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)
Spiritual Disciplines For Daily Life
Self-Witnessing Your Life
Table of Contents
spiritual truth in the Writings
Preface to Volume 3
You may want to read the Preface to Volume 1 and Volume 2 along with this. See Table of Contents for the location of the Preface to Volume 1.
This Volume is called Regeneration. Volume 1 is called Reformation, and Volume 2, Enlightenment. These three represent the three steps that the New Church mind lives through in order to mature in old age into the innocence of wisdom. Thus prepared, our mind is celestial and can enter heaven. It is not until then that we are fully human. We begin Reformation sometime in adult life, early or late with a variety, when we begin worshipping the Letter of the Writings as the Lord Himself in the Word of His Second Coming. This acknowledgement, when sincere, is always passionate and exciting. It is the feeling that we have at last found the vision and consciousness we had been searching for. It replaces everything that was there before. It is all consuming, all pervasive, a new birth. What an amazing difference it makes to pick up a book of Swedenborg and read it, versus to pick up the Word of God through which the Lord Himself speaks to our mind. This new vision, enthusiasm, passion, and content leads immediately to reformation, for how can we mean it and still think as before?
When we read the Writings as a Divine Scientific Revelation we are undergoing reformation. It can take just a few months, or longer, depending on how intense our study of the Writings is. For my part, I could not read anything else since I started reading the Writings. Whenever I read other books I soon begin to feel that I’m wasting my time, and with relief and joy, I reach for a book of the Writings. I make sure that I’m always surrounded by the Sacred Volumes. It is with joy and interest that we take up the truths, the new information, the new science, the new insights, the new concepts and the new reasoning from them. We become erudite and intelligent and rational in our ability to think, to distinguish, to trace, analyze, evaluate. With our rational-mind formed from the Writings we complete our reformation, a new man, looking in everything towards heaven, instructed by the Lord Himself, walking out into life with new powers to wage war against our inherited character or proprium.
The truths of the Letter of the Writings give us this new power. Volume 2 explains the process by which we are enlightened from the Lord when we apply these truths to our daily willing and thinking, hour by hour, minute by minute, and second by second. The Writings gives us a scientific understanding of regeneration. It is a process of rewiring millions of bundles of fibers in our inherited will. These spiritual fibers have grown and matured into degenerate organs that coil in the opposite direction of the heavenly will. Consequently our will is a receptor of evil affections from hell and we have these affections in us. They make our life, and were the Lord to remove them, we would have no life left. Hence regeneration is the gradual process of replacing these degenerate fibers, one by one, and replacing it with a heavenly affection that coils in the heavenly direction. This new will then becomes a receptor for heavenly affections, and it is being regenerated or purified more and more. As the heavenly affections are instilled, the Lord removes the infernal ones. In this way we do not feel that we are losing life, but gaining it. Our new affections are far superior to the old, giving us new perceptions and understandings, new powers to act and execute.
To be enlightened is to acquire the spiritual consciousness or conscious awareness of spiritual-rational correspondences. These are appearances of Divine Truth accommodated to the individual’s intellect by discrete degrees. Volume 2 explains how we can extract a spiritual sense from the Letter of the Writings. This spiritual sense cannot be described in natural language except by means of correspondences. In the initial phases of reformation, the New Church mind sees the literal meaning as the spiritual sense when it is deepened by comparisons and outlined rationally in our mind. But when enlightenment is given, we begin to see that these expert knowledge systems we develop for ourselves, are not the spiritual sense.
To see the spiritual sense we need to look at the literal expressions as natural-rational correspondences. Once this is acknowledged, we are prepared for enlightenment. This happens the moment we apply some doctrine or principle to our willing and thinking. We are then enlightened as to this one thing we were applying. It may not seem much at first, but the new perception of this one thing is so powerful, so real, that it is enough to be proof that we are capable of spiritual consciousness in the physical body. Applying the natural-rational correspondences of the Writings to the stream of willing and thinking, has a built in mechanism of enlightenment. The Lord enlightens every time this is done by anyone. Thus it functions as a new psycho-physiological mechanism for the human race. Hence we may call it a scientific mechanism, knowing as always, that every mechanism is maintained in place by the Lord on a continuous basis by influx of good from within.
Enlightenment of this or that truth builds and cumulates so that it becomes a permanent background to our personality.
Rational consciousness is the method the Lord has provided for the new human race to be conjoined with Him. He has now revealed Himself as the Divine Human within whom there is the Divine Rational. Henceforth the new celestial mind of the human race is to dwell in new heavens built out of these new rational truths. Our enlightenment continues to grow in regeneration. It is a gradual process of using higher correspondences as the basis of our thinking, as explained in Volume 2.
But regeneration is not an automatic process. Nor is it easy. It is a commandment of the Letter that we cooperate with the Lord in the process of His removing the degenerate fibers in the will. He cannot create new heavenly fibers without us letting go of the old infernal fibers. It cannot be done like the weight control surgery popular today, of mechanical suction or aspiration of the surface layers of fat under the skin. Regeneration is more like a heart transplant. The new heart has to fit the genius and life of the old individual, or else it cannot survive. The new heavenly affections that the Lord implants must be loved, or else we feel that we don’t have our life back. But they cannot be loved without first detesting or rejecting those in place now, to which we are committed and by which we are delighted.
This is where the hard part comes in: How do you learn to hate what you love?
This difficult struggle is regeneration. This Volume is about regeneration disciplines for husbands. A discipline is a method of procedure we use when the outcome is of great importance to us. Nothing is more important to us than regeneration, for it is the only path available to salvation and heaven. First it is necessary to focus on the Letter of the Writings from a perspective of enlightenment, as explained in Volume 2. This builds up the Spiritual Doctrine in our understanding. The level of thinking by which we operate when thinking about the Spiritual Doctrine is called interior-natural, or spiritual-natural. This is effective in proportion to our gradually increasing enlightenment. This basis of thinking is called spiritual-rational correspondences and is a discrete degree above the Letter of natural-rational correspondences.
Physiologically, natural-rational correspondences operate in the upper portion of the natural mind, but spiritual-rational correspondences operate in the interior-natural mind, which is within the natural-rational mind. This is why thinking with spiritual-rational correspondences is called enlightenment while thinking in natural-rational correspondences is not.
It is the Spiritual Doctrine we need in our mind to lead us through regeneration. The angels are doing the leading and we must understand them in a spiritual-rational way, not merely in a natural-rational way. When we understand the angels’ leading us at the level of natural-rational correspondences we are not yet being regenerated because we are not yet willing to look upon the evil delights we are to give up. Spiritual-rational correspondences in our thinking are for more powerful in fighting against the evil delights we want to hang on to. We need interior spiritual truths to be able to fight interior spiritual evils. There is always a balance between heavenly and infernal loves. The highest heaven must have the lowest hell, the lowest heaven must have the highest hell. There is an exact correspondence so that one supports the other. The formation of the Spiritual Doctrine in our mind is a Divine operation, as explained in Volume 2.
Without regeneration disciplines can we cooperate with the Lord?
I give many illustrations from my own regeneration journey. It’s obvious after studying regeneration that it is a general process of spiritual biology. It has to do with willing and thinking moment by moment. This is our human life. Without it we are no longer human. We never go to hell for the sins we’ve inherited, nor even for the sins we’ve committed. We only go to hell for the sins we are committing in the world of spirits. In the afterlife, we bring with us a psychological disposition that defines our preferred relationship styles with others. All our preferences in the spirit-body now become intense loves that cannot be resisted.
We are then at the complete mercy of our preferences, loves, affections, delights, motives.
This is why regeneration is so crucial. It is the only biological process available for getting rid of the infernal affections, replacing them at the same time with heavenly affections.
This must be done while we still are tied to the physical body. It cannot be done after we wake up in our spirit-body.
Since we express a preference or delight, moment by moment, every day in our willing and thinking, you can see that there are thousands of individual distinct items of willing and thinking chained together as an act or decision. There is no time to waste if we are seriously engaged in cooperating with the Lord regarding our regeneration. We are not going to be regenerated by floundering or relaxing or going slower or using any of the many tactics men use to oppose their regeneration. This is a serious matter of life and death, of eternal misery versus eternal conjugial bliss. Nothing can be more important!
You will see that I emphasize the wife’s role in the regeneration of the husband. The regeneration discipline of the Doctrine of the Wife presented here is that the husband needs to learn to love to act from his wife’s will, more than he loves to act from his own will. I have discovered the great efficacy of this spiritual method.
There is no area of life that does not need to be regenerated. The illustrations I present are only points on a map. The map is your ego. It is the ego that needs to be regenerated. And the ego starts with being the all in all in our self. Thus, the ego must be dethroned and the Writings enthroned as a Divine King. This is done my the daily study of the Writings and applying it to life.
To my wife
It is her internal wisdom that led me to write this book as-of myself. She brought into our marriage the conjugial love she has in her from the Lord, inborn from nativity
An inclination to love one of the opposite sex, and with it a capacity for receiving that love, has been implanted in Christians from birth, for the reason that this love comes from the Lord alone
Wives are by birth forms of love, so that it is innate in them to wish to be one with their husbands … But it is different with husbands; since they are not by birth forms of love, but designed to receive that love from their wives (CL 216)
The intelligence of women is by nature modest, gracious, peaceable, compliant, soft and gentle, while the intelligence of men is by nature critical, rough, resistant, argumentative, and given to intemperance. Evidence that this is the nature of women and the nature of men is clearly apparent from the body, face, tone of voice, speech, bearing and behavior of each sex.
From this I could clearly see that a man is born a form of the intellect, and a woman a form of love. I could also see what the nature of the intellect is and what the nature of love is in their beginnings, and thus what a man's intellect in its development would be like without conjunction with feminine love and eventually conjugial love.
The man of the field is the living husband
A person's mind is his spirit, or the surviving personality which lives on after leaving the material body. (TCR 816)
A man who examines himself for the purpose of practicing repentance, should explore his thoughts, and the intentions of his will; and there he ought to examine what he would do, if he were at liberty; that is, if he were not afraid of the laws, and the loss of reputation, honor, and gain. A man's evils are in his thoughts and intentions; and the evils which he does with the body are all from thence. Those persons who do not explore the evils of their thoughts and of their will cannot practice repentance; for afterwards they think and will just as they did before; and yet willing evils means doing them. This is meant by self-examination. (NJHD 164)
Chapter 1, Section 1
Today on the car radio on my way home, I heard an interview with a famous lawyer known to millions from his TV appearances, books, and the famous cases he had successfully pleaded. At one point he was asked to give his definition of what is “right.” He said that would be a very difficult thing to define, that it would be impossible for him to do so, since he didn’t know what is right. He said the world knows what’s wrong, what’s evil, when we see it, like the Nazis and what they did. But no one knows what is right, he said. Who is going to decide what is right? “No one to my knowledge,” he said has ever heard God say to them what is right. I do not believe that for a moment. A human being is always looking to know what is right, and the answer evolves. Anyone who says that he knows what is right, I feel sorry for him, because he has lost one of the chief reasons we are human, which is to look for what is right, but never actually find it, though his understanding of it gets better.”
This is an approximate rendition, as I can recall it. You can see that this philosophy of what is right, is a nonduality because it denies the absolute duality between human beings and God. Those who accept this duality, know what is right because God reveals it to them in the Word or in teachings based on the Word, and in their conscience—for the idea or concept of God’s existence is “inscribed” on the mind of every human being, and along with it, an innate cognitive ability to distinguish between good and evil, and consequently between right and wrong (xx). This famous lawyer no doubt had both, besides being literate in history and literature, having written book and articles on this subject. He also has a conscience by which he could know that there is God (xx). He thus had to work actively to neutralize and eliminate these sources of knowledge of God and what is right in a Divine absolute sense.
Note how we all accomplish the same thing while we are in our unregenerate state. Prior to our conscious free choice of reformation in adulthood, the New Church mind-to-be is equal to everyone else regardless of religion, race, or education.
The idea of God that everyone has through conscience from within, is something we own. It feels like our own idea because it comes to every human being from within (xx). We already know it as children when we first hear the idea of God from an adult or a TV show. Children instantly accept it, acting as if they already knew about God. They may have questions about God, but not ignorance of Him. This “implanted” idea of God (xx) is necessary to guarantee that no human being under any circumstance of time and place, will have the free choice of living life in accordance with God’s wishes or in accordance with the wishes of the self. This is the fundamental innate absolute duality of human life upon which every right and rational idea is based. It therefore enters into every concept of right living, regeneration, and heaven. It is the only means of salvation the Lord has provided for the human race. The result of every individual’s choice in this fundamental duality is the final outcome of their destiny: eternal bliss in heaven with a conjugial spouse vs. insane and cruel misery forever in hell. Could anything possibly be as important as this?
And yet the unregenerate mind, whether a New Church mind-to-be, or a famous popular lawyer in America, defender of individual rights, willfully sets aside the God in our conscience, calling it a mere self-produced concept, and leading a life guided by the search for what’s right, rather than by a knowledge of what’s right. While we do so, our understanding and intellectual scholarship are drawn more and more into the stream of unregenerate affections, which are infernal. Rejecting the fundamental duality of God’s definition of right vs. ours, is a self-condemnation to eternal misery in an infernal mind that would scare us to death, could we see it as the angels see it, in its true nature. The Writings reveal that the self, called our very own or “proprium” in Latin, appears in the afterlife as a bony skeleton-head charred black, sometimes “grayish-white like a plastered wall” (SE 5464). In either case it is ugly and inhuman.
When we willfully silence and turn away form the inborn living idea of God, we turn ourselves to the proprium. We are then led by the hells, as detailed in this horrendous description of what we are in ourselves from birth and self-guidance, and what to destiny it leads us:
(1) They place themselves at the back, below and above, and there they thrust in their thoughts; they turn the thoughts of another spirit, and thus of a man, to himself, to his own power, to his own praise, in a word, to the proprium. Almost all infernals know how to do this.
(2) Others gaze upon various parts of the body and upon the head and, where they see anything black, they know the proprium still rules there - for the proprium is black, because it is of the love of self - and, then, they seek to learn what of self is there, and, when they find out, they infuse their own thoughts there, and lead [their victim] whithersoever they will.
(3) Some look into the forehead; and, if it appears black, they then lead him; likewise, if it is grayish-white like a plastered wall, inasmuch as this indicates simulated external sincerity; but from him in whom they see human flesh they withdraw, and him they do not lead.
(4) Some cast a black veil over his face and also over his breast, and thus they magically take away his thoughts of the neighbor, and oblige and compel him to think of himself; and so they lead him, but not like they do others who are black of themselves: the former return immediately.
(5) Some enshroud another in darkness and convey [him] into the dark, and so compel him to think of self.
(6) From the color around a spirit or man - black, white, flesh-color, or yellow - they conclude something about the man's state as to his proprium, or self-love. Where it is black, there is self-love: such a one is led; and it is according to the intensity of the black.
(7) Some only perceive by means of the thoughts of another - for there is a general law of thoughts - and these insinuate themselves into them and turn them to [the victim's] proprium and love of self, in all ways - by phantasies, by magic; and by the aid of many of the hells; and, so, they drive him to thinking about himself; and, when it comes to that, he is in their power.
(8) Sirens know how to insinuate themselves into the various affections which are the ruling love of a man; and so they take him with them. Also, they know how to reduce the thoughts of another, magically, even to the sensual, which is the extreme external; and, when he is reduced to that, they induce various phantasies and lead him whithersoever they wish. It is the sensual of man where his self-love, or proprium, resides: so far as he can be drawn up, or elevated, out of that, as to the thoughts, towards interiors, so far he can be led away from his proprium. Man's sensual, at this day, is, with most people, wholly corporeal, and has not anything spiritual.
(9) It was granted me to perceive when I was in the proprium, and when not in the proprium. When in the proprium, I was fit for nothing; wherefore, I was led out of it by the Lord, as far as that could be done. Hence is manifest what the love of self, and the love of the world for the sake of self, is. When [any] are led in the proprium and borne away, they appear to be led down through the surrounding places; which is according to the changes of the state of the thoughts. There were some such of the Swedish nation, whose desire it had been thus to reduce the thoughts of other spirits to subjection, and so to lead them whithersoever they would; but they did not know how, save one or two of them. They were in the western quarter. (SE 5464)
When I read this, I am scared! What scares me the most is the idea that I was headed to this destiny as a result of my willful rejection of God. I didn’t know the magnitude of the consequences, though I could have known had I wanted to. It’s scary to think how close I came to having that destiny of passing to the next life with an unregenerate proprium.
Whether we say self or love-of self, it is the same in the unregenerate state prior to reformation. We are born with the inherited tendency to love our self more than God. This is called the Fallen human race. It is the proprium or self that is our god from birth so that it kills off the other innate tendency which is to obey God. As children, every unregenerate person goes through a state of innocence in which the Lord walls of the inherited love-self and its related infernal affections. The child’s unconscious spiritual mind is surrounded and infilled by angles, an activity which results in an outward natural behavior that is innocent and full of the love to obey and be close to others. This is the period of life when the idea of God becomes conscious, and the child’s natural mind gets trained to know consciously what is right and wrong.
But soon the Lord can no longer continue walling off the inherited loves because this would take away the individual’s inner freedom to choose. We could then choose heaven, but not from our free will, and therefore, we could not love that choice. And whatever we do not love is not appropriated to our being, hence it is not there in the afterlife. Therefore the Lord is compelled to free the inner dams of infernal loves, whereupon the angels are forced to withdraw, and the individual is then led by the infernals. But after adolescence, when we enter young adulthood, we once again are given the desire and power to turn ourselves away from the proprium by turning ourselves to God, and this gradual turning is called reformation. Upon completion of reformation, which can last months or years, we are ready to begin regeneration and undergo the spiritual rigors of temptations.
By means of these temptations, carefully managed in a sequence and timed by the Lord, we become aware of our infernal delights, and are forced to face them, and do battle against them. In these battles the Lord draws near the individual, very close, and the angels are present ready to battle the hells. For when one individual on earth fights with a temptation, the entire hells are united in that battle. No one could withstand this unimaginable line up! In the quote above (SE 5464) it is said: “these insinuate themselves into them and turn them to [the victim's] proprium and love of self, in all ways - by phantasies, by magic; and by the aid of many of the hells.” Note the phrase “by the aid of many of the hells” which tells us that the infernals use each other’s “magical” powers to fight battles against us in any temptation. This is the awesome work of regeneration that lies ahead of us in forming the New Church mind in ourselves.
You can see that “regeneration” refers to the self or proprium. It is the proprium that needs to be regenerated. And it is revealed that the proprium cannot be “fixed” but is lost forever. One can only be saved by the proprium being reborn, the old being laid to rest, the new being an image of the Lord’s Proprium or Personality. The Lord is the only actual Human! This is a physiological or genetic fact about the human race existing on this earth. The proprium, being a spiritual organ, cannot die. If it is “fallen” or degenerate, it cannot be fixed. But the Lord loves the human race for the sake of which the universe exists, and the Lord is omniscient and omnipotent. To Him the entire human race appears as one, and He evolves this race in the image of His Own Proprium. This is an inexorable evolution for there is no other power in the universe than the Lord’s power within each and all things. The Lord can withdraw His power from anywhere anytime and the “it” falls into an inanimate thing, or vanishes altogether from existence (xx). There is no want of power in the Lord to do anything.
It would be a grave error to believe that the revolting degenerate proprium we are born with, has evolved because of a want of power in the Lord to prevent it.
The Writings explain this fully in a rational way by means of the Doctrine of Permissions, and why the Lord has allowed this sorry evolution. And yet when the Lord’s work of evolution and creation is viewed from a spiritual perspective, it is seen as Divine and perfect work. It would be an imperfect creation if people were condemned to hell on account of their birth, would it not? Similarly, condemning people on account of how they behaved, as a means of punishment, would also be imperfect, when viewed spiritually. The Lord does neither. He does not condemn anyone to hell, for whatever reason, no matter how evil and cruel a person’s deeds were. (xx)
The truth is that the Lord instructs everyone who arrives in the afterlife. They are given instruction, therapy, real-world experiences recreated on a kind of spiritual holo-deck (xx). They are taken for visits to heaven. They are given anything they need and want, and then they are required to make a choice: to enter heavenly life or life in hell. This proves that the system and the process are perfect, since both heaven and hell can only exist in a free choice!
Note also this statement in sub-paragraph (8) of the quote above (SE 5464):
It is the sensual of man where his self-love, or proprium, resides: so far as he can be drawn up, or elevated, out of that, as to the thoughts, towards interiors, so far he can be led away from his proprium. Man's sensual, at this day, is, with most people, wholly corporeal, and has not anything spiritual.
The only method we have of accessing the spiritual is by means of thoughts, that is, by means of the truths we think about and with which we reason and draw conclusions. These truths in our conscious mind are not spiritual truths but representatives and correspondences of spiritual truths. These are the truths that save us because they are our own and feel like our own. Therefore our freedom of choice is maintained even though we obey these truths against our preference.
The truths we understand give us the power to align ourselves with new powerful affections, higher powerful loves implanted in our interior-natural mind by the Lord. Therefore, even though we compel ourselves, we do so in freedom. These spiritual truths, in their natural correspondences, are rational truths, not sensuous experiences. They are in our natural-rational mind or understanding. These truths cannot be discovered when we are in the state turned to the proprium. Self-intelligence, natural science, mental disciplines, physical initiations—not of these things can discover a single spiritual truth no matter how advanced they become.
Spiritual truths in correspondence are available only from the revelations the Lord gives the human race in His Word, and for the new age of the Second Coming, His Word is the Writings, which will endure forever (xx).
Note this statement in sub-paragraph (9) of the quote above (SE 5464):
It was granted me to perceive when I was in the proprium, and when not in the proprium. When in the proprium, I was fit for nothing; wherefore, I was led out of it by the Lord, as far as that could be done. Hence is manifest what the love of self, and the love of the world for the sake of self, is. When [any] are led in the proprium and borne away, they appear to be led down through the surrounding places; which is according to the changes of the state of the thoughts. “
Swedenborg was given to see what we cannot, namely a conscious perception of his proprium and of being in and out of it. But all we need is his description, if we take it as the Divine Truth the Lord wants us to know for our regeneration. “When in the proprium, I was fit for nothing”—what a devastating confession by the man whose mind was prepared by the Lord from his early childhood to develop into the first of the new race called the New Church mind.
About two years before I discovered the Writings I had a disturbing vision. I believe I was just falling asleep, when I saw from a distance a person wrapped in a black robe. It was coming closer to me but I could not see legs or feet. I then saw the head in bright light. It looked like a mummy that had been unwrapped, with a bony head that was extremely emaciated with hardly any flesh. It had no hair. I couldn’t tell its gender but I thought it might be a female. Then as it got close to me it seemed that it projected something at me with extreme power and violence. It felt that my personality or self was shattered, imploded from within, annihilated. I woke up from the terror of it. I thought about this vision over the years. First I decided it could’ve been a male, not a female. Second I couldn’t decide whether it was benign or hostile. It sure didn’t feel good to be shattered like that, but I thought maybe that’s how earthlings feel when they are visited by a higher power, like those who saw angels in the Bible and fell on their face as dead. But eventually I decided it was inimical to me otherwise I wouldn’t have felt so terrified. I did not think about again until just recently as I was rereading the passage quoted above about the proprium (SE 5464). After discussing it with my wife, I became convinced that what I saw was my proprium!
When I interpret my vision this way, it all makes sense. The appearance of the image was that of the proprium as described in this passage. The amazing hostility and violence it expressed against me makes sense when I consider that the proprium has an insane murderous love to destroy the individual. The proprium fears and hates the New Church mind-to-be more than anything because in this mind it is destined to die, to cease being active forever. It is tragic, and a sign of spiritual insanity, that we love the proprium, this ugly monster that is bent on destroying us and our effort to regenerate. Regeneration marks the death of the old proprium.
This idea also helps me to understand a long-standing insight my wife has had for years as she tried to help me in my regeneration. She saw that I had a streak in me for self-destruction. To her this was plain to see by how I behaved, what I considered more important than something else, how I buried myself in my own unhappiness, how I kept myself from knowing what I needed to know, and so on. To me this was a big mystery. How is it possible that I should wish for my own destruction? It didn’t sound logical to me. The self is animated by self-preservation not self-destruction, or else the race could not survive—I thought. Also, it didn’t seem to me that I was bent on destroying myself and I was a student of the self, practicing self-monitoring techniques, analyzing my life, and so on. Surely I would be aware if I was so aberrant in my tendency—I told myself. So I would never believe it and my poor wife had to patiently and without letting up, remind me of her perceptions.
All this makes sense when I consider what in fact my proprium is—this infernal monstrosity filled with insane hatred against anything from heaven. Definitely my proprium would be happy to destroy me, to take over, to pull me into hell, to make me its vile slave or zombie. This is quite a paradox to resolve, isn’t? The proprium whom I identify with and love is a monster that desires to destroy me!
All this should tell us that we are to take charge of our regeneration in a conscious and disciplined manner, using whatever methods of discipline we can invent to carry out our expected and required side of the regeneration equation: the Lord does everything but we must do just one thing, namely, to face our proprium, to monitor our willing and thinking in the light of Doctrine in our understanding, and to make a free choice of rejecting the evil delights, one by one, daily, hourly, and by the minute. This alone is the real and actual work of regeneration.
It’s likely that some of the attractiveness Americans feel toward nonduality and non-Western spiritual disciplines is due to our deep rooted desire for self-improvement and the quest towards ever greater achievements and victories. The interest in attaining greater control over one’s body is widespread in the Western world, as indicated by lifestyles that feature body-building workouts, muscle man contests, beauty pageants, and the varieties of physical disciplines imported from the East such as the many martial arts, Tai Chi, Tae Bo, and Yoga, which are sweeping the country today. My wife and I have attended Iangar Yoga classes in a Church hall for several years now. In this connection, a reader of this book sent me this clipping about a Church hall in England:
Wednesday August 28, 2002
Adopting the lotus position may seem harmless but be warned it could well be the first step on a slippery slope to damnation - especially if it follows the cobra or the lion. For those who believe they can combine the pursuit of yoga with the practice of Christianity it is time to roll up the yoga mat and think again, according to the Rev Derek Smith. Having banned classes from his church hall at St Michael's church in Melksham, Wiltshire, the vicar has called upon Christians who indulge in the activity to "examine their consciences".
Yoga, he believes, is "incompatible" with Christianity because of its associations with the Hindu faith. Even if followers in the west use yoga purely for fitness purposes, spiritual leaders in the east insist it is inseparable from Hindu devotional practice, Mr. Smith said yesterday. "I would ask people who do yoga to think about whether they believe they were in breach of their faith or not. If they genuinely believe what they are doing is acceptable - and I know people that do - of course, I would ask them to follow their consciences."
The Church of England defended Mr. Smith's decision, backing the right of clergymen to take a stand against any practices which "do not square with Christian teachings". "Yoga is used as a kind of generic term for exercise and stretching, but there are many different types of yoga. But some have a more spiritual basis as handed down from eastern religions," a spokesman said. "It's reasonably understandable that someone can say so if they don't want something with a spiritual basis taught in their church hall." The church was keen to promote good relations with other religions, he added, but that did not involve being "wish-washy or mealy-mouthed" about distinctions in faith.
Our Yoga teacher ends each class in the Church hall with prayerful hands extended before the chest and the greeting “Namaste.” Once in a while she explains to newcomers that it means “The God in me greets the God in you.” She never said anything else about it and there are no other signs of Eastern nonduality. For me, it’s just a convenient place for an excellent physical discipline. I thought about discussing with her the idea of how God can be in each of us, but my wife nixed the idea—and rightly so, as I immediately saw it. What would be the point of such a discussion? How could it possibly have a useful ending? But it never occurred to me that I should stop attending classes because she ends each class with Namaste.
I discussed in Volume 1 how we are to deal with nonduality—not by confronting those who think from it. Our job in forming the New Church mind is to confront ourselves. For in us is all of the hells. We do not need to go fight the hells on outside territory. We may have to fight those who attack our country, but this is fighting men, not the hells. To fight the hells we must confront ourselves, for nowhere else is hell but within ourselves. We are to fight the nonduality in our mind, and this is an internal struggle, not visible to others.
Regarding physical disciplines, many serve a good use under appropriate conditions, but not under others. The difference is to be understood by considering things the Writings say in relation to the natural mind and spiritual mind. The management or planning function of the mind is called the natural-rational or “external rational” (AC 2657). This is not the “interior-natural” mind nor the “spiritual-rational” mind, which are in discrete degrees above the natural-rational mind and develop in adulthood in proportion to our progress in regeneration (AC 4038). The interior rational (or spiritual-rational) is of spiritual and celestial origin, but the external rational (or natural-rational) is of hereditary and cultural origin (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). There is nothing spiritual about the natural-rational mind and there is only spiritual/celestial things in the interior rational mind. This absolute dualism in the levels of the mind corresponds to the discrete degrees in which the heavens are in relation to each other:
The existence of these three degrees in people can be seen from the elevation of a person's mind even to the degrees of love and wisdom possessed by angels of the second and third heavens. For all angels were born people, and a person is, in respect to the interior elements which are those of his mind, a heaven in miniature form. Consequently there are from creation as many degrees of height in a person as there are heavens. The human being is furthermore an image and likeness of God, and these three degrees are therefore engraved on a person because they exist in the human God, which is to say, in the Lord. (DLW 231)
The things in our natural mind are corporeal, sensuous, and rational. Whatever we do in this plane of life has nothing spiritual in it because the spiritual cannot exist in the natural plane. Rather, the spiritual can exist in the natural plane indirectly, by correspondences. We can look at anything we do that is merely natural, like eating, talking to a friend, or driving a car. In order to communicate with the spiritual dimension we must look upon these natural acts as correspondences. When looked at this way, we are communicating with the spiritual dimensions that are associated with those natural acts. Every natural act has a spiritual dimension associated with it (xx). But we do not know or reflect upon the spiritual dimensions of our everyday acts. We may reflect on their legal and moral dimension, so that we think, “This is legal, this is illegal” or, “This is moral, this is immoral.” But if someone said, “This is spiritual, this is not,” we would not know what they meant, and in fact, no one would. Knowing what is spiritual is possible only from the Lord’s new revelations of the Word of the Writings (xx).
The Writings reveal that the celestial human mind, such as angels have, and such as the most ancient peoples had on this earth, can have a sensuous consciousness of the spiritual within the natural (xx). Their brain and respiratory physiology were different from ours—they had internal breathing instead of external, they spoke by lip movements instead of vocal cords, and their brain was not split into two halves (xx). They looked at every object around them and saw within each the spiritual dimension. A natural object was nothing to them but a correspondence to a spiritual event, which was taking place in the spiritual world. This is the “spiritual dimension” of any natural object, quality, or event. It is nothing but the spiritual event or quality that causes the natural event to occur. The natural event is nothing but an ultimate effect brought about by a spiritual cause.
For example, when they saw horses, their mind perceived the idea of intelligence from the Doctrine of their Church. Or if they saw rain, they perceived of truths in their various forms that correspond to the spring rain, the autumn rain, the river, the ocean, the lake, the putrid waters—which are falsifications of truths. The sun and the mountains represented to them the Divine Human whom they expected to arrive into the world. Being compassionate to a stranger represented to them charity from the Lord. When they saw a disorderly act by someone they were horrified because to them it represented rejection of the Lord. all day long, as they lived their lives on earth, they could think of nothing but what each thing in their environment represented in spiritual reality.
In forming the New Church mind we are emulating the celestial mind of the most ancient peoples on earth. Swedenborg was the first in this new breed of the human race. He was also an intermediary, thus not like all those who come after him. Since Swedenborg was the Lord’s architect of the new rational revelations, he had to have sensuous access to the spiritual world so that he may describe it to us in a natural language of events, history, and science. Those who now make use of this new revelation do not need themselves to have sensuous access to the spiritual world. In fact, such sensuous spiritual perception would prevent our regeneration. The Lord is careful therefore, not to expose us to the sensuous perception of the spiritual dimension, for this would totally compel our belief and instead of a rational revelation, we would be stuck in a corporeal revelation such as the First Coming of the Lord. What is needed now to complete the Lord’s work is a rational consciousness of Him and the spiritual. The new Heavens He created are made of this Divine Rational consciousness and only those who have this rational consciousness of the spiritual can exist in the heavens.
You can see therefore that we must approach the spiritual through the rational, not through the sensuous.
To approach the spiritual through the rational means that we use correspondences, that we see each natural event as a correspondence for a spiritual event which is primary, that is, the cause of the natural event. Physical disciplines like Yoga are natural activities. To the New Church mind, there is nothing spiritual about it, no matter how it is interpreted in Eastern religious practices. If you went to the market looking for a spoon to buy, and you find one that is just fine, but when you pay for it, the seller tells you that this spoon was used in idol worship ceremonies many years ago. Would this require you to give the spoon back? Of course not. There is nothing spiritual in the idea that the spoon was used in idol worship ceremonies by so and so. The only spiritual dimension in that spoon, as you take it home, is your reflection of what that spoon represents—information we can look up in the Writings for an answer:
A choir at a distance was heard one morning. From the choir's representations I was permitted to know that they were Chinese, for they exhibited a kind of woolly goat, then a cake of millet, and an ebony spoon, also the idea of a floating city. They desired to come nearer to me, and when they had joined me they said that they wished to be alone with me, that they might disclose their thoughts. But they were told that they were not alone, and that some were displeased at their wishing to be alone, although they were guests.
When they perceived this displeasure they began to think whether they had transgressed against the neighbour, and whether they had claimed anything to themselves that belonged to others. All thought in the other life being communicated, I was permitted to perceive the agitation of their minds. It consisted of a recognition that possibly they had injured those who were displeased, of shame on that account, together with other worthy affections; and it was thus known that they were endowed with charity. (AC 2596)
'The spoon-bill', 'the duck', 'the owl', 'the raven' stand for varieties of falsity which arise when Divine truths in the Word are rendered valueless. (AC 5044)
I was once allowed to perceive the nature of conjugial love among polygamists. ... After conversing with me for a while at a distance, the substitute sent me an ivory spoon and other tokens that they came from him. At the same time a passage was opened up to transmit the heat of conjugial love experienced there. It was perceived by me as resembling the fetid warmth of a bath-house; on feeling it I turned away, and the passage by which it was transmitted was closed off. (CL 344)
In other words, the spiritual dimension of the spoon I brought home represented something about foreigners and their innocent as well as perverted affections and beliefs.
When we discuss physical disciplines, we must also include mental disciplines like meditation, shamanism, and asceticism. Many people consider mental disciplines to be spiritual in contrast to physical disciplines. But to the New Church mind both are corporeal. Their spiritual content is called corporeal spirituality, as in Volume 1 Chapter 2 Section 7. The Writings call it “bodily thinking,” or “basing one’s thinking on bodily sense-impressions,” as for instance, corporeal idea of resurrection after death:
Finally I talked with the spirits of that world about the belief of the inhabitants of our world concerning their resurrection.
I said they were unable to conceive of people coming into the next life immediately after death, and then looking like people in face, body, arms and feet, having all their outward and inward senses. Even less could they believe that they would then wear clothes and have houses and places to live.
This was entirely due to the fact that most people here base their thinking on bodily sense-impressions, so that they do not believe in the existence of what they cannot see and touch. Few of them can be withdrawn from outward sense-impressions towards inward ones, and so be lifted into the light of heaven in which inward impressions can be received.
It is for this reason that they cannot have any concept of their soul or spirit as being a person, but think of it as wind, air or some formless breath, which yet contains some vitality. This is the reason that they believe they will only be resurrected at the end of the world, which they call the Last Judgment, thinking that their body, though collapsed into dust and scattered to all the winds, must then be brought back and reunited with their soul or spirit.
 I added that they are allowed to hold this belief, because there is no other way that those who, as I said, base their thinking on outward sense-impressions, could think of their soul or spirit living as a person in human form, except by re-entering the body they carried around with them in the world. Unless therefore the body were said to be resurrected, they would at heart reject the teaching on resurrection and everlasting life as incomprehensible.
 For they are unaware that each person is inwardly a spirit, and the life of the body and all its parts comes from the spirit, not from the body by itself. They do not know that it is the spirit which is the real person, sharing its form, but invisible to the body's eyes, being visible only to the eyes of spirits. Hence it is too that, when a person's spirit has its sight opened, which is the result of the withdrawal of the body's sight, angels can be seen as people. So it was that angels appeared to the ancients, as related in the Word.
I have had several conversations with spirits whom I knew when they were people living in the world, and asked whether they wanted to be clothed again with their earthly bodies, as they had previously imagined. On hearing this they ran off to a distance at the mere idea of being reunited, in astonishment at having been led in the world to think so by blind faith without any understanding. (EU 165)
The afterlife is existence in the spiritual world. The spiritual world is a rational world while the natural world is a physical world. If we arrive in the afterlife with nothing but a corporeal idea of the afterlife, our mind does not contain natural-rational ideas, but only natural-corporeal and natural-sensuous ideas. The existence we have in the spiritual world is completely determined by the ideas we bring with us. Ideas based on sensuous impressions from the physical senses contain within them evil affections and delights. But ideas based on rational truths from revelation contain within them good affections and delights. Good affections and delights are incorporated into the heavens while evil affections and delights are incorporated into the hells. Good affections can only exist within rational truths; evil affections can only exist in sensuous fallacies. What is called spiritual in a genuine sense is related to rational truths within which are good affections. But sensuous and corporeal ideas are not rational and contain evil affections.
Meditation is a mental activity but the cognitive level of this activity remains natural, not yet spiritual. All mental activity in the natural mind is not yet spiritual, only natural. For mental activity to be spiritual, it must exist in the interior-natural mind, which is a discrete degree above the natural-rational mind. The interior-natural mind is purely rational, therefore genuinely spiritual. This mental activity is not from self, as is the activity in our natural-rational and natural-sensuous. The activity in the interior-natural mind is nothing but the reaction by correspondence to what’s going on in the interior unconscious spiritual mind that is occupied by the angels. Therefore the activity in the interior-natural mind allows us to be rationally conscious of the spiritual world, its events, heaven, and the Lord. This is no speechless ecstasy or religious swooning, but only rational understanding of interior truths. These interior truths are genuine spiritual and conjoin us to the Lord and heaven. The expression “higher consciousness” properly refers to this consciousness of the activity in our interior-natural mind.
How the this mind is opened by the Lord is discussed in Chapter 7 Sections 8 and 9.
Referring to the New Church mind, there is no way that we can ‘break through’ to higher consciousness by meditating on the Lord or on the Writings, or by inhibiting content to one’s thinking while sitting in meditation or some posture of repentance. The only way for the New Church mind to draw near to the Lord and to the higher consciousness angels are in, is through rational consciousness, not natural (xx). This is because all the concepts of the Second Coming are rational, and all the ideas of the angels are rational, not natural. This is necessary since the New Heavens of the Lord’s Second Coming have replaced all the old heavens, so that the angels had to acquire the rational truths of the Divine Human revealed in the Writings. All those who now enter heaven must do so through these “interior rational” truths, also called “spiritual-rational” truths, and also “celestial truths.” The spiritual sense of the Writings is called the Heavenly Doctrines, and all the ideas of this Divine Doctrine are spiritual-rational and celestial.
Meditation and other specialized cognitive activities cannot contain any spiritual-rational concepts, but only natural-corporeal and natural-sensuous ideas, visions, or realizations. In Eastern practice of these specialized cognitive activities it is expected that such cosmic breakthroughs to God do occur. But the New Church mind is set in a different order where it is known that discrete degrees prevent continuous progression to occur between degrees (DLW 236-8). There is no way to acquire, receive, see, or understand spiritual-rational (or celestial) truths from the natural mind and its activity of mediation, ecstasy, or swooning. Everything that is from the natural mind is from self and the world, therefore totally devoid of genuine spirituality (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). Spirituality comes solely from the interior rational which is where the angels inflow in our mind with celestial truths. This unconscious activity arouses by correspondence the activity in the interior-natural mind, from which we are enlightened, that is, perceive by means of spiritual-rational consciousness. This is called “higher consciousness” because it is a discrete degree above the natural-rational consciousness that is from self-intelligence and natural science.
For us there cannot be a supreme moment of achievement in meditation whereby the Lord breaks through from within and presents Himself to us sensuously, as He did to Swedenborg, and others before him in visions, as the Bible testifies. In the new era of the Second Coming the Lord can only come to us in the interior-natural, after He opens it (AE 708). And this opening can occur only to the extent that our natural-rational has been appropriately prepared by a life of discipline and virtue (reformation and regeneration). Meditation and Yoga, and etc., can be useful as lessons in discipline to the external man, but not as sensuous breakthroughs to the Lord in the internal man, or of reaching higher spiritual consciousness.
Those who receive the light of intelligence from the Lord as a sun are those with whom the intellectual and its rational have been opened, and who have, in consequence, thought rationally about what should be believed from the spiritual affection of truth; while those who receive light from the Lord as a moon are those in whom the intellectual and interior rational have not been opened, but only the natural, and who in consequence have thought from the memory about what should be believed; and to think about this from the memory is to think only from such things as have been heard from a teacher or preacher, which they call truths and believe to be truths although they may be falsities, since they are not seen beyond the memory.
If such while in the world were also in the faith of charity, they are in the heavens under the Lord as a moon, for the lumen, from which is their intelligence, is like the moon's lumen in the nighttime, while the light from which is the intelligence of those who are in the heavens under the Lord as a sun is like the light of day.
Their affection of knowing truth and doing good is, like themselves, natural, thus deriving more or less from the glory of being learned, and from reputation that looks to honors and gain as rewards, differing in this from such spiritual affection of knowing truth and doing good as those have who are in heaven under the Lord as a sun, for with these this affection is so separated from natural affection that the natural affection is under the feet.
To this is to be added, that there are three heavens that are under the Lord as a moon, a higher, a middle, and a lower; or what is the same, an interior, a middle, and an exterior, but yet all who are in these heavens are natural. These heavens are interior, middle, and exterior, because the natural like the spiritual is divided into three degrees; the exterior-natural communicates with the world, the interior with heaven, and the middle conjoins.
Nevertheless, those who are in the heavens under the Lord as a moon cannot enter into the heavens that are under the Lord as a sun, because their interior sight or understanding has been formed to receive the lunar light there, and not to receive the solar light. They are comparatively not unlike those birds that see in the night and not in the daytime, consequently when they come into the sunlight that those have who are under the Lord as a sun their sight is darkened. Those who are in these heavens are those who have been in charity according to their religious principle, or according to their faith; but such as are natural and are not in the faith of charity are in the hells under these heavens. (AE 708)
Note the statement in the next to the last paragraph in the quote: “the natural like the spiritual is divided into three degrees; the exterior-natural communicates with the world, the interior with heaven, and the middle conjoins.” Here the “exterior-natural” refers to the three levels in the natural mind: corporeal, sensuous, and rational. these are called external in contrast to the “internal man” which refers to the spiritual mind, here called the “interior degree that communicates with heaven.” And in between the internal man and the external man is “the middle that conjoins” the two. This middle portion is called the interior-natural mind.
Fore greater clarity of conceptualization, please consult the diagrams in Chapter 7 Sections 8 and 9.
The New Church mind ought to develop its own indigenous forms of regeneration disciplines based directly on the Writings, rather than fall back on imported disciplines. In an article in New Church Life a few years ago (xx), Wilson Van Dusen, who is an acknowledged expert in both Eastern disciplines and in Swedenborg, complained that the Writings, which he acknowledges as “most excellent,” lack one thing however, and that is, disciplines that help us in regeneration—hence he recommended we create them and recommends a mental exercise called “going within” and other forms of meditation.
But in fact disciplines are implied in the Writings where regeneration is discussed—which is indeed almost everywhere. The rational concepts of the Writings easily lead us to formulate any number of disciplines suitable for our regeneration, as illustrated in this volume. We shall call them “regeneration disciplines.” They are spiritual disciplines as well as religious disciplines because of the purpose that motivates us to perform the discipline repeatedly in daily activities, hour by hour, and minute by minute. Regeneration refers to the biological process of growing new spiritual fibers in huge quantities. A fiber is an organic part of the will and the understanding, which are the two organs that make up the human mind.
To grow a new spiritual fiber we must reconnect an old spiritual fiber. This is because the old fibers are coiled the wrong way in a permanent organic structure that is an image or model of hell, thus infernal, monstrous, and opposed to heaven. This mass of ossified, dehumanized, blob is connected to the hells, communicates with the hells, is influenced by the hells, and with irresistible force pulls the individual to hell in the afterlife. It is called “man’s proprium” (xx). This is the Fall of the human race. Now when any infant is born on earth its proprium irresistibly leads it to hell in the afterlife. In order to alter this biology, the Lord has provided the process of regeneration. This involves a rebirth phase called reformation of the understanding, and a regeneration phase of the will. The regenerated mind is new mind, not a repaired or fixed up old mind. The entire old mind must be put to sleep, and the entire new mind must be grown into a new understanding and a new will.
Any individual is regenerated who is willing. The process involves two phases.
Phase 1: Reformation of the understanding or cognitive mind.
This involves studying the Writings and having its literal sentences available in the mind in order to evaluate the concepts and ideas we have. The cognitive mind is made of our concepts and ideas, and the reasoning process we use to make decisions in all things of life. These life strategies run our daily and hourly decisions and dictate our attitudes. Thinking is involved in everything we do—getting dressed, driving to work, having a conversation, daydreaming, reading the Writings, etc. Every second of life occupies at least one thinking act, and possibly more, so that on any day we have a potential of performing more than 86,000 thinking acts. This is daily. Now we must examine as many of them as possible in the light of what we know from the Writings. Do they fit or do they not? It will be seen more and more THAT NONE FIT! The reason for this is fully explained in Volume 1. Reformation takes months, sometimes years, in order to rearrange everything in the mind. But sooner or later, enough things in the mind are rearranged that we can begin phase 2, even as we continue working on phase 1. The Lord provides for an overlap for the sake of maximum progress in our regeneration.
Phase 2: Regeneration of the will or affective mind.
The understanding is reformed from without, using the Letter of the Writings which we have taken up in our natural-rational mind (see phase 1). The will is regenerated from within, when we apply the Doctrine of the Letter in our understanding to our motives. This is called from within, while the understanding is called from without, because the organ to the will is a discrete degree above the organ of the understanding. This is why we say that the motive is within the act, “within” referring to a discrete degree above. Every act of thinking is performed FROM THE WILL. No act of thinking can take place on its own for it has no power, just as my electric toaster could not operate when I don’t plug it in. The will provides the power and the on/off timing of every act of thinking. The organ of the will is made of spiritual fibers that are tied to either hell or heaven. The will cannot live or exist when not so tied to either heaven or hell.
The unregenerate will is called the proprium or self. Human beings are nothing but affections that exteriorize as thinking acts, which in turn exteriorize as sensory and motor acts of the physical body. Human actions are therefore produced by a threefold self: the will, the understanding, and the sensorimotor or corporeal mind. This threefold self is the person, the body being nothing but an inanimate chemical plant under the control of the threefold self.
Disciplines are systematic methods we learn to carry out our share of the regeneration task. The Lord activates and animates everything in our will, understanding, and body. And yet, He provides that some of this activity be appropriated to our regenerated self, to the extent that we are willing to suffer ourselves to perform the task of conscious self-monitoring of our acts of willing and thinking. Since we perform many thousands of such acts every day, you can see why regeneration takes the entire life on earth. It also continues in heaven, but in a different form.
Physical and mental disciplines cannot add to our salvation but moral disciplines can. This is because the moral level of willing and thinking is in the natural-rational mind, a discrete degree above the natural-sensuous and corporeal where mental disciplines exist. Yet not all moral disciplines of life are spiritual and contributors to our salvation. The moral level of thinking that is located in the natural-rational mind is a natural way of thinking, not yet spiritual. The spiritual level begins in the interior rational, also called the spiritual-rational. This is located in the spiritual mind, a discrete degree above the natural mind. But the spiritual mind is unconscious while we are tied to the physical body. Therefore the Lord provides for another way we can be conscious of the spiritual. He creates the interior-natural mind within the natural-rational mind, as frequently explained in this book (see especially Chapter 7 Sections 8 and 9).
The moral decisions we make can be animated to have a spiritual within them if we are motivated by the desire to regenerate in accordance with the instructions in the Letter of the Writings. Fro example, we refrain from cheating on an exam or a declaration form. Why? First, because we don’t want to get into trouble later. This is a natural motive. Later, we refrain because we value integrity of character. This is a higher motive, yet it is still natural because in the natural mind. At reformation, we refrain because it is contrary to the commandments in the Writings. During regeneration, the Lord brings deep seated hidden motives to our awareness so that we may be tempted to go ahead and cheat and make false declarations when we can justify it to ourself. Now if we refrain because to cheat or be deceitful would be preventing our old will from being put to sleep. Any active affection we permit, remains and cannot be put to sleep by the Lord. Note then, that the spiritual doesn’t begin until regeneration of the will begins. Reformation of the understanding is not yet spiritual if it is not carried out into the will (xx).
Moral life may be lived either for the sake of the Divine or for the sake of men in the world; and a moral life that is lived for the sake of the Divine is a spiritual life. In outward form the two appear alike, but in inward form they are entirely different; the one saves a man, the other does not. For he who lives a moral life for the sake of the Divine is led by the Divine; while he who leads a moral life for the sake of men in the world is led by himself. (HH 319)
Clearly, then, our moral behavior or conduct is not sufficient to form the New Church mind in ourselves. We must enter the inner mind, or the will, and observe there what is our motivation in each moral act that we perform.
This is a matter of our heaven or hell! To enter our inner mind and to observe the affections behind our thinking and behavior is the regeneration discipline called self-witnessing. This is a spiritual discipline to the extent it is done for the purpose of our salvation—meaning that we are motivated to form a new mind in accordance with Divine Commandments which we have taken up for ourselves from the Letter of the Writings. In the Writings every truth we understand is a Divine Commandment that we must obey, or else we cannot complete the formation of the New Church mind in ourselves.
At this point something will now be said on how the internal man is reformed and how the external man is reformed -by means of it. The internal man is not reformed merely by knowing, understanding and being wise, and consequently merely by thinking; but by willing what knowledge, understanding and wisdom teach.
When a man knows, understands and has wisdom to see that there is a heaven and a hell, and that all evil is from hell and all good is from heaven; and if he then does not will evil because it is from hell, but wills good because it is from heaven, he is in the first stage of reformation, and is at the threshold out of hell into heaven.
When he progresses further, and wills to desist from evils he is in the second stage of reformation, and is now outside hell but not yet in heaven, which he sees above him. A man must have such an internal in order that he may be reformed; but he is not reformed unless the external as well as the internal is reformed.
The external is reformed by means of the internal when the external desists from the evils which the internal does not will because they are infernal, and still more when the external for this reason shuns them and fights against them. Thus willing is the part of the internal and doing of the external. For unless a man does that which he wills there is within him the failure to will which eventually becomes want of will.
 From these few considerations it can be seen how the external man is reformed by means of the internal. This also is what is meant by the Lord's words to Peter:
Jesus said: If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
[Simon] Peter saith unto Him: Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
Jesus saith to him: He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit. John xiii. 8, 9, 10.
By washing is meant spiritual washing, which is purification from evils; by washing the head and hands is meant purifying the internal man; and by washing the feet is meant purifying the external man. That the external man must be purified when the internal has been purified is meant by this, "He that is washed, needeth not save to wash his feet." That all purification from evils is from the Lord is meant by this, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." It has been shown in many places in the ARCANA CAELESTIA that washing among the Jews represented purification from evils, and that this is signified in the Word by washing; and that by washing the feet is signified the purification of the natural or external man. (DP 151)
The “external man” referred to here is not the physical body since the mind is being discussed. The external man refers to the lower regions in the natural mind called the corporeal and sensuous mind. The “internal man” here is not referring to the spiritual mind, as elsewhere in the Writings (xx). Here the internal man refers to the upper portions of the natural mind called the natural-rational mind. It is said that the external man is reformed by means of the internal man. This means that the lower natural mind (sensuous) is reformed by means to the higher natural mind (rational). It is the natural-rational mind that holds the motives and concepts of regeneration from the study of the Writings as the Divine Word. This is the mind that must compel the sensuous and corporeal mind to obey.
This Number makes it clear that reformation and regeneration is about our willing and thinking, moment by moment, all day long, every day. It is necessary therefore that we acquire means or techniques by which we can become aware of the willing and the thinking we do all day long. This technique is therefore a self-witnessing activity, that is, a self-monitoring activity in which we keep track of what affections and thoughts occupy our mind.
The state of a person's mind in the natural world determines its state in the spiritual world. (TCR 816)
I received this email message from a man who read a few portions of this book:
If we throw God away, we are still left with our neighbour. Whether one believes in God or not, one is still left with how one will deal with one's fellow man.
Only one course is open to man. Basic human decency. Whether we believe God to be a very personal divine human or a very impersonal force, there can only be one option: to treat other people well and kindly.
It is impossible for one who has treated (on the whole) his fellow-man kindly and fairly, not to end up in heaven. It is similar to a piece of cork that cannot be submerged under the water. The kind man will jump his way into heaven! Even the loudest atheist will eventually find himself in
heaven, IF he has been kind to his fellow man.
From the perspective of the Writings, we can recognize this argument as sadly wrong. It draws a nonduality between having no faith, having little faith, having much faith. It puts the idea of having faith in God on a continuum, and that it is not of a fundamental importance where on the scale of faith people locate themselves, as long as they are good people who were kind to the neighbor—they will all end up in heaven. And the implication usually is that, therefore let us not argue much about religion, and let everyone believe whatever they want as long as they are good to the neighbor. This implication makes a nonduality out of having a true religion and having a false religion. It puts all religions people practice on a continuum from “whatever religion” to what is true religion, should there be such a thing. It also makes a nonduality out of heaven and hell, supposing that people are lined up on a continuum of being good, from saintliness to average, to mischievous, and on to less and less good.
Instead of these nondualities about religion, faith, and heaven, there only absolute dualities in the New Church mind regarding these things. There are only two categories for them: those who have a genuine religion vs. those who do not (xx); those who have a right faith vs. those who do not (xx); and, those who can live in heaven vs. those who cannot (xx). Those who do not have a genuine religion worship an idol, or themselves, and not God (xx). If they act kindly to the neighbor it is from a selfish motive, even if they don’t care to become aware of it. The Writings reveal that such a person is a wolf dressed up as a human, and that as soon as they arrive in the afterlife, feeling now totally free, they quickly shed their outward kindly personality, and spring forth in their own love, which is the love to pounce upon the neighbor and kill him violently, then take away all that belongs to the victim, and even devour the victim.
Why does this happen? How can it happen? The Writings explain it rationally and scientifically. We are born a dual citizen—a spirit attached to a physical body. The spirit, which is our organic mind or self, is born in the world of spirits and remains there while the physical body and natural mind are built up on some earth surrounded by nature and our sensory-motor experience of it. Upon the death of the physical body, our mind suddenly awakens in our spirit-body where it had been since birth. But now the rules of reality are different, and we can no longer be a divided person, such as a hypocrite or a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing. Since the physical body is gone our sprit-body is totally free and cannot but express the quality of the loves we have built up in our natural mind. With the physical body gone, we remain such as we arrive (xx).
While we are attached to the physical body, it absorbs the organic life of our loves in the will. People can train themselves to totally hide what they’re actually feeling, thinking, or desiring. But with the physical body gone, there is no absorption and covering up of one’s desires, attractions, and motives. These feelings in the will plainly show to the other spirits and angels who can see from some distance whether they are good or evil.
Furthermore, and most important to know, is that it is not possible to change these desires and attractions, once the physical body is cut off from our spirit. Shortly after arrival in the afterlife, our spirit-body undergoes a separation or homogenization process. Those who will be entering heaven may have evil loves to which they are attached, which they were unwilling to give up in the life of the physical body. So now they must undergo a purification process by which they are given the choice to at last cast out these evil loves. This is a very painful process because it is much more conflictual to give up evil loves when we already are in the spirit-body. Having completed purification, they can enter heavenly life with all the good loves they developed in life.
Those who will be entering hell must be prepared for life there. Nothing good can remain attached to them from whatever good affections they acquired prior to the separation of the physical body. For example a kind man who felt a private arrogance and disdain for others, nevertheless loved his country, his children, his animals, his parents, and a few sincere friends. He was willing to be kind and generous with them. But inwardly this kindness and generosity was attached to what is his own in others. His children were his own. His country is his own. His parents and friends are his own. So he loved his own in them. But as soon as his own is removed from them, he hates them. And this hate comes out in the spirit-body which compels him to pounce and devour and destroy. He now hates children and goes into a violent fury when seeing an infant (xx). Similarly with loving a woman or wife. Inwardly this love is a love of one’s own, and as soon as the wife ceases to favor him, he pounces on her. Now, upon entering hell, he must give up any of the good traits he had even if it was only for what is his own in others. When nothing of good is left, even apparent good, he enters hell and lives the life of sub-human insanity filled only with terrible fantasies.
How do we make sure that we avoid such a terrible fate? We lead a busy life, we take care of our family, we pay our taxes, we’re decent neighbors, we go to war for our country, we work and produce something useful, we support the community organizations—WHAT MORE DOES IT TAKE TO BE A GOOD PERSON??
From the perspective of the Writings we can see clearly what the answer is, and we can explain it rationally. What it takes to be a good person is to look to God and expect Him to tell us, to lead us, to empower us. This is what it takes to be a good man. There is no other way to be a good person. Why? Because good exists only from God (xx). If we don’t get it from God, we don’t have any. And God gives every person good according to this person’s free choice for accepting. Some people are willing to accept a lot of good from God, and they are good people, very good people, heavenly people. Others are willing to accept just a few goods from God, and reject all the rest He desires to give them. What is the reason that we do not accept most of the goods God wants to give us? The answer from the Writings is explained rationally and scientifically.
The reason is that we are born with a spirit that is deformed and monstrous, like those who dwell in the hells. This inherited deformation consists of our spiritual fibers in the organs of the will and understanding: they are twisted around in a horrible looking mess. This is because they are attached to the hells and reflect the appearance of hell. Everyone’s spirit is malformed from heredity. The entire human race has this hereditary infirmity. We are born with evil affections in the will. Every baby and infant has it, but it is kept suppressed by the angels who are guarding the spirit of that child in the world of spirits. But after some months have elapsed from birth, it is more and more difficult for the angels to stay around as guards because the child is unwilling to stay in that state of mind. Evil affections are so attractive and so delightful that they engage in much bad behavior, contrary to order, breaking the peace, being cruel and selfish, obeying foolishness instead of the wisdom of parents and caretakers.
As a growing infant or child we turn away from the angels because we love the evil delights more than the good. The evil delights are from hell and fit the twisted coils of our will an understanding. Bad things give us more pleasure and enthusiasm, more happiness, than good things. Good things flow through the twisted coils in our will and we feel tortured, obsessed, in a rage. We fly off the handle because good feels like torture to evil. Good affections from the angels flow into our mind—like being nice instead of rude, or being responsible instead of irresponsible. When affections flow in from the angels they are coiled in the shape of heaven. But the shape of the coils in the will run in the opposite direction! They are modeled according to the shape of hell. Therefore a huge battle arises as to which shape is going to prevail.
As it is desirable that the origin of perception, internal dictate, and conscience, should be known, and as at the present day it is altogether unknown, I may relate something on the subject. It is a great truth that man is governed by the Lord by means of spirits and angels. When evil spirits begin to rule, the angels labor to avert evils and falsities, and hence arises a combat. It is this combat of which the man is rendered sensible by perception, dictate, and conscience. By these, and also by temptations, a man might clearly see that spirits and angels are with him, were he not so deeply immersed in corporeal things as to believe nothing that is said about spirits and angels. Such persons, even if they were to feel these combats hundreds of times, would still say that they are imaginary, and the effect of a disordered mind. I have been permitted to feel such combats, and to have a vivid sense of them, thousands and thousands of times, and this almost constantly for several years, as well as to know who, what, and where they were that caused them, when they came, and when they departed; and I have conversed with them. (AC 227)
This spiritual combat is felt in the conscious natural mind by the action of correspondence. Whatever happens in our unconscious spiritual mind has a corresponding effect in our conscious natural mind. This is felt more clearly and definitely as we focus in on our habits of willing and thinking.
The Lord grants every individual a free and crucial choice for our fate and future: Will we compel ourselves to keep our focus on this constant activity going on in the mind, or will we largely ignore it, relying on outward deeds and occasional self-examination. This is where we begin to realize that a self-witnessing discipline is necessary if we are going to keep the focus and monitor the thousands of acts of willing and thinking every day and hour of our allotted time on earth. According to life expectancy in the Western countries today, the average man has approximately two-and-a-half billion seconds (2.5 billion) on this earth. If we remove one-third for unconscious sleep, we will make a little over one-and-a-half billion acts in our willing and thinking during conscious waking time. So that’s the average man has in terms of opportunity to examine, repent, and modify more than a billion times while we are still attached to the physical body. Once we make the transition and awaken in our spirit-body, we are in a radically new situation. Without the physical body to absorb the affections in our will, and without the fear of punishment and death, we lose all restraint in controlling our impulses.
Whatever loves we left deposited in our will now become our master and we cannot restrain them. If these impulses in the will are contrary to Divine Order, the spirit must be restrained by separation from others to prevent their victimization. This separation is actually an incarceration in eternal hell. Why eternal? Because the spirit refuses to let go of the evil impulses despite repeated invitations by the guardian angels to come up to heaven. But this is not possible without giving up the evil impulses, and this the spirit is never going to agree to, not to an eternity—such is its amazing tenacity and love for insanity. And it must be remembered that we are born inverted in our spirit so that our evil affections and impulses appear to us as good, since they are so delightful. And due to this, we judge falsities as spiritual truths, and we judge spiritual truths as falsities. This prevents us from knowing the reality that all our acts are from evil affections until we are willing to undergo reformation by means of spiritual truths obtained from the Writings. For the Writings is the only source of spiritual truths in the new era of the Second Coming (xx). All those on earth who do not know about the Writings, nevertheless will be taught its concepts when arriving in the afterlife (xx).
Those will then accept the truths who have lived their life sincerely in accordance with the Word and Doctrine available to them from conscience, religion or faith. But those who did not submit themselves in life to conscience, religion, or faith for the sake of God, will reject the truths, and thus reject heavenly life where obedience to the Doctrine from the Writings is life itself. All those who are unwilling to live their life in such obedience to God’s Word, are then prepared for life in hell. All their good traits are isolated in the will and rendered inanimate. This is done by angels from the Lord who gives them perception into the spirit’s interior will. It’s a kind of spiritual surgery, as I imagine it. At last, without any good and true functioning, the spirit is ready to enter hell where it maintains itself at a sub-human life made of insanity and revolting fantasies. There they choose to remain forever no mater how many times they are offered entry to heaven. They hate heavenly obedience more than the misery of hell. That’s why they are sub-human and appear to angles looking down as monstrous devils, insane satans, obsessed genii, repulsive sirens, and the like, these sorry outward appearance being reflections of their love for self and hatred for God.
To focus on the thousands of acts of willing and thinking every day, means to monitor and keep track of them. Note that normal social life does not require this kind of self-knowing. Society requires that we know things outside of ourselves, like the history of our country, or the multiplication table, or how to read instructions and write messages. But there is no requirement that we monitor our feelings, motives, thoughts, and interior dialog with ourselves. Once in awhile, if get called on the witness stand, we might have to report on some of our willing and thinking. We are asked, Why did you do this? Or, What did you decide then? Or, Were you in love with her at that time? Etc. It is required by law that we answer honestly, but knowing the answer is not a requirement. In that case we reply, I don’t remember, and the court accepts it. But the court does hold us responsible for knowing things outside of ourselves, such as, Did you see him or not? and, Were you ever contacted by this person” etc.
And yet, for our eternal fate in the afterlife, this external knowledge is not at all crucial, and will only last us as long as we are attached to the physical body, while the usefulness of the interior knowledge will last us to eternity. Clearly the interior knowledge is immeasurably more important than the external knowledge, and yet, prior to our reformation, everyone favors the external knowledge, and pursues it, hardly paying attention to the far more crucial interior knowledge, which is knowledge about the character of our willing and thinking all day long.
This sad and terrible situation is the result of rejecting the goods God desires to give us, and instead, leading our life by self-intelligence and self-reliance in spiritual matters. When we declare that we are an atheist, agnostic, secular humanist, materialist, cynic, realist, etc., we are making the free choice of leading ourselves in spiritual matters. The Writings say that this is spiritual insanity (xx). Spiritual insanity is the state of our spirit when we replace truth with falsified truth in our understanding. This is inevitable when we lead ourselves in spiritual matters since we are born spiritually insane, and what is insane cannot be made sane except by receiving truths from God. To receive truths from God, one must acknowledge Him and His Word. Those who do not have the Word or knowledge derived from it, then must acknowledge their conscience as the inner Voice of God in them.
Note well: If they obey conscience without acknowledging that is the Voice of God, they cannot be reformed and all their good behavior and good intentions are only exterior, and within this nice interior, there remains their secret loves of evil delights. In the afterlife they are never willing to let go of a single one, and so their life is in hell. But if we acknowledge the voice of conscience as God operating within them and guiding what they must do to go to heaven, then they arrive in the afterlife prepared to obey God’s Order in the truths taught to them at that time by the welcoming angels.
God gives us the ability or power to obey our conscience because it is essential that we make free choices, without which we can have no sense of self, no sense of human happiness.
Since we are born with the fibers coiled and modeled after the shapes of hell, we are filled with evil delights that we are unwilling by free choice to let go of, and to detest. These evil affections motivate our thinking to reason in a certain way that the conclusion will be favored by the evil affection. Therefore God must give us a conscience that has the power to resist evil delights. In addition to conscience, God reveals reality and truth in His Word. This knowledge about Himself and the spiritual world, spreads throughout society through religion, theology, education, reading, art, entertainment. Almost no one of the human race is raised without finding out about God’s existence and about life after death. We freely make the choice to reject the idea of God. After that we are on the road down to hell since no other source of truths is available to the human race. And we must have these truths from God to guide our conscience and decisions. Without these truths, not God guides us, but devils in hell to which our spirit is attached by birth.
Our spiritual insanity doesn’t show in our social relations and work. The strong motive for self-preservation drives us to hide and moderate the insanity that wants to break out into the open and enjoy the delights of mayhem and violence, of seduction and corruption, of theft and deception, of vulgarity and obscenity. These awful affections in our will are kept in moderation and suppression by the stronger motive of self-preservation, for in all societies it is forbidden to do these things unchecked, and doles out punishment to those who go beyond the accepted limits. Societies do this for their own self-preservation since no society can survive without punishing behaviors that have no limits of self-restrain (xx).
The motive for self-preservation has many components and enters into other motives that seem like altruism rather than self-preservation. But this is a false appearance that must be detected when we examine our habitual willing and thinking. During reformation, and throughout the long years of regeneration, we can become conscious, to the extent that we care to, of habits of willing and thinking that are clearly selfish when we look at them. The external act of the physical body may be consistently kind and responsible, to such an extent that spouse, family, friends, and coworkers would rate this individual very highly on a scale of kindness and good will.
But heaven cannot be obtained by merit because it has to do with fibers and coils in the will. Self-preservation, desire for success and power, and many secret passions within our will, drive us to exert control over our appearance, visible acts, reputation, language, style. The outward acts are forced, not preferred. If others were able to access a man’s feelings and thoughts, would they still think of him as kind and decent when they can see he wishes them ill, despises them in comparison to himself, and cares nothing for their suffering. They would recoil from him like he is a monster and wicked devil, which he is, since tied to the devils in hell by heredity. We are each like this prior to reformation.
And what is required for reformation? The return to God and to the Word by which He reveals Himself and reality, that is, spiritual truth.
Keeping all of the above in mind, let us get back to the email message that started the discussion in this section:
If we throw God away, we are still left with our neighbour. Whether one believes in God or not, one is still left with how one will deal with one's fellow man.
Only one course is open to man. Basic human decency. Whether we believe God to be a very personal divine human or a very impersonal force, there can only be one option: to treat other people well and kindly.
It is impossible for one who has treated (on the whole) his fellow-man kindly and fairly, not to end up in heaven. It is similar to a piece of cork that cannot be submerged under the water. The kind man will jump his way into heaven! Even the loudest atheist will eventually find himself in
heaven, IF he has been kind to his fellow man.
And so the answer to this point of view is that there is no “basic human decency” except in humans who have been reformed and regenerated (xx). This biological activity in the will cannot occur except by means of understanding revealed truth, which is spiritual reality. The truths of the Word and the Doctrine of our religion or faith, must be taken up in our mind by means of reading the Word as a Divine Book, Holy because it is God speaking to our mind. Once our understanding is reformed, we can undergo the required regeneration by using our understanding to compel ourselves to reject what we prefer, and to choose what we know is from God and heaven.
The notion that “It is impossible for one who has treated (on the whole) his fellow-man kindly and fairly, not to end up in heaven” is a spiritual insanity. What matters for living in heaven is not how we treated others, but how we loved them. All loves from self are from hell. Therefore, our only way to heaven is to abandon all our own loves and to start loving only the things that are from heaven and God. We cannot decide on our own what is from heaven and God because we are spiritually insane. this will always drive us to reject the loves of heaven, to enter the loves of hell, and then to remain there by calling them loves of heaven. This is the insanity. And this: “Even the loudest atheist will eventually find himself in heaven, IF he has been kind to his fellow man.” This is also spiritual insanity because heaven is from God, not from self. Hell is from self. One cannot deny God and accept heaven. Denial of God leaves us facing the hell with which our spirit was born.
From all this you can see that knowing your willing and thinking in detail reveals the evils that you delight in and partake in, and are unwilling to give up. But only when they are held up to the truths of reality in the Word. Rejecting the Word is death of the spirit. But since the spirit is immortal, death refers to hell because life there is sub-human misery in eternal insanity. It is not a punishment by God, for God constantly sends angels to hell to beg all the inhabitants to repent, reform, and enter heavenly happiness. But none are willing to listen to what to them seems false and a worse choice than the misery in which they obstinately keep themselves in forever. Such is the amazing stubbornness of self-willing when allowed to grow to its own level of thinking and enjoyment.
For the New Church mind it is the Word of the Writings that provide us with the reality check we need to force ourselves to reform. But the Writings has no power from the outside, but only from the inside. We can read the Writings and reserve judgment and opinion as to what in it we will to accept and what we will to reject. This is reading the Writings in the state of spiritual insanity. It will have insufficient power to overcome our unwillingness to change and reform. Only this will have sufficient power, and more: To read the Writings as the Word, as Divine Truth in every detail, as the Lord Himself within the spiritual truths hidden therein. All spiritual truths in the Writings are hidden within the literal meaning of the sentences we read. This is for our protection, so that we do not get hold of some genuine spiritual idea and misuse it—which would guarantee our fate in the worst of hells (xx). The Lord therefore reveals each spiritual insight in the order and at the rate suitable for each individual.
The Lord commands us that we compel ourselves to reform as-of self by means of the understanding we pick up from studying the Writings as Divine Truth in every detail. Only this kind of study will put the Writings into our natural-rational mind. Then, possessed by more and more spiritual truths, we can progress in our regeneration. This progress depends on how much we are motivated to apply the truths from the Writings to our daily willing and thinking. This is the filtering process, the healing process, by which we become spiritually sane and prepared for a life in heaven. From being born hellish and sub-human, we are thus reborn human and angelic.
The New Church mind refers to any individual who is motivated to study the Writings as Divine Truth, and to love it by willing and thinking according to one’s understanding of it.
All acts we do occur in a sequence and a setting. For example I awake at dawn, drive to the beach with my wife, drive back and fix breakfast, and clean up the kitchen. This is a morning routine that takes up a small portion of every day. As I describe this to you, I use expressions that refer to macro-behaviors, or behavior units that are fairly general. You can see that each detail mentioned, has sub-components that I do not mention. For instance, I spend about one hour at the beach walk but I didn’t even mention that, nor did I mention what sub-routines my beach walk consist of. One for instance, has to do with saying good morning to the other beach walkers. This has many details to be considered since it varies with each stranger we say good morning to.
And I don’t even mention many things that I do while walking on the beach, such as admiring the sunrise, listening to waves, watching the frigate birds high in the sky looking for favorable air currents, and numerous other things. When I get down to mentioning even more detail, I enter the micro-behavior world. Most people do not describe things at this level for it would be too boring and even meaningless, thus interfering with normal communication. For example, I could describe what I do with my cell phone, not wanting to leave it in the car, fearing another break in as we had twice before. When I enter the car I place the tiny little phone on the tray, then when I arrive at the beach, I pick it up and put in my right back pocket. I have my wallet in my left back pocket. I have my keys in my left side pocket. I avoid putting the cell phone with the keys for it makes a noise as I walk.
Who could stand endlessly discussing such details on our daily round of routines? So we don’t. And even each of these sub-details has sub-sub-details, like how I put the phone in my back pocket as I exit the car. My back pocket seals with a Velcro strip so I have to manage to open the flap held tight by the Velcro, as I hold the cell phone in the hand. This takes some practice to do effectively.
And then there are finer details to each of these little movements, as when I have a cut healing on my finger and try to avoid opening the wound by putting pressure on it at a certain angle. In each of these micro-behavior details there is a threefold stepwise execution. First, I have a motive, like protecting my cut finger from being injured as I open the Velcro flap. Second, I have a thought, like monitoring the angle of pressure on the cut on my finger and judging at which point I should no longer put pressure. Third, I have a sensorimotor execution of the hand rotation, force exerted, and finger movement You can see then that willing and thinking is performed in numerous sequence of micro-behaviors built into macro-behaviors. The macro-behaviors cannot be modified unless the micro-behaviors are modified first.
In fact self-modification of macro-behaviors is achieved in two steps. First, there must be a general motive or goal, such as going to the beach at dawn. All the sub-behaviors and their micro-behaviors depend on this one macro-behavior motive. The morning I decide to sleep in, all the micro-behaviors at the beach do not occur. In regeneration, the motivation to modify macro-behaviors must therefore come first. For example, I may decide that it is my citizen’s duty to pick up sharp pieces of glasses I see as I walk, so as to prevent injury to those who walk barefoot. In the past I did not do this. Now I’m motivated to be a better beach citizen and to stop acting with indifference towards the danger. This begins my regeneration effort with regard to this one area. It starts with a macro-motivation.
Now I need to struggle to regenerate all the micro-behaviors. For example, I see something a few feet away that might be a piece of glass. I should go over there and examine it, but I don’t want to break my aerobic pace, so I keep walking. I feel bothered. Now I can continue to walk or I can turn back. I’m in a struggle. And so on. You can see that the micro-behaviors confront the actual issues involved in carrying out the macro-behavior. Motives are set within motives in a complex hierarchy and we cannot regenerate the macro-behavior unless we tackle and modify the lower issues attendant to the micro-behaviors. This applies to all regeneration.
Self-witnessing is a term I’ve been using for decades to refer to my long standing penchant for metanoid self-monitoring. This is a dual focus—one on the mental activity going on, and one on its monitoring and evaluation. I became consciously aware of my metanoid focus in my early twenties, though it felt so familiar that I always seem to have had it, but not by conscious reflection, until my twenties. The Writings speak of this double focus in connection with self-examination, repentance, and regeneration (e.g., DP 114).
[A person] can from wisdom above view the love that is below, and in this way can view his thoughts, intentions, affections, and therefore the evils and falsities as well as the goods and truths of his life and doctrine; and without a knowledge and acknowledgment of these in himself he cannot be reformed. (DP 16)
Without self-examination, recognition, acknowledgment, confession and rejection of sins, thus without repentance, there is no forgiveness of them, thus no salvation, but eternal condemnation (DP 114)
IV. EVILS IN THE EXTERNAL, MAN CANNOT BE REMOVED BY THE LORD EXCEPT THROUGH MAN'S INSTRUMENTALITY
It is only religion which renews and regenerates a person. Religion is allotted the highest place in the human mind, and sees below it the social matters which concern the world. Religion too climbs up through these as the pure sap rises in a tree to its top, and from that lofty position it has a view of natural matters, just as someone on a tower or a mountain has a view of the plains beneath. (TCR 601)
The will inclines from birth towards evils, even to those which are enormous; hence, unless it were restrained by means of the understanding, a man would rush into acts of wickedness, indeed, from his inherent savage nature, he would destroy and slaughter, for the sake of himself, all who do not favor and indulge him. (ISB 14)
From these and many other passages in the Writings we acquire the idea that constant self-witnessing is a method that allows us to carry out the cooperation with the Lord that He commands us to perform because it is necessary for our regeneration. When you begin self-witnessing one striking aspect of it is to become conscious of the macro and micro-integration of human willing and thinking. For example, I think about taking in the car for servicing. This is a macro-topic in my day’s schedule, to be integrated with many other macro-topics like sending email to someone, grooming the cat, shopping for groceries, reading the Writings, vacuuming the pool, and so on. Every macro-topic is kept in place by priorities of motives or affections in the will. But every macro-topic is constructed of a integrated series of micro-topics, each of these being maintained by a hierarch of sub-motives, affections, and preferences in the will.
For example, vacuuming the pool is made of sub-tasks (1) getting the pole from its place behind the plants without injuring the plants; (2) taking off the brush attached to it and affixing the hose nuzzle extension on wheels; (3) curling or snaking the long hose into the water to fill it with water and empty it of air; and at least a dozen other sub-tasks. Each sub-task has a series or hierarch of affections that determine the style, rate, and effectiveness of my willing, thinking, and acting out the movements of hands, head, and body. Each sub-task offers plenty of opportunity for inherited and acquired evils to break out and take over, producing errors, ineffectiveness, damage, injuries, anger, affectational styles, neglect, laziness, carelessness, and many others.
Self-witnessing reveals the astounding complexity of the ordinary behaviors we perform mentally and physically. Every micro-act or detail is managed by the Lord through good and evil spirits with which He connects us, moment by moment as we perform our willing prompted by affections, our thinking prompted by knowledge and beliefs, and our sensory and motor activities that are in credence with our mental activities. But self-witnessing in itself is not a spiritual or religious activity. What makes it spiritual is the motive we have in doing it. A spiritual motive for self-witnessing makes it into a spiritual or religious discipline. From the Writings we have the commandment to know our willing and thinking so that we may evaluate each mental act in the eight of Doctrine in our mind from the Writings. This is the spiritual motive for self-witnessing in the New Church mind. It is a Divine Commandment. Further, we are giving this commandment for our sake. We are taught that regeneration is by the Lord but limited by the individual. The Lord gives us the spiritual freedom not to regenerate! But to enter heaven, we must regenerate. And the process of our cooperation involves the micro-details of the micro-sub-tasks of the endless stream of ordinary acts in our willing and thinking all day long.
Physical and mental disciplines are in the external natural mind and have nothing in it from the spiritual and celestial mind (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). From the natural nothing else but natural things can come out. There is no possibility of “emergence” of the spiritual from the physical, as proposed by some neuroscientists today. No matter how evolved the brain becomes it will never be able to give rise to the sensation. The brain remains a dead physical compound just like the natural sun. Everything from the physical universe comes from this or that sun or galactic cluster. No materials that are from this source, no matter how chemically evoluted, can reach across the discrete degree that eternally divides the natural substance from the spiritual substance (DLW 185).
Brain activity is the patterned electrical and chemical motions of physical substances. Sensations are neither electrical nor chemical. Therefore sensations cannot exist through the brain and in the brain (ISB 1). They exist in the mind and through the mind. The mind is spiritual organ, that is, an organ made of spiritual substances. When we are born as human beings, we have a physical body in the natural world to which is connected by correspondence, a spirit-body in the spiritual world.
Our spirit-body can be seen by the spirits from a distance (AC 4527).
It should be known that every man as to his spirit is in the spiritual world in some society there, a wicked man in an infernal society and a good man in a heavenly society; and sometimes he also appears there when in deep meditation. (DP 296:)
Physical eyes, sensors, cameras, instruments, and other detection devices invented on earth are incapable of seeing or recording the spirit-body. This is because there is no crossing of the discrete barrier between natural and spiritual things. Their relationship is not by crossing, contacting, developing into, or emerging from—these being phenomena in continuous degree, not discrete (see Chapter 5 Section 6). Their only connection is by correspondence (DLW 374).
In other words, at any moment the spirit-body receives or detects a pattern of influx in its spiritual world environment where untold numbers of spirits live in their spirit-bodies. Spirits is the name used for human beings who live in the spiritual world after having died in the natural world from which all humans originate. The spirit-body of spirits is able to detect influx from other spirits at any distance no matter where the others are located in the spiritual world (HH 198). What determines the strength of the influx are the specific affections each spirit has in their organ called the will.
Spirits who have compatible affections in their will are in close presence, can interact directly, can speak to each other, touch each other, feel each other, and experience all the sensations we have in the physical body but to a far more sensitive degree than possible on earth (AC 4760). Spirits who have antagonistic affections in their will cannot be together because they strive to annihilate each other (HH 194). These rules or laws of the spiritual world are fixed and maintained by the Lord who is very closely involved in the management of all these people’s affections, and the thoughts that are created by these affections in another part of the spirit-body and which is called the understanding.
Spirits who have similar concepts and ideas in their understanding are able to congregate and live together in a city governed by representatives appointed by the Lord, or, by the Lord through angels who reside in a discrete degree above that city. In this way the hierarchical discrete levels of the human mind are identical with the hierarchical discrete levels of the spiritual world. It is organized from top to bottom:
1) The spiritual Sun in which the Lord can be seen
2) The Third Heaven of Celestial Angels
3) The Second Heaven of Spiritual Angels
4) The First Heaven of Natural Angels (or Angelic Spirits)
5) The world of spirits where the new arrivals congregate. This is also where our spirit-body is while we are connected to the physical body
6) The region of the first hells, which are the mildest
7) The region of the second hells, which are intermediate in insanity and wickedness.
8) The region of the deepest hells, where those are isolated whose abominable fantasies have the persuasive power to turn other spirits into zombies
When you look at this alignment it is the same whether you are looking at the level of organization of the human mind or the spiritual world. There is a perfect overlap between the two. This is why it is said by the Lord that the Kingdom of Heaven is within you, though the people He said it to could not yet understand how this was possible (AC 9305). Seventeen centuries later the Lord has made His Second Coming, having sufficiently prepared the human rational faculties to be able to receive the new interior truths of the Heavenly Doctrines in the Writings. He was able to create New Heavens as well as a new interior portion of the human mind. What made this possible was our ability in these higher levels to understand by correspondence, interior-natural truths about the Lord and His Divine Laws of managing the universe. Infinite such truths are contained in the Writings, enough that only a small portion of them can be uncovered by the generations to eternity (NJHD 260).
Most people who hear this assertion about the Writings instantly reject it as foolish nonsense or naive exaggeration. But it is the truth, both because it so asserted in the Writings (xx) and because it is rationally explained why and how this marvel is real. Nothing whatsoever is left to dogma or mystery. Nothing. All of the assertions in the Writings are fully and completely explained and justified rationally so that anyone can verify that this is so by studying all of the Writings with the purpose of finding in it the Divine Truth. Not a single dogma can exist in the Writings since dogma is from hell and every single thing in the Writings is from heaven (TCR 779).
Those who are offended by this assertion raise this objection: Is it not obvious that it is a dogma to say, either you accept all of the Writings as Divine Truth or you cannot see the spiritual things in it when you read it. But this objection is not valid. One must first grant that there is Divine Truth or else the assertion is not being investigated. If you accept that there is Divine Truth then you must accept that it is possible that only Divine Truth is contained in the Writings. One follows the other logically. Now if you admit that it is possible for the Writings to contain only Divine Truth then you can read the Writings and see spiritual truths in them. And if you also rearrange your life, your daily willing and thinking, all your concepts, with no exceptions, to be compatible with your understanding of these spiritual truths, then you will also be close to heaven and the Lord, and you will see and perceive with certitude that the Writings are the Divine Truth, that is, the Word of the Second.
From all these considerations and facts you can see that everything about your salvation depends on rearranging your daily willing and thinking. Why everything? Does not my faith count? It only counts to the extent that our faith acts together with our charity (TCR 336-393). Knowing, understanding, agreeing with, and teaching the Writings is not enough. Add to it religious faith and call it the Word, and it is not enough. But do your daily willing and thinking according to your understanding of it, and that is enough to prepare your spirit-body for heavenly life. Salvation is not by religious membership and sincere worship. Salvation is only by charity directed by faith. By charity. Not by faith. Note well: we are not saying “by charity alone” for this does not lead to salvation since charity without faith is not genuine charity from the Lord (TCR 336-393). Only that is from the Lord in our spirit-body which is from charity combined with its own faith.
Now since faith in its essence is truth, it follows that in proportion to the volume and coherence of truths faith becomes more and more perfectly spiritual, and so less and less natural-sensual. For it is raised into the higher region of the mind, from where it sees below itself rank upon rank of proofs of itself in the natural world. A great volume of truths cohering as it were in a bundle makes true faith more enlightened, more easily perceived, more outstanding and clear. It also becomes more easily linked to the various kinds of good belonging to charity, and consequently more easily freed from evils, and by stages less subject to the enticements of the eye and the longings of the flesh, thus becoming essentially happier. In particular its resistance to evils and falsities is increased, and so it becomes more and more alive and conducive to salvation. (TCR 352)
Charity from the Lord cannot be adjoined with faith that is spurious or false, and thus reformation must be completed in the afterlife. Those who exercised charity of religion without confirming it by the falsities of their religion can compete reformation in the afterlife, and then continue with their regeneration to eternity. But those exercised the charity of their religion and adjoined to it by confirmation the falsities of their religion cannot complete their reformation in the afterlife, for they resist and are unwilling.
The New Church mind must therefore be reformed and regenerated in a state of charity to which is adjoined the Heavenly Doctrine that we have in our understanding from reading the Writings as the Word. This process of reformation and regeneration is a biological process of the spirit-body. The spirit-body, which is our mind, must be fully matured to enter heaven. All the levels of the mind, as discussed above, must be opened by the Lord and activated for influx. The Lord can do this to the extent that we allow Him, that is, to the extent that we cooperate with Him.
How do we cooperate with Him? This becomes the spiritual bottom line for every New Church husband who is willing to begin his reformation sometime in adult life (AE 803; AC 8780; AC 3518:).
Cooperation requires conscious continuous action and reaction. The Lord is very closely and intimately involved in this process. First, he implants spiritual truths in the upper levels of the mind, as discussed above. We are totally unconscious of this process, just as we are unconscious of how the brain calibrates and manages the thousands of hormones and chemical substances every second to produce adequate electrical patterns or footprints to make possible sensation in the spirit-body. At some point the brain activity matches a certain predetermined rational pattern or footprint. This pattern of activity in the brain is now ready for being acted upon by correspondence. The spirit-body then becomes conscious of a sensation and thought. Note well: the brain pattern of activity does not cause the corresponding sensation in the spirit-body, that is, in our conscious awareness. This sensory awareness in the spirit-body is not caused by the physical sensory input to the brain—which is impossible (TCR 336-393).
Rather, the relationship is more like a resonance which occurs in the physical world for things that are in continuous (not discrete) degree with other. For example the sound of a car horn enters the brain and produces an identifiable pattern of electro-chemical activity. The brain activity is an informational representation of the specific qualities of the sound. While the brain is thus engaged in the patterned activity, the spirit-body resonates to this pattern, and when there is a match, we experience the sensation and we hear the horn. Then we can react to it through a similar process. Second by second, our spirit-body is thus active and growing by cumulating sensations, thoughts, and affections. This growth process in the organs of the spirit-body is deformed, injured, corrupt by inheritance. Our spirit-body is created when the physical body is born and the child takes its first breath, filling the lungs (D.Wis 6). This opening of the lungs permits or occasions the start the life of sensation and thought, and therefore, the start of the spirit-body and its development.
In short, all affections for good and truth reach out into heaven, and there is thus connexion and linking with those there who have similar affections. All affections for evil and falsity reach out into hell, and there is thus connexion and linking with those there who have similar affections. Affections reach out into the spiritual world, almost as the range of sight reaches out into the natural world. The connexions in either place are much alike, the difference being that in the natural world they are with things, in the spiritual world with communities of angels. (LJ 9)
Our moment to moment willing and thinking is what causes the growth of the spirit-body. Such as the willing is, with its companion thinking, such is the growth of the spirit-body because such is our connection to heaven or to hell. When we are thinking this or that in the course of the day we are becoming a part of the affections that motivate the thinking and reasoning. These affections either reach out to heaven or they reach down to hell, as indicated in the quoted passage. The Lord is revealing this fundamental duality to us: Either we are in heaven or in hell with every moment of willing and thinking. And thus our affections continually reach up to heaven or down to hell. And we are at the helm, we are responsible by rational choice or choice guided by the voice of conscience. And such as our choices are, such is our spiritual fate (xx).
But note well: This is not an equity model but an all or nothing model! The millions of choices you’ve made in a few decades on earth will not be put on a scale, weighed, and the preponderance of frequency wins. There is no way of entering heavenly life with an equity model! It’s all or nothing at the gates of heaven. If you enter with a few affections that reach down to hell, can you enter? You would be suffocated by the sphere of Good there.
Will you be able to leave your evil affections behind when you arrive at the gates of heaven, so that then you can enter? You might reason this way: Does it not say that the highest angels admit that if they were left to themselves they would be plunging into hell with their affections of old that they once had? (see xx) And so not even the angels are perfect. But this is not a correct argument. The angels are perfect because they have left all their affections, left them for the Lord to be in a disanimated state. True, we are told that they can be revived once again by the Lord, if this were for a Divine purpose, which proves that they are still with the angels and will always be (see xx). But it’s clear that they do not have a single affection that is active that does not reach to heaven. This is why angels are called perfect (xx).
And so, when you arrive at the gates of heaven, will you be able to voluntarily give up every one of your affections that reach down to hell? You will not be able to because you will not be willing. What an amazing fact! (xx)
You can understand why this is so. You have these affections still with you because you have not been willing to give them up in all of your regeneration on earth.
You might think that when you get there and everything is all over, then you would be willing to let go of them, especially when you realize that they prevent your entry into heavenly life. But you’re only dreaming or lulling yourself to sleep with this vain hope. The Writings clearly explain that the affections you hold on to until death are the affections you remain with to eternity! (xx, xx). The basic reason for this is that affections are immortal spiritual fibers within which you feel the love of your life. Take away those fibers, and you no longer feel the love of your life, hence you cannot be happy or motivated to do anything.
In the unregenerate state into which we are born, our spirit-body is an offshoot of the fibers of the parents (CL 206). Such as is their spirit-body such is the spirit-body of their children. All the evil affections and unconscious preferences and tendencies are in the things inherited by the spirit-body. If we then lead a life motivated by these inherited tendencies in the spirit-body, we will develop a permanent infirm spirit-body that is not capable of living in the heavenly regions of the mind.
Everything therefore depends on monitoring our willing and thinking every hour of the day so that we can identify every particular evil affection and all the falsities of life that these evil affections create in our understanding and philosophy of living.
The state of the case with the evil in the other life is that they are not punished until their evils have reached their height, and this both in general and in particular. For such is the equilibrium in the other life that evil punishes itself, that is to say those who are evil run into the punishment of their evil, but only when it has reached its height. Every evil has its limit that varies in each individual case, beyond which it is not allowable to pass. When an evil person passes beyond this limit he precipitates himself into the penalty, and this is so in every particular (AC 1857)
This passage discusses what happens in the afterlife to those who are unwilling to eliminate their evil affections and falsities in this life.
Every New Church mind knows that we are born with inherited evils. We need to understand this process scientifically so as to gain control over the process of detaching ourselves from inherited evils. The very purpose of regeneration is to separate ourselves from inherited evils.
Inherited evils refer not to evils but to ties to evils. The evils are not inherited but their terminations in us fro0m the hells. We inherit the organic connectivity to an array of hells that characterize one’s family and culture. It’s like the address we appropriate when we buy a house. The house comes tied to an address determined by the city or county government. We are born into a particular family, in a geographic jurisdiction at a particular time. This gives us origin and identity. Our mind is an inherited organ and organic connectivity to particular hells is part of the constitution of the mind. In other words, our mind is born in hell and has an address there that give it character and quality. This is what is inherited.
The evil itself is not inherited because it exists and subsists by flowing in a continuous stream, like electricity flowing into your toaster oven and keeping its elements red hot. The instant that the timer is out and trips the switch, the electricity stops flowing in and the elements quickly cool down to room temperature. Evils flow into our mind like electricity flows into the toaster oven. The quality of evil inflowing is determined by our inherited connectivity to specific hells, just as the quality of heating of the toaster oven is determined by its built in wiring that includes an extension wire ending in a wall plug.
We are born with a mind that has built in wiring to specific hell societies. Upon this wiring network flows in evils of a specific quality in endless numbers since all the hells are interconnected into a single immense network of an evil spiritual wiring system (xx). Our mind’s connection to specific hells is our inherited spiritual address.
The Lord maintains this entire system in its integrity and service for regeneration of the human race. A key element of this system is that the Lord gives us power over the on-off switch of influx.
It is crucial that we acquire conscious control over the on-off switch of influx.
Progress in our regeneration depends on the conscious control we are willing to assume over the on-off switch of influx.
Before we begin regeneration, the switch of influx remains steadily in the On position. We may study the Writings so that the understanding portion of the mind is elevated and enlightened, but the will portion of the mind remains in hell. The understanding then falls back to its will in hell, and we have nothing left of our high moment of enlightenment. Then once more we study the Writings and our understanding is raised into heaven. But pretty soon, even the next minute, our understanding lies down with its infernal concubine and we are plunged again into darkness. Thus we see saw to no avail, until we undergo and complete reformation, then begin regeneration sometime in adult life. Then the New Church mind for the first time is enlightened on a permanent basis because our new will is turned toward heaven.
And to the extent that we nurture this new will, to that extent we progress in regeneration. And we cannot nurture this new will except by turning the switch of influx into the Off position.
We must pull the plug on our hell.
This is called “shunning evils as sins against the Lord.” This process consists of examining our willing and thinking, recognizing which ones are from hell, and desisting, that is, stopping ourselves from continuing to will those evils and think them.
This is the driving motive power of regeneration--stopping ourselves from continuing to will those evils and to think them.
We need to build a scientific understanding of the process by which we can stop ourselves from continuing to will inherited evils and to think them.
I have discovered that metanoid self-witnessing is an effective method for identifying the content of our willing and thinking in daily life. Therefore if becomes a useful spiritual discipline by which husbands can cooperate with the Lord in their reformation and regeneration. Only by performing this cooperation hour by hour, minute by minute, can the husband become a conjugial husband. Without becoming conjugial, the husband cannot regenerate because his regeneration must involve his wife in a specific way as discussed throughout Chapter 9.
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. Moreover they who have conscience can do this and are accustomed to do it, for when anything contrary to the truth of conscience flows into the thought, or into the endeavor of the will, they not only perceive it, but also find fault with it; and it even grieves them to be of such a character. (AC 1914)
As our regeneration proceeds day by day, the interior rational (or spiritual-rational) which is in the spiritual mind, is progressively opened by the Lord through the influx of the angels into those concepts in our mind that are suitably formed for their influx. This opening process is a psychobiological formation of spiritual fibers growing in the upper levels of the mind (or spirit-body)—for “a person's spirit is his mind, and whatever comes from it” (TCR 138). The activity and influence of the interior rational mind is proportional to the extent to which it can “descend” into (or within) the concepts and ideas of the interior-natural mind (AC 5150). When the interior-natural is active within the natural-rational, the mind is properly aligned to function as a genuine human being, which is the celestial person (or angel) (AC 1940).
In order for the interior-rational to be active within the external-rational mind, there must be an interior-natural portion formed by the Lord within the natural-rational. Then the interior-natural can resonate by correspondence to the spiritual mind and reveal to our conscious awareness what those spiritual truths are with which the angels flowed in.
This mutually beneficial interaction between angels and earthlings takes place by correspondence in discrete degrees, not by continuous degree or direct contact.
I have spoken with spirits about the changes of state of man's life, that it is inconstant, and that he is borne upward and downward, now toward heaven and now toward hell. But they who suffer themselves to be regenerated are being borne continually upward, and thus always into more interior heavenly societies. Extension of sphere into these societies is given by the Lord to those who are being regenerated, especially to those who are being regenerated by means of temptations, in which resistance is made to evils and falsities; for the Lord then fights through angels against the evils and falsities; and in this way the man is introduced into the societies of these angels, which are more interior societies; and into whatever societies he has once been introduced, he there remains; and from this he also receives a more extended and elevated capacity of perception. (AC 6611)
Every earthling who is thus regenerated becomes an angel in the afterlife and continues to participate in this ever expanding activity of unity involving the ever expanding human race. This union of humanity into one is visible in the spiritual world as the Grand Human, visible to Swedenborg and the angels (HH 59). Religious or spiritual disciplines are necessary tools of regeneration, a process that progresses only to the extent that we consciously and actively cooperate in it. The religious discipline is a method of practice for increasing the cooperation we are required to perform.
IV. EVILS IN THE EXTERNAL, MAN CANNOT BE REMOVED BY THE LORD EXCEPT THROUGH MAN'S INSTRUMENTALITY. In all Christian Churches this tenet of doctrine has been accepted, that before a man approaches the Holy Communion he shall examine himself, see and acknowledge his sins, and do the work of repentance by desisting from them and rejecting them because they are from the devil; and that otherwise his sins are not forgiven, and he is condemned. (DP 114)
It is important to understand what makes a discipline religious or spiritual. Those who approach the Writings from a perspective or motive that is secular, not religious, do not see much in the Writings that teaches physical and mental disciplines. For instance, Wilson Van Dusen, a well known authority on Swedenborg, once complained that “the Writings themselves barely touch on how to regenerate, how to make it of the life, how to practice" ("Spiritual Practice That Makes Religion of the Life: Open Letter to the General Church" New Church Life July 1993, 314-319). He states that the New Church mind would be better off importing some disciplines from Eastern practices and Western traditions such as meditation and consciousness raising exercises.
A similar form of this idea is suggested by Alfred Acton (“Emanuel Swedenborg’s Concept of Creation and the Human Mind” Arcana 1994 v1 n2 45-54)
The human is similarly layered [as the spiritual world]. Inmostly, there is the soul on the plane of human internals, below which are the three spiritual levels, which are unopened here on earth. Still lower is the interior rational, which is on a plane with the world of spirits and can be opened somewhat here on earth when a person is in deep meditation or reflection. Below this level is the natural mind proper with its rational, imaginative, and sensual levels. (p. 52)
The Writings do not specify under what conditions the interior-natural can be consciously “accessed” as it were by meditation or reflection. I think that the attempt to direct access by means of reflection could merely yield content from the lower “sensuous” and “imaginative” mind or higher up from the natural-rational, but not anything from the interior rational and interior-natural, which is spiritual. The interior-natural reacts by correspondence to the unconscious interior-rational, thus giving us the ability for a spiritual consciousness. The interior-rational in the spiritual mind and the interior-natural within the natural mind are both created and operated by the Lord with no contribution from self or world. Only the external-rational is constructed by means of things from self and the world.
There is this danger to look out for:
A mind removed from the world thinks indeed concerning God, but not from God (DP 142)
This is said about our state of mind when we are physically sick and scared. The reason given is that when “ a man is in sickness, and is thinking about death and the state of his soul after death, he is not then in the world but is withdrawn in spirit; and when in this state only, no one can be reformed” (DP 142). If meditation succeeds in withdrawing us from the world it would have a similar effect. Perhaps Rev. Acton’s reference to meditation or deep reflection denote intense focus on the dualities in the Writings as we read and study. This intense focus is what I would call the work of reformation, which is, to comprehend dualities from the Writings and to gather them in the conscious mind as Doctrine for life.
This in itself is not yet enlightenment. No matter how deep the reflection and complicated the scholarship, its substance is tied to the literal of the text. Thus it Is not yet seen in the light of heaven. But when we consciously apply the Doctrine in our mind to guide our daily willing and thinking, then the Lord can give enlightenment while we are engaged in the activity or use. Enlightenment therefore does not come with reflection or study, but with applying what we comprehend so that it guides our willing and thinking while we are engaged in an activity or use.
With those who believe these things, and love it to be so, all evil and falsity are removed while they are reading the Word, because the Lord then enlightens them and leads them. And then they do not think from themselves, nor are they affected by the Word from themselves, but from the Lord; consequently no evil and falsity of evil enter, because the Lord removes these. These are they who understand the Word, and are affected by the truths from it, and also love to live according to them. (AC 10638)
Note well: The more we are studious with the Writings, the better is the Doctrine that we build up in our rational mind. The better the Doctrine, the greater the enlightenment when we apply it to our willing and thinking. A form of Doctrine in our mind is better than another to the extent that it is developed rationally and consistently. A serviceable Doctrine is one that integrates all conceptual elements in our mind. There must be nothing of nonduality left and everything must be aligned in terms of discrete degrees. For instance when we think of “sin” we must also think of “inherited evils,” “regeneration,” and “temptations.” Without connecting concepts in this way, no rational account of operations is possible. Yet all spiritual operations are rational.
Or, to give another example, when we think of “conjugial love” we must also think of “scortatory love,” “chastity,” and how the “spiritual mind” of men and women differ. Doctrine refers to not just memory and comprehension of passages in the Writings. It also means figuring out the assumptions and implications of every sentence and phrase. The context must be kept in mind in which the phrase and sentence is embedded, which means collecting together what’s being said about that subject from different places in the Writings.
This approach to reading and studying the Writings is necessary to build up our natural-rational ideas and reasoning process. Into this will then flow the interior truths from the Lord during enlightenment. Note that these interior truths are not the Doctrine in our mind. They are the new meaning we see in them during the state of enlightenment. When we write these down, or recall them later, we only comprehend them externally, in the natural light of the natural-rational. Then when a state of enlightenment is given again, new meaning is perceived in sentences and phrases that we are very familiar with already, but in which only the old meaning was seen. Such is enlightenment from the Lord through Doctrine in our mind. Periods of enlightenment alternate with periods of self-initiated light, or obscurity. Only when we arrive in heaven do we remain in a permanent state of enlightenment.
Enlightenment is from the Lord while we are reading the Writings for the purpose of knowing the Divine Truth.
'With which you shall do the signs' means consequent enlightenment and corroboration of truths. This is clear from the meaning of 'sign as the corroboration of truths, dealt with in AC 6870 The reason why enlightenment is also meant is that the corroboration of truths comes about through enlightenment received from the Lord when a person focuses his attention on the Word to the end that he may have a knowledge of truths. (AC 7012)
As we focus our attention on the Letter of the Writings so that we may know truth, the Lord enlightens us. To have the purpose of knowing the Divine Truth is the same as to have the purpose of living that truth, whereas the purpose of obtaining a mere memory knowledge of Divine Truth does not result in enlightenment.
As regards enlightenment and a resulting corroboration of truths, it should be recognized that no enlightenment nor thus any corroboration of truths is possible with those who are interested, as the Jews and Israelites were, only in things of an external nature and not in anything internal. But when those who are interested in external things and at the same time in internal ones read the Word they receive enlightenment, and with that enlightenment they see truths, which after that are corroborated for them over and over again. (AC 7012)
And what is so amazing, the nature of each person's enlightenment is determined by the nature of his affection for truth, and the nature of his affection for truth is determined by the good present in his life. This also goes to explain why those who have no affection for truth for its own sake, only for the sake of gain, receive no enlightenment at all when they read the Word. Instead they merely corroborate for themselves matters of doctrine whatever they may be, whether they are false, as heretical teachings are, or entirely contrary to truths, as the teachings of the Jews are, since they do not seek the Lord's kingdom but the world, not faith but renown, thus not heavenly riches but merely earthly ones. Or if a desire to know truths from the Word does perhaps descend on them, falsities present themselves instead of truths, and at length denial of all truths. These matters have been stated in order that people may know what enlightenment is, and a resulting corroboration of truth. (AC 7012)
Enlightenment is a gradual and cumulative process like the growth of plants or the body of an infant. In the case of enlightenment, it is the growth of the interior-natural mind from which we have enlightenment. This organic development proceeds at a variable rate according to “each person’s...affection for truth.” This means “by the good present in his life.” And the good present in our life is the quality of the willing and thinking we perform all day long, every day, hour by hour, and minute by minute. Prior to enlightenment we are unwilling to be reformed, unwilling to rearrange everything in our mind in accordance with the truths of the Writings. Even if we are persistent students of the Writings prior to enlightenment, we are told that “falsities present themselves instead of truths.” All we do is “merely corroborate ... matters of doctrine whatever they may be.” We cannot tell whether these doctrines be true or false for we are not enlightened.
But enlightenment spoken of here is not the same as the enlightenment we have as angels. This enlightenment is that which is given in the spiritual mind, but we are unconscious of this mind while tied to the body. Instead, the Lord gives us enlightenment by correspondence so that we are now conscious of higher cognitions which are animated from within in the interior-natural mind.
Nothing from the influx into our spiritual-rational mind by the Lord through the angels can be perceived while we are in a natural body (with the one exception in the case of Swedenborg). The correspondential effects of that influx are felt and consciously seen in the interior-natural that the Lord builds within the natural-rational level of the natural mind (see diagrams and charts, especially in Chapter 7 Sections 8 and 9). Now when we reflect upon what we see happening in the natural-rational mind, we can become conscious of new understandings that represent more interior truths than before. This is called enlightenment (AC 10215).
Note that the enlightenment cannot come from or through meditation because the highest content possible content in mediation is below the natural-rational level o understanding. But it may come somewhat, as Rev. Acton suggests, from reflection when the content is rational and spiritual. This content cannot be imagined or discovered but must be consciously received from reading the Writings as the Lord in His Word for the New Church mind by which the interior-natural degree is opened in us.
They hold a false opinion who call the mere memory-knowledge of things celestial and spiritual, separated from charity, faith. For sometimes the worst of men have this knowledge more than others-as those who live in continual hatred and vindictiveness, and in adultery, and are therefore infernal, and after the life of the body become devils. (AC 1162)
A central thesis that runs through the Writings is that the primary thing of religion is charity. All genuine faith and worship comes from charity. Therefore, where there is no charity, there is no faith and only corrupted worship that leads to hell. Prior to our reformation in adult life, we are unregenerate and immersed in all the evils from the hells to which we have ties by heredity and culture. Until our reformation, our faith and our worship is not genuine or true faith and worship. And even in adulthood, we may become expert at the knowledges in the Writings, and teach it to others, but this ability is not a sign of true faith or true worship, since this depends only on regeneration. And regeneration depends on charity as the prime mover.
Charity refers to the motivation within our faith. Charity is in the will while faith is in the understanding. Until reformation in adult life we have external faith in the understanding but it is not alive with charity in the will. During reformation we become motivated to put charity into our faith. This is what starts reformation and keeps it going until all our concepts in the understanding are rearranged and redefined to conform to our faith, which is our knowledge of Doctrine from the Writings.
But what is charity in the will? How do we put it there? The answer is that we put charity in our will by compelling ourselves to cooperate with the Lord in our regeneration and salvation. We already know of the need for our cooperation, as it is taught in many places in the Writings. When we are ready to live this requirement, we put charity into the will. Charity is a motive discipline. By this motive we examine what is in our will, and evaluate it according to the Doctrine in our understanding from the Writings. Everything in our will is either form hell or from heaven, so it’s a categorical duality of choosing one versus the other.
Not choosing, and letting it lie there by default, amounts to the same as choosing hell. The Lord cannot remove the hell in our interior mind unless we cooperate by struggling against the hells in our awareness. These hells are revealed to us from within by conscience and by the Doctrine. It stands to reason therefore that we must deal with our daily willing and thinking in terms of a spiritual or religious discipline, by which we are motivated to shun those that are evils and hold them in aversion, that is, detesting them. This is not easy because we are born with a deep seated delight in these evil affections from hell. This is why I call it “the struggle” for reformation.
From the life of everyone it may be known what his acknowledgment is. All they are called "sons of Ham" who have a memory-knowledge of the knowledges of faith, and have not charity, whether it be a memory-knowledge of the interior knowledges of the Word, and of its veriest mysteries, or a memory-knowledge of all things in the literal sense of the Word, or a memory-knowledge of other truths, whatever their name, from which these may be regarded, or a knowledge of all the rituals of external worship-if they have not charity, they are "sons of Ham." (AC 1162)
To the extent that we function in our daily tasks from the interior activity of charity, to that extent our physical and mental disciplines will have become spiritual. The focus therefore needs to be on how the inside world of charity in the will, can be within the outside world of thinking and action. As we perform our routine acts outwardly, what is happening inwardly to our external or lower mind?
What are we enjoying or hating about what’s going on?
What are we thinking that we do not show?
 For every general is derived from all the component items, as from its own particulars; in no other way can any general come into existence, for it is called a general because it comes forth from particulars. Therefore such as is a man's life in general, such is it in the most minute atoms of his effort and intention-that is, of his will-and in the most minute atoms of his thought; so that there cannot be the smallest bit of an idea in which the life is not the same.
As for example with a haughty man; in every single effort of his will and in every single idea of his thought there is haughtiness; with him who is covetous there is in like manner covetousness, and so with him who hates his neighbor; just as with the stupid man there is stupidity in everything of his will and everything of his thought, and with him who is insane there is insanity. Since this is the nature of man, in the other life his quality is known from a single idea of his thought.
 When a man has been regenerated, then all things in him, both in general and in particular, have also been regenerated, that is, have life, and the life they have bears an exact proportion to the degree in which his own will-which is foul and dead-could be separated from the new will and intellectual that he has received from the Lord. (AC 1040)
The separation of the “old will” from the “new will” refers to the activity of willing and thinking in our daily activities. Since we are required to modify our current willing and thinking in every detail of life, it stands to reason that this cannot be done without monitoring our willing and thinking all day long! Continuous self-witnessing is a total discipline for the New Church mind that is commanded in the Writings:
It should be known, moreover, that, so long as man is in knowledges only, and not in any life according to them, he is in his proprium and led by self; but, when he is in a life according to them - and to the same extent - he is elevated out of his proprium, and is led by the Lord. This man does not perceive, but still it is so; and so far as man is led by the Lord, so far is there good in him, or good is what he wills and thinks. But it should be thoroughly known, that nobody can live according to the knowledges from the Word, except from them he reflect upon his thoughts, intentions and deeds, that is, examine himself, and abstain from evils and do good as from himself: otherwise, there is no reception by man; and if there is no reception, there is no conjunction with the Lord; therefore, neither can he be led by the Lord. (SE 5945)
It’s a rational question we may ask ourselves: “I know it is required that I cooperate with the Lord in my regeneration (AE 911); Now then, how do I know when I’m cooperating?” The discipline of self-witnessing becomes a religious discipline under such a motivation. Within such a motivation the Lord infuses interior rational truths that cannot come into our awareness from the natural-rational mind and the outside world. These interior rational truths have a correspondential effect on the interior-natural mind, which constitutes our conscious spiritual awareness. This effect is to produce enlightenment which is the mental state angels are in. Through enlightenment we receive the experiences of wisdom, endless progress, bliss, full confidence, and charity. What a boon to humankind!
Learning to cooperate with the Lord in our regeneration is required for two reasons. First, what we do as-of self out of love is appropriated to us. The New Church mind has to be built up of things that are appropriated to us by our love for them. Second, learning to love being led by Doctrine from the Writings prepares us for loving to act from the Lord’s Proprium more than acting from our own. This is the life and bliss of angels, that they will from the Lord’s Proprium and not from themselves:
Any freedom coming from the Lord is real freedom; but any that comes from hell and makes itself at home with a person is slavery. Still spiritual freedom must inevitably seem like slavery to anyone who enjoys the freedom of hell, since they are opposites. Yet all who enjoy spiritual freedom not only know but feel that the freedom of hell is slavery. The angels therefore shun it like the stench of a corpse, though those in hell sniff it as if it were a perfume. (TCR 495)
This ability to love acting from the Lord is possible for those who train themselves to love acting according to the Doctrine they have from the Writings. This is because acting according to Doctrine from the Writings is the same as acting from the Lord. Through self-witnessing disciplines we train ourselves to will and think from Doctrine in our mind. (For more on self-witnessing methods see Note 20 at end).
Further, through self-witnessing we are given illustration in life of what the doctrine means at more interior levels than we can think when reading and studying the Writings. This is what it means that the angels have Doctrine written on their heart (AE 15). Our sequence of willing and thinking makes a stream of actuality which is an ultimate for interior truths. To witness this stream of Providence is similar to read the literal of the Writings. Into this ultimate stream of expression there is a discretely higher interior which is its cause. This higher interior is revealed by the Lord to the witness just as the higher interior truth contained in the literal of the Writings is revealed when we are enlightened. Self-witnessing one’s willing and thinking according to Doctrine from the Writings is a new method available to humankind for spiritual renewal and higher evolution. It is an everlasting gift and miracle from the Lord that He brings with His Second Coming.
As deeds and works are from the will and thought, so are they from the love and faith, consequently they are such as the love and faith are; for it is the same thing whether you say one's love or his will, and it is the same thing whether you say one's faith or his established thought; for that which a man loves he wills, and that which a man believes he thinks; and when a man loves what he believes he also wills it and as far as possible does it. Everyone may know that love and faith are within man's will and thought, and not outside of them, for love is what kindles the will, and the thought is what it enlightens in matters of faith; therefore only those that are able to think wisely are enlightened, and in the measure of their enlightenment they think what is true and will it, or what is the same, they believe what is true and love it. (HH 473)
The Writings reveal that it’s common for people to arrive into the afterlife not knowing who they are, that is, what affections and ideas are in their subconscious mind. For instance, husbands do not at first recognize their wives in the afterlife while wives always recognize their husbands (xx). This is because men are less aware of what fills their subconscious while wives have an inner perception of their husbands subconscious mind (CL 166). But it’s otherwise with men who are prepared for conjugial love since they strive by discipline to uncover their subconscious (see Section 1 below).
What is in our subconscious? The Lord says: “innumerable things” of evil!
There are innumerable things in every evil. In man's sight every evil appears as one single thing. This is the case with hatred and revenge, theft and fraud, adultery and whoredom, arrogance and high-mindedness, and with every other evil; and it is not known that in every evil there are innumerable things, exceeding in number the fibers and vessels in a man's body. For a wicked man is a hell in its least form; and hell consists of myriads of myriads of spirits, and every one there is in form like a man, although a monstrous one, in which all the fibers and vessels are inverted. The spirit himself is an evil which appears to himself as a "one"; but there are innumerable things in it as many as the lusts of that evil, for every man is his own evil, or his own good, from the head to the sole of his foot.
Since then a wicked man is such, it is evident that he is one evil composed of innumerable different evils each of which is a distinct evil, and they are called lusts of evil. Hence it follows that all these in their order must be restored and changed by the Lord in order that the man may be reformed; and this cannot be effected unless by the Divine Providence of the Lord, step by step from the earliest period of man's life to the last. (DP 296)
Who is the wicked man spoken of here? It is everyone prior to being regenerated. Since there are innumerable things in every one of our evil affections it is clear that we must rely on the Lord to clear them and remove them from us. The very least we can do is to keep track of the major ones in the major categories as we become conscious of them through self-witnessing. You can see that that a general type of confession and self-examination once or twice a year or month, is not going to achieve regeneration. Monitoring our willing and thinking hour by hour every day is necessary and essential for us to become aware of our general evils. And when we shun our general evils, the Lord is able to remove the innumerable evils that are attached to every general evil.
For example, there are innumerable evils attached to being overweight from overeating and under-exercising. We must take charge of it in our willing and thinking, day by day, so as to shun the evil delights that cause us to overeat and under-exercise. To the extent that we struggle under this yoke, trying to subdue and control ourselves, to that extent the Lord can remove the innumerable evils that are attached to this general one.
The same goes for all our daily habits and routines that are from evil affections, such as our anger, impatience, swearing and cussing, adulterous thoughts, enjoyments of vulgar entertainment, our bending the rules of honesty and fairness to our favor, our neglect of duties and promises, and many such things. These are the things in which are hidden from our consciousness the innumerable evils that are spiritual fibers tying us to the hells and that are broken by the Lord to the extent we do our share.
In hell every lust of evil when visually represented appears like a noxious creature, as a dragon, or a cockatrice, or a viper, or a bird of night, or an owl, and so on; and similarly do the lusts of evil appear in a wicked man when he is viewed by angels.
All these forms of lusts must be changed one by one; and the man himself, who with respect to his spirit appears as a human monster or devil, must be changed to become like a beautiful angel; and every lust of evil must be changed to appear like a lamb, or a sheep, or a pigeon, or a turtle dove, as the affections of good in the angels appear in heaven when visually represented; and to change a dragon into a lamb, a cockatrice into a sheep, and an owl into a dove can only be effected step by step, by rooting out evil from its very seed and implanting good seed in its stead.
This, however, can only be done as is done, for example, in the grafting of trees. When their roots with some of the trunk remain, the engrafted branch draws sap through the old root and turns it into sap that makes good fruit. The branch that is to be engrafted can only be taken from the Lord, who is the Tree of Life. This, moreover, is in accordance with the words of the Lord (John xv. 1-7). (DP 296:)
Who is the “wicked man” discussed here? It is us, prior to our reformation and regeneration. When we are viewed by angels prior to our regeneration, they see “a human monster or devil,” a dragon, cockatrice , or owl. These are the actual forms of our lusts or evil affections and delights. Note also that the makeover from devil to angel, from cockatrice to sheep, can only be effected like it is done with “the grafting of trees.” We must become physiologically attached to the Tree of Life, as the Lord calls Himself. We become an “engrafted branch” that “draws sap through the old root and turns it into sap that makes good fruit.”
In other words, the Lord gives us new spiritual affections to replace the old, and thereby we can live in eternal happiness. The sap we draw is by means of spiritual fibers in our new will. The old fibers must be uprooted by the Lord, and we would have no life remaining in us if He did this without our cooperation. This cooperation must be specific and particular, day by day and hour by hour, as our willing and thinking is witnessed, analyzed in the light of Doctrine, condemned in that light, and shunned and detested. When we reach the point of detesting the old affections and delights, one by one, then we have a new life from the Lord.
This is a piecemeal process. Detesting one evil doesn’t make us detest another, especially when the other is hidden in our subconscious because we care not to monitor and find it.
A wicked man from himself continually leads himself more and more deeply into his evils. It is said, from himself, because all evil is from man, for man turns good that originates from the Lord into evil, as was said above. The real reason why the wicked man immerses himself more deeply in evil is that as he wills and commits evil he advances into infernal societies more and more interiorly and also more and more deeply. Hence also the delight of evil increases, and so occupies his thoughts that at last he feels nothing more pleasant. He who has advanced more interiorly and deeply into infernal societies becomes as if he were bound with chains. So long as he lives in the world, however, he does not feel his chains, for they are as if made from soft wool or from fine threads of silk, and he loves them as they give him pleasure; but after death, instead of being soft they become hard, and instead of being pleasant they become galling. (DP 296:)
Here we are told that before we are reformed (“a wicked man”) we tend to lead ourselves more and more deeply into our evil affections, loving them more and more, feeling them delightful and pleasant like nothing else, by which we are tied more and more to the hells. As we advance more and more interiorly into infernal societies, the delight of our evil increases until we become obsessed with it, thinking of nothing else. Then we are chained to those infernal societies, though we do not feel the chains until the afterlife. Then these chains, “instead of being soft they become hard, and instead of being pleasant they become galling.” Thus is our inevitable perdition and damnation, unless we undergo reformation, then are willing to suffer ourselves to undergo regeneration.
It is not known, however, that this increase of delight comes from a man's penetrating into infernal societies more and more interiorly and more and more deeply as he commits the evils from will and at the same time from thought. If the evils are only in thought and not in the will, the man is not yet in an infernal society with the evil, but he enters it when the evils are also in the will. If he then also thinks that the evil is contrary to the precepts of the Decalogue, and considers these precepts as Divine, he commits the evil of set purpose, and thereby plunges to a depth from which he can be led out only by actual repentance. (DP 296:)
At first we think about our evil affections, turning them over in our mind as we consider whether we should do them or not. If we given in and do them, we advance more deeply into associations with the infernals. Then, if we continue to will them despite our conscience, we “plunge ourselves to a depth from which we can be led out only by actual repentance.” Will such repentance come to us? Not without reformation, and the deeper we are in hell, the less we want to repent and reform.
The withdrawal from evil is effected by the Lord in a thousand ways that are most secret. Of these only some have been disclosed to me, and none but the most general, as, that the delights of lusts of which man knows nothing are admitted by companies and groups into the interior thoughts of man's spirit and from these into his exterior thoughts in which they make their appearance under a certain sense of satisfaction, pleasure, or longing; and there they mingle with his natural and sensual delights. Here are the means of separation and purification, and also the ways of withdrawal and removal.
The means are chiefly the delights of meditation, thought and reflection for the attainment of certain ends which are uses; and ends that are uses are as many in number as the particular and individual matters of one's business and office. They are also as many as the delights of reflection for the attainment of certain ends, as that he may appear to be a civil and a moral man and also a spiritual man, besides the undelightful things which interpose. These delights, because they belong to his love in the external man, are the means of separation, purification, rejection and withdrawal of the delights pertaining to the lusts of evil that belong to the internal man. (DP 296:)
Here we are given just a few general details about how the Lord removes our evil affections, which He does “in a thousand ways that are most secret.” The Lord supervises this process very closely since it will determine whether we end up in heaven or in hell. First He admits some particular delights of lust into our interior mind of which we know nothing. This is done through the intermediary of evil societies. From there they are admitted into our exterior mind where we become conscious of them, feeling them as “a certain sense of satisfaction, pleasure, or longing.” There they mingle with our natural delights and sensual pleasures. At that point we can voluntarily deny them and reject them because they are contrary to our conscience or the Doctrine we have from the Writings. In this way, to the extent that we shun them in our external mind, the Lord can remove them in our interior mind.
The separation of profane and holy ideas when thus conjoined cannot be effected except by means of such infernal torment that if a man were aware of it he would as carefully avoid profanation as he would avoid hell itself.(AC 301)
The difference, as well as relationship, between the interior evils and exterior, are described next:
Take, for example, an unjust judge who regards gains or friendship as the ends or uses of his office. Inwardly he is continually engrossed in these, but outwardly his object is to act as a skilled lawyer and a just man. He continually delights in meditating, thinking, reflecting and framing intentions that he may bend, turn, adapt and adjust the right so that it may still appear to conform to the laws and bear a semblance to justice. He does not know that his internal delight consists of cunning, fraud, deceit, clandestine theft and many other evils; and that this delight, composed of so many delights of the lusts of evil, rules in every detail of his external thought, where he harbors the delights of appearing to be a just and sincere man. Internal delights are let down* into these external delights and they are mingled like food in the stomach; and there they are separated, purified and drawn away. This, however, is done only with the more grievous delights of the lusts of evil. (DP 296:)
“An unjust judge” refers to our constant desire to criticize others in our own mind. We do not show this on the outside because our goal is to gain friends and influence through the relationship. Inwardly, we are continually preoccupied with this goal, but outwardly we strive to appear sincere and altruistic. We continually delight in “meditating, thinking, reflecting and framing intentions.” We do this by “bending, turning, adapting and adjusting” every little move so that our secret goal may not be discovered. What is amazing is that we “do not know that our internal delight consists of cunning, fraud, deceit, clandestine theft and many other evils; and that this delight, composed of so many delights of the lusts of evil, rules in every detail of our external thought, where we harbor the delights of appearing to be a just and sincere man.”
This is our undoing. We look away from ourselves that we may not see the delights of our evil intentions in our interior mind. We are content to go by our reputation, and believe that, or pretend to. So at the conscious plane (“outward thought”)we think of ourselves as sincere and good, but at the subconscious plane (interior mind), we seek out the delights of our evils such as selfishness, egotism, arrogance, insincerity, manipulation, dominion.
Now when we are regenerating, the Lord “lets down” the interior delights of evils into the outward consciousness where they commingle with the delights of appearing of sincere and altruistic. They mix “like food in the stomach, and there they are separated, purified and drawn away.” In this way our interior delights of evils are removed by the Lord to the extent that we are willing to give up the outer delights of evil. Our cooperation is necessary because before the Lord can draw them away we must become aware of them and repent by desisting.
But this is done differently before and after reformation. In the next portion, “a wicked man,” as before, refers to our state prior to reformation, while “a good man” refers to our state after reformation when we are being regenerated.
With a wicked man no separation, purification and removal is possible other than of the more grievous from the less grievous evils. With a good man, however, there can be the separation, purification and removal not only of the more grievous but also of the less grievous evils. This is effected by the delights of the affections of the good and the true, of the just and of the sincere, into which he comes so far as he regards evils as sins, and so shuns and turns away from them, and still more if he fights against them. These are the means by which the Lord cleanses all who are saved. (DP 296)
In other words, prior to our reformation, removal of interior evil delights cannot take place. But after reformation, the Lord can remove all our evil delights to the extent that we cooperate. This means loving to be sincere and good, regarding evil delights as sins, desisting from engaging in them, and fighting against them until our delight in them turns into detestation. This the mechanism by which the Lord saves everyone. It’s clear from this that our primary task in regeneration is to cooperate with the Lord in this mechanism, and this cooperation must be in all the details of our conscious willing and thinking, not just in their general.
An article in the July 2002 issue of New Church Life by Rev. Erik Sandstrom examines the question of how “we tackle our spiritual life or regeneration” (p. 284). His short answer is, “By finding our hereditary evils!” (p. 284). He cites AC 4317, which I’m citing below in context:
[Hereditary evil] consists in willing and hence thinking evil; hereditary evil being in the will itself and in the thought thence derived; and being the very conatus or endeavor that is therein, and which adjoins itself even when the man is doing what is good.
It is known by the delight that is felt when evil befalls another. This root lies deeply hidden, for the very inward form that receives from heaven (that is, through heaven from the Lord) what is good and true, is depraved, and so to speak, distorted; so that when good and truth flow in from the Lord, they are either reflected, or perverted, or suffocated.
It is from this cause that no perception of good and truth exists at this day, but in place of it, with the regenerate, conscience, which acknowledges as good and true what is learned from parents and masters.
It is from hereditary evil to love self more than others, to will evil to others if they do not honor us, to perceive delight in revenge, and also to love the world more than heaven; and from the same source come all the derivative cupidities or evil affections.
Man is ignorant that such things are in hereditary evil, and still more that they are opposite to heavenly affections; and yet it is manifestly shown in the other life how much of evil from what is hereditary each one has drawn to himself by actual life, and also how far he has removed himself from heaven by evil affections from this source. (AC 4317)
Let’s list the point in each sub-section in the quoted passage:
(1) Every individual is born with hereditary evil which lies in the will. These evils in the will are the source of falsities in our mind, the two always going together.
(2) The carrier of this hereditary evil is the “very inward form” of the will, which is the source of all our motives, interests, and delights. As a result of this spiritual deformity, the good and truth inflowing into our mind from the Lord through heaven, “are either reflected, or perverted, or suffocated.”
(3) The result of this physiological malfunctioning is that “no perception of good and truth exists at this day.” In place of perception we have dictates from the conscience inwardly, an outwardly from parents and teachers. Following these dictates is called spiritual obedience. Note that it is not a rational understanding that produces the obedience but fear of punishment and desire for reward. This is an external obedience rather than a free choice from love and rationality.
(4) We inherit the love of self in the will so that we love others less than ourselves, and only when they “honor” us or agree with us. this love of self is the source that leads to all the “derivative cupidities or evil affections” in our character.
(5) When we arrive in the afterlife it becomes manifest that we love self alone, and others only to the extent that they honor us or agree with us. Otherwise we hate them and desire to cheat them, to dominate them, to abuse them, or to destroy them. These hatreds and monstrosities are hidden from our conscious awareness while we are still tied to the physical body. And yet everyone is able to become aware of them by self-monitoring their thoughts and feelings.
Knowing that we are all this way, for there are no exceptions (xx), we ought to be strongly motivated to monitor our willing and thinking all day long, so that we may become aware of our actual evils in operation. We must witness ourselves in order to discover when and where we wish for something bad to happen to someone, or when we feel envious of someone’s good fortune, and how we use our imagination to delight ourselves with denigrating others and ignoring their expectations, needs, or requests to us.
Those who are still in an external state of religion sometimes need or desire external absolution rituals for their sins by someone trusted or in authority. They are encouraged to make lists of their sins and to confess them one by one, receiving absolution for each. But you can see that no one can take away sins, not even the Lord. If the Lord could, He would take away everyone’s sins and would admit each to heavenly bliss to eternity. Such is His Divine Love. Such is His ardent desire for the human race. But He is prevented for the sake of the individual. Should He try to remove evils, He would damage us far worse that the evils do. We would be left without life at all (xx). This is because our evils are our life, since humans are inmostly nothing but their loves and affections (xx). Therefore the Lord cannot remove sins or evils from any individual.
This is why the Lord has provided a way that is feasible, practical, and fully effective for every human being who wishes to use it. This is called regeneration.
In regeneration we cooperate as-of self with the Lord by choosing to reject a particular evil that delights us or fulfills our needs. This is what makes it possible: our choosing to reject it. Whatever we do in freedom is done from love (xx) and therefore it is a higher rational love that makes us reject lower evil loves. As a result, in the afterlife, we arrive with a mind filled with rational loves, within which we can live as a heaven, because the Lord’s good and truth flows in from within these rational loves.
It’s clear from these considerations that the New Church mind does not seek forgiveness of sins by prayer, absolution, or penance, since these are external sensuous methods, not rational. Hence also, the New Church mind is not in need of the practice of confessing to a priest, or to others in the community, such as a spiritual growth group or therapy group. Rev. Sandstrom also comes to this conclusion, quoting from several Numbers that teach how we are to regenerate:
(a) by performing uses in everyday work situations (NJHD 126)
(b) in every office, in every business, and in every work (NJHD 123, 126)
(c) according to one’s occupation (TCR 580; AC 2364; AE 1180)
(d) by reflecting on the goals we are reaching for (DP 296)
(e) by dealing with unpleasant things which interrupt (DP 296)
Rev. Sandstrom emphasizes those Numbers that teach that it is not what we say in public to others that determines what we actually are inside. It is not our reputation with others that determines our spiritual fate in the afterlife, but how we thought to ourself privately. These private reactions and thoughts correspond to our actual affections, those that we have with us in the afterlife and determine out spiritual fate.
When we operate in the company of others, we tend to think in our external personality. We want to be consistent in what we show to others, and we want to hide those things in us that would draw their condemnation or rejection. The people we don’t care about because they have no power over us, are sometimes made targets of our hatred and arrogance. But we hide these insanities from those whose reactions would affect our situation. We also show some of our evils and negativity, but carefully selecting only those that we can get away with without excessive cost or punishment.
If we act in a decent or compassionate manner towards others, we derive social benefits, but to derive spiritual benefits as well, we must be acting from a rational love. For example, we might refrain from doing evil to someone out of fear or for the sake of some reward. This is an outside or natural motive, and does not constitute a spiritual renunciation of evil. Hence the evil remains, and in the afterlife it asserts itself, and we become that evil. But if at the same time we also refrain from doing evil on account of God, we derive full spiritual benefit. In the afterlife, this love of not doing evil to others on account of God, can be infilled with heavenly good and truth, so that that individual enters heaven and lives there.
We are privately confessing to the Lord our sins against Him, by self-monitoring our willing and thinking all day long for the sake of our regeneration. It is the Lord who manages the timing and content of our awareness and insight into our sins or evils. If we started telling Him about them, it would be pretending that He doesn’t know them, or that He is not in charge of managing them. This would be a foolish pretense. What the Lord wants us to do is to monitor the evil affections and delights, and their false thoughts and attitudes. He brings them to our conscious awareness to the extent that we are willing to desist from them because they are sins against Him. He keeps out of our awareness those evils we are not ready to give up willingly.
But note carefully: We do need to make lists of our sins, not for the priest, not for the Lord, but for ourselves!
It’s very important to have a scientific or medical perspective on regeneration, for this knowledge helps us to cooperate more with the Lord. The slow down is not on the Lord’s side. He would go more rapidly. But we are holding Him back like a toddler at a street crossing—you end up picking up the child and carrying it across. But the Lord cannot pick us up and carry us to heaven, or else He would, do not doubt that! So He has revealed to us in a scientific way what the process entails and how we are to cooperate for maximum pace. For instance, He has revealed that He cannot remove sins clinging to us by our love, so He wants us to voluntarily desist from it and to detest it. Then He can remove it. So this is rule number one. Rule number two has to do with the direction of our progression. We cannot move from the general sins and evils to the particular, but only from the particular to the general (xx).
In other words, if we confess and repent of a general evil in us, the Lord cannot remove it. This is because the particulars are still in place. But if we desist from willing a particular evil, the Lord can remove it. And if we desist from a group of particular evils that cluster together into a general evil, then the Lord can remove the general evil after all the particulars had been removed. If the Lord could remove a general evil directly, then all our sins could be removed instantaneously merely by saying, “Lord I repent of all my sins and from now on I will refrain from all my evils.” But this is a useless prayer (xx). It effects nothing toward our regeneration. Obviously, since the Lord cannot remove the particular evils we hold on by mere pronouncement of a formula, even if it is meant sincerely at the moment of the prayer. Remember that removing evils has to do with replacing an evil love with a rational love. And love is what we freely do, if nothing prevented (xx).
I have observed the truth of this in myself. When it comes to conjugial affairs, my wife brings to my attention things in my behavior or attitude by which she feels my opposition to conjugial union. For example, I have postponed reading some financial papers she wants me to read so we can discuss certain matters of investment, insurance, and retirement pension. Each time she brings the matter up I feel repentant and promise to do it at last. In the morning I think to myself that I’ll do it in the afternoon. IN the afternoon I tell myself I’ll do it in the morning. How pathetic! It’s obvious as I think about it that what I need to do is to monitor the particulars of this general evil in my character. As long as I don’t locate the particulars that allow me to play this foolish game, I will not be able to lay away the general. which means that the bad behavior continues even now. (I’ll definitely do it tomorrow, I mean it. Help Lord!)
Regeneration involves freely rejecting our evils even though they delight us tremendously. It is not possible to reject our own evils by the group or collectively, as just discussed. It is only possible to reject them one by one. Therefore if we don’t make lists, how are we going to keep track of them so we may reject them? This is a practical issue. If we run a department store without an inventory, can we succeed? We must identify something before we can sell it or reject it. Therefore we should use the method of making lists and inventories of our evils and falsities just as we make lists of things to do on a busy day.
No one can shun that of which he is ignorant (DP 278)
Regarding confession, Rev. Sandstrom cites DP 278, to support the idea that “confessing ourselves guilty of all kinds of evils can have a potentially disastrous consequence” (New Church Life, p. 287). I’d like to quote that Number in a larger context, while I summarize each point in numbered items:
II. EVILS CANNOT BE REMOVED UNLESS THEY APPEAR.
**(1) The title of the Number asserts that the Lord cannot remove our evils in secret or unconsciously. Removal of evils is a conscious and cooperative process, more like lifting a heavy furniture by two men, than surgery performed while being put to sleep by drugs. This is what’s meant by the expression “unless they appear.” To continue the quote:
This does not mean that man is to do evils in order that they may appear, but that he is to examine himself, not his actions only, but also his thoughts, and what he would do if he were not afraid of the laws and disgrace; especially what evils he holds in his spirit to be allowable and does not regard as sins; for these he still commits. (DP 278)
**(2) The cooperative process is between the Lord and the individual. First, we ought to “examine ourselves.” It is specified that the self-examination focus must be threefold: (a) our feelings or motives in the will; (b) our thoughts and beliefs; and (c) our public acts as regulated by society (“the laws and disgrace”). In other words, we are commanded to examine our minute by minute willing, thinking, and acting out. It is stressed (“especially”) that we monitor the “evils we hold in the spirit to be allowable and do not regard as sins.”
What are these particular types of evils? The evils we “do not regard as sins.” For example, we may have long standing habits of thinking about others in a derogatory way. We never bring this out to the surface and would not want others to know about it. We see it as merely an inward habit that you won’t allow to have overt consequences. Just a kind of quirk—we might think. But this is fooling ourselves. We should use the definition of the Word for it, not our own, namely, “evils he holds in his spirit to be allowable and does not regard as sins.”
To continue with the Number:
In order that man may examine himself an understanding has been given him, and this separate from the will, that he may know, understand and acknowledge what is good and what is evil; and also that he may see the quality of his will, or what it is he loves and desires. In order that he may see this his understanding has been furnished with higher and lower thought, or interior and exterior thought, to enable him to see from higher or interior thought what his will is doing in the lower or exterior thought. This he sees as a man sees his face in a mirror; and when he sees it and knows what sin is, he is able, if he implores the help of the Lord, not to will it, but to shun it and afterwards to act against it; if not wholeheartedly, still he can exercise constraint upon it by combat, and at length turn away from it and hate it. (DP 278)
**(3) Here the Lord is revealing the method He has provided for the human race to be regenerated for a life in heaven. From being born infernal, every individual can be regenerated into an angel by the time one passes on. The method is a psycho-physiological one and involves two phases or movements repeated numerous times daily during regeneration. The human race received a split-brain to reflect this two-phased process regeneration (xx). I call it metanoid self-witnessing. The passage here describes it as “higher and lower thought, or interior and exterior thought.”
The higher thought can see the lower thought “as a man sees his face in a mirror.” The higher thought refers to the level of thinking in our natural-rational understanding. The lower thought refers to the sensuous and corporeal mind, which are discrete degrees below the natural-rational region of the natural mind. Higher level thinking is accomplished by means of higher correspondences, also called more interior truths. Lower level of correspondences are sensuous and corporeal, not rational. Therefore the lower self, called the external man, is filled with evils from its inherited ties to the hells. It cannot regenerate itself for to the lower self, whatever feels good is good. Pleasure rules and the proof is always in the pudding.
But the higher self, meaning the natural-rational, takes up cognitive constructs and representations for life, for heaven, for regeneration. Most of all, the Letter of the Writings, which the natural-rational takes up in its memory, concepts, and principles. The dictates and distinctions of conscience, and the knowledge of the Letter of the Writings, create a higher natural understanding that can look down on the lower natural understanding, and evaluate it, judge it, condemn it; and then, repent from it, compel the lower to desist from it, and at last detest it. This is the process of regeneration the Lord has provided for the salvation of the human race.
Note how the entire process of regeneration is recapitulated at the end of the quote above that we are now discussing:
when he sees it and knows what sin is, he is able, if he implores the help of the Lord, not to will it, but to shun it and afterwards to act against it; if not wholeheartedly, still he can exercise constraint upon it by combat, and at length turn away from it and hate it. (DP 278)
(a) with self-monitoring from the higher to the lower, “he sees it.”
(b) from knowledge of the Letter of the Writings, he “knows what sin is.”
(c) by imploring the Lord for help, he is given the power “not to will it, but to shun it .”
(d) after being able to shun it, he gains the power “to act against it.”
(e) by acting against it, “he can exercise constraint upon it by combat” from conscience
(f) by repeating these steps many times, we “at length turn away from it and hate it.”
This six-phased process is cumulatively particular to an evil, and then its consummated and ends. For example, men have a pornographic interest in women who enter their sphere of vision, either in reality or by medium of photography or movie. Even after undergoing reformation, and as I’m undergoing regeneration at age 64, I have not yet gained control over my roving eyes. Movie producers and magazines editors take advantage of this general interest men have in voyeuristic and scortatory interests. It is also a primary mode for marketing many products to men such as automobiles, clothes, weight loss programs, and financial investments, etc. Year after year, week by week, I have worked to decondition my roving eyes, and I’m still failing in the attempt. I know I will have victory. I’ve been stuck on step (e), namely, I exercise “constraint upon it by combat” form conscience and from the Doctrine from the Writings I have in my upper mind. But I have learned the last step to “at length turn away from it and hate it.”
But at the end, when I get to hate scortatory interests and delights, I will have peace IN THAT LIMITED AREA OF REGENERATION. I will not have to fight the battle again, once I hate scortatory involvements.
This is the case with all our evils. Regeneration is therefore a geographic process like the growth of plants and populations, spreading in different areas at different rates and with various effectiveness, force, or virulence..
To continue with the Number:
Now, and not before, he first perceives and also feels that evil is evil and that good is good. This then is what is involved in examining oneself, seeing one's evils and recognizing them, confessing them and afterwards desisting from them. (DP 278)
**(4) When we reach vastation of a particular evil, have fought against it, and no longer do it, then, “and not before, we first perceive and also feel that evil is evil and that good is good.” This is a momentous event! For the first time our eyes are opened to spiritual consciousness. From a merely natural animal-human, we turn into a genuine human, a celestial mind. We no longer choose to do that particular thing because it is evil. This is true freedom (xx). We can see the contrast.
Before, we were slave to the evil. It made us do the evil even while we were trying not to do it. Thus we were in an infernal freedom to do it, which is a slavery of it. To perceive that “evil is evil and that good is good” is the mark of the celestial regenerate mind. The unregenerate mind perceives evil as good and perceives good as evil (xx). This momentous event marks the birth in our mind of the Divine Human in His Divine Rational. This birth repeats itself endlessly with each particular evil that is vastated and removed. In place of the former evil is good from the Lord that comes to us through our Spiritual Doctrine. Note that the Spiritual Doctrine likewise has to be particular and geographic, for there has to be a Spiritual Doctrine for each area and sub-region of our personality.
To continue with the Number:
 As, however, there are few who know that this is the Christian religion itself, for only they have charity and faith, and they alone are led by the Lord and do good from Him, therefore something will be said of those who do not do so and yet think they have religion in them. They are:
1. Those who confess themselves guilty of sins of all kinds, and do not search out any one sin in themselves;
2. Those who from religious principles omit such inquiry;
3. Those who on account of worldly matters give no thought to sins, and consequently do not know them;
4. Those who favor sins and therefore cannot know them.
5. In all these persons sins do not appear, and therefore cannot be removed.
6. Lastly, the reason hitherto unknown will be made manifest why evils cannot be removed without this search, appearance, acknowledgment, confession and resistance. (DP 278)
**(5) This portion of the Number we are discussing states the conditions we must remove from our mind or else we cannot be regenerated because evils in us cannot be recognized. There are four such conditions preventing regeneration:
(a) relying on a ritualistic and general confession of sins rather than on self-monitoring and judging particular sins we actually commit
(b) using a principle, doctrine, or dogma to reject the necessity of constant self-monitoring and condemning of each sin in particular
(c) rejecting the central importance of religion in life, and thus neglecting to examine oneself
(d) favoring sins as allowable or as not damning
Continuing with the Number:
These points, however, must be examined one by one because they are fundamentals of the Christian religion on man's part.
First: Concerning those who confess themselves guilty of sins of all kind and do not search out any one sin in themselves. Such a one says, "I am a sinner; I was born in sin; there is nothing sound in me from head to foot; I am nothing but evil. Good God, be gracious to me, pardon me, cleanse me, save me, make me to walk in purity and in the way of righteousness"; and so on. Yet he does not examine himself, and consequently is ignorant of any evil; and no one can shun that of which he is ignorant, much less fight against it. After his confession he also believes himself clean and washed, when nevertheless he is unclean and unwashed from the head to the sole of the foot; for the confession of all sins is the lulling to sleep of all, and at length blindness. It is like a universal lacking every individual, and this has no existence. (DP 278)
**(6) the fundamental or governing principle in the New Church mind is called here “the Christian religion.” This foundation rock is regeneration by shunning our evils as sins against the Lord and holding them in hatred. The first aspect of this fundamental in our mind is to “search out” our willing, thinking, and doing all day long and to find there the sins we perform. A general confession of them without observing and judging each particular, is useless for regeneration. It is said that “no one can shun that of which he is ignorant.” General confessions are “like a universal lacking every individual,” which is like a train that has no locomotive or cars, or like a president who has no country.
Continuing with the Number:
Second: Concerning those who from religious principles omit such inquiry. They are especially those who separate charity from faith; for such a one says to himself, "Why should I search out whether there is evil or good? Why should I search out whether there is evil when evil does not condemn me; and whether there is good, when good does not save me? It is faith alone, thought of and declared with assurance and confidence, that justifies and purifies from all sin; and when once I am justified I am whole in the sight of God. I am indeed in evil; but God wipes it away as soon as it is committed, and so it appears no more"; besides other things of a like nature. Who does not see, if he but opens his eyes, that such are empty words in which there is no reality, because there is no good in them? (...) (DP 278)
**(7) Note the sentence: “Who does not see, if he but opens his eyes, that such are empty words in which there is no reality, because there is no good in them?” We can recognize it easily, that when we never wash our clothes, they will remain dirty and foul smelling. Similarly we ought to reason that ritual washings or incantations will not clean the clothes, therefore will not regenerate our character from being born infernal. We are not rational when we believe that our sins are forgiven, washed away, taken away from us by mere declaration of faith, no matter how sincere and well meaning. Sins are evil habits we delight in, that tie us to the hells. Those ties must be broken by free choice and combat, or else they remain regardless of piety and sincerity. No more can sins be taken away by sincerity of faith, than a fever can be taken away by bogus aspirin. That which is truly sincere, shuns evils and does not do them.
To continue with the Number:
Third: Concerning those who on account of worldly matters give no thought to sins, and consequently do not know them. These are they who love the world above all things, and admit no truth that would lead them away from any falsity of their religion. They say to themselves, "What have I to do with this? It does not enter into my thought." Thus they reject the truth as soon as they hear it, and if they listen to it they stifle it. They do much the same when they hear preaching: they retain nothing of it save some few phrases, but not any of the substance. As they deal thus with truths they do not know what good is, for truth and good act as one; and from that good which does not spring from truth there is no knowledge of evil unless it is also called good; and this is effected by reasoning from falsities. These are they who are meant by the seed which fell among thorns, of whom the Lord says:
Other seeds fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up and choked them....
These are they who hear the Word, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word, so that it becomes unfruitful. Matt. xiii. 7, 22; Mark iv. 7 [18, 19];** Luke viii. 7, 14.
**(8) The literal of this passage appears to talk about others, not ourselves as “the New Church mind.” It identifies those others as “those who on account of worldly matters give no thought to sins.” In the literal sense “worldly matters” refers to non-religious topics. “To give no thoughts to sins” means in the literal that they do not perform regeneration disciplines. You can see that this description fits the New Church mind-to-be, prior to reformation. The only way we can apply the passage to ourselves is to substitute correspondences for the original expressions. What would it mean “to give no thoughts to sins” when applied to ourselves? We could say, for instance: “When did we give no thoughts to sins? Have we not worshipped in the Church for decades? Have we not listened to sermons and taken classes on the Writings? Have we not studied the Writings almost every day for years? All this worship and knowledge of the Word has given us much opportunity to “give thoughts to our sins” and to regeneration.”
Leaving this attitude and orientation behind, we can accept the idea that it applies to us, and therefore that we should use correspondences to discover how it applies to us. The Writings assert that the Word cannot be understood without doctrine (xx). In that case we can ask ourselves: What doctrine do we have in our mind? And how did we use this doctrine to understand the Writings? And now we can further as to the logical implications: And if we did not create Doctrine for ourselves, and used it to understand the Writings, then what did we understand? Searching the Writings we find the teaching that the Letter of the Word is dead (xx) and leads to any falsification we desire in support of our evil affections, thus all sorts of idolatries.
Now we can perceive a deeper spiritual sense in the original sentence: “those who on account of worldly matters give no thought to sins.” Now we can perceive that the expression “worldly matters” is a correspondence for “our understanding of the Letter prior to reformation.” Also, that the expression to “give no thought to sins” is a correspondence that signifies the New Church idolatries we have fallen into by remaining in the Letter of the Writings. (See also the discussion on idolatries in Section 4).
We can confirm the spiritual sense we have extracted by correspondence. Consider this passage in the Letter of the Writings:
In the Word evils are sometimes called sins, sometimes iniquities, and sometimes transgressions; but what the specific meaning of each of them is, is not evident except from the internal sense. The word transgressions is used for deeds contrary to the truths of faith, the word iniquities for deeds contrary to the good of faith, and the word sins for deeds contrary to the good of charity and love. The first two kinds of deeds spring from a perverted understanding, the last from a wicked will (AC 9156)
This confirms the idea that the expression of “giving thought to sins” is a correspondence that signifies self-monitoring our evils for the sake of amendment and regeneration. The Letter of this passage explicitly defines “sins” as “iniquities and transgressions.” It is therefore permissible to use substitution of one for the other since they are in parallel relationship (xx). “To give thought” is a correspondence for self-monitoring since it requires focus and awareness for the higher mind to look down on the lower, and judge its acts on the basis of conscience and the doctrine in our mind from the Letter of the Writings (xx).
** (9) Note again the portion of the passage discussed in above:
Concerning those who on account of worldly matters give no thought to sins, and consequently do not know them. These are they who love the world above all things, and admit no truth that would lead them away from any falsity of their religion. They say to themselves, "What have I to do with this? It does not enter into my thought." Thus they reject the truth as soon as they hear it, and if they listen to it they stifle it. (DP 278)
Note that prior to reformation, we “love the world above all things.” When applied to ourselves, this expression is a correspondence for loving the Letter above loving the spirit within the Letter. “The world” represents the dead Letter of the Word (xx). “To love it above all things” signifies that we are in an idolatrous worship within which there is no internal (xx). The New Church mind ought to worship the Writings since it is the Lord Himself (xx), but not its dead Letter. Upon reformation, we have a spiritual-rational experience the Lord’s Glorified Resurrection when we are given by the Lord our initial experiences of enlightenment, as discussed throughout this Section. By remaining in the Letter of the Writings we are looking for the Lord in the tomb among the dead, rather than looking for Him among the living (xx).The Lord’s Divine Rational is within the Letter, and until we put the spiritual sense in the literal, we are in the dead and unresurrected Letter. Prior to our reformation we look for the Lord among the dead! What a revelation!
Prior to reformation, immersed in the idolatries of the Letter, the New Church mind-to-be “admits no truth that would lead it away from any falsity of religion.” A “truth that would lead it away from falsity for religion” is a correspondence that signifies the spiritual sense of the Writings. for it is this sense that makes up the spiritual Doctrine by which we are regenerated and saved. The spiritual sense cannot be perverted by self-intelligence (xx) since it depends on enlightenment form the Lord. If we try to pervert it after our experience of enlightenment, the spiritual sense merely vanishes for it cannot exist in the outward mind that desires to pervert it. But the literal sense of the Writings can be perverted by anyone and turned into anything that flatters the ego.
The truth that “leads away” from the falsity of the dead Letter is the truth that the spiritual sense is to be extracted from the Letter of the Writings.
They say to themselves, "What have I to do with this? It does not enter into my thought." Thus they reject the truth as soon as they hear it, and if they listen to it they stifle it. (DP 278)
This refers to our initial opposition to the idea that the Writings are written by pure correspondences. This new spiritual Doctrine breaks the idols of our worship. As long as salvation lies in the Letter, we feel comfortable in our unregenerate state. We don’t have to face the reality that every sentence of the Writings is about our regeneration, since salvation is by regeneration, and everything in the Writings is for the salvation of the human race. By acknowledging and accepting the idea that the Writings are written in pure correspondences, we suddenly have the awesome responsibility of searching out the literal of every sentence, figuring out its correspondences, making a coherent thesis or doctrine from it, search the Writings again to confirm this spiritual Doctrine, be enlightened by the Lord, and reapply the new perceptions to our daily and hourly self-monitoring.
This is an awesome task and we resist committing to it the more we find out its details. We “reject the truth as soon as we hear it” signifies our opposition to the idea that the Word of the Writings is also written in pure correspondences like the Old and New Testaments. We are unwilling to get near to the idea, enough to see that the correspondences of the Old and New Testaments are corporeal and natural-sensuous, while the correspondences in the Writings are natural-rational. When we hear these facts we “listen to them and stifle them.” In other words, we reject them.
To continue with the discussion on the Number:
Fourth: Concerning those who favor sins and therefore cannot know them. These are they who acknowledge God and worship Him according to the customary ceremonials, and who convince themselves that any evil which is a sin is not a sin; for they disguise it by fallacies and appearances, and so hide its Enormity. When they have done this they favor it, making it their familiar friend. It is said that those who acknowledge God do this, because others do not regard any evil as a sin, whereas every sin is an offence against God. But examples may illustrate this. A man does not regard evil as a sin who in his desire for wealth makes certain forms of fraud allowable, by reasons which he devises. The same is true of the man who justifies in himself the spirit of revenge against his private enemies, or who in time of war justifies plundering those who are not his country's enemies.
**(10) This passage, when considered through correspondences applied to our regeneration, discusses our merely natural life when it is not infilled with the spiritual sense of the Writings, which is the only sense that is serviceable for our regeneration, and consequently for our salvation. By remaining in the Letter of the Writings, our understanding of spiritual topics is called “customary ceremonials” which is a correspondence for outward worship within which there is no internal, called the Jewish state of the New Church mind (xx). While we are immersed in this external worship, we “convince ourselves that any evil which is a sin is not a sin.” We love our sins and will automatically use the Letter to hang on to our evil delights and justify ourselves. “Sin” as indicated above corresponds to transgressions and iniquities:
The word transgressions is used for deeds contrary to the truths of faith, the word iniquities for deeds contrary to the good of faith, and the word sins for deeds contrary to the good of charity and love. The first two kinds of deeds spring from a perverted understanding, the last from a wicked will (AC 9156
“Deeds that are contrary to the truths of faith” signifies that the Letter of the Writings teach that we must extract the spiritual sense form the Word in order to be regenerated (xx). This is the “truth of faith” defined in the Letter. Our daily willing and thinking remain transgressions that are contrary to our New Church faith, which is that we are to draw out the spiritual sense from the Letter of the Word. Transgressions and iniquities in our willing and thinking “spring from a perverted understanding.” A perverted understanding refers to the understanding of spiritual subjects in a natural way and calling it a spiritual understanding. The “wicked will” we have from heredity that needs to be regenerated cannot be regenerated because our willing and thinking are “deeds contrary to the good of faith,” as just explained.
Continuing with the Number:
Fifth: In these persons sins do not appear, and therefore cannot be removed. Every evil that does not become manifest nourishes itself being like fire in wood under the ashes, and like matter in a wound that is not opened; for every evil that is denied an outlet increases and does not abate until the whole has been destroyed. Therefore, lest any evil should be shut in, everyone is permitted to think in favor of God or against God, and in favor of the holy things of the Church or against them, and is not punished for it in the world. (DP 278)
**(11) “These persons” refers to the New Church mind-to-be prior to reformation when we have fallen into New Church idolatries due to our being immersed in the dead Letter, as just explained. that “sins do not appear” in this state signifies that our willing and thinking are transgressions and iniquities, ad explained just above. When we are in this purely natural understanding and worship, it dos not appear to us that our willing and thinking are so many sins. Therefore the mind remains infernal and the New Church mind cannot be formed in it. This sorry state results form the reality that “every evil that is denied an outlet increases and does not abate until the whole has been destroyed.” This means that we cannot be regenerated unless we perform self-monitoring to identify the sins of willing and thinking we commit all day long.
The Lord has provided for the reformation of the New Church mind-to-be. This is meant by “Therefore, lest any evil should be shut in.” Without the revelations of the Writings the evils of the human race would be “shut in” and thus be “nourished like a fire in wood” which consumes the spirit, and turns it into an infernal monstrosity. To consume the spirit means to extinguish all truths, for the life we have is within the truths we receive (xx). On account of this, those in the hells are called “the dead,” and to enter hell is called “to perish” (xx).
Note this life-saving revelation: “Every evil that is denied an outlet increases and does not abate until the whole has been destroyed” (DP 278). What does “every evil” mean in the literal? It means that there is no particular evil, weighty or light, that does not DESTROY THE WHOLE MIND, when left remaining by denial. The physiology of evil is that it is a defective organic fiber constituting a portion of the organ of the will, in the same way that the muscles in the wall of a malfunctioning heart constitute a portion of the heart itself. If there is a genetic defect causing heart muscle failure, the body will die. But with evils, we need also to think about a deadly virus or bacteria that kills the body when receiving a foothold. Even though the virus initially remains in a single cell, when the time is consummated, and the infected cell has changed sufficiently, the virus population breaks out and infects more and more cells until death.
For instance, at age 64 I’m still overweight by about seven percent or 10 lbs. I’ve been struggling for decades to monitor the evil affections that lure me into overeating every day a little bit. In my 20s I was 40 lbs overweight. I struggled from natural good and conscience to keep the issue of overweight as a moral issue as well as a health issue fro myself. I could convince myself to go on a weight loss diet from time to time, losing most of the extra lbs., but they slowly crept back within a shorter or a longer time. I’m still struggling with this evil in my character.
Despite my long standing focus and interest in metanoid self-witnessing I haven’t sufficiently become aware of the hidden impulses that lure me to eat and punish me with depression if I refuse to feed my face. So I keep on struggling, imploring the Lord for help. I receive the answer from within: “You have soap and water. Go wash your hands and face, and you’ll be clean.”
Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, cease to do evil; Learn to do well.... Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.... But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword. Isa. i. 6, 16 , 18, 20. To be devoured with the sword signifies to perish by the falsity of evil. (DP 278)
The Lord is waiting for me to face the evil of overeating from its particulars, not generals.
To continue with the Number:
Sixth: The reason, hitherto unknown, why evils cannot be removed without this search, appearance, acknowledgment, confession and resistance. In the preceding pages it has been mentioned that the universal heaven is arranged in societies according to [the affections of good and the entire hell according to] the lusts of evil opposite to the affections of good. Every man as to his spirit is in some society - in a heavenly society if he is in the affection of good, but in an infernal society if he is in the lust of evil. Man does not know this while he is living in the world, but nevertheless as to his spirit he is in some society; otherwise he cannot live, and because of it he is governed by the Lord. If he is in an infernal society he can only be led out of it by the Lord according to the laws of His Divine Providence, one of which is that he must see that he is there, must desire to go out and must himself endeavor to do this of himself. This he can do while he is in the world, but not after death; for then he remains to eternity in the society in which he has placed himself while in the world. This is the reason why man is to examine himself, see and acknowledge his sins and repent, and afterwards persevere right on to the end of his life. That this is the case I could establish from much experience even to complete belief; but this is not the place to set forth proofs of my experience. (DP 278)
(12) Again the Number summarizes the necessary conditions for our regeneration. Regeneration is called here the “removal of evils.” The summary of regeneration is specified now in five steps:
“Search” corresponds to performing constant self-monitoring of our willing and thinking. “Appearance” signifies to locate and identify a particular evil as we perform it, that is, catching ourselves in the act. “Acknowledgment” refers to critically examining the particular willing or thinking in the light of our doctrine that we have in our understanding from the Letter of the Writings. “confession” means that we are to condemn ourselves on account of this evil, for performing it over and over again, for loving it, for hanging on to it, keeping it in our bosom like a cherished monstrosity. Finally, “resistance” refers to desisting, that is, compelling our lower mind not to continue willing the evil, thinking it, and loving it.
Note the sentence: “Every man as to his spirit is in some society - in a heavenly society if he is in the affection of good, but in an infernal society if he is in the lust of evil.” This awesome revelation about the vertical community gives the human race an entirely chained view of itself. This revelation is no less revolutionary about the human mind than the Copernican revolution was about the universe. We are dual citizens, and have always been since the beginning of creation. Upon birth, we have a physical body in some society on earth, and tied to this physical body, a spiritual mind that is in some society in the spiritual world.
The spirit-mind has to grow up and mature like the physical body to which it is attached by correspondence. The natural portion of the spirit-mind, or its external form, is built up by sensory input from the environment of the physical body. Simultaneously, the spiritual portion of the spirit-mind, or its interior form, is built up by sensory input from the environment of the spirit-body in the spiritual world. These two sensory input sources are coordinated by the Lord so that there is no chaos of independent development and functioning. The spiritual mind develops and receives input from the spiritual world, to the extent that the natural mind develops and receives input from the Letter of the Writings, or from instruction based on it.
The mind of every human being is “governed by the Lord” through the intermediary of the vertical community (xx). The passage above says
Every man as to his spirit is in some society - in a heavenly society if he is in the affection of good, but in an infernal society if he is in the lust of evil. Man does not know this while he is living in the world, but nevertheless as to his spirit he is in some society; otherwise he cannot live, and because of it he is governed by the Lord. If he is in an infernal society he can only be led out of it by the Lord according to the laws of His Divine Providence, one of which is that he must see that he is there, must desire to go out and must himself endeavor to do this of himself (DP 278)
There is only one alternative provided by the Lord, only two states are open to the human mind, one choice: “Every man as to his spirit is in some society - in a heavenly society if he is in the affection of good, but in an infernal society if he is in the lust of evil.” Our heredity predominates us to “the lust of evil” so that each one of us is “in an infernal society” prior to reformation, regardless of religion, intelligence, and lifestyle. There are times when we appear to be animated by some good intention, which we also delight in from heredity. While we are in this externally good state, we are led by the Lord through the heavens. The rest of the time we are led by the Lord through the hells. The Lord cannot prevail upon us to stop loving our evils. He waits and works in the unconscious background keeping things from getting worse. It’s up to each of us to begin our reformation by means of the Letter of the Writings applied to our life.
Rev. Erik Sandstrom cites DP 278, discussed above in some detail, to warn that “confessing ourselves guilty of all kinds of evils...may promote them instead, and blind us to them, to boot.” (Ibid, New Church Life, p. 287). This refers to “confessing all our problems to others” and since the Lord already knows all our problems, we don’t need to confess them to Him either. But we must be careful not to draw the wrong conclusions! We went over the entire Number, looking for its literal meaning as well as applying correspondences to it to see how it applies to the regeneration of our willing and thinking. the point is that confessing every sin is necessary in order that it may “appear,” that is, in order that we may become aware of it. Confessing our evils to others and to the Lord is permissible, but we must know that this has no power to regenerate.
What has power to regenerate and save is self-witnessing, self-monitoring, and self-examining every evil the Lord brings to our awareness. And once it appears, to condemn it and to compel our lower mind not to will it.
Chapter 1, Section 2
A man's mind is his spirit (DP 296)
As I practiced the self-witnessing discipline for more than three decades I’m able to say various things about it that may be useful to others (see Note 20 at end). My most amazing discovery was the existence of “sudden memory” by which I’m referring to the stream of thought that is our actual mental life in the natural mind. This stream of thought is the outward form of our affections (see Note 19 at end). The quality of our affections is the result of which spiritual societies we are in contact as the sequence of thoughts proceeds. Through self-witnessing practice I was striving to “tune in” to the stream while I was carrying out my tasks all day long. This is not like meditation or deep reflection which occurs when we stop our tasks and sit doing nothing, thus disengaged from the surrounding pace.
The stream of thinking accompanies every act and is a characteristic of human life. I was able to tune in and listen to some extent, I suppose, for the stream goes fast and if you try to catch it, it begins to tumble and roll like an avalanche. It’s as if the conscious filter can hold only so much of it and the rest spills and dissipates as more keeps coming.
What I found amazing is that the instant I tried to reflect on what I snatched form the stream, it would be gone. I could not remember what it was. It’s quite unsettling. How do I get hold of it or some of it long enough so I can examine in greater detail? You may be familiar with this experience when, upon awakening, you are still affectively filled the sphere of your vivid dream, but the instant you try to reflect on what it is so you can put it in words, it remains unavailable to the conscious mind, staying just out of its reach—like the “tip-of-the-tongue” phenomenon researched in psycholinguistics when I was in graduate school in the 1960s. We were taught that there are two types of memory: short term and long term. The first lasts for several seconds—like the phone number we look up and then dial. If we wait more than a few seconds to dial we have to look it up again. We move things from short term to long term memory by repetition and rehearsal with the motive to recall it later. Sudden memory seems to work for a second or two.
I discovered that I can make myself think in words or sentences as I carry out my tasks. This is somewhat like giving a “blow by blow” description to an imaginary tape recorder of what one is thinking. It seems to slow the stream down for awhile, enough so that my short term memory retains more of it and I’m able to get a fix on what the topic is and its direction. In short term memory we can be aware and evaluative, and put anything we want into long term memory by mentally rehearsing or making a physical record of it. In this way the mental discipline pays off because it gives access to our normal everyday affections.
Slowly I began to exert rational and religious control over my interior dialog, my daydreams, and my emotional reactions to things moment by moment all day long. Also, my attitudes and interests. I would stop myself from continuing a line of thinking: “Stop it. Why are you wasting time thinking these useless things?” Or: “That’s not a nice thing to think.” Or: “How low can I get to be so fascinated by that sort of thing?” Etc. This gave me greater conscious control over my mental life allowing me to clean out the mental pollution that reigned in it from birth and culture. It is not possible for humans to do anything without the accompanying thinking stream. By controlling this, we control a portion of our natural mind. Control of the lower natural mind (corporeal and sensual) by the higher natural mind (natural-rational) is necessary for regeneration. To the extent that we do this, to that extent the Lord can open our interior-natural mind (DLW 248).
This is the genuine human or celestial mind. It is where our life in heaven is. It is where the Lord’s Proprium dwells. The highest angels have a direct perception of how this Proprium comes into them by influx, followed by their as-of-self acting from it spontaneously and as if from self in full liberty (AC 47, 233, 1712, 2877, 5664, 10299; NJHD 148; DP 102; CL 82; SE 5958; LJ 299; AE 864). This process is inhibited and destroyed when we do not remove the mental pollution by our own daily efforts, as-of-self but looking to the Lord for strength.
The celestial regions have walls and guards (xx) that keep out mental pollution (strangers and evil spirits) from entering that lofty region or level of consciousness. Therefore we need to erect such walls and establish guards in our mind to prevent unholy things from entering and lodging in our mind. Our culture of entertainment and social cynicism specialize in manufacturing large quantities of polluted ideas, pictures, and situations. Without vigilance exercised every hour of our waking time our mind gets inundated by pollutants, poisons, viruses, and all sorts of unpleasant, sleazy, scortatory, and idiotic suggestions. The mind is weighted down by them, even sinking into the corporeal.
Woe to those who make this their abode for in the afterlife they are captured and tortured by those who have these same things in them. And the omnipotence of a loving God cannot deliver them from this miserable lot for to remove them from it would leave nothing behind for any life by them (AC 5854). Best therefore that we be diligent and sincere in our efforts at self-witnessing while there is still time and opportunity.
Have you listened in on yourself lately? We cannot trust the reputation or opinion we have of ourselves, for this is subjective, biased, and self-serving. The check mark we place on rating scales are inflated or deflated in accordance with our vanities: How good am I? How often do I get mad? Am I ever unkind or gross? What kind of mistakes do I make? How happy are the people around me with my conduct? Etc. To answer objectively and accurately we must witness our life.
When I first discovered sudden memory I was so delighted and felt powerful for the first time (see Note 19 at end). I really had found something that is universal yet unknown. A secret of understanding. I immediately felt superior. I was brave in situations I had been timid. Etc. Until at last I thought I was a god. I used the concept of avatar I read about and applied to myself. So this is what it means to be an avatar. I am it. Etc. I started making discoveries and this was proof that I was a god—see Note 3 for list of discoveries. But the Writings saved me.
You have to snatch things from sudden memory into short term memory, and from there you can write it down or dictate it as a record. You have to put it into sentences, what you get to see. The sphere of sudden memory is not linguistic but thought-representations, like spirits think. It’s faster since they think faster than us. Material brain slows it down. We need this slow down to train our conscious awareness, which starts slow cause based on sensory input in natural min d. This is not like a spirit thinks (HH 239). Which means at any moment we’re but a few hours away from speaking in this thought-language and thinking faster and more powerfully, yet totally spontaneously. We enjoy being a spirit, especially at the beginning while we’re still a little in both worlds and sense the contrast keenly.
I snatched from sudden memory sphere the sentence “It’s the purpose.” I kept making myself repeat the sentence with the intentionality of “How is this?” And it kept not coming to me so I kept repeating it for a whole minute or longer as I went about cleaning up the kitchen and having a loose dialog with my wife who was opening amazon.com boxes and reading me the e Ta of C from each. I told myself I must try to think about it again later. So here I am. What was it all about? I know it was deep, it was enlightening. In sudden memory I am more consciously at the level of how the interior-natural mind thinks in the brain of the spirit-body, not how the natural-rational mind thinks in the brain of my physical body. Knowing this is pretty good. How many people know this, or can believe it when they hear it? Only those who are willing to think in dualisms. And further, they must be dualisms that are not adulterated or modified by consulting the natural mind. They must be dualisms from the Writings because it is our only source for genuine spiritual dualities. All dualities are unique permanent distinctions that never cease to eternity (DLW 226). (see Volume 1)
Back to “It’s the purpose.” I was thinking about what makes our life moments spiritual? And I perceived in the sphere of sudden memory that everything is interrelated so that one has an effect on all and all has an effect on one—which is the sphere of heaven (HH 49). What makes something I do heavenly is the region or sphere of heaven—when I’m in it and when I’m not. In which case I am in the infernal spheres, to a smaller or greater distance depending on …here it comes…the purpose that animates or motivates each and every micro-act I perform. If my purpose or goal-intentionality is in the heavenly sphere, my act is spiritual. If not, my act is natural. Some natural intentionalities are motivated by mild infernal affections that the Lord is able to bend into the shape of fibers that can contain the heavenly sphere. But other more grave forms of infernal affections refuse to be re-shaped in that way, and thus we remain in them.
And still further, my purpose has to fit the Lord’s purpose. Does it? How? Etc.
So I understood. It’s the purpose that makes my discipline spiritual and religious. Didn’t I already know this? Yes, it’s all over the Writings and I’ve been reading them daily for years. And yet the heavenly secret enclosed in the idea I take up from the literal remains a secret to the natural consciousness. As a secret it can only work generally in my character, from a distance, less effectively. But when the interior of the literal in our memory is opened, the secret enters into conscious awareness through sudden memory. Then we see clearly, but until then only in obscurity like the sight in a thick fog whereby we bump into tress and fall into ditches. This is how our natural mind works, before it is turned around towards the spiritual mind.
The spiritual mind is in rational and good order, but the inherited natural mind and the natural mind instructed by sensory input alone, is not a rational mind but the opposite. To itself the unregenerate natural mind appears logical and supremely rational:
With many in the world this does not take place, because they love the first degree of their life, called the natural, and have no desire to withdraw from it and become spiritual. The natural degree of life regarded in itself loves only self and the world, for it clings to the bodily senses and these occupy a prominent place in the world; but the spiritual degree of life regarded in itself loves the Lord and heaven, and also itself and the world, but God and heaven as higher, principal and ruling, and itself and the world as lower, instrumental and serving. (DP 324:10)
I noticed things in sudden memory that show how angels are at work in the unfolding of our moment to moment biography. Their thought and intention descends by correspondence into the sphere of sudden memory. I snatch something, it’s a flash, it’s a warning, and my thought becomes conscious of “Careful, easy, keep your finger away.” Or: “The Lord wants me to be forthcoming and compassionate. I must overcome this reluctance.” The connectivity between what the angels think and what I think is specific but correspondential. The thoughts I become conscious of must feel like my own characteristic or recognizable thoughts. It would destroy a person’s sanity to experience that one’s thoughts come from another source (xx). Mystical voyeurism, shamanism, and voodoo spirit possession rituals relate to non-normal states that in prior dispensations were normal, but are no longer allowed by the Lord on this planet (HH 249; EU 155).
Direct communication with spirits and angels used to be routine with the people of the most ancient Church prior to the evolutionary splitting of the human brain into two hemispheres (xx). And it has been revealed that this type of communication may be routine on certain other planets:
The preacher who was with me had no belief at all in the existence of planets other than our own, because in the world he had thought that the Lord was born solely on this planet and that without the Lord there was no salvation. He was therefore brought into a state like the one spirits enter when they appear on their planet as people - the one described above - and was then sent to that planet, not only to see it but also to talk to the inhabitants there. When this had been done, communication from there was granted to me as well in order that I might in a similar way behold those inhabitants and also some things on that planet. Spirits and angels can talk to people, whatever language they speak, because their thought passes into the ideas in people's minds and so into the words they speak. (AC 10752)
Notice the sentence, “He was therefore brought into a state like the one spirits enter when they appear on their planet as people - the one described above - and was then sent to that planet, not only to see it but also to talk to the inhabitants there.” It is said here that earthlings can talk to spirits, but note that the preacher, who was from our earth, was taken to “that planet” thus, not to this earth. There is no evidence that the Lord ever allows people on this earth to have a conscious dialog exchange with spirits. Dr. Ian Thompson (see Acknowledgment and Note 12 at end), while reviewing a draft of this book, commented in an email exchange:
It is clear that verbal communication with spirits is possible according to the general laws of order, but that these may be overruled by the consideration of specific groups of people, such as those on our earth.
However, it appears that the 'abnormal' people on our earth can still arrive at mental states in which communication is possible. These are generally not rational states - so they do not learn anything of genuine truth - but are altered or upset states of consciousness - such as with the mentally ill (schizophrenia), or with those who particularly desire and cultivate them.
The manner of interaction with spirits in these altered states is not different in principle from our normal influx from the spiritual world: In particular, inputs from e.g. hellish spirits with novel contents are indeed flowing into what you call 'sudden memory', and have to be fought against in exactly the usual way as above.
What is different about influx in altered/schizophrenic states are in particular three features:
the source is attributed to specific spirits. These spirits are those associated spirits that Swedenborg describes, with (normally) inactive memory of their own. They are self-motivated, but rely on the person in the world for memory and sensory input: they talk on the basis of these memory and sensations. Hence they are very suggestible to ideas about what they own life is, and will readily agree to being called e.g. Napoleon.
2) into sensory mind:
influx is not only into thoughts (as usual), but also into the sensory mind. This gives visual and auditory (etc) hallucinations. (Note: not into the brain or into bodily organs, but into the sensorimotor mind).
3) more forceful/harder to resist:
the influx in these states is more obviously persistent, hellish and harder to resist. The Lord now ensures that resistance is not futile, so these people end up with really dramatic temptations almost every minute of their lives! This is quantitatively different from our normal temptations, but is essentially the same process.
Actually, it is not clear whether the hellish influx in these states is harder to resist than 'normal', because we do not really know how hard it is for 'normal hellish people' to resist their temptations. Quite difficult, I should think, if they have no truths to fight with.
None of the above is permitted with those who are on the way of rational reformation and regeneration, as they are too similar to miracles. (June 20, 2002)
Dr. Thompson suggests here the idea that spirits may inflow into sudden memory. We can think of sudden memory as an intermediary zone between the conscious and the subconscious. The affections of spirits are brought into connection with the sensuous content of sudden memory. The spirits are not specifically aware that this stream of sensuous consciousness issues from the earthling with whom they are coupled at any one moment. It may even be that several individuals contribute to the content from their own sudden memory, somewhat like what you would get if you read random paragraphs from several books in alternating sequence. It would not be easy for you to figure out the plot of any of the books! Similarly with the spirits who are kept in rapid alternating contact with the sudden memory of several earthlings. They would not be able to figure out with whom they are!
No doubt the laws of Providence govern the degree of conscious awareness between spirits and the individual into which they inflow. However, there is a rational trap here we must look at and avoid. It has to do with the idea we are forming about the "communication." One model, which is the trap, is to think of the exchange as a dialog with spirits to take place in the same direct sensuous way it took place with Swedenborg. This is the way it is reported in the abnormal syndrome of “hearing voices” or “seeing beings” reported by psychotics, schizophrenics, or by those who have hallucinations. These abnormal reports may be like the NDE reports--something imaginative or creative one makes up to give meaning in an ultimate and natural thinking about it (see Chapter 4, Section 5). Thus, there may not be a conscious dialog; only an imagined one. Remember that what is happening is influx by correspondences, not face to face dialog such as Swedenborg had (along with the influx).
The other model, therefore, is that conscious dialog is not allowed ever on this earth at the present time. Under what conditions it would be allowed, I do not know. The most ancients prior to the split-brain evolution, did have dialog, though mostly in dreams rather than in the awake state (AC 597). In the episode quoted just above (AC 10752), the preacher got enthused about an earthling woman and grabbed her by the hand, which she withdrew when she realized he was a spirit.
While the preacher was with those who were clothed, there appeared a woman of a very beautiful countenance, clothed in a simple garment, a tunic that hung behind in a becoming way, and was also drawn over the arms; she also wore a beautiful head covering in the form of a garland of flowers. Upon seeing this virgin, the preacher was very much delighted, and spoke to her, and also took hold of her hand; but as she perceived that he was a spirit, and was not from that earth, she betook herself away from him. (AC 10754)
How is this possible on a physical earth? Perhaps in the sense that during these encounters, the spiritual eyes of the earthling is opened, like the shepherds who saw the Angels at the Annunciation (xx). If the spirits are seen, they are also heard and sensed in touch. But the seeing and sensing is not of the physical body but the spiritual body, though the earthling person may not know this--as in the OT scenes when Angels visited certain individuals:
A CONTINUATION ABOUT THE FIFTH EARTH IN THE STARRY HEAVEN.
It was afterward granted me to speak with these spirits about their own earth, for all spirits know about this when their natural or external memory is opened by the Lord, because they bring this memory with them from the world; but it is not opened except with the Lord's good pleasure. With regard to the earth from which they were, the spirits then said that when leave is granted they appear to the inhabitants of their earth and speak with them as men, and that this is effected by their being let into their natural or external memory, and consequently into thought such as they had when they lived in the world; and that at the same time the interior sight of the inhabitants, that is, the sight of their spirit, is opened, and in this way the spirits appear to them. They added that the inhabitants know not but that they are men of their earth, and only notice that this is not the case when the spirits are suddenly taken away from their eyes.
I told them that in ancient times it was the same on our earth, as with Abraham, Sarah, Lot, the inhabitants of Sodom, Manoah and his wife, Joshua, Mary, Elizabeth, and the prophets in general; and that the Lord appeared in the same way, and that until He revealed Himself those who saw Him knew not but that He was a man of the earth; but that now this rarely happens, lest such things should compel men to believe; for a compulsory faith, such as enters by means of miracles, does not cleave to the man, and also might be an injury to those with whom faith could be implanted through the Word in a state that is not compulsory. (AC 10751)
Thus, the reason that conscious rapport with spirits is never allowed on this earth any more is that such direct awareness takes away one’s rational, hence one’s spiritual freedom to choose. In the past the rational did not play that role in regeneration. The result is corporeal spirituality in the natural mind, while the spiritual mind remains closed. All who are in this state are infernal (AC 141). Since the dispensation of the Second coming has now begun only the rational can support spiritual life. Either the rational must be opened here, or hereafter. When arriving in the afterlife our mind (spirit-body) must have been grown into a form that can receive spiritual-rational truths which are more interior than the natural mind. But the natural mind must have suitable conceptual vessels to contain the spiritual-rational truths we receive by being instructed when we arrive in the afterlife (NJHD 51).
Hence the awesome importance that we take charge of our goals and purposes, and of our thoughts and reasonings, every day, hour, minute, and second. It has got to go down to the particular, for the general cannot change unless all its particulars are changed. We cannot regenerate and prepare the vessels we need for heavenly life unless we take care of these particulars. Hence the all importance of self-witnessing disciplines. We must not avoid them.
One of the great experiences I have several times a day (on some days) is to snatch from sudden memory the work of the angels who are with me, as with every individual regardless of religion or belief (xx). Of course today angels cannot be perceived in the natural world by means of the physical senses of the body—see the discussion in Chapter 4 Section 5). Sensuous consciousness of spirits and angels, such as Swedenborg had, would be injurious and therefore is not allowed by the Lord (HH 249). But rational consciousness of the work of the angels with us is allowed and encouraged because it is of the Laws of Divine Providence in the new civilization of the Second Coming (see the discussion in Chapter 4 Section 5).
Rational consciousness is the level for genuine spiritual truths and celestial Doctrine in our mind. The Lord’s giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples represents the new consciousness of Him that He is creating in the human race. This rational consciousness replaces the earlier sensuous consciousness of Him. The New Heavens are in this rational consciousness of the Lord and the workings out of His Divine Providence.
From this it is evident that by "Moses said, Make me see I pray Thy glory" is signified the noticing of the internal in the external of the Word, of the church, and of worship. … To receive the internal of the church is to receive Divine truth from heaven, and thereby heavenly love.
And I will show grace to whom I show grace, and I will show mercy to whom I show mercy. That this signifies that Divine truth and good shall be revealed to those who receive, is evident from the signification of "showing grace," as being to endow with spiritual truth and good, here to reveal it, because the subject treated of is the internal and the external of the church, of worship, and of the Word …
Those who are in external things not separate from what is internal, can all see the interior things of the Word, of the church, and of worship, thus they can "see the faces of Jehovah."
10581. And it shall be when My glory passeth by. That this signifies the interior things of the Word, of the church, and of worship, is evident from the signification of the "glory of Jehovah," as being the interior Divine things of the Word, of the church, and of worship…. (AC 10522).
Those are said to "see the back parts of Jehovah and not the faces," who believe and adore the Word; but only its external, which is the sense of the letter, and do not penetrate more interiorly, as do those who have been enlightened, and who make for themselves doctrine from the Word, by which they may see its genuine sense, thus its interior sense. (AC 10584)
We can apply these passages to the stream of consciousness as we proceed in our daily willing and thinking. The most immediate awareness of this stream is sudden memory. But because of the extreme brevity of this awareness, most of us most of the time cannot capture, cannot paraphrase or describe it, hence, cannot know it. But with practice, as I have indicated, we can snatch portions of the script of existence, or book of life. When we do this we become aware of the internal spiritual meaning within the natural stream of perception and behavior. This is revealed to us by the Lord, as indicated in the passages above referring to Moses. It is said that
Those who are in external things not separate from what is internal, can all see the interior things of the Word, of the church, and of worship, thus they can "see the faces of Jehovah. (AC 10574)
To see the “Faces of Jehovah” is to see the Divine Providence in action, or, to see the internal spiritual things in the sequence of willing and thinking, from which is doing. This is possible when we apply the Doctrine in our mind that we have taken up from the Writings. Our willing and thinking is then seen without the natural cloud and obscurity that is the normal mode of perception and thinking.
When we snatch a view of the Faces of Jehovah we are seeing the angels at work in our life. I have noticed this numerous times but it goes by so fast that it’s hard to hold on to it and make a record of it. This is why I follow the self-witnessing principle “If you think it, ink it.” For instance, I’m about to go inside the house and notice a leaf floating in the pool. I bend over and try to reach it, but it floats out of my reach. I pick up the net stick and reach for the leaf with it. The leaf is headed to the other side of pool so I walk around to reach it and do. But then I see the chlorine container which reminds me to take a look to see how much is left. It’s completely empty. That shocks me since I thought I had another two days before I need to add more chlorine. Still, I feel happy that I was reminded through the leaf. Then I thank the Lord’s Divine Providence for making it happen. Then I realize the angels served as intermediaries. And I thank the Lord for that.
Over the years I noticed that I can hear the warning of angels just before I commit a mistake but choose to ignore it. A second later I can no longer remember the warning. Then I make the mistake and become aware of it later, when facing the consequences of forgetting something, or putting something back, or not writing it down as a reminder, or not setting the timer properly, or eating something I shouldn’t have, etc. Numerous times a day we come across a warning from the angels that we ignore and then pay for. I learned to respect these warnings, the majority of times. I make myself do it, do it properly, or do it rightly. I then reap the benefits of staying out of trouble and enjoying predictable routines and events. In addition to these benefits there is also the closeness I feel to the Lord knowing the details He takes care of with every individual every moment to eternity.
Be it known that the Divine Providence is universal, that is, in things the most minute; and that they who are in the stream of Providence are all the time carried along toward everything that is happy, whatever may be the appearance of the means; and that those are in the stream of Providence who put their trust in the Divine and attribute all things to Him; and that those are not in the stream of Providence who trust in themselves alone and attribute all things to themselves, because they are in the opposite, for they take away providence from the Divine, and claim it for themselves.
Be it known also that insofar as anyone is in the stream of Providence, so far he is in a state of peace; also that insofar as anyone is in a state of peace from the good of faith, so far he is in the Divine Providence. These alone know and believe that the Divine Providence of the Lord is in everything both in general and in particular, nay, is in the most minute things of all … and that the Divine Providence regards what is eternal …
 But they who are in the opposite are scarcely willing to hear Providence mentioned, for they ascribe everything to their own sagacity; and what they do not ascribe to this they ascribe to fortune or chance; some to fate, which they do not educe from the Divine, but from nature. They call those simple who do not attribute all things to themselves or to nature. From all this again it can be seen what is the quality of those who have care for the morrow, and what the quality of those who have no care for the morrow. (AC 8478)
To acknowledge the Lord’s Omnipotence from religion is to be “in the stream of Providence” in a general way. To witness the sequence of events in which we participate through the awareness of sudden memory is to be in “in the stream of Providence” in a particular way. This witnessing of the Lord’s Providence in the minute details of the behavioral stream affords a rational view of the universe and brings us closer to Him, allowing us to love Him from a more interior perception. This type of self-witnessing the microdetails of one’s biography leads to the denial of chance, of randomness, of fate, of luck, of coincidence, and thus, an ever stronger confirmation of His management Principles and Laws, in that they are loving, rational, holistic, and perfect.
When you begin to practice self-witnessing sudden memory as a regeneration discipline you come face to face with inherited ties to evil spirits. It’s not a visual “face-to-face” communication but a mental one involving the organs of the will. Neither the spirits nor you are aware of each other consciously so that the contact is by correspondence only. If anyone tells you about having actual direct communication with spirits, the New Church mind cannot accept this as a genuine spiritual communication (see discussion on NDEs –near death experiences-- in Chapter 4 Section 5). But as we face our own thoughts and interests in the stream of consciousness we must strive to assume a metanoid position so that we can react to the content of that stream.
It is required for our regeneration that we react to what we observe about the ceaseless stream of our willing and thinking.
It is the rational in fact that coordinates everything in the natural, and in accordance with that coordination fittingly regards the things that are there. Indeed the rational is like a higher faculty of seeing which, when it looks at facts belonging to the natural man, is like someone looking down on to a plain below him. The light of that faculty of seeing is the light of truth, but the origin of that light rests with the good present in the rational. (AC 3283)
It is said here that the rational self can monitor what the sensuous and corporeal self is thinking or willing. This is the essential method of regeneration that the Lord has provided to the human race after the most ancient peoples destroyed themselves through “dreadful” idolatries (xx). The new human race after that received a split mind so that the understanding could be elevated to heavenly light even though the will remained unregenerate and infernal (xx). By this means, we can learn the heavenly truths from the Word, understand them in an enlightened state, and make a choice to compel our sensuous and corporeal self to obey and to desist from committing evils and thinking falsities. This has become the means of regeneration for the New Church mind that is immersed in the Letter of the Writings. Our natural-rational mind is filled with doctrinals form the Letter of the Writings. These doctrinals can be used to evaluate the willing and thinking of the sensuous mind that we can see “in the light of truth” like “a plain below.”
Anyone can know that thoughts are led or tend in accord with the intentions, that is, in the direction that the man intends; for thought is man's internal sight, and resembles the external sight in this, that to whatever point it is directed or aimed, thither it turns and there it rests. Therefore if the internal sight or the thought is turned towards the world and rests there, it follows that the thought becomes worldly; if it turns to self and self-honor it becomes corporeal; but if it is turned heavenwards it becomes heavenly.
So, too, if turned heaven-wards it is elevated; but if turned selfward it is drawn down from heaven and immersed in what is corporeal; and if turned towards the world it is also turned downwards from heaven, and is diffused upon the objects that are before the eyes. (HH 532)
This passage shows that anyone can perform self-witnessing or self-monitoring of the thoughts and the intended outcomes we desire with our affections. The stream of thinking of the sensuous self is automatic and proceeds spontaneously as we cope with the moment by moment demands of living and doing. We can examine this spontaneous stream by directing our focus on it in a metanoid stance, looking down upon the stream of thinking like on a plain below. IN this way we inform ourselves of the content and quality of our thinking and willing all day long. Willing is an act. Thinking is an act. We are responsible for all our acts. Therefore we are responsible for our willing and thinking acts, each one of them, thousands of them by the hour, every day. We are nothing but the cumulative collection of those acts. Such as these acts are, such are we, when we arrive in the afterlife.
Man's love is what makes his intention and determines the sight of the internal man or the thought to its objects; thus the love of self fixes it upon self and its objects, the love of the world upon worldly objects, and the love of heaven upon heavenly objects.
So when the love is known, the state of the interiors which are of the mind can be known, that is, the interiors of one who loves heaven are raised towards heaven and are opened above; while the interiors of one who loves the world or who loves himself are closed above and are opened outwardly.
From this the conclusion follows that if the higher regions of the mind are closed above, man can no longer see the objects pertaining to heaven and the Church, but those objects are in thick darkness to him; and the things in thick darkness are either denied or not understood. This is why those who love themselves and the world above all things, since the higher regions of their minds are closed, in heart deny Divine truths; and if from their memory they say anything about them they nevertheless do not understand them.
Moreover, they regard them in the same way as they regard worldly and corporeal things. And being such, they are able to direct the mind to those things only that enter through the senses of the body, and in these alone do they find delight. Among these are also many things that are filthy, obscene, profane and criminal; and these cannot be removed, because into the minds of such no influx from heaven is possible, since their minds, as just now said, are closed above. (HH 532)
You can see from this that our consciousness, or life orientation, is such as the content is of our willing and thinking hour by hour all day long. This content can originate solely from the sensuous and corporeal self, in which case the willing and thinking is purely natural, having no spiritual dimension that we can appropriate. Or, the content of our willing and thinking can be based on the rational self that has taken up the scientifics of the Letter. The scientifics of the Writings contain all the spiritual topics of the Heavenly Doctrines. Even though we understand them naturally, at first, even this natural way of understanding them is rational, and therefore a discrete degree above the sensuous thinking an dwelling. Unless we modify our sensuous thinking by means of these rational concepts, we cannot be regenerated. Those who arrive in that state in the afterlife can receive nothing of heavenly light, and have a lot with the infernals.
 Man's intention, by which his internal sight or thought is determined, is his will; for what a man wills he intends, and what he intends he thinks. Therefore if his intention is heavenward his thought is determined heavenward, and with it his whole mind, which is thus in heaven; and from heaven he beholds the things of the world beneath him like one looking down from the roof of a house.
So the man who has the interiors of his mind open can see the evils and falsities that are with him, for these are below the spiritual mind. On the other hand, the man with whom the interiors have not been opened is unable to see his evils and falsities, because he is not above them but in them.
From these things it can be concluded whence man has wisdom and whence insanity, also what a man will be after death when he is left to will and think and to act and speak in accordance with his interiors. All these things also have been said that it may be known what the quality of a man is interiorly, however he may seem outwardly to resemble others. (HH 532)
These sentences show how essential it is for the New Church mind to acquire the spiritual discipline of self-witnessing. We need to know when our “intention is heavenward” so that our “thought is determined heavenward.” How else can you be informed of your stream of intentions and thoughts except by monitoring that stream to determine its moment by moment content?
We first need to face heavenward by taking up the sentences of the Writings into the rational understanding. This is facing heavenward because the Writings are the Lord, and heaven is where the Lord is. Then we must look down upon our lower natural mind “like one looking down from the roof of a house.” From that perspective and light, we “can see the evils and falsities that are with us.” These evils are the evils that we are willing, and these falsities are the falsities that we are thinking. Without the Letter of the Writings in our rational mind we cannot evaluate the stream of our thinking and willing because “because we are not above them but in them.” What allows us to be “above them” is the heavenly light, which refers to the sentences of the Writings in our natural-rational understanding.
To react to what we observe is to make an evaluation of our willing and thinking. This evaluation is from a rational level, looking down, while the stream of thinking we are observing, is from a sensuous or corporeal level. An analogy might be standing on a bridge and looking down on the flow of a semi-transparent river and inspecting its contents—stones, fish, plants, debris. These things represent the content of our mind—knowledges, truths, and falsifications of truths. The flow of the river is the sequencing of the thoughts, their reasoning and coherence.
THAT CRUEL SPIRITS AND ADULTERERS LOVE NOTHING MORE THAN FILTH AND EXCREMENTS.
(((((I have spoken) previously of this [fact] that to such spirits, filth and excrements are very pleasant, so that they prefer the pleasantness of beholding such things to all other pleasantnesses, and not only filth and excrements, but also foul, loathsome, and horrid intestines of animals, to that degree, that when they act through man they snatch away all his interior sense, as also [his] sight, to such things, because they, are delighted therewith.
This also was shown me by manifest experience; when I walked in the street, they carried away my eyes to all such things; wherever there was filth, excrement and intestines, thither they directed my eyes, although I was ignorant where were such things in the street, because not observed by me. Still they saw these, whilst I was wholly unobservant, and thither directed my eyes, either to [my] side, or about [my] feet, or near and farther from thence; and the did not turn my eyes to anything else. (SE 2843)
Monitor your eyes as you walk on the street or as you read a magazine or watch TV. The eyes respond to our interest, to our affections, to what we find delightful. As your eyes roam they settle on this or that object, body part, detail. The eyes are quick. You have to catch yourself and become conscious of where they settle for how long, and where they keep coming back to. These eye movements will reveal interests and delights that we do not wish to publicize because they are filthy and scortatory, as the passage above describes. As Swedenborg walked in the street, the spirits with him “carried away my eyes to all such things; wherever there was filth, excrement and intestines, thither they directed my eyes, although I was ignorant where were such things in the street, because not observed by me.” Monitoring our eyes will reveal to us what filthy things are of interest to us form heredity. These filthy interests are not our own affections, they are the affections of the filthy spirits. But we are tied to those spirits by heredity and the filth remains with us unless consciously removed.
Since spirits take possession in that way of all that forms a person's thought and will, and angels take possession of what is even more interior, so that he is joined very closely to them, the person cannot avoid the perception and sensation that he himself is the one who thinks and wills. . (AC 6193)
Our inherited connections with evils spirits cause our minds to be filled with blasphemous thoughts and curiosities.
Anyone who is governed by bodily and worldly love, and not at the same time by spiritual or by celestial love, does not have any but evil spirits with him, even when external holiness exists with him. Good spirits cannot in any way be present with such a person, for they perceive in an instant the kind of love which governs a person. There is a sphere emanating from the interior parts of him which the spirits perceive as plainly as man by his sense of smell perceives offensive and foul odors floating around him in the air. (AC 4311)
I remember that I was only six years old when I first became aware of blasphemous thoughts. I recall part of the episode since it was so dramatic: I was walking home from school and I couldn’t stop thinking blasphemies about God. I became very agitated and started running as a way of making it stop. That is all I can remember. In adolescence I put religion away from myself and whatever blasphemy I performed was hidden and restricted to cussing in imitation of the people around me. Since I was living in French Canada I was surrounded with people who cussed using words from the sacred worship of their Catholic religion. Also, Jewish people cussed using the Lord’s Name in vain, and I adopted this habit as a way of feeling like an adult. It is ironic that for years I would say the word “Christ” perhaps a dozen times a day and not think anything about what it means.
There are with every man at least two evil spirits and two angels. The evil spirits excite his evils, and the angels inspire things that are good and true. (AC 904)
For the nature of all communication in the next life is this: In a community in which people are alike, each thinks that what is another's is his own. When therefore people who are good go into a heavenly community they instantly enter into all the intelligence and wisdom of that community, entering into it so fully that they know no other than that such things exist within themselves. This is also how it is with man and a spirit present with him. The things that flow in from spirits from hell are evil and false, but those which flow in from angels from heaven are good and true; and through these opposite kinds of influx a person is held in the middle, thus in freedom.
Evil spirits … are angry if they are told that their thoughts and desires do not begin in themselves, because that idea is contrary to what their loves lead them to be delighted with. And they are all the more angry when they are told that life does not exist independently in them but flows into them. (AC 6193).
When I became a Christian in my forties, I was filled with terror on occasions when I forgot myself and used the Holy Names of the Lord in vain. I punished myself with guilt and remorse until at last I stopped all cussing, either with the Holy Names or with vulgar expressions that demean women and conjugial love. I then also started practicing self-witnessing sudden memory and I was shocked and horrified to observe sequences of blasphemy in my thinking. This was before I was led to the Writings and so, I did not know that we are with evil spirits through our inherited connections.
Anger is a general affection resulting from whatever is opposed to self-love and its cupidities. This is plainly perceived in the world of evil spirits, for there exists there a general anger against the Lord, in consequence of evil spirits being in no charity, but in hatred, and whatever does not favor self-love [amori proprio] and the love of the world, excites opposition, which is manifested by anger. (AC 357)
Even after I knew about the vertical community from the Writings (see Chapter 7 Section 6), I experienced my blasphemous thoughts with shudder and panic. The unpleasant experience receded as soon as I began to have a better understanding of the purpose why the Lord allows them in my mind. I saw that they are spiritual temptations brought to my awareness so that I can reject them voluntarily in my reformed mind. My childhood was a period of absorption of the verbal blasphemy performed by the adults in my family and cultural environment. It was part of growing up and becoming like others in the community.
This conduct reinforced and confirmed the anti-God orientation of the evil spirits. People showed much inventiveness in how efficiently they can chain together long strings of blasphemies of all kinds, and usually relating to God, one’s mother, and sexual or scortatory activity of the most vulgar and perverse kind. These confirmed blasphemies in our mind then come to haunt us when we approach heaven through the Writings. The spirits who are kept by the Lord in communication with our interior mind react vehemently and with much blasphemy, as witnessed by Swedenborg:
Unless they [evil spirits] are given the opportunity to revile the truth, and indeed to blaspheme it, they cannot live (AC 1695)
Evil … spirits rush into insanities both from the hatred they bear against the Lord, and from their infernal suffering, and catch at such phantasies. (SE 458)
THAT EVIL SPIRITS ESPECIALLY HOLD INFANTS IN HATRED.
… The reason is, because they hold in hatred the Lord, who alone is Innocence. - 1748, June 10. (SE 2284)
It is important to realize that what comes into the mind from the evil spirit societies is not damning or a sin. I was able to stop blaming myself by no longer identifying with those awful snatches of thoughts. These were not my ideas, but theirs! I was not the one with affections for blasphemy; it was them! But at the same time I was led to understand that it is my responsibility as to how I react to them. My reaction is what comes out of the mind, and for this I am responsible. Do I just continue being a host to them and letting them use my house, or do I boot them out?
The spirits with man, however, are changed in accordance with the changes of his affections; thus, there are some spirits with him in infancy, others in boyhood, others in youth and manhood, and others in old age. (HH 295).
If they are lovers of self or lovers of gain, or lovers of revenge, or lovers of adultery, similar spirits are present, and dwell, as it were, in their evil affections, and man is incited by these, except so far as he can be kept from evil by good spirits, and they cling to him, and do not withdraw, so far as the evil affection prevails. (HH 295)
Those who are not led by the Lord not only act in partnership with evil spirits, but even arouse the evil spirits to action, because they believe their desires and thoughts are their very own; while those who are led by the Lord are aroused by the evil spirits, and the Lord acts to keep them from consenting. This too is the belief of those who are led by the Lord. (SE 1591)
And so I’ve found metanoid self-witnessing to be very useful in becoming aware of thoughts in my mind that were correspondences to the evils of the spirits who were connected to me. The instant the blasphemous content starts flowing, I judge and condemn it. Thus judged, they flee back into their caves, and the Lord can break the spiritual connections, replacing them with better ones. Thus we make progress in our regeneration.
Evil spirits cannot be with those who believe in the Lord
It has been shown before that evil spirits are distressed and tormented when angels look into them ... It is almost the same when a person on earth has faith, or is kept in a state of faith by the Lord. Then evil spirits cannot approach, but likewise begin to feel distress, and want to flee away. Several times I have heard them complaining and lamenting, when they were in the presence of faith. 1748, 16 May. (SE 1966)
In the conflicts brought about by temptations evil spirits are permitted to draw forth all the evil and falsity residing in a person, and to fight from that person's evil and falsity. But once they have been overcome they are no longer allowed to do so, for, being within that person, they instantly perceive that good and truth have been confirmed. Such perception exists more completely with spirits than with men. From the very sphere of a person confirmed in truth and good they recognize in an instant what the situation is, what response they will get, and much else. This is quite clear in the case of a spiritual and regenerate person, with whom evil spirits are present just as much as they are with one who is not regenerate; but with the regenerate person they have been subdued and are subservient. (AC 1695)
For more discussion on our association with evil spirits see the vertical community in Chapter 7 Section 6.
The life of regeneration is a never ending struggle against the inherent opposition between the natural and spiritual mind (AC 8961). Regeneration progresses to the extent that the natural mind is compelled to realign itself to be congruent with the natural-rational concepts we take up from the Writings. The natural mind’s nondualities are turned into categorical dualities that are suitable for containing spiritual truths from influx. Spiritual truths have no other source. They come into our conscious life by correspondence to the extent that the external concepts from the Writings are loved and willed in daily life. Disciplines of self-witnessing allows us to monitor our daily life which is constructed out of sequences of feelings, thoughts, and acts. The content of our threefold self can be witnessed, sampled, recorded, examined, and used as objective information on where we need to make the changes for regeneration (see Note 20 at end).
The New Church mind understands that the unending stream of our behavior, day and night, is accomplished through our association with spiritual societies (De Verbo 3). The Lord manages the inconceivably complex task of hooking us and unhooking us to spiritual societies, moment by moment, second by second, as the stream of our behavior proceeds and changes. Particular emotions, feelings, and motives can only occur in the stream of our behavior when we are hooked up with the relevant spiritual societies who are the source for our affective life or the will. Similarly with our cognitive life which is the stream of thinking. It is made to take a certain direction and to avoid certain others so that we arrive at our next step in our thinking without the slightest awareness that it ended up there through the pushes and pulls of the spirit societies to which the Lord is hooking us up moment by moment.
The directionality of our thinking is constrained by the affections living in our will. The Lord cannot hook us up to good spirits whose influence would cause our thinking to end up in a place that we reject as strange and not of our own. We only accept as our own the thoughts we can love. Therefore the Lord is constrained by our loves, and can only exert so much influence before it is detected by our inherent opposition. Should we detect the Lord’s forceful operation in our mind we would instantly be infuriated against Him and reject Him creating a much worse situation for ourselves. Hence the Lord’s infinite love for us compels Him to restrict what societies He can hook us up with moment by moment, bending the affections and thoughts towards good, but never forcing:
The Lord never forces anyone, for nothing to which anyone is forced appears as his own; and what does not appear to be his own cannot be his love's, and so be appropriated to him as his own. Therefore man is led by the Lord continually in freedom, and is also reformed and regenerated in freedom. (DP 43; see also: AC 3348, 1079; AE 151; SE 2012).
Whatever is done for the sake of the end, namely, salvation, is according to the laws of the Divine Providence. For, as was said before, the Divine Providence, keeping this end continually in view, is constantly moving in ways different from and contrary to man's will. Therefore, at every moment of its operation or at every step of its progress, when it perceives man to deviate from this end, it directs, bends and disposes him in accordance with its laws by withdrawing him from evil and leading him to good.
There are thousands and thousands of arcana, of which scarcely a single one is known to man, whereby a man is led by the Lord out of the life of hell into the life of heaven. (AC 9336)
It will be seen in what follows that this cannot be done without permitting evil. Moreover, nothing can be permitted without a cause, and such a cause is only to be found in some law of the Divine Providence which explains why it is permitted. (DP 234)
Self-witnessing disciplines become religious and spiritual when we turn to the Lord for strength and capacity out of a motive for cooperating in our regeneration. It becomes a holy discipline. Therein lies the holiness of the religious life. As I have practiced self-witnessing disciplines for years I can present some of the observations I was able to make about myself. You will see that what applies to one individual also applies to others since we share heredity and culture.
As I monitor my threefold self in the stream of behavior I notice many things that are in place in my habit routines and mental scripts. One large area to witness is food behavior. What are my thoughts? What procedures do I follow? Do I follow rules or merely cravings? How do I decide when to start, when to stop? How fast do I put things in my mouth and in what sizes? Do I swallow what’s there before I put more in it? Do I chew adequately? Do I dislike exerting control over how fast I eat and how much? Do I exert a veto power over my cravings? Etc. The monitoring of these sequences is equivalent to a mapping of the spiritual societies we are connected to. For instance if we stuff and swallow repeatedly we are with different spirits than if we moderate size and rate. If we deny ourselves another portion we are with different spirits than if we give in to our appetite and overeat. Affections for unhealthy foods come from different spiritual societies than affections for healthy food.
One arouses spirits of the same character and feeling as oneself.
That a person's states are changing day by day, every hour, even every minute, is obvious. Therefore, there are very many states of understanding, and states of feeling. Now there is something dominant in each person, and no matter what state a person slips or comes into, there are spirits who had had the same ruling passion in their life interacting and cooperating. So they are not always the same, but many different ones, and all of them think they are the person; in my case, only that they were with me. (SE 1928)
Another large area of daily self-witnessing is the behavioral sequences we chain when doing something physically. As I get dressed I observe when I decide what to wear, how I take off what I’m wearing in the house, and how I put the clothes on. I had a habit of taking my shirt off by pulling it off my head in one rapid motion. When the shirt was tight or had buttons I would often rub my eye in the process. My eye eventually started having an unpredictable twitch that would last for a few minutes at a time. My wife heard about it and urged me to moderate myself and be more rational about it. I must not use brute force. I must do it in two stages, head first, then shoulders and arms. I resisted this for a long time and kept injuring my eye. Today I have a little more control over the process and my eye sopped twitching. But it continue to be a conscious discipline and I remind myself that I have to get rid of the affections that keep me hooked to the bad spirits that enjoy my distress.
While doing repair and cleaning tasks around the house I observed myself with numerous illogical and stupid ways of doing many details. I would try to work on something that was located at the extreme point of my reaching, doing it inefficiently, resisting the logic of getting the step ladder. Many such details occur in the course of an hour of work. I seem to follow the principle of “least effort” as the standing operational procedure for all my movements. I also take risks that are foolish and cause trouble. I would throw something, and miss, instead of walking it over. I would try to pick up a leaf on our pool deck, bend down as I walk, miss it, try to grab it again, miss it again, and finally stop and pick it up. A similar illogic animates my behavior routines when I vacuum the carpets. When I’m being with good spirits I take care to get things off the carpet that are going to be in my way. When I’m being with bad spirits I try to move the things with one had as I keep pushing the vacuum with the other, an ineffective and dangerous procedure that interferes with the cleaning and gives me muscle stress or injury.
I also witness myself doing what I had seen my father do for years—get mad at objects while manipulating them. At some point of trying to screw something or unscrew, or fit into something else, he would swear and kick and smash as if some frenzied spirits had suddenly invaded his mind. Now this insane script repeats itself through me. But I put a stop to it. I make myself stay with the good spirits who inspire deliberate caution, prudence, and rationality in the sequence of my thoughts, and motions.
When I stand waiting for someone to finish talking, I automatically lean against the wall or some furniture in a slouching position. Now I have trained myself to stand up straight, chest up, stomach in, breathing regularly. It took years of daily strengthening disciplines like brisk walking, working resistance bands, Yoga, and Somatics. Now when I stand, I stand straight with the affections that bring good spirits around. I also monitor my face, that it may be appear pleasant to the onlooker. I watch my face in the mirror as I go by and find my expression compressed downward as if I’m worried or tired. So I reset it out of a motive to be in the company of better spirits. Whatever these affections are that create a hardship expression on my face, are affections that I cannot bring with me to heaven. Therefore I must practice now to get rid of them.
I believe that physical and mental disciplines, when the motive is spiritual, are excellent methods of preparation for our regeneration because they foster the growth of a suitable natural-rational area in our New Church mind. Both the natural mind and physical body benefit from appropriate disciplines that prepare and develop the natural-rational mind. Yet not all forms of physical and mental disciplines are compatible with the New Church mind. In my view competitive sports has many harmful aspects to the regenerating mind when practiced without restraint. When my two children were growing up I tried to counteract the ferocity of their desire to win by recommending that they always try for second place in a contest, not first place. This advice was intensely snubbed by them in their childhood and onward—such is the opposing power of peer influence and the media.
To many people it smacks as un-American not to want to be first in any contest one is in. Psychotherapists and counselors present the view that we should be rational about it, as expressed in this type of attitude: “I would like very much to win, but if I don’t, I’m not going to cry over it.” This intelligent principle of the natural-rational mind is not yet a spiritual motivation, though many people have trouble doing even this much. How many people have you encountered who are sore losers, or else, depressed ones? Many indeed.
Conquering and discarding the irresistible desire to be first is a useful mental discipline for the New Church mind. It helps prepare the natural-rational mind to align itself by correspondence to the developing interior-natural. For instance, altruism and patriotism, which are natural mental disciplines in the external mind, can receive within them spiritual things from heaven through the growing interior-natural. Altruism can receive love of neighbor for the sake of the Lord and love of uses for their own sake, and these are spiritual things from heaven that are received in the interior mind (AC 1935). Patriotism can receive love of the Lord’s Kingdom (Heaven and the universal Church on earth) (TCR 407).
All who have had conscience are saved; but they who have had no conscience cannot be saved. (AC 5145)
Chapter 1, Section 3
As it is desirable that the origin of perception, internal dictate, and conscience, should be known, and as at the present day it is altogether unknown, I may relate something on the subject. It is a great truth that man is governed by the Lord by means of spirits and angels. When evil spirits begin to rule, the angels labor to avert evils and falsities, and hence arises a combat. It is this combat of which the man is rendered sensible by perception, dictate, and conscience. By these, and also by temptations, a man might clearly see that spirits and angels are with him, were he not so deeply immersed in corporeal things as to believe nothing that is said about spirits and angels. Such persons, even if they were to feel these combats hundreds of times, would still say that they are imaginary, and the effect of a disordered mind. I have been permitted to feel such combats, and to have a vivid sense of them, thousands and thousands of times, and this almost constantly for several years, as well as to know who, what, and where they were that caused them, when they came, and when they departed; and I have conversed with them. (AC 227)
Every human being is equipped with “perception, internal dictate, and conscience” (AC 1043). These functions of the inner mind are produced by our correspondential interaction with spirits and angels. We can be consciously aware of the effects of these interactions on our thinking and willing moment by moment in our daily activities. It’s important to know the psycho-physiology of these interactions and the more details we learn the better we can manage them. The human mind is not a static repository of memories and drives or needs. A better model would be to think of the “online mind” as when we are “being online” with the computer, surfing the Internet. In order for you to be connected to the World Wide Web your computer must be networked or hooked up to another computer called a “server” owned and run by an “online service provider.” These companies charge you for keeping your computer connected to the network.
There are many networks connected together by this industry so that it is global. Millions of computers around the world are thus interconnected into one grand network, able to interact by text, by images, by voice, by video. Some of the images, text, voice and video recordings, are on your computer. You can view or hear them when you’re not online since they are permanently stored on your personal computer, and you can access them at any time any number of times. But most of the text and recordings in the global network are not on your personal computer—they are on other people’s computers. In order to access or view them, you must be online.
The lower part of your mind is called the natural mind. It is below the spiritual mind. These two portions of the mind are discretely different: they operate differently, on different principles, made of different materials. They can interact through the laws of correspondences. But within each portion of the mind, the interaction is not by correspondences, but by direct contact and communication. The natural mind is similar to the online computer with global network connectivity. Its connection to the natural world is by direct contact, but its connection to the spiritual world is by indirect correspondence. We are therefore dual citizens. A horizontal or direct connection to everything in the physical world, and a vertical connection to everything in the spiritual world. Therefore what is going on in our mind is not static from what is deposited there, but dynamic from our constant interactions with the horizontal network and the vertical network.
The mind is never inactive, even during sleep. The two organs of the mind—will and understanding-- are always active, just like the right and left hemispheres of the brain. The brain’s activity is electro-chemical, that is, physical, but the mind’s activity is sensory and rational, that is, spiritual. The mind is also called the spirit-body (DLW 391).
The spirit-body of every human being is created along with the physical body, and is connected to it. The Lord is the Manager of these connections (HH 112). He makes sure that the connections don’t get mixed up! The same spirit-body, or mind, must be connected to the same physical body as long as the person still lives on earth. But in the afterlife, the spirit-body is no longer connected to the physical world. The Lord also manages the universal network of human beings, past and present, all of whom live in the spiritual world. Those who are still connected to a physical body are also in the spiritual world since the mind, or spirit-body, cannot descend into the physical universe. It is born in the spiritual world, and never leaves it.
The Lord manages the countless numbers of people who have ever been born on the countless earths in the universe. He interconnects them so that in His eyes this entire network is joined together into the shape and form of a human being. This universal network is called the Grand Human (or Grand Man), and Swedenborg has been given to see it also so that he may describe it for us and be a witness that it does indeed exist (EU 9; AC 684, 1276).
Theistic science will in the future be able to describe many of these details by extracting them from the Writings. Some of the details we can read in the literal of the Writings, but most of the rest is hidden and must be extracted by appropriate analytic procedures of rational thinking as specified in the Writings. Since the Writings are the Word, they are written in a style that accommodates the infinite Divine Truth of the Lord. There are more truths hidden in the Writings than can ever be extracted by the cumulative human race forever (xx). Clearly, Swedenborg could not know or understand most of what lies hidden in the sentences that He composed under the guidance of the Lord. This is also true of the sentences composed by the prophets and writers of the Old and New Testaments. The writers could not know what was hidden or located inside those sentences. Only the Lord could know and knows, for He is the infinite Divine Truth by which everything created is made of.
The purpose of being born on earth is that we can develop our natural mind which then allows our spiritual mind to also develop. These two minds must be formed together in order for us to be able to live as angels in heaven. This is the Lord’s purpose in creating the universe, namely, to have the earths be incubators for angles in the heavens. The heavens are so formed and arranged that its inhabitants can live a perfect life to eternity. The Lord’s Divine Love is the motive for this purpose. The Lord desires with infinite power and intensity to create angels whom He can make perfectly happy. For in this activity His Love finds fulfillment.
The whole angelic heaven consists solely of the Divine Truth which proceeds from the Lord, the reception of which makes angels (AE 594)
How does the Lord achieve His purpose of creating more and more angels? Why does He not create every human being full fledged, an angel in heaven? Why does He first make human beings divided, physical body on earth, spirit-body in the spiritual world? The general answer is that He does everything in accordance with His Order, which is rational and consistent. We need to understand why this idea just mentioned is a human idea that is not fully rational. An angel in heaven who is created full fledged is not a rational idea. Perhaps a robotic angel could be created this way, but not a human being who has a sense of total freedom and selfhood.
All happiness of life can exist only in an angel who has a sense of freedom and selfhood, of identity and purpose different from another angel. An angel must have a history, a biography, unique experiences, in order to feel free and a self. Thus, every angel is unique due to this cumulative experience of selfhood, and this to eternity (DP 334).
This sense of self-generated freedom and cumulative identity or personality requires therefore social life, birth into a family or society, an environment that provides variable sensory input, and a mind that is self-conscious of itself, willing and thinking moment by moment, and thus accumulating experiences and a biography. This life cannot be created in one fell swoop, by fiat, by pronouncing a Divine Word. It must develop from beginning to eternity. By deeper studies of the Writings you will be able to understand why this individual life cannot be produced solely in heaven, and thus why there must be a dual universe: natural and spiritual. We are thus born on some earth in the universe, are connected to a physical body for awhile, then we are cut off from the physical universe at death and then live eternally in the spiritual world.
This is also the reason why the spiritual world has the outside appearance of the natural world. Our spirit-body is developing all along through our sensory and rational experiences while connected to the physical body. It would be mighty strange and impossible to then all of a sudden lose everything that is contained in the spirit-body! What is our sense of selfhood and freedom if by death the spirit-body is thrown into a coma of unconsciousness? There is not selfhood other than the biography we have accumulated since birth and through our physical activities on earth. The people we have known and loved, the activities we have learned to do and desire, our set of unique preferences and thoughts—these have all come into existence through the physical body and our social life on earth. They cannot be taken away altogether, for then nothing is left.
And so it is inevitable and rational that the appearance of the spiritual world and spirit-body be like the appearance of the natural world and physical body. Heavenly inhabitations are therefore like earthy ones, but more magnificent by many orders of difference. The environment of heaven is kept in perfect order by the Lord since it is a spiritual environment, but the environment on earth is not. Hence there is disorder in the physical universe.
The Lord creates the physical universe and body to allow the possibility of disorder, and He also maintains the disorder that does develop in strict bounds or limits. These limits are called the Laws of Permissions (DP 234). No disorder can come into existence except that which is allowed by these Laws of Permissions. If you study the Writings you will learn about these laws through the history of civilizations or “Churches.” These historical developmental details are also applicable to the individual biographical details of every human being. In order to become an angel, our spirit-body must develop and go through these various stages or phases which are described in the historical developments of the human race. The development of the individual’s mind recapitulates the evolution of civilizations (AC 10225).
The early generations on this earth belonged to the civilization of the Most Ancient Church (NJHD 247). They were a celestial race and they were able to be consciously aware of their dual citizenship by direct conscious perception of the environment in the spiritual world. They had direct communication with parents and teachers who were already in heaven. They spent but a few years on earth and became quickly ready to become angels in heaven. They were peaceful and loving and valued only those things that were useful to prepare their mind for life in heaven. They lived in conjugial love in perfect marriage unions that then continued in heaven. They are still there, of course, and Swedenborg had occasion to talk to them (CL 75). But in the course of time, other civilizations emerged with people who liked to experiment with disorder. Eventually the disorder became primary and the human race then took downward turn. This is called the Fall (AC 127, DP 275).
Today we are part of the fallen generations and the Lord has provided new ways by which we can live our life on earth in preparation for heaven. In this fallen state our physical and spirit body must develop in a an environment of disorder. From heredity our two bodies are filled with disorder that is maintained by our connectivity to evil spirits as well as angels. Upon death of the physical body, the spirit-body starts conscious life in the spiritual world. All sorts of disorder have formed this spirit-body, thus there are both good and evil spirits. Good spirits are those whose spirit-body can be regenerated, which means that the disorder can be removed by the Lord without destroying the individual’s sense of selfhood. Evil spirits are those whose spirit-body cannot be regenerated, which means that the disorder cannot be removed by the Lord without destroying the individual’s sense of selfhood.
Good spirits can be prepared for life in heaven by further experiences in the world of sprits, located midway between heaven and hell. Evil spirits can be prepared for life in hell. Hell is the environment the Lord creates through His Laws of Permissions. Various sorts of disorder are allowed in order to create an environment that would accommodate the many varieties of evil lusts and insane fantasies. In this way, the evil spirits can continue to have a sense of selfhood and freedom. They live in the hells forever since they are immortal and since they are unable to give up the disorder that makes up their spirit-body. In hell they are called devils, satans, genii, sirens, and many other names depending on the disorder of their character.
While our spirit-body is still connected to the physical body we are able to undergo regeneration if we agree to cooperate with the Lord in this healing and purification process. The Lord cannot remove disorder in us unless we agree to it. If He removed them without our agreement we would lose our sense of freedom and selfhood, hence our happiness of life as human beings. The Lord therefore labors with every person to achieve cooperation. The more cooperation we give, the more He can regenerate us, that is, remove the inherited and acquired disorder. Nothing is more crucial therefore than learning how to cooperate with the Lord in our regeneration!
The confession of the Lord and the acknowledgment of His Divine in His Human is the life of all truth, both in the Word and in doctrine from the Word. (AE 392)
The Lord provides two methods for this cooperation, one external, the other internal. The external method is through learning truths from revelation called “the Word.” The internal method is through perception, internal dictate and conscience, as described in the passage quoted above. By acquiring Doctrine of Life in our understanding from the Word, we can be reformed so that we can lay aside the false ideas in our mind from culture and self-intelligence. By compelling ourselves to obey the inner dictate of conscience, we can be regenerated gradually until all disorder is removed from our active personality. By these two methods our spirit-body develops a new constitution, one that can live in heaven where only order can exist. Any disorder left in the active personality makes it impossible for us to live in the environment of heaven. It is crucial therefore that we use every moment of life on earth, every day and every minute of the hour, to continue this process of reformation and regeneration.
The Lord gives us awareness of the disorder in us bit by bit. He very carefully manages this process so that we never feel like we are forced or compelled by Him, but only by our self. Our reformation and regenerating proceeds day by day seemingly through our own effort and choices. Of course there is no power in the universe except the power of the Lord. And so we must keep in mind that our efforts as-of self are required but that it is the Lord who supplies all the power for the effort and the change. If we forget this we are going to assume that the power is ours, and this is a disorder of insanity or fantasy, hence we cannot be reformed and regenerated. Neither can we say to the Lord, “You go ahead and do it for me or to me.” This would also be a disorder of insanity. So there is no other way but to compel ourselves to act in accordance with conscience and the truths we derive from the Word.
To act means to will and to think. Our physical body merely does what we are willing and thinking moment by moment. And so the focus of regeneration must be on willing and thinking. You can see that there is no reformation and regeneration without self-witnessing, that is, without monitoring your stream of willing and thinking moment by moment. When you are monitoring the moment by moment stream of willing and thinking, the Lord makes sure that you become aware of a particular disorder in you. This conscious awareness is brought about by temptations. There are natural temptations, spiritual temptations, and celestial temptations (AC 847). We must learn what they are from the Word. The way we must handle these three types is different. Each requires its own healing procedure.
 There are many kinds of temptations, which are in general the celestial, the spiritual, and the natural; and these ought never to be confounded. Celestial temptations can exist only with those who are in love to the Lord, and spiritual ones with those only who are in charity toward the neighbor. Natural temptations are altogether distinct from these, and indeed are not temptations, but merely anxieties arising from natural loves being assailed by misfortunes, diseases, or a depraved condition of the blood and other fluids of the body. From this brief account it may in some degree be known what temptation is, namely, anguish and anxiety occasioned by whatever opposes one's loves. Thus with those who are in love to the Lord, whatever assails this love produces an inmost torture, which is celestial temptation; with those who are in love toward the neighbor, or charity, whatever assails this love occasions torment of conscience, and this is spiritual temptation.
 But with those who are natural, what they frequently call temptations and the pangs of conscience, are not temptations, but only anxieties arising from their loves being assailed, as when they foresee and are sensible of the loss of honor, of the good things of the world, of reputation, pleasures, bodily life, and the like; nevertheless these troubles are wont to be productive of some good. Temptations are moreover experienced by those who are in natural charity, and consequently by all kinds of heretics, Gentiles, and idolaters, arising from assaults on the life of their faith which they cherish. But these are distresses that merely emulate spiritual temptations. (AC 847)
You can see from this that a temptation is a warning or distress signal we receive when the Lord brings us into conscious awareness of a disorder in our willing and thinking. To acquire a moral character we must remove the immoral within us. This we must do as-of self by experiencing a conflict in our mind. This conflict is the result of an actual battle that surrounds our spirit-body in the spiritual world. Evil spirits approach our spirit-body and infuse into it evil desires and insane thoughts. This infusion process is quite common when spirits congregate together or come near to each other. As a result of this infusion or influence, our mind becomes active with the particular disorder that characterizes those spirits. The Lord connects and disconnects our association with evil spirits, moment by moment, bringing near certain evils spirits at certain times, and keeping others away.
The Lord decides at which point we are ready and willing to deal with a particular disorder. He then brings around the evil spirits whose character relates to this particular disorder in us. We are then conscious of this disorder. We feel it as a desire or need or motive or purpose. It is in our will and we have the strong desire to engage in it, to follow it, to identify ourselves with it, to become it. Simultaneously, the Lord brings around good spirits or angels, and they engage the evils spirits in combat. They use truths of the Word in our understanding to fight this struggle.
You can see from this description what a temptation is. Our mind, or spirit-body, is surrounded by evil and good spirits engaged in a fight. The weapons of combat are the truths and falsities in our spirit-body from experience and inheritance. The Lord carefully manages the combat so that we have the maximum chance of winning. We can still lose if we insist on identifying with the falsities activated by the evil spirits. For example, I suddenly feel an impulse to get up from this typing and go to the kitchen and eat some more chocolate. I already had some chocolate just a few minutes ago, but now I want some more. This is the sign that the Lord has approached certain evils spirits that excite my mind to eat more than I want to. This is a disorder in me from childhood, very familiar. I would be obese by now if I gave in to it. Certainly it has caused me to be overweight for many years. Being obese or overweight is a disorder. If I arrive in heaven with this disorder, I cannot enter it and my eternal happiness.
So I must rid my character of this disorder. I think about denying myself for the sake of my diet, rationally chosen, and for the sake of maintaining order. This is a sign that the Lord has approached good spirits. And now the combat of temptation is on. I am in it. Whether I win or lose depends on my free choice.
Consider another example. As I’m typing this one of my cats enters the room (the other two are already asleep). He does the usual thing, trying to engage me in his ritual. He makes a characteristic sound behind me. That is his demand. Now my temptation begins. I don’t want to stop writing and go ritualize with him. I ignore him, hoping he will go away. This is a disorder of my willing which is activated by the evil spirits the Lord has approached to my spirit-body in the spiritual world. I feel a pang of guilt. I love my cat and I don’t want him to feel rejected and unhappy. He depends on me for services like feeding, scratching, grooming, and playing. This is his life, his happiness, and I’m denying it for him. What kind of love is this? These thoughts and feelings are signs that the Lord has brought certain good spirits to the vicinity of my spirit-body. The combat is on.
Now Mana escalates. He jumps on the table where the computer is and looks at me four inches away. I have the impulse of picking him up and putting him out so he stops bothering me. I’m afraid that he is going to jump on the keyboard or on the zip drive or behind the table where the wires are. I’m thinking what a little pest he is. I’m gritting my teeth with anger. I feel like slapping him off. Etc. All these thoughts and feelings are activated by the particular spirits the Lord has brought near. Simultaneously I feel guilt, regret, compassion. How can I be so cruel and selfish to this little creature of God whom I love? Tears come to my eyes when I see the monster I am. I am shocked at myself, at the feelings of violence and cruelty. These thoughts and emotions are a signal that the Lord has brought certain good spirits around who are infusing and activating the ideas and attitudes that I have developed in the past. I am surrounded by warring combatants. Who will I let win? Therein lies my fate and my future.
I look at the beautiful little creature’s face and I’m ashamed of myself. I get up. He follows me. We go to the kitchen. I feed him. He doesn’t want it. I give him some cold mild on a plate. He smells it and walks away. He goes to the spot where the catnip box is kept and looks up. I give him some on a tray. He revels in it, lying on it, putting it all over his body, licking it. He lies on his side and looks at me expectantly. Throughout these activities I’m experiencing the conflict. I want to go back to the typing. I want to spend the minimum time. I want to cheat him out of some of the things he demands and wants. I make myself stay and postpone leaving, moment by moment. I give him grooming, I play with him with his string. At last I am able to say, OK, enough is enough. I walk away. I close the door so he can’t come back to interrupt me. I feel guilty about that. I resume my typing, relieved. Etc.
You can see from this description what temptation combats are and how they involve the second by second stream of willing and thinking of our behavior all day long. This is what our regeneration is made of. This is how the Lord can prepare our mind for heavenly life, by removing disorder that He brings to our attention, if only we are willing to focus on the details. Every day brings temptations, every hour and every minute. There are many temptations in a single minute. No topic is left out, large or small, for our life is nothing but a collection of these topics, our feelings and thoughts running themselves off. When the Lord judges that we are no longer willing or able to handle more temptations, our time has come and we make the transition to the spiritual world.
From then on we are absolutely unwilling to undergo more temptations. Such as we then are, such we remain. To the extent that we are willing to deal with remaining disorders, the Lord can continue to regenerate us. But we are only willing to do this if we have arrived imbued with a love for the Lord, for the Doctrine that we have acquired from the Word or from our religion and conscience.
Conscience is twofold, interior and exterior; interior conscience is that of spiritual good and truth, exterior conscience is that of what is just and equitable. Conscience itself is an interior plane in which the influx of the Divine good terminates. But they who have no conscience have not any interior plane to receive this influx; and with these persons good flows through down to the exterior natural or natural-sensuous; and as before said is there turned into foul delights. Sometimes these persons seem to feel a pain as of conscience, but it is not conscience; it is a pain arising from the loss of their delight, such as that of honor, gain, reputation, life, pleasures, or the friendship of people like themselves; and this is because the terminations are in delights like these. (AC 5145)
Heaven is within, in the highest portion of our mind. This spiritual-celestial mind must be opened or animated by means of temptations and regeneration. When it is opened, it then acts as a “termination” of resting place for the influx of spiritual truths. When these spiritual truths are in our mind, we are in heaven since heaven is in the spiritual truths. Spiritual truths are from the Lord, hence they are Divine. This is why it is said that the Lord dwells within us, that is, His divine Truth rests in our spiritual mind, and He is Divine Truth. Note that conscience exists in two forms, external in the natural mind, and interior in the spiritual mind.
External conscience strives to protect the natural goods and truths that we have accumulated such as the delights of honor, gain, reputation, life, pleasures, and friendships. The pain of external conscience is not spiritual conscience but the fear of losing natural delights and the things of the self and the world to which we are attached. Internal conscience strives to protect spiritual goods and truths such as our delights in being saved, loving uses, the neighbor, the Lord, and the Doctrine from His Word. Without this interior conscience, the spiritual mind cannot be opened and there is no termination or resting place for heaven in us.
Chapter 1, Section 4
What remains are, has been stated and shown above (AC n. 468, 530, 560, 561, 661, 798, 1050), namely, that they are all the states of the affection of good and truth with which a man is gifted by the Lord, from earliest infancy even to the end of life; which states are stored up for him for the use of his life after death; for in the other life all the states of his life return in succession, and are then tempered by the states of good and truth with which he has been gifted by the Lord.
The more remains therefore that a man has received in the life of the body, that is, the more of good and truth, the more delightful and beautiful do the rest of his states appear when they return.
That this is really so may be evident to everyone, if he will consider. When a man is born he has not a particle of good of himself, but is wholly defiled throughout with hereditary evil, and all that is good flows in, such as his love for his parents, his nurses, his companions; and this from innocence. Such are the things that flow in from the Lord through the heaven of innocence and peace, which is the inmost heaven, and thus is man imbued with them in his infancy.
 Afterwards, when he grows up, this good, innocent, and peaceful state of infancy recedes little by little; and so far as he is introduced into the world, he comes into its pleasures, and into cupidities, and thus into evils; and so far the celestial or good things of the age of infancy begin to disappear; but still they remain, and the states which the man afterwards puts on or acquires are tempered by them. Without them a man can never be a man, for the states of the cupidities, or of evil, if not tempered by states of the affection of good, would be more atrocious than those of any animal. These states of good are what are called remains, given by the Lord and implanted in one's natural disposition, and this when the man is not aware of it.
 In after life he is also gifted with new states; but these are not so much states of good as states of truth, for as he is growing up he is imbued with truths, and these are in like manner stored up in him in his interior man. By these remains, which are those of truth, born of the influx of spiritual things from the Lord, man has the ability to think, and also to understand what the good and the truth of civic and moral life are, and also to receive spiritual truth or faith; but he cannot do this except by means of the remains of good that he had received in infancy.
That there are remains, and that they are stored up in a man in his interior rational, is wholly unknown to man; and this because he supposes that nothing flows in, but that everything is natural to him, and born with him, thus that it is all in him when an infant, when yet the real case is altogether different. Remains are treated of in many parts of the Word, and by them are signified those states by which man becomes a man, and this from the Lord alone. (AC 1906)
This passage says a number of things about remains that can be summarized in the following points:
(1) Remains are “states of the affection of good and truth.” These states are in the interior mind and unconscious.
(2) The Lord implants these states throughout our life on earth, from infancy to the end. The are called “gifts of life.”
(3) All states of affection we acquire in this life, “return in succession” in the other life, the evil affections as well as the remains of good affections implanted by the Lord unbeknownst to us.
(4) The remains of good affections “temper” the injurious effects of the evil affections we brought with us into the afterlife.
(5) The more remains the Lord has been able to implant in our interior mind, “the more delightful and beautiful do the rest of our states appear when they return.” The Lord implants remains in our unconscious interior mind to the extent that we shun evils as sins consciously in our external mind (xx).
(6) The innocence of infants, expressed as “love for parents, nurses, companions,” is not in the infant or from the infant, but from the Lord through the influx of good. These flow in “from the Lord through the heaven of innocence and peace, which is the inmost heaven.” The states of good that flow in from the “heaven of innocence and peace” temper the infant’s evil states from inheritance so much so that the evil is hardly noticeable in the infant, and what shows instead is innocence and delight that make babies appear so cute and adorable to their parents and grown ups. These states of innocence remain for the afterlife, along with other remains implanted throughout life.
(7) But then, as the child grows up, “this good, innocent, and peaceful state of infancy recedes little by little; and so far as he is introduced into the world, he comes into its pleasures, and into cupidities, and thus into evils; and so far the celestial or good things of the age of infancy begin to disappear; but still they remain.” The innocence of childhood is succeeded developmentally by the corruption of evil delights and cupidities from the world and from inheritance. But the remains of innocence are stored up by the Lord in our interior mind for use in the afterlife, and this not only in our childhood, but throughout life, in proportion to our cooperation in reformation and regeneration.
(8) In the afterlife, we receive new states in proportion to our affection for truth: “these are not so much states of good as states of truth, for as he is growing up he is imbued with truths, and these are in like manner stored up in him in his interior man.” Without learning truths by means of education and experience, our afterlife cannot be rational, and yet heavenly life is in the truths we bring with us. These remains of truth are “born of the influx of spiritual things from the Lord.” Note that these are not the natural truths we also acquire, but the spiritual truths from the Lord through His Word. From these spiritual truths “man has the ability to think, and also to understand what the good and the truth of civic and moral life are, and also to receive spiritual truth or faith; but he cannot do this except by means of the remains of good that he had received in infancy.” Our natural intelligence of “civic and moral life” are enabled by the spiritual truths from the Lord without which civic and moral motives and decisions would not be present. Survival of society therefore depends on spiritual ideas from the Lord implanted in our unconscious interior mind.
(9) The civic and moral life, animated from within by the spiritual truths from the Lord, as well as the external religious life, can be animated by the Lord only “by means of the remains of good that we received in infancy.” These remains include the affection for good and truth. This is a celestial affection, not natural, for in the natural we do not love good and truth, and if it appears that we do, it is because of a motive for reward and merit—which are natural motives, not celestial.
At some point in adult life we must desire to return to the states of innocence in order to be motivated to undergo reformation, and then regeneration. These affections for good and truth are stored up by the Lord in our interior spiritual mind. Now as an adult independent thinker, we take up the Writings to gather the spiritual Doctrine by which we reorder our mind and struggle against the nonduality by which it is filled and in which it is immersed. First we read and study the literal of the Writings and take up its meaning into our natural-rational mind.
Once these rational truths are in our understanding, we can use them in our willing and thinking all day long. We analyze our concepts, assumptions, beliefs, and decisions, debunking their hidden and assumptive nonduality, reforming them into new shapes, new meanings, new assumptions, all of which are from the Lord through the rational truths we pick up from the Writings. The Lord then adjoins and conjoins the unconscious remains of good, and this action animates our truths, gives them power to guide our willing and thinking. In this way we are reformed and prepared for heavenly life.
Chapter 1, Section 5
Man's interiors are distinguished into degrees, and in each degree the interiors are terminated, and by termination are separated from the degree next below; it is thus from the inmost to the outermost.
The interior rational constitutes the first degree; in this are the celestial angels, or in this is the inmost or third heaven. The exterior rational makes the second degree; in this are the spiritual angels, or in this is the middle or second heaven. The interior natural makes the third degree; in this are good spirits, or the ultimate or first heaven. The exterior natural, or the sensuous, makes the fourth degree; and in this is man. These degrees in man are most distinct.
 Thence it is that if he lives in good, a man is as to his interiors a heaven in the least form, or that his interiors correspond to the three heavens; and hence it is that if a man has lived a life of charity and love, he can be carried after death even into the third heaven. But that he may be of this character, it is necessary that all the degrees in him should be well terminated, and thus by means of terminations be distinct from one another; and when they are terminated, or by means of terminations are made distinct from one another, each degree is a plane in which the good which flows in from the Lord rests, and where it is received.
Without these degrees as planes, good is not received, but flows through, as through a sieve or a basket that has holes in it, down to the sensuous, and then, being without any direction in the way, it is turned into a foulness which appears to those who are in it as good, namely, into the delight of the love of self and of the world, consequently into the delight of hatred, revenge, cruelty, adultery, and avarice, or into mere voluptuousness and luxury. (AC 5145)
Regeneration is to be understood as a psychobiological process of the mind. The mind is a spiritual organ, not natural, because it is constructed out of spiritual substances from the spiritual Sun. The essence of these substances is Divine Truth within which is Divine Love. Clearly, then, the mind is a rational construction because it is constructed out of truth. The substance of truth is a spiritual substance, immortal and permanent. The spiritual fibers that constitute the organ of the mind are laid down and coiled in particular directions. In this mode the mind is able to function as a receptor organ for spiritual truths flowing in from the Lord through heaven.
The mind develops by means of truths we learn or acquire through instruction and experience. The lower portions of the mind are called the external natural mind because it serves for a resting place or “vessel” for the natural goods and truths that enter through the senses of the physical body in the natural world. This external mind cannot receive any goods and truths from the spiritual world. Spiritual goods and truths can only be received by the upper portion of the mind, also called the interior or spiritual mind. This inner portion of the mind can only be built up by regeneration, and especially by our struggle against spiritual temptations. This struggle is what the Lord calls our cooperation in regeneration. The Lord opens the spiritual mind to the extent that we suffer ourselves to undergo regeneration by means of spiritual temptations.
The spiritual mind has three levels or discrete degrees: natural-spiritual, rational-spiritual, and celestial-spiritual. These three degrees in the spiritual mind correspond to the three heavens. If we suffer ourselves to undergo spiritual and celestial temptations, the spiritual mind can be opened all the way to the highest or inmost. Those who have this highest level opened can receive interior-rational truths, also called celestial truths. Within these inmost truths is the Third Heaven and those whose mind has been opened to this level become angels of the Third Heaven. But those who can receive only spiritual-rational truths, enter the Second Heaven. Those who can only receive natural-spiritual truths live in the First Heaven as angelic spirits. Those who can only receive external natural truths have their spiritual mind closed. When they arrive in the afterlife they sink down into hell because their mind has remained such as it was when they were born, namely, filled with “the delight of hatred, revenge, cruelty, adultery, and avarice, or ... mere voluptuousness and luxury.” Since this is their total functioning mind, they are unwilling to let go of its content and remain in them forever.
Regeneration is therefore the task of building up the spiritual mind.
This growth process consists of two steps in sequence. The first step is to let go of the evil affections in the natural mind. The second step is to compel yourself to will what is good from what you know is true. What is true refers to what the Writings teach. These principles of good and true are called the Doctrine of the Church in the mind. In other words, we study the Writings and formulate Doctrine in our understanding. This Doctrine teaches how we should will and think.
Since willing and thinking is made of thousands of particular items every hour and day, you can see that we must be able to monitor our willing and thinking sequences all day long to make sure that they agree with the Doctrine we have in our understanding of the Writings. There is no general way of being regenerated, by confessing, by repenting of all our sins during prayer, by giving charity or doing good to others. These things may be helpful and desirable but they do not accomplish regeneration. The only thing that will accomplish it is to become aware of all the items in our willing and thinking, judging them in the light of our Doctrine, and desisting from doing and thinking them because they are sins against the Lord and they prevent our spiritual mind from being opened. The Lord opens our spiritual mind to the extent that we are willing to clean out the natural mind as-of self.
A man's evils are in his thoughts and intentions (NJHD 164)
A man who examines himself for the purpose of practicing repentance, should explore his thoughts, and the intentions of his will; and there he ought to examine what he would do, if he were at liberty; that is, if he were not afraid of the laws, and the loss of reputation, honor, and gain. A man's evils are in his thoughts and intentions; and the evils which he does with the body are all from thence. Those persons who do not explore the evils of their thoughts and of their will cannot practice repentance; for afterwards they think and will just as they did before; and yet willing evils means doing them. This is meant by self-examination. (NJHD 164)
Self-examination is therefore a process of self-monitoring. This involves monitoring and note-keeping of our mental life in daily tasks and interactions with others. It is similar to self-witnessing but more limited in focus and duration. Each exercise involves keeping track in the three “domains” or organs of the mind: affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor.
Affective Organ (will):
“What feelings do I have in this situation?” Or: “What do I feel like doing right now?”
Cognitive Organ :(understanding):
“What thoughts do I have right now?” Or: “What are the words and sentences I’m thinking right now?”
Sensorimotor Organ (acting out and sensations):
“What sensations am I experiencing right now?” And: “What is my body doing and how does it appear to others—my face, my hands, my position, my rhythm, my voice, my breathing, etc.”
Keeping cumulative notes in a journal or diary is necessary. Dictating notes with a recorder is also useful. Part of the discipline is to review or analyze the data collected over many samples of one’s interactions and behaviors and to evaluate them as indicators of one’s dedication and progress in regeneration. (See Note 20 at end, for additional articles on the self-witnessing techniques.)
Another area is the entertainment content we enjoy on TV, comics, novels, and music. The New Church mind becomes polluted when we routinely enjoy and tacitly accept vulgarities, profanities and the portrayal of lusts and violence. Monitoring our exposure and involvement with these things allows us to turn away and to turn back, and so regain an innocence that teaches us to feel shocked at these rehearsals and dramatic portrayals of evil. Similarly, we must not allow ourselves to repeat and love lyrics that are profane and glorify disorderly things. On the other hand there are millions of people who enjoy the songs of romance that portray soul mates leading to eternal love and conjugal happiness. What a contrast between these angelic themes and the love-yourself promiscuity held up by popular songsters like a fiery serpent that is idolized by the unregenerate masses.
We can make a free choice to shun these fallen things for inner spiritual reasons rather than for mere obedience to authority such as parents or teachers. The New Church mind is set to cooperate with the Lord from within because the motive for cooperation is deep seated as it has to do with the afterlife and one’s eternal happiness or misery. There is no time for joking around and taking the small details of life as unworthy of our focus for struggle. We know that the last judgment for each of us will hinge on the mental habits of character we bring along to the spiritual world.
The “small” choices regarding our lifestyle—are we noisy neighbors or aggressive drivers, etc.—carry equal weight or greater weight than the large things of our biography—degrees, income, awards, recognition, important achievements. The little things carry more weight because they are far more numerous given that they are the constituents of the larger things. And the more frequently we perform non-charitable acts, thoughts, or feelings, the more they fix our character habits, and the less we can change in the afterlife. Our lot there is what we bring along.
Knowing this, and keeping it in mind through spiritual discipline, gives us the motive to persist and the courage to suffer through it.
Even ordinary and relatively mild things ought to be resisted and held in aversion. For instance when someone says to me “That was lucky” I feel prudent in thinking “Amen” to acknowledge that, in my mind, luck is something the Lord produces, not blind chance. Or if a student thanks me for a course they found valuable, I immediately make my mind dwell on the idea that it is the Lord who decides who gets what when. The Lord uses my skills to advance the development of others that He brings around to my sphere of communication. I had nothing to do with the actual success of it and its effects on others. I was allowed to participate in something the Lord had arranged and brought about. For example, when I get to the parking lot on campus and can’t find a space I inhibit an old habit of saying “Oh, no, how annoying!” and instead I say “Lord, you made this decision for me. Thy will be done, not mine” and when I find a space for my car I acknowledge it by saying “Thank you Lord.” And it’s been many years since I’ve been vigilant in breaking the verbal habit of saying “Darn!” “Shoot!” and “Gosh!” and of course, the Lord’s Name said in vain. These appear little things in the scheme of things and yet they are the most important in fixing our fate in the afterlife.
Those who have conscience do not swear in vain(AC 2842.)
It’s worth cautioning here that swearing acts can be subtle and subconscious. I noticed that I can swear merely with the body without words, like
q rolling the eyes in protest
q kicking an object in disgust
q whistling under the breath
q smirking as a comment
q slapping the thigh in disapproval
q snapping the fingers in condemnation
q and so on.
In the New Church mind these paralinguistic acts are outward manifestations of an inward rebellion against the Lord.
To fight this built-in habit we need to remind ourselves constantly that every detail is either from Divine Providence or Permissions (DP 234, 249, 251, SE 1088). This is a rational attitude. I try to remind myself of this frequently in the course of a day or hour: “This is the Lord’s doing.” I say to myself. Or: “The Lord did this to me.” I say these things when I’m under stress: When I trip and fall; when I can’t find a parking space; when I get a hernia; when I get into an accident; when I reflect on 9/11 and all things of our biography and history. It’s easier to attribute to Providence the good things in life, but we must do the same with the other details that are of His Permissions. We cannot slack off from our certitude that the Lord is in full command of all things all the time!
This means that we can’t back off from our rational certitude of the Lord’s omnipotence; we can’t think that when a tragedy happens that the Lord’s power somehow failed the prevent it. Every detail of that tragedy is under the Lord’s purview and power, including the skills that the attackers have to carry out their misdeed. We need to understand why the Lord gives ability to a child rapist to carry out his foul deed. It’s not because the Lord lacks power to prevent it. It’s not because the Lord was the source of the evil intent. Why then? The Lord rules and manages by means of His Divine Wisdom from His Divine Love, which has infinite power. This is where we must base our understanding of why the Lord gives His power to the evil doer. The Lord manages the hells no less than the heavens, but not in the same way. He prevents innumerable evils from being performed moment by moment. He keeps Himself in full control all the time of everything. And so His Divine Wisdom from His Divine Love creates and maintains a Divine order for all things and events.
The Laws of Permissions are part of this Divine order. It is a perfect order that allows only good to be the permanent outcome of every single thing. And the evil deeds of the rapist, or thief, or deceiver, also must have a permanent good outcome or else the deed cannot come into existence. This general idea can be deepened more and more with further study of the Writings, and it will then be very evident that the Lord is always in charge from His Love through His Wisdom. In short, this is a perfect world. The New Church mind must be willing to affirm that this is a perfect world, and find rational explanations for the evil in this perfect world.
My self-witnessing discipline also applies to the repeated choices I make in compelling myself to go through routine tasks in preparing for lectures without allowing myself to slack off because I’ve already reached the top of my career. And especially, the motives I have for sustaining my preparation and performing each detail of my tasks as instructor and mental coach. In the early years I would do my work conscientiously for external motives—reputation, awards, recognition, remuneration, fear, anxiety, enjoyment of dominion, etc. These good works will not help me in the afterlife and they will be put to sleep by the Lord and exiled to the far reaches of my spirit. Only those will help me that I did for interior motives, such as, that
q the Lord wants me to
q the angels are looking on
q I must perform compassion
q I must be fair
q I must set a good example
q I must be a good leader
q a sincere teacher
q a helpful coach.
Why must I have these motives? Because otherwise I act from hell and I am hating uses and the Lord, loving myself only.
As is a person's life in general therefore, so is his life in every individual part, indeed in the smallest individual parts of his motives and intentions - that is, of his will - and in the smallest individual parts of his thinking; so that not the least part of an idea can exist in which the same life is not present.
Take someone who is arrogant: arrogance is present in every individual endeavor of his will and in every individual idea of his thought. With someone who is avaricious avarice is in a similar way present, as is hatred with one who hates the neighbour. Or take someone who is stupid: stupidity is present in every individual part of his will and also of his thought, as is insanity with one who is insane. Such being the nature of man, his character is recognized in the next life from one single idea of his thought. (AC 1040)
In other words our general behavior is created out of particular details. Another way of saying this is that our macro-behaviors are made of our micro-behaviors. Also, every act of thinking is motivated just as every act of doing. The motive enters into every micro-behavior or else the behavior would not occur. A particular thought would not occur were it not motivated by some intention, affection, or goal. The expressions “someone who is arrogant” or “someone who is avaricious” or “someone who is stupid” signify the New Church mind in these specific states, which are states of temptation. We are sometimes arrogant, sometimes, avaricious, sometimes stupid. “Arrogance” signifies the “love of self and cupidities” (AC 623). “Avarice” signifies “to acknowledge and believe nothing” (AC 303). “Stupid” signifies “the corporeal sensual separated from the rational” (AE 923).
God is unceasingly present, and continually striving and acting in man (TCR 74)
When one acts honestly and justly with a companion, one person may do it for the purpose of appearing to be honest and just out of regard for himself and his own honor; another on account of the world and gain; a third with a view to reward and merit; a fourth out of regard for friendship; a fifth from fear of the law and the loss of reputation or employment; a sixth that he may draw someone to his own side, even when he is in the wrong; a seventh that he may deceive; and others from other motives. In all these instances, although the deeds are good in appearance, since it is a good thing to act honestly and justly with a companion, they are nevertheless evil, because they are done, not out of regard for honesty and justice and for the love of these, but out of regard for love of self and the world which the man loves; and honesty and justice are made to serve that love as servants who serve a lord, and whom the lord despises and dismisses when they fail to serve him. (HH 472)
This absolutist thinking is precisely what secular psychologists uniformly declare as unhealthy and counsel people that they cannot be happy and adjusted individuals as long as they do this kind of absolutist thinking that involves “I must” (I must be honest; I must be sincere; I must be a good role model, etc.). This is how Dr. Albert Ellis refers to this kind of thinking (Feeling Better, Getting Better, Staying Better: Profound Self-Help Therapy for Your Emotions. Impact Publishers, Inc). He is one of the best known scientific psychologists and a popular author and trainer of “rational-emotive therapy.”
For decades now, the theme of the mental health outlook being generally advocated by American psychologists has been to “learn to accept yourself as you are, free of any demands that you be different. Do not attempt to measure yourself or set some kind of value on yourself.” An icy cold atmosphere of nondualism surrounds the therapist’s client in the form of non-judgmentalism: “If you accept imperfection in yourself, you are less likely to engage in dangerous behavior such as striving for the unattainable.” The nondualist philosophy of unconditional self-acceptance teaches that maladjustment and neurotic anxiety stems from an excessively severe and watchful conscience. This theme was introduced more than 100 years ago by Sigmund Freud who, like Karl Marx, had no use for religion and sin. And yet God has revealed that the opposite is the reality: that sin is real, that the dictates of conscience are given by God as the means by which we are able to avoid the unending misery of hell. The New Church mind that practices the discipline of self-examination and emendation in every detail, is closest to reality, because closer to the Lord. In the Lord’s mercy through His omnipotence there is provided for anyone on this planet a way to heaven through conscience (NJHD 139).
The Lord provides a tremendously rich social and physical context for every individual’s daily life on earth. There is so much to do to survive or thrive. Our personality is made up of thousands of distinct habit routines we acquire in childhood, and onward to the end. Any one of these can be selected as a discipline that is fashioned into an excellence or expertise by dint of persistent techniques applied in daily rehearsals. For instance, for many years I have taken upon myself the discipline of washing dishes. I insist, without much opposition from others, that I wash the dishes for every meal. I beg people to just put their used dishes any time they wish on the counter by the sink and I will take care of it with pleasure. When I come around the kitchen and see any dishes I quickly wash them. Even today after years of discipline, I experience temptations of leaving them lying around when I don’t feel like doing dishes. What a joy there is in overcoming the temptations and doing the dishes. Also, I inspect the items to make sure I do a proper job. If my wife finds some ill washed dish or fork, I feel guilt and regret.
All of this relationship I am having with washing dishes makes it into a regeneration discipline because my motive is spiritual—that is, wishing to cooperate with the Lord as He strives with me to regenerate my character and make it fit for heavenly life. Only with this religious motive can the New Church mind build external natural “vessels” within which the angels can inflow with interior rational truths (NJHD 51). Only this interior rational mind can live in heaven. It is therefore of the utmost importance that we build these vessels for ourselves as we approach the gate of heaven. Otherwise we are tragically caught without wedding garments (Matt. xxii. 12 quoted in HH 180; TCR 331) or without oil in our lamp (Matt. 25:1-12 quoted in SS 17; AE 250).
True order is connected with decorum, beauty, elegance, perfection (TCR Additions 3)
Regeneration can only take place in the conscious aware mind!
The Lord is operating from within while we operate from without. This joint action defines regeneration. It is not something we can do on our own. It is not something the Lord can do for us unconsciously, without our conscious cooperation.
Regeneration begins after reformation. Reformation lasts months (see Volume 1) while regeneration lasts decades. Regeneration begins when we are enlightened, that is, immerse our thinking in spiritual-rational correspondences. These are a discrete degree above the natural-rational correspondences of the Letter of the Writings. Enlightenment depends on two steps. First, acquiring the Letter of the Writings as Divine Truth in our understanding. This refers to the literal meaning of the sentences and their inter-relationships noted by regular study. Second, applying this Divine Doctrine in our mind to our daily willing and thinking. The moment we begin this second step, we are enlightened by the Lord. We continue to be enlightened more and more as we continue to apply the Divine Doctrine in our understanding.
The enlightenment consists in a new perception of higher correspondences. This is the first time that the New Church mind is able, in conscious sensuous reality, to see into the spiritual world.
This new spiritual consciousness is the ecstasy of regeneration.
We are now conscious as a new birth. Before enlightenment we were immersed in natural-rational correspondences, which is the Letter of the Writings. This immersion of our thinking in natural-rational correspondences prevented like a veil, our seeing through it, which means, our seeing a more interior degree of it, which has been there all along but we cannot see it until we remove the veils.
We put the veils there, and maintain it up and dark to the vision.
The Lord permits it because it is our first state in regeneration, and we must be in this first phase in order to get on with it. The end is the celestial mind and personality we long for. We long for it from within, from the Lord, from creation, because the celestial mind is the final creation, the completion of the evolution of the human race. It is such as is the celestial mind of the angels in heaven who are wise far above anyone on earth. This wisdom can belong to the New Church mind while regenerating on earth.
Enlightenment is given to anyone, man or woman, at any age, from any religion or belief system, country, or planet. The Lord is with every human being in the universe, participating and co-managing every detail conscious to the individual, and managing by Himself every detail of which the individual is unconscious. Human life itself depends on the Lord being with that individual in this co-managerial process. Since the Lord manages these details in the mind of every individual, you can see that He can also give enlightenment to every individual. And He does, using the same condition or rule for everyone who wants His spiritual light. This condition is that the individual undergo regeneration. The Lord has therefore made a scientific revelation of Himself and His Divine Rational mind.
This Second Coming of the Lord takes place to each individual in enlightenment.
Although we worship the Letter of the Writings during reformation, our level of thinking and reasoning about regeneration and the Word, is immersed in the natural-rational correspondences of the literal meaning in the Letter of the Writings.
But enlightenment cannot be given by the Lord in the Letter!
Enlightenment refers to spiritual light from the spiritual Sun. Enlightenment is experienced as perception of spiritual-rational correspondences within the natural-rational correspondences of the Letter. This is not a mysterious process, as is fully explained in Volume 2. It is a mechanism of regeneration over which we have rational control. Enlightenment is an organic process going on in the internal portion of the natural-rational mind (consult diagrams in Volume 2). As we are struggling and progressing in our regeneration, the Lord is creating a new mind within the natural-rational mind. This is a biological new growth of spiritual fibers at a discrete degree above the spiritual fibers of natural-rational correspondences in the external natural-rational mind. Now, in this new organic receptor within our rational, we are capable of perceiving consciously with direct sensuous awareness, interior truths which from the Lord only and are called spiritual-rational correspondences.
Spiritual-rational correspondences are within natural-rational correspondences. This is because the new interior-rational mind the Lord is creating within the individual, is a discrete degree above the individual’s self-intelligence from the Letter. When our thinking is immersed in and reasons from the Letter, it is called self-intelligence because it must be the first phase of regeneration. We must be led by self-intelligence to being regenerated, otherwise we feel coerced, and lose our life should the Lord continue to coerce us. And then we’ll never regenerate and be blissful conjugial husbands in heaven to eternity! That ecstasy must be bought by our agony.
Why? Because we are born infernal, and to extirpate the infernal fibers in our will, while new heavenly fibers are implanted, is to experience agony. Regeneration is therefore both ecstasy and agony. At first, more of the agony than the ecstasy. But in old age, the New Church mind is passed the agony and lives in the ecstasy of the innocence of wisdom. This will be the subject of Volume 4 (in preparation).
We experience enlightenment as ecstasy. It is the conscious perception of spiritual-rational correspondences. This enlightenment is given to anyone. Volume 2 describes the mechanism by which the Lord gives this enlightenment to any individual. You’ll find there methods which the regenerating New Church mind can use to extract the spiritual sense from the Letter of the Writings. These techniques are taught in the Writings and are from the Writings. The Lord gives enlightenment in proportions. The proportion is determined by the individual. First, the individual must take up in the understanding, the natural-rational correspondences in which the Letter of the Writings are written. These now operate in the highest portion of the natural-rational mind of self-intelligence. They are ready to serve as “vessels” or cognitive meanings within which the Lord can implant the interior-natural mind. Once this mind gets going, it operates only and purely by spiritual-rational correspondences it has from influx.
Once we perceive consciously these spiritual-rational correspondences, we are enlightened. There is no mystery to it, only a rational mechanism in human consciousness operated by the Lord for the sake of our regeneration.
By means of enlightenment, the Lord can elevate our conscious awareness to heavenly light. This conscious awareness is not corporeal or natural-sensuous. It is rational. Enlightenment refers to the consciousness of the celestial mind. This mind responds and reacts to spiritual correspondences, while the natural mind responds and reacts to natural correspondences. The Letter of the Writings on earth is necessarily written in natural-rational correspondences, but in heaven it is written in spiritual-rational correspondences.
By allowing that the Letter of the Writings is written in natural-rational correspondences, we receive enlightenment and we can begin our regeneration.
Now we begin regeneration in earnest. Our head is in heaven while our feet are in hell!
Our head was not in heaven until enlightenment. The Letter of the Writings cannot give enlightenment because it is necessarily written in natural-rational correspondences. All spiritual things written down in a natural language must be natural-rational correspondences. There is no other possibility. The topic itself may be spiritual, such as the Lord, the Word, regeneration. But the understanding of the spiritual topics is at the level of natural-rational correspondences. Spiritual topics can be understood at the level of corporeal correspondences, in which case we have an Old Testament perspective on God and religious behavior. Further, spiritual topics can be understood at the level of sensuous correspondences, in which case we have an New Testament perspective on God and religious behavior. Finally, spiritual topics can be understood at the level of rational correspondences, in which case we have a Third Testament perspective on God and religious behavior.
None of these correspondences in which the Threefold Word is written can give enlightenment.
For the New Church mind enlightenment is given when the Letter of the Writings is seen as natural-rational correspondences so that one then has the willingness to extract the spiritual sense from the literal by means of the techniques prescribed for this process by the Writings (see Volume 2 for many citations and explanations).
Being enlightened means that the New Church mind is ready to progress in regeneration. The head is in ecstasy and spiritual light, consciousness, and clarity of vision, and wisdom. It is wonderful to enjoy this clarity of vision. Everything else we read or hear about, we can give a rational and wise explanation. To see the world through the light of spiritual-rational correspondences is to see from heavenly light. It ends the search for truth, enlightenment, God, just as for a lost pedestrian on the beach at night, arriving in the lighthouse ends the search for safety and life. Suddenly there is light where before was darkness. Suddenly there is hope and comfort. Now we are carried by the gentle yet powerful stream of spiritual-rational correspondences in our interior-rational mind that the Lord is forever building up to the extent that we continue the process of applying our enlightenment to our daily willing and thinking.
Can the enlightenment be taken away? Easily. In a moment. What causes it to be taken away by the Lord? The Lord doesn’t take it away, but we do by erecting a cloud, dark and false, between the natural and the spiritual correspondences. An example of erecting a dark cloud is the convinced belief that the literal meaning of the Writings is the spiritual meaning of the Word (see Volume 2). Another example is the belief that one can be regenerated by the casual study of the Writings, or its familiarity by collateral literature. This is a stumbling block to regeneration because it prevents the individual from being enlightened. Enlightened is possible only after the individual has acquired in the understanding, passages from the Letter of the Writings. As these natural-rational correspondences are applied to our willing and thinking, we achieve enlightenment, in proportion to our application. And this is the agony.
The head is in heaven, but the feet are in hell. through the head we have ecstasy; through the feet we have agony. That our feet are in hell means that our will is still infernal and will remain with infernal portions for many years and decades as regeneration proceeds. Why are we in agony when our feet are in hell and our head is in heaven? Because from our head in heaven we perceive Divine truths in the form of spiritual-rational correspondences. This is called light from heaven. It is the light by which the angels see in heaven. It is the light which is within spiritual-rational correspondences. Without spiritual-rational correspondences our mind is in infernal light because there are only two possibilities. To see solely by the light of the literal meaning of the Word is to see only by the light of self-intelligence, and this is from the natural world because from the natural mind.
Enlightenment leads to agony because heavenly light illumines things that are in our will, which is in hell, that is, which is infernal by heredity. The agony is the torture we experience when Divine light shines on our infernal affections and delights. This searing torturing light is something that the evil spirits and societies are experiencing as divine light is brought near them (xx). When we look upon our affections and delights from the light of spiritual-rational correspondences, we are shining Divine Truth on the infernals tied to us. They experience this as torture and agony. They are trapped by us keeping them tied to us. As long as we love the infernal delights, we are tied to the devils and satans in hell. They cannot escape because they are tied to us as we are tied to them.
As long as we believe that these infernal affections and delights are our own, the tie cannot be broken by the infernals or by the individual.
They are with our lower self represented by our feet, but the angels are with our higher self represented by our head. Now there is a battle. This battle is called “combat” in the Writings which make many new scientific revelations about the rules of this combat, and its fateful outcome for the individual. IN general this topic is discussed in the Writings under the subject of “temptations” (e.g., xx, xx).
The Lord supervises this fateful combat between the hells and the heavens. In spiritual and celestial temptations, which are the most severe and crucial, the power of the angels enters our mind from within the spiritual-rational correspondences we have acquired from the spiritual sense of the Writings. These spiritual-rational correspondences are collected in our mind into a coherent principle and system of reasoning called by the Writings “the Spiritual Doctrine” (see Volume 2 for details).
The Spiritual Doctrine is the source by which the Lord gives enlightenment.
i The Word cannot be understood without doctrine.
ii. Doctrine must be drawn from the sense of the letter of the Word.
iii. But the Divine truth which must be of doctrine appears to none but those who are in enlightenment from the Lord. (SS 50)
We therefore do battle with the infernal delights by means of the Divine Doctrine in our mind called the Spiritual Doctrine (AC 2496, 2517). This means to have the head in heaven. The Spiritual Doctrine exists and is immersed in spiritual-rational correspondences. It cannot be written in a natural language but it can be written in a celestial language, as shown by the fact that the Writings in heaven are written in this script of spiritual-rational correspondences (xx).
The Writings discuss a variety of agonies during regeneration. They are called variously “idolatries,” “backsliding” (AC 4815), “hardening of the heart or making it stubborn” (AC 7412), “obstinacy or making heavy the heart” (AC 7473), “making it unyielding” (AC 7632), “turning from the East” (AC 279; DLW 144), “to teach and to seduce” (AR 134), and others (AC 1250, xx).
As the heart corresponds to the affections belonging to the love, and thus to the will, the wise men of old ascribed affections to the heart, and some placed there the abode of affections. This is the source of the common expressions, " a magnanimous heart," "a timid heart," "a joyful heart," "a sad heart," a soft heart," "a hard heart," "a great heart," "a little heart," "a whole heart," "a broken heart," "a heart of flesh," "a stony heart," "fat, soft, or vile in heart," "having no heart," " giving the heart to do," "giving a single heart," "giving a new heart," "laying up in the heart," "receiving in the heart," "not reaching the heart," "hardening one's heart," "lifted up in heart," "a friend in heart," also the terms "concord," "discord," "madness" ("vecordia"), and many other like expressions. And in the Word, the "heart" everywhere signifies the will or love, for the reason that the Word was written throughout by means of correspondences. (D. WIS 6)
Regeneration agonies are the automatic consequence of the head in heaven looking upon the feet in hell.
Looking upon means shining the light of Divine Truth upon the infernal affections of the will which we are unwilling to let go.
When I look at myself in the mirror I am shocked. I am in agony. From heavenly light I can see the family evils on my face. I try not to make an expression, but the unregenerate proprium is still there, in command. The face reflects the affections (xx), consequently the unregenerate proprium. It is an ugly charred bony figure (xx). This infernal proprium is inherited; it cannot be saved or modified or regenerated. Regeneration is by a new proprium, the old is laid aside, and all its life is removed by the Lord. Angels still have their old proprium, but it is no longer animated or operational (xx).
I see haughtiness in my face. Arrogance. Nastiness. Cruelty. Corporeal sensuality. Selfishness. Madness. Also: cleverness, fear, insincerity, grossness.
When I see the delights I have by monitoring my willing, I am shocked. I am in agony. From heavenly light I can see that what I enjoy is sleazy, scortatory, engrossing, animalistic. I eat a snack when I don’t want to because of weight control issues. Between doing or eating something healthy vs. unhealthy, I’m attracted more to the unhealthy and the nonproductive.
When I see the thoughts I have by monitoring my thinking, I am shocked. I am in agony. From heavenly light I can see that what I’m thinking is illogical. Even as I’m eating the extra piece I don’t want to, I’m thinking something illogical, like “It won’t matter. My weight won’t go up. I can just absorb it.” Or else” “I’ll start all over again tomorrow.” Or, in another arena of the day, I see myself think derogatory thoughts about my neighbor. Somebody I pass by on the highway or the shopping mall, somebody I see on TV, somebody I see across the room, somebody I think about—these are all occasions for me to think negative and derogatory thoughts about them. I observe this and I’m in agony.
When I see the acts I execute by monitoring my acting out, I am shocked. I am in agony. From heavenly light I can see that what I’m doing is not from heaven, which means it is from hell. Why then don’t I stop? Because I love that sleazy illogical infernal delight. This is agony. On some days I feel abulia—the psychological state of feeling like we can’t do anything. I have the Writings! I think to myself “Later, not now.” Or, I might think: “I’m enlightened. I’m activated by spiritual-rational correspondences in my interior-natural mind.” And my response is: “Yeah. Good. I need to eat something now. Then I need to sleep some more. then I must rest from my rest.” I am in agony.
I make myself smile to my wife. I hear complaining about me. I nod. I’m in agony. I want to protest and disagree. I want to explain to her why she is wrong. But I force myself not to talk, not to interrupt, not to give her a hard time. I remind myself of Rule 1 of the Doctrine of the Wife. I simulate agreeableness. I confess and I promise. I’m in agony. But also in ecstasy as I see myself do the right thing, as I see the power of enlightenment acting against the hoards of the hells.
The regenerating New Church mind cannot remain in the natural-rational correspondences of the Letter of the Writings. He must extract the spiritual-rational correspondences that are within the Letter in order to gather Spiritual Doctrine in the understanding. Only the spiritual sense of the Writings have the power to regenerated because this is constituted of spiritual-rational correspondences. Perceiving spiritual-rational correspondences is only by enlightenment when the Lord opens the interior-natural. This process is discussed in the following passages:
For food in the cities. That this signifies such things in the interiors of the natural mind, is evident from the signification of "food," as being all things that are of use, thus truths and goods (of which just above, n. 5293); and from the signification of "cities," as being the interiors of the natural mind. In the universal sense "cities" signify the doctrinal things of the church (see n. 402, 2268, 2449, 2451, 2712, 2943, 3216, 4492, 4493); but in an individual sense they signify the interiors of man where doctrinal things are, or rather where are truths conjoined with good. That the truths and goods in man form as it were a city, may be seen above (n. 3584); and hence that man himself in whom is the church is called the "city of God."
The interiors of the natural mind are signified by "cities" in Isaiah (...) and the goods and truths in the interiors are signified by the "cities" in the Lord's parable in Luke (...) Here therefore by "heaping up food in the cities and guarding it," is signified that truths conjoined with good were to be stored up in the interiors of the natural mind; and when these truths and goods have been stored up there, they are called "remains," in which the veriest spiritual life of man consists, and from which he is spiritually nourished in every case of need and want, that is, in every spiritual famine. (AC 5297)
That truths adjoined to good are stored up in the interiors of the natural mind, and there preserved for use in after life, especially for use in temptations during man's regeneration, is a secret known to few at this day; and therefore something must be said about this. For by the "seven years of abundance of produce" are signified the truths first multiplied, and by the corn being "put in the cities" and "in the midst" is signified that these truths adjoined to good are stored up in man's interiors: and by the "seven years of famine," and by the sustenance at that time from the gatherings, is signified a state of regeneration through truths adjoined to good, stored up in the interiors.
 The secret is this: from earliest infancy even to the first of childhood, man is being introduced by the Lord into heaven, and indeed among celestial angels, by whom he is kept in a state of innocence; a state in which (as is known) infants are up to the first of childhood. When the age of childhood begins, the child gradually puts off the state of innocence, though he is still kept in a state of charity by means of the affection of mutual charity toward those like himself, which state with many continues up to youth, and meanwhile he is among spiritual angels. Then, because he begins to think from himself and to act accordingly, he can no longer be kept in charity as before; for he then calls forth inherited evils, by which he suffers himself to be led. When this state comes, the goods of charity and innocence that he had previously received, are banished according to the degree in which he thinks evils and confirms them by act; and yet they are not banished, but are withdrawn by the Lord toward the interiors and there stored up.
 But as he does not yet know truths, the goods of innocence and charity he had received in the two preceding states have not yet been qualified, for truths give quality to good, and good gives essence to truths; wherefore from this age he is imbued with truths by instruction, and especially by means of his own thoughts and confirmations from them. Insofar therefore as he is then in the affection of good, so far truths are conjoined with good in him by the Lord (see n. 5340), and are stored up for use. This state is what is signified by the "seven years of abundance of produce." It is these truths adjoined to good that in the proper sense are called "remains."
Insofar therefore as the man suffers himself to be regenerated, so far the remains serve for use; for so far a supply from them is drawn forth by the Lord, and is sent back into the natural, in order to produce a correspondence of the exteriors with the interiors, or of what is natural with what is spiritual; and this is effected in the state signified by the "seven years of famine." Such is the secret.
 The man of the church at this day believes that no matter what anyone's life is, he may of mercy be received into heaven, and there enjoy eternal bliss; for he supposes admission to be all that is necessary. But he is much mistaken, for no one can be admitted and received into heaven unless he has received spiritual life, and no one can receive spiritual life unless he is being regenerated, and no one can be regenerated except through the good of life conjoined with the truth of doctrine: from this he has spiritual life. That no one can come into heaven unless he has received spiritual life through regeneration, the Lord plainly declares in John:
Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born anew, he cannot see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3);
and then He says:
Verily, verily I say to thee, Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:5);
"water" is the truth of doctrine ..., and "spirit" is the good of life. No one enters by baptism; but baptism is significative of that regeneration which the man of the church ought to keep in mind. (AC 5342)
Note especially this sentence:
Insofar therefore as the man suffers himself to be regenerated, so far the remains serve for use; for so far a supply from them is drawn forth by the Lord, and is sent back into the natural, in order to produce a correspondence of the exteriors with the interiors, or of what is natural with what is spiritual; and this is effected in the state signified by the "seven years of famine." Such is the secret. (AC 5342)
Here it is revealed the spiritual-rational correspondences are called “remains” and that the Lord uses remains in our mind by sending them “back into the natural, in order to produce a correspondence of the exteriors with the interiors.” The earlier passage said that the regenerating mind is called a “city of God” because it contains remains. In is further specified that the remains are in the “interior of the natural mind” and that they are placed there by the Lord in the form of “truths conjoined with good.” These are called “the interiors of man where doctrinal things are.” In other words, the Spiritual Doctrine is not in the external Letter in our mind but in the interior of the natural mind. These are needed for our regeneration:
Truths conjoined with good were to be stored up in the interiors of the natural mind; and when these truths and goods have been stored up there, they are called "remains," in which the veriest spiritual life of man consists, and from which he is spiritually nourished in every case of need and want, that is, in every spiritual famine. (AC 5297)
The interior-natural mind is formed by the Lord within the natural-rational mind. In other words, the spiritual-rational correspondences are within the natural-rational correspondences we have from the Letter. Spiritual-rational correspondences are called the remains of truth conjoined to good by which we are regenerated. “The Lord sends back these remains” to the external, which means that we become conscious of the remains in the form of spiritual-rational correspondences. This is enlightenment.
It is said that “the interiors of man where doctrinal things are, or rather where are truths conjoined with good.” “Doctrinal things” refers to the Spiritual Doctrine to be extracted from the Letter of the Writings. The Spiritual Doctrine is located in the interior-natural mind. “Truths conjoined with good” are from states of celestial innocence granted by the Lord. Celestial innocence refers to enlightenment because then we think from the Lord and not from self. Spiritual-rational correspondences in the interior-natural mind are called remains, and they are what the Lord uses to regenerate us. This cannot be done from natural-rational correspondences, which is the literal meaning, because these are not remains but from self-intelligence. In other words, our study of the Writings adds itself to our self-intelligence, not to our regeneration. But it is necessary step in our regeneration. They are truths not yet conjoined to good because they are not from innocence but from self-intelligence. Genuine truth that is adjoined to good appears to the human race in the form spiritual-rational correspondences.
Note this warning:
The man of the church at this day believes that no matter what anyone's life is, he may of mercy be received into heaven, and there enjoy eternal bliss; for he supposes admission to be all that is necessary. But he is much mistaken, for no one can be admitted and received into heaven unless he has received spiritual life, and no one can receive spiritual life unless he is being regenerated, and no one can be regenerated except through the good of life conjoined with the truth of doctrine: from this he has spiritual life. (AC 5342)
“The man of the church at this day” refers to the regenerating New Church mind. “To be received in heaven” means to be regenerated and saved. We are warned that we are not regenerated and saved because of our Church membership and Church activities and prayers. We are not saved by studying the Writings and understanding it. But it warns that “no one can be admitted and received into heaven unless he has received spiritual life.” “Spiritual life” refers to enlightenment while we are being regenerated on earth. It explains that spiritual life is only from regeneration. In other words, enlightenment is from regeneration and needed for regeneration. And it is specified that spiritual life, or enlightenment, is only “through the good of life conjoined with the truth of doctrine.”
In other words, the process of regeneration involves applying the “truth of doctrine” to “the good of life.” The “truth of doctrine” refers to the spiritual sense of the Writings which we have gathered together into a coherent principle of life. Thus, the “truth of doctrine” is the Spiritual Doctrine in our mind. the ”good of life” refers to our daily willing and thinking. In other words, we are to apply the Spiritual Doctrine to our daily willing and thinking. This brings enlightenment. This is regeneration. Consequently, it is salvation.
All the instruction there is done from the doctrine drawn from the Word, and not from the Word apart from doctrine. Christians are instructed from the heavenly doctrine that is in entire agreement with the internal sense of the Word. The rest, as the Mohammedans and heathen, are taught from doctrines suited to their apprehension, which differ from the heavenly doctrine only in this, that spiritual life is taught by means of moral life in harmony with the good tenets of their religion from which they had derived their life in the world. (HH 516)
Although the doctrine of faith is in itself Divine, and therefore above all human and even angelic comprehension, it has nevertheless been dictated in the Word according to man's comprehension, in a rational manner. (AC 2533)
As the Lord is the Word, He is also doctrine; for there is no other doctrine which is itself Divine.
In regard to doctrine the case is this: Insofar as there is what is human (that is, what is of sense, of memory-knowledge, and of the rational) as the ground of belief, so far the doctrine is null and void. But insofar as what is of sense, of memory-knowledge, and of the rational is removed, that is, insofar as doctrine is believed without these things, so far doctrine lives; for so far the Divine flows in (AC 2538)
The Lord is doctrine itself, for everything of doctrine proceeds from Him, and everything of doctrine treats of Him; for all doctrine treats of the good of love and of the truth of faith. These are from the Lord, and therefore the Lord is not only in them, but also is both. From this it is evident that the doctrine that treats of good and truth, treats of the Lord only; and that it proceeds from His Divine Human. (AC 5321)
Doctrinal things are nothing but the means of arriving at good as the end (AC 5997)
The case being so with the spiritual church, it is not to be wondered at that with most persons faith is the essential of the church, and not charity, and also that they have no doctrine of charity. Their doctrinal things being from the Word does not make them Divine truths, for from the sense of the letter of the Word any doctrinal thing whatever can be hatched, and that which favors the concupiscences can be readily learned; thus also what is false can be taken for what is true, as is the case with the doctrinal things of the Jews, of the Socinians, and of many others; but not so if doctrine is formed from the internal sense.
The internal sense is not only that sense which lies concealed in the external sense, as has heretofore been shown, but is also that which results from a number of passages of the sense of the letter rightly collated, and which is discerned by those who are enlightened by the Lord in respect to their intellectual. For the enlightened intellectual discriminates between apparent truths and real truths, especially between falsities and truths, although it does not judge about real truths in themselves. But the intellectual cannot be enlightened unless it is believed that love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor are the principal and essential things of the church. He who proceeds from the acknowledgment of these, provided he himself is in them, sees innumerable truths; nay, he sees very many secrets disclosed to him, and this from interior acknowledgment, according to the degree of the enlightenment from the Lord. (AC 7233)
No one can enter heaven unless he has acquired spiritual life through regeneration (AC 5342)
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 )
Rev. Theodore Pitcairn, “The Internal Sense of the Chapter on Ecclesiastical and Civil government in “The New Jerusalem And Its Heavenly Doctrine. (March 1930)” Discovered recently and published in the restart issues of De Hemelse Leer, April 2002 issue, pp. 83-91. Dr. Rutger Perizonius, Editor (Van der Heimstraat 5, 2582 RX, The Hague) (quoted above in Chapter 7 Section 8 and 9; Chapter 8 Section 3)
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; Introduction to Chapter 8)
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 in an exchange of correspondence 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
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The first of them was at that point taken back to a state he had passed through when he lived in the world; for anyone can easily be taken back to a state of his life when in the world because every state of his life is present within him. (AC 4658)
On the knowledge of the angels
To speak only of the knowledge of the angels of the inward heaven, let just a single example suffice-their knowledge of the structures and forms of the body. For when one or another internal organ of the body is under consideration, they are able to find out not only that organ's whole structure and operation, but also whether any least answer that anatomical science has been able to detect experimentally is really true. They are also able to find out in an instant whether anything asserted regarding the individual internal organs, besides many other interior parts, is true-things which no one of the human race could ever possibly know, as I have experienced several times. They also know to which spiritual elements all these parts correspond. (SE 1625)
I was afterwards remitted into the company of those of this character, from whence respiration flowed in, that I might know their quality; the respiration was then separated from the pectoral region, and removed to the abdominal about the naval, nor did it extend itself any further; and this signifies a life separated from good and truth. There were then shown to me certain species of respirations, concerning which much conversation also was had, as, for instance, that there is conjoined with the usual respirations an external one, which is common to the world of spirits; then an internal with an insensible external, which is sufficiently good; then an internal without an external, which is better; and finally an insensible one that was to me scarcely perceptible, which is angelic. But these in general; there are still other genera, and an indefinite number of species, pertaining to different regions of the body and the determinations thence, concerning which, by the favor of the Lord, I shall speak elsewhere. I was first accustomed thus to respire in my early childhood, when saying my morning and evening prayers, and occasionally afterwards, when exploring the harmonies of the lungs and heart, and especially when deeply engaged in writing the works that have been published. For a course of years I continually observed that there was a tacit respiration, scarcely perceptible, concerning which it was subsequently given me to reflect, and then to write. I was thus during many years, from the period of childhood, introduced into such respirations, especially by means of absorbing speculations, in which the breathing seems to become quiescent, as otherwise the intense study of truth is scarcely possible. Afterwards, when heaven was opened to me, and I was enabled to converse with spirits, I sometimes scarcely breathed by inspiration at all for the space of a short hour, and merely drew in enough of air to keep up the process of thinking. Thus I was introduced by the Lord into interior respirations. I have also again and again observed, that when I was passing into a state of sleep, my respiration was almost taken away, so that I would awake and catch my breath. When I observe nothing of the kind, I continue to write and think, and am not aware of my respiration being arrested, unless I reflect upon it. This I may say has happened in instances innumerable. Nor was I at such times able to observe the various changes, because I did not reflect upon them. The design of all this was, that every kind of state, every kind of sphere, and every kind of society, particularly the more interior, might find in my own a fit respiration, which should come into play without any reflection on my part, and that thus a medium of interaction might be afforded with spirits and angels. (SE 3464)
The ability to confirm whatever one pleases is not an indication of understanding; but the ability to see that truth is truth, and that falsehood is falsehood, and to confirm it is an indication of understanding. (TCR 334)