lord to engineer a rational justification for dualism in the Lord that was plainly taught in the New Testament Gospels. Note that what caused Paul’s conversion from the Moses phase to phase 2, was a miraculous non-ordinary experience of direct sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world. He was taken up to the “third heaven” and he witnessed by means of his spirit-body senses what was there. This sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world is not given to others because it interferes with the development of rational consciousness. Paul had a special mission to accomplish, like Moses and Swedenborg, which was to justify intellectually for others, who God was. They were all three taken up to heaven, that is, they received sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world as well as the natural world. But others are not give to do this, and are discouraged from even striving to do it. The Writings explain why miracles are not allowed by the Lord in today’s modern world. The reason is that miracles are sensuous demonstrations of spiritual power, and this is harmful to the development of rational consciousness. Instead, the Lord has given the Holy Spirit, which is a rational concept, not physical or natural. It is by means of this rational concept that we acquire spiritual consciousness. It is the Holy Spirit acting within us when we acknowledge it. This is the rational method of knowing God. This is the method the angels use to know God. The Holy Spirit cannot be seen with the sensuous eyes but only with the rational perception of rational consciousness.
In the Moses phase the expression :”Spirit of God” is used instead of “Holy Spirit” as you can determine by comparing the Old and New Testament expressions. The expression “Spirit of God” belongs to phase 1 and is a natural idea, whereas the expression “Holy Spirit” belongs to phase 2 and is a spiritual idea.
When Paul’s sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world was opened, he was no longer able to hold on to his cherished Moses-phase idea that the afterlife comes in the future, on this earth, when the Messiah's trumpet wake up the bones and skeletons of all the dead, and miraculously covers them with the flesh that belonged to them before their death. This natural idea of the afterlife is received from the Old Testament when it is read literally and naturally (e.g., as in Ezekiel who had a sensuous vision of the bones being raised and covered with flesh again). Paul could no longer hold on to the literal interpretation of the Old Testament Prophets because he witnessed the existence of the spiritual world and its population of people who have departed from this life and had left their bodies behind to rot and disappear in the ground or in the ocean. He then understood that there is not going to be an end of the natural world, to be succeeded by the beginning of the spiritual world. He entered the dualist reality, thus phase 2 thinking. He now understood that those passages in the Prophets about “going to sleep” at death and then resurrecting with the bones, is not to be taken literally and naturally, but rationally and spiritually. The resurrection of the bones in the graves refers actually to the resuscitation of the individual in the spirit-body. It is the spirit-body that is called the flesh, for this is alive, while the copse and the bones, are not alive and are long gone forever, disintegrated back into the physical universe.
But Paul could not use his new sensuous dualism as a justification for Jews to switch from the sectarian and natural Moses phase to the New Testament spiritual phase of personalism with the Lord. Paul could not convert people on the basis of his sensuous consciousness and witnessing of the spiritual world. This was not the central thesis by which he forged a justification for the Christian religion. Rather, he was led by the Lord to formulate an intellectual justification for it, that was able to build up the rational consciousness of the believers, at least up to one higher level, namely the First and Second Heavens, which rely on rational consciousness of a relative less internal level than full celestial-rational consciousness (Third Heaven).
Paul’s Divinely appointed mission was to create a rational doctrine that seemingly took its departure point from the ritual sacrifices that formed the basis of the religion of his contemporaries, but taking it one step higher in rationality by arguing that these sacrifices were only symbolic and pointing to the real sacrifice, that of Jesus on the cross. This new rational and symbolic insight was made Providentially easy for Paul because the Old Testament in several key places anticipates the Paul-phase of religion and talks in a veiled way about the future coming of Christ, that is, of the opening of humanity’s rational consciousness, which is the beginning of true spirituality. Paul and all the subsequent Christian doctrinal writers have focused and explored the symbolic foreshadowing of Christ's Coming. One such figure is Melchizedek, another is the spiritual Son of David, another the Child that is born unto us whose name shall be God, Mighty Counselor, and another the woman's seed that shall bruise the head of the serpent. The Lord Himself discussed the symbol of John the Baptist as Elijah the prophet, whom the Jews by ancient tradition considered the Messiah's forerunner.
Most importantly, Paul strengthened the connection between the ancient Mosaic sacrifices and the crucifixion of Christ. Without this explicit connection, would the people in an external worship be capable of accepting the new internal faith? Many were not. Centuries later, contemporary Jews are still unwilling to accept this connection. The pre-rational Jews converted by Paul insisted on the identification of Christ's crucifixion and shedding of His Blood with the atonement of their inherited sins. The language of symbolism in the New Testament allows for this connection, as in the Holy Supper ritual that Christ initiated and commanded. He broke bread and said, This is My Body. He poured wine and said, This is My Blood. To eat his Body spiritually symbolized to acknowledge and live by His commandments. To drink His Blood spiritually symbolized to do this through spiritual truths as revealed by the Lord Himself outwardly while He was still on earth, and then inwardly, in the mind, by the Holy Spirit, after His Resurrection and Ascension. This inward revelation was the new rational consciousness of the Paul-phase of religious behavior. Henceforth the proof of God's presence was not the external miracle seen by physical eyes but the internal voice of the Holy Spirit seen only by the rational mind.
The early Christians were in a transition phase between the natural mind and its external worship and the rational mind and its internal worship. All internal worship exists only within some external worship. The difference is that the Moses-phase worship is natural worship within which there is no internal worship, while the Paul-phase worship is external worship within which is spiritual worship. The Lord's closest followers appear to have been alternately in both minds on different occasions. They were capable, like Peter and Thomas, to be elevated in their conscious understanding that it was God who was standing before them, yet they could not hold on to this level of consciousness, because their minds were still pre-scientific and not rational. In response, they did the only thing possible in that intermediary state of mind. They divided God into two: the Father and the Son.
This intellectual subterfuge succeeded for awhile and allowed them to slowly extirpate themselves from the purely natural mind. It was a neat and logical solution, though not quite rational: God the Father was the invisible universal presence and force, creator of everything. God the Son was the visible God, and the two together made one Godhead. Later a third God was added, namely the Holy Spirit. The Trinity thus became Three Persons in One Godhead--an idea of God that is natural and corporeal, not spiritual or rational. This natural idea of the Trinity prevented subsequent generations from evolving a rational mind within religion. As a result, many more centuries had to pass until the development of the rational mind through another means, not directly from religion, but indirectly from science. This new paradigm was initiated by Swedenborg's Writings, which is called the Second Coming of God.
Each of the three Divine Persons had his own area of functioning. God the Father was the Creator. God the Son was the Redeemer. God the Holy Spirit was the Sanctifier or Regenerator, involved in our thoughts and feelings, preparing us for life in Heaven. This Trinity of Three Divine Persons was not rational, since rationally only One God is possible and thus only one Divine Person. To substitute one “Godhead of Three Persons” for “one God,” is thus to take a point of view that resists the further opening of the rational mind. The Writings reveal and confirm by data that the idea of Three Divine Persons necessarily dissolves into the idea of Three Gods, and this idea destroys the further opening of the rational. The Church Fathers saw this issue to some extent since they added to the creed the statement that though our lips say Three Persons we must not think Three Gods but One God. But this is not possible since the logic of the mind falls back on three Gods if there are three Divine Persons. The Church doctrinal philosophers over the centuries called this a mystery that the human mind cannot understand. But it is not a mystery, just an irrational concept.
Paul's edifice was built on more than one Divine Person, and this allowed him to develop the Doctrine of Justification by Faith, and not by Works. The fundamentalist external worship based on ritual, which the Lord calls Pharisaic, requires an external event as proof of forgiveness. Paul retained this natural idea, but elevated it to a symbolic form that could receive a spiritual-rational meaning. Christ is the one time Divine sacrifice that was foreshadowed in the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament. Now that Christ has been sacrificed on the Cross, and shed His Divine Blood, God the Father's anger and revulsion at our sinful nature, is propitiated. God the Father no longer sees our sins or our depraved nature and our love of evil and delight in it. The Blood of His innocent and spotless Son, poured out on the Cross, is an acceptable sacrifice that takes care henceforth of all sins, past, present, and future, in all the generations. No more animal sacrifices will be needed. No more Mosaic rituals to follow and earn one's merit, as in the past. Instead, now what's needed is faith, a kind of blind faith, without the rituals of sacrifice.
This inner faith is now saving, not some outer "works" of religion, by which Paul meant the ritual prescriptions and prohibitions enjoined in Mosaic Law. The Paul-phase notion of faith without works is in contrast to the Moses-phase notion of the works of religious rituals to be strictly performed. These religious works no longer had the power to wash sins away and to make one right again with God. Since Christ died on the Cross these same works are no longer efficacious, but faith is. This faith is faith in the Risen Christ as Divine.
Paul outlined the entire Old Testament history and re-cast it into this new view. He thus elevated the literal meaning of the Old Testament to a more spiritual level by focusing on their rational and symbolic meaning, like the "foreshadowing" of Melchizedek as the "Christ figure." Abraham owed his salvation and favor with God on account of Abraham's faith in Him, not on account of any sacrifices and rituals he performed. God was able to forgive Abraham's sins on account of his inner faith in Jehovah as the Divine Person who showed Himself to him through an Angel and adopted him as a spiritual son. Christians can have their sins forgiven, not by sacrifices, not by merit in carrying out the works of the Mosaic Law, but by the intensity of their faith in the inner presence of God as the Holy Spirit. This new mentality required a rational component. The Moses-phase concepts we cherish early in our religious consciousness are exclusively sensual because our consciousness is a sensual consciousness located in the natural mind. We can be educated and talk intelligently and solve technical problems, but these accomplishments are based on knowledge rather than understanding. Understanding is rational and requires the spiritual mind, which is the inner mind, to be opened or activated.
Some Christians today still hanker back to a former sensuous consciousness of the Divine. This trend is a reversal of spiritual progress away from sensuous consciousness and towards rational consciousness. Christians who demand a miracle, or confirm in their mind the miracles performed on stage by preachers, or by means of holy relics and shrines, hurt their rational consciousness which can only be developed through rational faith or belief, that is, belief in God as Spirit, or belief in the Holy Spirit as present rationally, not externally and sensuously. There are no miracles allowed by God today, according to the Writings, and therefore whatever miracles they witness is a self-deception that hurts their rational consciousness or rational faith. The Threefold Word warns that it is a wicked generation that seeks miracles and proof of the spirit, and that what needs to be done is to rely on the Word, that is, on Divine Truth, which is rational, not natural. There is plenty of rational proof of God and spirit that we are given in the Threefold Word.
All genuine spiritual ideas are purely rational, from God through His Word, which is the Rational Itself, also known as Divine Truth. When Christians accept the idea that the Risen Christ is Divine, they form in their mind the purely rational idea of God as the Divine Human with whom you can have a personal relationship like a Father to His children. To sensual consciousness this idea makes no sense whatsoever. How can one person, even if Divine, be present to every individual simultaneously? How can a human, born of a woman, stand before you as the infinite Divine Itself? How can a person you see in front of you take care of the whole universe while he is standing there? At this natural level of thinking, it makes more sense to think of God as a force that is everywhere all the time. Such sensual objections occur to us in the Moses-phase mentality. When we read in the Old Testament that God appeared to someone, the scene is described as an angel, a burning bush, a voice from heaven, a very bright light, but not a visible human. The Divine Risen Christ is a rational idea that stands in contrast with the sensual idea of God as the invisible infinite power and intelligence of the universe. The latter is purely sensual even though it is abstracted from the sensual. The abstraction still remains a sensual idea--God is “force” not a “Person.” To turn God into a visible Person or Divine Man, you need to think of rationally, not sensuously. Rationally we can conceive that a visible Divine Man can be present to any number of individuals simultaneously, but not naturally or physically.
By Divine Providence, the era of religious sacrifices gradually but inevitably ceased and disappeared, and Paul's doctrine of justification by faith not by works of the Law, turned more and more inward, thus opening the rational mind of the ensuing generations. The Lord's Coming succeeded in establishing the Christian Church in the minds of millions. The idea of God as the Holy Spirit in our mind, giving us comfort and power, was a new phenomenon in the world. It marks the turning point in human evolution, when the rational mind was opened through belief or faith in an internal Divine presence and operation. Internal worship without sensuous consciousness began for the first time in the history of our race. The opening of the rational mind paved the way for the advent of modern science which will be needed eventually, to move from the New Testament state to the Third Testament state, that is, to move from thinking based on personal blind faith to thinking based on spiritual-rational faith, or theistic (dualist) science. The difference between rational faith (phase 3) and mystical faith (phase 2) is the difference between the celestial-rational (which is internal), and the spiritual-rational, which is relatively external.
(Note: these distinctions are established, with diagrams, in another article:
The opening of the rational mind of the human race was accomplished by the Lord at His First Coming, which was a Coming in Person in a physical form in the natural world. He then revealed that He will come again when the time is ripe. This Second Coming was necessary in order to complete the salvation process of the human race that was begun by the opening of the rational mind. The opening of the rational mind was necessary in order to have a faith in the Lord that is based purely and solely on rational consciousness, untainted by sensual consciousness. The time of ripening was the time it took for the generations to solidify a culture and practice of religion that was internal, not merely external. The opening of the rational made possible the development and growth of modern science and education in all societies. With every succeeding generation sensual explanations for events such as magic or supernatural characters, were abandoned in favor of science and rationality. At last, the time of the ripening of the external rational mind arrived and the birth of the new internal rational mind was at hand. Hence the Second Coming of God was not to be a Coming in Person, like the First, but a Coming in the rational of the human mind. This was accomplished through the Writings of Swedenborg.
The First Coming had to be a sensually visible and touchable appearance because the external rational mind of humans was not yet opened or operational. It was the sensuous consciousness of the disciples that had to be convinced of Jesus as the Divine Christ. Their mind required the proof of miracles in order to be able to believe in the Divine's presence. This remains true for every generation. We require such visible proof in our childhood and adolescence when our idea of God is still sensual. We kiss icons and press them against our chest or hold them tight in our fist. We see holy men and women around us as living proof of what is sacred and supernatural. We cast our lot with the congregation praying together the Prayers of the People, hoping that this will make the requests more likely to be heard and answered by God. These are sensual ideas of God and prayer. But with Christians there is a constant pressure to abstract these ideas into a more rational form. When attending the Holy Mass or Communion we watch the priest elevate the wafer and say This is My Body, Eat. Then we watch him elevate the cup of wine and say This is My Blood. Drink. This participation forces the opening of the rational. The mind flees with horror from the sensual meaning of these things. What, drink blood?? and finds refuge in a symbolic rational meaning of “Body” and “Blood” as Divine Good and Truth, and of “eating” and “drinking” as adopting (‘eating” or “assimilating”) this good and this truth so that they become part of our character and moral fabric.
This is then what makes us immortal and capable of eternal life--it is the making of a new person out of the “ingested” pieces of the Divine Human's spiritual character (“Body” and “Blood”). As long as we identify with this Divine Human character and live the life from the Divine Good by means of the Divine Truth, we are in the Divine and the Divine is in us. This makes us immortal and eternal, and without this we remain in mere sensuous consciousness. When we pass into the other world at the death of the physical body, we awaken to a spiritual world in which the sensual consciousness sinks down, while the rational consciousness rises up.
The path from the opening of the external rational mind (First Coming of God) to the opening of the internal rational mind (Second Coming) was a downward path in religion even as it was an upward path for science. The Second Coming could not occur in the sensual presence or appearance of the Divine Human to people on earth (“in the clouds” or the” rapture”). Such a physical appearance would have shut the rational down and humanity would have reverted to barbarism. By necessity, the Second Coming had to be accomplished in a rational form so that the internal rational could be opened and rendered operational. This the Lord accomplished by opening the rational mind of Emanuel Swedenborg (1668-1772), preparing him first for an illustrious scientific career, then at age 57, opening his interior rational mind so that Swedenborg could become personally present in full consciousness to the departed from this world who were inhabitants of the spiritual world in heaven and in hell. For 27 years Swedenborg lived this life of dual citizenship and wrote more than two dozen volumes re-casting the Old and New Testaments from the Paul-phase mentality of blind faith to the Swedenborg-phase mentality of spiritual-rational thinking, which is an enlightened rational faith, not a blind faith.
The ripening of the First Christian Church, and its eventual consummation, occurred historically through various degradations of the new internal worship instituted by Christ and His Apostles, foreshadowing the states we all have to go through today as we move from the Old, to the New, to the Third Testament state. That is, as we stop relying on physical ritual, then, as we stop relying on blind faith, and start relying on rational, scientific, and crystal clear concepts of God and our relation to God. The degradations in internal worship were numerous. One line of heresy involved the idea that Jesus had two natures, one Divine the other natural and merely human (Arianism). Another line of heresy was called the Doctrine of Predestination which claimed that God the Father creates some people for Heaven and others for hell and those predestined for heaven get there no matter how they live and likewise for those predestined for hell.
Another heresy, common today, is that the return of Christ is to take place in the natural world and He shall then bring on the Rapture in the physical world where people will be caught up in the air with Him and all the dead will then be resurrected from their graves. Another natural idea of external worship common today is that we can influence God by praying in groups or masses of people coordinating their prayers. Another natural idea in Christian worship today is the notion that objects such as the Shroud of Christ, or bread and wine that have been blessed by the priest, acquire supernatural powers of healing which are transferred to those who physically touch it or eat it. All sorts of superstitious ideas besides these could further be mentioned.
The most important source of degradation in internal worship in the Paul phase comes from the notion of Faith Alone as developed by Luther, the architect of the Protestant Reform movement within Christianity. Swedenborg was given the opportunity of discussing this with Luther himself in the spiritual world. Luther confessed that an angel had spoken to him in his mind at the time he was writing the Faith Alone Doctrine for the Reformed Church, warning Luther that this was a false doctrine and will lead to the spiritual downfall of the Christian Church. But Luther said he felt compelled to do it anyway because he was persuaded of the idea that in order for the new Reform movement to successfully secede from the Catholic Church, it was necessary for people to believe that works of charity are not required for salvation, but faith only in the Lord's sacrifice on the Cross.
Luther buttressed his Faith Alone Doctrine with Paul's statements about being justified by faith and not by the works of the Mosaic Law. This was a dishonest subterfuge on the part of Luther, though his motives may have been apparently good. Paul never used the idea of "faith alone" and never referred to "works of charity" but works of the Mosaic Law which had been rendered void by the new Christian dispensation. Paul clearly preaches in many places that a life of charity and love is necessary if faith is going to count. But Luther transformed Paul's idea into the idea of “faith alone without charity saves.” But the Writings reveal that when charity is removed from faith, it is the end of religion because it then slips back into the sensual phase and the rational remains closed. Without a rational, those who arrive in the spiritual world upon the death of the physical body, sink down into hell unable to grasp and hold on to the spiritual truths they are given by the angels. Without spiritual-rational truths our mind or spirit cannot support the atmosphere and eternal life of heaven.
The Catholic Church at the time, and still today, continued to insist that works of charity are necessary for salvation. Luther thought that by braking this doctrine, the people will no longer be dependent on a corrupt priesthood for their salvation. For it is their priests who decide what works of charity count for salvation. Along with the Faith Alone doctrine was the giving of the Bible to the people, so that there would be no intermediary priesthood necessary for working out one's inner faith through the aid of the Holy Spirit. This was Luther's intention.
The Faith Alone doctrine is a heresy because regeneration cannot take place without a life according to one's faith. This life in accordance with one's faith is called works of charity, but not in the same sense as Protestants today refer to "works." A life of faith without its works is nothing but a natural-sensual idea of religion and loses all the spirituality that was originally contained in Paul's idea of faith. Paul used the idea of "works" in the sense understood by his contemporaries, namely the works of the Mosaic laws by which propitiation or forgiveness of sins is earned through performing external ritual behaviors prescribed by worship. This was indeed the battle Paul had to win over those who rejected Christianity or wanted to keep it Jewish. They were a group of Jews who claimed to accept the Christ, while at the same time held on to the prescribed ritual works of the Mosaic laws, including a desire to retain the practice of animal sacrifices. Paul wrote passionately to oppose them, and he tried to convince them that the old type of ritual "works" by which the ancients were forgiven of their sins, was no longer operative in the new dispensation.
The power of Mosaic works (sacrifices and rituals of festivals and the harvest, etc.) were gone forever. Now we must rely on faith in Christ and a life according to that faith. Paul repeats this idea many times, namely, faith and a life in accordance with that faith. However, Luther succeeded in destroying that connection in the mind of Protestants. And now the personal faith that the Lord had instituted while in the world became a mystical faith, a blind faith, no longer rational and spiritual. As a result a new creation became necessary and the Lord had to return in a new dispensation called the Second Coming, to complete the work of the new creation He had started at His First Coming into the world. This Second Coming, which was to be a historical event, but not a Coming in Person, actually took place in the spiritual world between 1757 and 1771. It was a Coming or Appearance in the Rational of the human mind, not a Coming again in the natural mind through the physical mode.
See this article for further details:
Personalism in a state of mystical faith or "blind faith" is consummated, dies, and progresses to phase 3, or retrogresses to phase 1 where it becomes unrecognized meritoriousness--a deathly spiritual illness. Even though we strongly believe that we have a "personal relationship with Christ," the fact is that in the Paul phase we are stuck in both lack of charity and no actual relationship with the Divine Human. One illustration of this is that we pray to the invisible Father in the Name of the visible Son. As children, we are taught to pray to Jesus, to sing to Jesus, to love Jesus. This is true personal worship. But when we get older, we tend to stop having this personal relationship to Jesus, and move our loyalty over to the Father, Jesus becoming a mere symbolism in name, to be appended at the end of worship to the Father because it is a required ritual. We then pray to the Father, and we ask it in the Name of Jesus. Thus the primary relationship we have is with the Father. This degraded notion is not rational and prevents any further spiritual development of the rational mind. It is not rational to think that God forgives us because we pray in the Name of Jesus. What kind of a God is this? Why would He not forgive us outright since He can? And why would He be swayed by us praying in the Name of Jesus? This sounds like a natural person or earthly king, not the Divine Person.
The Paul phase presents us with two Divine Persons to love: the Father to whom we pray, and the Son whom we must not forget, and in whose Name we are to pray. However this is a divided love that cannot stand. Only the Second Coming of God in our mind and belief, can make it possible for us to move into phase 3, which presents us with only one Divine Person to love, namely Jesus Christ the Incarnate God-Man, who is at once Father-Son-Holy Spirit. This is the Trinity of His Aspects (or Functions), namely, Creation--Redemption--Regeneration. At this point the mind can be unified again, as it was in childhood for Christians, when Jesus is the only Divine that one recognizes. The mind of children with respect to God is more rational than the mind of adults who pray to the Father in the Name of the Son. This is the innocence the Lord pointed to when He said that unless we are like children we cannot inherit the Kingdom.
To progress in the Paul phase one must develop a personal relationship with the Lord. The Lord is God and there is one God. The Lord at His Incarnation revealed Himself as “one with the Father.” Those who take this affirmation seriously and innocently, go to the Lord – not the Holy Spirit for the Lord said the Holy Spirit is His Own Spirit and speaks only what he speaks. To go to the Holy Spirit is to depersonalize the Lord, whose Spirit it is! Therefore we must go the Lord. To have a personal relationship with the Lord is to acknowledge that He is God, and there is only one God. Does it make rational sense to address the Father in the Name of the Lord? Clearly, to personalize our relationship to the Lord fully we must address Him when we pray, and not some other Lord or God that is somehow “co-equal” with Him. This does not make rational sense since there can be only one God. Clearly then the God of the Old Testament is the same God as the God of the New Testament. That means that Jehovah and Jesus are the same God. Bingo! You’re on the verge of making the jump again, from phase 2 thinking to phase 3 thinking.
At this point we leave religion behind and we start a new life, a new level of consciousness that takes its origins in us from the Third Heaven, which is the highest heaven possible human beings can attain. The angels of this highest heaven do not have a religion. I was truly amazed at this when I first read it in the Writings. The angelic spirits of the Second Heaven do have a religion, and so do the good spirits of the First heaven – but not the angels of the Third Heaven. Instead, they have true science. The Threefold Word which they read in a spiritual script and language, serves for them as the source of all Divine Truth, the source of all knowledge they wish to know. It is their science encyclopedia, except that it is the Word, which means that it hides within its script an inner meaning that is endlessly rich, endlessly the source of infinite knowledge, as they study it daily to eternity. Such is the character of the Word, or Divine Truth.
When we arrive at the Third Heaven in our mind, we begin the journey of a true human. We not only have a personal relationship with the Lord, as in phase 2, but we see how the Lord is integrated in our thinking and willing, how He participates and creates our thinking and willing. Swedenborg spoke to some of the angels in the Third Heaven who told Him that their greatest and deepest joy is to actually sense the Lord’s influx into their mind from their inmost, and as it descends into their conscious awareness, recognize the Lord’s Proprium acting through them, while their own proprium is completely asleep. Proprium is a Latin word meaning “what is one’s own.”
Phase 3 consciousness therefore begins when we abandon our own proprium or self-intelligence, and adopt the Lord’s Proprium as-of self. The Lord then grants every angel to feel His Proprium as the angel’s own. An angel is actually a conjugial couple made of an angel husband and angel wife united in the mind as to be one. The Lord then flows into that couple’s conjoint self, or unified mind, with His Own Proprium. The thoughts and feelings they each have then originate from the Lord and not from themselves. This is the truly human state. This is when we can attain the highest point in terms of knowledge, understanding, loving, feeling, living. Religion does not exist at this level of thinking, only true knowledge of reality, or True Science. The Lord’s Proprium reveals the only true science there is. He appears to the angels face to face, and amazingly, we are told that no matter which way they walk or turn, they have the Spiritual Sun in front of them, and they see the Lord in the midst of that Sun. No religion is necessary, only the Threefold Word. This is the source of all their wisdom, intelligence, and knowledge.
A more detailed study of consciousness may be found in this article available on the Web:
Instructions: For each question, select the answer that is closest to your current thinking.
You may have already taken this test once, if you followed the note at the beginning of the book called “Before You start: Test Your Rational Spirituality.” This is a section comprising items 1 to 25 of the Test. Whether you take it for the first time or the second time, your score, now that you’ve read up till now, may be around 40 percent correct (10 out of 25 items). More importantly you will be able to make up your own answers. You can practice after you obtain your score for this Part (1).
If you like, you can page through to the Appendix at the end where the 100 questions are located.
This test does not measure your rational spirituality but only your understanding of rational spirituality. If you are familiar with the Writings and understand it rationally, you would probably select the correct answer for most of the questions. This test is not a knowledge test. It does not measure your knowledge of the Writings and does not cover all the subjects the Writings cover. It is a test of understanding of how well you can reason about spiritual topics from the perspective of the Writings.
It works out well when you use an ANSWER SHEET on a piece of paper that looks like this, and then you can also easily and accurately score your choices from the ANSWER KEY given below (following the questions).
1. Every human being is immortal.
c. It depends.
2. The mind of a human being does not exist anywhere in the natural universe like the physical body, but exists in the spiritual world only.
b. No one can know this for sure.
c. This is not a scientific issue.
3. When we die, it is only temporary until some future time when things are ripe on earth, and all who died will awaken and begin again a new life, repopulating the earth under better conditions than before.
c. The answer is not knowable now.
4. What determines your fate in the afterlife?
a. Your accomplishments.
b. Your faith.
c. Your character.
5. In heaven we do not have a sensuous body capable of eating or sexual activity.
c. The answer is not knowable now.
6. 5. In hell we do not have a sensuous body capable of eating or sexual activity.
c. The answer is not knowable now.
7. Angels are people from earth who made it to heaven.
c. The answer is not knowable now.
8. Devils are people from earth who ended up in hell.
c. The answer is not knowable now.
9. There are many heavens, at least one for each religion.
c. The answer is not knowable now.
10. What is most crucial to our salvation?
a. The right faith.
b. The right character.
c. The right deeds.
11. Consciousness raising and spiritual progress is accomplished by:
a. Practice of the right physical and mental disciplines.
b. Experiencing union with God.
c. Genuine truths in the understanding and goods in the will.
12. Heaven and hell are both in every person’s mind.
c. The answer is not knowable now.
13. There is a natural world and a spiritual world.
c. The answer is not knowable now.
14. When we die we eventually return to earth for another life, until it is no longer necessary for us to do so.
c. The answer is not knowable now.
15. God is Human, not just Divine.
c. The answer is not knowable now.
16. God is in every human being, hence the God in me can greet the God in you.
c. The answer is not knowable now.
17. The relation between God and human beings:
a. God inflows into every human being.
b. God is part of every human being.
c. God resides in every human being.
18. What’s the difference between natural matter and spiritual substance?
a. Matter is more fixed; substance is more fluid.
b. Matter is in space-time; substance is not.
c. There is no essential difference, though there may be surface differences.
19. Which assertion about planets is the most correct?
a. Most planets do not support human life, but some do.
b. Only this planet earth supports human life.
c. An endless number of planets are constantly being created to support a human population.
20. What are the parts of a human being?
a. Body, self, and spirit.
b. Body and brain.
c. Body; mind; and soul.
21. What are the parts of the human mind?
a. Mind, consciousness, and love.
b. Natural mind, spiritual mind, and celestial mind.
c. Cortex, cerebellum, and brain stem.
22. Which is a correct universal assertion?
a. What is within is also above or higher.
b. What is external determines what is within.
c. What is within is less developed than what is outside.
23. What produces consciousness in the mind?
a. Emergent evolutionary capacity.
b. Miraculous gift of life and love.
c. Rational understanding of Divine Truth.
24. What is the meaning of the assertion: “Heaven is within you.”
a. Heaven is an imaginary place.
b. Heaven is a state of mind.
c. Heaven is a poetic reference.
25. What is the meaning of the assertion: “Hell is within you.”
a. Hell is a state of mind.
b. Hell is an imaginary place.
c. Hell is a poetic reference.
Now that you know your score, you can go a step further in assessing your understanding of rational spirituality. Look at the questions you answered correctly. Select one of them and write a sentence of justification for your answer. Then compare your answer with the sentence for that item given in the Test. How do they differ? Did you mention all the basic elements needed to justify the answer? Did you mention them in a logical order? Now see if you can improve it without making it much longer.
Repeat this with other items.
See if you can add more alternatives to each item.
See if you can create 10 new items covering the reading you have done thus far.
7. Phase 3 – Rational Faith or the Swedenborg-Phase (Particularism, Actualism)
Quoting from the Writings of Swedenborg:
AC 2589. THE STATE AND CONDITION IN THE NEXT LIFE OF NATIONS AND PEOPLES BORN OUTSIDE THE CHURCH
It is commonly supposed that those born outside the Church, who are called heathens and gentiles, cannot be saved for the reason that they do not possess the Word and so do not know the Lord, without whom there is no salvation. But that gentiles too are saved may be known from the single consideration that the Lord's mercy is universal - that is, it reaches out to every individual human being. For gentiles are born human beings the same as those within the Church, who are a relative minority; and they are not to blame because they do not know the Lord. Consequently the nature of their state and condition in the next life has in the Lord's Divine mercy been shown to me. (AC 2589)
In the Swedenborg-phase we reach the inmost or highest state of consciousness. This is the highest level or region of the human mind, called celestial or angelic, and it is capable of being perfected endlessly to eternity. A characteristic of this angelic state is altruism. Our desire to help others becomes stronger than our religious views about faith and sanctity. The dictates and laws in Scripture are stripped of their literal-historical references in favor of their symbolic intent, which is always spiritual and celestial, never natural. We are given to perceive an inner spiritual sense that shines through the literal meaning of the verses of the Threefold Word. This new sense is an actual revelation from the Lord (or “Holy Spirit”), who is constantly present through influx from within the soul, and thence into the mind or spirit. This new state of consciousness is called "illustration" or "enlightenment" and proceeds according to the degree of an individual’s progress in regeneration.
Phase 3, which is the highest level in the human mind, is marked by a particular and actual interaction with the Lord, moment by moment. An analogy might be the idea of being “online” in connection with the Lord. It goes immeasurably beyond phase 2 when we maintained a “personal relationship with the Lord.” This relationship was based on our idea of the Lord’s Divine role and our acknowledgement and love of that role. There was no particular and actual interaction, only a general relationship status relative to each other, as exemplified by the terms that describe this relationship --.He is our Master and we are His servant, or He is our Father and we are His children, or He is our Savior and we are His redeemed, and so on. These role relationships define a general status between us and the Lord, rather than a particular interaction.
The particular and actual interaction we have with the Lord in this earlier phase (2) is limited to prayer and reading the Word. The rest of the day we go about our business and act within the general guidelines of our faith or doctrine. But now, in this entirely new phase (3), we interact with the Lord on a moment by moment basis, involving Him explicitly and consciously in the sequence of our behaviors, hour after hour, all day long, every day. The angels never break conscious contact with the Lord, as indicated by the amazing fact that no matter which way they walk or turn, they face the spiritual Sun in the midst of which they see the Lord. While we are on earth, and in phase 3, we strive to remain conscious of the Lord’s participatory actions within and behind our actions and choices, though we do not succeed all the time, as our focus gets drawn into the task we are doing or the problem we are solving. Nevertheless, we learn day by day, and year by year, to stay consciously with the Lord more and more in the course the day. This is the effort and experience that builds up in us a genuine human mind that is capable of living in heaven.
The literal language of Scripture and doctrine appeals to our state of mind called fundamentalism based on sectarianism (phase 1 thinking). The mind in that state works out a type of reasoning that is called dogmatism, which leads to intolerance, which leads to strife and to condemnation of others -- thus away from true particularism and towards its opposite, sectarianism. This downward movement is spiritual destruction. In phase 3 we pursue the good through our desire to please the Lord whom we begin to know from within our thoughts and choices, moment by moment. You can see why I call this interactional consciousness of the Lord, “True Science” rather than religion. Religion is based on ritual faith (phase 1) or on personal faith (phase 2). Once the moment by moment co-participatory interaction with the Lord is reached (phase 3) we leave religion behind. Religion is not purified of culture and identity. This is why the Lord tolerates many religions in heaven, each however segregated from the others. Those who arrive in the world of spirits in phase 1 or 2 thinking and willing, arrive with some leftover culture or identity. Their eternal relationship with the Lord is then mediated through these natural “filters” as it were.
Those who grew up together in the same country, ethnic group, or religion then congregate together in habitations and cities with their own kind. But those who arrive in phase 3 thinking and willing, have left culture, identity, and religion behind. These natural ideas no longer form part of their loves and affections, so they do not hold on to them. They have particularized their interaction with the Lord, act by act, choice by choice, love by love. There is no “personal” relationship left that is based on identity or culture or religion, these things being relatively external to the inmost celestial life. The Lord is still Jesus Christ whom they acknowledge historically, but more than this, it is the Divine Human they acknowledge and see in the present. Their co-participation with the Divine Human fills their consciousness, while all identity and history, culture and religion, is laid to the side of their focus, rather than remaining in the center, as in earlier phases.
New trues take the place of older truths in earlier phases. In the Paul-phase of religion (phase 2) we pursue the true, but the good does not follow automatically, so that, eventually, that true turns out to be not so true, true only as an appearance, and whatever good there appears to go with it, turns out to be not genuinely good. In the Moses-phase of religion (phase 1), holiness and rituals are viewed externally, in terms of deeds and merit. The saintly person is endowed with miraculous powers. One tends to relate to an orderly hierarchy of predestined positions that get allocated to each individual, and one's spiritual status is measured by how much one is endowed by saintly merit, how intensely one is able to feel pious love for God. As we move inward from this phase 1 orientation, we enter the Paul-phase of religious behavior. This is a more internal state, more nearly spiritual because more nearly rational. The Paul phase religion is filled with personal faith rather than ritual faith. Saintliness is neither by endowment nor merit; it is gratuitous by Divine Grace, freely given to anyone who wants it, anyone who wants to worship it and adore it. Personal faith (phase 2) is defined in terms of merely adoring and worshipping from the 'depth' of the heart, in a personal way, inviting the Lord into one’ s heart, acknowledging Him as our Lord and Master.
Personal faith need not have turned into “faith alone,” as it historically did among Christians. The Christian faith that the Lord instituted could have progressed genuinely into a rational faith and true science by an internal way from the Holy Spirit, and this would have resulted in enlightenment and salvation. But the Christian faith took a turn towards mystery and mystification, away from rationality. The Writings say that the promulgation of the dogma of a Trinity of Three Divine Persons by the Bishops of the Nicene Council (325 AD), destroyed the inherent rationality of the Paul-phase thinking, and proceeded downward to mystery and spiritual darkness. According to the doctrine of the Reformed fabricated by Luther, everyone who believes out of blind faith is saved whereas anyone who makes salvation depend on character reformation (called “good works”), is condemned to fall into meritoriousness, which is spiritual death or hell. Hence people are warned not to think that their salvation depends on anything else but blind faith.
The architect of the Protestant schism used Paul's words to engraft into the new Protestant religion the notion that faith alone saves. According to Swedenborg's conversation with Luther in the spiritual world (SD 5103), Luther consciously knew that Paul did not mean faith alone saves. Luther knew that Paul was referring to the old Mosaic rituals and sacrifices which were given to the Jewish nation as a method of cleansing of sins. This method of dispensation was gone forever with the birth of the Lord. Paul was speaking to the Jews of his day who needed to hear that a new faith has begun. Sins would remain even if sacrifices are offered! This was big news indeed. But Luther, according to Swedenborg, deliberately misused Paul's admonition in order to insure a total doctrinal break with Roman Catholicism which insisted that charity or good works must be done in order to have a saving faith. "Works" of charity among Catholics refers to activities motivated by religion and specified by the priesthood such as giving alms, going to Church, being obedient to the Bishops, volunteering for social assistance, and so on. Protestants value and promote works but they insist, still today, that these are not saving, but faith alone is. As a result, people have come to believe that they are saved even if they do not undergo character reformation by living according to the Word.
The doctrine shared by all the Reformed Churches relies on the idea that there is a difference to be made between salvation and sanctification. We are saved by faith alone, and we are sanctified more and more by a saintly life inspired by the Holy Spirit. However, this distinction is not rational but persuasive or mystical. In phase 3 we leave religion and faith behind and begin to see in a true scientific way that what’s at issue is not religion and sin in itself, but the preparation of our mind for heaven. This is a physiological or medical issue, not merely a religious one. The primary necessity is character reformation, and this is accomplished by the Lord to the extent that we make ourselves cooperate on a daily basis by examining our thinking and willing, judging our every choice or rejection, our every feeling and love, monitoring them as they occur, shunning them if they are evil, compelling ourselves not to will evil, not to love it, and not to think falsity, but to think what the Lord says in His Threefold Word. This is salvation, and nothing else. To see this, is to be in phase 3.
I mention these historical details about the Reformation because the history of religion recapitulates the phases of religious behavior of every individual, both having the same spiritual cause. In our external phase of religion we behave as if we were Moses people. For example, in later childhood, after the initial innocence, we believe and fear the omnipresent Eyes of God. We believe that we can offend God by our actions and that He gets angry with us and wants to punish us for it, and indeed this is the appearance given in the Old Testament when read as to its literal meaning rather symbolically in terms of it spiritual intent. We believe that we need to appease God by performing certain requisite rituals like washings and penitence. Sin is an external blemish that can be removed by the Grace of God. We believe in meriting a place in heaven through loyalty and steadfastness to ritual, icon, and prayer. Our feelings of charity or hatred do not count in an essential way, since we become acceptable to God as we are, as long as we are forgiven on account of the ritual or the blind faith. And yet the truth is that faith without the desire to be good, just, and sincere, is not saving faith but mere external ritual performance, and thus it is useless for our inner spiritual growth and life.
Then at one point we come to the realization that the religion of rituals no longer satisfies us. We no longer believe the superstition. We acquire a distaste for sectarianism and we see the prejudice and dogma of fundamentalism and literalism. So we move on to the next phase which is more internal, more rational, and more personal. Now we need to be clever like Paul and construct a new doctrine for our understanding, one that is compatible with our values for universality and egalitarianism. We become seekers of truth. We declare ourselves spiritual iconoclasts and look for a new prophet, a new God. People find this new, more internal religion in all sorts of cultural packages offered by numerous brotherhoods, sectarian movements, groups and organizations. Spiritual discipline, meditation, study, servility, power play -- whatever the "method" may be becomes the central all important focus for the truth seeker. Indeed, the method becomes the message, and the goal.
When all the variety of religious methods and practices eventually fail, we are given the occasion to enter the true spiritual state -- internal, rational, good, and true! I call it the Swedenborg-phase because he has described most clearly the nature of this phase. This inmost or most advanced form of spiritual behavior is less focused on ritual or discipline, seeing these external behaviors more as cultural forms of religion rather than spiritual per se. The inmost or highest expression of spirituality does not measure itself externally. Holiness is not associated with prescribed behaviors but with God’s co-participation in our thinking and willing moment by moment. Only God is holy, good, and true. These qualities cannot rub off on us. Our responsibility is to love God by renouncing all things of self and world, which means to be good. This love of God is not our love or our power, but is the power to love Him given to us by the Lord, so that we may actually love Him, and in this love, receive eternal bliss and endless progress. Nothing is from us but the choice to receive that love, and the sincerity with which we attribute all good and true we have to Him, and nothing to ourselves. The acknowledgment must be given one hundred percent to Him, and zero percent to ourselves.
The spiritual-rational that the Swedenborg-phase provides is an internal rational science, while the previous Paul-phase was an external blind faith full of mystery. This internal rational is purely spiritual and is called spiritual-rational to distinguish it from natural-rational. The spiritual-rational does not come from the natural world or from self or others, but from the spiritual world or heaven. It requires that we look upon the self and the world as fallen and on the way to hell or spiritual death. Every single thing about the self is fallen, i.e., not good. Love of self is not genuine love, to which it is opposed like devil opposes angel. Selfishness or love of self, is not a love but a perverted love, or lust and cupidity. Genuine love is to desire to give to another what belongs to self. Love or charity is the desire to learn useful knowledge so that we may benefit others. In a more external phase of religiousness, love is seen as loyalty to one's creed (phase 1), and later, love is seen as compassion towards all people (phase 2). In the inmost phase (3), love is the neutralization or suppression of one's own fallen self, and the reception and adoration of God's Self (or Character--in Latin: "Proprium"). God's Self is pure love and truth, hence our reception of God's Self in us leads us to the desire of making others happy from ourselves. In this state of living, the other person is looked after equally with oneself, or more than oneself. This is called the angelic state. All individuals are born for the use they can contribute to others. To act like it is the self that really counts while others count less, is to reject love from God and to act from lust or perverted love, which is from hell and leads to hell.
What makes a person abandon the external forms of religious behavior? What conditions are needed for the suppression of the fallen self for the sake of receiving God's Self? This is one of the most crucial themes in Swedenborg's Writings. The process of self-elimination or self-suppression is called regeneration and can be considered a kind of “Divine Psychotherapy” (see this article:
Regeneration is a gradual lifelong process of Divine interaction with each individual in the universe. God arranges for temptations at all levels of our emotional life: natural, spiritual, and celestial. Temptations are combats against our evil loves, lusts, and cupidities. When we are placed under temptation, we experience doubt in our certainties and the resolutions of our conscience. We weaken in our support for our principles and conscience. We are tortured by opposing impulses, selfish vs. loving. We are actively resisting God's Proprium, instead of desiring it.
The Divine psychotherapy is an expression of God's individual and particular love and care for each of us in the sequence of our living moment by moment to eternity. In temptation we are given an occasion to freely reject self for the sake of God. God sees to it that no one is tempted beyond one's capacity to resist. Each temptation brings a victory, by which God is able to remove our attachment to self. It takes innumerable such particular occasions, or interactions, to remove all the many varieties of selfishness that each individual carries from birth and habit. When the person can no longer grow spiritually through further temptations, death of the physical body is brought on and life then continues in the spiritual world through our spiritual body.
These three phases of spiritual development are universal. Individuals of all religions go through phase 1, then through phase 2, and finally phase 3, which continues to the endless future of our immortality. What follows deals with additional details about the three phases of spiritual development.
(See this article for more discussion on the three phases:
Quoting from Swedenborg's Arcana Coelestia:
AC 8078. Merely natural faith is faith that is instilled along the outward but not the inward path. One type of it is faith that depends entirely on the senses, which exists when a person believes something to be so because he has seen it with his eye or touched it with his hand. The Lord referred to this kind of faith when He said to Thomas,
Because you have seen, Thomas, you have believed; blessed are those who do not see yet believe. John 20:29
Another type is faith induced by miracles, which exists when a person believes something to be so solely as a result of miracles; regarding this kind of faith see 7290. And another type is authoritarian faith, which exists when a person believes something to be so because another in whom he trusts has declared it.
 But spiritual faith is that which is instilled along the inward path at the same time as the outward one. The instilling along the inward path gives rise to belief, and what is instilled at the same time along the outward path serves to corroborate it. The spiritual element of faith is charitable affection, and consequently an affection for truth for the sake of true service and for life's sake. These cause faith to be spiritual. Faith is instilled along the inward path when a person reads the Word and at the same time receives enlightenment from the Lord. This enlightenment is given to him in accordance with his affection, that is, in accordance with the reason he has for wishing to know the truth.
 These considerations now show what merely natural faith is, and that because such faith is not spiritual it cannot be ascribed to the Lord, that is, there can be no acknowledgment or belief that comes from the Lord. For the Lord flows in through the affection for truth and good; and faith is an inward affection, see 8034. The truth of innocence which can be present within that merely natural faith and can be accredited to the Lord is anything that a person believes in innocence to be true. From all this one may now see how to understand the explanation that merely natural faith must not be ascribed to the Lord, but the truth of innocence present within it. (AC 8078)
There is a paradox in the attempt to understand the full range of human development when one is still stuck in earlier phases of that development. How can the lower mind comprehend the higher mind? This paradox can be transcended by giving the lower mind maps to follow or mental symptoms to recognize, and if there is then willingness on the part of the lower mind to follow, the higher mind can illuminate the lower mind through the discourse of representations and correspondences. The lower mind then comes into the perceptions of the higher mind, and though these visions do not belong to the lower mind, yet we can derive growth benefits and experiential contentment and pleasure. These experiences are valuable because they provide transition mechanisms by which we grow into the higher mind waiting for us and striving to become one with our self.
How can we understand phase 2 of our mind into which we are to grow, when we are in phase 1? Our sectarianism in that state is based on a literal reading of Scripture from which we derive a doctrine of fear and punishment, alternating with the warmth of consolation and the delusional glow of meritoriousness. Those who are unfamiliar with the Old Testament but live in a Western culture obtain this sectarianism from indirect sources in society and literature, all of which ultimately are based on the Old Testament and the New Testament. Those who are from a non-Western culture or religion, draw their sectarianism from their own religious books and popular teachings. If for instance a native of Bangladesh were to understand the Moses phase in themselves, they need to be told what "Moses" is, and perhaps they need to find a Moses of their own who has done for them what Moses the Hebrew has done for Western culture and religion. The atheists in the Western world have all been socialized and educated similarly to the Jew and the Christian, and therefore their mind's stage of sectarianism plays itself out with similar character themes: i.e., “What is right or wrong? What is good or bad? What is true or false?”
Sectarianism is a mental state that has evolved as a coping mechanism to the harshness of tribal warfare. Science today, as I have personally known it from 1950 to now, has many symptoms of the fundamentalist state of mind. My graduate school was a training in loyalty to specific "schools of thought" within an area of research or scholarship that included:
how to refute those in the other camp
how to associate with the right camp
which conferences to attend
which journals to publish in
what departments to avoid for jobs
what explanations to stay away from in your published papers
what topics to ignore in your discussions
what books or authors not to read or refer to in your Bibliography
what textbooks not to use for your courses
This is sectarianism in science based on a literal interpretation of materialistic philosophy known as "positivism" though that's a misnomer, in my opinion--it should have been called "negativism." It operates through fear of disapproval and the desire for recognition and merit. Religious and scientific sectarianism operate from the same level of mind, the very bottom of it, though within this state there are gradations from extremely low to not as low. A vivid description of this mental state is given in the Old and New Testaments: In the Old Testament:
Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock; and he said to them, Hear now, you rebels; must we bring water for you out of this rock? And Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod. Nonetheless much water came out Then Jehovah said to Moses and Aaron, Because you did not believe in Me and honor Me as holy in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you will not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. (Num. 20:10-12)
When the LORD heard what you said, he was angry and solemnly swore: "Not a man of this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your forefathers (Deut. 32:35)
But the LORD said to me, "Tell them, `Do not go up and fight, because I will not be with you. You will be defeated by your enemies.'" So I told you, but you would not listen. You rebelled against the LORD's command and in your arrogance you marched up into the hill country. The Amorites who lived in those hills came out against you; they chased you like a swarm of bees and beat you down from Seir all the way to Hormah. You came back and wept before the LORD, but he paid no attention to your weeping and turned a deaf ear to you. (Deut. 43-45)
And in the New Testament:
On account of your hardness of heart Moses wrote you this commandment, but from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason man (homo) will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife, and the two will be as one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together man (homo) must not put asunder. Mark 10:5-9.
"Hardness of heart" and "circumcise your heart" both refer to the pre-spiritual state of sectarianism when the sense of merit or holiness infects the mind with the delusion that "I myself am the source of power for my accomplishments"--and this idea is spiritual death because it contains the denial of God. It quickly leads to all sorts of cruelty and hatred, which yet are perceived delusionally as kindness and justice.
Swedenborg describes this first phase as follows:
That the tables which were the work of God were broken by Moses when he saw the calf and the dances, and that by command of Jehovah other tables were hewn out by Moses, and on these were afterward written the same words, and thus that the tables were no longer the work of God, but the work of Moses, whereas the writing was still the writing of God, involves a secret as yet unknown. The secret is that the sense of the letter of the Word would have been different if the Word had been written among a different people, or if that people had not been such as it was.
For the sense of the letter of the Word treats of that people, because the Word was written among them, as is plain from both the historic and the prophetic parts of the Word, and that people was in evil, because at heart it was idolatrous; and yet in order that the internal and the external sense might agree together, that people had to be lauded, and to be called the people of God, a holy nation, a peculiar possession; consequently the simple, who were to be instructed by the external sense of the Word, had to believe that that nation was such as it is called; as also that nation itself believes, and as also believe very many of the Christian world at this day. Moreover, also many things are present in the external sense of the Word, and make it, that were permitted them on account of the hardness of their hearts, such as those mentioned in Matthew 19:8, and other things also which are here passed by.
 As therefore the sense of the letter of the Word was made such for the sake of that people, therefore those tables which were the work of God were broken, and at the command of Jehovah others were hewn out by Moses. But whereas the same Divine holiness was still within, therefore the same words which had been written upon the former tables were written by Jehovah on the latter, as is plain from these words in Moses:
Jehovah said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, that I may write upon the tables the words that were on the first tables, which thou broke. And Jehovah wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten words (Exod. 34:1, 4, 28).
 That Jehovah did not acknowledge that people as His own people (although it was so said for the sake of the agreement of the internal sense with the external), but as the people of Moses, is evident in these passages:
Jehovah spoke unto Moses, Go up, thou and the people which thou hast made to come up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land of which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And I will send an angel before thee; for I will not go up in the midst of thee, for thou art a stiff-necked people (Exod. 33:1-3).
(From Swedenborg’s Arcana Coelestia: AC 10453)
It is important to remember that the historical details the Bible gives can be taken in two ways: literally only, and literally in combination with spiritually. If the Bible, or any other Sacred Scripture, is read literally only, one becomes entrapped in sectarian politics. Enslaving emotions are aroused leading to discrimination, thefts, and murders of those who are not like us. But we can peer through the literal to experience the spiritual within it. To do this, simply substitute "phase 1 mental state" wherever the Jewish people are discussed. Whatever is said about any of the Bible characters is said about phase 1 mental state of any individual, personally. The Old Testament and the New Testament are descriptions of personal pan-human states of spiritual growth or mental development. Swedenborg's Writings prove this point in meticulous ways with thousands of Bible verses.
The Lord is present with every person, urging and pressing the individual to receive Him. And when a person receives Him, which happens when we acknowledge Him as our God, the Creator, Redeemer and Savior, this is His first coming, and is called twilight. From this time the person begins to have the understanding enlightened as regards spiritual matters, and to advance to more and more inward wisdom. As we receive this wisdom from the Lord, so we advance through morning into day; and we continue in our daylight up to old age and until we die. After death we come into heaven to the Lord Himself, and there, for all that we died an old person, we are brought back to the morning of our life, and continue for ever to develop the wisdom which was implanted in us in the natural world. (TCR 766)
The historical event known as the Incarnation corresponds to the First Coming of God to the individual's mind. The idea of God Incarnate as a human is rejected as offensive in the Old Testament state. I recall vividly as a child in Rumania in the 1930s being slapped by a Rabbi in my school for asking the question: Does God look like a man? This vivid instructional exchange illustrates the ethnic-cultural prohibition in all fundamentalist societies, of picturing God in human form. It took three decades for me to overcome this prohibition and give myself permission to read the New Testament. Though I was instantly converted by the Lord, I had a double vision of Him for awhile. I saw Christ as a Messiah in Jewish terms. He was "one of us," I thought gleefully, elevated by God to near-divine status, or as-if divine status. Of all the human beings he it was, Jesus of Nazareth, that God chose to be the Messiah. Well it had to be somebody, and it wasn't me. So I owe this Chosen of the Chosen my full respect. Etc. These are ideas from the Old Testament state applied to the New Testament state.
I did not actually enter the New Testament state until I received the second idea about Christ, which was a mind blower for me: Christ is Divine, equal with God, God with God, from eternity. That's the period when I was baptized into the Episcopal Church, took communion, recited the Nicene Creed, sang in the choir, and taught Sunday School. To the Christian congregation I was a rare social phenomenon and they seemed proud to have a Jew among them. I was confused. Was I a Jewish Christian then? But to me it felt more like a Christian Jew. I told my poor Jewish mother whom I persuaded to visit Church one Sunday, “You'll see it's the same God they pray to.” And I didn't mean Jesus!
There is thus a transition period from phase 1 to phase 2 similar to what existed during the early Apostolic Church when Paul, the orthodox Pharisee, went around preaching and converting Jews to the new Christianity, and creating the doctrine for the New Jewish Church, that is, the Christian Church. This doctrine serves to transition us from the Moses phase to the Paul phase of our religious development. In relation to the Old Testament mentality in our mind, which I called Sectarianism based on Fundamentalism, the new mentality forged by Paul can be called Personalism based on Symbolism. Christ taught this symbolism in His instructions for the new rituals to be performed: “Take, This is My Body. And, “This is My Blood.” To the Moses mentality, these are pretty scary rituals! Eat somebody's body? Drink somebody's blood? How horrible! And yet this is the foundation stone of the Christian religion that held it together and active for two thousand years. The Eucharist or Holy Communion, together with the symbolic purification of Baptism, are the replacement of all the rituals for the old Jewish Church that relied on animal sacrifices and the pouring of the blood on the sacred altar.
Consider this historical and external transition of being saved through the purification of animal sacrifices (phase 1), to being saved through the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross (phase 2). The animal sacrifice is physical and is required at the stage of a sectarian fundamentalism based on literalism. Without this physicalistic "proof" of our forgiveness, we, in that corporeal state of mind, cannot believe the actuality of the Divine forgiveness, doubting the efficacy of a procedure that involves no visible step. But, by compelling ourselves to accept and be satisfied with a more internal or symbolic certainty of the Divine, we move upward in our mind to the second phase of religious behavior, it being a state of consciousness that is less corporeal-sensual and more rational-spiritual. Symbolic rituals are more rational than physical rituals because they are less sensual. When consciousness becomes less sensual, it becomes more rational. A God with whom we have an inner symbolic relationship is a more rational God, and hence more genuine because all rationality is from God and is like God. This follows because rationality has its source from truths, and all truths are from God. A great paradigm shift took place in the evolution of human consciousness when the New Testament announced the new principle of the Holy Spirit:
I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Matthew 3:11)
Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. (Mark 13:11)
For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say. (Luke 12:12)
And with that he breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:22)
Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: (John 16:6-8).
The Counselor is the Holy Spirit. When the Lord breathed on His disciples and said "Receive the Holy Spirit" the human race was changed forever. It was an act of Divine creation and a new human consciousness came into being--rational consciousness. This was the greatest single leap in the history of the human race. From that moment all human beings became capable of having rational consciousness. Until then all humans were only capable of functioning at the Moses level of religious behavior. This only requires a sensual consciousness with a sensual worship consisting of blood sacrifices for the atonement of sins. It is a corporeal mental level that exacts a harsh life, an eye for an eye mentality that is brutish, sectarian, and xenophobic. But now a new internal worship was made possible for human beings. This took a Divine act of re-creating the human mind, spirit, and brain, along with its corollary changes. The human brain had to change to reflect and make possible an operational vehicle of the new mind functioning within it. This new mind had a new spiritual organ attached to it which had not been functioning before. This organ was the new will. The act of opening the new will is called in the New Testament "being reborn." This new will was not available to humankind before that momentous historical instant when God Incarnate breathed on His disciples and said--Receive the Holy Spirit. The Divine act of a new physiological creation was to attach a new will to everyone, and then to actually activate it when the individual is reborn, meaning that one declares the Divine Human as one's Lord.
This new will has a purely rational structure and is capable of operating exclusively with rational truths only. These rational truths are the spiritual truths revealed in Sacred Scripture that shine through the literal sense when we are receptive. These spiritual-rational truths in the internal sense of Scripture are completely and fundamentally different from the natural-rational truths that appear in the literal sense. Now, with the new will, we are able to have a new understanding that is activated and seeded by the Holy Spirit as we read Sacred Scripture while acknowledging it as Divine Truth. The Holy Spirit issues and proceeds from the Lord and is the same as the Lord. In other words, God has made a new will for humans in which He can dwell, and this means that His rational truths can operate as our own consciousness. Since God is purely rational, only a purely rational mind could become conscious of His true character. The Moses-phase consciousness is sensual or pre-rational, and requires God to appear in the physical world before we can believe and follow. The sensual consciousness of the Divine demands physicalistic evidence of Divine existence in some form such as a miracle, a supernatural event, a prayer answered, a vision, a mystery, a holy shrine. Without these physical manifestations in some witnessable time and place, the sensual mind reverts to doubts about the Divine's presence, and finally to its denial and ridiculing. None of these sensual proofs is needed by the rational mind, for it is so constructed that it operates with rational truths, and these are directly from the Holy Spirit operating into it when the individual's state of mind is receptive, but not when the mind is resistive.
Today, those who declare themselves for "Christ as Lord in my life" are called "reborn Christians" and through this new affirmation they intend to live according to their new mental state as inward-dependent rather than outward. Their inner life is henceforth in the presence of the Holy Spirit and the declaration marks an end to privacy in one's thinking and feeling. No longer can they think of "God out there looking at me" for now God is inside being with the individual, participating in the persons’ reasoning and judgment. To the extent that we backslide into the sensual Moses phase, to that extent we lower our mind's level of thinking and feeling from the spiritual-rational to the natural-rational or natural-sensual . Christian practices and movements, historical and current, that focus on miracles and miracle makers, illustrate the ways in which one can slide back into a former state even without changing any aspect of one’s external worship and identification. This is extremely injurious to one's spiritual life and future. As seen through the third or Swedenborg-phase of religious development, miracles are harmful because they compel your mind or persuade you to believe because of a physical event. The consciousness is thus lowered to the sensual level. This is the old Moses phase, and leads to spiritual disaster, that is, to a weakening of one's true faith. Genuine true faith is rational and can exist only in rational minds. The old will is sensual; the new will is rational. This evolutionary step is represented by the Holy Spirit.
So the essence of Paul's historical work in his Epistles to the Church is to give people the intellectual tools and justifications for making themselves to look upward to inner rational proof, and to shun external physical proof for the essential things of one's faith--forgiveness, deliverance, regeneration, and salvation. The Holy Spirit is henceforth the new rational mechanism of union, not physical proof such as a sacrifice or a miracle. We must not ask for miracles. We must not expect miracles. We must not rely on miracles for our belief or relationship to God. We must resist the temptation to want a miracle for proof of Divine presence and love. Instead, we must rely on inward things, symbolic things that represent our union with God at an inward spiritual or rational level. The more we teach ourselves this doctrine of internalization, and the more we force ourselves to live by it, the more we grow in our second phase, and prepare ourselves for the final third phase.
I use the term "personalism" to contrast with "sectarianism" to reflect the mental battles we must survive as we move from the Old Testament Moses Phase to the New Testament Paul Phase of our spiritual, mental, and human development or growth. Historically, the Hebrews or Jews were always extremely sectarian, reflecting the civilization around them. Even at its highest universal and human expression, such as the early Sage Hillel, who was on the curriculum in my religious school, the sectarianism of the first or external phase, shows itself clearly. Hillel's moral expression "Love your neighbor as yourself" is a universe apart from Jesus who used similar language. The difference is in the meaning of "neighbor." To the mind still in the sensual phase of sectarianism, "neighbor" means one's family, friend, and co-religionists, in contrast to the rest of the universe. Those who don't fall in your own group, you don't need to love and you're not responsible for their fate. In fact, you're allowed to hate them. This is our Old Testament Moses phase of thinking, reasoning and feeling.
So Jesus laid out the problem to the Pharisees: Neighbor means human being, not family, friend, cousin, and supporter. Neighbor is symbolic for particularism. All people are therefore God's children, and our neighbor. If you do it to them, you do it to Me, said Jesus. If you hate them, you hate Me. Those of any religion who are unwilling to receive the rational message of particularism, remain stuck in the state of personalism and its sensual symptoms and ailments. We use the term rational for both the Paul-phase consciousness and the Swedenborg-phase consciousness. Yet they are fundamentally different since the rational mind has an external and an internal stage of development. The external rational is opened first, and then the internal rational. For a description of this mechanism with explicit diagrams, see this article on Spiritual Geography:
The reason that personalistic symbolism is a new growth state, is that it requires the active involvement of rational ideas. The vivification and use of symbolic universal ideas of love, truth, and internal unity opens the rational mind more and more, to the degree that one applies these rational ideas to everyday living issues in our mind. There are many illustrations I can give. Remember this: you don't need to change your religion of birth in order to move from phase 1 to phase 2. Your own Moses phase is your external mind, dependent on physical and outward manifestations of all your beliefs. You can move into the second phase by personalizing your ideas within your faith, whatever religion it may be. Look for the sectarianism in your faith, and transform it into personalism. You will thereby move into the second phase. A modern day descendent of Hillel, such as myself, can re-define the received sectarian idea of "neighbor" to the new rational idea of "all human beings" and can reject the Rambam's prohibition against visualizing a human God, a prohibition enjoined on all Jewish orthodox children today. This is actually quite easy if you're willing, since the Old Testament God speaks of Himself in terms of human traits and emotions, so one can readily imagine Him as a Divine Man, as He is portrayed by the classic European painters. God as a Divine Man is rational, while God as an invisible force is sensual. In our sensual consciousness God is a force in the physical world; in our rational consciousness, God is a Divine Human Person with whom we can have a personal relationship. This concept is impossible to the sensual mind because it resists and rejects the idea that a man or a human can be infinite. The rational sees that the infinite power of the invisible God is something that belongs to the Divine Human, so that it is the Divine Human as a Person Who is omniscient and Who exercises infinite power. The external rational phase of Christianity, or Paul-phase, cannot perceive this internal rational idea and so it divides God into two Divine Persons: one being the invisible infinite omniscient God, called the Father, and the other is the visible human Son of God. But in the next Swedenborg-phase, our consciousness reaches the internal level, which is capable of understanding purely rational or spiritual truths. Then we can see that God must be one Divine Person, Whose interior Divine aspects are called "the Father" and these are invisible, incomprehensible, or unreachable. But the outward Divine aspects are called the Divine Human, and this is visible to the rational or spiritual mind.
After the completion of this book, the Lord called together His twelve disciples, who had followed Him in the world; and a day later He sent them all forth throughout the spiritual world to preach the Gospel, that the Lord God Jesus Christ is king, and His kingdom shall be for ever and ever, as foretold by Daniel (7:13, 14) and in Revelation (11:15):
Blessed are they who come to the wedding supper of the Lamb Rev. 19:9.
This happened on the nineteenth of June in the year 1770. This was meant by the Lord's saying:
He will send his angels, and they will gather together His chosen people from the bounds of the heavens on one side as far as the bounds of the heavens on the other. Matt. 24:31.
Why did it take the Lord nearly three thousand years to author the Threefold Word?
That it took God this long to create the Threefold Word indicates that it wasn’t solely up to Him and that the Word is an interactive document, produced by the Lord in adaptation to the human mind’s ability to receive, understand and love it. Human beings cannot love the Word unless they can understand it. Therefore the content of the Word had to be adapted to fit the intelligence and genius of the people for who it was given. The Word is given not only to one generation but to a sequence of generations making up a civilization or era called a “church dispensation.” Eventually however the advancing intelligence and modernism of the new generations outgrow the Word of old. They are then ready to receive a New Word, one that is more elevated than before, adapted to the new level of thinking and feeling attained by the current civilization. This sequence repeats itself again and again. In the most recent history of our own civilization, the Writings were given in the 18th century as the Word of the Second Coming. Prior to this the New Testament was given, and prior to that, the Old Testament.
These three collections or portions make up the Threefold Word of rational spirituality. The Three Testaments, though written centuries apart from each other, are written in the same code of correspondences that the Word of God is always given to humanity since the beginning of creation. The Word is the only method that has been provided by God for transmitting Divine Truth to the conscious human mind. It is this truth alone that is able to raise human consciousness above the animal level and to the spiritual and celestial level. This truth in the consciousness is the only method provided for attaining eternal life in heaven. This truth is the only method provided for regeneration and salvation. This truth is what makes us rational and human.
The Lord created the human mind in a specific form, with organs and levels, as discussed throughout this book. Further, the Lord is operating these organs, moment by moment, from birth to eternity. Our organs of the thinking and willing have no life or power of their own or in themselves. They are created mechanisms like a car or radio – the car to receive fuel and burn it at the rate desired, and the radio to receive signals that its loudspeaker can turn into audible sound. Turn off the radio and it has nothing to give for it receives nothing. Remove the fuel from the car and it cannot move off its spot for it cannot manufacture its own energy. Similarly with the power of our organs in the mind to give us thinking and willing. The organ of the understanding receives an inflow of spiritual light which is the substance of truth. Truth substance in our understanding creates the phenomenon of our consciousness and its rational grammar. The organ of the will receives an inflow of spiritual heat which is the substance of love. Love substance in our will creates the phenomenon of our as-of self freedom by which we are motivated to pursue our happiness.
The pathway to the Lord is a journey of our consciousness. Conscious awareness must be developed by the maturing of the natural mind through growth, maturation, experience, education, and community social life. Once we are a competent adult, our natural-rational mind is sufficiently prepared to undergo reformation. This involves going to the Threefold Word, acknowledging it as the only source of Divine Truth, struggling to understand it rationally, extracting Doctrine of Life from it and holding it in memory and awareness. Once this has been done, reformation can begin. Now we monitor what we are thinking and willing in the many tasks and routines that we accomplish daily. We monitor what we read and the ideas we take in. We monitor our entertainment pattern and content, what we enjoy doing and witnessing. In every case we apply the Doctrine of Life in our understanding to establish the category of some thought, idea, concept, belief, assumption, hypothesis, account. There are only two choices – every thought or idea or explanation comes either from heaven or from hell. Our understanding of the Doctrine we have extracted from the Threefold Word, gives us the capacity to judge every act of thinking and memory.
This process of judging everything, and consequently rearranging everything, in our thinking every day, is the process of reformation. It is a period of passionate involvement with the Threefold Word. To others who are not undergoing reformation, we might appear zealous, even obsessed. It is wonderful process of cleaning mental house, enjoyable and exciting, very useful for spotting inconsistencies and contradictions that lurk in the background of our habitual way of thinking and accepting the thinking of others.
At the end of reformation, which might take months or years depending on our zeal or persistence, we end up with a New Church mind. I have written a book about Forming the New Church Mind in Today’s World and is available here:
Once reformation is completed, our mind is prepared for beginning regeneration. This is the real work of deliverance and salvation. No other way exists to eternal life in heaven. The Lord’s central focus in the New Testament component of the Threefold Word, is regeneration (“You must be reborn”). To be reborn refers to regeneration. Without regeneration there is no salvation, no entry to heaven. Clearly then, regeneration is the central focus of the Threefold Word. The process of regenerating the human race is the same process of regenerating each individual. Since the Fall we are born with a defective spiritual organ of the will. It used to be attached to heavenly societies before the Fall, but after the Fall the human will born on earth was attached to hellish societies. This is the medical reason why regeneration became necessary for salvation.
Regeneration refers to the character. It is our character that is to be regenerated. The old character must die and a new character must be acquired and nourished so that it survives in our mind and we become healed, prepared for heavenly life. Only a heavenly character can live in heaven. It is the preparation of the heavenly character in the fallen human race that takes so long. Why did it take the Lord more than twenty centuries to deliver the Threefold Word to the human race? It’s because the human mind had to be prepared for receiving sections thereof in accordance with their genius or civilization. First, the human mind was prepared for spiritual rationality by means of the Old Testament centuries. What makes the process so slow, from our historical and cultural perspective, is heredity. By creation, new human beings come into existence through heredity. The father passes on the spiritual mind and the mother passes on the natural mind. The qualities of the natural mind are malleable but those of the spiritual mind are fixed.
As a result, once a generation falls spiritually, the next generation will be born fallen, with all the spiritual and natural qualities being passed on by parental heredity. This is what makes regeneration necessary for redemption and salvation. Redemption means to keep from falling into the hells in our mind, while salvation means to prepare the mind for heavenly life by means of regeneration. The reason regeneration of the race took so many centuries historically is the same reason that every individual takes a lifetime to regenerate. Our time of death is related to regeneration so that the moment an individual can no longer be regenerated further, death is brought on, followed by resuscitation in the spirit-body in the world of spirits, where we begin eternal life in heaven or in hell. Clearly, the purpose for which we are alive on this earth is to continue undergoing regeneration of character.
Character is the will. The will is an organ of affective reception. It receives the inflow of spiritual heat from the spiritual Sun, starting in the will of the spiritual mind, which is unconscious, then descending by corresponding discrete degrees, into the natural mind, where it produces the operations of the natural will. These include everything that has to do with a motive, intention, desire, attraction, repulsion, preference, affection, delight, love. We have these phenomenal and behavioral capacities because of the operation of the organ of the will. Keep in mind that since the Fall, the will of the split-brain race is separated from the understanding, whereas it was united before. This means that we must first reform the understanding before we can regenerate. Once the understanding is reformed, it is enlightened from receiving the light of the spiritual sun through the study of the Threefold Word. The enlightened understanding can then lead the will to shun whatever is sin or evil.
The Lord manages the process of regeneration in every detail. He brings temptations for us to face on a daily basis. He gives us the power to see the evil in our choice or habit or love. He then gives us the power to shun it. He then gives us the power to detest it. Then finally, we are free of that evil. This process must go in repeatedly, daily. We must cooperate because the Lord cannot advance us without our cooperation. This means as-of self struggle against our temptations, feeling the agony of rejecting what we still love that is evil. As we come to detest all our evils, one by one, the Lord implants a new will that is not fallen and operates properly through its ties to heaven. When we undergo this process on earth, we enter heaven soon after our resuscitation. Then we continue our regeneration as angels to eternity, but in a new way, since no evils or falsities can exist in the sphere of heaven.
No one can know anything about God or the spiritual world except from the Threefold Word. The details I review above, and throughout this book, are the specifications you’ll find in the Writings. Clearly, I would not allow myself to add any factual details that I make up myself because I keep them away. I have undergone reformation and it has taught me how to keep what is from me and from others, away from what is from the Writings in my mind. The Threefold Word must be the exclusive source of all truth, of all faith, and of all science. This means that whatever we take from science must not be opposite to True Science in the Threefold Word. And clearly most of science that is useful and beneficial to society is not opposed to True Science. It would not take much to alter the course of science to be theistic and be compatible with True Science. I predict that this is going to happen in the course of time.
Now consider these puzzles about the Word of the New Testament:
Why was Mary instructed to name the Messiah “Jesus” rather than “Jehovah”?
Was it not Jehovah Himself who was incarnated as the Messiah?
Did not Jehovah declare throughout the Old Testament that He is the only Savior and Redeemer and that He gives His Name to no one?
How can then Jesus be called the Savior and Redeemer?
Why did Jesus say that He and the Father are one, and that if you’ve seen Him then you’ve seen the Father, but He never said that He was the Father. Since His “internal man” or soul was Jehovah, why did He not say, “I am Jehovah.” He only said “I am.”
Why did Jesus speak in parables, of which He only explained some, leaving others unexplained?
Why is there almost nothing revealed about the life of Jesus prior to His public ministry?
What did Jesus mean when He said that the Old Testament Word is all about Him? In fact, He is not even mentioned except by a couple of subtle allusions where His Coming is foreshadowed.
Clearly there must be a deep secret here that the rational and scientific mind wants to explain logically. And the rational explanation is given in the Word of the Writings. The explanation relates to the parables in the New Testament – why Jesus taught by parables and, except for some, He did not directly explain their spiritual meaning. Why not? The answer is revealed in the Writings.
It is quite clear that all the details, every single one, mentioned by the Lord in His parables are representative of and mean the spiritual and celestial attributes of His kingdom, and in the highest sense Divine attributes in Himself. Consequently anyone who does not know this cannot make anything else out of the Lord's parables than ordinary comparisons which hold nothing deeper within them, as with this particular parable concerning the ten virgins. He makes nothing more out of it if he does not know what 'virgins' means in the internal sense, and also what ten, five, lamps, vessels, oil, those who sell, a wedding feast, and every other detail mean. And the same is true with all other parables. As has been stated, the details mentioned by the Lord in them look, in the outward form they take, like ordinary comparisons, but in their internal form their nature is such that they fill the whole of heaven. This is because the internal sense is contained within every detail, and that sense is such that its spiritual and celestial content spreads like light and flame throughout the heavens in all directions. That sense is utterly superior to the sense of the letter, flowing from every phrase and every word, indeed from every tiny letter. But what is embodied in the internal sense of this particular parable may be seen from what follows below. (AC 4637)
The Lord's parables of the laborers in the vineyards in like manner signified spiritual churches (Matt. 20:1-16; 21:33-44; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-16). Since the "vine" signifies the spiritual church, and the primary thing of the spiritual church is charity, in which the Lord is present, and by means of which He conjoins Himself with man, and Himself alone works every good, therefore the Lord compares Himself to a vine (AC 1069).
Then if anyone says to you, Behold, here is the Christ! or There! do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and they will show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. [Matthew 24:23-24).
What these words embody no one can know except from the teaching of the internal sense - such as the prediction that false Christs will arise who will show great signs and wonders; the command that they should not go out if they were told that Christ was in the wilderness, and that they should not believe it if they were told that He was in the inner rooms; the declaration that the coming of the Son of Man will be like lightning which comes from the east and is seen as far as the west; and also the comment that where the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. These various statements - like those that come before and those that follow them in this chapter - do not seem, in the sense of the letter, to have any connection with one another. But in the internal sense there is a most wonderful flow of ideas, and this starts to be seen when one understands what is meant by 'false Christs', by 'greet signs and wonders', by 'the wilderness' and 'the inner rooms', also by 'the coming of the Son of Man', and lastly by 'the carcass' and 'the eagles'.
 The Lord's reason for speaking in this manner was that people should not understand the Word in case they profaned it; for once the Church had been destroyed, as it had been at that time among the Jews, people would have profaned the Word if they had understood it. This was also why the Lord spoke in parables, as He himself teaches in Matthew 13:13-15; Mark 4:11, 12; Luke 8:10. For the Word cannot be profaned by those who have no knowledge of its mysteries, only by those who do, see [Arcana Coelestia Numbers] 301-303, 593, 1008, 1010, 1059, 1327, 1328, 2051, 3398, 3402; and more so by those who consider themselves learned than by those who consider themselves unlearned.
 But the reason why the interior contents of the Word are being disclosed at the present time is that the Church today has been so much vastated, that is, is so devoid of faith and love, that although people know and understand they still do not acknowledge, let alone believe, see 3398, 3399 - with the exception of a few who lead a good life and are called the elect. Among these few who are now able to be taught the new Church is to be established. But where those few are the Lord alone knows. Few of these will be inside the Church. In the past it has been the gentiles among whom new Churches have been established, see 2986. (AC 3898).
These are some sample passages out of very many in the Writings that discuss how the Threefold Word is written in a natural language whose details correspond exactly to the code of correspondences. Sometimes people react to this idea by feeling a threat to the integrity of the Bible they love. But what’s being said here in no way detracts from the Divinity of the Bible but adds immeasurably to it. This is most important to understand. When people read the Bible it is easy to classify it as ancient literature or ancient history. People can grant that the Bible is historically and culturally important, even though they do not grant its Divinity since it was written mere humans, no matter how inspired they were. Indeed, you must admit that when one reads the Bible it is hard to see its Divinity!
Yes, the Bible is about Divinity, about God, about heaven and hell, about sin and salvation. But anyone could write such a book. Why is it Divine? In fact some Christian religions or sects claim to have a supplemental Old Testament book they claim was also given as the Word of God to later prophets. I have read two of these so-called supplemental Bibles and I could not see anything Divine in them. They looked to me like someone wrote it who was able to imitate the style of the Bible. I think it would be impossible to show that the Old and New Testaments are Divine if one were restricted solely to their literal meaning.
The Divinity of the Old and New Testaments can however be demonstrated by considering the inner spiritual meaning of every verse, phrase, and word. This analysis can be done only with the knowledge of the code in which the Threefold Word is written. This code has been revealed in the Writings of Swedenborg. By revealing the code of correspondences God has given human kind a new scientific proof of the Divinity of the Word. Now any scientist or scholar can follow the proof and find new examples of it in the Threefold Word. The more we understand and master the code of correspondences, the more we can extract new hidden scientific revelations from the Threefold Word. This process of extraction of True Science will go on forever, enriching the civilizations on earth and in heaven. Such are the infinite things that the Divine Word contains within itself.
The passage from the Writings quoted immediately above, explains the reason why the Threefold Word was written in a natural style in which spiritual truths are represented symbolically by means of the code of correspondences. The code was used to protect both the prophets and the readers from “profaning” them. In other passages the Writings explain that profanation is the conscious denial or disrespect for holy things. This danger is referred to in the New Testament when Jesus expresses thankfulness that the eyes of sinners remains shut so they cannot see the truth, and also, that it is the sin against the Holy spirit that cannot forgiven. Quoting from the Writings:
Since by profanation of what is holy is meant profanation by those who have a knowledge of the truths of faith and the goods of charity from the Word, and who, moreover, in some measure acknowledge them, and not by those who are ignorant of them, nor by those who impiously reject them utterly, therefore what follows is not said of the latter but of the former. There are many kinds of profanation by the former class of profaners, some lighter and some more grievous; but they may be referred to the following seven.
First, the kind of profanation committed by those who make jests from the Word and about the Word, or from the Divine things of the Church and about them. This is done by some from a bad habit, by taking names or forms of expression from the Word and mingling them with remarks that are unseemly and sometimes filthy. (...)
 Second, the kind of profanation committed by those who understand and acknowledge Divine truths, and yet live contrary to them. Those who only understand profane more lightly, while those who also acknowledge profane more grievously. (...) Thus if one acknowledges that revenge and hatred, adultery and fornication, fraud and deceit, blasphemy and lying, are sins against God, and yet commits them, he is in the more grievous form of this kind of profanation; for the Lord says,
The servant which knew his lord's will ... and did not according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. Luke xii. 48 (A.V. 47);
If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. John ix. 41.
 Third, the kind of profanation committed by those who apply the sense of the Letter of the Word to confirm evil loves and false principles. This is because the confirmation of falsity is a denial of truth, and the confirmation of evil is a rejection of good. The Word in its inmost is nothing but Divine Truth and Divine Good; and this in the ultimate sense which is the sense of the Letter is not expressed in genuine truths, except where it teaches concerning the Lord and the essential way of salvation, but in truths veiled, which are called appearances of truth. (...)
 Fourth, the kind of profanation committed by those who speak with the lips pious and holy things, and who also by their tone of voice and gesture counterfeit the affections of the love of such things, and yet in their heart do not believe and love them. Most of these are hypocrites and Pharisees from whom after death are taken away all truth and good; and they are then sent into outer darkness. (...)
 Fifth, the kind of profanation committed by those who attribute to themselves what is Divine. Such are meant by Lucifer in Isaiah xiv. Lucifer there means Babylon, as may be evident from the fourth and twenty-second verses of that chapter, where, too, the lot of such is described. The same are meant and described also in Revelation xvii by the harlot sitting on the scarlet beast. Babylon and Chaldea are mentioned in many places in the Word, where by Babylon is meant the profanation of good, and by Chaldea the profanation of truth. In both cases the profanation is committed by those who attribute to themselves what is Divine.
 Sixth, the kind of profanation committed by those who acknowledge the Lord and yet deny the Divinity of the Lord. In the world these are called Socinians, and some Arians. The condition of all such is that they call upon the Father, and not upon the Lord, and continually pray to the Father, some indeed for the sake of the Son, to be admitted into heaven, but in vain, even till they become without hope of salvation. They are then sent down to hell among those who deny God. Such are meant by those
Who blaspheme the Holy Spirit, who will not be forgiven either in this world or in the world to come. Matt. xii. 32.
This is because God is one in Person and in Essence, in whom is the Trinity, and this God is the Lord; and since the Lord is heaven, and consequently those who are in heaven are in the Lord, therefore those who deny the Divinity of the Lord cannot be admitted into heaven and be in the Lord. It has been shown above that the Lord is heaven, and consequently that those who are in heaven are in the Lord.
 Seventh, the kind of profanation committed by those who first acknowledge Divine truths and live according to them, but afterwards depart from them and deny them. This is the worst kind of profanation because such persons mingle things holy and profane to such a degree that they cannot be separated; and yet these things must be separated in order that men may find their place either in heaven or in hell. As this cannot be effected, however, in the case of such persons, all that is human, both intellectual and voluntary, is rooted out and, as was said before, they come to be no longer men. (...)
 The profane of this kind are meant by the lukewarm, of whom it is thus written in the Revelation:
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. Rev. iii. 14, 15 (A.V. 15, 16).
This kind of profanation is thus described by the Lord in Matthew:
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.
Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.
Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Matt. xii. 43-45.
The conversion of a man is here described by the unclean spirit's going out of him; and his turning back to his former evils, after things good and true have been cast out, is described by the return of the unclean spirit with seven others worse than himself into the house garnished for him; and the profanation of what is holy by what is profane is described by the last state of that man being worse than the first. The same is meant by this passage in John:
Jesus said to the man who had been healed at the pool of Bethesda: Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. John v. 14.
 The Lord provides that a man should not interiorly acknowledge truths and afterwards depart from them and become profane. This is meant by these words:
He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. John xii. 4 (A.V. 40).
Lest they should be converted and I should heal them, signifies lest they should acknowledge truths and then depart from them, and thus become profane. For the same reason the Lord spoke in parables, as He Himself says, Matt. xiii. 13. (DP 231)
Now that you know what is profanation you can understand that the Lord doesn’t just reveal spiritual truths by means of natural language that is available to any one regardless of their spiritual intentions or development. This is why the Threefold Word had to be written in a secret code that was to be revealed by the Lord only to those who would not profane them.
The separation of profane and holy ideas when thus conjoined cannot be effected except by means of such infernal torment that if a man were aware of it he would as carefully avoid profanation as he would avoid hell itself. (AC 301)
You might wonder therefore about the Writings revealing the code of correspondences. Would not this increase the dangers of profanation for many people? And especially is this the case with True Science which in the future will be taught in schools as atheistic science is being taught today. What about the dangers of profanation then?
The answer is that there is discrete difference between “knowing” correspondences from memory and “understanding” what they mean. For example, one may know that the number “7” in the Threefold Word always means “holy things,” or that “40” means temptations, or that “rain” means natural truths, or that Egypt means the sciences, etc. Mere memory knowledge of these correspondences cannot be profaned. One of the books on my shelf is called Dictionary of Correspondences (xx). It was compiled from the Writings. No one is in danger of profaning Divine truths by using this dictionary for interpreting dreams or the symbolism of poetry. The danger of profanation occurs when you understand that these correspondences are holy things from the Word of God. If you do not understand what is holy, or do not believe that the Threefold Word is holy, you are in no danger of profaning the knowledge of correspondences you acquire.
Furthermore, there is a gradual entering into holy things, not an immediate access. For instance, we may believe and understand that Communion or the Holy Supper is holy, but we may only dimly comprehend what is holy in it. Some people think it is the actual bread and wine that become holy once they are blessed for worship. Others think it’s a deep mystery and miracle by which the Lord is present with those who receive Communion. These ideas do not lead to profanation. As a next step, the Lord reveals the meaning of “blood,” “bread,” “wine,” and “eating or drinking.” Blood and wine in the Holy Supper represent Divine Truth, bread represents Divine Good, and eating or drinking represent appropriation to oneself. In other words, the Holy Supper represents the appropriation of Divine Good and Divine Truth by means of worship of the Lord. But what is Divine Good and Divine Truth that is being appropriated? This is not revealed along with the code of correspondences. You may know that bread and wine represent good and truth, but you may not know what is good and truth. Again, this is to be revealed only to those who will not profane it, and the Lord foresees who will profane it and therefore cannot be enlightened as to what it refers to spiritually. At first the Lord reveals something about what is good and truth, then more and more interior things about them, which are spiritual and celestial. And finally, the Lord reveals what good and truth are in one’s own states, when appropriated.
There is therefore an orderly sequence of revelations to be made. First, there is the public revelation that all can get hold of by memory and reading. This carries minimal dangers of profanation. Then this is followed by a series of progressive individual revelations. In other words, every individual reading the Threefold Word, or being instructed of in the topics of True Science, only gradually gains a comprehension of the spiritual meanings hidden in the literal meanings. The degree of interiorness of the revelation to each individual is proportional to the individual’s progress in regeneration. The more we advance in regeneration, the deeper the revelation we are given in our enlightenment. This gradual stepwise revelation process insures that no one backtracks once they’ve gone ahead, while those who would backtrack, are prevented by the Lord from deeper comprehension of the spiritual topics.
Quoting from the Writings of Swedenborg:
In order that the Lord might be constantly present He has revealed to me the spiritual sense of His Word, in which is Divine Truth in its own light; and in this light He is continually present. For the Lord’s presence in the Word is only by means of the spiritual sense, through the light of which He passes into the shade in which is the sense of the Letter; and then it is as when the sun’s light in daytime passes through an intervening cloud. It has been shown above that the sense of the Letter of the Word is like a cloud, while the spiritual sense is the glory; and that the Lord Himself is the Sun from which the light proceeds, and, therefore, that the Lord is the Word. (TCR 780)
Therefore in order to remove all doubt as to such being the character of the Word, the Lord has revealed to me the Word's internal sense. In its essence this sense is spiritual, and in relation to the external sense, which is natural, is as soul is to body. This sense is the spirit which gives life to the letter; it can therefore bear witness to the divinity and holiness of the Word, and convince even the natural man, if he is willing to be convinced. (SS 4)
Quoting from Swedenborg where he discusses the inner meaning of numbers in the Old and New Testament:
 As these passages are historic it can hardly be believed that the numbers in them are significant as the number "five thousand" of the men, and also the number "five" of the loaves, and "two" of the fishes, as also the number "one hundred," and the number "fifty," of the companies that sat down, and lastly "twelve" which was the number of the baskets containing the fragments; when yet there is a secret in each number. For every detail happened of providence, in order that Divine things might be represented. (AC 5291)
In other words, numbers in the Threefold Word have a double meaning, one literal, the other coded by means of correspondences. Unless this code is known, one cannot figure out what each number refers to regarding spiritual things or meanings. A careful observer may discover the inner meaning of some numbers when juxtaposing the passages in the Testaments where that number is used, and then inferring what its spiritual referent may be. An example is the number 40, which is mentioned in connection with temptations – have you noticed that? You may also have noticed the use of the number 12 to refer to a complete set of truths, and perhaps the number 10 as referring to remnants of truths. At any rate, this approach would yield only a few results while the majority of numbers would remain obscure as to their spiritual referents. Then consider all the words – names, places, objects, actions, etc., and you can see that one would not be able to figure out by this means the spiritual referents for most of the words in the Threefold Word.
Therefore it is such a wonderful development for the human race now that the Lord has seen fit to reveal the code of correspondences through the Writings. Now we can apply these correspondences to the Threefold Word and begin to uncover, or extract, the endless database of knowledge it contains. This knowledge is True Science, revealed by God to humanity. It is endless because each word contains an endless series of ordered truths, so that endless numbers of generations to eternity can continue to extract scientific revelations in the Threefold Word. Such is the awesome significance of the human race being in possession of the Writings. You can see that to a few people to whom this is known and understood, it is hard to contain one’s enthusiasm in telling others about it. Even harder is it to see people’s reactions of disinterest or derision. Yet to you, dear reader, if you compel yourself to continue with this book till the end, it will be given to you to know and understand this great open secret. Then it will be your turn to feel amazed when you tell others, and they turn aside. But eventually, over some number of generations, the Writings will become the norm in society, like the dictionary and the encyclopedia. Then this present book will be read as a curiosity of the past where the future was anticipated.
In the quote above (AC 5291) note especially the last sentence: “For every detail happened of providence, in order that Divine things might be represented.” This sentence alone, when understood, is amazingly inspiring and empowering. It is like taking an elevator to the penthouse of a tall apartment building. When you look out the window, either day or night, you see an uplifting picture of the city from a lofty perspective that only the rich can afford in the bedroom. The “rich” in the Threefold word is a code word for those who have spiritual truths, for it is truths that enrich the individual to eternity, while material riches are temporary. When the Threefold Word mentions the activity of ascending to the top of a mountain it is a coded reference to elevating the consciousness by means of spiritual truths from the Word. This sentence functions like a spiritual elevator, raising our understanding of reality. The sentence reveals that God managed to have certain specific events in history to occur so that when these are recorded by the prophets, the words and sentences in their inner secret code, will form just the correct series for representing spiritual truths needed for our regeneration.
This in itself, if you understand it, is sufficient scientific proof that the Threefold Word is Divine and that God orchestrates every single detail of an event – the time, the place, the people, the weather, the accidental events, the sequence of the events, the thoughts and feelings of the participants, and all the rest.
Prior to this, it was known generally that God manages all details of the universe. This is the Trinitarian concept of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. But now we can know this in particular detail, hence, scientifically. We can study it as a scientific object. The Three Testaments span three millennia in their writing, and the code of correspondences has been frozen in time to eternity, so that we may study its endless tracks through what has been revealed in the Writings of Swedenborg. This is why the Third Testament, or the 27 volumes of the Writings, is called The Crown of Churches by the Lord. “The Crown of Churches” is a code reference for the uppermost anatomy of the human mind. The Writings are called that because those who study it as Divine Truth, are taken up in their consciousness to the top of their mind, which is called heaven.
Now consider the next passage which will demonstrate that the code of correspondences in the Three Testaments is not an arbitrary linguistic device or convention. This is what one thinks when thinking about a code in a natural way. Computers are very fast in being able to break such codes. But the code of correspondences is not a linguistic code but a reality code, if I may call it that. Correspondences are laws of creation and existence. This idea is related to what the New Testament reveals about how the universe was created, namely, by Divine Truth:
That God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent through the wisdom of His love is meant by the words in John:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the world was made by Him. And the Word was made flesh (John 1:1, 3-4, 10, 14);
"the Word" here meaning the Divine truth, or, what amounts to the same thing, the Divine wisdom; and for this reason it is called "life" and "light," "life" and "light" being nothing else than wisdom. (TCR 50)
 In heaven Divine Truth has all power, and apart from it there 1a11 is no power whatever. From the Divine Truth all angels are called powers, and are powers to the extent that they are receptions or receptacles of it. By means of it, they prevail over the hells and over all that oppose them. A thousand enemies there cannot endure a single ray of the light of heaven which is Divine Truth. Since angels are angels from their reception of Divine Truth, it follows that the entire heaven is from no other source, for heaven consists of angels.
 That there is such power latent in Divine Truth is incredible to those who have no other idea of truth than that it is thought or speech, which have no power in themselves except as others do them from obedience. But Divine Truth has power in itself, and such power that, by means of it, heaven was created and the world with all things therein. That there is such power latent in Divine Truth may be illustrated by two comparisons, namely, by the power of truth and good in man, and by the power of light and heat from the sun in the world. (HH 137)
One of the most impressive scientific revelations in the Writings, at least to me, is the fact that truth is a substance streaming out of the spiritual Sun, and corresponding to it, is the sunlight streaming out of every sun in a galaxy. Light and heat from the natural sun are material in the form of physical particles and wave energies. This corresponds exactly to light and heat streaming out of the spiritual Sun, and these are not material in form but substantive. They are substances. Light from the spiritual Sun is a spiritual substance while the heat that is within it, is a celestial substance. The spiritual substance activates our understanding where it is experienced as truths we are conscious of. When we talk about truths in a natural way, we think about the logical condition of statements, and surely these are not like matter or substance.
But thinking more rationally, and scientifically, we can know that truth is a substance that produces logic and rationality as phenomena. It is like electricity that streams into the thin wires of a light bulb and sets them aglow with light from the heat inside. It is the electricity streaming into the wire that makes it white hot. The light streaming out is therefore an effect or phenomenon produced by the electricity being absorbed into the material of the tungsten wires. The absorption of energy in the form of electricity, causes the atomic particles of the wires to move faster, which causes particles and waves of energy to flow from the wires across the glass bulb into the surrounding air, and these then carry the light to the eye.
A similar corresponding sequence of tiny events take place when spiritual light is absorbed into the receptor organ called the understanding, so that the end result of the process is the phenomenon of understanding or conscious awareness. Truth substance activates the cognitive organs of the mind so that it produces thinking operations governed by a rational syntax. So the action of correspondences is what creates effects in the natural world by means of causes in the spiritual world. This is not an arbitrary code but the genetic code of reality itself. This is the code of the Threefold Word is written in, and no other human work has this unique Divine and infinite property. This is why it is said that the universe was created by means of the Word. This is Divine Truth within which is Divine Love that activates it.
Now consider the demonstrable power of correspondences. Quoting from the Writings:
Third Memorable Relation
The next day an angel came to me from another society and said, "We have heard in our society that on account of your meditations about the creation of the universe you were summoned to a society near ours, and there told things about creation which the society then assented to, and have since remembered with pleasure. I will now show you how all kinds of animals and vegetables were produced by God."
He led me away to a broad green field and said, "Look around." And I looked around, and saw birds of most beautiful colors, some flying, some perched upon the trees, and some scattered over the field plucking little leaves from roses. Among the birds were doves and swans. After these had disappeared from my sight I saw not far from me flocks of sheep with lambs, and of kids and she-goats; and round about these flocks I saw herds of cattle, young and old, also of camels and mules, and in a kind of grove, deer with high horns, and also unicorns.
When I had beheld these things the angel said, "Turn your face towards the east." And I saw a garden containing fruit trees, as orange trees, lemon trees, olive trees, vines, fig-trees, pomegranates, and also shrubs bearing berries.
The angel then said, "Look now towards the south." And I saw fields of various kinds of grain, as wheat, millet, barley, and beans, and round about them flower beds containing roses of beautifully varied colors; but toward the north I saw thick groves of chestnut trees, palms, lindens, plane trees, and other trees with rich foliage.
 When I had seen these things the angel said, "All these things that you have seen are correspondences of affections of the love of the angels who are near." And he told me to what affection each particular thing corresponded; and moreover, that not these only, but also all other things that presented themselves to their sight were correspondences, as houses, the articles of furniture in them, the tables and food, the clothing, and even the gold and silver coins, as also the diamonds and other precious stones with which wives and virgins in the heavens are adorned. "From all these things," he said, "the character of every person in respect to love and wisdom is perceived by us. The things in our houses that are of use remain there permanently; while to the sight of those who wander from one society to another these things change as their associations change.
 These things have been shown to enable you to see, in a special example, the entire creation. For God is love itself and wisdom itself; the affections of His love are infinite, and the perceptions of His wisdom are infinite; and of these each thing and all things that appear on earth are correspondences. This is the origin of birds and beasts, forest trees, fruit trees, crops and harvests, herbs and grasses. For God is not extended, and yet He is present throughout all extension, thus throughout the universe from its firsts to its lasts; and He being thus omnipresent, there are these correspondences of the affections of His love and wisdom in the whole natural world; while in our world, which is called the spiritual world, there are like correspondences with those who are receiving affections and perceptions from God.
The difference is that in our world such things are created by God from moment to moment in accordance with the affections of the angels. In your world they were created in like manner in the beginning; but it was provided that they should be renewed unceasingly by the propagation of one from another, and creation be thus continued.
 In our world creation is from moment to moment, and in yours continued by propagation, because the atmospheres and earths of our world are spiritual, and the atmospheres and earths of your world natural; and natural things were created to clothe spiritual things as skin clothes the bodies of men and animals, as outer and inner barks clothe the trunks and branches of trees, the several membranes clothe the brain, tunics the nerves, and the inner coats their fibers, and so on. This is why all things in your world are constant, and are renewed constantly from year to year."
To this the angel added, "Go and tell the inhabitants of your world what you have seen and heard, for hitherto they have been in complete ignorance about the spiritual world; and without some knowledge about it no one can know, nor even guess, that in our world creation is a continuous process, and that it was the same in yours while the universe was being created by God."
 After this we talked about various matters; and at length about hell, that no such things are seen there as are seen in heaven, but only their opposites; since the affections of the love of those there, which are lusts of evil, are opposites of the affections of love in which angels of heaven are. Thus with those in hell, and in general in their deserts, there are seen birds of night, such as bats and owls; also wolves, panthers, tigers, and rats and mice; also venomous serpents of every kind, dragons and crocodiles; and (where there is any herbage) brambles, nettles, thorns, and thistles, and some poisonous plants grow: and at times these disappear, and then nothing is seen but heaps of stones, and bogs in which frogs croak. All of these things are correspondences; but as has been said, they are correspondences of the affections of the love of those in hell, which affections are lusts of evil. Notwithstanding these things are not created there by God; nor were they created by Him in the natural world, where like things exist. For all things that God has created and does create were and are good; while such things on the earth sprang up along with hell, and hell originated in men, who by turning away from God became after death satans and devils. But as these terrible things began to be painful to our ears, we turned our thoughts from them and recalled to mind what we had seen in heaven. (TCR 78)
This remarkable report by Swedenborg gives us a number of illuminating facts from True Science. The angels are the people who inhabit the highest portion of their mind, which as often discussed above, is called “heaven” by the Lord in the Threefold Word. When we have attained that level of thinking and feeling, our consciousness and understanding are filled with nothing but knowledge of True Science. This information is instantaneously present in their conscious understanding whenever it is desired or needed. They do not have to read, study and memorize, thus do not make mistakes of perception or reporting. What Swedenborg records in the quote above about what the angels said, may be taken as having been said from the Lord because angels only think and speak from affections that inflow from the Lord’s Own Proprium and are adapted uniquely to each angel. Hence it is that angels talk as we do, not knowing in advance what another will say, so that social occasions are maintained in their integrity in all heavenly societies.
Further, what has been written in the Writings must follow and complete the sequence of coded meanings started in the Old Testament, continued in the New Testament, and completed in the Writings. The threefold Word has an unbroken inner sense in its coded sequence, word by word, phrase by phrase, verse by verse, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter, book by book, and so on, since the Threefold Word in its entirety makes one complete perfect representation of the in finite variations of Divine Truth. Every human being – soul, mind, body -- may be taken as a unique variation of Divine Truth, and human beings can be produced endlessly since the variations of Divine Truth are endless or infinite. This indeed is the Lord’s purpose for creation – an endless production of immortal human beings whose consciousness and life can rise to the top of their mind called heaven, where they live in conjugial happiness that increases daily to eternity. This purpose is what Divine Love is.
Let us summarize some of the main points in the passage quoted above:
(1) Swedenborg participated in an experiment in the spiritual world. He was the subject-observer or witness, and an angel was the experimenter. The demonstration consisted of showing the power and mechanism of correspondences so that Swedenborg could report them from experience (“These things have been shown to enable you to see, in a special example, the entire creation ...”).
(2) The angel produced different effects in different directions around Swedenborg. Around him he saw a green field, flowers, colorful birds, and useful domestic animals. Told to look towards the east, he saw a garden with fruit trees. Looking to the south, he saw various kinds of grain, thick groves of trees with rich foliage.
(3) These effects were produced at will by means of correspondences, well known to angels. General effects are produced by the general disposition or “the character of every person in respect to love and wisdom.” Particular effects are produced by each particular affection of an angel who is near, as for instance the detailed architectural structure of a house or adornment jewelry.
(4) Visitors in a heavenly society see similar things to the inhabitants if they are in similar disposition. Houses, cities, etc. remain in permanent place to the extent that the inhabitants there retain the same general disposition of character. Daily changes, or increases, in their love and wisdom, are marked by corresponding changes in the details of the things already in permanence, so that a wall may change its appearance, a new jewelry piece may appear on the earlobe of an angel wife, or a new type of fruit tree may appear outside the window. Heaven is a state of mind in which we are given the power to produce these natural-spiritual appearances by means of our affections and cognitions.
[ A side note: Is this not truly amazing – and I for one, am looking forward to such a state. I’ve got to make sure I stay on course with my rational spirituality! My wife is the essential component in my not getting lost! Even if I possess the enlightenment of heaven, I cannot stay the course without her – so I found out.]
(5) The origin of all correspondences is God’s love and wisdom (“the affections of His love are infinite, and the perceptions of His wisdom are infinite; and of these each thing and all things that appear on earth are correspondences”. Obviously, this is the reason that the Threefold Word is written in correspondences since the Word is God Himself speaking to humanity. Everything that God says in speaking to us is in correspondences. Why? Because when we read His Word in a printed book, what is it but a natural object in which is contained holy spiritual things. A Bible verse rendered in some natural language like Hebrew, Greek, or Latin, is a natural object and all natural objects are created by correspondences. But a sentence in the Threefold Word contains encoded heavenly secrets, while other objects do not. Such is the unique character of the Threefold Word. It would not be able to serve its function were it not Divine. This function is to keep open the life-line connection between God and the human race.
(6) Correspondences produce effects by discrete degrees and all created things are created into three discrete degrees of structure. This principle is called “from firsts to lasts,” which indicates that God operates the universe by a successive sequence of mechanisms operating together in simultaneous order, which is some particular object and function in existence.
(7) The same mechanism of correspondences that produces natural effects from spiritual causes, operates with spirits, angels, and devils, in producing environmental appearances. The world we are in, when cut off from the physical world, is a mental world called the spiritual world. The memories and knowledges we bring with us from earth fills the lower portion of our mind. As we lose the physical body, our consciousness in the eternal spirit-body must either ascent to the higher spiritual-rational portion of our mind, or else descend to the lower natural portion. Which we do depends on the affections and cognitions we brought with us in the natural mind. These affections or mental states draw us near others with similar mental states and together we make a spiritual society which consists of cities and lands instantiated in accordance with the affections and cognitions of those present with each other.
(8) What’s important therefore for consciousness raising to heaven, is not the knowledge of correspondences but the acquisition of affections and cognitions that project a heavenly sphere or existence. The projection, production, or instantiation of our external environment in the spiritual world – whether heaven or hell – is achieved not by our knowledge of correspondences but by the very laws of correspondences, whether we know them or not.
(9) Whatever first comes into existence in the natural world is by means of correspondences from the love and wisdom of the Lord, but afterwards, it is reproduced by means of new mechanisms such as geological formations or reproduction of species by new births. These new mechanisms are produced by different spiritual affections and cognitions which the angels have.
(10) The angel knew about our ignorance of correspondences and tells Swedenborg to make the facts known (“Go and tell the inhabitants of your world what you have seen and heard”).
With this introduction, consider a set of facts about correspondences and the Threefold Word:
(a) The Threefold Word, composed of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings, was written by dozens of authors over nearly three millennia or thirty centuries.
(b) Each author wrote as-of self a record of what they saw and heard. Unbeknownst to them however, every sentence they wrote down has a double meaning, one literal, the other inner and spiritual.
(c) The inner spiritual meaning of every sentence of the Threefold Word can be extracted from the literal meaning by applying a special translation code to it. This code is called the code of correspondences and is described fully in the Writings.
(d) Swedenborg learned the code from his special observations of the spiritual world through dual consciousness from age 57 to his passing on at 84 (1688-1772). He observed repeatedly that the thoughts and feelings of those who are there, are projected outward by the laws of correspondences. For instance, evil loves and false ideas project an outward appearance of darkness, caves, marshy lakes, noxious animals and stenches. Good loves and true ideas project light, gardens, palaces, friendly animals, and wonderful fragrances. Hence it is that people with good love who pass on are able to find and live in a heavenly environment, while people with evil loves find a hellish place to dwell in. The same correspondences that exist between the mind and the environment in the spiritual world, also govern the relation between the literal meaning of the Threefold Word and its inner spiritual meaning. Correspondences are therefore universal, governing all things between the natural and the spiritual worlds.
(e) Even though the Threefold Word is written in a code, every historical or descriptive detail mentioned is accurate. In other words the Threefold Word is not poetic symbolism but accurate history and science. Despite this, it has a hidden code and an entirely new meaning through that code. This inner meaning was not known to the writers. Correspondences are not symbolic interpretations. Correspondences are scientific principles of creation that govern all natural phenomena by means of spiritual phenomena. They are objective, not subjective or interpretive. They give knowledge of the causes of natural phenomena.
So now the logical question arises: How can you explain that the Threefold Word is written entirely in a hidden code of correspondences when none of the authors of the Old and New Testaments knew anything about correspondences?
If this is not proof, what is? What can be more certain to the rational mind? If this doesn’t impress you it’s because you are thinking only about sensuous consciousness of God, when yet it is rational consciousness of the Lord that elevates our consciousness all the way to heaven.
Furthermore, Swedenborg who knew about correspondences, illustrated their use with the Old and New Testaments. He was not conscious of the fact that he was also writing in correspondences. He was just writing down his analyses of the Old and New Testaments, as well as the travels and interviews he conducted in the spiritual world. And yet, because the Writings are the Word, the sentences Swedenborg wrote down are also in a code of correspondences, even if he did not himself try to write in a code. To what extent he was aware that what he wrote spontaneously came out in a code, I do not know, but it’s not possible for me to think that Swedenborg did not know that the Word of the Second Coming had an internal sense just as the first Two Testaments. The fact that he never mentions it indicates that this is something the Lord reveals to each individual (see the discussion on profanation in the previous section). There are many places in the Writings where Swedenborg announces that he’s going to reveal something later in the text, “by the Lord’s mercy.” But sometimes he writes that he is not allowed to reveal more things about some particular subject. Why wouldn’t he? The reason is undoubtedly as explained in relation to profanation.
And furthermore, there is the teaching in several places of the text that the degree of interiorness of truth understood in the Writings, is proportional to one’s progress in regeneration. This too indicates that the Lord is in immediate charge of the degree of truth that we can derive from the literal of the Threefold Word. In the 12-volume Arcana Coelestia, we are given a phrase by phrase and verse by verse analysis of all of Genesis and Exodus. The purpose is to show the existence of an underlying spiritual meaning that can be accessed by knowledge of correspondences. Just a few of the thousands of instances may be cited:
And there was given unto them power as the scorpions of the earth have power, signifies their ability to persuade, and its effect and might. This is evident from the signification of a "scorpion," as being an infatuating and suffocating persuasiveness (of which presently); and from the signification of "power," as being might and effect, here the might of the sensual man from his persuasiveness, and the effect which is infatuating and suffocating. (AC 544)
The "blood" because it signified charity, signified what is holy; and the "flesh" because it signified man's will, signified what is profane. And because these things are separate, being contrary, they were forbidden to eat blood; for by eating flesh with the blood was then represented in heaven profanation, or the mingling of what is sacred with what is profane; and this representation in heaven could not then but strike the angels with horror; for at that time all things existing with the man of the church were turned, among the angels, into corresponding spiritual representations, in accordance with the signification of the things in the internal sense. (AC 1001)
That the "mountains of Ararat" signify light [lumen] is evident from the signification of a "mountain" as being the good of love and charity (n. 795); and from the signification of "Ararat" as being light, and indeed the light of the regenerate. (AC 854)
In the exposition of the inner coded meaning of the Old and New Testaments, the Writings frequently employ a basic rational formula that can be rendered;
“A” signifies B,
where A=a word or phrase in the original text of the Old and New Testaments that refers to natural things
and B=a word or phrase describing the inner spiritual meaning of A, derived by applying the code of correspondences.
Thus, in the quoted passages above, we have:
"scorpion" = an infatuating and suffocating persuasiveness
“power” = the might of the sensual man from his persuasiveness
“blood” = charity and what is holy
“flesh” = the will
“eating flesh with blood” = mingling of what is sacred with what is profane
"mountain" = the good of love and charity
"mountains of Ararat" = light [lumen]
From this repeatedly used formulaic pattern, readers of the Writings first form the impression that they are learning to decipher the Divine code of correspondences. And of course this is true – but only at the natural level of thinking. Readers of the Writings can memorize and apply correspondences to art, poetry, linguistics, medicine, education, etc., but this is as far as it goes. The understanding of correspondences remains natural and formulaic, and has not yet matured to the level of operation that is both rational and spiritual. The Writings say that unless the existence of this natural-rational is fully appreciated, all further progress in rational spirituality is arrested. The stalling of one’s spiritual development occurs because we take the literal meaning of correspondences to be the same as the spiritual meaning. This is a natural error and tendency that is discussed in the Writings, along with antidotes and methods of overcoming it. The Lord Himself as a Child underwent this tendency and believed that his natural-rational understanding of the Old Testament was “it,” until He received the inner call from His “internal Man” called Jehovah, whereby He informed Himself that the spiritual-rational meaning of the Old Testament words are to be revealed to His Mind from within. Since that moment, all of humanity must take the same course of internal and progressive revelation from within regarding the spiritual meaning of the Threefold Word.
Hence, after we memorize and comprehend the code of correspondences in a literal way, we must then apply this knowledge to our own states of mind – our moment to moment stream of thinking and feeling all day long. The contrast here is between a theoretical knowledge of correspondences and an applied understanding. Now the formula can be represented as follows:
“A” = B = C
C is the new factor in the equation when it matures. “A” is some text from the Threefold Word. B is the memorized database of correspondences extracted from the Threefold Word (theoretical knowledge of the Writings). C is the perception of the spiritual sense of “A.”
You will note that the spiritual meaning is a living perception available only when our understanding is ‘online’ or “tuned in” to the spiritual world and its “influx “of spiritual information. This perception of the spiritual influx is called “enlightenment” and is discussed in the Writings in many places. Without this enlightenment from the Lord, the spiritual meaning of the Threefold Word (“A”) cannot be understood. Even if we write down our perception of the spiritual sense (C), the spiritual meaning of that sentence cannot be recovered by reading it, which only yields the literal and natural description of the spiritual sense, but not the spiritual sense itself.
Quoting from the Writings of Swedenborg:
DE VERBO 21. No one can see the spiritual sense except from the doctrine of genuine truth; from this doctrine the spiritual sense can be seen, when there is some knowledge of correspondences. He who is in false doctrine cannot see anything of the spiritual sense. He draws out and applies the correspondences which he sees to the falsities of his doctrine; and thus he can still more falsify the Word. Wherefore the true spiritual sense of the Word is from the Lord alone. This is the reason why it is not permitted anyone in the natural world, nor in the spiritual world, to investigate the spiritual sense of the Word from the sense of its letter, unless he is wholly in the doctrine of Divine truth and in enlightenment from the Lord, wherefore from the doctrine of Divine truth confirmed from the sense of the letter of the Word, the spiritual sense can be seen, but doctrine can never first be seen from the spiritual sense. He thinks falsely who says with himself, I know many correspondences, I can know the true doctrine of the Divine Word, the spiritual sense will teach it to me. This cannot be done. But, as has been said, let him say with himself, I know the doctrine of Divine truth, now I can see the spiritual sense, provided I know correspondences. But still this must be in enlightenment from the Lord, because the spiritual sense is Divine truth itself in its light, and is meant by glory, and the sense of the letter by a cloud in passages in the Word where these are mentioned. (DE VERBO 21)
This passage asserts that the spiritual sense of the Threefold Word can be seen when four conditions are met simultaneously.
(1) First, reading the Writings and extracting genuine Doctrine from it, which is rationally understood and remembered. Genuine Doctrine must be confirmed again by the letter to prevent inventing one’s own heretical doctrines.
(2) Second, decoding the literal sense of some text in the Threefold Word by means of the laws of correspondences described in the Writings.
(3) Third, giving the decoded passage a context from a knowledge of Doctrine from the Writings, and applying the resultant understanding to one’s own mental states – the stream of our thinking and feeling operations all day long.
(4) Receiving enlightenment from the Lord which gives a direct and immediate perception of the spiritual sense.
Note the segment: “He thinks falsely who says with himself, I know many correspondences, I can know the true doctrine of the Divine Word, the spiritual sense will teach it to me. This cannot be done.” This informs us that it is not possible to perceive the spiritual meaning of a passage from a knowledge of correspondences and explanations of doctrine. I’ve seen some attempts by writers considered to be experts on Swedenborg, to discover the spiritual sense of passages from Earths in the Universe (EU), and the results I saw could not be taken seriously as they were wild speculations and led to false ideas and doctrines. This is why all the elements of Doctrine in our understanding must be confirmed by the literal sense when compared to various passages from the writings. This prevents the contrary direction of procedure whereby we try to discover the spiritual sense by reasoning with correspondences and false assumptions or doctrines.
Furthermore, once genuine Doctrine is in the understanding and memory, it is still powerless to give us a perception of the spiritual sense of a passage. We may read the precise descriptions in the Arcana Coelestia of “A” = B, as explained above, and use these descriptions of correspondences to try to get to the spiritual sense. But we are told that this is in vain. The spiritual sense is given neither in “A”, nor in B, but in C, which is the actual living ‘online’ perception in time of the spiritual influx that is its sense or meaning. This perception is given by the Lord only in connection with one’s regeneration struggles.
The person who receives enlightenment is one who refrains from evils because they are sins, and because they are against the Lord and are endeavors opposed to His Divine laws. In such a one and in no other the spiritual mind opens, and in the measure that it opens, in the same measure the light of heaven enters (all enlightenment in the Word being from the light of heaven). The reason is that the person then has a will for good. When this will is directed to that useful end [namely, to reading the Word], it produces in the intellect first an affection for truth, then a perception of truth, afterward with the help of rational sight, thought of truth, consequently a determination and conclusion; and as soon as this enters from the intellect into the memory, it enters also into the life and so remains.
This is the way all enlightenment in the Word proceeds, and likewise a person's reformation and regeneration. But first there must be in the memory concepts of both spiritual and natural things; for these concepts are the receptacles into which the Lord operates through the light of heaven. The fuller they are and the freer of falsities that have been affirmed, the more enlightened the perception and the surer the conclusion. (DE VERBO 12)
It’s important to realize that enlightenment is specific not general. One normally assumes that enlightenment is general and reflects a person’s spiritual status, achievement, and perception. But in the Writings, enlightenment is not of the person but of the particular perception. It is the “will for good” that produces enlightenment through “perception of truth,” by which is meant perception of spiritual truth, which is enlightenment. The will for good is always applied, not theoretical. When doctrine and correspondences are applied to a particular act of the will for good, then only is perception of spiritual truth given as enlightenment. Merely reading a literal description of Doctrine, correspondences, and the explication of the spiritual sense, do not give perception or enlightenment.
The method of lifelong progressive regeneration by temptations is often discussed in the Writings. As this regeneration progresses, the Lord enlightens the individual mind with higher and higher light, and from a natural understanding of correspondences we receive perception of the spiritual meaning of correspondences, and from a natural understanding of the Heavenly Doctrine we acquire a spiritual understanding of the Doctrine of the Church, the Doctrine of Life, the Doctrine of Charity, the Doctrine of Conjugial Love.
To see the main point again, consider the correspondences that are explicated in a passage quoted above:
And there was given unto them power as the scorpions of the earth have power, signifies their ability to persuade, and its effect and might. This is evident from the signification of a "scorpion," as being an infatuating and suffocating persuasiveness (of which presently); and from the signification of "power," as being might and effect, here the might of the sensual man from his persuasiveness, and the effect which is infatuating and suffocating. (AC 544)
You will notice that the “A” terms are physical things -- like “scorpion” and “power,” -- while the B terms are mental things -- like “suffocating persuasiveness” and “the might of the sensual man from his persuasiveness.” This shows that the Writings explicate the literal sense in terms of mental states. These mental states are referred to by means of words and phrases in a natural language. Clearly, these terms for mental states come from the dictionary of natural usage in a particular culture. Hence we have the B terms given here for scorpion – “suffocating persuasiveness” which is the language of psychology apart from the language of the Threefold Word. In other words, the Writings make use of the ordinary register of psychology to refer to mental states. This makes sense. Anyone familiar with culture and everyday psychological thinking can read the explication of the Word given in the Writings, and understand them. This is true regardless of their state of reformation and regeneration. This is why you can read about a summary of the Heavenly Doctrine and about correspondences in an encyclopedia article on Swedenborg.
It is common to point to the literal text of the Writings (“A”) and to say: “This is the Heavenly Doctrine. It is the spiritual sense of the Word.” This is natural because the Writings themselves introduce themselves as such at the very start of Arcana Coelestia:
1. [AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTORY NOTE] The Heavenly Arcana -- the matters in Sacred Scripture or the Word of the Lord that have been disclosed -- stand in explanatory sections entitled THE INTERNAL SENSE Of the Word.
A common formulaic sequence it follows is:
First Section: THE CHAPTER (text of the Old Testament)
Second Section: THE CONTENTS (an outline of the spiritual meaning to be given)
Third Section: THE INTERNAL SENSE” (explanations in detail based on the formula “A” = B)
Fourth Section: Experiences and Doctrinal materials (appended to each chapter)
The “A” = B formula is rendered in Arcana Coelestia as "expression A" in the literal sentence signifies "expression B” in the spiritual sense. Also: “A represents B” and “A corresponds to B.”
From these structural and literal indications it is normal to conclude that what we are reading in the “B” category is in fact the spiritual sense of the Old Testament passage. As for example, “scorpion” in the spiritual sense means “infatuating and suffocating persuasiveness.” We imagine that when we read “scorpion” in the Word, the angels with us get a perception of “infatuating and suffocating persuasiveness.” But upon further reflection we can see that this is not accurate. The expression “infatuating and suffocating persuasiveness” is a natural idea of a natural mental state. It is not a spiritual idea of either “scorpion” or of “persuasiveness.” It would be impossible for us to have any idea that is like an angel’s idea, but only a correspondences of an angel’s idea. This is repeated in many places in the Writings. And so when we read “scorpion” the angels do not perceive “persuasiveness” in the natural sense we know it, but they think of “persuasiveness” in the spiritual sense. And to this sense of “persuasiveness” we have access only by immediate enlightenment from the Lord. When we perceive the sense of “persuasiveness” in this spiritual sense, then we understand what the angels perceive, thus the spiritual sense.
When reading the Writings we must therefore relate to both the literal and the spiritual, but in different ways. We relate to the literal of the Writings when we struggle to understand it rationally. We are thereby building “vessels” in our mind that are suitable to receive later the perception of enlightenment. Having built up these vessels, we want to arrange them in a hierarchical and consistent series of linked principles. This is called taking up Doctrine in the understanding. This is a theoretical Doctrine or theoretical knowledge of the Heavenly Doctrine. With this theoretical Doctrine in our conscious understanding and memory, we can undergo reformation, which is the conscious and active rearrangement of our concepts and attitudes to fit the order of the theoretical Doctrine in our mind. When reformation is more or less completed, we begin our regeneration. Now for the first time we are going to be in a position of being enlightened by the Lord, to the extent that we follow the appropriate procedures specified in the Writings.
When the theoretical Doctrine is established in our mind, we can read the Writings with a new motivation called “the will for good.” This time we go to the next step, B = C, which was discussed above. The natural understanding of the mental state (B) that is contained in the physical object (“A”) (e.g., persuasiveness contained within “scorpion”), can now be turned into a spiritual understanding. In other words, to understand “persuasiveness” in a spiritual way, we must be given perception of it (C) by enlightenment.
Now you can see that the spiritual sense of the Old Testament that has been disclosed in Arcana Coelestia, has only been disclosed at the natural operational level, by necessity, since it has been disclosed in writing in a natural language. And if you can see this about the Old Testament, you can extend this to cover the Threefold Word. The Writings must also necessarily contain a spiritual sense that is visible only by perception given from enlightenment. Perception of the spiritual sense is the only way to see the spiritual sense, which cannot be given in the nomenclature of a natural language. This can only give natural meaning perceptions.
At first, it appears that Swedenborg is proposing that we read the Bible in a symbolic way so that we become aware of the spiritual message and how it applies to self. But this attitude we already possessed in phase 2 thinking and worshiping the Lord. Many intelligent readers and scholars of the Bible were able to write commentaries that presented new insights to other readers. Not all commentaries were truly insightful, but some were, because they were focusing on how to apply the spiritual message to one’s own living and behavior. But no matter how advanced we get in this deepening of the meaning and message in the verses (phase 2), we do not get to the beginning of the next phase (3). The idea of correspondences at level 3 thinking is scientific and particularistic, which means that they are seen as a mechanism by which the Lord produces natural phenomena and events. Consider the history and evolution of a planet – the Lord must be using determinative mechanisms to produce these very complex sequences, to compel the physical matter to organize itself in specific ways at specific times under specific conditions, which themselves are also similarly produced. Every natural event, object, or quality is an effect produced by the Lord by means of a spiritual-rational mechanism. This mechanism, along with many other Divine mechanisms, have been revealed as True Science in the Writings.
It’s important to realize that the notion of correspondences is different from “Platonic idealism” which was the idea that every form on earth was an imperfect rendition or model of the perfect thin in heaven. Thus, all roses on earth are imperfect copies of the perfect rose which exists in ideal reality. The idea of correspondences is very different. A rose is not produced as a model of a rose in heaven. A rose is produced by the quality of the affections of angels in heaven. A rose, a tree, an animal, a mountain, a planet – these physical objects exist as effects of spiritual causes in the spiritual world such as the mental states of angels. The laws of correspondences, from creation, are such that mental states produce physical objects. You can understand this better when you consider dreaming, and how this consists of producing images and apparently physical environments in the dream. These objects in the dream that you take for real, are produced by your mental states while dreaming. Similarly, the Lord produced the physical world by means of the rational laws of correspondences in His Mind. Similarly, the naturally looking environment of angels in heaven and devils in hell, is produced by the mental states of the inhabitants there.
“Correspondences” is a mechanism the Lord uses to create the dual universe and to maintain it in its created order. It is the genetic code of creation and maintenance of the universe. In other words, the Lord created a spiritual-rational genetic code that determines the laws of correspondence between spiritual and natural phenomena, qualities, objects, or events. A rose is a rose because its body and scent correspond to conjugial love in heaven, as testified by these observations Swedenborg made:
Then one of the seven wove a garland of roses, sprinkled it with spring water, and placed it on the boy's hat around the crown, saying, 'Receive the delights of intelligence. You should know that a hat stands for intelligence, and a garland from this garden for its delights.' The boy went off with this adornment, and was seen again at a distance looking like a dove in flight, but this time with a crest on his head. (CL 293)
Eliminate conjugial love from heaven and you eliminate roses from existence on earth. As the race on earth regenerates more and more in the ensuing centuries, people will see a corresponding change in the appearance of planet earth. The geographic environment in each location will reflect the virtues and qualities of the people living there, so that the forests, plains, and deserts will be transformed into paradises with harmonious vegetation, rock formation, and animal population. Future research in True Science will no doubt show what the specific correspondences are as they measure and correlate the race’s mental and geological changes.
Further, once you start deciphering the code of correspondences, you begin to notice that the code is presented in a rational series or developmental hierarchy. Pieces of text in the Old and New Testaments fit together chronologically, making up an inner series of ideas held together step by step by what comes next. These hierarchical series of meanings are for the mind what genetic code or DNA is for the physical body, hence they can be called the “genes of consciousness” (see this article:
You can see how astonishing this entire picture is when you consider that the pieces of the series in the inner sense are supplied by successive authors or prophets over many centuries merely by describing historical events and private visions they experienced.
There is no other scientific explanation possible except that the Threefold Word is Divine and has actually been written by God for humanity.
True Science has been evolving since the beginning under God’s careful tutelage. After the Fall which marked the end of the old celestial race and the beginning of the new spiritual split-brain race, science was the new method God provided for the human race to acquire rational spirituality, hence it had to be guided in its growth in the history of civilization. Prior to the Fall, the celestial people on earth were prepared for heaven by means of sensuous consciousness – direct perception into the spiritual world and direct communication with those there. But after the Fall preparation for heaven was by means of rational consciousness produced by means of reading and understanding the Threefold Word. The first growth of science was the development of taxonomic nomenclature by which the things in the natural environment were identified and classified. Then came the development of scientific theory which required a method of its own. The theories became materialistic so that God’s presence in natural phenomena was only acknowledged in the Preface, but God was not mentioned as part of the explanatory chain of causes. As a result, science went through several centuries in the materialist modality.
In the 18th century Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) began a new paradigm of science that may be called “scientific dualism.” He broke with tradition and put God back into the body of the book, not just in the Preface. No reputable scientist before him or since, has done what Swedenborg has done, namely, to include scientific revelations in his theory of how the universe was created and how it is being maintained in existence. It is not possible to exaggerate the importance of this new scientific paradigm, the paradigm of the future.
In my case, I have been a career scientist for the past 42 years and a professor of psychology at some of the top psychology departments in the world (e.g., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, McGill University Montreal, Laval University Quebec, University of Wisconsin Madison, and University of Hawaii Manoa). I maintain an official record of my publications, some of which were in the top ranked scientific journals in my field (see list here: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy/leonpublish.html ). I mention these things here to show that other legitimate scientists have adopted a way of thinking that is within the paradigm of scientific dualism that Swedenborg started (see my article on religious behaviorism):
The scientific method is universally taught today throughout the planet. The version of this method practiced today is explicitly biased against absolute truth. This is ironic given that science ideally searches for truth. The version of scientific method practiced today is actually against truth for it denies that there is absolute truth. This phase 1 level of thinking can clearly be seen as incorrect when viewed from phase 2 and 3. At phase 2 we are sufficiently rational to understand and accept dualism. Dualism is from the Threefold Word, and all religions are based on the dualism between God and creation, God being absolute, while created things are temporary. In phase 2 thinking we can also see from the Word that truth is from God and therefore it is absolute. In phase 3 thinking we can see that truth is part of science, and therefore science is part of God. The science of God is the knowledge that God has revealed to humanity. God created the universe by science, and runs it by science through rational laws of discrete correspondences. God is therefore the True Scientist and the Threefold Word is therefore True Science containing the scientific revelations God has made about Himself, creation, existence, correspondences, discrete degrees, resuscitation, operation of the laws of Divine Providence and Permissions, immortality, life in the afterlife, the anatomy of the mind, the history and development of the human race, and other scientific matters of deep concern to our future and our control of the social and physical environment.
Hence it is that the version of the scientific method practiced today is holding back the development of the rational human mind. The highest form of the natural-rational mind operates by means of dualist concepts and abstract explanations of the world. These are the higher-order natural cognitions that can be compatible with spiritual truths. These spiritual truths inflow from within, from heaven into the spiritual mind, and thence into the conscious natural mind. The elevation of the human mind into rational spirituality depends on a version of the scientific method that is compatible with spiritual-rational truths from revelation. This is why a new scientific method has been emerging through those who are able to see the Writings as a Divine scientific revelation of dualism.
The current atheistic and monist version of the scientific method is inherently biased against absolute truth such as is implied in the use of the phrase “True Science” and “Divine scientific revelation.” I was trained in the scientific method as a graduate student at McGill University by Donald Hebb, a man consistently voted in the top ranking 10 psychologists of the century. He was particularly well known for his attempt to describe the operations of the mind through neurophysiological operations of the brain. He often told us that we must strive to create good theories in psychology. A good theory in science lasts about ten years, and is replaced by a better one. In this way the march of science continues to evolve through better and better theories, endlessly carried on. Good scientific theories must therefore contain the capacity to be disproved by new data. While they last, they spurn on experimentation and data gathering in particular directions. The theory is useful in generating research.
The idea of “Divine scientific revelations of absolute truth” would not be considered a good theory because it leads to no data or research – so goes the politically correct argument. But as I pointed out above, the existence of the dua