A Man of the Field
Forming The New Church Mind In Today’s World
Volume 1: Reformation
The Struggle Against Nonduality
Volume 2: Enlightenment
The Spiritual Sense of the Writings
Volume 3: Regeneration
Spiritual Disciplines For Daily Life
Volume 4: Uses
The New Church Mind In Old Age
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By Leon James
Author information appears at the end. This document is in the process of being revised. Please note the draft version marked on top. To print this document, see Printing Note at the end.
A “field” means doctrine (AC 368)
A "man" signifies faith and truth (AC 427; 4823)
The Struggle Against Nonduality
Table of Contents
spiritual truth in the Writings
The Lord is present with His Divine good and truth with every person (TCR 580)
Chapter 2, Introduction
The New Age or Buddhist-like oneness blurs distinct discrete degrees between spiritual and natural light, and ends up making man the source of himself. C.S. Lewis had it right: We slide into pantheism when left to ourselves.
And esoteric experiences of channeling is inferior to the written Word, since such contacts can happen even if the will is intent on evil. A supernatural experience in any case just fades away, turning people into fanatics (De Verbo 29-13). The whole cosmos snarls up between Ego and God--anything but oneness with God! By contrast the Word is better and should come first (AC 129), and the truths of Nature or experie4nce can then confirm the Word (cf. SE 5709-5710; AC 2568, 2588). The New Age sees God and nature as different colored marbles rolling in the same plate: Pick whatever you like. The New Church sees them as discrete levels or planes, which correspond. One is intrinsically above the other in value.
(Rev. Erik E. Sandstrom, The New Age and the New Church (Part Two). New Church Life, June 2002, 251-260)
One theme resonates clearly in the Writings, reinforced in various ways in every work of Swedenborg. It is that the natural and spiritual worlds are distinct and discontinuous (non-overlapping and of different substance), but relate to each other by the laws of correspondences (D. Wis. 2). The spiritual world is not in time, space, and matter but is constructed of substances from the spiritual Sun. The natural world is in time, space, and matter and is constructed out of physical materials from the natural sun. This is one of the many basic dualities in Swedenborg’s Writings.
The dynamic relation between the spiritual and natural worlds is reciprocal. If God took away the physical world, the spiritual world would also disappear. And vice versa. The created universe is a fundamental duality: spiritual and natural, the two being interdependent, one “within” the other, both necessary to one another’s existence, yet always and forever remaining in different worlds, one natural in time-space, the other, spiritual, outside time and space. These two worlds cannot be the same or similar in a single thing; they are dual in every respect. The spiritual is the cause and the natural is the effect. Without an effect, there is no cause but something potential, imagined, or not yet real. Reality is born or created when cause and effect are brought simultaneously together by correspondence.
It is contradictory to say that nonduality can exist in our mind and not have a negative effect. All things that exist must have a prior cause (DP 157). If nonduality exists, it is an effect caused by a spiritual event to which it is related by correspondence. What has existence must be dual.
What else is there in life except "I will this, and I understand this," or in other words, "I love this, and I think this?" As a man wills what he loves, and thinks what he understands, so all things of the will relate to love, and all things of the understanding to wisdom; and since love and wisdom cannot exist in anyone from himself, but only from Him who is Love itself and Wisdom itself it follows that they exist from the Lord who is from eternity, that is, Jehovah. If they did not exist from this source man would be love itself and wisdom itself, thus God from eternity; but from this human reason itself recoils. Nothing can exist except from what is prior to itself; and this prior thing can exist only from what is still prior to it, and thus finally only from the First which is in its Self. (DP 157)
Chapter 2, Section 1
Is it possible that anything in the Writings can be compatible with nonduality? Here is what Van Dusen writes:
Though I have long suspected Swedenborg's theology was also non-dual, only recently did I find the real evidence. (…) Swedenborg's theology presents the non-dual in a kind of illuminating paradox. Divine Providence governs all things from the greatest to the very least (…) So far we can sum this up as: God rules all things, the basic non-dual position. In Hindu terms Brahman is the all.
God rules all things—this is the cornerstone of Swedenborg’s theology and science. I was surprised to see that this principle can be considered a non-dual position. The obvious duality is pictured by the concepts “God rules” and “all things.” These are in dual reality or status. God creates all things from Himself since there is nothing else from which creation can be constructed (DLW 283). The idea that created things can come out of nothing is shown to be irrational by Swedenborg, who reports that the wise angels who have knowledge far greater than ours, abhor the idea that something can come out of nothing (DLW 82, 283; DP 3). Therefore all things that are created by God exist in a reality that is outside God Himself. Duality is inherent in the idea of creation. Creation has no meaning at all if one removes duality from it. The fact that all things are created from God does not mean that these created things are God, for God and His substance and attributes, are uncreate, having no beginning, while all created things have a beginning, by definition. The distinctness between created things and uncreated is absolute, never to be transcended. Uncreate things include love, truth, and life in infinite variations. Created things include the physical world, the spiritual world, and the human mind. Created things are adjoined to uncreate but never become of one substance.
Further, it is not rational to say that God is the only reality when God creates reality, which is the universe and its order. In order to create reality God must be outside reality. Existence cannot be created from existence or within existence, but only from something prior to it and outside of it. The Writings teach that the Lord created the universe through Divine Truth from the Divine Love in Himself (DLW 290). Divine Truth is called His Existere, and Divine Love is His Esse. The Lord from His Esse created all existence through Divine Truth. From Esse, God can create existence or reality. Esse is prior to reality and is the cause of it. Esse, as source or cause, and existere or creation as effect, are in a dual relationship. One can never become the other and neither can be missing. Nonduality between God and creation is rationally an impossibility.
Everything created must needs be from an Uncreate. What is created is also finite, and the finite can exist only from the Infinite. (DLW 44)
Consider the difference in the Van Dusen quote above between “God rules all things” (an idea attributed to Swedenborg’s system) and “Brahman is the all” (an idea attributed to the Hindu perspective). These two propositions are entirely different in terms of what they assume and imply. The idea that God rules all things is the way Swedenborg phrases the creation duality. God rules all things in existence but not from existence, but from Esse or that which is prior and outside existence. This is the meaning of the Lord’s I AM (John 8:58), or as the Lord calls Himself: I AM THAT I AM (Exodus 3:14). Swedenborg explains that this expression refers to God’s Esse, which is infinite and uncreate, and in which infinite things form a one (DLW 17, 223). From this Esse which is outside and prior to creation and existence, God activates and rules all details in creation. This is a fundamental irrevocable duality.
The sentence “Brahman is the all” is represented as a central feature of nonduality. For example:
From The Song of Ribhu: The English Translation of the Tamil Ribhu Gita. Translation by Dr. H. Ramamoorthy and Nome. Published by SAT, Society for Abidance in Truth, 2000.
Advaita Vedanta, or the Teaching of Nonduality … reveals the utter absence of any differentiation between Atman (the Self) and Brahman. … Advaita (Sanskrit) … teaches the oneness of Brahman … with the human spirit-soul, … and the identity of spirit and matter; also that the divine spirit of the universe is the … all-productive cause of the periodic coming into being; continuance, and dissolutions of the universe and that this divine cosmic spirit is the ultimate truth and sole reality … All else is maya, in proportion to its distance from the divine source. … It is also regarded as both the efficient and material cause of the visible universe, … the essence from which all beings are produced and into which they are absorbed. The entire phenomenal world of beings, qualities, actions, all manifestations, and so on, is said to be an illusory superimposition on the imperishable substratum, which is Brahman.
(Accessed on the Web in April 2002 at nonduality.com/whatis9.htm .)
It is clear from this description of Brahman that it has no relation to God as described in the Writings. And in fact it is opposed to everything said by Swedenborg about God. There is no “oneness” of God with “the human spirit-soul.” Humans are part of creation and God is not part of creation nor can ever be. God must be outside existence to create existence. God creates all things from His Esse which is the cause of existence. God and created existence form an indissoluble duality. Existence is a perpetual coming forth from God and is recreated moment by moment so that it may subsist (AC 6056).
Love and wisdom cannot exist in anyone from himself, but only from Him who is Love itself and Wisdom itself it follows that they exist from the Lord who is from eternity, that is, Jehovah. If they did not exist from this source man would be love itself and wisdom itself, thus God from eternity; but from this human reason itself recoils. Nothing can exist except from what is prior to itself; and this prior thing can exist only from what is still prior to it, and thus finally only from the First which is in its Self.
All good and truth can come from no other source than Good itself and Truth itself. These things are acknowledged by every rational man as soon as they are heard. When it is afterwards stated that everything of the will and the understanding, or everything of love and wisdom, or everything of affection and thought in a man who is led by the Lord, has relation to good and truth, it follows that all that such a man wills and understands, or every activity of his love and wisdom, or of his affection and thought, is from the Lord.
The Writings reveal that the persuasive belief and insanity that self=God led to the extinction of the first human race on earth (AC 5725). This evolutionary event is described in the spiritual meaning of the Flood and the story of Noah in Genesis (AC 553). The last generation of this race is referred to as the “Nephilim.” It is revealed that their persuasion destroyed the human will so that it was no longer possible for that race to be regenerated. The Lord then raised a new race in whom the will and the understanding were separated, and by means of this independent functioning, the subsequent generations were able to be regenerated. The natural correspondence to this new creation of the human mind caused the brain to also be split from birth, the left brain corresponding to the understanding in the mind, the right brain to the will (AC 641, 4052). Henceforth the dire persuasions of nonduality between self and God could be controlled and eliminated by the absolute duality of self and God. The duality is learned in the understanding as a religious motivation, and this is called faith. Afterwards the Lord creates a new will in this faith (AC 5354). This is the mechanism by which we are regenerated today.
Besides the idea that self=God, Hindu nonduality includes the notion of a “periodic coming into being; continuance, and dissolutions of the universe” (see The Song of Ribhu quote above). This says that once creation exists, it develops, changes, and goes through dissolution so that only “Dharma” remains. This notion of the universe is the opposite of what Swedenborg says about creation or existence, namely that it is permanent (DLW 168). There is no universal un-creation. Human beings are born on some natural earth, die, and awaken as a spirit in the spiritual world where they continue their individual existence to eternity, either as an angel or a devil (CL 355). There can be no relation whatsoever between Brahman and the Lord who is God-Man incarnated, showing Himself in history and having a Human character or Proprium. God loves what is good and truth and hates sin and evil inasmuch as “good hates evil” (AC 10618), while Brahman is represented as separate from both good and evil, who neither loves nor hates, who isn’t partial to human beings created and lost in existential illusion. For the New Church mind there cannot be salvation in nonduality; which is portrayed as a disappearance of individual personalities and character.
Van Dusen argues that since God has all power in the created universe the choices we make in life for good or evil are not real but an image of the real:
Now when we zero in on the person in the midst of this Providence we begin to see human life operating in the midst of essential non-duality. … We receive life and influx from God ... We are not really a life in ourselves but a recipient of life. All that we take to be our real self, where we feel in control is really a recipient outer vessel. We think we have prudence, the ability to decide, but we don't really have prudence (Divine Providence chapter 10) though it is intended that we seem to have it. … Now here is the essence of the paradox. When we try to reform ourselves, try to better ourselves by whatever our light of understanding, we are working on our external self. … God and Divine Providence are super ordinate to us since they [sic] are aware of the infinite and eternal in all things. So our apparent effort to improve ourselves is met by the Lord working within us. The Lord is super ordinate to us. So our doing is relatively an image within the real doing. Our effort at conjunction with God is met by the real and substantial work of the Lord. …
It is the case that we have no life from ourselves but by continuous influx from the Lord. It is the case that what we take to be our self has no power of its own, for all power is the Lord’s power activating every event and motion, and maintaining every thing in its created form. Life is uncreate hence it cannot be a substantive part of us, of our self. But from this point on one’s explanation could go in two directions: the way of nonduality and duality.
The mind in nonduality concludes that therefore there is no real self. It argues that since our prudence is not really prudence, our struggle to reform and regenerate is not real either, but merely another grasp at more illusion. This characteristic mode of nonduality always comes up against our struggle for reformation and regeneration, combating against it, hoping to weaken the burden and effort at character reformation. This feels attractive from a distance, with the seeping in of the lulling thought that maybe I won’t have to reject the delights and comforts of my evils.
The mind of duality concludes that therefore we need to get a right idea of the self from the Writings. And we already know that the Lord grants an as-of self for the sake of our contentment and freedom (xx). And we also know that we must struggle as-of self to act prudently according to our understanding (xx), and to act charitably to the neighbor according to the good in the neighbor (xx). And we are required to put up the effort of rearranging everything in our natural mind to be ordered consistently according to the Doctrine we have from the Writings (xx). And we are required to do all this with sincere motives and persistently without relenting, and with love unto the Lord in appreciation of His supplying the power and the wisdom for the process of our reformation and regeneration to be successful. If we do all this, then at last we are admitted into true human hood—a celestial mind in conjugial love in heaven to eternity. Everything about this wonderful Divine process is real and permanent. The same unique individual that lived on this earth eons ago, is that same individual who is now an inhabitant of a heavenly city, jointly with friends and citizens (xx). Nothing is lost from earth to heaven to eternity.
Consider the conclusion of nonduality quoted just above: “So our doing is relatively an image within the real doing. Our effort at conjunction with God is met by the real and substantial work of the Lord.” This belief assumes a nonduality because it detracts from the reality of our as-of self efforts. Our doing is an “image within the real doing” does not take into account of the process of reformation and regeneration, in which our doing is the primary of it, this being our initiative or willingness to cooperate with the Lord. The Lord is waiting for us to take this initiative, for without it He cannot remove the interior evils of our character of which we are totally unconscious (xx). Yet it is these unconscious affections of evil delights that pull the string in our conscious external mind.
At first one might think that this is unfair. If we are puppets pulled by unconscious strings, why are we held responsible for detesting our evil delights?
But the answer comes when we continue to seek the truth about it. The Lord sees, knows, and maintains these affectional chains to evil societies in the hells. Our inheritance and our tolerance for evil delights prevents the Lord from breaking those chains. The process is compared to agriculture or to the digestion of food in the body and its use for energy and vitality (xx). These are physiological processes in that plants and body organs are constructed out of cells and the overall energy and vitality of the body, or the health of the plant, is determined by the cumulative integrated action of billions of cells in each plant or body. The process is constantly going on, constantly stepping through to the next cycle and motion of cells and the particles below the cells that are still more numerous, and down to the biochemical action of atoms, particles, and energies. From all this there is built up a global action such as the purposeful movement of a finger or the flowering of a plant. This same type of physiological process must take place at the mental level in our willing and thinking moment by moment.
You can see why reformation and then regeneration must take the entire life we have in the physical body (xx). To be reborn, to be reformed, to be regenerated in character in thousands of areas of living, in billions of acts of willing, thinking, doing for many years for millions of seconds. There is a lot to regrow, reinstall, rewire, for the will and the understanding are spiritual organs made of coiled fibers of great number (xx). Every moment of experience, every act of willing, loving, desiring, thinking, feeling, doing over our years here on hearth is “recorded” in the spiritual mind, “hard-wired” as it is said in computer language. Swedenborg has many times witnessed the opening of a person’s mind when they arrive into the afterlife, and it was proven to him that nothing is lost and that angels can read with ease and precision a person’s book of life (xx)
The Lord has now revealed in the Writings how He manages this psychological growth process called reformation and regeneration in every individual. The central feature of this process is the as-of self effort involved in rejecting evil delights, in resisting to do them, and in holding them in aversion or detestation. This is the real part of the process. It determines the pace and the outcome. The Lord does not, because He withholds Himself for the sake of the individual, and should He determine the pace and the outcome, the individual could never be regenerated, and it would be like condemning this person to hell forever (xx). Obviously, to let us determine the pace and the outcome is in the Lord’s Divine order, from His infinite compassion for the human race. And this is what makes the process of spiritual growth real—each of us in that struggle by our own determination.
The idea that God alone has power does not imply that only God is real and that we are not real, or, our self is not real, etc.. Created things are real and define the real because they have been created in Divine rational order. Even appearances are real (AC 4882). For instance, the appearances in the spiritual world are real despite their instantaneously come and gone character. The as-of-self is an appearance of acting from self—this as-of-self is real. By saying that God alone is real, one implies that all things created are not real. And yet everything God creates is real. Creation implies reality. Appearances brought about by correspondences are real. The natural world is real. Even a dream is real: the imagined events are real spiritual productions, instantiated through the action of spiritual societies who are in communication with the sleeper. There never is a “oneness” between God and creation as supposed in Hinduism and Buddhism. Rather, God’s love is nothing unless it can be given to created others who are not God:
It is the essential of love not to love self, but to love others, and to be conjoined with others by love. It is the essential of love, moreover, to be loved by others, for thus conjunction is effected. … Divine Love must necessarily have being (esse) and have form (existere) in others whom it may love, and by whom it may be loved. … It is impossible for Him [God] to love others … in whom there is … anything of the Divine. For … it would be … God loving Himself. … Consequently, … there must be others in whom there is nothing of the Divine in itself. (DLW 47-49)
Created things are finite and are never Divine, but the Divine can be in them:
Of things created and finite Esse [Being] and Existere [Taking Form] can be predicated, likewise substance and form, also life, and even love and wisdom; but these are all created and finite. This can be said of things created and finite, not because they possess anything Divine, but because they are in the Divine, and the Divine is in them. For everything that has been created is, in itself, inanimate and dead, but all things are animated and made alive by this, that the Divine is in them, and that they are in the Divine. (DLW 53)
Every feeling in our will and every thought in our understanding is from the Lord and is real—nothing whatsoever that we do is from ourselves (DP 157).
Continuing with the Van Dusen article:
So the highest teaching of the Upanishads and of Hindu advaita vedanta also exist in what Swedenborg found in his great exploration. The non-dual position in Hinduism helped me to see it in Swedenborg's writings. But in a way, the writings better illuminate the human situation by providing a direct way to move from a dualistic struggle to oneness. The very struggle of mankind is Divine Providence at work in the greatest and even the least of things. Our struggle is an aspect of Divine Providence at work. There are other ways where the writings of Swedenborg see reality in a unitary way. But this is a good first statement. All our efforts to improve ourselves do not create an us-versus-God dualistic situation-but rather our efforts are a part of the working out of Divine Providence. We are better off to see it as such because that is the truth. In this way we can sense God working right in the midst of our situation.
Here it is asserted that the Writings, on the one hand, and the “Upanishads and Hindu advaita vedanta” on the other hand, contain overlapping ideas and explanations. But this is impossible since everything in the Hindu vedanta has nonduality within it and everything in the Writings have duality within it. In addition, the content of the Writings are the new truths and understandings of the new age of the Second Coming. This event of a new revelation replaces the old revelations when there is no longer any spiritual truth left (xx). The reason the Lord must wait for a full consummation is for the sake of the people, so that they may not profane the new truths. This doesn’t happen when there are no more spiritual truths because then people only see the literal of the revelation, and this cannot be profaned, even if denied or ridiculed. So it is a spiritual necessity that old truths and revelations are of no service to new truths and revelations (xx). All this is said about the New Church mind and is not a rejection or condemnation of whatever others choose to believe. There cannot be any overlap between the Writings and any other books or systems of explanation (xx).
Another assertion made in the above quote is that “the writings better illuminate the human situation by providing a direct way to move from a dualistic struggle to oneness.” But there is never a move from struggle to oneness, meaning that the duality of self and God is permanent to eternity. It is further stated that “The very struggle of mankind is Divine Providence at work in the greatest and even the least of things.” But this is not so since the Divine Providence, although at work in the greatest and even the least of things, is not one with the things. We are not one with the Lord in our struggles for reformation, though we attribute the power to Him. Because it is His power, it does not turn us and Him into a one, for this is impossible from creation and Divine order (xx). And further, it is stated that “All our efforts to improve ourselves do not create an us-versus-God dualistic situation-but rather our efforts are a part of the working out of Divine Providence.” This is not so. The us-versus-God duality is permanent by creation and Divine order. The very purpose of creation is for God to have others who are not Him, whom He can make happy from Himself (xx). To make a one with Him is contrary to the purpose of creation and cannot exist.
Our efforts are empowered by God, true, but the duality remains: us and God. There never ceases to be a condition or state where the duality of “us and God” ceases. Even angels of the highest heaven and closest to the Lord are yet separate and distinct from Him (DLW 202). The Lord is the all in all in heaven and in angels and yet the duality remains. The Grand Human and God is an eternal duality. Everything is from God (DLW 53). But what we have from God is not God, but things from God, and though what we receive from God is Divine and is the same with everyone, each individual receives only what it can assimilate—and this is unique with each person (DLW 54). Therefore it is written that “not the least thing is the same as another” (DLW 226).
Here is another example from an article in the Arcana journal (Swedenborg Scientific Association, Bryn Athyn) titled “In the Hindu Tradition: Appearance and Reality in the Relationship Between Finite Soul and Infinite Soul” by Michael Stanley (Vol. 1, No. 1, 22-34). The article originally appeared in the book Swedenborg and His Influence (edited by Erland Brock et. al., Academy of the New Church, 1988).
The Hindu View of the Self: Much Hindu philosophy, like Swedenborg, takes the line that anything that changes or lacks permanence cannot be said to be really real. … When we look into ourselves, what do we find but changing images, thoughts, ideas and feelings? Therefore any real self cannot be any of these…
The discussion just above showed that this is a general feature of nonduality, namely to want to make the self not “really real,” which as I pointed earlier, weakens the struggle to maintain permanent duality. It cannot be therefore that anything in the Writings can overlap with anything in Hindu philosophy. Here it is asserted that because the self constantly changes there is no “real self.” But constant change is of Divine order for real things, and especially for the human self, for which the Lord creates all things in the universe, and this constant creation will never end, for that is contrary to His purpose (xx). It is said in the quote that the “real self” cannot be the self that is constantly changing. And yet it is, for there is only one self, created immortal and unique to eternity. Every individual has such a self.
While it may be correct to think that nonduality was a genuine revelation thousands of years ago in Asia, it cannot sustain this genuineness when imported into the contemporary New Church mind. From the perspective of the Writings nonduality is likened to a vacuum—which it labels as an irrational concept and an impossibility. Angels abhor the idea of a vacuum (DLW 82), and we can add on similar grounds that they would reject the idea of nonduality.
We know that the self is real. The proprium is real. Change of character (or regeneration) is real. By Divine Law all created things change and no two things can be identical. Permanence is not a condition for reality since reality consists of continuous change, and a reality without change is impossible because not rational and purposeful. Reality is the universe created into a rational order in accordance with God’s rationality or wisdom which is uncreate and has no beginning. All things in the created universe must have reality. God is not part of the reality of created things but the Creator of reality. The created universe is outside God, not within Himself. This duality between God and created things cannot be removed or transcended. It enters into every single created thing such as rocks, animals, the self or proprium, thoughts, affections, heaven, hell. Nonduality cannot exist as a property of reality since it is opposed to the fundamental duality of God and created things.
Continuing with the Arcana article by Dr. Stanley:
The central reiterated teaching of the Hindu Upanishad Scriptures is that my true or Higher Self (atman) is identical with the creator of all forms (Brahman). Atman is Brahman. The appearance I have of being a separate isolated individual is an illusion. … This apparent self is termed by Swedenborg the “proprium” …Quoting Arcana Coelestia 4623: “Whatever comes from the Divine (that is, from the Lord) is real, because it comes from the very being of things, and from life in itself, but whatever comes from a spirit's own is not real, because it does not come from the being of things, nor from life in itself.”
Again, what the Writings mean by unreal is opposed to what nonduality means when saying that the self is “unreal” or an “illusion.” Nonduality says that the self is unreal, and the only thing real about us is our “Higher Self” which is “identical” with God, and therefore we are God, and only illusion of self keeps one from realizing one’s divinity. The notion continues: once we learn how to empty ourselves from self, what remains is God. Once this persuasion is established in the mind, one can read the Writings in the literal and without integrating passages, one can have the impression that Swedenborg supports this type of nonduality in one or more respects. In the above quote the author uses a passage in the Writings to support the nondualist idea of the unreal self. But it is clear that the quoted Number from the Writings does not give support to the nonduality between self and the Lord. Note that it contrasts two ideas: “whatever comes from the Lord” versus “whatever comes from a spirit's own.” It does not contrast “the Lord” versus “the self.” And it says that whatever proceeds form the Lord is real because it is good and true, and only this has real existence. This is the existence we have when the Lord’s good and true is appropriated to our self. And this appropriation only happens when we reject whatever comes from self, which is evil and falsity. Therefore the contrast is between good and truth versus evil and falsity, and the latter is unreal because it is only a fantasy and an insanity.
The nondualist system does not see that it is irrational to say that self becomes God and is God. To say that “My true self is identical with the creator” is not a rational thing to say from the perspective of the Writings. It is a total misunderstanding to say that Swedenborg teaches this view. The Writings teach that the literal of the Word can be used to support any heresy or fallacy, especially by the ingenious (TCR 254). But when these fallacies and heresies are examined from a rational perspective such as we gain from the Writings, it is straightforward to see and show the misunderstanding in it. Here we see a clear misunderstanding of the notion of the proprium and what is real and not real. The proprium is real because it is created by God and God creates only real things. The quote above given from Arcana Coelestia says that “whatever comes from a spirit's own is not real” and this is taken to mean that the proprium or self or ego is not real. Instead, it means that evil, which is what comes from the proprium, does not have within it anything from God, that is, truth and good. One can clearly see this when we look at the full number referred to in the Stanley quote:
AC 4623. But be it known that the life of sense with spirits is twofold, namely, real and not real. The one is distinguished from the other by the fact that everything is real which appears to those who are in heaven, whereas everything is unreal which appears to those who are in hell. For whatever comes from the Divine (that is, from the Lord) is real, because it comes from the very being of things, and from life in itself, but whatever comes from a spirit's own is not real, because it does not come from the being of things, nor from life in itself. They who are in the affection of good and truth are in the Lord's life, thus in real life, for the Lord is present in good and truth through the affection; but they who are in evil and falsity through the affection, are in the life of what is their own, thus in a life not real, for the Lord is not present in evil and falsity. The real is distinguished from the not real in this-that the real is actually such as it appears, and that the not real is actually not such as it appears.
 They who are in hell have sensations equally with others, and are not aware but that everything is really or actually just as it appears to their senses; and yet when they are looked at by the angels, the same things appear as phantasms, and disappear, and they themselves do not appear as men, but as monsters. It has also been given me to speak with them on this subject, and some of them said that they believe things to be real because they see and touch them, adding that sense cannot deceive. But it was given me to reply that no matter how real these things may appear to them, they nevertheless are not real, and this because they themselves are in things contrary or opposite to the Divine, namely, in evils and falsities, and moreover are themselves nothing but fantasies insofar as their thoughts are concerned, to the extent that they are in cupidities of evil and persuasions of falsity; and to see anything from fantasies is to see things that are real as not real, and things that are not real as real; and that unless it were given them of the Lord's Divine mercy to have their senses affected in this manner, they would have no sensitive life, consequently no life at all, because that which is sensitive constitutes the whole of life. To adduce all my experience on these subjects would be to fill many pages.
 Therefore when you enter the other life beware of being deceived, for evil spirits know how to conjure up illusions of many kinds before those who come fresh from the world, and if they cannot deceive them, they nevertheless thereby endeavor to persuade them that nothing is real, but that all things are ideal, even those which are in heaven.
Clearly then one cannot say that self is unreal when it explicitly states that the self in heaven is only real, while the self in hell is full of fantasies that are not real. The contrast here is between the self in which the content is from hell (unreal fantasies) and the self in which the content is from heaven (real realities). What is real and unreal is not the self but the content of the self, this being fantasy (in hell) or reality (in heaven). For reality is good and truth from the Lord while unreality is turning these into their opposites.
The notion that nothing is real except God is a persuasion that puts us at risk of spiritual deception and illusion. The Writings give a clear definition: “The real is distinguished from the not real in this-that the real is actually such as it appears, and that the not real is actually not such as it appears” (above quote in AC 4623). Hell is real and to the inhabitants of heaven when they look down, it appears as it is in reality—deformed and devoid of rationality. But to the inhabitants of hell the appearance there is not such as it is, and this (appearance) is what’s unreal.
To continue the thought of the Arcana article by Dr. Stanley:
Swedenborg agrees with the Hindu view that although man has the ego experience he cannot be said to actually have a thing called an ego [proprium]. As opposed to the pure soul itself, ego is essentially unreal. My self as I feel and experience it to exist, is an illusion. As Swedenborg puts it, “There is not anything proper (proprium) to man, but it appears to him as if there were” DP 78:3
Here again nonduality misconstrues what the Writings say about the proprium. The full number makes it clear that the evil self doesn’t have the Divine within and yet is fully and inexorably real, permanent, and allowed to keep itself in disorder by the Divine Laws of Permission (DP 234). This is the meaning of the assertion above that this evil “is appropriated to him as his own, and remains with him”:
The reason is that man's proprium and his freedom make one. Man's proprium is of his life; and what a man does from his life he does from freedom. Further, man's proprium is what is of his love, for love is the life of everyone, and what a man does from his life's love that also he does from freedom. Man acts from freedom according to thought, because whatever is of the life or love of anyone is also an object of thought and is confirmed by thought; and when it has been confirmed then he does it from freedom according to his thought.  For whatever a man does, he does from the will by means of the understanding; and freedom is of the will, and thought is of the understanding.
Moreover, man can act from freedom contrary to reason, and he can also act according to reason and not from freedom; but such acts are not appropriated to the man, being only the acts of his lips and of his body, and not of his spirit or heart; but the acts of his spirit and heart, when they also become the acts of his lips and of his body, are appropriated to him. That this is so could be shown by many illustrations; but this is not the place for them.
 By being appropriated to man is meant to enter his life and become part of it, consequently to become his own. However, it will be seen in what follows that there is nothing that is man's own: it merely seems as if it were. Here it needs only to be said that all the good which a man does from freedom according to reason is appropriated to him as his own, because in thinking, willing, speaking and doing it appears to him to be his own; and yet, the good is not man's but belongs to the Lord in him, as may be seen above (n. 76). But how evil is appropriated to man will be seen in the proper article. (DP 78)
This passage explains that what is appropriated to the self remains forever. Further, that both evil and good can be so appropriated. Clearly then what is appropriated and belongs to the self MUST BE REAL. When evil is appropriated to the self, it is a real appropriation of real remains and it is permanent. When good or truth is appropriated to the self, it is a real appropriation that is permanent. Clearly it is not possible to have the self drop away or empty itself, as is predicated in all of nonduality.
Chapter 2, Section 3
My research on the Web indicates that the Hindu idea of nonduality has been incorporated into the Western intellectual diversity. A google.com search on nonduality yields thousands of Web sites, almost all in the United States. For example:
Experiencing Nonduality is the path, the means and the realization of our true nature as unqualified Oneness, Consciousness or Presence. Nondual proclaims the truth that everything is an expression of unqualified Oneness. It is the ‘pathless path’ we traverse while healing our misperceptions of separation. And it is the means we utilize in realizing this truth of Oneness. Experiencing Nonduality is the path of welcoming all that is. Ultimately, nothing needs to be changed. Everything is always unfolding in mysterious perfection—always. This is the first and final understanding.
Experiencing Nonduality by Richard Miller, Ph.D. Web document accessed April 2002: www.nondual.com/advaitayana.html
Everything in the Writings contradict this perspective on life and reality. Everything in the Writings insist on duality everywhere and always. We are born immortal spirits and God’s purpose for making us is to elevate our consciousness into the celestial spheres of our mind. Eternal life in heaven is a ceaseless growth towards human perfection (LJ 12). It never ceases for every individual who achieves this celestial state through regeneration. Individuality is unique from birth to eternity (ISB 14, AC 5354; DLW 226; CL 355). Once an individual, always an individual. Nonduality in the Western intellect advocates the “pathless path” that “welcomes all that is” because “nothing needs to be changed.” The opposite is taught in the Writings of Swedenborg. Our path is straight and narrow, and only welcomes that which is good and true. Ultimately, everything needs to be changed because we are born infernal and totally corrupted in spirit and needing to become a new creation so that we may enter the celestial state (AC 4594).
Without personal effort at changing our character (loves and understandings) there is no new creation of the spirit called regeneration. The Lord cannot heal us by His own omnipotent power, or else He would do that to all, such is His universal love for the human race (DP 91). Our regeneration is effected solely by means of temptations of character provided by the Divine Therapist day by day, minute by minute (AC 227). Such is the amazing close connection between the Lord and the New Church mind. This is the first and final understanding of the Writings.
Continuing with Dr. Miller on nonduality:
Experiencing Nonduality is an exploration into the nature of Oneness and is not in the becoming process for we cannot become what we already are. There is nothing we can add to our self to make our self one iota better. We are already perfect as we are.
It is not possible for the New Church mind to experience “inner peace” with the idea that “There is nothing we can add to our self to make oneself one iota better.” The Writings reveal that we are all born for heaven, but to attain that capacity requires mental growth in the rational-celestial direction (DP 324). The Lord is actualizing every stage of our mental development according to the laws of Divine Providence which He has revealed in the Writings. As we struggle and choose as-of-self, He builds us up unconsciously from the interior so that when we are ready to leave this earth, there is a heavenly place for us to go to, or be in. The experience of struggle and hassles only ends when we enter the celestial state (Peace or Sabbath rest), but the mental development continues even within the inner peace we then have (AC 2249 ). This reflects the fact that the Lord is already perfect and always was, while we are not and never will be—another fundamental duality. But in His mercy and love, we are to become more and more perfect endlessly (SE 5566; AC 2249 ).
Another example of the Americanization of Hindu nonduality is found in the work of Jerry Katz who founded a Web discussion community called “Nonduality Salon”:
“There is the natural state. It invites itself into itself. And this invitation of itself into itself is given many names, such as satchitananda, being consciousness bliss. It invites itself into itself. .... Bliss is generated from this coming of the natural state into itself. Consciousness is another word for the churning of the natural state. Being is being the natural state …The problem is the suffering of it. Not it. I'm sure I've done all kinds of crazy things in my life, but one understanding has never changed since the age of 7. I AM. That plainly shines forth.
(Nonduality Salon at www3.ns.sympatico.ca/umbada/ Accessed April 2002):
Nonduality is a point of view that opposes the struggle of regeneration in the New Church mind, and therefore it is a spiritually harmful belief system to the New Church mind. The goal of nonduality is ego-oriented, namely to attain bliss in one’s “cosmic” consciousness. The Writings teach that bliss is given not as a goal in itself but as a consequence of the goal of altruism or charity. No one is born for oneself but everyone is born for others (TCR 406). Altruism, which is to love others as much as oneself, is the end state of life’s struggles. It alone brings the peace of heaven where the thoughts and feelings of each is communicated to all for mutual benefit (HH 399). Nonduality leads to irrational conclusions such as identifying oneself with I AM (as in the above quote by Mr. Katz), which in reality can only be attributed to God as Esse from which He creates and governs all that exists (NJHD 309).
Chapter 2, Section 4
Another instance of nonduality as corporeal spirituality are the notions given in relation to Tantric sex. According to one text titled “A Contemporary Guide to Sacred Sexuality and Sex Magick” (accessed in April 2002 on the Web at www.geocities.com/iona_m/Virtualtantra/ball-lightning.html ) sex is the path to immortality and divinity:
Tantra presents the ultimate Nondual reality as the sexual embrace of God and Goddess, of Shiva and Shakti, of Emptiness and Form.
"I am in the creature's desire." – Krishna
"The union of man and woman is like the mating of Heaven and Earth.
It is because of their correct mating that Heaven and Earth last forever.
Humans have lost this secret and have therefore become mortal.
By knowing it the Path to Immortality is opened." - Shang-Ku-San-Tai
"Sexual love is the purest energy of the divine state,
for lovers in their embrace form one angel." – Swedenborg
What a curious reference to Swedenborg in this context! It is presented as a direct quote but we can tell that it is not (no actual reference is given). The Writings do not use the expression “sexual love” so it must be a rendering for conjugial love. Neither do the Writings talk about “energy” in relation to conjugial love. And the appearance of a husband and wife as one angel when they are seen from a distance (CL 42) is here fancifully modified to refer to the embrace of lovers.
Other similar notions are further given:
The core experience of Tantra is revelation of its sexual secrets. Sexual union symbolizes the quintessence of the elements. Sacred sex reveals eternal truth and transcendence. It is a way of redemption -- union of the personal self with the transpersonal Self.
The acts of the lovers mirror the primordial creation and subsequent fecundity. In desiring his opposite, the Supreme Being impregnates Nature. The attraction of the two principles for each other engenders all life. Neither asleep nor awake the spirit is set free by perfect exhaustion of the body. Through tantric sex a twilight state is produced. Then there is a dramatic paradoxical shift from sympathetic arousal to the afterglow of parasympathetic tranquility. This "calmed violence" is the essence of the Real.
Here it is asserted that “sacred” sex reveals what eternal truth is and is a way to redemption. Once again we see here the persistent view in nonduality that some particular act of the body has the spiritual effect of salvation and divinity.
Another version of what is called spiritual or sacred sex may be seen in this sample called Kundalini:
Orgasms CAN be used to increase spiritual/life energy. It depends what you do with the energy, your attitudes around sexuality. Especially for Women, but for men it is intensified if they learn to have orgasms without ejaculating. Partly, because you can have more orgasms, and build your energy with each one. Of course we release energy.
It's about how clear you are to the free flow of energy through you, shaping your life, not how much is stuck inside. It can be another way to love yourself and give love to Gaia. Focus on unconditional self-love, give thanks for being alive and having a body that can feel pleasure. In Orgasm, release the energy out through the top of your head, and through your feet, with love for the beautiful planet.
(“Mind Body Spirit Kundalini the Grounding” on the Web at www.domin8rex.com/serpent/spirit/gaia.htm Accessed June 2002)
Consider the statement in the Tantric Sex Guide quoted above: "The union of man and woman is like the mating of Heaven and Earth” In the New Church mind there already is the idea that the union of man and wife is through conjugial love—a celestial-rational concept that can be understood only by those who study the Writings and strive to live according to its rational truths. This husband-wife union is holy and angelic. On the other hand heaven and earth do not “mate” and do not form a union—ever. Heaven and earth, or the spiritual/celestial and the natural, are in correspondence of discrete degrees and no union is possible between them. There is not a “mating” between angels of the Second Heaven (called spiritual Angels) and those of the First Heaven (called natural Angels). There is only a relation by correspondence and no direct communication, contact, or overlap in substance and form (De Verbo 3). However, we say instead that there is a marriage (or union) between the Lord (or heaven) and the Church, or the church in each of us. The church within us is in the mind, not the earthly body. There can never be a “mating” between the body on the earth and the church in the mind for they are in discrete degrees. The Writings define the Church as heaven on earth, by which is meant, heaven in the mind of the person still living on earth (HH 57). All dualities must be maintained because they are unique permanent distinctions that never cease to eternity (DLW 226).
Comparing the union of man and wife (“woman”) to the “mating” of heaven and earth destroys the real duality of order into which the universe is created. It fudges and obscures the discreteness (duality) of the natural and the spiritual. It also empties conjugial love from its rational basis. The conjugial union between man and wife is angelic and takes place only in continuous degree. Obviously both husband and wife must belong to the same heaven or level of consciousness. All that is within one heaven is in continuous degree, not discrete. There cannot be a union between a man in the First Heaven and a woman in the Second heaven, or vice versa! Angel couples are united in a “sexual embrace” like on earth, but the offspring is spiritual (SE 6110). It is further specified:
Love of the married partner does not result from the sexual embrace, as with adulterers, but the sexual embrace from the love of the partner; so that the love of the partner does not depend on the fire of that organ, but the reverse. The love of the partner is full of delights, irrespective of sexual intercourse, and is a delightful dwelling together. Between that love apart from the sexual embrace, and the sexual embrace itself, there is a determination, just as there is between that which a man thinks from the will, which is intention, and act, or speech. Between these, intervenes determination, which is as it were the opening of the mind to doing a thing, like the opening of a door. (SE 6110)
The Writings show that the mind/body duality is the same as the duality between the spiritual and the natural. Consider the statement in the David Loy quote above: “The sense of a within apart from the world is the self-delusion that needs to be overcome”. By accepting the notion that mind and body belong to the same realm, the idea of correspondences is destroyed, and so is the idea of discrete degrees. As a result, the person sinks down into the state of corporeal spirituality discussed above, and this is an infernal state in the afterlife:
Evils are as it were heavy, and fall of themselves into hell; and so also falsities that are from evil (n. 8279, 8298). (HD 170)
Nonduality between the physical and the spiritual is clearly visible in the following excerpts of an article on sexuality at the Web based Yoga Research and Education Center:
The dynamics between biological needs (specifically genital urges) and higher evolutionary or transpersonal aspirations is a crucial part of all moral, religious, and spiritual traditions of the world. Typically we experience these two sets of wants or needs as being at war with each other: Don’t let the cerebrum know what the genitals are doing. Suppress your desires. Curb your sexual curiosity. Feel ashamed about having genitals. Feel guilty about sex.
This body- and sex-negative orientation is epitomized in the religious doctrine according to which the “flesh” is the enemy of the “Spirit.” For love to be “pure,” it must be devoid of sexual connotations. At best sex is regarded as a necessary evil. As the British mathematician-philosopher Bertrand Russell observed, this view has caused millions of people untold misery. For they had to suppress their sexual instincts in the hope of a better life in the hereafter where they, as sexless angelic beings, could participate in the joys of heaven beyond all genitality and sexual complications.
This dualistic [sic] idea, which splits the human being into genital or sensual and spiritual or ascetical compartments, is at home in Christianity and Judaism as much as it is in Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. For instance, the ancient Rig-Veda, the “Old Testament” of Hinduism, records a domestic quarrel between Sage Agastya and his wife Lopâmudrâ. Their quarrel, of course, was over sex or rather the lack thereof. Agastya, who was a renowned ascetic and a paragon of the virtue of chastity, was neglecting his husbandly duties. He preferred to meditate in solitude over making love to his wife. Understandably, she was beginning to feel frustrated and started to complain and make demands.
This struggle, which has brought many would-be ascetics to their knees, has been fought by men and women ever since religions began to propagandize the idea that in order to fulfill spiritual life one must curb the passions of the flesh. Whole traditions arose that were based on this mistaken idea, namely that communion with the Divine, or God-realization, depends on repressing or confining the sexual urge.
For the ascetic, lust is the ally of death. The reason for this is that the loss of semen signals to him the loss of power, energy, and hard-earned merit. The ascetic needs good merit to cheat the iron law of karma, and he requires the body’s energy to accomplish the magnificent work of self-transformation that is the goal of all austerities. The ascetic is a hoarder at psychosomatic energy. He guards all bodily openings, especially the genitals. Semen is, for him, not merely semen but a substance of power that must be accumulated, not squandered. The typical ascetic is always worrying about the involuntary loss of semen, or becoming sexually aroused to the point where he loses control over his thoughts.
Both the Tantric master and the Taoist adepts knew that sexuality in itself is not a hindrance to spiritual maturation. They promoted, on the contrary, the idea that an impotent eunuch stands a slim chance of realizing the supreme potential of spiritual evolution—enlightenment or liberation. Instead of recommending the anxious suppression of the libido lest it should interfere with the sacred task of spiritual transformation, they favored a sex-positive philosophy. They even designed special practices to utilize this most powerful impulse in us for the process of psychospiritual transmutation. Of course, they did not condone the kind of “sexploitation” that is the liability of the ordinary individual, particularly in our post-sexual-revolution days. Rather, they were interested in the right use of the sexual energy.
However, the left-hand approach which involves sexual intercourse with a suitable partner, has the advantage of increasing the level of psychosomatic energy and thus of including the physical dimension in the process of psychospiritual transformation. Actual sexual intercourse involves an energy exchange between the partners in the Tantric ritual, which enhances the unification process that is strived for on the level of consciousness.
At the point of enlightenment, the Tantric practitioner realizes the transcendental unity of Male and Female, Shiva and Shakti. This condition is known as “great delight” (mahâ-sukha) since it cannot be diminished by anything, not even by the act of ejaculation, which typically concludes the male partner’s experience of sexual pleasure in ordinary circumstances.
Tantra is the technology of joy on many levels—from sexual pleasure to transcendental bliss. (…)
(“Sex, Asceticism, and Mythology” by Georg Feuerstein on the Web at www.yrec.org/sex_ascet.html Accessed June 2002)
The commentator’s nonduality perspective shows in how he interprets the flesh and spirit theme in traditional religions. He calls this “dualistic” which he sees as contrary to our nature, which is that we are as much as our body as our mind—both, mixed, equal. This nonduality sees the duality model as un-natural and psychotic. This same nonduality is also responsible for the Western idea of chivalry and pure love, namely, that it is spoiled by sex when it is brought down to that level. Religious or moral purity was seen as incompatible with sexuality. On the surface this looks like a duality, as seen by those in nonduality. But actually this is also a nonduality since it assumes that spiritual chastity and natural sexuality were on the same continuum, except that one was high up and the other was low down. Duality would be different. It sees that sexuality and spiritual purity go together as integral parts to the unity of the conjugial couple. It is not sensuous sex and mental sacredness that are the opposite ends of a continuum. The Writings define chastity, not as those who are virgins, but marrieds who reject all forms of adultery or pornography (CL 152, 452). Until you practice conjugial sex, you cannot be totally chaste, pure, and holy.
If a man concentrates his love upon his wife, by shunning adultery as sin, then love with its potency increases daily; but if men take from that love and consume it with harlots, conjugial love becomes like chaff, and dies.
There is no lasciviousness in conjugial love, for lasciviousness is unchaste. There is the identical sensation with those who are in conjugial love; consequently, there is nothing unclean, but pure. It appears as if there were, but yet there is not. The reason is, because inwardly in conjugial love, even to the ultimates, is heaven, and inwardly in the love of adultery is hell; and the ultimates of each appear similar, as to their delights, but yet they are not. The difference is not perceived except by conjugial love. (SE 6110)
Note the commentator’s details about “tantric sex” which are practices that instantly destroy conjugial love, union of husband and wife, and consequent eternal angelic bliss and blessedness in the New Church mind. The nonduality perspective leads one to the notion that the sensations from sexual activity through the physical body can generate energy that raises the individual to divine consciousness and being. But the New Church knows from the Writings that physical energy can never generate spiritual effects such as consciousness or understanding. Rather, the duality in the Writings teach that physical energy or sensation can never come into contact or have a direct effect on spiritual things. The only relation between the physical and the spiritual is that of correspondences from the spiritual to the natural, and never the other way round (D. Wis. 2).
Christian spirits cannot endure the spiritual sphere of the feminine and the masculine. They cannot endure the spiritual sphere of conjugial love; and the hells, at such times, are roused to fury. They cannot endure the sphere of nakedness between married partners; and, at such times, flee away. They cannot endure any sphere of love from a married partner. They loathe the sphere of customary [intercourse]; that is, when conjunction with the wife becomes ordinary, or freely permitted, it produces nausea. (SE 6110:65)
The attempt to overcome sexual guilt became a cultural movement in twentieth century North America. Sexuality was declared normal and healthy. Again the nonduality between natural and spiritual led to a pendulum swing so that sexuality became something you have to explore and in which you have to find yourself. Among Christians, even without the Writings, sexuality was accepted as healthy and normal within marriage only. At least, as an ideal. And this means they have a spiritual motive for resisting adultery. When they arrive in the afterlife and are instructed about conjugial love, they can accept it with enthusiasm, and they enter heaven. It is important therefore for Christians not to confirm the idea that sex and heaven do not co-exist (CL 27).
Love of the married partner does not result from the sexual embrace, as with adulterers, but the sexual embrace from the love of the partner; so that the love of the partner does not depend on the fire of that organ, but the reverse. The love of the partner is full of delights, irrespective of sexual intercourse, and is a delightful dwelling together. Between that love apart from the sexual embrace, and the sexual embrace itself, there is a determination, just as there is between that which a man thinks from the will, which is intention, and act, or speech. Between these, intervenes determination, which is as it were the opening of the mind to doing a thing, like the opening of a door. (SE 6110)
The idea that there is no sex in heaven is a Christian nonduality. The Writings give us a rational solution to this puzzle, namely, that sex in the physical body and sex in the spirit-body are a discrete duality forever separated. Heaven is part of sex through the heavenly body which is a more perfect rendition of the physical body in its early youth (HH 414). Sex among conjugial pairs in heaven is performed through this more perfect human body (HH 386, CL 46). Angels are called holy because they operate from the Lord’s Proprium (or Character) form inward influx into their will and understanding (AC 9820). Everything they do is holy, therefore also their sexual activity.
[They enjoy] delights and pleasures by the mere touch of hands and of lips, when they think from love, such things from the Word, from objects, from various concordant delights, as are applicable. They have exquisite sensations of their separate, and of their common [states]. These arise from the delights of affection and thought, and of the conjunction thereof; and the sensation is the more exquisite as the conjunction is more interior. That there is such delight from the conjunction of female and male, is because there is such [from that] of good and truth. There are still more delights of conjunction of the external senses, as of sight, of hearing, of smell; particularly of the respiration, in which innumerable things lie concealed: they lie concealed especially in the sound itself of the speech. (SE 6110)
The above discussion illustrates the rational debunking process the New Church mind can go through to deconstruct the hidden implications of nondualist concepts one is exposed to. A complex system of thought can generate innumerable concepts arranged in a hierarchy, at the top of which is the chief idea. The chief idea of nonduality is that all duality is transcended in nonduality. Below this are its many concepts, each containing in its center the chief idea that spawns them. The lower the hierarchy continues and the further it slides from the top, the deeper is the chief idea hidden within it. Without practice in deconstructing the hidden assumptions it is hard to see where nonduality enters into such things as pluralism of realities, relativism of truths, transcendentalism, spiritual meditation, vegetarianism, healing by touch, or psychic energy. Counting things like these as spiritual acts is the view given in nonduality. One might be tempted to adopt some of these practices and believe that one is doing a spiritual thing. (See further discussion in Chapter 6).
Chapter 2, Section 5
5. Gurus and Karma
A popular form of Eastern nonduality in Western countries is the corporeal spirituality of the followers of Maharishi and practitioners of transcendental meditation. The Web details its activities through “Vedic Universities” dispersed through many countries, and doing research on corporeal spirituality. One instance of this may be seen in the nonduality concepts they use for the relationship between physical energy and spirituality:
"Maharishi's Science of Creative Intelligence, which connects modern science with ancient Vedic science, is the foundation of all knowledge -- complete knowledge -- and therefore is the basis of complete fulfillment. Introducing the Science of Creative Intelligence and the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field into education is the one way for all mankind to stop violation of Natural Law and end the long tradition of problems and suffering in life individually and globally." Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Transcendental Meditation opens the awareness to the infinite reservoir of energy, creativity, and intelligence that lies deep within everyone.
"By enlivening this most basic level of life, Transcendental Meditation is that one simple procedure which can raise the life of every individual and every society to its full dignity, in which problems are absent and perfect health, happiness, and a rapid pace of progress are the natural features of life." Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
As a new science of consciousness, the Science of Creative Intelligence® provides a practical means to unfold the permanent experience of higher states of consciousness and offers the theoretical understanding of that experience which is necessary for the most rapid growth towards enlightenment.
Transcendental Consciousness is the home of all the Laws of Nature, the pure field of creative intelligence from which all of creation arises. By contacting this pure field of creative intelligence one experiences directly the nature, range, development and application of this field of creative intelligence which governs everything in creation.
The Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health offers comprehensive programs which are prevention-oriented, time-tested, free from harmful side effects, and easily applied. This approach re-establishes the balance between the body and its own inner intelligence through Vedic knowledge and its application.
Maharishi Vedic Vibration Technology utilizes a refined impulse of Vedic sound, or Vedic vibration, to enliven the inner intelligence of the body and restore proper functioning.
(“Maharishi's Science of Creative Intelligence” on the Web at www.vedicvibration.com Accessed on the Web in May 2002)
There are two ideas contained in this approach we need especially to consider. First, the idea that what creates the universe is called “creative intelligence” (“which governs everything in creation”) and is something that the individual possesses. This comes from the idea that self and God are one and the same and forming a nonduality. Second, the idea that this “higher consciousness” can be reached by meditation and physical procedures with the body, a nonduality between the body and mind. Transcendental laws of consciousness and creative intelligence are in the same continuous degree with the physical world (“Transcendental Consciousness is the home of all the Laws of Nature”).
The first idea denies the absolute duality of the Lord and creation and the second denies the discrete degrees between natural and spiritual. Either of these two denials bar entry to the New Church and prevent regeneration and consequent salvation. This applies to the extent that the denials are confirmed by reasoning and applied to daily life.
A current “living Master” of nonduality who draws audiences of thousands in Western cities and other tours, is known as Supreme Master Ching Hai. She often refers to Jesus as a former Master and frequently uses expressions and ideas from the New Testament like the idea that the Kingdom of God and hell are “inside of ourselves.” Also, that Satan and evil spirits “or demons” exist, and these are commingled with ideas from Eastern religions like karma, guru, God-realization, and reincarnation. Here is a sample of her explications and commentaries on these topics:
Satan is born of the kingdom of God too, which is inside of ourselves. When we act against the good and true principles of life, we become the instrument of the dark forces. But the negative powers are okay too. They make life exciting and make life come into existence. Otherwise, we would all be sleeping in heaven! Nothing to do.
(“The Teachings of The Supreme Master Ching Hai.” on the Web at www.chinghai.com/TOPICS.html Accessed May 2002)
According to this notion, hell exists, but mainly for people who are very disturbed in their minds--people who are virtuous and good never experience hell, and those who are “initiated” by Ching Hai, never have to go to hell. Hell is portrayed as a great hospital to help people whose spirits and minds are sick. It is compared to
hospitals on earth where illnesses are cured. … So it is better that we always think good, do good, and talk good, think God, do God and talk God, and to realize God is even better. … So we cannot say that the evil is within or without us. It is both, just like God is within and without us and everywhere. (Ching Hai Ibid)
These notions are opposed to the Biblical ideas in multiple ways. It reinterprets what hell is to fit the ideas of nonduality. Since it sees each person as God in reality and self in illusion, hell becomes a temporary “hospital” where the self is healed from its insanities. Further, Satan is part of the “kingdom of God,” evil things “make life come into existence,” and in heaven there is “nothing to do.”
Continuing with Ching Hai:
So when we meditate, we use the technique to tune into the Kingdom of God, we are always in the Kingdom of God. It is just like a radio, you can tune into different stations. … God is nothing but ourselves. While in the previous level, we thought that God was separate from us. It isn't easy to explain, but for the first time we act without thinking, without even knowing what we are doing. We become the author of everything without collecting karma. This is what Jesus was describing when He said I do what my Father is doing. (Ching Hai Ibid)
It is a consistent theme in nonduality to say that “God is nothing but ourselves.” It is also common to refer to Jesus as a human being like we are who has achieved enlightenment by becoming one with God. It is asserted that when we reach this enlightenment we too can say that we are one with the Father and that we do nothing but what the Father does (“We become the author of everything”). Here is another way in which our divinity is asserted:
Karma is a concept that sounds attractive to many Westerners because it seems logical and fair. Part of its acceptance is a superficial similarity to the oft repeated Biblical assertion of a connection between sowing and reaping (e.g., “He who sows injustice will reap calamity” (Prov 22:8.6); or: “As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” (Job 4:8.12). But karma is always bound to reincarnation, as in this statement by Ching Hai:
There are two types of karma: human karma and universal karma. Men's laws are governed by an invisible force that cannot be grasped by human understanding. This is called in Sanskrit 'karma', meaning the Law of Cause and Effect. It is mentioned in the Bible as 'What you sow, so shall you reap.' There is good and bad karma, but both imply attachment for you on earth. After initiation, the karma from past lives will be erased, but the Master does not touch the karma from this life. If not, you would die immediately. We must stay here for a while to bless the world and to help our friends. Afterward, we can go to Heaven and return whenever, if this is our wish. Karma is an invisible force, very fair and strong. What we have created will come back to us. This is the law of cause and effect. (Ching Hai Ibid)
The reference to “initiation” designates a divine act of the “Master” or guru by which she claims to “erase karma” for the individual who is being initiated into her discipleship. Comparisons between the Master and Jesus abound, as here:
A real Master can only give and not take. His disciples are comfortable but the Master has to suffer. That is why it is said that Jesus had to uplift mankind and that He had to be crucified. He couldn't enjoy any privilege. That is why people scolded Him and crucified Him. … When you see darkness every day and he gives you the light, then that is a guru. And then the sound must also be heard, because, In the beginning was the 'Word' and the 'Word' was God. If you don't hear the sound, then you have not completely contacted yet with God. The light is only one attribute of God; not perfect. You have to also hear the sound. … By coming in contact with these vibrations, or the so-called 'Word" in the Bible, we become all-knowing, we become all-power, all-blessing, all-virtuous, all-satisfied, all-happiness and all-bliss bestowing to the people in our environment, and even to our surroundings. Our surroundings will be blessed with out presence. Everywhere we go, those beings, or those places will become sacred. … (Ching Hai Ibid)
This reflects an amazing but typical amalgam of Bible concepts and Hindu/Buddhist nonduality. The act of “remembering” that you are God bestows the divine powers of a Master:
As is the case with many of the activities within guru-type relationships some of the ideas and practices are not publicized and disciples are warned not to discuss initiation details with others who are not disciples. Her followers must go through initiation steps at various levels. This is said to prepare the disciples for spiritual evolution, liberation, and enlightenment. This salvation process cannot progress without the Master’s direct intervention which is done unbeknownst and unconsciously through the spiritual powers of the Master who is present everywhere where disciples are. This includes coming to the disciples in their dreams and other secret modes not disclosed. The divine-like power of Masters lasts up to 500 years, independently of their physical body. This is why, according to Ching Hai, “the power of Jesus” has long vanished from the world.
About the claim of erasing the disciple’s karma, a relevant comment in the Writings may be this:
Truth is falsified when it is said that sins are wiped and washed away like filth by water; and truth is still more falsified when it is said that man has the power of remitting sins, and that when they have been remitted, they are altogether wiped away, and the man is pure. (…) There are countless such things as these, for there is not a single truth which cannot be falsified, and the falsification confirmed by reasonings from fallacies. (AC 7318)
The notion by which many secular truth seekers are attracted is the promise that there is something beyond human thinking that is reachable through specialized training procedures. In my thirties I once agreed to have a postal relationship with a guru who lived thousands of miles away. I would read his books and lectures, listen to this tapes, follow a prescribed dietary regimen, stay out of trouble, continue with my employment, and continue my study of the guru’s writings and communications. I would have to meditate every day and fixate my inner gaze on a visualization of the guru sitting before me, and slightly elevated and surrounded by light. It was then that the guru would “come to me” and instruct me. All I had to do is to fixate my attention on the visualized image of him.
I had to learn to imbue this image with spiritual strength, which came from full obedience and devout worship of the guru. The more I was to worship him in visualization and daily practice, the more I was to gain power to imbue his visualization with real spiritual energy. This energy is given by the guru, but sometimes by other enlightened masters who “were active” in that period or sphere. This process would then continue indefinitely. In the meantime, the guru would communicate with me by letter, or on occasion in face to face visits, and inform me how well I’m progressing. Sometimes this is to be done in statements, sometimes by super-conscious contact. The disciple is expected to experience these super-conscious contacts by peculiar sensations in the body.
There is no content to any of this, as you will notice. The result is either in the experiencing of corporeal images and sensations—called ecstatic states, or, in the experiencing of something near to emptiness of consciousness or absence of anything particular. I enacted for a few months being a long-distance disciple and then I quit, having no motivation to continue. I wanted something I could understand, not feel. From then on I was never attracted again to gurus. I gravitated to “thinking” paths to truth—Cabala, numerology, astrology, I Ching, anthroposophy—but did not stay long with any of them, until at last I read the New Testament. Here I found a thinking man’s haven for truth with explanations, parables, specific principles of living, and specific description of the end result. This made sense to me. And a year or two later I found the Writings. I saw immediately that this above anything else I’ve read, is filled with the content of truth and the specifics of the end results. I wasn’t left wondering about “the rest of it.” I wasn’t promised anything obscure or mystical or corporeal. Just the simple truth of reality such as it is created by the Lord, moment of existence by moment of existence for every single thing or detail. Hardly anything can be simpler to understand than the true reality.
Note this important reality:
It is the understanding which acts from the will, not the will which acts by means of the understanding. (TCR 105)
This is the great heavenly secret that protects the New Church mind from being attracted to gurus and related nondualities. Everything promised and expected in the guru / master relationship with the disciple rests on the idea that it is the will which acts by means of the understanding, but we know that it is the understanding which acts from the will (TCR 105). The guru / master relationship with the disciple requires that the disciple allow the guru or master to come into the will and from there the master acts by means of the disciple’s understanding. The resulting action is supposed to be the guru acting through the disciple, not the disciple acting from self. This kind of relationship turns the disciple into a zombie role who no longer acts from its own willing and thinking. Nothing human is left in that life (xx).
Of course this is only an enactment of no longer being human, not a real situation of actually not being a human. One can never lose one’s humanity, which is to be in internal liberty to act in accordance with one’s understanding (DP 87).The reality is that it is the disciple, not the guru, that keeps the relationship going. For at any moment the disciple can quit. However thinking from oneself is not easy when we are in persuasive faith (NJHD 118). As long as we hold on to the persuasive faith, we do think from our own self. Thus we lead a life in which we act like we are not really human, mimicking a zombie. When this game is carried all the way the person may lose all motivation to ever give up the delusion and thus to remain in it forever. Swedenborg has met many people who live in that state in the portion of the spiritual world called hell (SE 4875, 5015). This portion of the human mind is called hell because it is devoid of any good and truth. When disciples enter the afterlife in such inner persuasion they become spiritual slaves to those there who claim the status and power of a guru. However, they don’t call themselves gurus but “gods” (SE 4723).
The New Church mind is freed from the idea of karma since we know that no one gets punished in the afterlife for the sins of this life. Bishop Pendleton discusses this idea under the topic, “Why Ex Post Facto Laws are Contrary to Order.” He points out that the constitution of the U.S. forbids any legislative body to pass a law that punishes people for doing something that was not illegal before the law was passed. “Ex post facto” is Latin for a law passed “after the deed is done.”
This prohibitive principle has its origin in a law of the spiritual world. No one is punished in that world for evils he has done here, but for those he does there. The evil state acquired returns after death, and leads him to do similar deeds. For these he is punished, but not for those done in the former life. (See AE 989; SD 3489). If he then refrains from committing them, there will be no punishment. (Pendleton, Topics, p. 11)
(see Note 2 at end)
Karma is a mechanical concept of nonduality, while the idea of “no ex post facto punishment” is a rational and moral concept of duality. The idea of undergoing cycles of karma through reincarnated lives creates a continuum between this life and the next life. The relationship is described by a mechanical balance model—the amount you sin in this life will set you back by that much in the next reincarnation, until you can learn to balance right and wrong, and then you ascend by the amount of negative karma that you get rid of. The suffering you are experiencing now is a punishment for the sins of your former life.
But in the Writings we learn that an absolute distinct and permanent duality is created between this life and the afterlife. Nothing happens to you in the afterlife because of something you did in this life. It’s easy to fall into this false idea when we read:
He who thinks against God is rarely punished in the natural world, because there he is always in a state subject to reformation; but he is punished in the spiritual world after death, for then he can no longer be reformed. (DP 249)
When evil spirits are in this second state, as they rush into evils of every kind they are subjected to frequent and grievous punishments. In the world of spirits there are many kinds of punishment (HH 509; see below for the rest of the quote).
But note that this only establishes the fact that there are punishments in the afterlife. It doesn’t state what these punishments are for. These are not for misdeeds committed in one’s life on earth:
When evil spirits are in this second state, as they rush into evils of every kind they are subjected to frequent and grievous punishments. In the world of spirits there are many kinds of punishment; and there is no regard for person, whether one had been in the world a king or a servant. Every evil carries its punishment with it, the two making one; therefore whoever is in evil is also in the punishment of evil. And yet no one in the other world suffers punishment on account of the evils that he had done in this world, but only on account of the evils that he then does; although it amounts to the same and is the same thing whether it be said that men suffer punishment on account of their evils in the world or that they suffer punishment on account of the evils they do in the other life, since everyone after death returns into his own life and thus into like evils; and the man continues the same as he had been in the life of the body (n. 470-484).
Men are punished for the reason that the fear of punishment is the sole means of subduing evils in this state. Exhortation is no longer of any avail, neither is instruction or fear of the law and of the loss of reputation, since everyone then acts from his nature; and that nature can be restrained and broken only by punishments.
But good spirits, although they had done evils in the world, are never punished, because their evils do not return. Moreover, I have learned that the evils they did were of a different kind or nature, not being done purposely in opposition to the truth, or from any other badness of heart than that which they received by inheritance from their parents, and that they were borne into this by a blind delight when they were in externals separate from internals. (HH 505(
It is clear from this that the punishment in the afterlife is for the deeds committed there and not on earth. Note well that if we love evils in this life, they remain forever. These evil loves, or lusts and cupidities, prompt the individual in the afterlife to commit deeds that are forbidden there. Punishment is then dispensed for those deeds. The punishment is as severe as is needed for the individual to desist from doing the forbidden acts. Experience shows that no other method but severe punishments can help those individuals to suppress their lust from being expressed outwardly as a deed. Examples of such punishable misdeeds include
infesting the upright in the other life who are being vastated as to the truths of faith that belong to the church, a vastation they need to go through for reformation (AC 7502)
thinking and speaking lasciviously, which in the spiritual world are automatically communicated to other spirits, creating disturbances (AC 829)
having abominable principles: as that wives, especially those that are young and beautiful, ought not to be for a husband, but for themselves and their like, which disturbs those to whom the ideas are communicated (AC 829)
those who have acquired truths from the Word but mixed them with disorderly thoughts by hypocrisy or inward irreverence for them—they must be isolated from contact with other spirits and kept confined in a deep hell (AC 1008)
thinking that a sharing of sexual intercourse between women and men to be not only allowable, but even holy, and reviling marriage, undergo “very severe” punishment until they desist from engaging in such intentions (SE 1976)
those who outwardly put on an appearance of friendliness, but inwardly wish others ill, even condemning them to hell; they undergo “grievous punishment of dismemberment as to the whole head” (SE 3170)
those who are in the “endeavor to sunder the love of a wife by such allurements from that of her husband” (SE 1788)
those who attempt to rise in the spiritual world above hell for the purpose of infesting other spirits (SE 4471)
sirens who seek to obsess men, thinking they are still on earth with them; they get punished by “laceration as to the head and bones, which were in fact completely broken, with excessive pain - a punishment continued for a long time, even for hours” (SE 4420)
those who attribute everything to their prudence are forced to live with dragons and serpents that bite them (SE 3747)
“those who are carried away by the lust for virginities” are punished by the sensation that they are “mounted on a mad horse that bucks them up and forwards … which seems to them to be trying to kill them” (SE 2704)
The above is but a small sample!
Chapter 2, Section 6
Chapter 2, Section 7
I quote from an article by David Loy titled “The Dharma of Emanuel Swedenborg”:
Perhaps this understanding of our mental life becomes more meaningful if we relate Swedenborg's doctrine to two fundamental Mahayana Buddhist teachings: the denial of a duality between subject and object, and the denial of duality between mind and body. Both resonate deeply with important Swedenborgian claims. The denial of subject-object nonduality is found in many Mahayana canonical texts and commentaries. As the Japanese Zen master Dogen put it, "I came to realize that mind is no other than mountains and rivers and the great wide earth, the sun and the moon and the stars."(10) If there is no self inside, it also makes no sense to talk about the world as being "outside" one's mind. Everything becomes "my" mind.
(David Loy “The Dharma of Emanuel Swedenborg: A Buddhist Perspective” which appeared in Arcana (Journal of the Swedenborg Association) Volume 2, Number 1, 1995, pp.11-35)
To the New Church mind it would be harmful to adopt this perspective because of the possibility of allowing our mind to slip into nonduality by agreeing with the Zen master above who equates his mind with the physical world. The literal of the Old Testament is also filled with passages that exhort mountains, rivers, stars, and animals to worship and exalt the Lord (AC 6435). But we are not to confirm this appearance with an elaborated theory or philosophy. Instead, we must look for a spiritual message, such as the idea that angels are within the natural objects mentioned and animate them so that they appear alive and existing or changing as if on their own. But the Zen master did not say we should look for a rational meaning within the physical world. He said the opposite, that we should empty our mind from all the dualities that reveal the many distinct things in our mind and to have nothing there but the physical world--“There is no self inside.”
And yet we know from the Writings that there is no identity, connection, or overlap whatsoever between the mind and the physical body and universe (DLW 186). They communicate only by means of correspondences (D. Wis. 2). No section of the mind is part of the physical body. They are distinct in content and substance. They each exist on their own account, though they depend on each other for survival. All of the mind is part of the spiritual world from birth to eternity. To identify body and mind, as the Zen master does, is to fall into corporeal spirituality.
More on this will be said below.
Continuing with the Arcana article by David Loy:
I think this illuminates a Swedenborgian claim which is otherwise difficult to understand: he writes that the divine influx is not experienced as coming from our internals, rather it comes through the forehead into our internals: "The influx of the Lord Himself into man is into his forehead, and from there into the whole face" (HH 251). If I understand this correctly, the implication is a very Buddhist one: not (as in so much Christian mysticism) that we must realize the God within, but rather that the sense of a within apart from the world is the self-delusion that needs to be overcome. How is this delusion of self to be overcome? Dogen also provides a succinct explanation of the Buddhist approach: "To study the Buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly. "
The Number of Heaven and Hell (251) cited in this quote ends as follows:
The "forehead" corresponds to heavenly love, and consequently in the Word signifies that love ... The "face" corresponds to the interiors of man, which belong to thought and affection … The face is formed by correspondence with the interiors ... Consequently the "face," in the Word, signifies the interiors …
Clearly then the physical forehead or face is not meant and the Buddhist implication drawn does not hold. It is said by Dogen in the quote above that we become actualized by forgetting self and realizing that “your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away.” But the Writings teach and prove that the physical body only drops away at death and that we then continue life to eternity in a spiritual body that houses our soul and spirit (AC 5354; CL 355). Therefore the body/mind duality never stops though it changes to reflect the new environmental laws of the spiritual world. From the perspective of the Writings it is not possible or meaningful to achieve self-realization by eliminating body/mind duality. Far from being “emptied” of quality and character, the angelic mind and consciousness is enriched and infilled with new and superior qualities and character. When we become genuine human beings in the angelic form our interior is enriched and made more complex, not more meager or empty.
A further example may be given from an article by Michelle Rose titled “Common Ground: Echoes Between the Tao Te Ching and the Writings of Swedenborg” (Arcana 1994 v1 n2 pp. 35-41). The author introduces the subject by saying that “The Tao Te Ching is widely recognized as sharing basic truths with many religious scriptures, such as the Bhagavad Gita and the New Testament.” (p. 35). To attempt to show this she selects particular passages from Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu in parallel to particular passages from the Writings. Two examples may be given here:
The author doesn’t give explanations for these comparisons. As I look at them, I can see parallels but only by going from the Writings (right hand side) to Lao Tsu (left hand side). But in itself the Tao statements are natural without any rational content. Without rational content there is no spirituality for the New Church mind. Lao Tzu says,
“Therefore the sage is guided by what he feels and not by what he sees. He lets go of that and chooses this.” (On the Web at www.chebucto.ns.ca/Philosophy/Taichi/lao.html Accessed May 2002)
Note that for the New Church mind there can be no reliance on what we see or what we feel or discover within ourselves. None of this can contain any rationality or spirituality for us. The only source of rational-spiritual ideas is the conscious reading of the Writings as the Lord in His Word (NJHD 257; AC 8939; TCR 340, 347; SS 111; SE 5961). You can see why one cannot exaggerate the importance of studying the Writings daily for the purpose of applying it to our daily activities. We can practice Tai Chi for the health of our body and natural mind but we cannot reach spirituality through it by ‘becoming one with the flow of the Dow, with nature’:
The main principle of T'ai Chi is to understand the flow of energy--our energy, as well as the energy of others. The question is how to deal with energy coming towards us in any form, whether it is physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.
A well-executed power discharge should include these elements: strong internal strength, the use of the Yi (mind/intent), qi (bio-energy), whole body force, total relaxation. For power discharge to be effective, you need to accumulate strong internal strength first; otherwise, it is useless.
(Tai Chi Magazine on the Web at www.tai-chi.com/magazine.htm accessed May 2002)
From the rational perspective of what the Writings say one can look down upon what Lao-Tsu says about the natural and see in his statements purely corporeal metaphors.
The interior can perceive what takes place in the exterior, or what is the same, that the higher can see what is in the lower; but not the reverse. (AC 1914)
The fact that one cannot go from Tao Te Ching to the Writings clearly shows that there is in fact no relationship to the Writings within the statements of Tao Te Ching. But the fact that one can go from the Writings to the Tao Te Ching indicates that it is often possible to infuse natural statements and insights with rational ideas. This is a form of confirmation of spiritual things in the natural, that the Writings consider useful and allowable (DP 317, SEM 4657). But it’s crucial to see that the infusion must be from the rational to the natural, and cannot be done the other way round (DP 318). Nothing in the Tao Te Ching can contain anything spiritual from itself because spiritual is defined as rational things from the Writings. Thousands of years separate Lao Tsu from Swedenborg, and the span is filled by the First Coming of the Lord and then the Second Coming.
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)
The New Testament contains interior spiritual revelations (AE 514 ). They are the highest rational things given to humankind until that period. They could not have been given to any prior generation in a sensuous way through the Divine Natural of the Lord until the Incarnation. Similarly the revelations of the Second Coming given through the Divine Rational of the Lord could not have been given to any generation prior to Swedenborg. All comparisons between Swedenborg and prior authors must draw an absolute line between them so that the semantic content of one can never reach up to the semantic content of the other as they are in a discrete relationship. Just as no idea of the second heaven can be similar to any idea of the first heaven:
The difference between the natural, the spiritual, and the celestial is such, that there is no ratio between them, for which reason the natural can in no wise by any approximation approach towards the spiritual, nor the spiritual towards the natural; hence it is that the heavens are distinct. This it has been given me to know by much experience; I have often been sent among the spiritual angels, and I then spoke with them spiritually, and then, retaining in my memory what I had spoken, when I returned into my natural state, in which every man is in this world, I then wished to bring it forth from the former memory and describe it, but I could not, it was impossible; there were no expressions, nor even ideas of thought, by which I could express it; they were spiritual ideas of thought and spiritual expressions so remote from natural ideas of thought and natural expressions, that they did not approximate in the least. (De Verbo 3).
The duality between levels of revelation must be maintained within discrete degrees. If comparisons are made across revelations and similarities are drawn there is a certain danger in the New Church mind lest it falls into nonduality. To think that the Tao Te Ching contains insights similar to the Writings is to put the two into the same discrete degree. But they are not.
The rational spirituality revealed in the Writings is thoroughly dualist and opposed to corporeal spirituality in nonduality. The Grand Human has been cited as a nondualist concept in the Writings, especially this: “In the eyes of the Lord, the entire human race appears as one man” (HH 78). But to call this nonduality is a misinterpretation. The “oneness” in the Grand Human is a functional unity of diverse and disparate parts (societies), each different and unique, acting together in coordination and form, by which is produced the Grand Human (HH 64). The more there are unique parts the greater is the perfection and unity of the whole when acting as one (HH 56, LJ 12). This is opposite to the concept of nonduality where the thrust is always on eliminating differences, not maintaining them.
The corporeal spirituality of Eastern nonduality is active today in the American culture. The ancient explanations about prana, qi, or chi energy is recast in modern concepts of “bio-energy” and “life-force” and “spirit.” One popular version is called “Reiki energy” which denotes patterns of personal energy that are said to be “subtle” and unique “like fingerprints.” It is associated with holistic health, natural healing systems, and new age spirituality. It is performed by certified practitioners sometimes called Reiki Masters.
Reiki is a natural healing method that uses the hands of a healer to channel energy to another person through chakras or energy centers. It has been practiced for thousands of years. It was reintroduced in the 1800's by Mikao Usui in Japan.
(“Reiki Therapy.” Accessed on the Web in May 2002 at www.debreiki.co )
When a Reiki session is experienced, all kinds of thoughts and feelings come up and out. The client simply witnesses them as they show their face in order to say goodbye. This gentle process requires courage. Little by little, negativities are released from the body, mind, and soul. Along with them go their problematic symptoms, such as stress, anxiety, tension, and many physical or emotional difficulties.
(“What is Reiki?” Accessed on the Web in May 2002 at
A distance treatment is an advanced Reiki technique for transferring energy without actually physically touching the persons or objects being treated. As modern physics teaches us, the relationship of energy and matter to time and space is relative. Just as the energy involved in a phone call between people half a world apart can travel almost instantaneously, so Reiki energy can also travel (though our understanding of exactly how this occurs is less complete than for the telephone example). Distance treatments should only be given by Second or Third Degree practitioners.
(Questions Frequently Asked About Reiki. on the Web at www.whidbey.com/turtle/reiki/reikifaq.htm Accessed May 2002)
The nonduality between physical energy and “spirit” makes rational consciousness irrelevant and abstract. It leads to the total flattening of meaning of what is spiritual leading to absurdity, as in this advertising:
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They are in touch with a large host of Angels including the archAngels Gabriel, Michael, Ariel and Raphael. They will be in contact with your Guardian Angels ( yes, you all have at least two of them) and your Spirit Guides. They also work with bereavement groups, families and individuals to connect with those loved ones who have already made their transition.
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(On the Web at www.reiki1.com/Pages/angelreading.html Accessed in May 2002)
End Notes and References
A directory of all my publications, with full text access to most of them, is available on the Web at
Leon James. “Substantive Dualism: Swedenborg's Integration of Biological Theology and Rational Psychology”
Leon James. “Scientific Dualism.”
Leon James. “Religious Psychology or Theistic Science: A Guide to Spiritual Self-examination”
Leon James. “Swedenborg Glossary of Theistic Science”
Leon James. “Do the Writings Contain Scientific Revelations?” New Church Life , July 1995, 115(7), 325-330.
Also available on the Web at www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/409ss99/nfile2.htm
Leon James. “Dualist Science and the Writings of Swedenborg” New Church Life , June 1995, 115(6), 264-270.
Leon James. “Overcoming Objections to Swedenborg's Writings Through the Development of Scientific Dualism” New Philosophy 2001 v.CIV n.3 & 4 pp. 153-217. Available online at:
Leon James. “The Fourteen Scientific Fallacies in AC5084: Implications for Science Education.” New Philosophy, July-December, 1996, XCIX(3 & 4), 439-450
Examples of promoting dualism in science in New Church literature include:
Gregory L. Baker, Religion and Science: From Swedenborg to Chaotic Dynamics (New York: The Solomon Press, 1992)
Linda Simonetti Odhner, The Bread of Life With Honey From the Rock: A Chaste Union of religion and science New Church Life March 1989, pp. 117-122
Leon James, Swedenborg's Religious Psychology: The Marriage of Good and Truth as Mental Health Studia Swedenborgiana December 1993, Vol.8, No-3, pp. 13-42
Ian Thompson, Foundations of the Theory of Spirit, Mind and Nature from Theism www.TheisticScience.org
W. F. Pendleton Topics From the Writings (Academy, 1928)
Leon James. “My Pre-Swedenborgian Discoveries and Inventions (1960-1980)”
Mark Carlson. “Evolution, the Limbus, and Hereditary Evil (Part 2)” New Church Life June 1990, pp.259-275.
Barry C. Halterman. “Swedenborg's Influence on Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1883)”
Jane K. Williams-Hogan. Swedenborg: A Biography Available online here:
Leon James “Swedenborg Revolution in the Social Sciences”
Leon James “Spiritual Psychology”
Wilson Van Dusen, The Distinctiveness of the Church of the New Jerusalem New Church Life March 1994, 112-114.
Peter Rhodes, Gurdijeff’s and Swedenborg General Church Sound Recording Library, Bryn Athyn, 1976.
Leonard Fox, Gurdijeff’s: Guide to Heaven or Hell? New Church Life June 1993; (see also his reply in the October 1993 issue.)
Leon James “Moses, Paul, and Swedenborg, or Ritual, Faith, and Theistic Science: The Three Phases of Religious Behavior”
Leon James “Religious Behaviorism”
Leon James “De Hemelsche Leer--Part 1--Degrees of Consciousness”
Leon James “Spiritual Geography--Graphic Maps of Consciousness for Regeneration”
Leon James “Overcoming Objections to Swedenborg's Writings Through the Development of Scientific Dualism” New Philosophy 2001 v.CIV n.3 & 4 pp. 153-217. Available online here:
Dr. James’ Student Reports on Swedenborg are listed in this directory:
Leon James, “Genes of Consciousness: Spiritual Genetics for Regeneration”
Ian Thompson, Foundations of Theistic Science The Theory of Spirit, Mind and Nature from Theism (containing several articles)
Leon James, “Vertical Community”
Leon James, “The Will and the Understanding or The Affective and the Cognitive or Good and Faith or Heart and Lungs or Internal and External Mind”
Leon James, “Affective and Cognitive Resistance to a More Healthy Lifestyle
Leon James, “Notes on the Doctrine of the Wife:
See our Web site at www.DrDriving.org
List of Media Interviews with Leon James and Diane Nahl
Articles on Driving Psychology by Leon James and Diane Nahl
Leon James and Diane Nahl. Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering Clear of Highway Warfare (Prometheus Books: New York, 2000).
Leon James and Diane Nahl. Heaven on Wheels: Principles of Christian Driving Psychology www.aloha.net/~dyc/articles/christ.htm
Leon James. “Drivers Behaving Badly: DBB Ratings”
Hatfield, E., & Rapson, R. (1996). Love and sex: Cross-cultural perspectives. New York: Allyn and Bacon.
Hatfield, E., Cacioppo, J., & Rapson, R. L. (1994). Emotional contagion. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Leon James “The Universal Modes of Enactment in Human Experience: A Self-Witnessing Account of the Discovery of Sudden Memory and My Interpretation of Its Significance for the Human Race”
Leon James “Autobiography: Sudden Memory as the Integrating Mechanism on the Daily Round”
Leon James “Objective Autobiography: Sudden Memory”
Leon James “Radicalist Empiricism. The Universal Modes of Enactment in Human Experience. A Self-Witnessing Account of the Discovery of Sudden Memory and My Interpretation of Its Significance for the Human Race”
Leon James “The Hexagram of Sudden Memory “
Leon James “Discoveries and Inventions--Sudden Memory”
Leon James “The Hexagram of Sudden Memory” (excerpts)
Leon James “Pre-Swedenborgian Discoveries and Inventions (1960-1980)”
Leon James and Diane Nahl “Workbook for the Study of Social Psychology”
Leon James “The Analysis of Transactional Engineering Competence” www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy/tec.html
Leon James “Community Archives in Social Psychology”
Leon James “Understanding Discourse: From Ethnosemantics to Transactional Engineering”
Leon James “Genetic Culture: Primacy of the Affective over the Cognitive”
Leon James “Lectures in Social Psychology (directory of chapters)”
Leon James “Lecture Notes on The Psychology of Knowledge: The Discovery of Sudden Memory“
Leon James “The Method of Self-Witnessing”
Leon James “Religious Psychology or Theistic Science: A Guide to Spiritual Self-examination”
Leon James “Self-witnessing our emotions in daily life”
Leon James “General Instructions for Your Research Project: The Four Options--Customizing My Daily Emotional Spin Cycle”
Leon James “Temptations entry in the Swedenborg Glossary” www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy/instructor/gloss/temptations.html
Leon James “Self-Witnessing the Threefold Self”
Rev. Ray Silverman teaches at the New Church Academy in Bryn Athyn. He and his wife Star are the authors of a successful book Rise Above It! – “a curriculum for spiritual growth based on the Ten Commandments.” A seminar program is based on the book and is called Touchstone Seminars: A Life-changing Experience. See Web site at newearth.org/user/touchstone/
Harrie G.D. Groeneveld “The Second Coming of the Lord in the Doctrine of the Church” De Hemelsche Leer, First Fascicle, 38-43, 1930 (quoted above in Chapter 7 Section 8) Available online at www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/409ss99/thompson/mscan1.html See also its reprint version in the restart issues of De Hemelse Leer, April 2002 issue, Dr. Rutger Perizonius, Editor (Van der Heimstraat 5, 2582 RX, The Hague)
Rev. Ernst Pfeiffer “Elucidation of Mr. Groeneveld's Address” De Hemelsche Leer, First Fascicle, p.82-95; 127-131, 1930 (quoted above in Chapter 7 Section 8) Available online at www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/409ss99/thompson/mscan2.html See also its reprint version in the restart issues of De Hemelse Leer, April 2002 issue, Dr. Rutger Perizonius, Editor (Van der Heimstraat 5, 2582 RX, The Hague)
Rev. Theodore Pitcairn, “The second Education” De Hemelsche Leer, Third Fascicle, p.22. 1935 (quoted above in Chapter 7 Section 8; Chapter 8 Section 3) (Available online at www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/409ss99/thompson/mscan8.html )
James, Leon (2002) “The Substitution Technique: A Method for Extracting What the Writings Say About Themselves as the Word” De Hemelse Leer, Vol. XIV No. 2 (April 2002), 103-109.
The following New Church ministers are quoted in this book:
Rev. Donald L. Rose, Sermon titled “The Colt Loosed For the Lord’s Service” General Church, Bryn Athyn. Undated (quoted above in the Introduction to Volume 1)
Rev. Erik E. Sandstrom, The New Age and the New Church (Part Two). New Church Life, June 2002, 251-260 (quoted above in the Introduction to Volume 1; Introduction to Chapter 2; Chapter 4 Section 6; Chapter 6 Section 3; Chapter 7 Section 2)
Rev. Mark Carlson. “Evolution, the Limbus, and Hereditary Evil (Part 2)” New Church Life June 1990, pp.259-275. (quoted above in Chapter 3 Section 7).
Rev. Dr. Ray Silverman’s review of Henry James, Sr. in Arcana 1996 v.2 n.4 p.56 (quoted above in Chapter 4 Section 2 and Section 3)
Rev. Grant R. Schnarr “Swedenborg And The Near Death Experience” on the Web at www.newchurch.org/faq/indepthfaq/swedenbNearDeathExperience.html Accessed June 2002 (quoted above in Chapter 4 Section 5)
Rev. Douglas M. Taylor “Self-Esteem” New Church Life March 2002 v.CXXII No.3 pp. 99-105 (quoted above in Chapter 6 Section 7)
Rev. Edward S. Hyatt, Sermons on the Word. Swedenborg Genootschap, 1935 (quoted above in Chapter 7 Section 8)
Rev. Hugo Lj. Odhner, “The Transition from Human to Divine Philosophy” Written in 1921. Published in The New Philosophy 1974; 77:43-71. Available online at: http://www.newchurchissues.org/SR/hlo74.htm )
(quoted in Chapter 7 Section 8)
Rev. Theodore Pitcairn, “The second Education” De Hemelsche Leer, Third Fascicle, p.22. 1935 (quoted above in Chapter 7 Section 8; Chapter 8 Section 3) (Available online at www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/409ss99/thompson/mscan8.html )
The Letters and Memorials of Emanuel Swedenborg. Translated and Edited by Rev. Alfred Acton (Bryn Athyn, PA. Swedenborg Scientific Association, 1948) (quoted above in Chapter 7 Section 8)
Rev. Geoffrey H. Howard titled "The Transformation of a Man into a Husband and a Woman into a Wife through Marriage" appeared in New Church Life, June 2001 issue, pages 243-248. (quoted above in Chapter 9 Section 1)
Rev. Ernst Pfeiffer “Elucidation of Mr. Groeneveld's Address” De Hemelsche Leer, First Fascicle, p.82-95; 127-131, 1930 (quoted above in Chapter 7 Section 8)
I wish to thank Dr. Ian Thompson for his invaluable editorial assistance with several drafts and for supplying many of the citations to the Writings (see Note 12 above ). I also wish to thank Rev./Dr. Ray Silverman who spent much appreciated effort reading and critiquing an earlier draft (see Note 21 above). Rev. Robert Junge made critical comments on several key issues that greatly improved my discussion of them. I am very grateful for their contribution. Their astute observations helped me to avoid critical errors and to strengthen the presentation in numerous places.
The author, Dr. Leon James, is Professor of Psychology at the University of Hawaii. His Web site and information on his professional background is located here: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy/leon.html
A directory of articles and books by Leon James, with full text access is available here: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy/leonarticles.html
For comments and questions, I welcome your email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Web address of the latest version of this document is:
The Web site includes a search engine and a key to the Bible. It also carries many articles on Swedenborg and the New Church.