Scientific discovery of Spiritual Laws given in Rational Scientific Revelations

horizontal rule

This is Volume 1

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

 

 

By Leon James

October 2002

(draft 18)

 

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)

 

Volume 1

Table of Contents

 

Access to Volume 2 here

Access Volume 3 here

Preface to Volume 1

Dedication

VOLUME 1:

REFORMATION:  THE INWARD STRUGGLE AGAINST NONDUALITY

Introduction:

The New Church Mind is to be Formed by the Writings Exclusively

Chapter 1.

Absolute Opposition Between Duality and Nonduality

1. Introduction

2. Incompatibility with the Writings

3. Definition of Reality

4. Duality is the only reality

5. The natural and spiritual mind

6. Why nonduality can be attractive

7. Definition of nonduality

Chapter 2.

Eastern Nonduality in Western Thinking

1. The Writings do not contain any nonduality

2. (to be completed)

3. The notion of ”experiencing nonduality”

4. “Sacred Tantric Sex” versus Conjugial Love

5. Gurus and Karma

6. (to be completed)

7. The Writings are not like other books or systems

Chapter 3.

Christian Nonduality

1. Introduction

2. The New Testament does not contain any nonduality

3. Trinity of Persons versus Unity of Three Aspects in One Person

4. People are saved apart from their religion

5. Mind-Body Nonduality and God-Cosmos Nonduality

6. Christian Science Nonduality

7. Secular nonduality in Objectivism, Skepticism, and the Aquarian Conspiracy

8. Rudolf Steiner’s Christian Occult Science

9. Anti-semitism and Holocaust Theology

Chapter 4.

New Church Nonduality

1. Introduction

2. The Secular Spirituality of Gurdjieff

3. The secular Swedenborgianism of Henry James, Sr.

4. Spiritual Christianity of Charles Augustus Tulk

5. Duality between good and truth

6. Psychological Nonduality: Near Death Experiences

7. Shamanism And Technologies Of The Sacred

Chapter 5.

Overcoming Intellectual Impediments to Reformation and Regeneration

1. Introduction

2. The Rational Is The Entry Way To The Spiritual

3. Deconstructing Nonduality In Our Mind

4. Development From Sensuous Rational Consciousness

5. The New Church Mind And Other Religions

6. The Nonduality Of Persuasive Faith

7. The Doctrine Of Discrete Degrees

8. The Formation Of The Internal Marriage

Chapter 6.

Disconfirming Nondualist Propositions In The New Church Mind

2. The Notion That “Self Is An Illusion”

3.The Notion That  ”All Great Religions Are Equivalent”

4. The Notion That  “Meditation Is Spiritual”

6. The Notion That  “We Are Already Perfect”

7. The Notion That “Being One With Nature Is Spiritual”

8. The Notion Of “Unconditional Love”

9. The New Church View On Forgiveness

10. The Secular View On Forgiveness

11. The Christian View On Forgiveness

Chapter 7.

Introduction: Key Concepts In the New Church Mind

2. Discrete Degrees In Successive And Simultaneous Order

3.The Idea of “As-of Self”

4. The Idea of “Salvation is by Means Only”

5. The Idea of “Conjugial Love”

6. The Mind Is In The Spiritual World

7. The Vertical Community: Spiritual Influx From Heaven And Hell

8. The Idea of “Earths in the Universe”

End Notes and References

Acknowledgment

About the Author

Titles for the Abbreviated Citations in the Book

Full Text Free Online Access to All Swedenborg’s Writings:

 


 

Access to Volume 2 here

Volume 2 is located at this address:

http://www.theisticpsychology.org/books/nonduality/volume2-nonduality.html

 

Access Volume 3 here

Volume 3 is located at this address:

http://www.theisticpsychology.org/books/nonduality/volume3-nonduality.html

 

Every spiritual truth in the Writings
is a Divine Commandment

 

Preface to Volume 1

 

“The manifestation of the Lord, and intromission into the spiritual world, surpass all miracles. This has not been granted to anyone since the creation, as it has been to me.” Emanuel Swedenborg (INV 52)

 

This book presents the perspective on reality given in the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772).

 

It is intended for all those, regardless of religious or intellectual background, who want to form a new mind in themselves that is based exclusively on the Writings. The book’s purpose is to assist them in undergoing reformation and regeneration in preparation for a conjugial life in heaven.

 

1. The Writings Are A Divine Scientific Revelation

 

In today’s intellectual climate revelations from God, His Name, the Bible, heaven and hell, Church Doctrine, and the like are automatically considered religious issues. When I started reading the Writings I was well into my career as a psychology professor, writer, and scientist. I knew that the two-dozen books of the Writings that I was studying were categorized as religious books, since I found them in our university library in the section on Bible Commentaries. But the books were written by Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish scientist of repute in his days, and known to many influential intellectuals in Europe and North America in the 19th century. Swedenborg, the impeccable mining engineer with international reputation, differed from his scientific colleagues in that his science was fully a theistic science.

 

Swedenborg was a fully rational thinker with a passion and commitment for explanations of phenomena that span the entire chain of their existence from ultimates to firsts. And since it is irrational to think that firsts can be from nothing or from chaos, rationality requires that the first of all phenomena be a rational Human God.

 

Swedenborg’s science was therefore inclusive and centered on a Human God who runs the universe in a rational way that is discoverable by intellectual investigation.

 

Swedenborg relied on the revelations of the Bible for the scientific facts about the spiritual world. Since he had no direct access to the spiritual world (until age 57), he extracted the facts from the Bible using both its literal meaning and spiritual meaning. The Bible reveals many scientific facts about the spiritual world in relation to the natural world, as for instance:

 

*    that there is a God who forms and runs the universe

*    that God is Human

*    that God’s personality is motivated by Divine Love

*    that God runs the universe by means of rational laws

*    that there is a spiritual world and life after death

*    that we are immortal

*    that in the afterlife we live in either heaven or hell

*    that the spiritual world is within the mind, thus that the mind is in the spiritual world

*    that spirit and mind are the same

*    that those who make it to heaven are then angels

*    that those who make it to hell are then devils

*    that heaven and hell are within us

*    that our character is what determines whether we are to live in heaven or hell within us

*    that we inherit a degenerate character that must be regenerated

*    that regeneration consists in following conscience, not doing evil to the neighbor, loving to do good

*    that our mind or spirit is in unconscious communication with those who are already in the spiritual world

*    that God manages the smallest details of our willing and thinking so as to facilitate regeneration

*    that God manages the details of every event or outcome at the macro and micro levels, including fortuitous events, accidents, the laws of chance, randomness, regularity

*    and many others

 

The above list of scientific facts about the universe is based only on the literal meaning of the Bible.

 

Swedenborg also extracted many scientific facts from the spiritual meaning of Bible verses, as for example:

 

*    that the Bible is the Word and therefore it is Divine Truth

*    that parts of the Bible are written as accurate history, while other parts are spiritual visions

*    that spiritual visions are universal phenomena brought about by correspondences

*    that correspondences are revealed by God to the human race

*    that correspondences are Divine Truths accommodated to human intelligence

*    that correspondences are ordered in discrete degrees or levels in a hierarch of truths from external to inmost

*    that regeneration of one’s character is achieved by the applying the power of correspondences to one’s daily willing and thinking

*    that the universe is managed by a hierarchical order of correspondences that are represented in the spiritual meaning of the Bible

*    that individual regeneration and biography recapitulates history and evolution

*    that the Bible reveals the intellectual history of the human race within the spiritual meaning of the details regarding names, places, numbers, and descriptions

*    that we live in heaven as angel couples

*    that in the afterlife we have spirit-bodies allowing us to live in society, marriage, and an active creative life

*    that the human race extends beyond this planet to the entire universe

*    and many more

 

At age 57 the Divine Human appeared to Swedenborg, held him affectionately in His arms, and announced to him the mission for which he was prepared by God since early childhood. Swedenborg was to be the revelator by whom the Second Coming of the Lord was to be effected. Swedenborg was going to write and publish a series of books called the Writings. The Writings were to be the Divine Rational of the Lord which was to be revealed to the human race as a rational and scientific system of thinking. The Divine Human was to effect its Coming within these rational truths. Any individual who read these truths and understood them, taking them to be the guides of life, would be regenerated and conjoined to the Divine Human by means of this new rational consciousness of God. Henceforth this will be the orderly method of regeneration for the human race.

 

In order for the revelations of the Writings to be scientific and rational it was necessary that Swedenborg have direct access to both worlds simultaneously. Swedenborg had to be given the means to make empirical and experimental observations in the spiritual world, such as the following:

 

*    to be present in heaven and hell and to interview the people there

*    to watch the resuscitation process during death and how the spirit emerges from the physical body

*    to talk to people whose body was being buried

*    to interview various authors well known from history and the Bible

*    to conduct experiments involving spirits and their mental abilities

*    to compare the language and script of the Word on earth and in heaven

*    to interview angel couples in their homes

*    to travel in spirit to distant planetary regions in the universe and to investigate the character of spirits from those planets, and even, to see certain physical scenes on those planets through the eyes of spirits associated with the people there

*    to be given visual observation posts from which to describe the shape or form of the land masses of heaven and hell

*    to witness demonstrations of the spiritual power of truths from the Word

*    to attempt therapy on those in hell

*    to interview new arrivals in the afterlife and what memories they bring with them

*    to observe the education and raising of children who arrive from the many earths

*    to experiment with correspondences, seeing which produces what visual appearance

*    and many more

 

From all this you can see that Swedenborg’s Writings constitute theistic science. The Writings of Swedenborg are rational scientific works written in Neo-Latin by a Swedish scientist and engineer in the 18th century. They are unique in the history of humankind because they present a fully rational comprehensive scientific account of all of reality, God, and human beings.

 

Prior accounts in the history of literature were never fully scientific, and never fully complete and comprehensive. If Swedenborg had merely written what his own genius figured out, the Writings would remain one of the greatest collections of rational philosophy, science, and theology anywhere. But the Writings are not books from the genius of Swedenborg, but much more, something entirely different, unparalleled in the history and evolution of the human race. The Writings are God’s Rational and Scientific Revelation now given to the human race for the first time. They present a fully rational and scientific account of reality, such as God has created it. If the content of the Writings were merely Swedenborg’s ideas of reality and God, they would form part of the literature of the world. But if the Writings are from God, then the Writings are unlike all other books that could be written.

 

No one should decide between these two possibilities without examining the Writings. I have examined them in detail, like I would a scientific collection of books which I intend to evaluate. Having done this, I have come to the conclusion that the Writings are the work of God, the last of the great revelations intended for the human race and called “the Word.” What is astonishing is that the Word of God in this new revelation is a science encyclopedia of the spiritual world! Since the spiritual world is within the natural, and is the cause of all natural phenomena, you can see why the Writings are a total and full scientific revelation of God. The human race now possesses two sets of scientific encyclopedias, one natural, the other spiritual; one about the natural world, the other about the spiritual world and how it animates the natural.

 

Now in the Writings, the human race has before it a full integrated rational description of God, creation, the universe, heaven and hell, history, truth, love, marriage, and regeneration.

 

This new beginning in science and rationality may be called the new age of THEISTIC SCIENCE.

 

The Christian tradition since the Lord’s First Coming has been that He is to come again to complete the world’s makeover called the salvation of the human race. They expect the Second Coming of the Lord to take place physically, appearing in the clouds, calling on those who believe in Him, gathering them together in one place, and giving them eternal life and happiness in Him. No one can tell you exactly what this means in terms of details—except those who have read and understood the Writings. For the Lord has effected His predicted Second Coming. This Second Advent was to complete the creation of the human race. He had already appeared physically in history and science, giving sensuous proof of Himself. When He foretold that He must come again, He did not mean that He is to come again in His glorified Divine Natural. He was actually saying that He must come again in His Divine Rational. Then we can know Him fully, by knowing the Divine Rational that is within the Divine Natural. A Second Coming in the physical would retard still further the evolution of rational consciousness in the human race.

 

The Lord is Divine Truth, which means that the new heavens He creates are made of rational loves, and these exist only in rational consciousness. The human race must evolve rational consciousness to become spiritually enlightened and live in heaven in eternity. This rational consciousness is brought about by forming our mind to reflect the order described in the Writings. This rational order is the Divine Rational of the Lord. From creation this is what the Lord intended, a human race that would evolve into rational consciousness and capable of having a celestial mind that lives in heaven. Now these rational truths have at last been revealed in the Writings. This rational revelation of Divine Truth is the Lord in His Second Coming.

 

Can a neighbor of yours know you if he only knows what you look like but not what you believe in and how you think? Christians got to know the Divine Natural of the Lord in a sensuous way, tangible, touchable. Even after the first generation passed on, the ensuing generations of Christians knew the Lord in this sensuous way because they believed that He was real, that He had indeed been here on this earth as God Incarnate. But this is relatively speaking, knowing the Lord like a neighbor whom we can see with our eyes every morning exiting from the apartment building, but whom we do not know because we do not know his beliefs and attitudes.

 

The Divine Rational of the Lord is within His Divine Natural, which makes sense because the Lord is Human. All humans consist of a rational mind within a body. In this world, we are a rational mind within a physical body, and in the afterlife, we are this same rational mind, but now in a spirit-body. The Lord is always within His Divine Natural Sensuous Body, as humans are always within their sensuous body. The sensuous body is the outward casing for the spiritual rational mind. The Lord’s Divine Natural Body is the outward Casing for His spiritual-rational mind called the Divine Rational. This Divine Rational is the origin and source of Divine Truth, the substance from which all is created. So the Lord’s Divine Rational is the true Divine Human that we are to love and know. This Divine Rational is what has been revealed in the Writings.

 

2. The Writings Are The Lord’s Second Coming

 

The Second Coming refers to the revelation of the Divine Rational. This revelation was completed and published on June 19, 1770, a date marked by the Lord in the spiritual world, by gathering the Apostles that had followed Him in the world, placing a copy of the True Christian Religion in their hands, and instructing them to go out and preach the new revelations of His Second Coming. This was witnessed by Swedenborg as part of his mission to be the architect and composer of the Writings. This new revelation was given for the entire human race, for all people regardless of religious background. Because it is a universal revelation of the Divine Rational, the form and content of the revelation had to be scientific and verifiable by rational analysis and criticism.

 

The Writings are God’s revelation to the human race of how He creates the universe and how He runs and manages every detail. This includes the revelation that the universe is created for a human purpose by means of truth within which is love. And it also includes the revelation of the existence of two worlds, one being a natural world where human beings are born and raised, the other a spiritual world, where human beings awaken a few hours after death and continue individual life eternally in either a celestial existence in heaven or an infernal existence in the hells. I mention these things here as general topics that have been of interest to the human race since the beginning of literature. But the Writings deal with these spiritual, philosophical, and religious topics in a rational way that give a scientifically precise and dynamic account of them. This is what I found so attractive in the Writings the minute I started reading them in 1981 at age 43, having discovered them in our university library while I was searching for Bible Commentaries.

 

Subsequently I also found out that the Writings of Swedenborg have had a distinguished but small following, that his books have been translated in a dozen languages, and that several communities have been created by people who call themselves the New Church religion that is based on the Writings. When I started reading the first pages of the first volume of the 30-volume collection called the Writings, I was able to see that this is not like any other work in the history of our race. I was trained as a scientist and earned a living as a psychology professor in a department that expects its faculty to teach the science and method of psychology. I have done this for 40 years now, and continue to do so as I write this book, at age 64. If the Writings had been like other books, I would have had to continue searching and longing for the scientific and rational understanding of reality and self.

 

Well, if the Writings do not spring from Swedenborg’s genius, what is their origin?

 

God has created the human race to evolve to ever higher powers of life and being. The perfecting of the human race is a gradual evolution in which our conscious cooperation with God is required to increase as we evolve to higher states of life and consciousness. The method by which the human race cooperates ever more consciously in its own evolution, is the method of truth and love. God is a Divine Rational Being whose essence is love and truth in an infinite degree. Divine Rational is the same as Divine Human, because the human is defined by the rational. The spiritual is nothing but the human rational in its essence.

 

God creates the universe not out of nothing, for this is irrational. God is infinite in quantity and complexity, and this infinite quantity is in God as one, that is, as one coherent whole. Nothing can exist that is not created from this infinite Divine Rational Substance called love and truth united as one. All things that exist are kept in existence by God’s substance of truth, within which is love.

 

3. Heaven Is Created From Rational Love

 

Since the universe is created from truth and into the order of truth, reality is a rational reality. God is a rational entity and our idea of God is a rational idea. All laws of the universe are rational laws. The spiritual world and the natural world are both rational worlds, by necessity of creation. Heaven is a rational creation. The suns and earths in the universe are rational entities. The human race is a rational creation and event, with a rational goal, and a rational method of evolution. The ultimate goal of this evolution is to reach perfection as a rational being.

 

Truth belongs to love. Love is the creating, driving force, power, and goal. When love creates something, it does that by means of truth. Truth is the exteriorization of love. Love is the substance, while truth is the form of this substance. Truth can do nothing by itself, but only from love. Love can’t do anything except by means of truth. Since all things are created from love by its truth into truth, the human mind is the highest element of all creation. Only the human mind is created capable of conscious understanding of truth, which can also be called rational love. The human mind is to evolve into the ability to understand ever more interior truths or rational loves, of which the most interior, is God. All things of creation are in God, yet God is separate from this creation. It would not be rational to think that God has created Himself! Neither that reality has created itself! God has created reality, which means that God is outside reality, able to create it and run it.

 

The method by which the human race is to evolve to ever more interior understanding of infinite Divine Truth, is the method of Divine Revelations. This has been the case since the first generation of the human race. Literature has preserved the long record of Divine Revelations to the earlier generations. Each Divine Revelation was given by God as a stepped up evolutionary leap for the human race. Each new revelation took hundreds of generations to fully digest and incorporate into the fabric of human understanding. In this way there has been steady progress in the evolution of human consciousness, as reflected by a world that has left barbaric savagery behind and has developed for itself an advanced civilization based on rational principles of mutual cooperation and treatment.

 

4. A Divine Revelation That Surpasses All Others

 

The Writings are the latest new revelation given by God to the human race.

 

This is a special new revelation that surpasses all other Divine Revelations.

 

These new revelations are for the first time fully rational and scientific. The human race had to evolve a modern scientific mind before these new rational scientific revelations could be given. At last, in the Age of Reason of the 18th century in Christian Western Europe, the human mind was ready to receive, understand, and accept a full unqualified and total revelation of God and reality in rational concepts and terms that the modern mind could readily understand. This was done through the mind of Emanuel Swedenborg, recognized as one of the great geniuses in the history of literature and science.

 

At age 57 Swedenborg was at the height of his scientific and professional career. His achievements have been well documented in several fields, including metallurgy, chemistry, anatomy, psychology, theology, education, and legislation. He tells how the God of His childhood and country, in the image of Jesus Christ, appeared before him and held him affectionately in His bosom for a little while. He writes that the Lord then told him that he was being prepared since early childhood for the mission of Revelator and that the time has now come, in 1741, for him to begin his Divine mission.

 

Swedenborg’s awesome mission was to write the 30-volume collection of books called “the Writings” or “the Writings of Swedenborg.” These Divine Revelations are going to be the last in the series of Divine Revelations that were to be given to the human race. They were therefore going to be a full and total rational disclosure of reality and its workings. Prior Divine Revelations of the Word, such as the Old and New Testaments, were given in a language of authority and mystery, but the final portion of the Divine Word for the human race, are given in a language of rationality and science. No mystery is left standing. No appeal is made to authority, but only to the individual’s rational understanding.

 

A Divine Revelation is given for the purpose of raising the consciousness of the race. This is accomplished by means of the truths in the Revelation. It is necessary therefore that people be able to understand the revelation. To make this possible therefore, all Divine Revelations are given through the mind of an individual human being, a capable representative of the rest of the race. The man whose mind was prepared for issuing this last of Divine Revelations had to be a product of the Age of Reason in Christian Western intellectual culture. It had to be a modern scientific revelation because the human race had evolved to this level of rational and spiritual consciousness. The modern mind was unwilling to believe in a God of mystery and authority. It needed a rational scientific account of God, reality, and our position in it. Even a sensuous God was no longer enough. This sensuous God had to have a rational explanation or else He could not be understood, and what the modern mind cannot understand, it won’t love. Without love for God, we cannot be regenerated and saved for life in heaven.

 

The Age of Reason in Europe had two well developed rational elements. One was scientific and the other was religious. Science and theology were both rational creations of the modern human intellect.

 

The Christian religion was given as both a sensuous and rational revelation to the human race. The sensuous revelation was the unprecedented event of Incarnation--God born in history as a human being of flesh and blood. This event took the human race forward into rational consciousness. Now there was scientific physical empirical historical evidence and proof of God’s existence. Besides the sensuous revelation of the New Testament, a rational revelation is also made there, namely, that God is Human. This was the first time that the human race had proof that the universe was a rational universe created for a human purpose by a Human God. God was Human and Rational, thus, Love and Truth. And He created the universe out of Truth into truth, hence in a rational order. God’s Laws were rational laws. The presence of God with the human race was through rational consciousness, rational understanding, rational loves, not ecstatic emotions or animal sacrifices and ceremonies.

 

The First Coming was the Incarnation of God in a physical body. It was a momentous forward step in the evolution of human consciousness because the human race had never had this proof before, had never been able to face God in a physical and natural presence. Now God was part of our history, part of our science, part of our rational understanding of reality. Prior to God’s Incarnation the relationship of the human race to God was an indirect one. God could make an appearance in the sensuous human world by taking over the mind of a celestial individual and speaking through this person like a mouthpiece. The prophets and various individuals to whom God appeared in the Bible saw God through such an appearance, thus not God, but a human being possessed by the Spirit of God. But since God’s Incarnation, He can appear to human beings as Himself in His Own Divine Natural Body. This allows a far closer contact with God, hence a far higher level of consciousness and life for the human race.

 

The New Testament Revelations also revealed that there is going to be one more Divine Revelation necessary to complete the creation of the human race into its full perfection. This full perfection is the state in which we can cooperate consciously with God in our preparation for heavenly life in eternity. Full conscious cooperation cannot be done while there are mysteries left in religion, science, and reality.

 

The Last Divine Revelation, or the Last Testament of the Word, has been laid down in Latin through the mind of Swedenborg, and now we have it, I, you, and the rest of the endless generations to come. A copy of the Writings as the New Word is also to be found in every society of the numberless heavens in the spiritual world.

 

The Divine Rational Revelations in the Writings could not have been constructed and delivered through Swedenborg’s mind if Swedenborg had merely to take Divine dictation and to write down sentences in that way, without understanding them, without having constructed them out of his understanding. Therefore in order to have Swedenborg write those sentences he had to first understand all of reality and God in relation to the human race. He had to understand rationally so that he could compose those sentences from which others could extract the rational truths.

 

5. Swedenborg’s Scientific Experiments In The Spiritual World

 

How was Swedenborg’s understanding to be enlightened so that he could rationally and scientifically describe reality and God in relation to the human race?

 

The answer is surprisingly simple: Swedenborg had to be given access to a spiritual laboratory so that he may conduct his experimental and empirical observations by which he might discover the rational truths of reality and God in relation to human beings.

 

These laboratory facilities were given him as part of the Divine mission, which is why Swedenborg wrote that the Writings represent the greatest miracle and wonder ever bestowed upon the human race by God’s Love. Swedenborg’s experiments with spirit subjects and geographical explorations in the spiritual world were effected through the intermediary of many people in the spiritual world. The people who inhabit the celestial regions in their mind are called angels and have many powers that Swedenborg did not have, being still a man on earth. These angels intervened of his behalf, protected him from harm, and arranged for conditions Swedenborg needed to make his observations and to write them down in a natural language (Neo-Latin and Swedish). He not only wrote down what happened but was also given the capacity to provide a scientific and theological context for his observations and reports. Thus, nothing is wanting in the Writings for fulfilling its role as the greatest intellectual boon the human race has ever received, or will ever receive again.

 

Within a matter of a few weeks since the Lord’s appearance to Swedenborg, he began to experience new perceptions as he was reading the Bible. His practiced genius was able to make detailed indexes of the Holy Book which he read in the original Hebrew and Greek. To his amazement he discovered that within the literal meaning of the Old and New Testaments there lay hidden a spiritual meaning that was not apparent to the reader until each word and phrase was taken as a correspondence for some deeper spiritual meaning. For example, by collating many corresponding passages from both Testaments, Swedenborg showed how any rational and educated person could discover the spiritual message in each verse. The content of these spiritual meanings hidden within the literal had to do with the rational exposition of reality and God in relation to the human race.

 

This systematic work of discovery was most important and impressive, and will be a benefit to humankind for all the ages to come. And yet, this work would not have been sufficient to constitute the final, total, and thus last, Divine Revelation by which everything the human race can know and understand. There also had to be a science to it. Where was the science of it? Extracting a rational system from historical Divine works in the Bible is admirable, but it is not a scientific work. The only way Swedenborg could produce a scientific report of the spiritual world was to be there when he describes it!

 

This was granted to him by Divine intervention as the greatest miracle in human history.

 

6. Swedenborg’s Dual Citizenship—Natural And Spiritual

 

A few months after his momentous encounter with the Lord, Swedenborg began to have flashes of conscious presence in the spiritual world. He did not know what is the spiritual world. From his initial flashes it looked like a version of the natural world, with people walking about in cities and in the country side where there were forests, deserts, mountains, and lakes. It took just a few months for him to get adjusted to a full time permanent conscious awake state in both worlds simultaneously.

 

Never before in history has anyone ever claimed to be fully conscious in both worlds simultaneously and uninterruptedly for 27 years while carrying on their profession and normal duties and in society. This was especially a significant development because Swedenborg was an impeccable scientist of the modern Age of Reason in Christian Western Europe. He was able to connect all his vast modern knowledge of natural science and biology to his new life in the spiritual world. He wrote daily notes, forming a coherent description of the relationship between the two worlds. He was given access by the Lord to any society or individual in the spiritual world that he desired to investigate. He was given the means by which to conduct experiments, such as for example, what happens to the mind when you experimentally remove from it this or that idea or belief. Also, what happens when you supply this or that truth to an individual, or how people with different genius communicate with each other through others, in an information network, what the language of communication is in the spiritual world, how people form different cultures and civilizations can co-exist, and many such things.

 

He kept notes of his meetings and interviews in the spiritual world with thousands of people in all categories that were relevant to his science and culture. He was thus able to compare the understanding and state of life of many categories of people, comparing their demographics with their spiritual character. He was able to talk to authors from the ancient Greeks whose books he had read and studied, so that he could compare what happens to the author’s mind when he goes to the afterlife with these ideas. He was able to speak and travel with people in the spiritual world who had been born on other planets and thereby he gained an empirical knowledge of the varieties of the human race. He was able to visit the high places and the low places of the spiritual world, encountering there the highest level of the human, and the most depraved. Because humans retain their ideas and attitudes when they pass on, they can be explored as to the details of their life and conduct. Swedenborg was able to make precise cause-effect observations between the ideas and loves we accumulate as our personality, and the quality of our life and experience in the spiritual world.

 

You can see from all this that no other writings can be compared with the Writings of Swedenborg.

 

Now that the modern scientific Divine Rational Revelations have been given to the human race, it will take many generations before they are recognized and acknowledged by many. Since 1771, the year the last work of the Writings was published, there have been thousands of individuals who have recognized them and acknowledged them as Divine Revelations. Today, in the computer age of the Internet, the Writings have become available to anyone who desires them. The Lord manages every detail in the universe, hence also, who and when anyone gets to see the Writings, and then, what of it one can understand, love, and assimilate for life.

 

No one can see anything special and spiritual in the Writings who is not led by the Lord to do so. This is not some special favoritism or sectarianism of this or that new religion. The Writings are a complete work of rational science. The only requirement for access to higher human consciousness is to read the Writings as the Divine Word given to humankind for the enlightenment of rational consciousness.

 

No religion is necessary, no teacher or guru, no initiation ceremony, no prior qualification of personality, orientation, or character. Nothing is required except a modern scientific mind able to figure our and comprehend rational ideas laid down in a rational and scientific manner.

 

In this book I have taken the rational arguments and proofs in the Writings and applied them to my understanding of reality and science. As a trained professional scientist all my life I have carried my profession and science into the analysis and confirmation process of all that is in the Writings for anyone to verify. I have then taken this new understanding of reality and myself and applied it to what is every individual’s principal tasks in life: regeneration.

 

7. This Book Is About Regeneration

 

The human race has been for a long time in a “Fallen” or degenerate state by heredity. This is because all new human loves and tendencies accumulate in the mind and are passed on by hereditary mechanisms to one’s offspring. Today as each of us is born into the modern world and culture, we have the potential of becoming a celestial mind by means of regeneration, which goes on throughout our life in the physical body. Once we awaken in the spiritual world, a few hours after the physical body dies, we begin a new life in a spirit-body that contains our will and understanding. These two organs are filled with our experiences, knowledge, and affections or loves. We are then to continue forever being the kind of individuals we became while maturing on earth. Clearly then, it’s a matter of survival and rational self-interest to see to it that we arrive in the afterlife with a personality and character that can live in a heavenly sphere, by which we can avoid the eternal misery of those who sink down into hell because of their distorted and insane character or personality.

 

In the spiritual world all individuals feel totally free to be who or what they are in their loves and interests. In fact, they are compelled by the laws of the spiritual world to be on the outside what their affections or loves are on the inside. While tied to a physical body, our inner madness, rage, and insanity do not show, being inhibited by society and consequences. But as soon as we awaken in our spirit-body, nothing that is within can be kept from coming out. Therefore by necessity there are Divine laws of reality in the spiritual world that keep the order and make continued life possible in that order. And so, regions and habitations are set up in the endless expanse of the spiritual world, in order to accommodate the life for every type of human beings that enter the world of spirits from the numerous earths in the universe. There are heavens and there are hells, reflecting the character of those who live there. And within the heavens and the hells, there are innumerable sub-regions and societies, each made up of people of a similar character who live together and share one another’s fate.

 

This book is about regeneration, which is the conscious discipline of character change based on the scientific principles revealed in the Writings.

 

When we read the Writings we begin to understand regeneration in a medial, psychological, and educational perspective that is unique and new. Our prior understanding is based on the fundamental principle of nonduality, which is that all things exist in one continuum of the universe or reality. When we begin to see things from the perspective of the Writings, we can replace every concept of nonduality into a duality. Every duality is by reference to the natural and the spiritual as two separate and distinct worlds, tied together by rational laws of correspondence that have now been revealed by God.

 

In Volume 1 I show how rational analysis can be used to debunk and deconstruct concepts and notions of nonduality that are opposed to the dualities in our mind from the Writings. Once our mind is rearranged in this new mode, we can begin regeneration, which requires us to cooperate with the Lord by shunning evils as sins because sins prevent the preparation of our mind for eternal life. This cooperation must be in all the specifics of our willing and thinking hour by hour, every day. In Volume 3 I explain how to do this systematically and effectively by means of spiritual disciplines. These “regeneration disciplines” consist of doing ordinary things in our daily life from a new motive, which is that we are striving to obey the Lord’s Commandment that we monitor our willing and thinking, that we evaluate every particular in the light of the truths from the Writings, that we desist from willing what is evil and thinking what is false, and at last, that we detest these things that are in us from hell by heredity, culture, and unregenerate habits.

 

Others may also have an interest in the book, especially the wives of the men who are undergoing reformation and regeneration by means of the Writings. Women are also going through the gradual process of regeneration and have to cooperate with the Lord in that process in order to be saved for heavenly life. They may find it useful to learn what their husbands are going through from a Doctrinal point of view. Men and women have categorically different patterns of regeneration because there can be no overlap of interior nature between men and women (xx). Also, this book discusses the content and quality of everyday thoughts and feelings of husbands who are undergoing reformation and regeneration. And since husbands resist conjugial love from hereditary antipathy, often fiercely and cruelly, their wives have to endure much abuse and unhappiness in the process of their regeneration. Knowing the details of their husband’s mental struggles may be of interest and use to their wives, and to women generally.

 

Also, all who are interested in Swedenborg’s Writings and ideas may find much useful details and spiritual applications to daily life. People who have not read the Writings may be interested in how I analyze important lifestyle concepts such as God, religion, spirituality, heaven and hell, love, truth, personality, and especially, the process of deepening marital relations.

 

The New Church mind, as defined in the Writings, is to be formed entirely and solely from what is written in the Writings. The New Church mind contains many traditional views and ideals. It accepts the Christian virtues, supports law and order, supports liberty for all, puts patriotism and religion as its highest values along with marriage, parenting, and a strong educational system for all. The New Church mind supports human rights, equality between the genders, equal opportunity for all, constitutional democracy, and a strong defense system to protect the homeland. All these things are traditional values in our society and history and forms a part of the New Church mind. The New Church mind considers the Bible as the Holy Word of God, along with the Writings, which it calls the Word of the Second Coming and the Third and Final Testament.

 

No religious or spiritual mystery is allowed in the New Church mind, but only that which is explainable rationally. This is because the Lord has, in a rational way, revealed in the Writings all the former mysteries of religion, philosophy, and science. It is not necessary to join a religious denomination or Church in order to form the New Church mind in oneself. The only requirements and methods are from the Writings. The New Church mind cannot be formed solely by the traditional values mentioned, without undergoing reformation and regeneration. This means that everything in the mind must be rearranged. Our moment by moment willing and thinking must be radically changed. This is called being in “the good of life.” To quote from the Writings:

 

For it is the case with the life of charity (which is the heavenly life itself) that with those who are being reformed and regenerated it is continually being born and growing up and receiving increments, and this by means of truths; therefore the more of truth there is insinuated, the more is the life of charity perfected …

(…)

In truth, however, there is no life, but in good. Truth is only a recipient of life, that is, of good. Truth is as the clothing or garment of good; therefore also truths are called in the Word "clothing," and also "garments." But when good constitutes the rational, truth disappears and becomes as if it were good.

(AC 2189)

 

The Writings explain why reformation is necessary. The reason given is that we are born with a natural mind and with the potential of developing also a spiritual mind. This new mind becomes functional only through reformation and regeneration of one’s old mind and inherited character. The spiritual mind is required for a life in heaven after the life in the physical world. Regeneration is the process of character self-modification and it goes on throughout one’s life here, and hereafter to eternity (AC 47, 233, 1712, 2877, 5664, 10299; NJHD 148; DP 102; CL 82; SE 5958; LJ 299; AE 864). The New Church mind is the individual who is motivated to adopt the rational system presented by the Writings and to let it exclusively form one’s willing and thinking minute by minute in daily activities and life.

 

This book presents practical methods for husbands who want to form the New Church mind in themselves. It is not a commentary on other systems of religion and philosophy. Every group must find its own truth and method of salvation. Liberty for every group to do this is essential for progress, peace, and freedom. Thus, I speak only for what should be the New Church mind as defined by the Writings. I have attempted to justify every assertion by reference to the Writings. If you find anything that you think is a misinterpretation, please write me (email address: leon@hawaii.edu ).

 

All citations in parentheses are to Swedenborg’s books which collectively, are called the Writings. The places marked by (xx) are still to be filled in. If you have any of these citations at hand, please email them to me. The standard Title of the Work referred to in these citations is given at the end.

 

The Word is the Divine Truth which is in the Lord and from the Lord … Divine Truth has power in itself, and such power that, by means of it, heaven was created and the world with all things therein. (HH 137).

 

Without the Lord's coming into the world no one could have been saved. It is the same today; and therefore without the Lord's coming again into the world in Divine truth, which is the Word, no one can be saved. (TCR 3)

 

In the spiritual sense, a “man of the field” signifies “the faith and truth of doctrine” (AC 368, 427, 4823). This book is about the spiritual Doctrine that each man is to extract from the Word of the Writings, by applying the literal sense to oneself, to the hundreds of willing and thinking acts we perform every day in the course of our normal activities. This use of the literal sense is required for our reformation, regeneration, and salvation for eternal life in heaven. Every time we apply in this way one of the literal sentences from the Writings, we are enlightened by the Lord so that we can perceive the spiritual sense within the literal. This conscious process counts as cooperation with the Lord in our regeneration. Without this active conscious daily habitual cooperation with the Lord, we cannot be regenerated. This will be proven in the book by many citations from the Writings. It is the spiritual understanding of Doctrine that constitutes faith and truth. The Lord infills true faith with Divine Love, and from this union we have closeness with Him, love unto Him, and new interior celestial truths that make us wise like an angel, and capable of conjugial union with the wife.

 

 


 

Dedication

 

 

 

 

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 (CL 466).

 

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. (CL 218)

 


 

VOLUME 1:

REFORMATION:  THE INWARD STRUGGLE AGAINST NONDUALITY

 

 

Introduction:

The New Church Mind is to be Formed by the Writings Exclusively

 

 

The Word is the only doctrine which teaches how a man must live in the world in order to be happy to eternity. (AC 8939)

 

1. Introduction

 

 

Quoting from the Writings:

 

There are two states that man must enter upon and pass through, when from being natural he is becoming spiritual. The first state is called Reformation, and the second Regeneration. In the first man looks from his natural to his spiritual state and longs for that state; in the second state he becomes spiritual-natural. The first state is formed by means of truths, which must be truths of faith, and through these he looks to charity; the second state is formed by means of the goods of charity, and by these he enters into the truths of faith. Or what is the same, the first is a state of thought from the understanding, and the second a state of love from the will.

 

When this latter state begins and is progressing, a change takes place in the mind; the mind undergoes a reversal, the love of the will then flowing into the understanding, acting upon it and leading it to think in accord and agreement with its love; and in consequence so far as the good of love comes to act the first part and the truths of faith the second, man is spiritual and is a new creature; and he then acts from charity and speaks from faith; he feels the good of charity and perceives the truth of faith; and he is then in the Lord, and in peace, and thus regenerate.

 

The man who while in the world has entered upon the first state, after death can be introduced into the second; but he who has not entered into the first state while in the world, cannot after death be introduced into the second, thus cannot be regenerated.

(TCR 571)

 

The New Church mind in this book refers to any individual who is motivated to study the Writings as Divine Truth, and to love it by daily willing and thinking according to one’s understanding of it.

 

This means that every spiritual truth found in the Writings is to be taken as a Divine Commandment. Every idea and concept we acquire elsewhere must be kept separated in the external of our knowledge or memory and not allowed to commingle in the mind that is to be formed exclusively by the Writings. The New Church mind, as defined here, is not the New Church mind unless it is formed exclusively by the Writings.

 

Without the Lord's coming into the world no one could have been saved. The situation to-day is similar. So unless the Lord comes into the world again in the form of Divine Truth, that is, the Word, no more can anyone now be saved. (TCR 3)

 

You can see from this that the New Church mind can be saved only by means of the Writings and through no other means. The phrase “no more can anyone now be saved” refers to the new dispensation of the Second Coming, as indicated by the phrase “unless the Lord comes into the world again in the form of Divine Truth, that is, the Word.” This new Word now revealed for our salvation is the Word of the Writings. Whatever exists in the world today that is not from this new Word, cannot be for the salvation of the New Church mind.

 

All Christian people draw their doctrines from the Word as being their one and only source. (TCR 629)

 

God's Word is the source whence all theology must be derived (Letters 7).

 

What in particular concerns the doctrine that now follows, is that it also is out of heaven, because it is from the spiritual sense of the Word; and the spiritual sense of the Word is identical with the doctrine which is in heaven. (NJHD 7)

 

The existence of writings in the heavens is a provision of the Lord for the sake of the Word; for the Word in its essence is Divine truth, and from it is all heavenly wisdom, both with men and with angels; for the Word was dictated by the Lord, and what is dictated by the Lord passes through all the heavens in order and terminates with man. Thereby it is adapted both to the wisdom of angels and the intelligence of men. Thereby, too, the angels have a Word, and read it the same as men do on the earth, and also draw from it their doctrinals, and preach from it (AC n. 221). It is the same Word; but its natural sense, which is the sense of the letter with us, does not exist in heaven, but only the spiritual sense, which is its internal sense. What this sense is can be seen in the small treatise on The White Horse spoken of in the Apocalypse. (HH 259)

 

These passages teach that henceforth, from the Writings “is all heavenly wisdom, both with men and with angels.” All Doctrine for the New Church mind is from the Word of the Writings and from no other source. “Doctrine” refers to spiritual truths contained within the literal language of the Writings. No other books can be a source of spiritual truths for the New Church mind. All spiritual truths in our mind must be from the Writings, and no idea that is not from the Writings can be taken as spiritual truth for the New Church mind. While the Old Testament and the New Testament are also the Word, they can only be understood spiritually through the Writings.

 

The Word is the doctrine of Divine truth, and … everything of doctrine must be from the Word (AE 612)

 

It is written that “the only source of human regeneration is the Lord” (AC 10042) and the Lord is the Word (TCR 225; LORD 7; AC 2). Hence the only source of regeneration is the Word, which for the New Church mind, is the Writings.

 

2. The Writings in Heaven

 

The Word of the Divine Human in the New Heavens today is the Word of the Writings, and this Word is the same as the one we have on earth:

 

It is the same Word; but its natural sense, which is the sense of the letter with us, does not exist in heaven, but only the spiritual sense, which is its internal sense. (TCR 1)

 

What in particular concerns the doctrine that now follows, is that it also is out of heaven, because it is from the spiritual sense of the Word; and the spiritual sense of the Word is identical with the doctrine which is in heaven. For there is a Church in heaven as well as on earth; for the Word is there, doctrine is there from the Word; temples are there, in which sermons are delivered; because ecclesiastical and civil governments are there. In a word, the only difference between the things which are in the heavens, and those which are on earth, is, that all the things in the heavens are in a state of greater perfection, because all who are there are spiritual, and spiritual things immensely exceed in perfection those that are natural. (NJHD 7)

 

The Word is to be found in all the heavens and is the source of the angels' wisdom. (TCR 240)

 

The Word in heaven is written in a spiritual style which is quite different from the natural style. The spiritual style is composed simply of letters, each one of which denotes a particular meaning; and there are dashes, curves and points above, between and within the letters, which heighten the meaning. The letters used by the angels of the spiritual kingdom resemble printed type in our world; the letters used by the angels of the celestial kingdom are in some cases like Arabic letters, in others like ancient Hebrew letters, but with curves above and below, and pointing above, between and inside them. Even a single one of these points conveys a complete meaning. (TCR 241)

 

It is clear therefore that the angels read the Writings and this is their only source of intelligence and wisdom—“doctrine is there from the Word”. Note that Doctrine is the same as the spiritual sense of the Writings contained within the literal language—“doctrine is from the spiritual sense of the Writings” since the Writings are the Word. The spiritual sense cannot be written down in a natural language, and neither can the spiritual Doctrine drawn from this sense, since these two are identical. Note also that the spiritual sense of the Writings in heaven also have a letter! Without an outward letter of the Word there is no writing possible. So the outward containant of the holy truths from the Lord, is the letter the angels have. The angelic writing mode varies in accordance with the level of thinking in the three heavens, as the passage above describes it (TCR 241).

 

3. Spiritual Truths Understood Naturally and Spiritually

 

It’s interesting to note what natural letters of the alphabet on earth are similar to the spiritual writing alphabets in the heavens. The written letters of the second heaven of the spiritual angels resemble visually the “printed type in our world.” The letters of the third heaven of the celestial angels resemble visually “Arabic letters” and “Hebrew letters.” These two correspond historically on this earth with the three religions of the Western world--Islam and Judaeo-Christian. “

 

Those in heaven pay attention to the Word in the letter and perceive things there in exactly the same way as anyone is accustomed to perceive a person's thought as it presents itself in spoken words, or in the inmost heaven as anyone is accustomed to perceive a person's aims or end in view. (AC 9407)

 

Note therefore that the spiritual sense of the Writings only exists in the understanding because it is impossible to render it in the letter of the Word. If it were possible, the angels would not need a letter of the Word within which they can see and receive spiritual things! But the highest angels also need a letter for the Word, written in visible script, as discussed just above. This is a rational matter to understand and follows from discrete degrees in all things created (see Chapter 5 Section 6).

 

Clearly then, the natural literal sentences in the Writings cannot be same as the spiritual truths.

 

Prior to our reformation, sometime in adulthood, we read many things about heavenly secrets, which are knowledges revealed from heaven. They are called secrets because no human being in all of history and evolution, can ever discover a single spiritual truth from self, from experience, or from another human being. Every spiritual truth comes from the spiritual world which is in a discrete degree above the natural world, so that one can never access the spiritual from the natural.

 

This also means that there is no conscious access possible to our spiritual mind from our natural mind. The spiritual mind is tied to heaven because all its content is from heaven, and the natural mind is tied to earth because all its content is from earth. All spiritual truths that enter our spiritual mind from the angels, is unconscious to us in the natural. But it has an effect by correspondence. The spiritual meanings enter the natural meanings that we have obtained from the Writings. This correspondential activity goes on in the interior-natural mind that is formed within the natural-rational mind.

 

Note carefully: the natural-rational mind reads and understand the Writings naturally, but it is the interior-natural mind that understands it spiritually, by correspondence. It is the spiritual understanding that we need in order to be regenerated and saved.

 

4. The Great Battle Of Nonduality Vs. Duality

 

To be saved we must undergo reformation first, and when that is completed, we begin regeneration. The unregenerate mind prior to reformation is filled with nonduality. Nonduality is an orientation of the mind in which we are motivated to prevent the entry into the mind of absolute dualities such as compose every page of the Writings. For example, everything in the Writings is based on the idea that God is separate from created things, as He is infinite and created things are finite. Nonduality puts up a combat against this absolute duality, preferring the idea that there is a continuum between the finite and the infinite, so that if we could imagine ourselves to grow more and more perfect, we could become like God.

 

Another example is good and evil. In the Writings there is an absolute and eternal division between good and evil, or between spiritual truth and falsity. But nonduality in our mind desires to level them into a continuum so that evil is just a lesser form of good. Still another example is the spiritual constitution of men and women. The Writings describe the difference as an absolute duality so that nothing in a man can ever be like something in a woman, and vice versa. Nonduality is motivated to prefer a continuum between men and women that yields an overlap in traits. While this may be the appearance for natural traits, it is not so for spiritual traits.

 

There are many thousands of such items of nonduality in our mind as we begin our reformation. The nonduality is already ensconced, and receives the support of culture, science, and education. We therefore are faced with a great and mighty struggle to clean out our mind from these nondualities. If we leave them there, they destroy the absolute dualities we take up from the Writings, and therefore, prevent our reformation, regeneration, and salvation. The nondualities cannot be gotten rid off except by means of dualities form the Writings, and this only if we acknowledge the Writings as the Word. For only Divine Truth from the Word has the power to defeat the hells, and all of the hells are involved in maintaining nonduality in our mind.

 

We are in this sorry and precarious situation by birth. Our spirit or mind is born corrupted by heredity, deformed, injured, sick, and dying, on its way to hell. The most atrocious evils are within a beautiful baby, kept suppressed for a few months or years, by the presence of angels. But as soon as the child grows older, and begins to think from self, the evils break out and surround the individual, pulling like a mighty chain tied to hell. We can put on a facade of niceness for the sake of self-preservation and acceptance by others, but within the heart breathes every rage, hatred, deception, and obscenity. This sorry and troubling description is one of the most important revelations of the Lord’s Second Coming in the Writings. We must know our spiritual state in order to reform and regenerate, thus be saved for life in heaven. No religious faith or worship can save us, but only reformation and regeneration. The Writings have been given so that its truths within our mind, may have the power to battle and defeat the hells within us.

 

You can see that it is essential to acquire in our mind the literal meaning of the Writings. Without this knowledge of the Writings in sufficient detail, we cannot be reformed because we are unwilling to give up the nonduality which is in our unregenerate mind. The only way we have the motive power to reject our own nonduality is by reading, understanding, and believing the literal sentences of the Writings, even as we believe and worship Divine Truth or the Lord. This is the only way that the Lord has provided for salvation in His Second Coming.

 

Once we imbibe the letter of the Writings and honor it in our mind as the Word, we have developed into mature adult minds ready to undergo rebirth and reformation. Now the literal sentences that are in our mind become Doctrine of Life. We see each sentence as applying to ourself, even though very obscurely, and sometimes seeing not even that. But we accept rationally the idea that every sentence applies to us, in fact, is the Lord speaking to our natural mind. Now we suddenly become aflame with the desire to reform. We passionately seek out every nonduality in our mind, deconstruct it, mark it, put it in a special bin, and substitute for it a duality from those many sentences and ideas we imbibed from the Writings. Suddenly we see clearly in the light of those sentences and concepts. This is spiritual vision. For the first time we have a spiritual consciousness, the very beginning of it because we are in the reformation phase, but much more brightly when we progress in regeneration.

 

In the Writings, we read details about correspondences, the Lord’s Laws of Providence and Permissions, conjugial love, states of regeneration. All these subjects are spiritual topics, but they are laid down in a natural language. The literal meaning of the sentence is not the spiritual meaning that is contained within it. Because this would be impossible! It is impossible on earth as it is impossible in heaven, because the Word in both worlds is written in a visible script with letters.

 

This is most important to understand, and is repeated in different ways, in several places throughout this book. At first this is hard to believe and accept, regardless of how much study we have done on the Writings. This resistance is similar to the resistance Christians put up to the idea from the Writings that the Old and New Testaments have an inner sense, and the only this inner sense is actually spiritual. They have difficulty believing this because they can hardly be expected to understand it without the Writings.

 

Prior to our reformation in adult life we are called Christians, but after reformation, when regeneration has begun, we are called True Christians—as the title of the last book of the Writings clearly indicate: The True Christian Religion. And the last thing in a section of the Word recapitulates all of the Word (xx). Hence The True Christian Religion (TCR) is the special Work of the Writings that embodies, recapitulates, and completes all that has been written in the Word before it. All who are called “True Christians” are of the New Church. The New Church mind regardless of religious background, is called the True Christian mind. The word “Christian” as part of “True” represents the Divine Human of the Lord as revealed in the Second Coming, for He is Divine Truth, and He is the Risen Glorified Christ born in the world (xx). All who know Him in His Second Coming, and love Him as the Divine Human, He calls “True Christians.”

 

After reformation, we develop a dual relationship to the Writings. We continue to study the literal as essential for the continued development of our natural mind. Remember that every word and sentence of the literal in the Word contains infinite spiritual secrets (xx). We need those sentences and ideas in our external memory-knowledges as an endless source of new spiritual truths that enhance our happiness and consciousness as angels to eternity. This is why the angels have the Word and read it as the source of all their wisdom (xx). But remember again how they access these spiritual truths each time they read the Word in script, or think from it in their memory-knowledge. The wisdom does not lie in the letters and sentences, but within them. This is a discrete degree above the script or letter. Therefore it is impossible to express spiritual truths in the script of the angels, even though that script is called “spiritual script” (xx).

 

This is the same for us on earth. The literal sentences and their meanings in our mind, are not spiritual since they are in the natural mind. We read the sentences and definitions about “the heavenly doctrine” and the sentence, “This is the Heavenly Doctrine.” These are indeed spiritual and heavenly subjects, but what’s written down is not the spiritual meaning. The Lord has provided for this: that as we and angels read the script, or think from it in our mind, He enlightens each of us. That’s how it works! Only this enlightenment is the spiritual sense. It’s like a flash of lightening in a meadow in the dark—our understanding breaks through the darkness and for an instant, we see the terrain in clear vision. After that instant we can describe what we have seen, but this description cannot recreate the vision of the terrain, but only a representation of it in language.

 

5. Enlightenment From The Lord

 

When does the Lord give enlightenment as we read the sentences of the Writings, or think from them in our mind?

 

The answer is the same for us now and later, when we are angels. The Lord gives enlightenment when we try to apply the sentence or idea in the letter, to our life, that is, to our willing and thinking moment by moment. This is the “work of charity” or the “life of good” that we must perform in order be saved. Our willing and thinking moment by moment consists of a sequence of acts we perform in our will and in our understanding. Thousands of individual acts of willing, intending, thinking, and reasoning, go on every day for every human being. Each one of these is either from hell or from heaven. Prior to our reformation, all are from hell! (xx), and to be regenerated we need to get rid of them as-of self, in our conscious mind, by a free choice motivated by the spiritual truth that they are sins against the Lord and prevent us from becoming angels. That’s a lot of work! But the Lord provides for the orderly progress within this psychobiological growth process.

 

Enlightenment is the flash of heavenly light the Lord sends into our conscious natural mind, whenever we examine one of our numerous acts of the day or hour, and evaluate them in the light of the sentences and ideas from the Writings.

 

The meaning of the flash that we try to write down or express in words, is called the spiritual Doctrine in our understanding (xx). This is the spiritual meaning of the Heavenly Doctrines now seen spiritually, while before regeneration began, we only saw their natural meaning, since we could not see what is within those sentences. Our mind was locked into what was in the outside of the sentences, namely their natural meaning. This natural meaning was essential to acquire so that we may use them to evaluate our willing and thinking acts. But now that we have applied it to ourselves, we are given to see what is within. Note carefully: the literal is till there, still true, still holy. It is still essential to imbibe it and understand it naturally with our rational understanding. NO progress can be made without this step!

 

But it must not be the last step! Mere memory-knowledges of the literal scientifics of the Writings does not have the power to save us, despite their holiness and essential condition for being saved. Faith cannot save, but charity within faith, saves (xx). The charity is the works of good we do by modifying our willing and thinking in accordance with the faith, the Doctrine, the understanding. The spiritual meaning is then revealed, first to the spiritual mind, of which we are unconscious, and second, by correspondence, to the interior-natural mind, of which we are conscious like a flash in the dark.

 

Prior to reformation, the Lord calls the works we do as “a hunter of the ground.” We have the Writings, we acknowledge it as the Word, we study and memorize it, but we do not apply it to our willing and thinking in particular, but only in general, like a confession or creed. It is in our mind for a few minutes a week or day, but then out of our mind, as we carry on intending and willing in the absence of our thinking about the Writings. But after reformation, we are motivated to change our moment by moment intending and thinking, so that they conform to what we have learned from our study of the Writings. In this new state, the Lord calls us “a man of the field.” We don’t just put the heavenly doctrines into our understanding, but into our will. This requires gradual regeneration, day by day, like a gardener or farmer toiling in his field.

 

Then the Writings are no longer merely the Word of our religion, but the Lord Himself in His Holy Spirit or Divine Rational. This is because we can now perceive the Lord within the letter in a way not perceivable until then. Our love for this Divine Truth develops our spiritual mind all the way to the Second Heaven of the spiritual angels. But if our love is for the Lord, and thence for His Truth, our spiritual mind is developed all the way to the Third Heaven of the celestial angels. To love the Lord’s Truth is to study the Writings and to make its concepts the governing ideas in our mind. To love the Lord, and thence His Truth, is to use this truth to modify our willing and thinking, so that we may become more agreeable to the Lord, to His Order, and closer to Him in conjunction.

 

6. A Man of the Field

 

Those who consider themselves in the New Church may assume that they are already saved since they believe in the Writings as the Word of their religion. But they must apply to themselves the Lord’s Doctrine:

 

UNLESS A MAN IS BORN AGAIN, AND, AS IT WERE, CREATED ANEW, HE CANNOT ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

That unless a man is born again he cannot enter into the kingdom of God, is the Lord's doctrine (TCR 572).

 

We need to ask ourselves: How is the New Church person reborn? The answer given in this book is based on my understanding of the Writings as the Word, and how it is to be applied to our daily willing and thinking. By observing the resistances I am experiencing in my reformation and regeneration I have become aware of how the Heavenly Doctrine is to be applied specifically to our willing and thinking in daily activities. The Writings show that progress in our regeneration depends entirely on the degree of our cooperation with the Lord. This cooperation is performed in the mental effort we exert in our willing and thinking, moment by moment, in our daily routines of social life. The effort is required because our natural willing and thinking is not in agreement with the Writings prior to reformation, regardless of our religious membership. This mental effort or daily struggle, is the arena of reformation and regeneration. I present techniques that I have found effective that allow us better knowledge and control over our willing and thinking, to force them into alignment with the spiritual Doctrine in our mind.

 

The techniques fall into two categories: critical analysis of ideas and concepts, and systematic methods of self-witnessing or objective self-observation. Critical analysis by means of the Writings as the only authority, is the work of reformation presented in Volume 1. Everything in our mind from heredity, socialization, and culture must be rearranged and subjected to critical evaluation in this heavenly light. Our moment to moment intending and thinking, emoting and verbing, must be monitored so that we may get to know the evils in our unregenerate character. In Volume 3 this is called self-witnessing and is the actual process of our cooperation with the Lord in regeneration.

 

The Writings were given to humankind universally, but also to each unique individual mind in particular, as pointed out in this General Church sermon:

 

The acceptance of the Writings is an individual thing. The New Church is formed of individuals in whom there has been a profound occurrence in the rational mind. … The Second Coming of the Lord is effected in what has been written, and through which the Lord speaks to the rational mind. … The Writings declare themselves to be a revelation from the Lord Himself. …

 

The books claim to be the Lord speaking to man. It is pointless for a man to decide whether they are or whether they are not until the doctrines have had access to his mind. If his mind responds to them, he may see that he is approaching a momentous decision. “Perhaps these doctrines really are the Lord Himself speaking to me.” If they are, if he accepts them as such, a complete change comes about, for they have Divine claim on his rational mind. The reception of them becomes the supreme service to which the rational mind can be turned.

(Rev. Donald L. Rose, Sermon titled “The Colt Loosed For the Lord’s Service” General Church, Bryn Athyn. Undated)

 

This book is written for those who read the Writings as the Lord Himself speaking to them through the rational ideas contained in them. Since the reception of the Heavenly Doctrine must be particular to each individual, no one can escape the main issue presented here: What effort is required of each of us to receive the Writings? As soon as we begin to read the Writings as the Word, we learn that we must be regenerated to be saved, and that this process is carried out gradually by the Lord, but only to the extent that we cooperate in the process. Clearly then, reading and acknowledging the Writings as the Word is not enough for anyone to be regenerated, hence saved. Worshipping in the New Church is not enough to be regenerated, hence saved. What then is required? The Writings teach that we first must undergo reformation in adult life (AE 803; AC 8780; AC 3518:[2]; TCR 587), and then we must begin our regeneration, a process of change that is to continue to the end.

 

How are we to cooperate with the Lord in our reformation and regeneration? This book presents some spiritual methods and disciplines that help us to perform this required cooperation. In the Writings, this required cooperative effort is called being “a man of the field”:

 

'A man of the field' means the good of life that has its origin in matters of doctrine.

 

This is clear from the meaning of 'the field'. In the Word reference is made in many places to the earth (or the land), the ground, and the field. … And since the Church is not the Church by virtue of matters of doctrine except insofar as these have the good of life as the end in view, or what amounts to the same, unless matters of doctrine are joined to the good of life, 'the field' therefore means primarily the good of life. But in order that such good may be that of the Church, matters of doctrine from the Word which have been implanted within that good must be present.

 

In the absence of matters of doctrine the good of life does indeed exist, but it is not as yet that of the Church, and so not as yet truly spiritual, except in the sense that it has the potentiality to become so, like the good of life as this exists with gentiles who do not possess the Word and therefore do not know the Lord.

 

[2] That 'the field' is the good of life in which the things of faith, that is, spiritual truths existing with the Church, are implanted, becomes quite clear from the Lord's parable about the sower in Matthew …

 

[3] With regard to the good of life which has its origin in matters of doctrine being meant by 'a man of the field', the position is that those who are being regenerated first of all do good as matters of doctrine direct them, for they do not of themselves know what good is. They learn to do good from matters of doctrine concerning love and charity; from these they know who the Lord is, who the neighbour is, what love is, and what charity is, and so what good is. Those who have come into this stage are stirred by the affection for truth and are called 'men (vir) of the field'.

 

But after that, once they have been regenerated they do good not from matters of doctrine but from love and charity, for the good itself which they have learned about through matters of doctrine exists with them, and they are in that case called 'men (homo) of the field'. …

 

[4] The same also applies to spiritual truths which are called doctrinal and are more interior Commandments still. For matters of doctrine are interior truths which the natural man possesses, the first truths there being sensory ones, the second truths being factual, and interior truths matters of doctrine. The latter are based on factual truths inasmuch as a person can have and retain no idea, notion, or concept of them except from factual truths. But the foundations on which factual truths are based are sensory truths, for without sensory truths nobody is able to possess factual ones. Such truths, that is to say, factual and sensory, are meant by 'a man skilled in hunting', but matters of doctrine are meant by 'a man of the field'.

 

Such is the order in which those kinds of truths stand in relation to one another in man. Until a person has become adult therefore, and through sensory and factual truths possesses matters of doctrine, he is incapable of being regenerated, for he cannot be confirmed in the truths contained in matters of doctrine except through ideas based on factual and sensory truths - for nothing is ever present in a person's thought, not even the deepest arcanum of faith there, which does not involve some natural or sensory idea, though generally a person is not aware of the essential nature of such ideas. But in the next life the nature of them is revealed before his understanding, if he so desires, and also a visual representation before his sight, if he wants it; for in the next life such things can be presented before one's eyes in a visual form. This seems unbelievable but it is nevertheless what happens there. (AC 3310)

 

This passages teaches many things, some of which may be summarized in relation to this book:

 

1. The “good of life” that the New Church mind is required to perform is that of willing and thinking in accordance with the spiritual Doctrine which we have acquired in our understanding. Note that “the good of life has its origin in matters of doctrine.” In order to reform and regenerate we must first have Doctrine from the Writings to guide our new spiritual growth and development, for this is the “origin” of the good of life.

 

2. The church in us is not made by knowledge and understanding of the Writings, but by willing and thinking in accordance with the spiritual Doctrine in our mind that we obtained from the Writings.

 

3. Willing and thinking in accordance with the spiritual Doctrine is only possible to the extent that we study the Writings sufficiently to have articulated in our mind an accommodated version that can guide our willing and thinking all day long. This accommodated version in our mind is called the Doctrine, and it becomes more and more spiritual as we advance in regeneration.

 

4. Church membership and worship do not create the spiritual mind, but only the spiritual Doctrine in our mind, and this only to the extent that we use it to guide our daily willing and thinking.

 

5. There are two stages we must undergo. In phase 1 we do our willing and thinking from the literal Doctrine in our mind. This is our state of reformation, of obedience to the truth. We do not yet know the Lord as to His Love, but only the Lord as to His Truth. After this phase is matured, we enter phase 2 in which we do our willing and thinking from the love of the Lord and neighbor by means of the truth of Doctrine in our mind. This truth of Doctrine is now spiritual, whereas before, it was only natural. This is actual regeneration and salvation. We must not get stuck in phase 1, for this does not lead to Heaven.

 

6. There are two levels of willing and thinking in the natural mind. The lower level is called scientific, based on natural truths from sensory observations and facts. The upper level of thinking is called doctrinal, that is, based on the truths from the Writings. The scientific level (“a man skilled in hunting”) is based on what’s below in our mind and is purely natural, but the doctrinal level (“a man of the field”), is based on what’s above and pertains to what is spiritual.

 

7. The doctrinal level of willing and thinking must be founded on the scientific or literal level. Truths about spiritual things remain rational abstractions, not genuine spiritual-rational truths, unless they are grounded in sensuous actions from our willing and thinking. The indescribable wisdom and intelligence of angels must rest in sensuous things in them and around them, which is why heaven is so rich in external life, in art and sublime conveniences (CL 12).

 

8. Regeneration is spiritual, therefore it must take place within the outward level of willing and thinking in our sensuous life. This outward level of life is where we can make decisions and choices based on our own philosophy, beliefs, and rational faith. This thinking from self normally starts in early adulthood. Until then we merely act from the authority of others and the things we have learned since early childhood. Regardless of the religion in which one is born, there is no reformation until early adulthood and beyond. After reformation is matured, spiritual regeneration can begin.

 

9. Reformation begins when we are ready to acknowledge the truths from the Writings as Divine Commandments we are required to perform daily for our salvation.

 

10. The Writings consist of natural truths (“scientific truths”) and spiritual truths (“Doctrine”). Both scientific truths and doctrinal truths appear or are contained in, the letter of the Writings. Doctrinal truths about spiritual things are first taken up as the literal language, understood literally or naturally. But later, we understand them spiritually.

 

These ten statements constitute the rationale and general content of this book.

 

7. At The Threshold Out Of Hell Into Heaven

 

The theme of the reformation techniques (Volume 1) is how to identify and deconstruct nonduality in our mind, which we have taken up from culture and self-intelligence. The theme of the regeneration techniques (Volume 3) is how to perform the daily discipline of self-witnessing, which consists in monitoring our willing and thinking moment by moment, keeping track of its ceaseless stream, and modifying it in accordance with the Doctrine in our mind. We must undergo reformation before we can begin regeneration.

 

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.

 

[2] 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 COELESTIA 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)

 

Reformation eliminates the many nondualities in our mind and allows us to build up the New Church mind in ourself. Reformation is completed when we have acquired in our conscious understanding enough knowledge of the Writings that the Doctrine is in our conscious awareness and available for immediate, spontaneous use in our daily willing and thinking. Then regeneration can begin. The Doctrine we take up from the Writings is made of rational ideas I will call “dualities” or concepts of “duality.” These concepts of duality are to replace all the concepts of nonduality. Nonduality is the negative affirmation by which one denies that duality exists in this or that area of reality. Reformation is the rearranging of the mind from the nonduality of the world to the duality of the Writings. Hence the rational mind must be involved in spiritual growth.

 

According to Rev. Rose:

 

Every person raised within the church must come to the time of a possession of a rational faculty… Every person raised within the church, although he has many times heard the Lord speaking, must in the privacy of the chamber of his mind know what it is to acknowledge this and say, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.” … Even if we have accepted the Writings, we can still have wrong ideas. …

 

Suppose that the new truth puts light upon imperfections in our self. It exposes our evils and proves that our thoughts have been false. Our pride resists it; the habitual thinking of many years resist it. … But when we realize that it is the Lord Himself speaking, our reluctance can give way to a thrilling sense of progress and change.

(Rev. Donald L. Rose, Sermon titled “The Colt Loosed For the Lord’s Service” General Church, Bryn Athyn. Undated)

 

Nonduality exists in the human mind as a property of being unregenerate. Regeneration is effected by the Lord through our persistent application of dualities from the Writings to our daily willing and thinking. This is the commandment of performing “works of charity:”

 

The proper and genuine uses of charity are the uses of each one's function and administration, as has been said above. These then become goods of charity, in which love to the Lord exists, or with which that love is conjoined, when man does them from spiritual fidelity and sincerity, which those have who love uses because they are uses, and who believe that every good is from the Lord. But besides these there are other general uses, as faithfully loving the marriage partner, rightly bringing up children, managing the home prudently, and dealing justly with servants. These works become works of charity when they are done from the love of uses; and in reference to a marriage partner when they are done from mutual and chaste love; such uses are household uses which are uses of charity. (D. WIS. 10)

 

The following two things are clear from this passage. First, that the Lord is present with us nowhere but in our love of uses, which love is called “works of charity.” Second, that works of charity refers to our willing and thinking daily as we carry out our activities and relationships. This motivation of uses in our willing and thinking cannot be merely “uses of external charity” called “piety,” for this is not itself spiritual or of our salvation:

 

To give aid to the needy, to widows, to orphans, solely because they are needy, widows and orphans, and to give to beggars solely because they are beggars, are uses of external charity, which charity is called piety; but these are uses of internal charity only so far as they are derived from use and the love of use. For external charity without internal charity is not charity; the internal must be there to make it charity; for external charity from internal charity acts prudently, but external without internal charity acts imprudently, and often unjustly. (D. WIS. 10:5)

 

We are commanded to form the New Church mind in ourselves through reformation and cooperation in our gradual regeneration. This means to perform our daily willing and thinking from a spiritual motive, namely, the motive that to love the Lord is to perform our willing and thinking as works of charity. We must avoid leading a daily life from mere piety, which means, merely acknowledging one’s religion and attending regular worship and supporting the Church organization. These are external acts that are below the spiritual-rational and cannot contribute to our salvation in themselves no matter how much we engage in them. Rather, our regeneration must be the result of an internal motive that governs all our daily activities—at work, at home, in our conscious mental struggles and intentions. This internal motive is what’s called the genuine “works of charity” or “inward charity.”

 

8. Cooperation in our Regeneration

 

This motive for regeneration must involve all our willing and thinking, moment by moment throughout the day, in our social, professional, and recreational activities. How are we to accomplish this? We need to learn the mental discipline of accomplishing this ceaseless activity every day. This discipline must be spiritual and its justification and method must be from the Writings.

 

Anyone therefore who looks to the Lord and wants to be guided by Him is in a state of good. But anyone who turns away from God and wants to be guided by himself is not in a state of good (CL 444)

 

To look to the Lord is to reason from spiritual truths obtained from the Word of the Lord. To “be guided by self” is to reason from natural appearances obtained either from self or from the ideas of others. The fundamental duality of the New Church mind is the duality between the spiritual and the natural. This fundamental duality has innumerable sub-dualities within it, associated in a hierarchy or series, and each duality is a unique permanent distinction that cannot change to eternity (DLW 226). For example: Divine and Human, Esse and Existere, Love and Wisdom, will and understanding, husband and wife, interior and external, mind and body, heart and lungs, uncreate and created, unregenerate and regenerating, good and evil, truth and falsity, heaven and hell, the Lord and self, and many more. All sub-dualities have the fundamental duality at their core which cannot be removed. If the core were to be removed from any duality, all other dualities would fall. The mind will then contain only nondualities. The unregenerate mind is such a mind.

 

Even those born in a New Church religion are unregenerate until early adulthood, when reformation can begin. Until then the dualities and truths obtained from education and study of the Writings are “natural scientifics” of religion rather than spiritual truths of Doctrine. Reformation marks the turning point when natural scientifics of religion become personal life choices by preference. Reformation defines the line of demarcation between unregenerate and regenerate.

 

9. The Lord’s Relationship to All Religions

 

After reformation is completed, regeneration begins, and continues till the end. This is the process of gradually internalizing the truths in our memory into the choices of our life. This new mind is appropriately called the New Church mind because all its dualities are from the Writings which is the Word for the New Church mind. A reader of an earlier draft of this book objected to the idea that the New Church mind is to be formed exclusively by truths from the Writings: “What about truths that the Lord gives to other religions and nations who do not know of the Writings, or if they know about it, reject it because it is contrary to their religion, philosophy, or tradition?” The answer given in the Writings can be summarized as follows:

 

(1)   Religious membership does not constitute salvation (TCR 254; AC 8762; NJHD 126).

 

(2)   Therefore, those born in the New Church are unregenerate and must undergo reformation and regeneration in adult life. (AE 803; AC 8780; AC 3518:[2]; TCR 587)

 

(3)   Hence also, those born in any religion, and those who have no religion, are unregenerate and must undergo regeneration, either in this life or in the afterlife (HH 512, 308).

 

(4)   Every individual, regardless of religion or belief system, is born unregenerate, and in order to be saved for eternal life in heaven, must undergo regeneration (HH 308).

 

The Lord provides for the salvation of every individual (TCR 142). Every person is born for eternal life in heaven (HH 82, TCR 574). The Lord is the same Divine Human for all people on this earth and on all the other earths in the universe (EU 121; SE 4373, 5513). It stands to reason therefore that the Lord provides a means for regeneration in the case of every human being. This New Church view on salvation is unlike all other religions, which assume that religious membership is the condition for being saved for heaven. But the Word of the Second Coming reveals the true relationship between God and people in the universe. All people who are good from the Lord’s “universal Church” regardless of religious membership (HH 321).

 

The Church where the Word is and the Lord is known by means of it, in relation to those outside the Church where there is no Word and the Lord is unknown is like the heart and lungs in man in comparison with the other parts of the body, which live from them as from the fountains of their life ... Before the Lord the universal Church on the earth is as one Man ... (HH 305)

 

Here it is revealed that the Lord unites the entire human race into “one Man” or in the Form of one human being, even as He unites the body’s many parts into one integrated functioning unit.

 

There is also a conjunction of heaven by means of the Word with those who are outside the Church where there is no Word; for the Lord's Church is universal, and is with all who acknowledge the Divine and live in charity. Moreover, such are taught after death by angels and receive Divine truths (HH 308).

 

This passage reveals that people of all religions are part of the Lord’s Heaven, the only condition being, not religious membership, but living an individual life that is good. Good is defined universally by all religions as worshipping God, obeying God’s commandments, and loving the neighbor, that is, not injuring others for the sake of self. Further, the above passages reveal that all individuals must be taught by angels upon arrival into the afterlife. In this instruction everyone is given genuine spiritual truths, and these truths are understood with variety, depending on the genius or religious beliefs of each individual. All those who lived a life of obedience to God and love to the neighbor, are able to receive the Divine Truths from the angels. But since these truths are accommodated to the mind of each individual, the Heavens are arranged by the Lord in numberless angelic societies, each different, each unique (AC 10334). Therefore people of different religions have their own Heavens under the Lord, depending on the idea of Him they form for themselves (DLW 13).

 

Those born in a New Church religion and those who adopt it afterwards, have genuine truths of religion in this life, but they are not admitted to heaven on account of them:

 

They who are born where the Word is, and where the Lord is thereby known, are not of the church, but they who are regenerated by the Lord by the truths of the Word, that is, they who live the life of charity … (NJHD 246)

 

Here we see once again that Church membership is not saving. Those born in the New Church who acknowledge the Writings as the Word of their religion, are not saved by Baptism in childhood, or by years of Sunday Worship, and by graduating from a religious New Church school. Salvation is by one method for all human beings: regeneration. And regeneration does not begin until after reformation in early adulthood (AC 3518). Clearly then, the New Church member is saved only to the extent of undergoing regeneration. This is because salvation is by regeneration, not by religious membership or initiation. Regeneration is treated of in Volume 3. But before regeneration can begin, the individual must undergo reformation, which is the subject of this volume (Volume 1).

 

It is clear from all this that the New Church mind cannot be inherited or bestowed by membership. It must be formed individually in adult life by reformation and regeneration (AE 803; AC 8780; AC 3518:[2]; TCR 587).

 

10. The Writings As The Exclusive Source For Spiritual Truths

 

Hence the crucial question: How are we to reform our mind from the unregenerate state to the state of becoming the New Church mind? Here the answer from the Writings is clear: All spiritual truths must come from the Word and from nowhere else, as shown in the quotations above and in what follows. The Word for the New Church mind is the Word of the Second Coming, that is, the Word of the Writings, sometimes called the Latin Word or the Third Testament. Hence the Writings must be the exclusive source for spiritual truths in the New Church mind. Nothing whatsoever can be borrowed from other religions or intellectual traditions. You can see from the discussion above that this is not a judgment on other religions and traditions. Instead it is a statement of the requirement for the New Church mind, hence for anyone of any background who wishes to form the New Church mind in themselves. No other genuine New Church mind exists but that which is based exclusively on the Writings.

 

Clearly, then, it is not permissible for the New Church mind to “import” spiritual concepts from other spiritual traditions of any kind.This may seem extreme and unreasonable, at first, but it will be seen to be true as I bring in additional critical thinking from the Writings. At first we have difficulty seeing that the Writings must be the exclusive source of all spiritual truths in the New Church mind. We think about the truths given to every religion and we think about the Lord’s universal church. These things are true, indeed, as discussed above. But they do not mean that the New Church mind can import any of these spiritual concepts that are not from the Writings. The key to understanding this is to remember that Heaven is distinguished between those who have the Word, and those who do not (CL 343, 352; TCR 268). There is no sharing of truths between them, which is why the heavens are isolated from each other (CL 352). Truths cannot be shared across discrete levels of spiritual mentality.

 

Take for instance the concept of “God” which is universal to all the Heavens. Universal doesn’t mean similar between the integrated parts. The New Heavens of the Second Coming are at the center of all the Heavens and closest to the spiritual Sun, or the Lord (xx). Concepts from this Heaven cannot be exported to the other Heavens in a direct way, but only in a from accommodated to their genius and willingness. Similarly, concepts from the other Heavens cannot be imported into the New Christian Heaven, which is the New Heaven established by the truths of the Writings (TCR 1).

 

What applies to heaven also applies to the Church on earth (TCR 14, 119). And so, once more we see that the Writings as the Word of the New Christian Heaven, must be the exclusive source of all concepts regarding salvation of the New Church mind. Reformation is the process by which the New Church mind is formed and prepared into a mind that can live in the New Heavens of the Second Coming (TCR 1). Everything in this mind must be made of concepts that originate from the Writings. The concepts we then hear of from other sources must not be admitted, but marked and separated in memory, so that they do not commingle with the truths of Doctrine from the Writings.

 

It will be shown in this volume that every concept from the Writings is a duality and every concept not from the Writings is a nonduality in the New Church mind. Thus the Writings are the only source of dualities for the New Church mind and for the highest angels (NJHD 257; AC 8939; TCR 340, 347, 350; SS 111; SE 5961). Again, this may sound extreme and wrong, but only to those who are unwilling to form all their concepts from the Writings.

 

Note that the individual with a New Church mind can easily function as an expert scientist and scholar on any religion or system of thinking. The knowledge we have about nondualities is not what’s meant by “not allowing them to commingle” with truths from the Writings. The New Church mind that is formed exclusively by the truths and reasoning of the Writings is quite able to read about nondualities and to see them in the light of the dualities from the Writings (HH 38). Our scholarship and expertise of nondualities can even be enhanced by our special rational perspective, and if we had the motive to do so, we could be effective in teaching nondualities to others. Yet at the same time we would not allow these nondualities to commingle with what we have intact in our New Church mind, in our willing and thinking at any moment.

 

11. Separating Nonduality and Duality in the Mind

 

The advantages afforded to the New Church mind by the dualities of the Writings are due to their genuine rationality and correspondence to reality:

 

Only he who knows how degrees are related to Divine order can comprehend how the heavens are distinct, or even what is meant by the internal and the external man. Most men in the world have no other idea of what is interior and what is exterior, or of what is higher and what is lower, than as something continuous, or coherent by continuity, from purer to grosser. But the relation of what is interior to what is exterior is discrete, not continuous. Degrees are of two kinds, those that are continuous and those that are not. Continuous degrees are related like the degrees of the waning of a light from its bright blaze to darkness, or like the degrees of the decrease of vision from objects in the light to those in the shade, or like degrees of purity in the atmosphere from bottom to top. These degrees are determined by distance.

(…)

[3] Until one has acquired for himself a perception of these degrees he cannot possibly understand the differences between the heavens, nor between the interior and exterior faculties of man, nor the differences between the spiritual world and the natural world, nor between the spirit of man and his body. So neither can he understand the nature and source of correspondences and representations, or the nature of influx. Sensual men do not apprehend these differences, for they make increase and decrease, even according to these degrees, to be continuous, and are therefore unable to conceive of what is spiritual otherwise than as a purer natural. And in consequence they remain outside of and a great way off from intelligence. (HH 38)

 

At the beginning of our reformation in adult life our unregenerate mind is mixed with dualities from the Writings and nondualities from self and culture. Our reformation is therefore nothing but a clash of ideas in our mind, a battle of life and death, a struggle for heaven or hell. Our own unregenerate will is dead set to lead us to hell, while the reformed will is from the Lord, hence set to eternal life in heaven.

 

… man when regenerated is as to the intellectual part the Lord's, but as to his will part is his own, these two parts in the spiritual man being opposed.

 

But though the will part of man is opposed, yet it cannot but be present; for all the obscurity in his intellectual part, or all the density of his cloud, is from it. It continually flows in from it, and in proportion as it flows in, the cloud in his intellectual part is thickened; but in proportion as it is removed, the cloud is made thin.

(…)

[3] This condition of things between the will and the understanding is as if two who were formerly conjoined by a covenant of friendship, as were the will and the understanding in the man of the Most Ancient Church, had their friendship broken, and enmity had arisen-as took place when man wholly corrupted his will part-and then when a covenant is again entered into, the hostile part is set forth as if the covenant were with it, but it is not with it, because it is utterly opposite and contrary, but it is with that which flows in from it-as already said-that is, with the Own of the understanding.

 

The "token" or "sign" of the covenant is this, that in proportion as there is the presence of the Lord in the Own of the understanding, in the same proportion the Own of the will be removed.

 

The case herein is exactly as it is with heaven and hell. The intellectual part of the regenerated man, from charity, in which the Lord is present, is heaven; his will part is hell. So far as the Lord is present in this heaven, so far is this hell removed. For of himself man is in hell, and of the Lord is in heaven. And man is being continually uplifted from hell into heaven, and so far as he is uplifted, so far his hell is removed. The "sign" therefore, or indication, that the Lord is present, is that man's will part is being removed. The possibility of its removal is effected by means of temptations, and by many other means of regeneration. (AC 1044)

 

The above passage teaches several things about how we are to undergo reformation and regeneration:

 

(1)   All the willing we do prior to reformation in adult life is evil from hell and cannot be regenerated.

 

(2)   Reformation is the struggle of opposites in our mind. The truths we acquire from the Writings are the Lord with us in our “intellectual part,” but our will part, or our willing and intending, is hell with us since there is nothing in it but evil affections of every kind. This evil doesn’t show in our social personality because we are motivated by selfish affections to simulate what is required, and to hide how we would desire to behave.

 

(3)   Prior to reformation our evil affections or motives, called cupidities and lusts in the will, create falsities in the understanding, from which we have false beliefs where we see falsity as truth, and truth as falsity. This falsified mental life is called “clouds” in the mind. And as the “density of his cloud” thickens, the more is one’s mental life impaired and falsified in every intention of the will and every reasoning of the understanding. This is our unregenerate life until reformation begins in early adulthood when we can make the conscious rational lifestyle choice to rearrange our thinking in accordance with the Writings. Then for the first time the Lord becomes actually present in our understanding as opposed to being there nominally or by reputation.

 

(4)   Our automatic progress to hell can be reversed by allowing the Lord to remove the cupidities and lusts in our will and to give us a reformed will. The Lord cannot do this without our conscious cooperation. This conscious cooperation is to learn the truths of the Writings and to consider them as Divine Commandments for living. Then the Lord is present actually and can remove the old will. He does that by Himself for we have no power whatsoever. The process of replacing the old will is gradual and proceeds only so far as is made possible by our actual daily cooperation, minute by minute. And “in proportion as it is removed, the cloud is made thin,” meaning that the life of evil and spiritual insanity is gradually removed during the years of regeneration. But nothing is removed by the Lord except that which we allow.

 

(5)   While we are regenerating, from young adulthood to the end, our mind is in opposition, partly sane and partly insane, though not at the same level in the mind, for they are kept apart by the Lord who prevents commingling (DP 296; cf. AC 2426). Commingling would lead to profanation and a fate worse than hell (cf. AC 3757).

 

(6)   Once our understanding is filled with the dualities from the Writings, we are expected to proceed as-of-self in our daily struggle with choices. We are to recognize and isolate all nondualities that are in our mind from many sources. From this categorical rearrangement, the New Church mind is born. This is reformation. Since this mind is now formed exclusively by the Writings, it is called “heaven in which the Lord is present” while what is in our will is called “hell.” Therefore, in the New Church mind, hell is in its nonduality while Heaven is in its duality.

 

(7)   After reformation, the childhood and adolescence of the New Church mind gradually undergoes the “thinning of the cloud” or the restoration of mental health to the regenerating individual. The motive we must acquire to undergo restoration is called “charity” and it is within this motive that the Lord is present with heaven. Charity refers to love of the neighbor and love of uses, the chief of which is conjugial love (AC 7038[2]). For husbands this involves learning to love to act from the wife more than from self (see Chapter 9, Sections 1 and 2). To the extent that we persist in this motive, to that extent the Lord is present in our understanding of Doctrine. Also to that extent can the Lord remove hell from us and remove it to the distant and inactive portion of our mind (cf. AC 10621).

 

(8)   As we struggle daily, in our willing and thinking, the Lord gives us a “sign” of His presence: It’s our awareness that the old cupidities and lusts we are familiar with, no longer appear in the same situations. We become aware of this during temptations, and in other ways.

 

To initiate and complete our reformation we must examine our chief concepts as they exist in our mind, and deconstruct them, so that we learn to distinguish between the nondualities and the dualities. This volume is about learning the process of eliminating conceptual nondualities and establishing dualities of life, called Doctrine, and thereby forming as-of self the New Church mind in ourselves.

 

The Lord is creating our gradual regeneration step by step, but only to the extent that we actively cooperate with Him moment by moment in our willing and thinking (TCR 371, 577; 615; cf. TCR 464; BE 15, 13). What does this cooperation consist of? What is it that we have to do in order to be considered “cooperating”? This book gives two broad answers. Volume 1 deals with Reformation, which is the struggle against nonduality in our mind. Since we internalize our culture and education, our unregenerate mind is suffused with all sorts of concepts and ideas and attractions that are nondualities.

 

For example, many people are attracted to Eastern nonduality in the form “self=divine,” or the idea that self is an illusion or unreality, while in reality we are God (see Chapter 1). Another example is scientific nonduality or materialistic science which asserts that only the natural world exists and denies heaven and hell. Another example is psychological nonduality which introduces and supports ideas that clash with dualities in the Writings, such as the idea of unconditional love and self-acceptance (see Chapter xx Section xx).

 

One final example is the cultural nonduality of pluralism and relativity which are opposed to dualities such as heaven and hell or genuine truth and adulterated truth. Our reformation consists in struggling against these nondualities in our mind from all these sources. The motive or purpose must be to replace them with the dualities we take up from the Writings. This process of replacement, if it’s going to succeed, must be done consciously, with full awareness and rational understanding. Therefore I illustrate in this volume various ways of using rational analysis to deconstruct and debunk the nondualities in our mind. To think and will from the Writings is the cooperation we must perform to be conjoined to the Lord and have heavenly life:

 

The freedom of choice resulting from this is the ability to will and to think from the Lord, that is, from the Word, and also the ability to will and to think from the devil, that is, contrary to the Lord and the Word. (TCR 371)

 

Volume 3 deals with Regeneration, which is the struggle against our inherited and acquired lusts and their falsities in our mind. I describe many kinds of spiritual disciplines that I found suitable for developing the New Church mind in myself. They are all based on self-witnessing techniques by which we monitor our willing, thinking, and doing all day, hour by hour, minute by minute, and second by second (see Note 20 at end). Performing spiritual disciplines is a religious activity to the extent that we carry them out for the purpose of cooperating with the Lord in our regeneration. This cooperation is a Divine Commandment and serves to prepare our mind that it may be able to live in heaven (DP 114).

 

12. Reformation by Means of the Writings

 

The New Church mind is a rebirth. Reformation only begins in adult life (AE 803; AC 8780; AC 3518:[2]; TCR 587) (AC 3518 [2] is quoted and discussed below). Those born in the New Church religion today are no different from those born anywhere else in relation to the requirement for reformation and regeneration, without there is no salvation for anyone. As children we grow up with our received religion. This religious practice and worship is not spiritual in itself but external without yet an internal (AC 3310). We are warned that this external faith does not remain in the afterlife, but is rejected for the sake of our own idols that remained hidden despite our external religion. It is necessary therefore to be reborn, which means to come to the worship of the Lord from within. This can only be done to the extent we undergo reformation and acquire the motivation to change our willing and thinking in daily life (HH 473).

 

We first are to change our thinking by studying the Writings every day and forming the Doctrine of Life in our understanding. Often readers believe that I am exaggerating when I mention that the study of the Writings should be a daily task. But consider what you do if you are going to succeed as a student, scholar, or expert at anything whatsoever. It requires many hours a week that amount to daily portions, and this, week after week, until there is accumulation. This is what needs to be done if we are going to accumulate enough Doctrine in our mind to serve as Divine Guide in our every moment of willing, thinking, and behaving. The accumulation of Doctrine can never cease because Doctrine is to be understood more and more interiorly in order to serve our regeneration. The highest angels continue to regenerate by means of more and more interior ideas they receive from the Lord when studying the Word.

 

Consider also what would prevent you from serious daily studies of the Writings, given that you know that it is the Lord present with you and through which He wants to regenerate you by giving you ever more interior visions and truths of Himself and of heaven.

 

So I am not exaggerating when I frequently repeat this requirement that we study the Writings daily as a serious student. Overcoming the obstacles that pose themselves to prevent this, is a key element of reformation. They can all be overcome by holding this one genuine idea in your focus: The Writings are the Lord in His Word of the Second Coming and every truth in it is a Divine Commandment for me. To love the Writings is therefore to love the Lord. To postpone the Writings is to love something else above the Lord. To have a distaste for studying the Writings is to love self above the Lord. Since we all start that way, we must compel ourselves to act in opposition to our resistance or avoidance of Him in His Word in which He is Himself, His Own Divine Truth.

 

The more interior our understanding of Doctrine from the Writings, the more we are willing to think and act in accordance with our Doctrine.

 

They who are being regenerated, at first do what is good from doctrinal things, for of themselves they do not know what is good, but learn it from the doctrinal things of love and charity; from these they know who the Lord is; who is the neighbor; what love is, and what charity; thus what good is. (AC 3310)

 

Regeneration is a gradual process over our entire life on earth, and beyond (AC 9410). It is a conscious process because it can go on only with our conscious cooperation (DP 114). This takes the form of monitoring our thinking and willing, assessing them in the light of the understanding of Doctrine in our mind, modifying our thoughts and decisions accordingly, and continuing every day to live in this manner. Doing this as-of self prepares our mind for heaven. To do it as-of self means that we struggle in the natural mind as if we were doing it alone but knowing in our rational mind that it is the Lord doing it by the infinite power of His Divine Wisdom from His Divine Love (AC 47, 233, 1712, 2877, 5664, 10299; NJHD 148; DP 102; CL 82; SE 5958; LJ 299; AE 864).

 

To the extent that we progress in our regeneration day by day, and week by week, to that extent the Lord reveals to us more and more interior spiritual truths as we study the Writings. Our consciousness is thereby enlightened and we can think and understand things in the light of heaven.

 

The Word is not understood except by those who are enlightened. … The human rational cannot apprehend Divine things, nor even spiritual things, unless it is enlightened by the Lord … Thus only they who are enlightened apprehend the Word … They who are in the good of life, and thereby in the affection of truth, are enlightened (NJHD 256).

 

This new understanding is simultaneously applied to all things around us and guides our willing and thinking, and to the extent that we are persistent and consistent, to that extent the Lord can create a new will within our reformed understanding. Now we continue life on earth in this celestial state of mind and life. Meanwhile we continue to have this new mind perfected by the Lord until His judgment of the right time, and then we pass on, leaving the physical body, and awakening in a spiritual body. Upon that momentous occasion angels are present, and help us to prepare fully for entrance into heaven. This period of preparation is fairly brief, equivalent to less than a few months in relation to the pacing we are used to from the natural world (HH 498). We then enter the heaven of our society where we find our house and our spouse. That is our bliss and happiness in eternity.

 

If we don’t do this daily work, there is only one other way, which is to remain infernal as we were born, whereupon when we arrive in the afterlife we are prepared for life in hell and our spirit-body sinks down to its level of miserable and inhuman life.

 

Evils are as it were heavy, and fall of themselves into hell; and so also falsities that are from evil (n. 8279, 8298). (HD 170)

 

The Writings play an essential role in this overall process of reformation, regeneration, and preparation. Without the Writings the New Church mind cannot reform and regenerate and thus, be prepared for heaven, and saved. Since the new era of His Second Coming the Lord provides only one way for salvation—the Word of the Writings:

 

The Word is the only doctrine which teaches how a man must live in the world in order to be happy to eternity. (AC 8939)

 

A human being is created for everlasting life, and any person can inherit that life, so long as he lives in accordance with the means of salvation prescribed in the Word; every Christian, as well as every non-Christian who possesses a religion and sound reason, assents to this proposition. (TCR 340)

 

Without the Word there is no rational conception of the Lord, and thus no salvation (SS 111)

 

As to the formation of faith: it is effected by man's going to the Lord, learning truths from the Word, and living according to them. (TCR 347)

 

I spoke with those who placed the only means of salvation in reading the Word. They were overhead, and said that they take great care that all in their society are diligent in reading the Word. But I told them, that this does not save, but that they must live according to the Word, and that nobody can live according to the Word except he be in the doctrine of truth from it; otherwise, they do not know how they are to live, for, from the sense of the letter of the Word, they are able to defend everything that belongs to their life, be it what it may, and this to protect falsities. It was shown also what is the nature of the Word in the letter, but that those who are in doctrine from the Word, see the Word and read it, quite differently; they consequently understand it, and are thus able to become rational: otherwise, this cannot take place. It was shown, also, that the reading of the Word is not attended to by the Lord, and therefore does not promote salvation, unless they are in the life of truth; and that they cannot be in the life of truth, except they be in doctrine from the Word (SE 5961).

 

For the formation of the New Church mind it is necessary to see these passages discussing “the Word” as referring to the Writings. Can you do this, or do you feel objections in your mind? See the discussion in Chapter 8 Section 4).

 

13. Old and New Testament From Perspective Of The Writings

 

If we could be saved by the Old and New Testaments then the Writings were not necessary! The salvation of the New Church mind depends on the Word of the Writings, not the Word of the Old Testament or the Word of the New Testament. When the New Church mind reads the Old and New Testaments it reads them only through the perspective of the Writings. If you read the Old and New Testaments as Christians do, can you be of the New Church? Clearly, then, the Word of the Writings must be the exclusive authority for the New Church mind. The New Church is the Crown of Churches and is to last forever:

 

As we have now one God in the church, who is God Man and Man God, this church is called the crown of all the churches. (INV 43)

 

These are evidences that this has been granted for the sake of the New Church, which is the crown of all the churches, and which will endure forever. Being in the spiritual world, seeing the wonderful things of heaven, and the miserable things of hell; and being there in the very light of the Lord in which are the angels, surpasses all miracles. Evidences that I am there, may be seen in abundance in my books. (INV 39)

(…)

This New Church, truly Christian, which at this day is being established by the Lord, will endure to eternity, as is proved from the Word of both Testaments; also it was foreseen from the creation of the world; and it will be the crown of the four preceding churches, because it will have true faith and true charity. (CORONIS 0)

(…)

After these things, from good elevated to Himself, He founds a new heaven, and from the evil removed from Himself, a new hell; and in both He establishes order, so that they may stand under His auspices and under obedience to Him to eternity; and then through this new heaven He successively inaugurates and establishes a new church on earth. (CORONIS 0)

 

You can find other passages that say similar things (e.g., AR 68, 73; TCR 786-788; AE 91-92; and others). You can see from these considerations that there is not going to be an endless procession of Churches in the evolution of our race. There are a definite number of steps or phases that the Lord brings the race through so that He might complete His creation, which is that we become celestial minds capable of living in His New Heavens. The New Church is the Crown of Churches or civilizations because it is the last, hence it is said of it the “it will endure forever.” There is not going to be a decline of the New Church as there was with the prior Churches. Therefore there is not going to be a new Word given after the Writings.

 

14. The Writings Are The Last Revelation

 

The Lord in His First Coming taught that He must come again to complete His Divine mission of the salvation of the human race (AC 4060). The Lord gave the Old Testament through Moses and the Prophets. That was the equivalent of the Word’s legs and feet. It was so obscure that the Jewish Church is called a “representative of a Church.” The literal of the Word reveals the level of understanding of the people who receive it at the beginning of a new dispensation. Consider the literal of the Old Testament. By today’s standards scholars call it pre-modern, superstitious, racist, barbaric, and obscure in meaning. It is written at a level entirely unacceptable to the modern mind concerned with human rights, humanism, and rationality. You can see why I said that it is the legs and feet of the Divine Word. It does establish that there is God, and that God rules all details of the universe. It establishes that God saves human beings for eternal life in happiness and bliss if they follow His commandments, but puts away all others into an eternal hell of misery. Enough is established by this Old Testament Word to save those who obey the commandments of their religion.

 

But after many generations the level of thinking of the Old Testament was no longer believable to the generations that were surrounded by more advanced civilizations and intellectual traditions in the East and the West. A new Word was then given as the New Testament by the Lord Himself in His First Coming. This Word is like the entire midsection of the body, including the abdomen and the chest and the arms. The level of thinking is a discrete degree above that of the Old Testament. Enough is established in this Word to once again be able to save for heaven all those who obey its commandments as being from the Lord. These commandments, even in their literal statements, are more internal than those given in the letter of the Old Testament. The level of thinking of the Old Testament is corporeal-sensuous, while that of the New Testament is external rational.

 

The new truths and principles were for the rational mind, unlike the Old Testament where the truths were for the external mind that is close to the body senses. For example, the Old Testament tells nothing specific about the afterlife. The only level of thinking the people were capable of at that time was the idea that heaven is what a reformed earth will be after the resurrection from the graves. That idea of heaven was a heaven in the physical world. But the heaven of the New Testament is “within you,” thus not out there or here, but in the interior of the human mind. To go to heaven is not to go to a place but to develop a state of mind in which heaven can exist:

 

Heaven is in the man; and there is a place for him in heaven according to the state of life and of faith in which he is (AC 9305)

 

The New Testament Commandments were also at a higher level of rationality, suitable for the new mind. “Love thy neighbor” meant not just your own ethnic group or religion. “Being married” meant not just doing what you please but what God demands and consecrates. “Adultery” is not just what you do, but also what you desire and think. In the New Testament level of reasoning, willing and thinking become more important for salvation than ritual sacrifices or prayers. Not overt doing is the measure of salvation but inward thinking and intending. So a new more interior, more rational method was made available by the Lord through this new Word.

 

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)

 

But in the course of time a new modern mind emerged from the successes of science and modernism. The New Testament was no longer believable to this new mentality and civilization that rejected mystery of faith and anything spiritual that could not be understood and justified by the modern mind. Those who still adhered to the New Testament as religion still were not able to be saved thereby because internally their rational mind rejected mysteries (TCR 116, 182; AE 870). When all these people across the centuries after the First Coming entered the afterlife, their mind was not at a level of reasoning that could support life in heaven which was a spiritual-rational state created by spiritual-rational truths.

 

These people of the “spiritual church” were all stuck in the spiritual world, unable to go up, being kept by the Lord from sinking down (TCR 119; AC 7975). At last the generations on earth reached the intellectual capacity to receive and understand the last portion of the Word. This was the Lord’s Second Coming in the Writings. This new Word was like the head of the body, which is why the New Church it establishes is called the Crown of Churches (TCR 786). Now for the first time the human race has possession of the entire Word: its legs and feet, its abdomen and chest, and its head. The Word is now completed.

 

The Lord has revealed the spiritual meaning of the Word at this day because a doctrine of genuine truth has now been revealed. This doctrine is contained in part in The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine, and now in some shorter works which are in process of publication.********** And because this doctrine and no other agrees with the spiritual meaning of the Word, therefore that meaning has now for the first time been disclosed, along with a knowledge of correspondences. (De Verbo 7:8)

 

Add to these most manifest evidences, that the spiritual sense of the Word has been disclosed by the Lord through me, which has never before been revealed since the Word was written among the sons of Israel; and this sense is the very sanctuary of the Word: the Lord Himself is in this sense with His Divine, and in the natural sense with His Human. Not a single iota in this sense can be opened except by the Lord alone. This surpasses all the revelations that have hitherto been made from the creation of the world. (INV 44)

 

Now a new way is provided again for salvation. The level of thinking of this new Word is spiritual-rational:

 

Without the Word there is no rational conception of the Lord, and thus no salvation (SS 111)

 

The Word of the Writings are the Lord’s Divine Truth in His Second Coming to humankind. This is the only way of discovering who the Divine Human is. No other door way has been provided by the Lord for the new salvation, the new Heavens. The angels read the Writings and derive therefrom their Doctrine of Life and all their ineffable knowledge and wisdom (AC 1405, 1767). They have no other religion but the Word of the Writings.

 

Not everyone who reads the Writings is willing to raise their level of thinking to the rational reasoning presented in the Writings. In that case one does not read the Writings as the Lord in His Word. One sees no more in it than books of excellence by a magnificent genius, if appreciated, and if not, one sees only the fantasies of a religious madman. Only those who read the Writings as the third portion that completes the Word of God, can see in it genuine spiritual truths.

 

[in the Word] they are called "drunkards" who believe nothing but what they apprehend, and for this reason search into the mysteries of faith. And because this is done by means of sensuous things, either of memory or of philosophy, man being what he is, cannot but fall thereby into errors. For man's thought is merely earthly, corporeal, and material, because it is from earthly, corporeal, and material things, which cling constantly to it, and in which the ideas of his thought are based and terminated.

 

To think and reason therefore from these concerning Divine things, is to bring oneself into errors and perversions; and it is as impossible to procure faith in this way as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. The error and insanity from this source are called in the Word "drunkenness."

(…)

Spirits are perfectly well distinguished from each other, as to whether they are in the faith of charity or not. Those who are in the faith of charity do not reason about the truths of faith, but say that the thing is so, and also as far as possible confirm it by things of sense and of memory, and by the analysis of reason; but as soon as anything obscure comes in their way the truth of which they do not perceive, they defer it, and never suffer such a thing to bring them into doubt, saying that there are but very few things they can apprehend, and therefore to think that anything is not true because they do not apprehend it, would be madness.

 

These are they who are in charity. But-on the contrary-those who are not in the faith of charity desire merely to reason whether a thing be so, and to know how it is, saying that unless they can know how it is, they cannot believe it to be so. From this alone they are known at once as being in no faith, a mark of which is that they not only doubt concerning all things, but also deny in their hearts; and when they are instructed how the case is, they still cling to their disbelief and start all kinds of objections, and never acquiesce, were it to eternity. Those who thus persist in their contumacy heap errors upon errors. (AC 1072)

 

15. The Writings Are For The Rational Mind

 

Rev. Donald L. Rose has noted in a sermon that the Lord has need of our rational in order for Him to enter our mind:

 

As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?" They replied, "The Lord needs it." They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.

(Luke 19:33-35)

In reading this story of the Word, we may picture ourselves addressed by those words: “The Lord hath need of him.” The colt has various significations and is especially related to what is rational (see AC 2782, 5741, 6376). We can see here the Lord’s emissaries sent to bring the rational mind to himself. The owner of the rational questions this action. The so-called owner of the rational is the man himself.

 

In this story we see especially the giving of the Writings to man (see ISB 20).

(Rev. Donald L. Rose, Sermon titled “The Colt Loosed For the Lord’s Service” General Church, Bryn Athyn. Undated)

 

We accumulate knowledge about the Writings from our education and from study. Where in the mind is this accumulation? Of course it is in the organ of the understanding, but this has several discrete levels, each with a totally different psychological function. The sentences of the Writings can be understood according to one’s level of mental functioning at the time. In the lowest intellectual mentality, called the natural-corporeal mind, the Writings are understood as a storybook about heaven and hell sprinkled in among mostly incomprehensible pages. At the next level of intellectual mentality, called the natural-sensuous mind, the Writings are understood as a storybook about the spiritual world mingled with Church doctrine and a lot of history about the previous churches and the mentality of those people. At the third an uppermost level, called the natural-rational mind, the Writings are understood as the new Rational Word, revealing a coherent rational system of theology tied to the Bible and corroborated by Swedenborg’s special mission as the revelator of the Lord’s Second Coming. And the more we study the Writings at this level of understanding, the more we create suitable “vessels” or dualities, in which the Lord will implant spiritual truths. And with more and more study of the Writings, we can begin to see the marvelous rational web and framework of truths by which the Lord maintains reality.

 

To live from the Word is to live from the Lord, for the Lord is in the Word, yea, He is the Word. (AE 754)

 

16. Anatomy Of Regeneration

 

 

These are three levels of the natural mind. This is the mind we build up totally by ourselves through experience and choice. It feels like our very own life, our very own identity, and so it is called the self. The conscious self, whom we know ourselves to be, has these three levels of mentality and functioning.

 

At some point in our adulthood, early on or later, we feel the motivation to undergo reformation. We have been studying the Writings before this, but it was a lukewarm thing. But now we feel a new passion for studying the Writings, excited by the thought that it is the Word of the Lord speaking through the rational mind of this awesome 17th century Swede. We now begin to think about the topics of the Writings in a personal way. For example, while you’re doing something somewhere, you begin to think about what it will be like to be an angel, what it’s like to have an occupation there, and to have friends and neighbors. Now for the first time you are applying the Writings to yourself. Before this, it was a storybook you inherited by culture and family.

 

Or take another example. While you’re doing something somewhere, you begin to think about the heavy emphasis the Writings place on the principle of no salvation without regeneration. Suddenly the thought occurs to you: What about my own regeneration? Now for the first time you stepped across a threshold. You applied the Writings to a vital part of yourself, your concern for your salvation. You know enough about hell to want to avoid it! You eagerly go back to the Writings and search it for passages on regeneration. You quickly find out that before you can begin regeneration you must undergo reformation. You begin to worry, feeling a vague anxiety. You’ve now crossed another threshold. The anxiety you felt was the first step you took in your reformation. It was a brief, very brief, view into the difficulty of the task that lies ahead. The thought occurs to you: Perhaps I’m not ready for all this. But you are, and you go ahead. You systematically go through all your main belief systems and hold them up to the principles of the Writings. One by one they must be rationally deconstructed and discarded, like Abraham had to smash the icons of his inherited false religion.

 

Sooner or later this great task comes to its completion. Suddenly the thought occurs, usually prompted by the wife, “Why am I wasting time holding on to the non-heavenly behaviors and traits?” We refuse to face, close up, so from afar we look at it and retort: “But look how much I know about heaven” or, “But look how much I love the Word and the Doctrine” or, “But look what great progress I’ve already made compared where I was before reformation” etc. But at last we find the motivation to begin our regeneration with full sincerity, though not yet with full success. You’ve just crossed the final big threshold. You’ve taken your baby step in the process of regeneration. You’re now fully committed to condemn your evil loves. From then on the Lord will fight with you in a series of spiritual temptations, precisely designed for your struggle to map out the hell within you. The temptations reveal your inner delights to yourself. Normally they’re hidden from your focus and attention, conveniently tucked away so that you can continue to enjoy them, even while you continue to declare you passion and love for the Writings.

 

But you also continue to study the Writings at an accelerated rate in comparison to before. You’re driven to find the relevant truths, those that can help your predicaments. They are everywhere now—in your marriage relationship, in your work situation, even in your recreation. Everywhere you feel challenged by what you passionately believe and know, and your seeming inability to align your willing and thinking with what you know is right. For example, you know that scortatory interests harm the conjugial relationship. Yet, you feel delight in them, secretly. You beg the Lord to purify you, but you find His answer in the Writings: “You have water. You have soap. Go wash yourself, like a real man.” And you feel ashamed. You’ve just made a step in a new direction. You repented of an evil delight you’re holding in secret. Like Adam and Eve who were ashamed of their nakedness after they had eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil:

 

Now you feel driven out from your paradise. Nothing of the many delights you’re so attached to, can be allowed to stay around. No one. If you catch yourself arguing for mercy, that you’ve given up so much already, you feel forced to withdraw the mercy request, realizing full well, everything must go. An affection must be traced to its origins by a simple test of duality: Is this delight from heaven or from hell. There is no in between, so there is no hiding any more. Now you’ve taken your last baby steps in regeneration. You’re fully ready because fully committed to the idea that not one can be left standing. All must be exterminated, every one of our delights that are form hell. And it seems that they are all from hell. Now you begin to apply what you know form the Writings to everything of your threefold self: your affections and delights, your thoughts and style of reasoning, your outward acts of the body and its appearance. Now you begin to see new things.

 

For the first time you become conscious that you have an inner perception of spiritual things as you think about the sentences of the Writings, and apply them to your willing and thinking all day long. You begin to see how every sentence applies to you, though how may remain obscure for some time. But you are all excited again about your new level of consciousness. You search the Writings with trepidation and suddenly sentences you didn’t pay much attention to, now spring to life before you. You have living proof that the Lord is managing the process of your regeneration in every detail—what sentences come to your attention when, and what they say about you, about whatever you’re struggling with at the time. You feel a great relief and you recall the Lord’s statement that His yoke is light. At last you can feel the living certitude that you want to be in His hands more than in yours. It now terrifies you as you think back on your earlier period when you were anxious that getting closer to heaven is giving up all the fun in life, and begged for more time. Now you can see that your best chance is not with you, but with the Lord. So you’re relieved in your heart and your love for the Lord takes a big leap.

 

17. The Birth Of The Interior-Natural

 

What is happening now as you read the Writings? You’ve almost gotten used to it now: You can see within the Letter! It just comes to you automatically. You’re reading the sentences, you’re reflecting, figuring out what they mean rationally, and suddenly you see what they mean spiritually. You now understand what is happening in a scientific way, like anatomy or physiology, and like agriculture or gardening. Regeneration is a biological process of steady growth built on spiritual truths implanted in the mind by the Lord’s activity in us through the sentences of the Writings that are firmly established in our conscious mind. These sentences are established firmly because they form the basis of our thinking, of our concluding and analyzing anything. We have appropriated those sentences and rational ideas. They are no built up as our own edifice. Now the Lord can enter into the interior of this edifice, and implant spiritual truths. We are not conscious of this activity directly, but the Lord creates a new thing in our mind, a new organ, more interior than the natural mind. This new organ is called the interior-natural.

 

Note that this new organ is spiritual and of celestial origin. There is nothing in it from self or the natural world. What’s in it is a correspondence to what’s in the spiritual mind. We are not conscious of the spiritual mind and its activates, but we are conscious of the natural mind. And now this new interior organ gives a new function, a new conscious awareness of spiritual understandings and meanings. Spiritual topics that before this we understood in a natural way, now we understand them in a spiritual way, like the angels of the First Heaven. This new spiritual awareness and understanding would not be possible without the sentence and their rational understanding, that we gathered for ourselves in the natural-rational mind. This is obvious because the new interior-natural organ of spiritual perception is located within the natural-rational. It cannot be located anywhere else in the natural mind.

 

Our prior understanding of the Writings was external-rational or natural-rational, not yet spiritual-rational (AC 978, 2654, 4286; AE 355:14). The spiritual only begins with regeneration and this only begins in adult life (AE 803; AC 8780; AC 3518:[2]; TCR 587), if ever. Therefore the New Church mind is acquired at reformation and gradual regeneration after that. Our mind becomes a New Church mind to the extent that we regenerate. There are various phases of development to undergo in order for the New Church mind to become a fully genuine New Church mind.

 

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.

 

18. Reformation And Regeneration Begin In Early Adulthood

 

When a child is first instructed he is affected with the desire of knowing, not at first for any end that is manifest to himself, but from a certain pleasure and delight that is born with him and is also derived from other sources; but afterwards, as he grows up, he is affected with the desire of knowing for the sake of some end, as that he may excel others, or his rivals; and next for some end in the world; but when he is to be regenerated, he is affected from the delight and pleasantness of truth; and when he is being regenerated, which takes place in adult age, from the love of truth, and afterwards from the love of good; and then the ends which had preceded, together with their delights, are separated little by little, and to them succeeds interior good from the Lord, which manifests itself in his affection. From this it is evident that the former delights, which had appeared in the outward form as good, had served as means. Such successions of means are continual. (AC 3518)

 

This passage clearly shows that reformation and regeneration begin in early adulthood, and not before. The first phase of reformation starts when as adults we become rationally convinced that the Writings are indeed the third and final portion of the Threefold Word. It is a step beyond the received creed. It is the exercise of a new individual choice under the new vision of rational understanding and confirmation. It’s the confidence we have when we can explain it rationally and confirm it in our principles and philosophy. The Writings are indeed the Word. It is beyond the idea that the Writings are “divinely inspired.” This is a nonduality if the idea admits other inspired books and authors so that the Writings are seen at the extreme end of a continuum lined up with other “inspired” books.

 

This idea of the Writings is not yet the stage of reformation. One must cross over to the position that “the Writings are the third portion of the Threefold Word.” This is what the New Church mind alone can do. This is the only acknowledgment that gives the Writings the power of salvation. If this bridge is not crossed the Writings do not have the power to save since only the Word has that power (see quotes above from TCR 340, 347; SE 5961; SS 111).

 

The second phase after this is to understand rationally how it is that the Writings are the Word in the same sense as the Old Testament and the New Testament are the Word, not in some lesser degree. This phase establishes the idea that the Writings are Divine Truth, that they are the Lord Himself in His Second Coming. The worship of the Writings is the same as the worship of the Lord. We must realize in a rational way how it is that for the New Church mind to worship the Lord directly is not possible but only through the Writings as the Word:

 

[5] It is now clear from these things that the spiritual sense of the Word was to be revealed for a new Church which will acknowledge and worship the Lord alone, and hold His Word sacred, and love Divine Truths and reject faith separated from charity. Concerning this sense of the Word more may be seen* in THE DOCTRINE OF THE NEW JERUSALEM CONCERNING THE SACRED SCRIPTURE (n. 5-26, and following numbers); as, in this section, what the spiritual sense of the Word is (n. 5-26); that there is a spiritual sense in all things of the Word in general and in particular (n. 9-17); that it is by virtue of the spiritual sense that the Word is Divinely inspired, and holy in every expression (n. 18-19); that hitherto the spiritual sense has been unknown, and why it was not revealed before (n. 20-25); and that henceforth the spiritual sense will be possible only to one who is in genuine truths from the Lord (n. 26). (DP 264)

 

Enlightenment is the influx, perception, and instruction people receive from the Lord when they read the Word. (AC 10215)

 

All worship of the Lord, appears from the Word (AC 440)

 

Where the Church is, there the Lord is worshipped, and the Word is read (NJHD 8)

 

The individual becomes a New Church mind when willing to see that the above passages are about the Word of the Writings. Reread the passages above, this time thinking “the Writings” when you see “the Word.” In this way we enter a new phase of our reformation that immeasurably increases our love and worship of the Writings as the Lord. Now for the very first time our mind is reformed, turned around, facing the Lord, and ready to take up genuine spiritual truths from the Writings. These truths are of celestial, not human, origin and are contained in every word of the Writings. Infinite such truths are contained in every word of the Writings:

 

In every particular of the Word there is a spiritual sense from which it derives its holiness. (DP 264)

 

What in particular concerns the doctrine that now follows, is that it also is out of heaven, because it is from the spiritual sense of the Word; and the spiritual sense of the Word is identical with the doctrine which is in heaven. (NJHD 7)

 

Our illumination or enlightenment from these truths is proportional to our struggle to consciously cooperate with the Lord as He gradually regenerates us day by day and hour by hour. The rate of progress is proportional to the extent of our daily willing and thinking in accordance with the truths we take up from the Writings. The truths for our salvation that we take up from the Writings are called Doctrine in our mind:

 

He who does not know the arcana of heaven must needs believe that the Word is supported without doctrine from it; for he supposes that the Word in the letter, or the literal sense of the Word, is doctrine itself. But be it known that all the doctrine of the church must be from the Word, and that the doctrine from any other source than the Word is not doctrine in which there is anything of the church, still less anything of heaven. But the doctrine must be collected from the Word, and while it is being collected, the man must be in enlightenment from the Lord; and he is in enlightenment when he is in the love of truth for the sake of truth, and not for the sake of self and the world. These are they who are enlightened in the Word when they read it, and who see truth, and from it make doctrine for themselves. (AC 9424)

 

This clearly says that all Doctrine is from the Word. For the New Church mind all Doctrine for its salvation is from the Writings. All other sources must be excluded, as stated in the above passage. The daily systematic study of the Writings is therefore a requirement for the New Church mind to flourish and progress. And when we fail to meet up with this standard due to worldly affairs, we ought nevertheless to strive to do it daily. If it is in our striving, it will be granted by the Lord. Remember that there is no worship of the Lord apart from the Writings and the Lord Himself dwells in the Doctrine we draw up from the Writings into our understanding so that it may guide our daily willing and thinking. This is the true and only worship with angels (HH 321).

 

19. Nonduality Fills The Culture Around Us

 

Since our as-of self role in regeneration is so crucial it makes sense to learn how to do it effectively. This learning is called performing spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines allow us to discover the innumerable things in our mind that we receive from culture and heredity. Once we know what they are we can reject them as-of self by rational considerations. The culture we live in contains a variety of nonduality traditions, attitudes, and popular followings to which we are exposed from childhood onward. It is not readily obvious how nonduality is promoted in our mind when we enjoy our favorite sit-com program or admire a book for its message, or see our teenager practicing meditation. What about Yoga or Tai Chi or vegetarianism? Sometimes the philosophy is embedded in a mere formality we follow, like “Namaste” with which my Yoga teacher ends every class. Once in a while she adds the explanation: “It means: the God in me greets the God in you.” You can see the fundamental nonduality within this formality routine since it is motivated by the idea that self=God, and that is the fundamental nonduality.

 

Sometimes nonduality comes to us in a secular Western tradition like Ayn Rand’s ethics of Objectivism or Ferguson’s thesis of an unconscious communal spirit elaborated in the popular book The Aquarian Conspiracy. (see Chapter 6 Section 6). This nonduality is described in the Writings as follows:

 

This deadly conviction, that God infused and copied Himself into men, was held by the people of the most ancient church in its final period leading up to its termination, as I have heard from their own lips. On account of their horrendous belief that they were thus gods, they lie hidden deep within a cavern, which no one can approach closely without falling victim to an inner vertigo. (TCR 470).

 

And sometimes we see nonduality in Christian traditions like the popular notion that there is no hell, or the idea that long and repentant prayer brings salvation and holiness. The nonduality here is the idea that prayers can be more or less effective on a measurable continuum of how long and with how much self-blame or guilt one prays with. Duality on the other hand recognizes a distinct and categorical separation between spiritual things and natural. Praying long and with much guilt is separate and distinct from the spiritual reasons the Lord grants a prayer. He grants all prayers that are inspired by Him, and this is a duality rationally opposed to the idea of “effectiveness” of prayers. (AE 325) (See Chapter 1, Section 3)

 

Scientific education and science reporting in the news media are also nondualist and opposed to the fundamental duality of natural world and spiritual world.

 

From this ordering of creation it can be seen that the coherent linkage from first things to last is such that taken together they make up a single unit; in this prior cannot be separated from posterior, just as cause cannot be separated from the effect produced by it. Thus the spiritual world cannot be separated from the natural world, nor this from the spiritual. In the same way the heaven where the angels are cannot be separated from the human race, nor the human race from that heaven. It has therefore been provided by the Lord that one should perform services for the other, that is, the heaven of angels should perform services for the human race, and the human race for the heaven of angels. (LJ 9:[3]).

 

No concept or theory from dualism is allowed today into science. It remains staunchly nondualist and materialistic, that is, insisting that a world that is not physical does not exist. News stories surround us with materialistic interpretations whether they be on archeological finds, biological evolution, stellar formations, or brain scan technology. The modern culture around us continues in an intellectual climate of popular nondualities that deny all the scientific and spiritual dualities we have from the Writings--between mind and body, natural world and spiritual world, self and God, good and evil, heaven and hell, absolute truth and absolute falsity, revelation and self-intelligence, regenerate and unregenerate, uncreate and created, and many others. Without these rational dualities of reality we have a falsified science and no religion or spiritual sanity (DL 188). (See Chapter 4 Section 7)

 

Surprisingly, New Church nonduality is also a source of exposure like the secular Christology of Henry James, Sr., or Charles Tulk’s thesis of psychological nonduality between the Son and the Father in the New Testament (see Chapter 4). Another nonduality that is widespread in the New Church today is to remove the Divinity of the Writings and treat it on a continuum with other books and authors. This is a hurtful nonduality because the Writings are the Divine Word of the Lord. To remove this Divinity is to introject self into Divinity, and thus to destroy the absolute duality between self and the Lord. The Writings reveal that the Lord protects those who take away the Divinity of the Word since this denial closes the mind to the Word’s interior truths which are those that can be profaned (see Chapter 3).

 

To acknowledge that the Writings are the Lord in His Second Coming and to understand this in a rational way makes our spiritual growth and progress possible. If we are exposed to some idea or principle that runs contrary to a single sentence in the Writings, we would know instantly that we want to reject that idea. We do not need more than one statement in the Writings for what is the absolute truth. Every statement in the Writings has a Divine warrant of truth and validity. Of course, by comparing a collection of statements on a topic one gains deeper understanding of the topic. Still, one occurrence gives enough understanding to exclude from our assent any idea that is contrary to it. This makes deciding all life choices so much simpler.

 

They who are in the genuine doctrine of truth from the Word, and in enlightenment when they read the Word, see everywhere truths that agree, and nothing whatever that is opposed; for they do not dwell upon what is said therein according to appearances, and according to the common apprehension of men, because they know that if the appearances are unfolded, and as it were unswathed, the truth is laid bare. (AC 9424)

 

Those who do not acknowledge the Writings as the Lord have much more difficulty since they have to compare and weigh things in balance. It becomes a matter of equity in their mind: how many passages say this and how many say that, etc. What is the preponderance of the evidence, etc. This leaves plenty of wiggle room for going wrong and we lose the full protection of heaven. We start wondering how many mistakes are contained in the Writings. We start thinking that Swedenborg was but a limited human being hence did make mistakes, either his own or those of his age and civilization. These are murky thoughts from which we are spared merely by being totally categorical in our acceptance of the Writings as the Lord Himself in His Word.

 

The acknowledgment of the Divine source of the Writings brings about an entirely new state … A man must loose something of self-esteem in accepting the Writings entirely. For before that he can exalt his own intelligence, granting that the Writings are true here and true there, but still, as it were, holding himself above them. … Many are most reluctant to acknowledge this, for it is to give up too much. … If there is indeed a Divine mind, a God, then true rationality is to become a servant to truth.

 

This is a joyous recognition. When an individual really understand the Divine claim on his rationality, straightaway he complies. … It is a wonderful liberation and a real beginning when we acknowledge Divine Revelation. Before that we are free to say perhaps this is right and perhaps that; perhaps this is good and perhaps that. We have so-called open minds to everything, even things which contradict each other. In this state we do not make progress.

(Rev. Donald L. Rose, Sermon titled “The Colt Loosed For the Lord’s Service” General Church, Bryn Athyn. Undated)

 

Further, this absolute affirmative attitude allows us to revere and worship the Writings as the Lord Himself. Whether we adore and worship the Writings or the Lord is the same, for the Lord is the Word (NJHD 263, DP 172). How marvelous it is to love the Lord in this way, through his Word, for the Lord speaks to us only through the Word (TCR 231). It is nonduality in our mind that weakens this absolute Divine status of the Writings of Swedenborg.

 

20. Two Methods For Fighting Nonduality In The Mind

 

The source of all nonduality is a natural inherent opposition to the fundamental duality. The natural mind before it is regenerated is immersed in nonduality and its concepts are arranged to fit the apparent order of the physical world entering through the sensory organs and brain. This apparent order is sensuous and by its own logic excludes the spiritual that it cannot see, and is aversive to all absolute dualities that refer to things unseen by the physical eyes or undetected by physical machines (DLW 66, 92). This is why our modern mind must be regenerated, and it takes place by re-arranging the concepts from nonduality to duality by means of the rational truths we take up from the Writings.

 

These rational truths accurately reflect reality and serve as cognitive vessels into which we can receive spiritual truths (NJHD 51; AC 3508). There is no salvation or eternal life in heaven without undergoing regeneration while we are still attached to the physical body (HH 470). This obligatory process progresses only to the extent that we consciously cooperate with the Lord. It does not go forward at all if we do not cooperate, for the Lord cannot do it on His Own, nor can He compel us (BE 69, TCR 615, 577; DP 234). It stands to reason therefore that we ought to learn how to detect nondualities in our mind out of a desire to cooperate in our regeneration.

 

This book proposes two types of methods that can help us to guard against nondualities in our mind. Volume 1 deals with learning how to analyze common ideas to which we are exposed from culture and the times. I show with many illustrations how to find the nonduality hidden in the assumptions behind these ideas. Volume 2 deals with the process of enlightenment that is needed to undergo regeneration. Volume 3 deals with learning how to monitor our feelings, thoughts, and acts in our daily behaviors, also for the purpose of cooperating with the Lord in our regeneration. Many illustrations are given showing how to infuse a religious motive in everything we do, turning daily life into a series of spiritual disciplines. The approach involves tracing the implications of our daily choices and habits to see where they lead to nonduality or the denial of the fundamental dualities of our religion. All dualities are unique permanent distinctions that never cease to eternity (DLW 226).

 

For example, the popular ideas of unconditional love and unconditional self-acceptance run contrary to the duality of unregenerate and regenerating, or to good and evil. A notion promoted by mental health professionals is the idea of equity in relationship between husband and wife. Equity is the policy of sharing everything fifty-fifty—chores, contribution, responsibility, status, independence. This is a nonduality that threatens the conjugial duality of an absolute and permanent distinctness in all things between man and woman, or husband and wife (CL 33). Many conjugial self-witnessing disciplines for husbands are described and related to the Writings. They all follow one principle: that the husband should learn to love acting from his wife rather from himself. While learning this he ought to simulate so that he always enacts the conjugial stance: to love acting from the wife more than acting from self. Many of the illustrations are from my personal self-observations as a husband who is forming a New Church mind in himself.

 

I hope that you will find in this presentation useful tools for your reformation and regeneration. If so, think about sharing the knowledge with others who may also find it helpful. For comments and questions, I welcome your email:  leon@hawaii.edu The Web address of this document is: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/nonduality.html and contains links to related articles that can also be accessed.


 

Chapter 1.

Absolute Opposition Between Duality and Nonduality

 

All truths are from the Word, which is spiritual light

and nothing ought to be believed except the truth (INV 7)

 

1. Introduction

 

A Gallup Poll in 2002 reported that about 7 percent of Americans believe in “absolute truth” when asked in a survey—among those who categorized themselves as “Christians.” Among those who categorized themselves as without a religious affiliation, only 4 percent believe in absolute truth. What does it mean that nine out of ten people today in our society declare that absolute truth does not exist? It demonstrates that nonduality is reigning in the entire generation, regardless of religious background. Nonduality has replaced the traditional dualities of religion in the mind of the postmodern age. The New Church mind must be prepared within this culture that has turned against the reality of dualities.

 

The Writings teach that all truth from the Lord is absolute truth because the Lord is absolute truth, and this is only from Him. Everything from Him is absolute truth within which is absolute love (xx). Nothing from Him can be anything but absolute truth because He is Absolute Truth Itself within which is Absolute Love. In this sense, “absolute truth” means Divine Truth. Since the inauguration of the new age of the Second Coming, the human race has received conscious rational access to Divine Truth through the Writings. Everything in the Writings is Absolute Truth, because it is Divine Truth, from the Lord, for the Word is the Lord Himself (xx). The denial of the existence of absolute truth is therefore a symptom of spiritual insanity. The unregenerate person today, regardless of religious or other background, inwardly denies absolute truth because it denies Divine Truth as the Divine Human, preferring for a God some invisible and unfathomable something called “the universe” or “the everything which is nothing” or “the energy” or whatever. There is an endless variety of ways that the unregenerate mind can fabricate denials of absolute truth. There is a big payoff at stake: Denial of God means the delight of making up our own god, even ourselves as god, or something within us as god, and even to the gross insanity of believing that one is above God.

 

The Writings make a simple and accurate point: whatever is not from the Lord cannot be absolute truth, but whatever is from the Lord is absolute truth. Further, the Lord reveals absolute truth to every individual who seeks for it in His Word, and nowhere else (xx). And for the New Church mind, the Word is the Writings. Therefore the Writings are the only source of absolute truth today and henceforth to eternity. Also therefore, everything in the Writings is absolute truth because everything in the Word is absolute truth (xx). There is no other book or source for genuine spiritual truths other than the Lord. All genuine spiritual truths are absolute dualities that make the foundation of reality, the world, and heaven. Therefore the Writings go on the one hand, and every other book or source on the other hand. Absolute truth in the universe today is from the Divine Human and all other statements or experiences are from self, and therefore not absolute, not genuine spiritual truth.

 

This is the fundamental duality that has been weakened, or suppressed entirely, in the minds of people today as a result of the severe climate of cultural nonduality.

 

The categorical reasoning of the Writings, when presented for evaluation to a random sample of people, would be rejected today as sectarian, fanatic, prejudiced, or dogmatic. They point to other instances of sectarian religious groups in the past and those of today, and see in the Writings a similar exclusionary dogmatism, unjustified by the light of human reasoning and intelligence. We know quite a bit of the historical record of dogmatic religions from the Writings, and we can explain rationally why this persuasive approach to religion is wrong headed, and impedes rather than aids the salvation of its adherents (xx). But at last, the human race was given a Divine method for regenerating from nonduality to duality, from a base in self, to the Lord as the Base of reality. The New Church mind has broken this historical record of religious sectarianism, bringing an end to dogma and mystery in religion, by means of new rational and compete revelations in the light of which dogma falls.

 

These new revelations give the rational means by which any reader can enter into all previous and future mysteries about the afterlife, the spiritual world, devils and angels, spirits from other planets in the universe, life in heaven and hell, and how the Lord regenerates every individual who cooperates, and so leads the person to eternal life in heaven. And many additional things are now revealed by the Lord in the Word of His Second Coming, relating to how the Lord manages the universe, how the Lord manages our willing and thinking through other spirits, how physical events depend completely on spiritual events, and many details about the past history of the race. The Second Coming is the final completion of the creation of the human race. At last every individual anywhere can now form a celestial mind for themselves, capable of eternal life in heaven. The only requirement is a willingness to be reformed and regenerated by a life in accordance with conscience and truth from the Writings.

 

Some might argue that acknowledging and worshipping the Writings as God Himself is a religious requirement for salvation, and similar therefore to previous sectarian faith. But this view is not based on the actual information in the Writings. The Writings give rational, objective, empirical, and scientific explanations and demonstrations of who God is, and the invariant mechanisms by which the universe is run and kept running by laws and principles anyone can study and understand. Reality is not something one can invent or discover. It must be revealed to be known. The earlier forms of revelation led to dogma because they were not scientific and rational revelations. They were full of mystery and unexplained workings behind the scenes by an invisible and little understood Deity. If this had been the new revelation once more, dogma would again be inevitable. But dogma can no longer exist in the light of rational explanation of religion, God, regeneration, heaven, and hell.

 

All anyone needs to do to verify what I’m saying here, is to read the details in the Writings. The full set is available online for searching and reading at this Web address:

www.theheavenlydoctrines.org

 

1. Religious Membership Not Required For Salvation

 

The Writings show why the Second Coming was necessary at this time in history and evolution of the race. This new creation, called the New Church mind, is the Crown of human evolution, completing all that has gone on before. All prior intellectual and religious systems came to an end when they were no longer suitable for the salvation of the human mind. The Lord saves and evolves the human race steadily towards a creation called the celestial mind. This is the mind we have as angels in heaven. This angelic mind has now been made available to anyone on earth who wishes to receive it by the Divine means made available to all. This new human mind is the New Church mind formed exclusively from the Writings. Anyone with any background of any religious or philosophic membership, can form the New Church mind in oneself by using the Writings to rearrange everything in the mind in accordance with the Writings.

 

This is called reformation and is the prelude to regeneration that goes on till the end of life in the body. Then, a few hours later, the individual awakens in the spiritual world in a spirit-body and continues immortal life in either heaven or hell. All are instructed in the truths that have been revealed in the Writings, and those who can receive them, enter heaven, but those who reject the truths, enter hell. It has nothing to do with religious membership, belief system, or past misdeeds and sins. The only requirement for entering eternal life in heaven is to accept the truths that are taught to all novitiate spirits as they arrive from the earths in the universe in great numbers every day (xx).

 

In this new universal age, all religions and cultures have been rendered equivalent in salvation.

 

That means that henceforth anyone, regardless of religion or culture, has a way of salvation by undergoing reformation and regeneration in accordance with the new truths revealed in the Writings. Since the vast majority of people today go through life without having even heard of the Writings, they are instructed as novitiate spirits as soon as they arrive in the afterlife. Why the Writings? Because the Lord had to chose a revelator through whom the New Word can be given and written down (TCR 779). There is no other way possible from creation. Salvation has always been be new revelations from the Lord. All evolutionary steps of the human race were accomplished in this way, by new truths given to the race by means of a revelator who writes down and teaches the New Word of the Lord (xx). Spiritual truths cannot be discovered but must be revealed from the Lord (xx). And only spiritual truths in the mind can make it possible for an individual to live in heaven (xx).

 

To be saved means to develop a mind that can live in heaven. No one is saved by merit, status, reputation, initiation, birth, or membership. Who is saved is a scientific issue. It is a matter pf psychobiology, just as it is a matter of agriculture as to which plant survives and flourishes in the face of insects and the weather.

 

Hence no one can have any spiritual truths from any other source but the revelations from the Lord to one individual who writes them down for others to read, understand, and believe. Through this knowledge, there is contact with the Lord who can then effect actual regeneration and salvation, to the extent that we are willing to cooperate with Him. Without this conscious intellectual system obtained from the revealed Word, regeneration cannot actualize in this life. This necessary regeneration process cannot take place in the afterlife except to the extent that the individual has led a life of good in accordance with conscience that was considered from God. If conscience was thought of as the voice of self within, or the voice of our higher self within, then we refuse the truths of regeneration when instructed in the afterlife. This was empirically demonstrated to Swedenborg by much careful observation he made over many years, involving thousands of individuals arriving every day in the afterlife (xx).

 

2. Revelation Is Necessary For Spiritual Truths

 

Why is a revelator needed? Why does the Lord not come Himself, in the natural world for all to see, as He did at the Incarnation? Many people have this physicalistic idea of the Lord’s return and His physicalistic exercise of Divine power to flatten all objections and doubts about the Divine. Why would He not do this since this would convince everyone as they are convinced that airplanes exist and the moon is made of rock, not cheese.

 

The Writings explain that the First Coming was to create in the human race a sensuous consciousness of Him as God. This was accomplished by glorifying the natural human self He acquired as a Child growing up among the people with whom the Word was at that time and point in the race’s evolution (AC 1434). To glorify His natural human self means that He made it one with the Divine in Himself (xx). This act of making the human Divine, created a new reality by which the human race could see Him and understand Him. It was important for the human race to be able to have a definite view of Him in order to feel close to Him and love Him. By this love alone can the human race receive from Him what it needs in order to be saved. And now we know that this what we need to be saved: Understanding Him in scientific detail. This kind of rational and full understanding of Him makes it possible to receive from Him the eternal endless blessings of salvation. These blessings of salvation and happiness are received within the rational understanding of Him.

 

Heaven is made of His Truth within which is His Love. Clearly then, our access to heaven is by means of learning His truth, understanding it, and loving it. Then we have heaven or salvation. A revelation is therefore always needed to bring Divine truth to our understanding. If we reject this truth, we deny ourselves a mechanism for receiving heaven. The only thing we can receive in man-made or man-discovered truth, is hell. It’s a simple practical matter: You can hop on a real helicopter to take you up the mountain, or a wooden helicopter that will never take of the ground except when lifted and thrown back down by a hurricane. It’s not a mystery, not a secret membership of the favored, not a slot you can buy by means of power, influence, and money. Everyone has equal access through willingness to receive.

 

In the First Coming of the Lord at His Incarnation, the human race was able to see God in a Natural Body. Until then the Lord was not visible, though He appeared to many by taking over the spirit-body of an angel and speaking through the angel. What people then saw was not the Lord, but the angel from whom the Lord spoke to them. Many such encounters are described in the Old Testament. But this arrangement was only temporary because it did not allow the closest possible contact between the Lord and the human race. How can one love a God who only speaks through an angel, not through His Own Presence?

 

The Lord then came into the natural world through the virgin pregnancy of a woman who birthed the Divine Child (xx). The Lord did not allow this new natural human Form of Himself to have full perception into its interior mind so as to see who He was in reality. He wanted this Child to grow up like other children so that it would develop a natural self and personality. This could not have occurred if He had not limited the Child’s vision into Himself. He gradually taught this Child in an external way, about who He really was, doing this by means of the Hebrew Word, or the Old Testament (xx). This is how the Child gradually learned from the Word who He was and why He had been incarnated. It was a self-realization that came to Him consciously from His external environment—the Holy Book that the Jews had guarded over the centuries. The purpose of this gradual self-realization, rather than instantaneous revelation and vision, is described in great detail by the Lord in both the Old Testament and in the Writings. But in the Old Testament these descriptions were hidden by the language of correspondences, which are now revealed and rationally explained by the Lord in the Writings. This is why the Writings are called Heavenly Secrets (AC 1). These revelations about Himself could not have been given before this. The reasons are fully explained in the Writings.

 

The Lord’s Incarnation was necessary so that the human race could form a genuine and true “picture” of Him, without which we could not get close to Him and love Him from an inmost love. Without this inmost love unto Him from Him, no one could receive the ultimate celestial blessings that He longed to bestow on every created human being. Therefore the Lord had to Incarnate and show Himself to history, science, and physical reality. But this was only the first step in the makeover of the human mind. The final step could not as yet be taken by the human race. Seventeen more centuries of preparation had to pass, until the human race had acquired a modern rational mind. The final revelation can only exist in the human rational mind. This step was completed in 1771 when Swedenborg published the last work of the Writings called The True Christian Religion (xx).

 

This second step of the Lord’s revelation of Himself was to create a new mind within the natural one, that could function to give us rational consciousness of Him, not merely sensuous consciousness from His natural and physical Appearance to the race. This new rational mind is called the spiritual mind and the Lord creates it in everyone to the extent that one is willing to apply the New Truths to our daily willing and thinking--regardless of religious background! The Lord saves and elevates to Himself every individual of the human race anywhere in the universe, to the extent that the individual allows Him to do this. Spiritual freedom is maintained by thinking with rational concepts about spiritual truths.

 

For example, to think that there is no absolute truth is to think naturally about spiritual things. To think this is a persuasion rather than a rational opinion. Ask a random sample of those who deny absolute truth to state their justification. You will discover that they have no rational justifications. They put together various inconsistent or unrelated things they pick up here and there when they are impressed by someone or some writing. Yet they feel convinced. Hence it is a persuasion. There is no mental freedom for those who are in a state of being convinced from persuasion (xx).

 

3. The New Rational Consciousness of God

 

Approaching the spiritual domain through sensuous consciousness leads to states of persuasion and loss of rational freedom, hence, loss of spiritual sanity. There is then an inability to recognize which spiritual propositions are true and which false. Even worse, truth is seen as falsity and falsity is seen as truth (NJHD 171). There is no exit from this hell in the mind except through one door provided by the Lord for every religion and every philosophy—reformation and regeneration. For those who are ignorant of the Writings or are unable to read it and comprehend it, the Lord provides an inner conscience through which He speaks to them and guides them in their daily willing and thinking—but only to the extent they are willing to obey the voice of conscience and to take it as God’s Voice within them. In the afterlife they are informed and instructed who this inner voice was, and those who listened to the voice of conscience as God’s Voice, recognize His voice then, accept the details of the New Truths about Him, and with these in their mind and understanding, enter their heaven and eternal bliss.

 

The voice of conscience is effective for salvation since it provides rational consciousness of super-human authority, that is, of God’s connection and intimate closeness to the individual.

 

We can only love God when we feel close to Him and connected. And only in this love can we be saved and receive eternal blessings from Him. Those who withhold and reject this love in themselves from Him, arrive with a mind unfit for heavenly habitation. They sink down into hellish habitations where they eek out a miserable existence among others who are like them. What is amazing is that the Lord does not keep them there, but they keep themselves there, for when at any time they have the desire to visit heaven, they do so, but quickly cast themselves back down, being seized with explosive and insane hatred for the life they find there. Amazingly, they find the unspeakably miserable life in hell more desirable and pleasurable than the life of love, truth, and beauty in heaven.

 

In the Word of the New Testament, the voice of conscience is represented as the “Holy Spirit.” The followers of the Lord at His First Coming loved Him in His physical presence, that is, they knew Him from sensuous consciousness. Seventeen centuries of intellectual development had to happen before the race was sufficiently prepared for His Second Coming, that is, in our rational consciousness of Him. This rational consciousness did not exist with the Apostles and the Christian Church, except in a slight degree, through their belief in the existence of the Holy Spirit within them. A full awareness and rational understanding of what it means to have the Holy spirit within, only became possible when the spiritual-celestial mind could be created within the modern version of the external rational mind, developed by science, education, art, and culture. Human beings had to evolve so that they might be willing to love the Lord from rational consciousness.

 

Until then, people were willing to love Him from sensuous consciousness—e.g., His Blood, His Tunic, His Relics, His Sacrifice, His Miracles, His Resurrection. They were unable to love Him from rational consciousness, such as the idea that He and the Father were the same Person. It takes rational consciousness to understand how the Lord manages every detail of our willing and thinking, and yet we are still full of evils. It takes rational consciousness to understand that people keep themselves in hell and that it is not a forced punishment. It takes rational consciousness to understand how discrete degrees operate in every object and in the human mind. And what cannot be understood is not revealed by the Lord since it would place people into spiritual harm far worse than they can place themselves on their own through fantasies and distortions (xx).

 

Further, people cannot love what they don’t understand (xx). These are the rational reasons why the revelations of the Second Coming could not be given until modern times. Sensuous consciousness of God is a type of connection that allows only a distant relationship of love, while rational consciousness of the Lord allows the inmost relationship of love capable by the human race. And every good and truth the race has, is from this rational love unto Him that we have from Him.

 

Even today, these ideas appear to most people as vague, imaginative, inconclusive, unbelievable. Many people are willing and able to love God when He makes Himself sensually or sensibly present through physical miracles, a physical voice form heaven, a physical pestilence brought on the people by their sins, and the like. Furthermore, people can only feel actually forgiven if they see tangible evidence of it, like sacrifices being offered as atonement, in the olden days. Today, people still expect as proof of God’s existence, physically evident miracles, special gifts and physical powers, a successful outcome to their projects and prayers, objects they consider sacred, and so on. This sensuous consciousness of God is a natural relationship, not spiritual. It has been vastated and consummated, and a new rational consciousness, serves in its stead.

 

Miracles close the internal man, and deprive man of all that free will, through which and in which man is regenerated. Free will really belongs to the internal man; and when this is closed up, the man becomes external and natural; and such a man does not see any spiritual truth. Miracles also are like veils and bars lest anything might enter. This bar, or this obstruction, however, is gradually broken, and [then] all truths become dispersed. (INV 6)

 

Rational consciousness allows the idea of the universal Church (HH 308), that is, the idea that religious affiliation cannot save but what can, is individual regeneration. Faith based on sensuous consciousness is persuasive faith, which the individual rejects in the afterlife (xx). But rational faith remains in the afterlife and saves. This is because all the heavens have been recreated by the Lord through the new rational truths He unveiled in His Second Coming. Now people must come into the afterlife with rational consciousness of spiritual things, in order to form a plane of life that supports heavenly existence. This is because He is Divine Truth, and all truth is rational, and all things are created by means of Divine Truth (xx). Unless we have rational truths of God we cannot be conjoined with the Lord. Without conjunction through our rational idea and love for the Lord, our presence in heaven is not possible.

 

Prior to the formation of the New Heavens there were the old heavens and their vast outskirts where people were able to live adequately while waiting for the New Heavens to be created (xx). Then, when Swedenborg published the last work of the Writings in 1771, the New Heavens were completed by means the new truths that the Lord revealed to the angels and those living in the outskirts of heaven (xx). A vast migration was then accomplished by the Lord, instructing everyone there in His new rational truths, and admitting and accommodating all those who were willing to receive the new rational truths about Himself. But here on earth things take much longer! Only a few people today are willing to form the New Church mind in themselves by the exclusive means of the Writings. This is because nonduality in the natural mind opposes rational consciousness.

 

Remains are like some heavenly star, which, the smaller it is the less light it gives, and the larger, the more light. (AC 530)

 

4. Nonduality is from Self-intelligence

 

Nonduality is the intellectual process of our natural intelligence when we think about God and spiritual things. This opposition between the natural sensuous mind and the rational spiritual mind, is a developmental process of the human mind—even the Lord as a Divine Child growing up on earth made Himself go through this process. When He was still growing up as a young child, the Lord consulted his natural mind or natural intelligence, about the truths of the Old Testament He was reading. He then revealed to Himself from within His Divine, that He is not to consult natural intelligence regarding the truths of the Word. Instead, He instructed Himself to rely on truths that He is going to reveal to His natural mind from His spiritual mind (HH 308). It is a natural step therefore, for everyone to first attempt to discover spiritual truths by using one’s own natural intelligence. Afterwards, the Lord reveals to us when we read the Writings, that we must no think naturally about spiritual revelations. We must read the revelations as Divine Truth already, and then, and only then, trying to understand what we read. This understanding is not passive but active. It is a rational process of figuring out what the literal language of revelation says. The goal of this understanding is to avoid doubt and questioning based on our own prior ideas and attitudes. Instead, all our mental effort must be in understanding how the details we are given are true and rational. This is the activity what builds our rational consciousness, and nothing else.

 

The general belief that there is no absolute truth is an instance of this nonduality operating today in the natural mind. Absolute truth is a spiritual idea since only God is absolute, and His truth is absolute truth. This is known from revelation that God gives to all people through their religion and culture. To accept genuine revelation is therefore to have an idea of God that is rational. This rational consciousness of God saves the person, as long as one obeys God’s commandments in daily life. But to deny absolute truth is to consult one’s self-intelligence in matters of spiritual truths, and this is forbidden because it leads to spiritual self-destruction:

 

Those things which are from one's own intelligence have no life in them, since nothing good proceeds from man's proprium (NJHD 256).

 

[in the Word] they are called "drunkards" who believe nothing but what they apprehend, and for this reason search into the mysteries of faith. And because this is done by means of sensuous things, either of memory or of philosophy, man being what he is, cannot but fall thereby into errors. For man's thought is merely earthly, corporeal, and material, because it is from earthly, corporeal, and material things, which cling constantly to it, and in which the ideas of his thought are based and terminated. (AC 1072)

 

Spiritual self-destruction means that people in the afterlife refuse to let go of their self-imposed spiritual insanity, thereby keeping themselves in the hells that exist in every human mind (NJHD 256).

 

Self-intelligence in matters dealing with natural things is called the external rational level of thinking, or the natural-rational level of the mind. This external rational level is to be contrasted with the interior rational level, which is called the spiritual-rational level of the mind. The difference between the natural-rational and the spiritual-rational is like the difference between hell and heaven. Why then is the natural-rational capable of giving us science and civilization? Wouldn’t the natural-rational mind become insane and not capable of living a modern life of law and order in democracy? The answer is that it would indeed, were the Lord to allow that. But the Lord wills that we succeed in our physical environment with this self-intelligence based on our experience and reflection.

 

Our successes in the natural world is powered by the Lord, even when we deny it. He gives His power and intelligence to people’s goals and plans regardless of their acknowledging Him and regardless of whether they live wickedly or well in this world. He does this out of love for the every individual and His greatest desire to keep the individual in a state of spiritual freedom as long as possible. Only in spiritual freedom can we choose willingly to love Him. In this way He keeps everyone in a state in which they can decide freely to cooperate in regeneration and thus be saved for eternal happiness. But this Divine assist in the background, works out only for our natural activities and ideas. It would be spiritually disastrous for the Lord to do the same thing in spiritual things and ideas that we form for ourselves in freedom and rationality.

 

Instead of this disastrous direct intervention in the background, the Lord provides indirect management or assistance in His open revelation of the Word. This allows us to be informed in genuine truths about Him, and thereby to reject the falsities of truths we invent in the natural mind. Spiritual truth cannot be discovered like natural truth. This is a Divine Law of Providence (AC 6047 [2], INV 22, SE 4131). All genuine spiritual truth must come to us from the Lord into the external natural mind, by means of the written revelations of His Word. When we accept genuine revelation as Divine truth, we are allowing the Lord to create our spiritual-rational mind, the mind we must have to live in heaven.

 

By Adam, or man, and by Eve his wife, was there meant a new church, and by the eating of the tree of knowledge, the fall of that church from good to truth, consequently from love to the Lord and toward the neighbor to faith without these loves, and this by reasoning from their own intellectual, which reasoning is the serpent (AC 8891).

 

The American intellectual climate we live in exposes nearly everyone to ideas of nonduality. Some are imported from Eastern religions and philosophical systems, some are Western in tradition and contemporary formulation. And some are indigenous to the New Church. This Volume tries to show how nonduality as a system of thought is inherently opposed to the fundamental dualities that are taught in the Writings. For example, the duality between uncreate and created enters into many fundamental concepts in the Writings such as the distinction between human beings and the Lord, heaven and hell, or the permanent distinctiveness between men and women. These and other distinctions in the Writings are given as categorical, absolute, eternal, and discrete. No one escapes this process of duality.

 

Every one after death is immediately bound to his like, the good to their like in heaven, but the evil to their like in hell (LJ 69)

 

The power that governs all loves is called conjugial love, and it is based on the permanent and absolute distinction between a man and a woman (CL 44). It would be instantly destroyed by any switching around of sexual identity (to use a modern phrase), and so the duality of man and woman cannot be turned into a nonduality or a continuum of masculinity-femininity. Eastern nonduality is the opposite view that all distinctions are illusory, temporary, unreal, and to be transcended. Self=God, man=woman, individual=Divine, material world=spiritual world, corporeal=spiritual, energy=God, evil=good, angel=man, and so on. You can see that some of these equations are imported from the East, but others are indigenous to the West, as for example the idea in materialistic science of human sexuality as a continuum on a masculinity-femininity scale. Nonduality is a property of the natural mind and acts against all spiritual-rational concepts of duality. Nonduality is a corporeal-sensuous style of reasoning that looks outward and downward in the spiritual mind, seeing a continuity of degree between everything conceivable. This is why nonduality is also in science, where it is called materialistic monism (i.e., “only the natural world exists”).

 

Another reason that the natural mind reacts against the spiritual mind is that the natural mind consists not only of substances of the spiritual world but also of substances of the natural world, as was said above (n. 257), and substances of the natural world from their very nature react against the substances of the spiritual world. For substances of the natural world are in themselves dead, and are acted upon from without by substances of the spiritual world. And substances which are dead, and are acted upon from without, resist from their own nature, and thus from their nature react. From these considerations it can be established that the natural man reacts against the spiritual man, and that there is a conflict. It is the same thing whether it is said the natural and spiritual man, or the natural and spiritual mind. (DLW 260)

 

If any idea of nonduality were to be confirmed in the New Church mind it would strive to erode the dualities we take up from the Writings. Mental management techniques informed by the Writings are efficacious in deconstructing the science concepts that we are all exposed to in our education and culture. We may know these concepts, learn them, use them, and teach them—but we may not confirm them in our own mind. And it is dangerous to just let them lie around unexamined in our thinking process. The weakening of categorical dualities in our mind from the Writings, impedes our reformation and regeneration. Neither is it practical to eliminate scientific and cultural nondualities from our mind, or to prevent our children from being exposed to them and learning them. Rather, we need to mark, isolate, and store them in a special mental compartment so that each time they show themselves in our thinking, we can shield and protect our dualities. The maintenance of our absolute dualities is an essential task for every New Church mind. It is the substance of regeneration, as will be shown in what follows.

 

Nonduality is a natural consequence of the natural mind. Rational nondualities abound in modern science and in humanistic philosophy and psychology. The natural-rational mind is a modern development needed for the build up of the spiritual-rational mind. But its initial or unreformed state, is opposed to spiritual-rational ideas to the extent that we have confirmed in our mind the theory of nonduality of existence, that is, believing that the natural can exist by itself, without the spiritual or God. This belief may be around in society and culture, but it is not necessary to confirm it and believe in it within our interior mind where we are free to believe whatever we want. If we do not confirm the ideas of nonduality we remain open to believing spiritual truths from the Word, that are not accessible to the natural mind. This belief opens up the spiritual mind, and we for the first time begin to live like a genuine human. The genuine human only begins in the spiritual-rational mind. Everything below it in the natural-rational mind, the sensuous mind, and the corporeal mind, is not genuine human, but animal (xx). Our natural mind is superior to animals in language and thinking power, but this is merely a continuum of superiority in physiology and functioning. The human begins with the spiritual rational at reformation in adult life. Only the spiritual mind is human, and we are born with the capacity to become genuinely human and to have our spiritual mind opened in adult life. The spiritual-rational mind can be opened only by revealed truths from the heaven from the Lord. This is also why the New Church mind can be formed solely by means of truths from the Writings.

 

Nonduality permeates our modern culture and is a dictating force in politics, entertainment, recreation, education, science, the arts, man-woman relations, and articulated or fashionable lifestyles. Eastern nonduality did not create nonduality in the Western mind. Rather, the enormous appetite of modernism for nonduality in Western cultures, have created a mental marketplace for the imported ideas from the culturally rich fabric of Eastern religions and philosophies, and their physical and mental disciplines and arts. The imported nonduality mixes around with the indigenous nonduality with the result that we are surrounded by a culturally rich web that enters into our mind from everywhere--into public life, mental health practices, group and individual therapy, popular followings, professional ethics, morality in relationships, and lifestyle choices relating to health, physical programs, and “spirituality.” Thus, nonduality in our mind is a significant presence that must be dealt with first when we start our reformation in adult life.

 

One who knows nothing about discrete degrees, that is, degrees of height, can know nothing about the state of man as regards his reformation and regeneration, which are effected through the reception of love and wisdom of the Lord, and then through the opening of the interior degrees of his mind in their order. Nor can he know anything about influx from the Lord through the heavens nor anything about the order into which he was created. For if anyone thinks about these, not from discrete degrees or degrees of height but from continuous degrees or degrees of breadth, he is not able to perceive anything about them from causes, but only from effects; and to see from effects only is to see from fallacies, from which come errors, one after another; and these may be so multiplied by inductions that at length enormous falsities are called truths. (DLW 187)

 

You can see then that nonduality is the mind we have when we begin our reformation and prior to being on the road to regeneration. The New Church mind refers to the mind we develop in the process of rearranging everything in it from nonduality to duality, as we begin our regeneration in early adulthood (AC 3518). The Writings give us the rational tools for accomplishing this awesome mind makeover task.

 

5. Nonduality In The Mind Opposes Regeneration

 

If any imported element of nonduality were to be admitted and confirmed in the New Church mind, or left there unattended, the result would be disastrous spiritually. Damnation itself would then threaten at the door! But the solution to that utmost danger is also at hand—the spiritually informed rational analysis of every idea of nonduality to which we are necessarily exposed by the culture around us. A spiritually informed rational analysis is what we do when we examine an idea in our mind in the light of the Writings. To the extent that we study and know the Writings, and understand them rationally, to that extent we are able to analyze our ideas in the light of the Writings. The light of the Writings refers to the reasoning process we follow when we strive to understand the Writings rationally. This means forming conclusions about how they apply to our willing and thinking. Without this application there is no understanding of spiritual truths. Spiritual truths are seen only in application, until then, we only understand tem naturally. Spiritual truths understood naturally is not spiritual but natural. But as soon as we proceed to apply the truths we understand naturally, they immediately become spiritual in our understanding. It is amazing to experience this in actuality, as I can testify.

 

When we try to write down the spiritual insight that came in the application, we can do so, but when we read it in another state of mind, we only see something natural in it, and we may even believe that this natural that we see, is spiritual. But it is not. The spiritual-rational only functions in the spiritual mind, and the spiritual mind is closed when we fall back into a natural state. We need many years of constant spiritual discipline to be able to remain steadfastly in a state of mind where we are consciously living from the spiritual mind through the natural, and not merely from the natural (see Volume 3 for spiritual disciplines). In the unregenerate state of mind the natural mind is turned downward towards earth, but at reformation, the natural mind is turned around, and now faces heaven (xx). When the natural mind faces heaven, it faces the spiritual mind, and it obeys. Prior to that, it does what it pleases from itself, and thus, it slides easily into hell. The turning around of the natural mind is effected at reformation by means of rational analysis of everything in our mind, comparing each element with the truths of the Writings that we study and endeavor to understand rationally. All that is needed a this point to make the process effective, is to apply it to our daily willing and thinking. This application gives birth to the spiritual mind and opens it for continued growth. By the end of reformation, everything in the New Church mind has been turned around and faces heaven in the Writings. We then begin life as a true human, one who is being regenerated by the Lord through our free, rational, and conscious cooperation.

 

A constant and effective mental vigilance is therefore necessary in order to manage our willing and thinking moment by moment every day. This orientation is fully efficacious against the spiritual invasion of “strange fires” in the surrounding ocean of cultural and scientific nonduality. Constant self-witnessing is also an efficacious mental management technique that gives us the ability to cooperate with the Lord in our regeneration (BE 69, TCR 615, 577). I discuss this in Volume 3 under the topic of spiritual disciplines that we can use for the conscious self-management of our daily activities. Since this is the very arena of our regeneration it is crucial that we make use of available techniques the Lord puts at our disposal. I will show that the numerous resistances we experience in our daily regeneration efforts, stem from ideas of nonduality, either imported or indigenous. Rational analysis of our ideas that is informed by the Writings, creates dualities to replace every form of nonduality in the mind.

 

It is important to understand in detail, not just in general, what danger nonduality poses to the New Church mind. The danger is present when any concept of nonduality is uncritically admitted or left in place without analyzing and questioning its assumptions or implications. To let nonduality lie unchallenged in our mind is equivalent to falling in a persuasive belief. The nondual assumptions interact with the dualities we have from the Writings, modifying them, eroding them away. There is mental pressure, conscious or only dimly perceived, to loosen the categorical and permanent dualities taught in the Writings.

 

A persuasion of falsity extinguishes and as it were suffocates everything spiritual and celestial; as everyone may know from much experience, if he pays attention. They who have once conceived opinions, though most false, cling to them so obstinately that they are not even willing to hear anything that is contrary to them; so that they never suffer themselves to be informed, even if the truth be placed before their eyes. (AC 806)

 

All nonduality concepts have at their core nonduality. Search if you like and see if you can find one that is not so marked from within. Every nonduality concept is opposed to our mind because it contradicts the duality concepts that we have from the Writings.

 

Chapter 1, Section 2

 

2. Incompatibility with the Writings

 

I became aware of the dangers that nonduality might pose to the New Church mind when I was recently asked to comment on a brief article by Wilson Van Dusen titled “The Highest Insight in Hinduism and in Swedenborg” (first published in the Messenger June 2001; reprinted in ISI News, Newsletter of Information Swedenborg, March 2002, issue 54, pp. 8-9). It was about nonduality and introduces the issue as follows: (discussed further in Chapter 2 Section 1)

 

Hinduism's advaita vedanta or non-dual theology, probably represents the highest mystical insight possible. It is the insight that ultimately only God exists. My friends know that I regard Swedenborg's mystical revelations as the greatest ever. We can then ask the question, Can we also find non-dualism in Swedenborg? The answer is a resounding yes. The highest revelation of Hinduism is also in Swedenborg's revelations even though the two traditions had no contact.

 

In order to understand what this article is saying in relation to Swedenborg I needed to research how Hindu nonduality exists in the ideas of Americans today. Searching for nonduality sites on the World Wide Web yielded a large quantity and diversity of information on contemporary formulations of traditional definitions. I then went back to Dr. Van Dusen’s article and felt surprised at the opening claim, quoted above. How can nonduality be compatible with the Writings when every concept I know from the Writings is grounded in permanent and absolute dualism: God/creation; love/wisdom, heaven/hell; create/uncreate; natural/spiritual; spiritual/celestial; regenerating/unregenerate; good/evil; truth/falsity; Father/Son, Esse/Existere; infinite/finite; will/understanding; and so on. Nonduality would deny that these distinctions are absolute and a permanent feature of reality. As we read in the Writings:

 

Good exists from creation, and it varies in degree from the highest to the lowest. When its lowest degree reaches zero, evil arises on the other side. So there is no relationship or progress of good to evil, but it relates and progresses to what is more or less good. Evil relates and progresses to what is more or is less evil, because these are opposites in every single detail. (CL 444)

 

There is therefore an inherent clash in the New Church mind when any concept from nonduality is admitted. I will review several sources through which nonduality can readily enter: Eastern, Western, Christian, Scientific, and New Church. Since nonduality is so abundantly around us it becomes a struggle to identify and tag them so that nonduality concepts can remain separate in memory. In this way we remove its power to affect our understanding and motivation for regeneration. The absolute and permanent dualities we have in our mind from the Writings are eroded and corrupted when allowed to commingle with concepts of nonduality. We depend for our regeneration on the determination to distinguish between good and evil, truth and falsity, the Lord and self. Nonduality tries to create a continuity between these separate elements. It eats away at anything that is absolute and permanent in us and around us. The three discrete degrees of creation are replaced by one continuous degree. This is the destruction of rationality and spiritual sanity in the New Church mind.

 

1. Evil and good cannot exist together in man's interiors; and consequently neither can the falsity of evil and the truth of good.

2. Good and the truth of good can be introduced by the Lord into man's interiors only so far as the evil and the falsity of evil there have been removed.

3. If good with its truth were introduced there before or in a greater measure than evil with its falsity is removed, man would depart from good and return to his evil. (DP 232)

 

Chapter 1, Section 3

 

3. Definition of Reality

 

Nondualism is opposed to the definition of reality given by dualism because nondualism asserts the contrary view that all dualities stem from a temporary illusion created by the mind, which itself is an illusion created by its many attachments to temporary things. And so, when the individual awakens from this illusion (maya) all dualities drop off, leaving behind nonduality as the only reality called God (Brahman). Nondualism urges that every individual mind awaken from this illusion created by the unreal self (atman), and when all attachments drop off and the self is emptied, there remains the only Reality (Brahman). This is the basis and foundation stone of religious and philosophic nonduality. Every other concept derived from this defining proposition must also be congruent with nonduality. Therefore not a single concept in nonduality can be similar in meaning to any concept in the Writings where dualism permeates every concept to its core assumptions and implications. To attempt to commingle the two by arguing for similarities leads to a clash of doctrine in the New Church mind. This mind is arranged in its order by one’s knowledge of the Writings and their acknowledgment as the Word of the Second Coming. Every other authority or system of thought is laid aside and replaced by the Writings which we see as the treasure that voids all other treasures in the mind:

 

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44) (AC 5886)

 

This confirms what has been stated in the Faith of the New Heaven and the New Church in its universal and in its particular form, at the beginning of this work, namely, "The Lord came into the world to remove Hell from man, and He did remove it by means of combats with it and victories over it, thereby subduing it and reducing it to obedience to Himself." And further, "Jehovah God came down and took upon Him the Human for the purpose of reducing to order all things in heaven and all things in the church; because at that time the power of the devil, that is, of hell, prevailed over the power of heaven, and upon earth the power of evil over that of good and in consequence a total damnation stood threatening at the door. This impending damnation Jehovah God removed by means of His Human, thus redeeming angels and men. From this it is clear that without the Lord's coming no one could have been saved. It is the same today; and therefore without the Lord's coming again into the world no one can be saved" (see above, n. 2, 3). (TCR 121)

 

Given birth by the Writings, the New Church mind is purely and absolutely dualist, like the mind of angels in heaven, which they have from the mind or Proprium of the Lord that makes the all in heaven:

 

all truths - not only the general ones but also the particular, and indeed the most specific - must in heaven have been arranged into that order so that one truth relates to another within a form like that in which the members, organs, and viscera of the human body relate to one another. That is, their uses relate to one another in general, also in particular, as well as most specifically, and act so as to be a single whole. … When therefore truths have been arranged into an order like that into which heaven is arranged they exist in heavenly order and are able to enter good. Truths and goods exist in such order with every angel, and they are also being arranged into such order with every person who is being regenerated. (AC 4302)

 

Eastern and Western nonduality forever strives to empty itself of the rational order into which the celestial mind is arranged from creation (AC 5113). It grounds itself in corporeal and experiential things instead. Its religious life of discipline is in physical and mental disciplines accompanied by prescribed physical exercises and communal chanting or rituals of initiation. These are traditions that were established long before the religious civilization initiated in the West by the First Coming. From the perspective of the New Church mind the highest content it can find in the mental exercises (often called “meditation”) consist in sensuous visions and corporeal metaphors of spiritual ideas like God, heaven, sacred objects, forms of energy, action at a distance, merging into the all, divine vibration, mystical union, transcendental, universal spirit, and many such things, all of which are below the rational in the New Church mind. This is also true of all forms of nonduality including Western and scientific sources. It is one thing to think about God in a natural way, and another to think from God in a spiritual way (DP 142). To think about spiritual things in a natural way means to think of them only in metaphors.

 

From the point of view of the Writings, natural metaphors have no spiritual-rational content except as correspondences of each other. The knowledge of the correspondences is natural, but from them one can be introduced to spiritual meanings (AC 9280). The spiritual cannot be seen in the lower portions of the natural mind, but starts to be seen above the corporeal and above the sensuous, in the external rational region of the natural mind (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). Below this, there is no spiritual content because no rational. Correspondences are rational only to the extent that they are understood from the idea of discrete degrees between the natural and the spiritual (D. Wis. 2). This alone is rational. Any form of nonduality cannot rise to the rational level, but sinks down to the material. Material ideas cannot be spiritually rational because they deny what is not natural. Scientific theories that assume materialism are based on material concepts or natural-rational reasonings. They reject or spew out whatever idea that is not natural. These natural things of the mind that that are the highest in nonduality, correspond to the lowest spiritual level, and is compared in the Writings to "the intestines" (AC 10030).

 

Nonduality as a religious and philosophic discipline leads to the notion that the control of the body and the corporeal mind, is a way to spiritual things. There is no requirement for the rational to be initiated and developed. The spiritual is said to develop when these physical exercises and mental feats are performed. Hence the focus and emphasis on corporeal and mental disciplines, martial arts, initiation rituals, and diet. It is taught that spiritual “energy” issues from the body in particular places identified as “chakras.” Also, that performing well practiced physical movements of a certain style help the practitioner to become “one with the flow, one with nature.” This sensation of integration is by itself considered as the spiritual attainment. It’s a spirituality that is emptied of any rational content in contrast to New Church spirituality from the Writings where only rational and spiritual-rational concepts make a part of the Heavenly Doctrine. This is on account of the fact that the Writings are a revelation of the Divine Rational through which the universe is created and managed. In the New Church mind, the spiritual begins with the highest rational in the natural mind. This is the level of the literal text of the Writings. It is called the external rational level of thinking and understanding spiritual truths (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). Above this begins the genuine spiritual-rational mind, whose opening and growth depends on the lower rational being formed first.

 

Chapter 1, Section 4

 

4. Duality is the only reality

 

[3] The human rational - that is to say, the rational formed from images of worldly things received through the senses, and later on from images of things analogous to actual worldly ones, such as are received from factual knowledge and from cognitions - virtually laughs or mocks if it is told that it does not live of itself but only appears to itself to do so. It likewise laughs if it is told that the less anyone believes that he lives of himself, the more he is truly living, that is, the more wise and intelligent he is, and the more blessed and happy. And it also laughs if it is told that that life is the life which angels possess, especially those who are celestial and are inmost or nearest to the Lord; for these know that nobody except Jehovah alone, that is, the Lord, lives of himself.

 

[4] This rational would also mock if it were told that it has nothing of its own, and that its possessing anything of its own is an illusion or an appearance. Still more would it mock if it were told that the more it is subject to the illusion that it possesses anything of its own the less it in fact possesses, and vice versa. It would likewise mock if it were told that whatever it thinks and does from what is its own is evil, even though it was good [in its effect], and if it were told that it has no wisdom until it believes and perceives that all evil comes from hell and all good from the Lord. This is a conviction, indeed a perception, that exists in all angels, yet they possess selfhood or a proprium in fuller measure than all others. But they realize and perceive that their selfhood comes from the Lord, even though it seems to be completely their own.

 

[5] This rational would again mock if it were told that in heaven the greatest are those who are least; that the wisest are those who believe and perceive that they themselves are the least wise; that the happiest are those who wish the greatest happiness to others and the least to themselves; that heaven consists in wishing to be below everyone else, but hell in wishing to be above everyone else; and that consequently the glory of heaven does not hold within it anything at all of that which the glory of the world holds.

 

[6] This rational would similarly mock if it were told that in the next life space and time do not exist at all but states in accordance with which there are appearances of space and time, and that life becomes more heavenly the further removed it is from the things that belong to space and time and the closer it comes to that which is eternal - for that which is eternal has absolutely nothing within it that is received from the notion of time or anything analogous to it. In the same way would the rational mock at countless other things it could be told.

 

[7] The Lord saw that such things were present in the merely human rational and that this rational therefore mocked Divine things. He did so from the Divine spiritual, which is meant by the words 'Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian', 2651, 2652. The fact that a person is able from within to have insight into the things residing with him that are below is well known from experience to those who have perception, and also to those who have conscience, for they see clearly enough to reproach themselves for what they think. This exemplifies how regenerate persons are able to see what their rational prior to regeneration is like. In man's case however such perception is received from the Lord, but in the Lord's case it was Self-derived. (AC 2654)

 

The Writings reveal that the Hebrew Church as presented in the Books of Moses of the Old Testament was a representative Church, and therefore the literal text of the Old Testament does not refer to spiritual-rational ideas (AC 4288). The New Testament does contain spiritual-rational ideas taught by the Lord when He was physically in the world. But these spiritual-rational ideas are not explicit and are presented, for the most part, through parables. In the Hebrew Church of the Old Testament, the connection between heaven and that Church was maintained by animal sacrifices and cleansing rituals, which the people were commanded to follow. In addition to animal sacrifices, they practiced corporeal rituals involving the designation of sacred places and objects that the Lord endowed with physical power to heal or kill (AC 4847). In the mind of the people this Church therefore was based on nonduality since their ideas of God and heaven were material, not rational. They witnessed physical miracles and physical demonstrations of Divine power, thinking them to be the spiritual in itself (AC 4311). There was no discrete duality in their mind between the natural and the spiritual.

 

In contrast, the New Testament reinterprets the Old Testament text in a more rational, abstract, and spiritual way. The New Testament introduces external rational concepts that can serve as vessels for containing genuine spiritual-rational ideas, not mere natural representatives of spiritual ideas (NJHD 51; AC 3508). The representations in themselves are not spiritual just as the literal sentences of the Word are not spiritual, but only the spiritual correspondences to which the literal represented.

 

Truth Divine is not received by anyone unless it has been accommodated to his apprehension, consequently unless it appears in a natural form and shape; for at first human minds apprehend none but earthly and worldly things, and not at all spiritual and heavenly things. Wherefore if spiritual and heavenly things were set forth nakedly, they would be rejected as if they were nothing, (AC 8783)

 

Anyone reading the Word without at the same time thinking of the spiritual meaning in the sentences has then read nothing spiritual (AC 9280). Further, the content of the spiritual meaning one thinks of must be revealed truths about God, heaven, sin, love, faith, and regeneration. This process of rational analysis is a necessary step for applying the rational rules of correspondence that have been revealed.  Without this rational application, the faith of one’s religion, including the New Church, is merely a natural idea called a persuasive faith, and this does not save (AC 9368).

 

The Christian mind prior to the Second Coming in the eighteenth century could not be regenerated from natural to spiritual by means of the ideas it obtained from the literal text of the New Testament. Christians who passed into the spiritual world between the First and Second Coming, were kept “in waiting” in the spiritual world, until such time as the Writings were completed. They then were instructed in the new spiritual-rational revelations, and by means of these in their understanding, they were at last admitted to heaven (TCR 115). All those who were willing to receive the Heavenly Doctrine were made part of the New Heavens of the Second Coming (TCR 1)

 

Because it is here said, "until the words of God are consummated," it shall also be told what is signified by the Lord's last words to the disciples, which are these:

 

Go ye and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all the days, even until the consummation of the age. Amen (Matt. 28:19-20).

 

"Until the consummation of the age" is until the end of the church (n. 658); and then, if they do not go to the Lord Himself, and live according to His commandments, they are left by the Lord; and being left by the Lord they become like pagans, who have no religion; and then the Lord is with those only, who will be of His New Church. These things are signified by "until the words of God are consummated," and by "even until the consummation of the age." (AR 750)

 

But before the Lord’s Second Coming, Christians were not able to be constituted into a new heaven because unable to receive spiritual-rational truths about the Divine Human. During the First Advent, the Lord was reticent to multiply miracles because this strengthens corporeal spirituality and weakens rational spirituality. Since the Second Advent no miracles are allowed (AC 7290). The Lord on earth frequently taught abstract and rational ideas, encouraging, challenging, sometimes teasing, the disciples to prompt them to think more abstractedly and rationally about Him, heaven, and regeneration. But these rational vessels were not yet dualist enough. The Lord was unable to bring to them concepts of absolute dualism, for they were uncomprehending and unwilling. In a matter of a few generations even these few and obscure rational concepts were diverted and turned downward towards many forms of heretical nondualities that prevent regeneration in confirmed believers. When confirmed believers of Christian nonduality arrive in the afterlife they are unwilling to be instructed in the dualities of the Heavenly Doctrine (AC 2329, 5256, 10736-10738, 10821; TCR 821; SE 408; HH 321). Thus they cannot be saved.

 

More gentiles are saved than Christians. For people who have thought what is good in regard to their neighbour and have willed for him that which is good accept the truths of faith in the next life more readily than those who called themselves Christians; and they acknowledge the Lord more than Christians do. (AC 2284)

 

The interiors cannot be so closed up with the heathen as with Christians (n. 9256). Neither can so thick a cloud exist with the heathen who live in mutual charity in accordance with their religion as with Christians who live in no charity; the reasons (n. 1059, 9256). (HH 321)

 

A principal example given in the Writings, is the idea implanted by allegiance to the Nicene Creed (325 AD onward) of a “Son from Eternity” which created a nonduality between “Three Divine Persons” being of “one substance” and formed into one “Godhead.” (TCR 174, CAN 43) This idea was called a “mystery” and it replaced the Father/Son duality that the Lord taught to the disciples, which was “the Son born in time” and “the Father from Eternity” and not, “the Son from Eternity in the One Godhead” and “the Father from Eternity in the One Godhead.” The generations following the apostles were unable to understand the Incarnation of the Father Himself in the external form of the Son born in time. The Divinity of “the Son born in time” within whom was God the Father Himself, could not be understood and believed, until the generations were prepared by rational science and philosophy to understand more abstract dualist concepts in discrete degrees. The Lord could say to them “The Father is in Me” but they could not but take this description in the natural sense. At this level of thinking, it is not possible to see an identity of Personhood between Father and Son. Therefore the mind is thrown back to the idea of “Two Divine Persons in One Godhead.” The only other option is that the Father is Divine while the Son is human—the “Arian heresy” that the Nicene Creed was designed to defeat. In the Writings these are also called “Socinian spirits” (DP 231; TCR 94, 380, AR 0, LJ 38).

 

1. The New Age Of The Second Coming

 

At last, in the Writings of the Second Coming, the Lord has brought humankind the gift of spiritual-rational ideas that are fully suitable for being infilled by the celestial ideas of the angels. The literal explanations of the Writings are first received in the external rational of the natural mind. This in itself is not spiritual but is well suited for the construction of  rational “vessels” that can be infilled by spiritual-rational truths from the Lord through heaven (AC 9280, 8783, 3508). This infilling is the opening of our spiritual mind. It is the one and only way the New Church mind can be regenerated and saved, and this only to the extent that our daily willing and thinking is kept in conformity to the Doctrines we create in our understanding (AC 10638).

 

Cognitions are vessels for receiving good and truth entering in from the rational. The way in which the vessels receive and the amount they receive determine the nature of their enlightenment and how far they are enlightened. Vessels which receive good and truth from the rational are the truths themselves belonging to the natural, which are no more than facts, cognitions, and matters of doctrine. From the order according to which they flow in and from the order which exists among them there they become goods. This is the origin of the good of the natural. (AC 3508)

 

The absolute duality of every concept in the Writings rests on the revealed existence of discrete degrees of separation between levels of creation, and therefore, between the levels in the mind.

 

These levels in the mind can never touch each other or be in the same sphere—they can only communicate by spiritual-rational correspondence. The natural level which includes the sensual and corporeal, is the lowest region or outmost level of the natural mind. It is closest to the body senses and identifies itself with the physical environment. The physical environment and the body are material, but the natural mind is natural-spiritual. The highest portion of the natural mind is called the external rational, which is therefore natural-spiritual, not yet spiritual-rational or celestial (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). The spiritual itself cannot exist in the external rational because it is in a discrete degree above it. The spiritual mind has its rational which is called the interior rational or the spiritual-rational, not from the natural world, but only and exclusively from the spiritual world by means of influx from the Lord through heaven (AC 9280, LJ 10).

 

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 angels with each person inflow into the individual’s spiritual mind by means of spiritual-rational truths. This inflow is proportional to the extent to which the individual thinks and wills daily in conformity to the external rational truths they understand. The more the angels inflow with spiritual-rational truths, the more we are regenerated, the more we become spiritual-rational and sane and wise. In this way, we are prepared for heaven, which is living in the highest level of the mind called the celestial degree. This level is constructed of interior rational truths that are an image of the Lord’s Divine Rational order in the universe. Duality is the only reality because all things in the Divine Rational are arranged into discrete order.

 

Chapter 1, Section 5

 

5. The natural and spiritual mind

 

The difference between natural, spiritual and celestial things is such that there is no proportional relation between them. Therefore natural things cannot in any way by any approximation approach in likeness spiritual things, nor spiritual things celestial things. That is why the heavens are distinct. I have been given to know this from much experience. Again and again I have been conveyed into the company of spiritual angels, and I then spoke with them in their spiritual way of speaking, and what I said I then made a point of remembering. When I returned into my natural state-the state every person in the world is in-I then tried to recall what I had said from my earlier remembrance and write it down, but I could not. It was impossible. No words were to be found and not even any mental concepts by which to express it. The spiritual mental concepts and words were so removed from natural mental concepts and words that there was not the least approximation. Surprisingly, when I was in that heaven and spoke with angels, I then knew no other than that I was speaking in the same way that I speak with people here. But afterward I found out that the thoughts and speech were so dissimilar that the one could not approximate the other, consequently that they have proportional relation.

 

[3] There is a similar difference between spiritual and celestial things.

(De Verbo 3)

 

It is therefore very important to distinguish between the external rational of the natural mind and the interior rational of the spiritual mind, as discussed before. These two rational levels of the human mind are in discrete degrees (DP 154, TCR 564; AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). Nothing of the spiritual can exist in the natural, but only within the natural by correspondence of discrete degrees. There is no continuity between the external rational and the interior rational (or spiritual-rational), because one is in the natural mind and the other in the spiritual mind. This means that it is not possible to keep increasing the natural-rational (or natural-spiritual) and eventually arrive at the interior rational (or spiritual-rational). In the New Church mind regeneration is going on when the external rational is turned around by our rearranging all its concepts and affections to be in conformity and obedience to the literal sentences we take up from the Writings into our understanding where it is called “the Doctrine of the Church” (NJHD 257). This is the process of being reformed and regenerated. From birth and heredity, the external rational of the natural mind is arranged according to the world and nature—thus in the appearances of nonduality:

 

Human rational truth does not apprehend Divine things, because these are above the sphere of its understanding, for this truth communicates with the memory-knowledges which are in the natural man, and in so far as it looks from these at the things which are above itself, so far it does not acknowledge them. For this truth is in appearances, which it is not able to put off; and appearances are born from sensuous things, which induce a belief as if Divine things themselves also were of a like nature, when yet these are exempt from all appearances, and when they are stated, this rational truth cannot possibly believe them, because it cannot apprehend them.

 

[3] If for example it is stated that man has no life except what is from the Lord, the rational supposes from appearances that in that case man cannot live as of himself; whereas he for the first time truly lives when he perceives that he does so from the Lord. 

 

[4] The rational supposes from appearances that the good which man does is from himself, and yet there is nothing of good from self, but all is from the Lord.

 

[5] From appearances the rational supposes that man merits salvation when he does what is good; whereas of himself man can merit nothing, but all merit is the Lord's. 

 

[6] From appearances man supposes that when he is withheld from evil and is kept in good by the Lord, there is nothing with him but what is good and just, nay, holy; whereas there is nothing in man but what is evil, unjust, and profane. 

 

[7] From appearances man supposes that when he does what is good from charity, he does it from his will; whereas it is not from his will part, but from his intellectual part, in which charity has been implanted. 

 

[8] From appearances man supposes that there can be no glory without the glory of the world; whereas in the glory of heaven there is not a particle of the world's glory. 

 

[9] From appearances man supposes that no one can love his neighbor more than himself, but that all love begins from self; when yet in heavenly love there is nothing of the love of self. 

 

[10] From appearances man supposes that there can be no light but that which is from the light of the world; whereas in the heavens there is not one whit of the light of the world, and yet the light is so great that it surpasses the world's noon day light a thousand times. 

 

[11] From appearances man supposes that the Lord cannot shine before the universal heaven as a sun; when yet all the light of heaven is from Him. 

 

[12] From appearances man cannot apprehend that in the other life there are motions forward; whereas those who are there appear to themselves to move forward just as do men on earth-in their dwellings, courts, and paradises; and still less can he apprehend if it is said that these moving forward are changes of state, which so appear. 

 

[13] Nor can man from appearances apprehend that spirits and angels, who are invisible before our eyes, can be seen; nor that they can speak with man; when yet they appear to the internal sight, or that of the spirit, more manifestly than man does to man on earth; and their voices are heard as distinctly; besides thousands of thousands of such things, which man's rational, from its own light, born from things of sense, and thereby darkened, cannot possibly believe. Nay, the rational is blinded in natural things themselves, not being able to apprehend, for instance, how those who dwell on the opposite side of the globe can stand on their feet and walk; and it is the same with very many other things. How blind then must the rational not be in spiritual and heavenly things, which are far above natural things? (AC 2196)

 

You can see from this list that nonduality is according to appearances and the rational thinking of the external mind is not capable of believing contrary to the sensuous appearances of its life and reasoning. This is why revelation is necessary! Because from revelation the rational mind that has been formed to look only outward to the world of the sensuous body, can turn itself around and face upward to the spiritual world which enters through the interior-rational mind, and not through the external rational (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). Therefore the source of all rational-spiritual concepts we can know is from revelation in the Writings. Those who deny and reject revelation are therefore trapped at the level of thinking of their external rational (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14).

 

1. Nonduality Is In The Unregenerate Natural Mind

 

The devil's hatred is against spiritual truths and goods, because merely natural truths and goods are the direct opposites of these, for merely natural truths and goods are in their essence falsities and evils, although to those who are merely natural and sensual they appear to be truths and goods (AE 754).

 

All ideas and affections in the external rational mind which have not been reformed, are opposed to all ideas we have from the Doctrine of the Church in our mind. When we read the Writings as Divine Truth, we acquire in our conscious mind heavenly concepts that function as external vessels suitable for being infilled with spiritual-rational truths inflowing from the spiritual world through heaven as we read the Writings (AC 9280, 3508). This infilling is proportional to the extent that our daily willing and thinking is made to conform to the Doctrine of the Church which is in our understanding.

 

Regarding thoughts: All the thoughts of people, including each single idea in them, involve conceptions drawn from space, time, person, or material-things that appear in natural light or the light of the world. For no one can think anything apart from light, just as nothing can be seen without light. And natural light or the light of the world is lifeless, being from the sun of the world, which is nothing but fire. Nevertheless, the light of heaven flows into that light everywhere and continually, giving it life and making possible the perception and understanding of things. The light of the world by itself cannot impart any perceptive or intellectual ability or confer any natural or rational sight, but it does so from the light of heaven, because the light of heaven comes from the sun of heaven, which is the Lord and so is life itself.

 

The influx of the light of heaven into the light of the world is like the influx of a cause into its effect-the nature of which will be explained elsewhere. It is apparent from this what natural thought is like, or ideas of thought in people, namely, that they are inseparably bound up with notions of space, time, personality and material. Because of this, those thoughts or ideas of thought are very limited and restricted, and so are crude, and must be called material. (De Verbo 3:6)

 

There are also in our natural self reasonings that are grounded in falsities impressed from infancy. Moreover, we apprehend by manifest sense what is in our natural self, but not so what is in our rational, until we have put off the body. This also causes us to believe the body to be every thing; and all that does not fall into the natural sense, we scarcely believe to be anything.

 

From such causes and many others, it results that we receive truths in the natural self much later, and with greater difficulty, than our reception of truth in our rational self. Hence arises combat, which continues for a considerable time, not ceasing until the vessels recipient of good in our natural part have been softened by temptations, as before shown …; for truths are nothing but vessels recipient of good …, which vessels are harder in proportion as we are more fixedly confirmed in the things which have been mentioned; and if we are to be regenerated, the more fixedly we have been confirmed, the more grievous is the combat. (AC 3321:3)

 

Concepts of nonduality can only enter the natural mind since they are devoid of spiritual-rational content. (How this is will be shown in the Sections below.) There they act by persuasive pressures that strive to oppose the rearrangement of the external rational ideas into absolute dualities from the Writings. These absolute dualities are at first only in our external rational mind as we read the literal of the Writings. There is nothing spiritual in itself about our memory-knowledges from the Writings (AC 9280, 8783). Yet these memory-knowledges are necessary as vessels (or cognitive constructs) which can be infilled through correspondence by the spiritual ideas from the angels that are with us. They cannot inflow except into rational concepts in our mind from the literal text of the Writings.

 

It will also be briefly stated how the Lord casts out lusts of evil, which beset the internal man from birth, and how He bestows in their place affections of good when a man as of himself removes evils as sins. It was shown before that man has a natural mind, a spiritual mind and a celestial mind; and that he is in the natural mind alone, as long as he is in the lusts of evil and their delight; and that during this time the spiritual mind is closed. But as soon as he, after self-examination, acknowledges evils to be sins against God because they are contrary to Divine laws, and therefore desires to desist from them, the Lord opens the spiritual mind, and enters into the natural mind through affections for truth and good; and He also enters into the rational, and from it disposes in order the things that are contrary to order below it in the natural. (DP 147)

 

The angels understand the Heavenly Doctrines spiritually (in their interior rational mind), while we understand the Writings naturally (in our external rational mind). Only if we have formed these external rational vessels can the interior rational ideas inflow by correspondence. Hence it is that we cannot be regenerated unless we fill our external rational mind with concepts and reasonings from the Writings. For the New Church mind the Writings are the only source for such external rational vessels (NJHD 257; AC 8939; TCR 340, 347, 350; SS 111; SE 5961). You can see from this why it is so important for our reformation and salvation that we study the Writings daily. Our thinking and willing hourly and minute by minute, must be brought into conformity with the truths in the Writings that we take up into our conscious understanding.

 

We don’t want oppositional concepts or loyalties in our natural mind. Least of all do we want them in our external rational which is the highest level of our natural mind (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). That level must be filtered and purified to make sure that only concepts of duality from the Writings are there as vessels waiting to be infilled by spiritual ideas. This filtering and purification process is not possible through censorship, sectarianism, or dogmatism. It is only possible through rational analysis and freedom of thought. Hence the importance of studying the Writings so that we have available in our mind, its concepts or ideas, its reasoning process, and all its related affections.

 

2. The Spiritual Begins With The Rational

 

Corporeal spirituality, which may also be called spirituality of the intestines (AC 10030), is the natural-spiritual level of the mind that identifies with the material body since it is built up by the sensations from the body’s interaction with the physical world. This is why their location is in the natural mind (DLW 257, AE 577). The natural mind is below the spiritual-rational level where genuine spirituality can exist, which is called spirituality of the chest (AC 10030). The natural-spiritual mind and the rational-spiritual mind are created into discrete degrees and cannot interact except by correspondences. (D. Wis. 2) Rational spirituality is formed only by the inner sensory organs of the will and understanding, and these spiritual organs are fed by the spiritual Sun and its world of events and modifications (DP.166). Corporeal spirituality is formed only by the outer physical senses which are fed by the material world through the body. The mind in the spiritual world interacts with the body in the natural world only by correspondences because the two are created into discrete degrees (DP 166; D. Wis. 2).

 

The Writings define the spiritual as only that which is rational, while everything that is below this level is not spiritual but natural, corporeal, and sensuous from the natural world (AC 4667). The human begins with the spiritual- rational, a discrete degree above the natural mind, which in itself is animal or sub-human (AC 2196, 3570). Meditation, chanting, and initiations are not considered spiritual activities for the New Church mind. Neither does the practice of physical and mental disciplines or maintaining a special diet. Nevertheless, all useful physical activities can be performed for a spiritual or religious motive, that is, for one’s regeneration. When performed for this purpose they can serve a spiritual function in opening the spiritual mind. What then is spiritual about the activity or discipline is not the physical or mental portion, but the spiritual motive within it. Volume 3 presents many examples of such spiritual disciplines.

 

In the New Church mind the spiritual starts only where the rational begins. Any discipline or activity can be infused with a spiritual motive, as discussed in Chapter 9. The spirituality cannot emerge from the physical or mental efforts no matter how much they are practiced. Rather, the spirituality must be infused in their interior level which is in a higher discrete degree from creation. This is true of any created object or activity. Since the spirituality is not already in the physical-mental activity, and since nothing about it can ascend to the next discrete degree, therefore it is necessary for the rational-spiritual to descend through correspondential action in the discipline. Then the discipline has the spiritual within it. The correspondential action cannot take place through material, corporeal, or sensuous ideas in the natural mind because these are too gross and do not react.

 

The pleasures that are in the bodily or outermost things of man have their origin in delights that are successively more and more interior. The delights that are perceived in those outermost or bodily things are relatively vile, for it is the nature of all delight to become more vile in proportion as it progresses toward the externals, and more happy in proportion as it advances toward the internals. For this reason, as before said, in proportion as the externals are stripped off, or rolled away, the delights become more pleasant and happy, as may be evident enough from man's delight in pleasures being vile while he lives in the body, in comparison with his delight after the life of the body, when he comes into the world of spirits; so vile indeed that good spirits utterly spurn the delights of the body, nor would they return to them if all in the whole world should be given them. (AC 996)

 

Correspondential communication between the interior and the exterior occurs with the highest level of the natural mind called the external rational mind (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). The ideas we have at this level are suitable “vessels” into which the spiritual ideas can descend, but not descend directly but only in correspondential interaction. The natural conscious understanding of what is spiritual and celestial is achieved when we acquire external rational concepts that are suitable for reacting correspondentially to spiritual-rational ideas that we receive into our spiritual mind while reading the Writings and applying its truths to life. This is how the spirituality of the New Church mind is built up. The New Testament teaches that physical activities like ritual sacrifices and repetition of prayers are not spiritual. The Writings describe it this way:

 

When man becomes internal and is instructed about internal things, external ones are of no account to him. He then knows what the holy is, namely, charity and the faith therefrom. According to these are his external things then regarded, that is to say, according to the amount of charity and faith in the Lord there is in them. Since the coming of the Lord, therefore, man is not regarded in heaven from external things, but from internal ones. And if anyone is regarded from external things it is because he is in simplicity, and in his simplicity there are innocence and charity, which are in his external things, that is, in his external worship, from the Lord, without the man's knowledge. (AC 1003)

 

3. The Spiritual In The New Testament

 

The power to be regenerated starts with consciously thinking about rational issues and living according to them. At first, this rational is not yet a spiritual-rational but something representing it in the natural mind. This natural-rational can be infilled with a spiritual-natural such as the ideas found in the New Testament. The Lord frequently brought up puzzling issues that encouraged the disciples to be analytic and rational:

 

The Kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:21)

Before you can be saved you must born again (John 3:4)

The Father and I are one (John 14:10, John 10:38)

The Son of Man sows the good seed (Matthew 13:37)

Who do people say the Son of Man is? (Matthew 16:13)

before Abraham was born, I am! (John 8:58)

All that is in the Old Testament is about the Christ (Luke 24:27)

In the beginning was the Word (John 1:1)

John the Baptist is the Elijah who was to come. (Matthew 11:14)

Let the man who is without sin cast the first stone (John 8:7)

The kingdom of heaven is made of such as the children (Matthew 18:3)

I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:20)

What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? (Mark 4:30)

 

And many more…

 

The rational is crucial to the New Church mind because there is no desire or motive for reformation and regeneration below the human rational. “How do I cooperate with God in my daily activities so that I can hate evil and love good?”

 

The Lord loves man, and from love wills that he may be happy forever, and man cannot become happy except by a life according to His commandments, because by means of these a man is regenerated and becomes spiritual, and in this way can be raised into heaven. (AC 10578)

 

This is the burning passionate spirituality of the human rational by which the individual becomes fit for receiving Divine Rational things, which alone are spiritual-rational. These are the holy things by which we are saved and by which we have eternal life. But to nonduality these rational things of salvation are taken as merely illusory attachments to nonexistent things such as good and evil, God and self, prudent and foolish. Is it possible to transfer any idea at all across two systems that are so opposed to each other? Perhaps only by remaining superficial or most general.

 

Chapter 1, Section 6

 

6. Why nonduality can be attractive

 

There is a state of the New Church mind in which we desire to share the Writings. There is even a tendency to be disappointed if we bring the Writings to others in one way or another, and they act uninterested, unenthusiastic, even unimpressed, and once in a while, denigrating and hostile. The desire to help spread the rational revelations remains however. For scholars and students this may take the form of comparisons between some author’s idea and an idea in the Writings. This comparative activity tends to be reassuring to the New Church mind since it is concrete evidence that Swedenborg is influencing the world through the ideas brought forth in the Writings. Sometimes the New Church mind wants to look for natural phenomena that confirm spiritual truths from the Writings, and this is allowed (AC 2588).

 

Nevertheless these comparative interests and ideas can be harmful to the New Church mind if one commingles imported ideas that are antagonistic to the Writings. Concepts that are opposed to the rational truths in the Writings must not be admitted, but marked in the memory and isolated. This is not a straightforward process and it is prudent to practice how to do this as part of living life in accordance with New Church teachings. One needs to learn what are the psycho-dynamics of concepts in the memory and understanding. When a general idea is allowed in, unexamined and unmarked, it begins to circulate in the mind, mixing with other ideas, and influencing them, reshaping them, modifying them. All general ideas have tacit implications, or more precisely, “presuppositions.” These hidden assumptions do not come readily into conscious awareness and can only be identified and debunked by reflection and rational analysis in the light of the Writings. They cannot be rightly analyzed in the light of self-intelligence or the authority and ideas of others.

 

Some months ago I received an email from someone who came across my article on dualism posted on the Web (see Note 1 at end). He wrote:

 

I got here by accident. I am interested in Swedenborg. Van Dusen has taught me a lot. I think I started with William James! At present, I am trying to understand more about monism - reading "Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path" - and I think you wrote that you think Swedenborg is a dualist. I want to believe that Swedenborg would be a monist.

 

Why, I wondered? Such is the subconscious attractiveness many Americans have for nonduality and monism. This love for nonduality is the unconscious desire to annihilate absolute duality in one’s mind and to become more mixed because this appears more balanced and fair to the natural mind—which is the external rational doing the thinking and which leads to corporeal spirituality when applied to spiritual things:

 

With those who conjoin the truths of the Word to the affection of the love of self, the natural mind also is closed, and only the ultimate of this mind is opened, which is called the sensual, which clings most closely to the body, and stands forth nearest to the world. Thus does man's spirit become corporeal, and then it can have no lot with the angels, who are spiritual. (AE 579)

 

Duality demands humility—“I am not God and I never can be. I am God’s creation and I’m next to nothing in comparison to God.” Or: “I am evil by nature but God is good. I can be saved by God from my evil nature and I can be good from Him.” The attractiveness of nonduality is the promise it gives of avoiding the suffering of regeneration. With nonduality, people don’t have to face the idea that heaven is only for the good, while hell is for the bad. They don’t have to be responsible for sustaining the idea that salvation is tied to the Word of the Lord and cannot be obtained from “strange fires.” (Lev. 10:1, AC 10244, 934) Nonduality offers the more convenient idea of “Universe as Spirit” or “God as Emptiness.” It is not as personal as the God of Abraham or the Son of God, thus easier to relate to without having to change, and it offers less demands on the self. The Writings reveal that in the afterlife, there is no belief in God in those who in this life annihilated in themselves the idea of God as Person. Without a belief in God as Person they cannot be reformed, regenerated, or saved from hell.

 

How important it is to have a right idea of God can be seen from the fact that the idea of God forms the inmost element of thought in all who have any religion, for all constituents of religion and all constituents of worship relate to God. And because God is universally and specifically involved in all constituents of religion and worship, therefore without a right idea of God no communication with the heavens is possible. So it is that every nation in the spiritual world is allotted its location in accordance with its idea of God as a person; for in this idea and in no other lies an idea of the Lord. (DLW 13)

 

Nonduality introduces in the Western mind a certain peace or quietude that comes from the idea that we need to be more detached. We don’t have to struggle so hard. We don’t need to be so desperately always trying to be better or good. There is the promise of a healthier consciousness, less competitive, less anxious, more self-confident, even to the point of unshakableness. This introduces a lulling sense of relaxing the pace of our struggles and of weakening the utmost determination to reform. Thus it runs contrary to the most important task we have in this world--to cooperate with the Lord in our regeneration, which must be effected through the long-term accumulation of all those little struggles daily (BE 69, TCR 615, 577). The good news is that as we advance in our regeneration, the Lord gives us more and more rest and peace. This is felt from within and looks down upon the continuing struggles and stress as something far and distant and ultimately so small. We do not wish for detachment but pray for the Lord’s will to be done. This peace we have from the Lord is peace indeed, whereas the lulling nonduality of some good mixed with some evil, is not peace in our New Church mind, but spiritual paralysis and obscurity.

 

Chapter 1, Section 7

 

7. Definition of nonduality

 

The universal principle of faith must be in each thing and in all things of it. … The universal principle of faith on man's part is that he should believe in the Lord (TCR 2)

 

Every idea or concept in the Writings contains the fundamental duality, which is here called “the universal of faith.” In the same way every idea that derives from nonduality has nonduality as its central core presupposition. Every single idea of nonduality is therefore antagonistic to any idea from the Writings, which contains only spiritual-rational ideas. This is because the ideas that derive from the Writings have dualism as their central core presupposition. Dualist ideas are rational, spiritual, and celestial (AE 708). Nondualist ideas are corporeal, sensuous, and natural. By mixing these two in the New Church mind, the dualist truths from the Writings are destroyed, and there remains something lukewarm (half-truth or falsified truth) about which the Lord warns against as damning (Rev 3:16; cf. DP 296).

 

Duality and nonduality can be compared to two different cognitive trees. The trunk is the central idea or supposition and all the branch ideas take their root from the trunk. Every concept therefore will have at its inmost, the core supposition it springs from. In the system of thought called nonduality, the central core is the eradication or dissolution of all duality. Any concept in nonduality that is admitted into the New Church mind will strive to eradicate whatever duality is within view. This may be seen from the definition of nonduality:

 

dvaita-advaita: (Sanskrit) "Dual-nondual; twoness-not twoness." Among the most important terms in the classification of Hindu philosophies. Dvaita and advaita define two ends of a vast spectrum.
--dvaita: The doctrine of duality, according to which reality is ultimately composed of two irreducible principles, entities, truths, etc. God and soul, for example, are seen as eternally separate.
--dualistic: Of or relating to duality, concepts, writings, theories which treat dualities (good-and-evil, high-and-low, them-and-us) as fixed, rather than transcendable.

--advaita: The doctrine of nonduality or monism, that reality is ultimately composed of one whole principle, substance or God, with no independent parts. In essence, all is God.

Hinduism's Online Lexicon.

(Himalayan Academy Publications on the Web at

/www.himalayanacademy.com/books/dws/lexicon/d.html (Accessed April 2002)

 

"Advaita" means "not two," nondual. This is the nature of Reality: it is indivisible. The Self is One. God is One. The Self and God are one and the same. This is Nonduality; this is Advaita.

(Society of Abidance in Truth (SAT) (Maharishi ). Found on the Web at www.satramana.org/sswhoare.htm Accessed April 2002)

 

I will present examples from New Church publications that contain articles about similarities between nonduality and Swedenborg. I will identify the specific incompatibilities to illustrate how subtle they may be and to show how they are to be refuted, marked, isolated, and kept from commingling with any ideas from the Writings. This activity is in no way sectarian or prejudicial. There is no condemnation or denigration of nonduality or its adherents. Instead, there is the necessity for the prudent disposition of these ideas in one’s own mind, to be sure they do not commingle with and thereby adulterate the ideas of duality from the Writings.

 

Second: Good and the truth of good can be introduced by the Lord into man's interiors only so far as the evil and the falsity of evil there have been removed. This is a necessary consequence of what has gone before; for as evil and good cannot exist together good cannot be introduced before evil has been removed. The term man's interiors is used, and by these is meant the internal of thought; and in these, which are now being considered, either the Lord or the devil must be present.

 

The Lord is there after reformation, but the devil is there before it; therefore, so far as man suffers himself to be reformed the devil is cast out; but so far as he does not suffer himself to be reformed the devil remains. Everyone may see that the Lord cannot enter so long as the devil is there; and he is there so long as man keeps the door closed, where man acts together with the Lord. (DP 232:3)

 

The Writings teach that in the age of the Second Coming, the only way to salvation is by instruction from the Writings, either in this world or in the afterlife (TCR 108, DLW 429; AC 1775). Entrance to the New Heavens cannot occur without acknowledgement and love of the Divine Human (Coronis 1; TCR 2; 121). This is the beginning and end for the New Church mind of all that is necessary for salvation and eternal life. But when we retain a penchant for universalism or pluralism we are hesitant to acknowledge the Writings as the only salvation and the only truth. But it is necessary that we guard against admitting into ourselves nondualist ideas from other sources because all nonduality is opposed to the dualities of the Writings, and therefore creates impediments to one’s regeneration. Nonduality is a parent idea with many offspring sub-ideas, and each of them singly is opposed to every idea in the Writings, which contains only dualist ideas.

 

All good and truth is from the Lord and remains the Lord’s even when it is in us (DLW 113). This good and truth is Divine and remains absolutely distinct and separate from anything in us. Because the Divine is in us we must not conclude that therefore we are Divine! The good and truth in us from the Divine is accommodated to each individual, and our use of it for choices is appropriated to us by the Lord. The good and truth is never ours and we can never become part of it (AC 9338). A permissive and uncritical attitude for nonduality can insinuate the thought that we are this good and truth that is in us. And this false notion further insinuates the idea that we are god. The entire intellectual thrust of nonduality is to have people accept this identity between self and God. Once this idea gains a foothold in our New Church intellect it spreads into all sorts of contrary views that are conjoined with corporeal affections which we all have from heredity. When this infernal union between unregenerate affections and unreformed ideas, becomes sealed in confirmation or in life, our faith is destroyed and our fate is doomed.

 

The following chapters will show how nonduality creates opposition or impediments to our regeneration, hence salvation.

 


 

Chapter 2.

Eastern Nonduality in Western Thinking

 

 

The Lord is present with His Divine good and truth with every person (TCR 580)

 

Chapter 2, Introduction

 

The New Age or Buddhist-like oneness blurs distinct discrete degrees between spiritual and natural light, and ends up making man the source of himself. C.S. Lewis had it right: We slide into pantheism when left to ourselves.

 

And esoteric experiences of channeling is inferior to the written Word, since such contacts can happen even if the will is intent on evil. A supernatural experience in any case just fades away, turning people into fanatics (De Verbo 29-13). The whole cosmos snarls up between Ego and God--anything but oneness with God! By contrast the Word is better and should come first (AC 129), and the truths of Nature or experie4nce can then confirm the Word (cf. SE 5709-5710; AC 2568, 2588). The New Age sees God and nature as different colored marbles rolling in the same plate: Pick whatever you like. The New Church sees them as discrete levels or planes, which correspond. One is intrinsically above the other in value.

(Rev. Erik E. Sandstrom, The New Age and the New Church (Part Two). New Church Life, June 2002, 251-260)

 

One theme resonates clearly in the Writings, reinforced in various ways in every work of Swedenborg. It is that the natural and spiritual worlds are distinct and discontinuous (non-overlapping and of different substance), but relate to each other by the laws of correspondences (D. Wis. 2). The spiritual world is not in time, space, and matter but is constructed of substances from the spiritual Sun. The natural world is in time, space, and matter and is constructed out of physical materials from the natural sun. This is one of the many basic dualities in Swedenborg’s Writings.

 

The dynamic relation between the spiritual and natural worlds is reciprocal. If God took away the physical world, the spiritual world would also disappear. And vice versa. The created universe is a fundamental duality: spiritual and natural, the two being interdependent, one “within” the other, both necessary to one another’s existence, yet always and forever remaining in different worlds, one natural in time-space, the other, spiritual, outside time and space. These two worlds cannot be the same or similar in a single thing; they are dual in every respect. The spiritual is the cause and the natural is the effect. Without an effect, there is no cause but something potential, imagined, or not yet real. Reality is born or created when cause and effect are brought simultaneously together by correspondence.

 

It is contradictory to say that nonduality can exist in our mind and not have a negative effect. All things that exist must have a prior cause (DP 157). If nonduality exists, it is an effect caused by a spiritual event to which it is related by correspondence. What has existence must be dual.

 

What else is there in life except "I will this, and I understand this," or in other words, "I love this, and I think this?" As a man wills what he loves, and thinks what he understands, so all things of the will relate to love, and all things of the understanding to wisdom; and since love and wisdom cannot exist in anyone from himself, but only from Him who is Love itself and Wisdom itself it follows that they exist from the Lord who is from eternity, that is, Jehovah. If they did not exist from this source man would be love itself and wisdom itself, thus God from eternity; but from this human reason itself recoils. Nothing can exist except from what is prior to itself; and this prior thing can exist only from what is still prior to it, and thus finally only from the First which is in its Self. (DP 157)

 

Chapter 2, Section 1

 

1. The Writings do not contain any nonduality

 

Is it possible that anything in the Writings can be compatible with nonduality? Here is what Van Dusen writes:

 

Though I have long suspected Swedenborg's theology was also non-dual, only recently did I find the real evidence. (…) Swedenborg's theology presents the non-dual in a kind of illuminating paradox. Divine Providence governs all things from the greatest to the very least (…) So far we can sum this up as: God rules all things, the basic non-dual position. In Hindu terms Brahman is the all.

 

God rules all things—this is the cornerstone of Swedenborg’s theology and science. I was surprised to see that this principle can be considered a non-dual position. The obvious duality is pictured by the concepts “God rules” and “all things.” These are in dual reality or status. God creates all things from Himself since there is nothing else from which creation can be constructed (DLW 283). The idea that created things can come out of nothing is shown to be irrational by Swedenborg, who reports that the wise angels who have knowledge far greater than ours, abhor the idea that something can come out of nothing (DLW 82, 283; DP 3). Therefore all things that are created by God exist in a reality that is outside God Himself. Duality is inherent in the idea of creation. Creation has no meaning at all if one removes duality from it. The fact that all things are created from God does not mean that these created things are God, for God and His substance and attributes, are uncreate, having no beginning, while all created things have a beginning, by definition. The distinctness between created things and uncreated is absolute, never to be transcended. Uncreate things include love, truth, and life in infinite variations. Created things include the physical world, the spiritual world, and the human mind. Created things are adjoined to uncreate but never become of one substance.

 

Further, it is not rational to say that God is the only reality when God creates reality, which is the universe and its order. In order to create reality God must be outside reality. Existence cannot be created from existence or within existence, but only from something prior to it and outside of it. The Writings teach that the Lord created the universe through Divine Truth from the Divine Love in Himself (DLW 290). Divine Truth is called His Existere, and Divine Love is His Esse. The Lord from His Esse created all existence through Divine Truth. From Esse, God can create existence or reality. Esse is prior to reality and is the cause of it. Esse, as source or cause, and existere or creation as effect, are in a dual relationship. One can never become the other and neither can be missing. Nonduality between God and creation is rationally an impossibility.

 

Everything created must needs be from an Uncreate. What is created is also finite, and the finite can exist only from the Infinite. (DLW 44)

 

Consider the difference in the Van Dusen quote above between “God rules all things” (an idea attributed to Swedenborg’s system) and “Brahman is the all” (an idea attributed to the Hindu perspective). These two propositions are entirely different in terms of what they assume and imply. The idea that God rules all things is the way Swedenborg phrases the creation duality. God rules all things in existence but not from existence, but from Esse or that which is prior and outside existence. This is the meaning of the Lord’s I AM (John 8:58), or as the Lord calls Himself: I AM THAT I AM (Exodus 3:14). Swedenborg explains that this expression refers to God’s Esse, which is infinite and uncreate, and in which infinite things form a one (DLW 17, 223). From this Esse which is outside and prior to creation and existence, God activates and rules all details in creation. This is a fundamental irrevocable duality.

 

The sentence “Brahman is the all” is represented as a central feature of nonduality. For example:

 

From The Song of Ribhu: The English Translation of the Tamil Ribhu Gita. Translation by Dr. H. Ramamoorthy and Nome. Published by SAT, Society for Abidance in Truth, 2000.

Advaita Vedanta, or the Teaching of Nonduality … reveals the utter absence of any differentiation between Atman (the Self) and Brahman. … Advaita (Sanskrit) … teaches the oneness of Brahman … with the human spirit-soul, … and the identity of spirit and matter; also that the divine spirit of the universe is the … all-productive cause of the periodic coming into being; continuance, and dissolutions of the universe and that this divine cosmic spirit is the ultimate truth and sole reality … All else is maya, in proportion to its distance from the divine source. … It is also regarded as both the efficient and material cause of the visible universe, … the essence from which all beings are produced and into which they are absorbed. The entire phenomenal world of beings, qualities, actions, all manifestations, and so on, is said to be an illusory superimposition on the imperishable substratum, which is Brahman.

(Accessed on the Web in April 2002 at nonduality.com/whatis9.htm .)

 

It is clear from this description of Brahman that it has no relation to God as described in the Writings. And in fact it is opposed to everything said by Swedenborg about God. There is no “oneness” of God with “the human spirit-soul.” Humans are part of creation and God is not part of creation nor can ever be. God must be outside existence to create existence. God creates all things from His Esse which is the cause of existence. God and created existence form an indissoluble duality. Existence is a perpetual coming forth from God and is recreated moment by moment so that it may subsist (AC 6056).

 

Love and wisdom cannot exist in anyone from himself, but only from Him who is Love itself and Wisdom itself it follows that they exist from the Lord who is from eternity, that is, Jehovah. If they did not exist from this source man would be love itself and wisdom itself, thus God from eternity; but from this human reason itself recoils. Nothing can exist except from what is prior to itself; and this prior thing can exist only from what is still prior to it, and thus finally only from the First which is in its Self.

(…)

All good and truth can come from no other source than Good itself and Truth itself. These things are acknowledged by every rational man as soon as they are heard. When it is afterwards stated that everything of the will and the understanding, or everything of love and wisdom, or everything of affection and thought in a man who is led by the Lord, has relation to good and truth, it follows that all that such a man wills and understands, or every activity of his love and wisdom, or of his affection and thought, is from the Lord.

(DP 157)

 

The Writings reveal that the persuasive belief and insanity that self=God led to the extinction of the first human race on earth (AC 5725). This evolutionary event is described in the spiritual meaning of the Flood and the story of Noah in Genesis (AC 553). The last generation of this race is referred to as the “Nephilim.” It is revealed that their persuasion destroyed the human will so that it was no longer possible for that race to be regenerated. The Lord then raised a new race in whom the will and the understanding were separated, and by means of this independent functioning, the subsequent generations were able to be regenerated. The natural correspondence to this new creation of the human mind caused the brain to also be split from birth, the left brain corresponding to the understanding in the mind, the right brain to the will (AC 641, 4052). Henceforth the dire persuasions of nonduality between self and God could be controlled and eliminated by the absolute duality of self and God. The duality is learned in the understanding as a religious motivation, and this is called faith. Afterwards the Lord creates a new will in this faith (AC 5354). This is the mechanism by which we are regenerated today.

 

Besides the idea that self=God, Hindu nonduality includes the notion of a “periodic coming into being; continuance, and dissolutions of the universe” (see The Song of Ribhu quote above). This says that once creation exists, it develops, changes, and goes through dissolution so that only “Dharma” remains. This notion of the universe is the opposite of what Swedenborg says about creation or existence, namely that it is permanent (DLW 168). There is no universal un-creation. Human beings are born on some natural earth, die, and awaken as a spirit in the spiritual world where they continue their individual existence to eternity, either as an angel or a devil (CL 355). There can be no relation whatsoever between Brahman and the Lord who is God-Man incarnated, showing Himself in history and having a Human character or Proprium. God loves what is good and truth and hates sin and evil inasmuch as “good hates evil” (AC 10618), while Brahman is represented as separate from both good and evil, who neither loves nor hates, who isn’t partial to human beings created and lost in existential illusion. For the New Church mind there cannot be salvation in nonduality; which is portrayed as a disappearance of individual personalities and character.

 

Van Dusen argues that since God has all power in the created universe the choices we make in life for good or evil are not real but an image of the real:

 

Now when we zero in on the person in the midst of this Providence we begin to see human life operating in the midst of essential non-duality. … We receive life and influx from God ... We are not really a life in ourselves but a recipient of life. All that we take to be our real self, where we feel in control is really a recipient outer vessel. We think we have prudence, the ability to decide, but we don't really have prudence (Divine Providence chapter 10) though it is intended that we seem to have it. … Now here is the essence of the paradox. When we try to reform ourselves, try to better ourselves by whatever our light of understanding, we are working on our external self. … God and Divine Providence are super ordinate to us since they [sic] are aware of the infinite and eternal in all things. So our apparent effort to improve ourselves is met by the Lord working within us. The Lord is super ordinate to us. So our doing is relatively an image within the real doing. Our effort at conjunction with God is met by the real and substantial work of the Lord. …

It is the case that we have no life from ourselves but by continuous influx from the Lord. It is the case that what we take to be our self has no power of its own, for all power is the Lord’s power activating every event and motion, and maintaining every thing in its created form. Life is uncreate hence it cannot be a substantive part of us, of our self. But from this point on one’s explanation could go in two directions: the way of nonduality and duality.

 

The mind in nonduality concludes that therefore there is no real self. It argues that since our prudence is not really prudence, our struggle to reform and regenerate is not real either, but merely another grasp at more illusion. This characteristic mode of nonduality always comes up against our struggle for reformation and regeneration, combating against it, hoping to weaken the burden and effort at character reformation. This feels attractive from a distance, with the seeping in of the lulling thought that maybe I won’t have to reject the delights and comforts of my evils.

 

The mind of duality concludes that therefore we need to get a right idea of the self from the Writings. And we already know that the Lord grants an as-of self for the sake of our contentment and freedom (xx). And we also know that we must struggle as-of self to act prudently according to our understanding (xx), and to act charitably to the neighbor according to the good in the neighbor (xx). And we are required to put up the effort of rearranging everything in our natural mind to be ordered consistently according to the Doctrine we have from the Writings (xx). And we are required to do all this with sincere motives and persistently without relenting, and with love unto the Lord in appreciation of His supplying the power and the wisdom for the process of our reformation and regeneration to be successful. If we do all this, then at last we are admitted into true human hood—a celestial mind in conjugial love in heaven to eternity. Everything about this wonderful Divine process is real and permanent. The same unique individual that lived on this earth eons ago, is that same individual who is now an inhabitant of a heavenly city, jointly with friends and citizens (xx). Nothing is lost from earth to heaven to eternity.

 

1. The Reality Of As-Of Self

 

Consider the conclusion of nonduality quoted just above: “So our doing is relatively an image within the real doing. Our effort at conjunction with God is met by the real and substantial work of the Lord.” This belief assumes a nonduality because it detracts from the reality of our as-of self efforts. Our doing is an “image within the real doing” does not take into account of the process of reformation and regeneration, in which our doing is the primary of it, this being our initiative or willingness to cooperate with the Lord. The Lord is waiting for us to take this initiative, for without it He cannot remove the interior evils of our character of which we are totally unconscious (xx). Yet it is these unconscious affections of evil delights that pull the string in our conscious external mind.

 

At first one might think that this is unfair. If we are puppets pulled by unconscious strings, why are we held responsible for detesting our evil delights?

 

But the answer comes when we continue to seek the truth about it. The Lord sees, knows, and maintains these affectional chains to evil societies in the hells. Our inheritance and our tolerance for evil delights prevents the Lord from breaking those chains. The process is compared to agriculture or to the digestion of food in the body and its use for energy and vitality (xx). These are physiological processes in that plants and body organs are constructed out of cells and the overall energy and vitality of the body, or the health of the plant, is determined by the cumulative integrated action of billions of cells in each plant or body. The process is constantly going on, constantly stepping through to the next cycle and motion of cells and the particles below the cells that are still more numerous, and down to the biochemical action of atoms, particles, and energies. From all this there is built up a global action such as the purposeful movement of a finger or the flowering of a plant. This same type of physiological process must take place at the mental level in our willing and thinking moment by moment.

 

You can see why reformation and then regeneration must take the entire life we have in the physical body (xx). To be reborn, to be reformed, to be regenerated in character in thousands of areas of living, in billions of acts of willing, thinking, doing for many years for millions of seconds. There is a lot to regrow, reinstall, rewire, for the will and the understanding are spiritual organs made of coiled fibers of great number (xx). Every moment of experience, every act of willing, loving, desiring, thinking, feeling, doing over our years here on hearth is “recorded” in the spiritual mind, “hard-wired” as it is said in computer language. Swedenborg has many times witnessed the opening of a person’s mind when they arrive into the afterlife, and it was proven to him that nothing is lost and that angels can read with ease and precision a person’s book of life (xx)

 

The Lord has now revealed in the Writings how He manages this psychological growth process called reformation and regeneration in every individual. The central feature of this process is the as-of self effort involved in rejecting evil delights, in resisting to do them, and in holding them in aversion or detestation. This is the real part of the process. It determines the pace and the outcome. The Lord does not, because He withholds Himself for the sake of the individual, and should He determine the pace and the outcome, the individual could never be regenerated, and it would be like condemning this person to hell forever (xx). Obviously, to let us determine the pace and the outcome is in the Lord’s Divine order, from His infinite compassion for the human race. And this is what makes the process of spiritual growth real—each of us in that struggle by our own determination.

 

The idea that God alone has power does not imply that only God is real and that we are not real, or, our self is not real, etc.. Created things are real and define the real because they have been created in Divine rational order. Even appearances are real (AC 4882). For instance, the appearances in the spiritual world are real despite their instantaneously come and gone character. The as-of-self is an appearance of acting from self—this as-of-self is real. By saying that God alone is real, one implies that all things created are not real. And yet everything God creates is real. Creation implies reality. Appearances brought about by correspondences are real. The natural world is real. Even a dream is real: the imagined events are real spiritual productions, instantiated through the action of spiritual societies who are in communication with the sleeper. There never is a “oneness” between God and creation as supposed in Hinduism and Buddhism. Rather, God’s love is nothing unless it can be given to created others who are not God:

 

It is the essential of love not to love self, but to love others, and to be conjoined with others by love. It is the essential of love, moreover, to be loved by others, for thus conjunction is effected. … Divine Love must necessarily have being (esse) and have form (existere) in others whom it may love, and by whom it may be loved. … It is impossible for Him [God] to love others … in whom there is … anything of the Divine. For … it would be … God loving Himself. … Consequently, … there must be others in whom there is nothing of the Divine in itself. (DLW 47-49)

 

Created things are finite and are never Divine, but the Divine can be in them:

 

Of things created and finite Esse [Being] and Existere [Taking Form] can be predicated, likewise substance and form, also life, and even love and wisdom; but these are all created and finite. This can be said of things created and finite, not because they possess anything Divine, but because they are in the Divine, and the Divine is in them. For everything that has been created is, in itself, inanimate and dead, but all things are animated and made alive by this, that the Divine is in them, and that they are in the Divine. (DLW 53)

 

Every feeling in our will and every thought in our understanding is from the Lord and is real—nothing whatsoever that we do is from ourselves (DP 157).

 

2. No Overlap Between Nonduality And Duality

 

Continuing with the Van Dusen article:

 

So the highest teaching of the Upanishads and of Hindu advaita vedanta also exist in what Swedenborg found in his great exploration. The non-dual position in Hinduism helped me to see it in Swedenborg's writings. But in a way, the writings better illuminate the human situation by providing a direct way to move from a dualistic struggle to oneness. The very struggle of mankind is Divine Providence at work in the greatest and even the least of things. Our struggle is an aspect of Divine Providence at work. There are other ways where the writings of Swedenborg see reality in a unitary way. But this is a good first statement. All our efforts to improve ourselves do not create an us-versus-God dualistic situation-but rather our efforts are a part of the working out of Divine Providence. We are better off to see it as such because that is the truth. In this way we can sense God working right in the midst of our situation.

 

Here it is asserted that the Writings, on the one hand, and the “Upanishads and Hindu advaita vedanta” on the other hand, contain overlapping ideas and explanations. But this is impossible since everything in the Hindu vedanta has nonduality within it and everything in the Writings have duality within it. In addition, the content of the Writings are the new truths and understandings of the new age of the Second Coming. This event of a new revelation replaces the old revelations when there is no longer any spiritual truth left (xx). The reason the Lord must wait for a full consummation is for the sake of the people, so that they may not profane the new truths. This doesn’t happen when there are no more spiritual truths because then people only see the literal of the revelation, and this cannot be profaned, even if denied or ridiculed. So it is a spiritual necessity that old truths and revelations are of no service to new truths and revelations (xx). All this is said about the New Church mind and is not a rejection or condemnation of whatever others choose to believe. There cannot be any overlap between the Writings and any other books or systems of explanation (xx).

 

Another assertion made in the above quote is  that “the writings better illuminate the human situation by providing a direct way to move from a dualistic struggle to oneness.” But there is never a move from struggle to oneness, meaning that the duality of self and God is permanent to eternity. It is further stated that “The very struggle of mankind is Divine Providence at work in the greatest and even the least of things.” But this is not so since the Divine Providence, although at work in the greatest and even the least of things, is not one with the things. We are not one with the Lord in our struggles for reformation, though we attribute the power to Him. Because it is His power, it does not turn us and Him into a one, for this is impossible from creation and Divine order (xx). And further, it is stated that “All our efforts to improve ourselves do not create an us-versus-God dualistic situation-but rather our efforts are a part of the working out of Divine Providence.” This is not so. The us-versus-God duality is permanent by creation and Divine order. The very purpose of creation is for God to have others who are not Him, whom He can make happy from Himself (xx). To make a one with Him is contrary to the purpose of creation and cannot exist.

 

Our efforts are empowered by God, true, but the duality remains: us and God. There never ceases to be a condition or state where the duality of “us and God” ceases. Even angels of the highest heaven and closest to the Lord are yet separate and distinct from Him (DLW 202). The Lord is the all in all in heaven and in angels and yet the duality remains. The Grand Human and God is an eternal duality. Everything is from God (DLW  53). But what we have from God is not God, but things from God, and though what we receive from God is Divine and is the same with everyone, each individual receives only what it can assimilate—and this is unique with each person (DLW 54). Therefore it is written that “not the least thing is the same as another” (DLW 226).

 

3. Appearances Are Real

 

Here is another example from an article in the Arcana journal (Swedenborg Scientific Association, Bryn Athyn) titled “In the Hindu Tradition: Appearance and Reality in the Relationship Between Finite Soul and Infinite Soul” by Michael Stanley (Vol. 1, No. 1, 22-34). The article originally appeared in the book Swedenborg and His Influence (edited by Erland Brock et. al., Academy of the New Church, 1988).

 

The Hindu View of the Self: Much Hindu philosophy, like Swedenborg, takes the line that anything that changes or lacks permanence cannot be said to be really real. … When we look into ourselves, what do we find but changing images, thoughts, ideas and feelings? Therefore any real self cannot be any of these…

 

The discussion just above showed that this is a general feature of nonduality, namely to want to make the self not “really real,” which as I pointed earlier, weakens the struggle to maintain permanent duality. It cannot be therefore that anything in the Writings can overlap with anything in Hindu philosophy. Here it is asserted that because the self constantly changes there is no “real self.” But constant change is of Divine order for real things, and especially for the human self, for which the Lord creates all things in the universe, and this constant creation will never end, for that is contrary to His purpose (xx). It is said in the quote that the “real self” cannot be the self that is constantly changing. And yet it is, for there is only one self, created immortal and unique to eternity. Every individual has such a self.

 

While it may be correct to think that nonduality was a genuine revelation thousands of years ago in Asia, it cannot sustain this genuineness when imported into the contemporary New Church mind. From the perspective of the Writings nonduality is likened to a vacuum—which it labels as an irrational concept and an impossibility. Angels abhor the idea of a vacuum (DLW 82), and we can add on similar grounds that they would reject the idea of nonduality.

 

We know that the self is real. The proprium is real. Change of character (or regeneration) is real. By Divine Law all created things change and no two things can be identical. Permanence is not a condition for reality since reality consists of continuous change, and a reality without change is impossible because not rational and purposeful. Reality is the universe created into a rational order in accordance with God’s rationality or wisdom which is uncreate and has no beginning. All things in the created universe must have reality. God is not part of the reality of created things but the Creator of reality. The created universe is outside God, not within Himself. This duality between God and created things cannot be removed or transcended. It enters into every single created thing such as rocks, animals, the self or proprium, thoughts, affections, heaven, hell. Nonduality cannot exist as a property of reality since it is opposed to the fundamental duality of God and created things.

 

Continuing with the Arcana article by Dr. Stanley:

 

The central reiterated teaching of the Hindu Upanishad Scriptures is that my true or Higher Self (atman) is identical with the creator of all forms (Brahman). Atman is Brahman. The appearance I have of being a separate isolated individual is an illusion. … This apparent self is termed by Swedenborg the “proprium” …Quoting Arcana Coelestia 4623: “Whatever comes from the Divine (that is, from the Lord) is real, because it comes from the very being of things, and from life in itself, but whatever comes from a spirit's own is not real, because it does not come from the being of things, nor from life in itself.”

 

Again, what the Writings mean by unreal is opposed to what nonduality means when saying that the self is “unreal” or an “illusion.” Nonduality says that the self is unreal, and the only thing real about us is our “Higher Self” which is “identical” with God, and therefore we are God, and only illusion of self keeps one from realizing one’s divinity. The notion continues: once we learn how to empty ourselves from self, what remains is God. Once this persuasion is established in the mind, one can read the Writings in the literal and without integrating passages, one can have the impression that Swedenborg supports this type of nonduality in one or more respects. In the above quote the author uses a passage in the Writings to support the nondualist idea of the unreal self. But it is clear that the quoted Number from the Writings does not give support to the nonduality between self and the Lord. Note that it contrasts two ideas: “whatever comes from the Lord” versus “whatever comes from a spirit's own.” It does not contrast “the Lord” versus “the self.” And it says that whatever proceeds form the Lord is real because it is good and true, and only this has real existence. This is the existence we have when the Lord’s good and true is appropriated to our self. And this appropriation only happens when we reject whatever comes from self, which is evil and falsity. Therefore the contrast is between good and truth versus evil and falsity, and the latter is unreal because it is only a fantasy and an insanity.

 

The nondualist system does not see that it is irrational to say that self becomes God and is God. To say that “My true self is identical with the creator” is not a rational thing to say from the perspective of the Writings. It is a total misunderstanding to say that Swedenborg teaches this view. The Writings teach that the literal of the Word can be used to support any heresy or fallacy, especially by the ingenious (TCR 254). But when these fallacies and heresies are examined from a rational perspective such as we gain from the Writings, it is straightforward to see and show the misunderstanding in it. Here we see a clear misunderstanding of the notion of the proprium and what is real and not real. The proprium is real because it is created by God and God creates only real things. The quote above given from Arcana Coelestia says that “whatever comes from a spirit's own is not real” and this is taken to mean that the proprium or self or ego is not real. Instead, it means that evil, which is what comes from the proprium, does not have within it anything from God, that is, truth and good. One can clearly see this when we look at the full number referred to in the Stanley quote:

 

AC 4623. But be it known that the life of sense with spirits is twofold, namely, real and not real. The one is distinguished from the other by the fact that everything is real which appears to those who are in heaven, whereas everything is unreal which appears to those who are in hell. For whatever comes from the Divine (that is, from the Lord) is real, because it comes from the very being of things, and from life in itself, but whatever comes from a spirit's own is not real, because it does not come from the being of things, nor from life in itself. They who are in the affection of good and truth are in the Lord's life, thus in real life, for the Lord is present in good and truth through the affection; but they who are in evil and falsity through the affection, are in the life of what is their own, thus in a life not real, for the Lord is not present in evil and falsity. The real is distinguished from the not real in this-that the real is actually such as it appears, and that the not real is actually not such as it appears.

 

[2] They who are in hell have sensations equally with others, and are not aware but that everything is really or actually just as it appears to their senses; and yet when they are looked at by the angels, the same things appear as phantasms, and disappear, and they themselves do not appear as men, but as monsters. It has also been given me to speak with them on this subject, and some of them said that they believe things to be real because they see and touch them, adding that sense cannot deceive. But it was given me to reply that no matter how real these things may appear to them, they nevertheless are not real, and this because they themselves are in things contrary or opposite to the Divine, namely, in evils and falsities, and moreover are themselves nothing but fantasies insofar as their thoughts are concerned, to the extent that they are in cupidities of evil and persuasions of falsity; and to see anything from fantasies is to see things that are real as not real, and things that are not real as real; and that unless it were given them of the Lord's Divine mercy to have their senses affected in this manner, they would have no sensitive life, consequently no life at all, because that which is sensitive constitutes the whole of life. To adduce all my experience on these subjects would be to fill many pages.

 

[3] Therefore when you enter the other life beware of being deceived, for evil spirits know how to conjure up illusions of many kinds before those who come fresh from the world, and if they cannot deceive them, they nevertheless thereby endeavor to persuade them that nothing is real, but that all things are ideal, even those which are in heaven.

 

Clearly then one cannot say that self is unreal when it explicitly states that the self in heaven is only real, while the self in hell is full of fantasies that are not real. The contrast here is between the self in which the content is from hell (unreal fantasies) and the self in which the content is from heaven (real realities). What is real and unreal is not the self but the content of the self, this being fantasy (in hell) or reality (in heaven). For reality is good and truth from the Lord while unreality is turning these into their opposites.

 

The notion that nothing is real except God is a persuasion that puts us at risk of spiritual deception and illusion. The Writings give a clear definition: “The real is distinguished from the not real in this-that the real is actually such as it appears, and that the not real is actually not such as it appears” (above quote in AC 4623). Hell is real and to the inhabitants of heaven when they look down, it appears as it is in reality—deformed and devoid of rationality. But to the inhabitants of hell the appearance there is not such as it is, and this (appearance) is what’s unreal.

 

4. The Proprium Is Real

 

To continue the thought of the Arcana article by Dr. Stanley:

 

Swedenborg agrees with the Hindu view that although man has the ego experience he cannot be said to actually have a thing called an ego [proprium]. As opposed to the pure soul itself, ego is essentially unreal. My self as I feel and experience it to exist, is an illusion. As Swedenborg puts it, “There is not anything proper (proprium) to man, but it appears to him as if there were” DP 78:3

 

Here again nonduality misconstrues what the Writings say about the proprium. The full number makes it clear that the evil self doesn’t have the Divine within and yet is fully and inexorably real, permanent, and allowed to keep itself in disorder by the Divine Laws of Permission (DP 234). This is the meaning of the assertion above that this evil “is appropriated to him as his own, and remains with him”:

 

The reason is that man's proprium and his freedom make one. Man's proprium is of his life; and what a man does from his life he does from freedom. Further, man's proprium is what is of his love, for love is the life of everyone, and what a man does from his life's love that also he does from freedom. Man acts from freedom according to thought, because whatever  is of the life or love of anyone is also an object of thought and is confirmed by thought; and when it has been confirmed then he does it from freedom according to his thought. [2] For whatever a man does, he does from the will by means of the understanding; and freedom is of the will, and thought is of the understanding.

 

Moreover, man can act from freedom contrary to reason, and he can also act according to reason and not from freedom; but such acts are not appropriated to the man, being only the acts of his lips and of his body, and not of his spirit or heart; but the acts of his spirit and heart, when they also become the acts of his lips and of his body, are appropriated to him. That this is so could be shown by many illustrations; but this is not the place for them.

 

[3] By being appropriated to man is meant to enter his life and become part of it, consequently to become his own. However, it will be seen in what follows that there is nothing that is man's own: it merely seems as if it were. Here it needs only to be said that all the good which a man does from freedom according to reason is appropriated to him as his own, because in thinking, willing, speaking and doing it appears to him to be his own; and yet, the good is not man's but belongs to the Lord in him, as may be seen above (n. 76). But how evil is appropriated to man will be seen in the proper article. (DP 78)

 

This passage explains that what is appropriated to the self remains forever. Further, that both evil and good can be so appropriated. Clearly then what is appropriated and belongs to the self MUST BE REAL. When evil is appropriated to the self, it is a real appropriation of real remains and it is permanent. When good or truth is appropriated to the self, it is a real appropriation that is permanent. Clearly it is not possible to have the self drop away or empty itself, as is predicated in all of nonduality.

 

2. (to be completed)

 

Chapter 2, Section 3

 

3. The notion of ”experiencing nonduality”

 

My research on the Web indicates that the Hindu idea of nonduality has been incorporated into the Western intellectual diversity. A google.com search on nonduality yields thousands of Web sites, almost all in the United States. For example:

 

Experiencing Nonduality is the path, the means and the realization of our true nature as unqualified Oneness, Consciousness or Presence. Nondual proclaims the truth that everything is an expression of unqualified Oneness. It is the ‘pathless path’ we traverse while healing our misperceptions of separation. And it is the means we utilize in realizing this truth of Oneness. Experiencing Nonduality is the path of welcoming all that is. Ultimately, nothing needs to be changed. Everything is always unfolding in mysterious perfection—always. This is the first and final understanding.

Experiencing Nonduality by Richard Miller, Ph.D. Web document accessed April 2002:  www.nondual.com/advaitayana.html

 

Everything in the Writings contradict this perspective on life and reality. Everything in the Writings insist on duality everywhere and always. We are born immortal spirits and God’s purpose for making us is to elevate our consciousness into the celestial spheres of our mind. Eternal life in heaven is a ceaseless growth towards human perfection (LJ 12). It never ceases for every individual who achieves this celestial state through regeneration. Individuality is unique from birth to eternity (ISB 14, AC 5354; DLW 226; CL 355). Once an individual, always an individual. Nonduality in the Western intellect advocates the “pathless path” that “welcomes all that is” because “nothing needs to be changed.” The opposite is taught in the Writings of Swedenborg. Our path is straight and narrow, and only welcomes that which is good and true. Ultimately, everything needs to be changed because we are born infernal and totally corrupted in spirit and needing to become a new creation so that we may enter the celestial state (AC 4594[2]).

 

Without personal effort at changing our character (loves and understandings) there is no new creation of the spirit called regeneration. The Lord cannot heal us by His own omnipotent power, or else He would do that to all, such is His universal love for the human race (DP 91). Our regeneration is effected solely by means of temptations of character provided by the Divine Therapist day by day, minute by minute (AC 227). Such is the amazing close connection between the Lord and the New Church mind. This is the first and final understanding of the Writings.

 

Continuing with Dr. Miller on nonduality:

 

Experiencing Nonduality is an exploration into the nature of Oneness and is not in the becoming process for we cannot become what we already are. There is nothing we can add to our self to make our self one iota better. We are already perfect as we are.

 

It is not possible for the New Church mind to experience “inner peace” with the idea that “There is nothing we can add to our self to make oneself one iota better.” The Writings reveal that we are all born for heaven, but to attain that capacity requires mental growth in the rational-celestial direction (DP 324). The Lord is actualizing every stage of our mental development according to the laws of Divine Providence which He has revealed in the Writings. As we struggle and choose as-of-self, He builds us up unconsciously from the interior so that when we are ready to leave this earth, there is a heavenly place for us to go to, or be in. The experience of struggle and hassles only ends when we enter the celestial state (Peace or Sabbath rest), but the mental development continues even within the inner peace we then have (AC 2249[3] ). This reflects the fact that the Lord is already perfect and always was, while we are not and never will be—another fundamental duality. But in His mercy and love, we are to become more and more perfect endlessly (SE 5566; AC 2249[3] ).

 

Another example of the Americanization of Hindu nonduality is found in the work of Jerry Katz who founded a Web discussion community called “Nonduality Salon”:

 

“There is the natural state. It invites itself into itself. And this invitation of itself into itself is given many names, such as satchitananda, being consciousness bliss. It invites itself into itself. .... Bliss is generated from this coming of the natural state into itself. Consciousness is another word for the churning of the natural state. Being is being the natural state …The problem is the suffering of it. Not it. I'm sure I've done all kinds of crazy things in my life, but one understanding has never changed since the age of 7. I AM. That plainly shines forth.

(Nonduality Salon at www3.ns.sympatico.ca/umbada/ Accessed April 2002):

 

Nonduality is a point of view that opposes the struggle of regeneration in the New Church mind, and therefore it is a spiritually harmful belief system to the New Church mind. The goal of nonduality is ego-oriented, namely to attain bliss in one’s “cosmic” consciousness. The Writings teach that bliss is given not as a goal in itself but as a consequence of the goal of altruism or charity. No one is born for oneself but everyone is born for others (TCR 406). Altruism, which is to love others as much as oneself, is the end state of life’s struggles. It alone brings the peace of heaven where the thoughts and feelings of each is communicated to all for mutual benefit (HH 399). Nonduality leads to irrational conclusions such as identifying oneself with I AM (as in the above quote by Mr. Katz), which in reality can only be attributed to God as Esse from which He creates and governs all that exists (NJHD 309).

 

Chapter 2, Section 4

 

4. “Sacred Tantric Sex” versus Conjugial Love

 

Another instance of nonduality as corporeal spirituality are the notions given in relation to Tantric sex. According to one text titled “A Contemporary Guide to Sacred Sexuality and Sex Magick” (accessed in April 2002 on the Web at www.geocities.com/iona_m/Virtualtantra/ball-lightning.html ) sex is the path to immortality and divinity:

 

Tantra presents the ultimate Nondual reality as the sexual embrace of God and Goddess, of Shiva and Shakti, of Emptiness and Form.

 

"I am in the creature's desire." – Krishna

 

"The union of man and woman is like the mating of Heaven and Earth.

It is because of their correct mating that Heaven and Earth last forever.

Humans have lost this secret and have therefore become mortal.

By knowing it the Path to Immortality is opened." - Shang-Ku-San-Tai

 

"Sexual love is the purest energy of the divine state,

for lovers in their embrace form one angel." – Swedenborg

 

What a curious reference to Swedenborg in this context! It is presented as a direct quote but we can tell that it is not (no actual reference is given). The Writings do not use the expression “sexual love” so it must be a rendering for conjugial love. Neither do the Writings talk about “energy” in relation to conjugial love. And the appearance of a husband and wife as one angel when they are seen from a distance (CL 42) is here fancifully modified to refer to the embrace of lovers.

 

Other similar notions are further given:

 

The core experience of Tantra is revelation of its sexual secrets.  Sexual union symbolizes the quintessence of the elements.  Sacred sex reveals eternal truth and transcendence.  It is a way of redemption -- union of the personal self with the transpersonal Self. 

 

The acts of the lovers mirror the primordial creation and subsequent fecundity.  In desiring his opposite, the Supreme Being impregnates Nature.  The attraction of the two principles for each other engenders all life. Neither asleep nor awake the spirit is set free by perfect exhaustion of the body.  Through tantric sex a twilight state is produced.   Then there is a dramatic paradoxical shift from sympathetic arousal to the afterglow of parasympathetic tranquility. This "calmed violence" is the essence of the Real.

 

Here it is asserted that “sacred” sex reveals what eternal truth is and is a way to redemption. Once again we see here the persistent view in nonduality that some particular act of the body has the spiritual effect of salvation and divinity.

 

Another version of what is called spiritual or sacred sex may be seen in this sample called Kundalini:

 

Orgasms CAN be used to increase spiritual/life energy. It depends what you do with the energy, your attitudes around sexuality. Especially for Women, but for men it is intensified if they learn to have orgasms without ejaculating. Partly, because you can have more orgasms, and build your energy with each one. Of course we release energy.

 

It's about how clear you are to the free flow of energy through you, shaping your life, not how much is stuck inside. It can be another way to love yourself and give love to Gaia. Focus on unconditional self-love, give thanks for being alive and having a body that can feel pleasure. In Orgasm, release the energy out through the top of your head, and through your feet, with love for the beautiful planet.

(“Mind Body Spirit Kundalini the Grounding” on the Web at www.domin8rex.com/serpent/spirit/gaia.htm Accessed June 2002)

 

Consider the statement in the Tantric Sex Guide quoted above: "The union of man and woman is like the mating of Heaven and Earth” In the New Church mind there already is the idea that the union of man and wife is through conjugial love—a celestial-rational concept that can be understood only by those who study the Writings and strive to live according to its rational truths. This husband-wife union is holy and angelic. On the other hand heaven and earth do not “mate” and do not form a union—ever. Heaven and earth, or the spiritual/celestial and the natural, are in correspondence of discrete degrees and no union is possible between them. There is not a “mating” between angels of the Second Heaven (called spiritual Angels) and those of the First Heaven (called natural Angels). There is only a relation by correspondence and no direct communication, contact, or overlap in substance and form (De Verbo 3). However, we say instead that there is a marriage (or union) between the Lord (or heaven) and the Church, or the church in each of us. The church within us is in the mind, not the earthly body. There can never be a “mating” between the body on the earth and the church in the mind for they are in discrete degrees. The Writings define the Church as heaven on earth, by which is meant, heaven in the mind of the person still living on earth (HH 57). All dualities must be maintained because they are unique permanent distinctions that never cease to eternity (DLW 226).

 

Comparing the union of man and wife (“woman”) to the “mating” of heaven and earth destroys the real duality of order into which the universe is created. It fudges and obscures the discreteness (duality) of the natural and the spiritual. It also empties conjugial love from its rational basis. The conjugial union between man and wife is angelic and takes place only in continuous degree. Obviously both husband and wife must belong to the same heaven or level of consciousness. All that is within one heaven is in continuous degree, not discrete. There cannot be a union between a man in the First Heaven and a woman in the Second heaven, or vice versa! Angel couples are united in a “sexual embrace” like on earth, but the offspring is spiritual (SE 6110). It is further specified:

 

Love of the married partner does not result from the sexual embrace, as with adulterers, but the sexual embrace from the love of the partner; so that the love of the partner does not depend on the fire of that organ, but the reverse. The love of the partner is full of delights, irrespective of sexual intercourse, and is a delightful dwelling together. Between that love apart from the sexual embrace, and the sexual embrace itself, there is a determination, just as there is between that which a man thinks from the will, which is intention, and act, or speech. Between these, intervenes determination, which is as it were the opening of the mind to doing a thing, like the opening of a door. (SE 6110)

 

The Writings show that the mind/body duality is the same as the duality between the spiritual and the natural. Consider the statement in the David Loy quote above: “The sense of a within apart from the world is the self-delusion that needs to be overcome”. By accepting the notion that mind and body belong to the same realm, the idea of correspondences is destroyed, and so is the idea of discrete degrees. As a result, the person sinks down into the state of corporeal spirituality discussed above, and this is an infernal state in the afterlife:

 

Evils are as it were heavy, and fall of themselves into hell; and so also falsities that are from evil (n. 8279, 8298). (HD 170)

 

1. Nonduality Between The Physical And The Spiritual

 

Nonduality between the physical and the spiritual is clearly visible in the following excerpts of an article on sexuality at the Web based Yoga Research and Education Center:

 

The dynamics between biological needs (specifically genital urges) and higher evolutionary or transpersonal aspirations is a crucial part of all moral, religious, and spiritual traditions of the world. Typically we experience these two sets of wants or needs as being at war with each other: Don’t let the cerebrum know what the genitals are doing. Suppress your desires. Curb your sexual curiosity. Feel ashamed about having genitals. Feel guilty about sex.

(…)

This body- and sex-negative orientation is epitomized in the religious doctrine according to which the “flesh” is the enemy of the “Spirit.” For love to be “pure,” it must be devoid of sexual connotations. At best sex is regarded as a necessary evil. As the British mathematician-philosopher Bertrand Russell observed, this view has caused millions of people untold misery. For they had to suppress their sexual instincts in the hope of a better life in the hereafter where they, as sexless angelic beings, could participate in the joys of heaven beyond all genitality and sexual complications.

(…)

This dualistic [sic] idea, which splits the human being into genital or sensual and spiritual or ascetical compartments, is at home in Christianity and Judaism as much as it is in Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. For instance, the ancient Rig-Veda, the “Old Testament” of Hinduism, records a domestic quarrel between Sage Agastya and his wife Lopâmudrâ. Their quarrel, of course, was over sex or rather the lack thereof. Agastya, who was a renowned ascetic and a paragon of the virtue of chastity, was neglecting his husbandly duties. He preferred to meditate in solitude over making love to his wife. Understandably, she was beginning to feel frustrated and started to complain and make demands.

(…)

This struggle, which has brought many would-be ascetics to their knees, has been fought by men and women ever since religions began to propagandize the idea that in order to fulfill spiritual life one must curb the passions of the flesh. Whole traditions arose that were based on this mistaken idea, namely that communion with the Divine, or God-realization, depends on repressing or confining the sexual urge.

(…)

For the ascetic, lust is the ally of death. The reason for this is that the loss of semen signals to him the loss of power, energy, and hard-earned merit. The ascetic needs good merit to cheat the iron law of karma, and he requires the body’s energy to accomplish the magnificent work of self-transformation that is the goal of all austerities. The ascetic is a hoarder at psychosomatic energy. He guards all bodily openings, especially the genitals. Semen is, for him, not merely semen but a substance of power that must be accumulated, not squandered. The typical ascetic is always worrying about the involuntary loss of semen, or becoming sexually aroused to the point where he loses control over his thoughts.

(…)

Both the Tantric master and the Taoist adepts knew that sexuality in itself is not a hindrance to spiritual maturation. They promoted, on the contrary, the idea that an impotent eunuch stands a slim chance of realizing the supreme potential of spiritual evolution—enlightenment or liberation. Instead of recommending the anxious suppression of the libido lest it should interfere with the sacred task of spiritual transformation, they favored a sex-positive philosophy. They even designed special practices to utilize this most powerful impulse in us for the process of psychospiritual transmutation. Of course, they did not condone the kind of “sexploitation” that is the liability of the ordinary individual, particularly in our post-sexual-revolution days. Rather, they were interested in the right use of the sexual energy.

(…)

However, the left-hand approach which involves sexual intercourse with a suitable partner, has the advantage of increasing the level of psychosomatic energy and thus of including the physical dimension in the process of psychospiritual transformation. Actual sexual intercourse involves an energy exchange between the partners in the Tantric ritual, which enhances the unification process that is strived for on the level of consciousness.

 

At the point of enlightenment, the Tantric practitioner realizes the transcendental unity of Male and Female, Shiva and Shakti. This condition is known as “great delight” (mahâ-sukha) since it cannot be diminished by anything, not even by the act of ejaculation, which typically concludes the male partner’s experience of sexual pleasure in ordinary circumstances.

 

Tantra is the technology of joy on many levels—from sexual pleasure to transcendental bliss. (…)

 (“Sex, Asceticism, and Mythology” by Georg Feuerstein on the Web at www.yrec.org/sex_ascet.html  Accessed June 2002)

 

The commentator’s nonduality perspective shows in how he interprets the flesh and spirit theme in traditional religions. He calls this “dualistic” which he sees as contrary to our nature, which is that we are as much as our body as our mind—both, mixed, equal. This nonduality sees the duality model as un-natural and psychotic. This same nonduality is also responsible for the Western idea of chivalry and pure love, namely, that it is spoiled by sex when it is brought down to that level. Religious or moral purity was seen as incompatible with sexuality. On the surface this looks like a duality, as seen by those in nonduality. But actually this is also a nonduality since it assumes that spiritual chastity and natural sexuality were on the same continuum, except that one was high up and the other was low down. Duality would be different. It sees that sexuality and spiritual purity go together as integral parts to the unity of the conjugial couple. It is not sensuous sex and mental sacredness that are the opposite ends of a continuum. The Writings define chastity, not as those who are virgins, but marrieds who reject all forms of adultery or pornography (CL 152, 452). Until you practice conjugial sex, you cannot be totally chaste, pure, and holy.

 

If a man concentrates his love upon his wife, by shunning adultery as sin, then love with its potency increases daily; but if men take from that love and consume it with harlots, conjugial love becomes like chaff, and dies.

(…)

There is no lasciviousness in conjugial love, for lasciviousness is unchaste. There is the identical sensation with those who are in conjugial love; consequently, there is nothing unclean, but pure. It appears as if there were, but yet there is not. The reason is, because inwardly in conjugial love, even to the ultimates, is heaven, and inwardly in the love of adultery is hell; and the ultimates of each appear similar, as to their delights, but yet they are not. The difference is not perceived except by conjugial love. (SE 6110)

 

Note the commentator’s details about “tantric sex” which are practices that instantly destroy conjugial love, union of husband and wife, and consequent eternal angelic bliss and blessedness in the New Church mind. The nonduality perspective leads one to the notion that the sensations from sexual activity through the physical body can generate energy that raises the individual to divine consciousness and being. But the New Church knows from the Writings that physical energy can never generate spiritual effects such as consciousness or understanding. Rather, the duality in the Writings teach that physical energy or sensation can never come into contact or have a direct effect on spiritual things. The only relation between the physical and the spiritual is that of correspondences from the spiritual to the natural, and never the other way round (D. Wis. 2).

 

Christian spirits cannot endure the spiritual sphere of the feminine and the masculine. They cannot endure the spiritual sphere of conjugial love; and the hells, at such times, are roused to fury. They cannot endure the sphere of nakedness between married partners; and, at such times, flee away. They cannot endure any sphere of love from a married partner. They loathe the sphere of customary [intercourse]; that is, when conjunction with the wife becomes ordinary, or freely permitted, it produces nausea. (SE 6110:65)

 

2. Conjugial Sex In Heaven

 

The attempt to overcome sexual guilt became a cultural movement in twentieth century North America. Sexuality was declared normal and healthy. Again the nonduality between natural and spiritual led to a pendulum swing so that sexuality became something you have to explore and in which you have to find yourself. Among Christians, even without the Writings, sexuality was accepted as healthy and normal within marriage only. At least, as an ideal. And this means they have a spiritual motive for resisting adultery. When they arrive in the afterlife and are instructed about conjugial love, they can accept it with enthusiasm, and they enter heaven. It is important therefore for Christians not to confirm the idea that sex and heaven do not co-exist (CL 27).

 

Love of the married partner does not result from the sexual embrace, as with adulterers, but the sexual embrace from the love of the partner; so that the love of the partner does not depend on the fire of that organ, but the reverse. The love of the partner is full of delights, irrespective of sexual intercourse, and is a delightful dwelling together. Between that love apart from the sexual embrace, and the sexual embrace itself, there is a determination, just as there is between that which a man thinks from the will, which is intention, and act, or speech. Between these, intervenes determination, which is as it were the opening of the mind to doing a thing, like the opening of a door. (SE 6110)

 

The idea that there is no sex in heaven is a Christian nonduality. The Writings give us a rational solution to this puzzle, namely, that sex in the physical body and sex in the spirit-body are a discrete duality forever separated. Heaven is part of sex through the heavenly body which is a more perfect rendition of the physical body in its early youth (HH 414). Sex among conjugial pairs in heaven is performed through this more perfect human body (HH 386, CL 46). Angels are called holy because they operate from the Lord’s Proprium (or Character) form inward influx into their will and understanding (AC 9820). Everything they do is holy, therefore also their sexual activity.

 

[They enjoy] delights and pleasures by the mere touch of hands and of lips, when they think from love, such things from the Word, from objects, from various concordant delights, as are applicable. They have exquisite sensations of their separate, and of their common [states]. These arise from the delights of affection and thought, and of the conjunction thereof; and the sensation is the more exquisite as the conjunction is more interior. That there is such delight from the conjunction of female and male, is because there is such [from that] of good and truth. There are still more delights of conjunction of the external senses, as of sight, of hearing, of smell; particularly of the respiration, in which innumerable things lie concealed: they lie concealed especially in the sound itself of the speech. (SE 6110)

 

The above discussion illustrates the rational debunking process the New Church mind can go through to deconstruct the hidden implications of nondualist concepts one is exposed to. A complex system of thought can generate innumerable concepts arranged in a hierarchy, at the top of which is the chief idea. The chief idea of nonduality is that all duality is transcended in nonduality. Below this are its many concepts, each containing in its center the chief idea that spawns them. The lower the hierarchy continues and the further it slides from the top, the deeper is the chief idea hidden within it. Without practice in deconstructing the hidden assumptions it is hard to see where nonduality enters into such things as pluralism of realities, relativism of truths, transcendentalism, spiritual meditation, vegetarianism, healing by touch, or psychic energy. Counting things like these as spiritual acts is the view given in nonduality. One might be tempted to adopt some of these practices and believe that one is doing a spiritual thing. (See further discussion in Chapter 6).

 

Chapter 2, Section 5

 

5. Gurus and Karma

 

1. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

 

A popular form of Eastern nonduality in Western countries is the corporeal spirituality of the followers of Maharishi and practitioners of transcendental meditation. The Web details its activities through “Vedic Universities” dispersed through many countries, and doing research on corporeal spirituality. One instance of this may be seen in the nonduality concepts they use for the relationship between physical energy and spirituality:

 

"Maharishi's Science of Creative Intelligence, which connects modern science with ancient Vedic science, is the foundation of all knowledge -- complete knowledge -- and therefore is the basis of complete fulfillment. Introducing the Science of Creative Intelligence and the Maharishi Technology of the Unified Field into education is the one way for all mankind to stop violation of Natural Law and end the long tradition of problems and suffering in life individually and globally." Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

 

Transcendental Meditation opens the awareness to the infinite reservoir of energy, creativity, and intelligence that lies deep within everyone.

 

"By enlivening this most basic level of life, Transcendental Meditation is that one simple procedure which can raise the life of every individual and every society to its full dignity, in which problems are absent and perfect health, happiness, and a rapid pace of progress are the natural features of life." Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

 

As a new science of consciousness, the Science of Creative Intelligence® provides a practical means to unfold the permanent experience of higher states of consciousness and offers the theoretical understanding of that experience which is necessary for the most rapid growth towards enlightenment.

 

Transcendental Consciousness is the home of all the Laws of Nature, the pure field of creative intelligence from which all of creation arises. By contacting this pure field of creative intelligence one experiences directly the nature, range, development and application of this field of creative intelligence which governs everything in creation.

 

The Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health offers comprehensive programs which are prevention-oriented, time-tested, free from harmful side effects, and easily applied. This approach re-establishes the balance between the body and its own inner intelligence through Vedic knowledge and its application.

 

Maharishi Vedic Vibration Technology utilizes a refined impulse of Vedic sound, or Vedic vibration, to enliven the inner intelligence of the body and restore proper functioning.

(“Maharishi's Science of Creative Intelligence” on the Web at www.vedicvibration.com Accessed on the Web in May 2002)

 

There are two ideas contained in this approach we need especially to consider. First, the idea that what creates the universe is called “creative intelligence” (“which governs everything in creation”) and is something that the individual possesses. This comes from the idea that self and God are one and the same and forming a nonduality. Second, the idea that this “higher consciousness” can be reached by meditation and physical procedures with the body, a nonduality between the body and mind. Transcendental laws of consciousness and creative intelligence are in the same continuous degree with the physical world (“Transcendental Consciousness is the home of all the Laws of Nature”).

 

The first idea denies the absolute duality of the Lord and creation and the second denies the discrete degrees between natural and spiritual. Either of these two denials bar entry to the New Church and prevent regeneration and consequent salvation. This applies to the extent that the denials are confirmed by reasoning and applied to daily life.

 

2. “Supreme Master” Ching Hai

 

A current “living Master” of nonduality who draws audiences of thousands in Western cities and other tours, is known as Supreme Master Ching Hai. She often refers to Jesus as a  former Master and frequently uses expressions and ideas from the New Testament like the idea that the Kingdom of God and hell are “inside of ourselves.” Also, that Satan and evil spirits “or demons” exist, and these are commingled with ideas from Eastern religions like karma, guru, God-realization, and reincarnation. Here is a sample of her explications and commentaries on these topics:

 

Satan is born of the kingdom of God too, which is inside of ourselves. When we act against the good and true principles of life, we become the instrument of the dark forces. But the negative powers are okay too. They make life exciting and make life come into existence. Otherwise, we would all be sleeping in heaven! Nothing to do.

(“The Teachings of The Supreme Master Ching Hai.” on the Web at www.chinghai.com/TOPICS.html  Accessed May 2002)

 

According to this notion, hell exists, but mainly for people who are very disturbed in their minds--people who are virtuous and good never experience hell, and those who are “initiated” by Ching Hai, never have to go to hell. Hell is portrayed as a great hospital to help people whose spirits and minds are sick. It is compared to

 

hospitals on earth where illnesses are cured. … So it is better that we always think good, do good, and talk good, think God, do God and talk God, and to realize God is even better. … So we cannot say that the evil is within or without us. It is both, just like God is within and without us and everywhere. (Ching Hai Ibid)

 

These notions are opposed to the Biblical ideas in multiple ways. It reinterprets what hell is to fit the ideas of nonduality. Since it sees each person as God in reality and self in illusion, hell becomes a temporary “hospital” where the self is healed from its insanities. Further, Satan is part of the “kingdom of God,” evil things “make life come into existence,” and in heaven there is “nothing to do.”

 

Continuing with Ching Hai:

 

So when we meditate, we use the technique to tune into the Kingdom of God, we are always in the Kingdom of God. It is just like a radio, you can tune into different stations. … God is nothing but ourselves. While in the previous level, we thought that God was separate from us. It isn't easy to explain, but for the first time we act without thinking, without even knowing what we are doing. We become the author of everything without collecting karma. This is what Jesus was describing when He said I do what my Father is doing. (Ching Hai Ibid)

It is a consistent theme in nonduality to say that “God is nothing but ourselves.” It is also common to refer to Jesus as a human being like we are who has achieved enlightenment by becoming one with God. It is asserted that when we reach this enlightenment we too can say that we are one with the Father and that we do nothing but what the Father does (“We become the author of everything”). Here is another way in which our divinity is asserted:

 

No matter how good our intentions may be, we have to first seek the Kingdom of God, the supreme power within us, and we are connected to it. That is why it is said, "God made man in His own image." Image doesn't mean our profile, body or way of life. It is the image of the invisible power that we are made of. … We are the co-workers of God. … Should we one day reach God-realization, then maybe we can talk about destroying and creating with our own hands.

 

Karma is a concept that sounds attractive to many Westerners because it seems logical and fair. Part of its acceptance is a superficial similarity to the oft repeated Biblical assertion of a connection between sowing and reaping (e.g., “He who sows injustice will reap calamity” (Prov 22:8.6); or: “As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” (Job 4:8.12). But karma is always bound to reincarnation, as in this statement by Ching Hai:

 

There are two types of karma: human karma and universal karma. Men's laws are governed by an invisible force that cannot be grasped by human understanding. This is called in Sanskrit 'karma', meaning the Law of Cause and Effect. It is mentioned in the Bible as 'What you sow, so shall you reap.' There is good and bad karma, but both imply attachment for you on earth. After initiation, the karma from past lives will be erased, but the Master does not touch the karma from this life. If not, you would die immediately. We must stay here for a while to bless the world and to help our friends. Afterward, we can go to Heaven and return whenever, if this is our wish. Karma is an invisible force, very fair and strong. What we have created will come back to us. This is the law of cause and effect. (Ching Hai Ibid)

 

The reference to “initiation” designates a divine act of the “Master” or guru by which she claims to “erase karma” for the individual who is being initiated into her discipleship. Comparisons between the Master and Jesus abound, as here:

 

A real Master can only give and not take. His disciples are comfortable but the Master has to suffer. That is why it is said that Jesus had to uplift mankind and that He had to be crucified. He couldn't enjoy any privilege. That is why people scolded Him and crucified Him. … When you see darkness every day and he gives you the light, then that is a guru. And then the sound must also be heard, because, In the beginning was the 'Word' and the 'Word' was God. If you don't hear the sound, then you have not completely contacted yet with God. The light is only one attribute of God; not perfect. You have to also hear the sound. … By coming in contact with these vibrations, or the so-called 'Word" in the Bible, we become all-knowing, we become all-power, all-blessing, all-virtuous, all-satisfied, all-happiness and all-bliss bestowing to the people in our environment, and even to our surroundings. Our surroundings will be blessed with out presence. Everywhere we go, those beings, or those places will become sacred. …  (Ching Hai Ibid)

 

This reflects an amazing but typical amalgam of Bible concepts and Hindu/Buddhist nonduality. The act of “remembering” that you are God bestows the divine powers of a Master:

 

Masters are those who remember their origin and, out of love, share this knowledge with whomever seeks it, and take no pay for their work. … When we reach this level of mastership, not only do we know our origin, but we can also help others to know their true worth. … While a living Master is on earth he takes on some of the karma of the people, especially those who believe in the Master, and even more so those who are disciples of the Master. … A Master has to manifest a physical body to take on all the troubles and sufferings. … Any Master has to go through this kind of thing [suffering for others]. You can see it for yourself, even Buddha, Mohammed, Christ and many other Masters in the East or West.

 

As is the case with many of the activities within guru-type relationships some of the ideas and practices are not publicized and disciples are warned not to discuss initiation details with others who are not disciples. Her followers must go through initiation steps at various levels. This is said to prepare the disciples for spiritual evolution, liberation, and enlightenment. This salvation process cannot progress without the Master’s direct intervention which is done unbeknownst and unconsciously through the spiritual powers of the Master who is present everywhere where disciples are. This includes coming to the disciples in their dreams and other secret modes not disclosed. The divine-like power of Masters lasts up to 500 years, independently of their physical body. This is why, according to Ching Hai, “the power of Jesus” has long vanished from the world.

 

About the claim of erasing the disciple’s karma, a relevant comment in the Writings may be this:

 

Truth is falsified when it is said that sins are wiped and washed away like filth by water; and truth is still more falsified when it is said that man has the power of remitting sins, and that when they have been remitted, they are altogether wiped away, and the man is pure. (…) There are countless such things as these, for there is not a single truth which cannot be falsified, and the falsification confirmed by reasonings from fallacies. (AC 7318)

 

The notion by which many secular truth seekers are attracted is the promise that there is something beyond human thinking that is reachable through specialized training procedures. In my thirties I once agreed to have a postal relationship with a guru who lived thousands of miles away. I would read his books and lectures, listen to this tapes, follow a prescribed dietary regimen, stay out of trouble, continue with my employment, and continue my study of the guru’s writings and communications. I would have to meditate every day and fixate my inner gaze on a visualization of the guru sitting before me, and slightly elevated and surrounded by light. It was then that the guru would “come to me” and instruct me. All I had to do is to fixate my attention on the visualized image of him.

 

I had to learn to imbue this image with spiritual strength, which came from full obedience and devout worship of the guru. The more I was to worship him in visualization and daily practice, the more I was to gain power to imbue his visualization with real spiritual energy. This energy is given by the guru, but sometimes by other enlightened masters who “were active” in that period or sphere. This process would then continue indefinitely. In the meantime, the guru would communicate with me by letter, or on occasion in face to face visits, and inform me how well I’m progressing. Sometimes this is to be done in statements, sometimes by super-conscious contact. The disciple is expected to experience these super-conscious contacts by peculiar sensations in the body.

 

There is no content to any of this, as you will notice. The result is either in the experiencing of corporeal images and sensations—called ecstatic states, or, in the experiencing of something near to emptiness of consciousness or absence of anything particular. I enacted for a few months being a long-distance disciple and then I quit, having no motivation to continue. I wanted something I could understand, not feel. From then on I was never attracted again to gurus. I gravitated to “thinking” paths to truth—Cabala, numerology, astrology, I Ching, anthroposophy—but did not stay long with any of them, until at last I read the New Testament. Here I found a thinking man’s haven for truth with explanations, parables, specific principles of living, and specific description of the end result. This made sense to me. And a year or two later I found the Writings. I saw immediately that this above anything else I’ve read, is filled with the content of truth and the specifics of the end results. I wasn’t left wondering about “the rest of it.” I wasn’t promised anything obscure or mystical or corporeal. Just the simple truth of reality such as it is created by the Lord, moment of existence by moment of existence for every single thing or detail. Hardly anything can be simpler to understand than the true reality.

 

Note this important reality:

 

It is the understanding which acts from the will, not the will which acts by means of the understanding. (TCR 105)

 

This is the great heavenly secret that protects the New Church mind from being attracted to gurus and related nondualities. Everything promised and expected in the guru / master relationship with the disciple rests on the idea that it is the will which acts by means of the understanding, but we know that it is the understanding which acts from the will (TCR 105). The guru / master relationship with the disciple requires that the disciple allow the guru or master to come into the will and from there the master acts by means of the disciple’s understanding. The resulting action is supposed to be the guru acting through the disciple, not the disciple acting from self. This kind of relationship turns the disciple into a zombie role who no longer acts from its own willing and thinking. Nothing human is left in that life (xx).

 

Of course this is only an enactment of no longer being human, not a real situation of actually not being a human. One can never lose one’s humanity, which is to be in internal liberty to act in accordance with one’s understanding (DP 87).The reality is that it is the disciple, not the guru, that keeps the relationship going. For at any moment the disciple can quit. However thinking from oneself is not easy when we are in persuasive faith (NJHD 118). As long as we hold on to the persuasive faith, we do think from our own self. Thus we lead a life in which we act like we are not really human, mimicking a zombie. When this game is carried all the way the person may lose all motivation to ever give up the delusion and thus to remain in it forever. Swedenborg has met many people who live in that state in the portion of the spiritual world called hell (SE 4875, 5015). This portion of the human mind is called hell because it is devoid of any good and truth. When disciples enter the afterlife in such inner persuasion they become spiritual slaves to those there who claim the status and power of a guru. However, they don’t call themselves gurus but “gods” (SE 4723).

 

3. Hell Is A Choice, Not A Punishment

 

The New Church mind is freed from the idea of karma since we know that no one gets punished in the afterlife for the sins of this life. Bishop Pendleton discusses this idea under the topic, “Why Ex Post Facto Laws are Contrary to Order.” He points out that the constitution of the U.S. forbids any legislative body to pass a law that punishes people for doing something that was not illegal before the law was passed. “Ex post facto” is Latin for  a law passed “after the deed is done.”

 

This prohibitive principle has its origin in a law of the spiritual world. No one is punished in that world for evils he has done here, but for those he does there. The evil state acquired returns after death, and leads him to do similar deeds. For these he is punished, but not for those done in the former life. (See AE 989; SD 3489). If he then refrains from committing them, there will be no punishment. (Pendleton, Topics, p. 11)

(see Note 2 at end)

 

Karma is a mechanical concept of nonduality, while the idea of “no ex post facto punishment” is a rational and moral concept of duality. The idea of undergoing cycles of karma through reincarnated lives creates a continuum between this life and the next life. The relationship is described by a mechanical balance model—the amount you sin in this life will set you back by that much in the next reincarnation, until you can learn to balance right and wrong, and then you ascend by the amount of negative karma that you get rid of. The suffering you are experiencing now is a punishment for the sins of your former life.

 

But in the Writings we learn that an absolute distinct and permanent duality is created between this life and the afterlife. Nothing happens to you in the afterlife because of something you did in this life. It’s easy to fall into this false idea when we read:

 

He who thinks against God is rarely punished in the natural world, because there he is always in a state subject to reformation; but he is punished in the spiritual world after death, for then he can no longer be reformed. (DP 249)

 

When evil spirits are in this second state, as they rush into evils of every kind they are subjected to frequent and grievous punishments. In the world of spirits there are many kinds of punishment (HH 509; see below for the rest of the quote).

 

But note that this only establishes the fact that there are punishments in the afterlife. It doesn’t state what these punishments are for. These are not for misdeeds committed in one’s life on earth:

 

When evil spirits are in this second state, as they rush into evils of every kind they are subjected to frequent and grievous punishments. In the world of spirits there are many kinds of punishment; and there is no regard for person, whether one had been in the world a king or a servant. Every evil carries its punishment with it, the two making one; therefore whoever is in evil is also in the punishment of evil. And yet no one in the other world suffers punishment on account of the evils that he had done in this world, but only on account of the evils that he then does; although it amounts to the same and is the same thing whether it be said that men suffer punishment on account of their evils in the world or that they suffer punishment on account of the evils they do in the other life, since everyone after death returns into his own life and thus into like evils; and the man continues the same as he had been in the life of the body (n. 470-484).

 

Men are punished for the reason that the fear of punishment is the sole means of subduing evils in this state. Exhortation is no longer of any avail, neither is instruction or fear of the law and of the loss of reputation, since everyone then acts from his nature; and that nature can be restrained and broken only by punishments.

 

But good spirits, although they had done evils in the world, are never punished, because their evils do not return. Moreover, I have learned that the evils they did were of a different kind or nature, not being done purposely in opposition to the truth, or from any other badness of heart than that which they received by inheritance from their parents, and that they were borne into this by a blind delight when they were in externals separate from internals. (HH 505(

 

It is clear from this that the punishment in the afterlife is for the deeds committed there and not on earth. Note well that if we love evils in this life, they remain forever. These evil loves, or lusts and cupidities, prompt the individual in the afterlife to commit deeds that are forbidden there. Punishment is then dispensed for those deeds. The punishment is as severe as is needed for the individual to desist from doing the forbidden acts. Experience shows that no other method but severe punishments can help those individuals to suppress their lust from being expressed outwardly as a deed. Examples of such punishable misdeeds include

 

infesting the upright in the other life who are being vastated as to the truths of faith that belong to the church, a vastation they need to go through for reformation (AC 7502)

 

thinking and speaking lasciviously, which in the spiritual world are automatically communicated to other spirits, creating disturbances (AC 829)

 

having abominable principles: as that wives, especially those that are young and beautiful, ought not to be for a husband, but for themselves and their like, which disturbs those to whom the ideas are communicated (AC 829)

 

those who have acquired truths from the Word but mixed them with disorderly thoughts by hypocrisy or inward irreverence for them—they must be isolated from contact with other spirits and kept confined in a deep hell (AC 1008)

 

thinking that a sharing of sexual intercourse between women and men to be not only allowable, but even holy, and reviling marriage, undergo “very severe” punishment until they desist from engaging in such intentions (SE 1976)

 

those who outwardly put on an appearance of friendliness, but inwardly wish others ill, even condemning them to hell;  they undergo “grievous punishment of dismemberment as to the whole head” (SE 3170)

 

those who are in the “endeavor to sunder the love of a wife by such allurements from that of her husband” (SE 1788)

 

those who attempt to rise in the spiritual world above hell for the purpose of infesting other spirits (SE 4471)

 

sirens who seek to obsess men, thinking they are still on earth with them; they get punished  by “laceration as to the head and bones, which were in fact completely broken, with excessive pain - a punishment continued for a long time, even for hours” (SE 4420)

 

those who attribute everything to their prudence are forced to live with dragons and serpents that bite them (SE 3747)

 

“those who are carried away by the lust for virginities” are punished by the sensation that they are “mounted on a mad horse that bucks them up and forwards … which seems to them to be trying to kill them” (SE 2704)

 

The above is but a small sample!

 

Chapter 2, Section 6

 

6. (to be completed)

 

 

Chapter 2, Section 7

 

7. The Writings are not like other books or systems

 

I quote from an article by David Loy titled “The Dharma of Emanuel Swedenborg”:

 

Perhaps this understanding of our mental life becomes more meaningful if we relate Swedenborg's doctrine to two fundamental Mahayana Buddhist teachings: the denial of a duality between subject and object, and the denial of duality between mind and body. Both resonate deeply with important Swedenborgian claims. The denial of subject-object nonduality is found in many Mahayana canonical texts and commentaries. As the Japanese Zen master Dogen put it, "I came to realize that mind is no other than mountains and rivers and the great wide earth, the sun and the moon and the stars."(10) If there is no self inside, it also makes no sense to talk about the world as being "outside" one's mind. Everything becomes "my" mind.

(David Loy “The Dharma of Emanuel Swedenborg: A Buddhist Perspective” which appeared in Arcana (Journal of the Swedenborg Association) Volume 2, Number 1, 1995, pp.11-35)

 

To the New Church mind it would be harmful to adopt this perspective because of the possibility of allowing our mind to slip into nonduality by agreeing with the Zen master above who equates his mind with the physical world. The literal of the Old Testament is also filled with passages that exhort mountains, rivers, stars, and animals to worship and exalt the Lord (AC 6435). But we are not to confirm this appearance with an elaborated theory or philosophy. Instead, we must look for a spiritual message, such as the idea that angels are within the natural objects mentioned and animate them so that they appear alive and existing or changing as if on their own. But the Zen master did not say we should look for a rational meaning within the physical world. He said the opposite, that we should empty our mind from all the dualities that reveal the many distinct things in our mind and to have nothing there but the physical world--“There is no self inside.”

 

And yet we know from the Writings that there is no identity, connection, or overlap whatsoever between the mind and the physical body and universe (DLW 186). They communicate only by means of correspondences (D. Wis. 2). No section of the mind is part of the physical body. They are distinct in content and substance. They each exist on their own account, though they depend on each other for survival. All of the mind is part of the spiritual world from birth to eternity. To identify body and mind, as the Zen master does, is to fall into corporeal spirituality.

 

More on this will be said below.

 

Continuing with the Arcana article by David Loy:

 

I think this illuminates a Swedenborgian claim which is otherwise difficult to understand: he writes that the divine influx is not experienced as coming from our internals, rather it comes through the forehead into our internals: "The influx of the Lord Himself into man is into his forehead, and from there into the whole face" (HH 251). If I understand this correctly, the implication is a very Buddhist one: not (as in so much Christian mysticism) that we must realize the God within, but rather that the sense of a within apart from the world is the self-delusion that needs to be overcome. How is this delusion of self to be overcome? Dogen also provides a succinct explanation of the Buddhist approach: "To study the Buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly. "

 

The Number of Heaven and Hell (251) cited in this quote ends as follows:

 

The "forehead" corresponds to heavenly love, and consequently in the Word signifies that love ... The "face" corresponds to the interiors of man, which belong to thought and affection … The face is formed by correspondence with the interiors ... Consequently the "face," in the Word, signifies the interiors …

 

Clearly then the physical forehead or face is not meant and the Buddhist implication drawn does not hold. It is said by Dogen in the quote above that we become actualized by forgetting self and realizing that “your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away.” But the Writings teach and prove that the physical body only drops away at death and that we then continue life to eternity in a spiritual body that houses our soul and spirit (AC 5354; CL 355). Therefore the body/mind duality never stops though it changes to reflect the new environmental laws of the spiritual world. From the perspective of the Writings it is not possible or meaningful to achieve self-realization by eliminating body/mind duality. Far from being “emptied” of quality and character, the angelic mind and consciousness is enriched and infilled with new and superior qualities and character. When we become genuine human beings in the angelic form our interior is enriched and made more complex, not more meager or empty.

 

A further example may be given from an article by Michelle Rose titled “Common Ground: Echoes Between the Tao Te Ching and the Writings of Swedenborg” (Arcana 1994 v1 n2 pp. 35-41). The author introduces the subject by saying that “The Tao Te Ching is widely recognized as sharing basic truths with many religious scriptures, such as the Bhagavad Gita and the New Testament.” (p. 35). To attempt to show this she selects particular passages from Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu in parallel to particular passages from the Writings. Two examples may be given here:

 

[25] Man follows the earth. Earth follows heaven. Heaven follows the Tao. Tao follows what is natural.

For the influx from the Divine passes first into the perception which is of the understanding with the man, thence it passes into the will, and next into act, that is, into good work, which is use, and there it ceases. When the influx of good and truth from the Lord makes this passage, then the good and truth are appropriated to the man; for then the influx goes down into the ultimate of order, that is, into the ultimate of nature, whither all Divine influx aims to come. (AC 8439)

[28] Be the stream of the universe! Being the stream of the universe, Ever true and unswerving, Become as a little child once more.

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; … 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. (AC 8478)

[2] Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty only because there is ugliness. All can know good as good only because there is evil.

for every good there is an opposite evil, and for every truth an opposite falsity … nothing can exist without relation to its opposite …and from this all perception and sensation is derived. (HH 541)

 

The author doesn’t give explanations for these comparisons. As I look at them, I can see parallels but only by going from the Writings (right hand side) to Lao Tsu (left hand side). But in itself the Tao statements are natural without any rational content. Without rational content there is no spirituality for the New Church mind. Lao Tzu says,

 

“Therefore the sage is guided by what he feels and not by what he sees. He lets go of that and chooses this.” (On the Web at www.chebucto.ns.ca/Philosophy/Taichi/lao.html Accessed May 2002)

 

Note that for the New Church mind there can be no reliance on what we see or what we feel or discover within ourselves. None of this can contain any rationality or spirituality for us. The only source of rational-spiritual ideas is the conscious reading of the Writings as the Lord in His Word (NJHD 257; AC 8939; TCR 340, 347; SS 111; SE 5961).  You can see why one cannot exaggerate the importance of studying the Writings daily for the purpose of applying it to our daily activities. We can practice Tai Chi for the health of our body and natural mind but we cannot reach spirituality through it by ‘becoming one with the flow of the Dow, with nature’:

 

The main principle of T'ai Chi is to understand the flow of energy--our energy, as well as the energy of others. The question is how to deal with energy coming towards us in any form, whether it is physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.

 

A well-executed power discharge should include these elements: strong internal strength, the use of the Yi (mind/intent), qi (bio-energy), whole body force, total relaxation. For power discharge to be effective, you need to accumulate strong internal strength first; otherwise, it is useless.

(Tai Chi Magazine on the Web at www.tai-chi.com/magazine.htm accessed May 2002)

 

From the rational perspective of what the Writings say one can look down upon what Lao-Tsu says about the natural and see in his statements purely corporeal metaphors.

 

The interior can perceive what takes place in the exterior, or what is the same, that the higher can see what is in the lower; but not the reverse. (AC 1914)

 

The fact that one cannot go from Tao Te Ching to the Writings clearly shows that there is in fact no relationship to the Writings within the statements of Tao Te Ching. But the fact that one can go from the Writings to the Tao Te Ching indicates that it is often possible to infuse natural statements and insights with rational ideas. This is a form of confirmation of spiritual things in the natural, that the Writings consider useful and allowable (DP 317, SEM 4657). But it’s crucial to see that the infusion must be from the rational to the natural, and cannot be done the other way round (DP 318). Nothing in the Tao Te Ching can contain anything spiritual from itself because spiritual is defined as rational things from the Writings. Thousands of years separate Lao Tsu from Swedenborg, and the span is filled by the First Coming of the Lord and then the Second Coming.

 

A redemption has also been accomplished by the Lord at this day, because at this day is His Second Coming according to prophecy; by which, having been an eye-witness thereof I have been made certain of the truth of the foregoing arcana. (Coronis 21)

 

To-day the Second Coming of the Lord is taking place, and a new church is to be established (TCR 115)

 

The New Testament contains interior spiritual revelations (AE 514[20] ). They are the highest rational things given to humankind until that period. They could not have been given to any prior generation in a sensuous way through the Divine Natural of the Lord until the Incarnation. Similarly the revelations of the Second Coming given through the Divine Rational of the Lord could not have been given to any generation prior to Swedenborg. All comparisons between Swedenborg and prior authors must draw an absolute line between them so that the semantic content of one can never reach up to the semantic content of the other as they are in a discrete relationship. Just as no idea of the second heaven can be similar to any idea of the first heaven:

 

The difference between the natural, the spiritual, and the celestial is such, that there is no ratio between them, for which reason the natural can in no wise by any approximation approach towards the spiritual, nor the spiritual towards the natural; hence it is that the heavens are distinct. This it has been given me to know by much experience; I have often been sent among the spiritual angels, and I then spoke with them spiritually, and then, retaining in my memory what I had spoken, when I returned into my natural state, in which every man is in this world, I then wished to bring it forth from the former memory and describe it, but I could not, it was impossible; there were no expressions, nor even ideas of thought, by which I could express it; they were spiritual ideas of thought and spiritual expressions so remote from natural ideas of thought and natural expressions, that they did not approximate in the least. (De Verbo 3).

 

The duality between levels of revelation must be maintained within discrete degrees. If comparisons are made across revelations and similarities are drawn there is a certain danger in the New Church mind lest it falls into nonduality. To think that the Tao Te Ching contains insights similar to the Writings is to put the two into the same discrete degree. But they are not.

 

1. Rational Versus Corporeal Spirituality

 

The rational spirituality revealed in the Writings is thoroughly dualist and opposed to corporeal spirituality in nonduality. The Grand Human has been cited as a nondualist concept in the Writings, especially this: “In the eyes of the Lord, the entire human race appears as one man” (HH 78). But to call this nonduality is a misinterpretation. The “oneness” in the Grand Human is a functional unity of diverse and disparate parts (societies), each different and unique, acting together in coordination and form, by which is produced the Grand Human (HH 64). The more there are unique parts the greater is the perfection and unity of the whole when acting as one (HH 56, LJ 12). This is opposite to the concept of nonduality where the thrust is always on eliminating differences, not maintaining them.

 

The corporeal spirituality of Eastern nonduality is active today in the American culture. The ancient explanations about prana, qi, or chi energy is recast in modern concepts of “bio-energy” and “life-force” and “spirit.” One popular version is called “Reiki energy” which denotes patterns of personal energy that are said to be “subtle” and unique “like fingerprints.” It is associated with holistic health, natural healing systems, and new age spirituality. It is performed by certified practitioners sometimes called Reiki Masters.

 

Reiki is a natural healing method that uses the hands of a healer to channel energy to another person through chakras or energy centers.  It has been practiced for thousands of years. It was reintroduced in the 1800's by Mikao Usui in Japan.

(“Reiki Therapy.” Accessed on the Web in May 2002 at www.debreiki.co )

 

When a Reiki session is experienced, all kinds of thoughts and feelings come up and out. The client simply witnesses them as they show their face in order to say goodbye. This gentle process requires courage. Little by little, negativities are released from the body, mind, and soul. Along with them go their problematic symptoms, such as stress, anxiety, tension, and many physical or emotional difficulties.

(“What is Reiki?” Accessed on the Web in May 2002 at

 

A distance treatment is an advanced Reiki technique for transferring energy without actually physically touching the persons or objects being treated. As modern physics teaches us, the relationship of energy and matter to time and space is relative. Just as the energy involved in a phone call between people half a world apart can travel almost instantaneously, so Reiki energy can also travel (though our understanding of exactly how this occurs is less complete than for the telephone example). Distance treatments should only be given by Second or Third Degree practitioners.

(Questions Frequently Asked About Reiki. on the Web at www.whidbey.com/turtle/reiki/reikifaq.htm Accessed May 2002)

 

The nonduality between physical energy and “spirit” makes rational consciousness irrelevant and abstract. It leads to the total flattening of meaning of what is spiritual leading to absurdity, as in this advertising:

 

With Love and Guidance from the Angels, you can receive your own private Angel Reading with either Florence Ondré, Thomas Freeman or both. They have been consciously working with the Angels together for over 12 years and are internationally requested for their loving, empowering, accurate messages with practical guidance for everyday life.

 

They are in touch with a large host of Angels including the archAngels Gabriel, Michael, Ariel and Raphael. They will be in contact with your Guardian Angels ( yes, you all have at least two of them) and your Spirit Guides. They also work with bereavement groups, families and individuals to connect with those loved ones who have already made their transition.

 

Past Life exploration can also be a part of your special session.

 

One of their greatest gifts is to connect you with your own Angels, empowering you

with your own abilities to communicate with the Angels.

(On the Web at www.reiki1.com/Pages/angelreading.html Accessed in May 2002)

 

 


 

Chapter 3.

Christian Nonduality

 

Falsities ought by all means to be rooted out (INV 16)

 

Chapter 3, Section 1

 

1. Introduction

 

 

New-age belief systems in the United States are generally couched in nonduality. They constitute an intellectual opposition to Christian ideas of God based on the Bible and the Writings. Specifically these are some of the persuasive ideas that are potentially harmful to Christians:

 

*    God is the only reality.

*    Creation is the splintering of the God-consciousness into individual minds filled with temporary qualities that appear to have real existence--good and evil, true and false.

*    Salvation consists in remembering oneself as the only God and emptying oneself of all that is good or evil, true or false.

*    This can only be accomplished by becoming a disciple to a self-realized “Living Master” who has divine-like powers for appearing unconsciously to the disciples and effecting healing, forgiving, and setting things right.

*    Without this intervention people are compelled to live the life of karma through many reincarnations.

*    Progress towards liberation from this life of illusion is possible through meditation, vegetarianism, and the abandonment of moral and intellectual distinctions and struggles.

*    At one point one experiences enlightenment and cosmic consciousness. One discovers and remembers oneself as the one God. In that highest state one is capable of omnipresence and omnipotence and one shares the bliss with others, helping them to the same realization.

 

Regarding reincarnation, the mystery was forever solved and laid to rest in the revelations of the Writings:

 

God's omnipotence shines forth also from the heaven that is above or within our visible heaven, and from the globe there that is inhabited by angels, as ours is by men. There are wonderful testimonies there to the Divine omnipotence; and as these have been seen by me and revealed to me, I am permitted to mention them. All men that have died from the first creation of the world are there; and these after death continue to be men in form, but are spirits in essence. (AE 1133)

 

Imported ideas of nonduality are harmful when Christians adopt any of them because they weaken the fundamental love they must have for the Lord—the First and Greatest Commandment. The Writings teach that one cannot love an unknown and invisible God (TCR 339). Salvation and eternal life depend on allowing the Lord to regenerate us. This is possible only to the extent that we cooperate and suffer ourselves to undergo spiritual temptations (NJHD 197; AC 227). We cannot accomplish this without acknowledging in our mind the Lord as the Divine Person to Whom we must go for every step in our regeneration (AR 750). Any nonduality that removes the duality of a Divine Person, distinct and separate from self, interferes with our ability to think of God as Divine Person. This is a form of Christian paganism (AR 750).

 

This potential danger also applies to New Church members and can only be guarded against through reasoned reflection based on the logic and rationale of the Writings. There is an attractiveness of Hindu and Buddhist ideas to the Western intellect that is imbued with notions of universal fairness and non-exclusion of any race and creed. This liberal or cosmopolitan cultural attitude forms the intellectual and moral context for New Church persons in North America today. There is an eagerness in reaching out and making connections, and Hindu and Buddhist notions are readily seized upon as similar to ideas in the Writings.

 

These attempts at connections may not pose a serious danger when it is left at the broadest general level of comparison such as these assertions: Religion is essential, there is God, there is the spiritual, there is evil, there are spirits, there is heaven and hell, there is revelation. But as soon as one is led to unpack the more specific concepts that make up these ideas of God, spirit, and evil, a whole new ideational world comes to view. This is a strange world that serves a strange God and can lead a Christian to spiritual confusion. There is far more danger for those who confirm themselves of these opposing ideas through comparisons and justifications from the Writings. It is prudent to examine under what conditions such connections are beneficial or a hindrance to understanding the rational ideas of the Writings.

 

A neighbor acquaintance recently told me that a Hindu man regularly attends her Bible study class. At first she thought this was odd but she changed her mind as he kept pointing out similarities between the Bible and Hinduism. She was especially impressed by his idea of “one-mindedness” which she explained was the notion that God is the actual power behind good and bad events that happen. If you worry about the bad things happening you are dual-minded but since there is only one Power the bad things are just as much God’s doing as the good things. This gave her a sense of relief since she no longer had to worry about anything happening since all is God’s doing.

 

She didn’t use the word nonduality but it’s clear that that’s what she admitted into her mind. It’s the nonduality between good and evil as having the same source. To a Christian mind this thinking is pernicious and insidious, and if admitted, spiritually injurious. The idea is attractive to the unregenerate mind because it hides one’s responsibility in distinguishing between falsities and truths and, hating evil and loving good. The Writings teach that only good can come from God and that evil comes from self, hence hell, which is turned away from God and in opposition to Him (AC 4997). Truth from God flows into the soul and mind of every human being and then each individual adapts it and sometimes turns it this way or that, and at last into the opposite of truth. This falsity (or falsified truth) in the mind is better suited to one’s evil loves, and the two couple each other in the infernal marriage (HH 377). Once this is accomplished (or confirmed), hell rules the mind. The evil never comes from God (DLW 264). Good and evil are dualities in relation to each other and in relation to God.

 

The idea that evil comes from God (nonduality), when admitted into the New Church mind, becomes an impediment to one’s regeneration, constituting a grave spiritual threat.

 

Chapter 3, Section 2

 

2. The New Testament does not contain any nonduality

 

Hindu nonduality is affecting how some Christians may come to view the Lord’s revelations in the New Testament concerning Himself as being one with the Father. Here is one example of how some New Testament verses are being commingled within nonduality:

 

From: Christmas Thought: The Nondual Teachings Of Christ by Pieter Schoonheim Samara (Web document accessed April 2002 at: www.nonduality.com/1208ps.htm

 

"All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made." John I: 3 "That (Christ) was the true Light, which lighteth every man that is born into this world." John I: 9 Christ to John in Revelations, Ch I: 8: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending" sayeth the Lord, "which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." "For I have not spoken of myself, but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak." John 12: 49

 

(…) One might think from reading these passages that Christ always speaks as the Atman and of the Father as Brahman, or as the Self realized being One in relation to the All pervasive and timeless Self. Just as Krishna tells Arjuna that he taught Aditia (the Sun), Christ states: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM." John 8: 58 … "The light of the body is the eye: Therefore, when thine eye is single, your whole body will be filled with light...." (Luke 11: 34)

 

This non-dual teaching is easily paraphrased as follows: The part of you that sees (the seer, one's Self) is your true light. Therefore, if you hold on to (i.e., abide as) the seer (subject-"I"), singly or exclusively (i.e., relinquishing attention to thoughts), you will have illumination - or what some call the "enlightenment of the whole body". This is said to be the exact instruction given in the non-dual Vedanta tradition, with the same described outcome, as already discussed above.

 

It is known from the Writings that when the Lord referred to Himself and the Father as One, He was referring to the identity of Personhood between Himself and the Father. No one was able to comprehend this at that time, or later, until the new revelations of the Second Coming effected in Swedenborg’s Writings (completed in 1771). No one today comprehends the Divine Father/Son relation save those who acknowledge the Writings as the Lord in His Word of the Second Coming, as a result of which they receive enlightenment from the Lord, in proportion to their willingness to suffer themselves to be regenerated by Him. The Writings themselves assert this idea as a central tenet (De Verbo 12).

 

This identity of Personhood is not to be considered a form of nonduality, as is done in the Schoonheim quote above. Those who think within the Eastern philosophy system interpret the Father/Son relation as a nonduality in the sense that the illusory self of the individual can end, leaving behind God alone as the one only reality. Transferring this reasoning to the New Testament, they see Jesus as the illusory Self (Atman) that is to be transcended or eliminated at illumination, leaving only the Father. This nonduality is entirely opposed to the New Church duality of Jesus, the visible Divine Human called the Son, on the one hand, and on the other, Jehovah, the invisible Divine Essence called the Father. This duality can never be transcended. It would not make rational sense, therefore it is impossible, and only the imagination of the sensuous mind can think it up and suppose it to be possible.

 

1. Who Runs The Universe: The Divine Father Or The Divine Human?

 

 

Sixth: This One Only and the Self is the Lord from eternity, or Jehovah. It was shown in THE DOCTRINE OR THE NEW JERUSALEM CONCERNING THE LORD that God is One in essence and in person, and that this God is the Lord; and that the Divine itself, which is called Jehovah the Father, is the Lord from eternity; that the Divine Human is the Son conceived from His Divine from eternity and born in the world, and that the Divine Proceeding is the Holy Spirit. (DP 157:9)

 

This passage indicates how the Divine Rational can resonate by correspondence in our interior-rational perception. The passage is describing a spiritual truth about the Lord. We can resonate to it by allowing the Letter to stand for this spiritual truth, only by correspondence. This orientation to the passage allows the literal meaning to recede somewhat so it doesn’t dominate and become opaque instead of translucent. The expression is used, “the Lord from eternity, or Jehovah.” At first the literal meaning dominates the internal truth, and so makes itself opaque, hiding the spiritual tucked within it. But then we ask the question: How do we take this expression as a correspondence for its spiritual-rational truth?

 

“The Lord from eternity, or Jehovah.” Who is the Lord from eternity? In the literal meaning this refers to the contrastive expression “the Lord born in time.” We are familiar with the idea that “the Lord born in time” is Jesus, who glorified His Human and made it one with the Divine (xx). We are familiar with the Divine as the Father, or Jehovah. So in the Letter we have the idea that the identity of Personhood was an achieved identity. Therefore, this important rational truth follows: We are not to think that it was Jehovah who descended from the Heaven under the assumed name and identity of Jesus. This truth is proven by the distinction the passage makes between “The Lord from eternity” vs. “the Lord born in time.” The Lord born in time, namely the Child Jesus, was not born glorified. The Child Jesus was Divine, as specified in the New Testament and the Writings. But we have to enter into a more spiritual view of how this is true. So the literal must recede, as the spiritual comes to the fore.

 

This more interior rational perception is that Jesus and Jehovah are not the same, though they are the same Person.

 

Looked at from the literal, this sentence sounds like a contradiction or a metaphor for something vague, not specified. But look at it from the idea that the sentence is a correspondence for the interior-rational idea. In this new orientation, the literal becomes less opaque allowing us to perceive the interior, to some varying extent. The sentence is an instance of the spiritual Doctrine discussed throughout the book. By looking at it as a correspondence, we can reflect of how it applies to our willing and thinking every hour of the day. This makes sense since the glorification series recapitulate how we are to be regenerated (xx). Jesus had a threefold self as we do, meaning He had inherited and acquired affections in the will, He had memory-knowledges from the Old Testament that He acquired by studying it as the Word, and He had a sensorimotor mind that served to exert control over His corporeal functions. The Writings explain that, as Jesus grew He experienced a revelation from within that He was the Word He was reading (xx). This happened at an early age in childhood and the details of it are explained Arcana Coelestia when discussing the Call of Abraham and Abram’s first realization of the existence and presence of Jehovah (xx).

 

Now Jesus knew who He was and how He is to redeem the human race. He was the same Person as Jehovah, the Lord from eternity, but He was not the same conscious awareness. Applying this to ourself: If you have undergone reformation you can ask yourself: Was this the same me before and after? As I look back on myself, I shudder at how I was. But I can also look at myself today and have plenty things to be aghast about. Myself who is feeling ashamed, aghast, and repentant is myself from eternity because it is my conscience, and my conscience is the Lord (xx). Myself from eternity is as different from myself born in time, as heaven is different from earth, or as an angel is different from a man on earth. Yet it would be foolish to say that I’m not the same person.

 

When I get to heaven and I become an angel, what happens? It is an image of the glorification series. My self born on earth is united to myself born from eternity, and thus I am an angel. The same Person as Jehovah is not the same willing, thinking, and sensing by Jesus. Myself born from eternity is my rational consciousness as my conscience. This is the correspondence to the Divine. When you read about conscience in the Writings you are being told something about how the Divine of the Lord is within His Human. This is what we call the Divine Human, namely, how the Lord from eternity is within the Lord born in time.

 

Note further, that it would be foolish to think that Jehovah does things by means of Jesus, as many people believe who pray the Father in the Name of Jesus (xx). It would be equivalent in saying that myself from eternity does things by means of myself born in time. In other words, everybody sees that we cannot go around in our daily activities and claim that we are not doing the things, but our conscience is. This is speaking foolishly. Instead, we say that we are doing the things from conscience, or in accordance with conscience. Jehovah does not act by means of Jesus, but rather, Jesus acts from Jehovah, or in accordance with Jehovah (xx). “The expression, “I and the Father are one” refers to the idea that, since the Lord glorified Himself, it is the Human of the Lord that now acts. It acts from the Divine, or in accordance with the Divine.

 

The mind that thinks that the Father acts by means of Jesus, or for the sake of Jesus, is in the Letter, which is natural. The mind that thinks the Jesus acts from the Father, is a New Church mind from the Writings. And returning to the Letter, we find plenty confirmations in the Lord’s descriptions in the New Testament, as for instance, that all things have been given to the Son (xx). Now we can see that this refers to the Human acts from the Divine, not the Divine through the Human.

 

The mind in the natural of the Letter cannot see a distinction between the two ways of phrasing it, and whatever difference there may be, it cannot see it. What you can’t see, you can’t understand, and what you can’t understand you can’t love, and what you can’t love is not yours, hence useless for salvation. So the Lord gives us to see the distinction. We do not see distinctly or clearly, to be sure. This is a matter of further and further enlightenment about something we already have implanted within the initial perception of it. Think how you would feel if someone persisted in addressing your conscience instead of you. It would be ludicrous and could not support normal social relations, hence all of society would fall. This is why the New Church mind only prays to the Lord Jesus and never to the Father Jehovah, for this would be acting like a thief, in the Lord’s own words (xx).

 

There is a resistance in us to the idea that it is not the Divine Father who runs things in the universe, but the Divine Human as Jesus, who runs the universe from the Divine Father. Our evil affections have a hope of surviving in us if it is the Divine Father who runs things, but they are annihilated and banished in us if it is the Divine Human who runs things. The reasons for this will be confirmed one day by the Letter as the men of the Church are gradually regenerated. We need the idea of the Divine Human running the universe, in order to regenerate. We cannot regenerate as long as we hold on to the notion that it is the Divine Father who runs things.

 

To the Western Christian Church there is an indigenous nonduality between Father and Son. The Athanasian Creed asserts that Father and Son are of “one substance” but of “two Persons.” Both propositions are false and led to the vastation of that Church (AE 114; xx). The idea of one substance is a nonduality and was forced upon the mind by the necessity to maintain the idea of “Two Divine Persons from Eternity.” Without knowledge of discrete degrees  (DLW 173-281) the mind can only think of one substance for both Father and Son. Nonduality is what the mind falls back on again and again without the knowledge of discrete degrees (to be found only in the Writings). The duality in all of the Writings applies here as well: The Father is the substance called Esse or Divine Love; the Son is the form of the substance, called Existere or Divine Truth. This duality of substance and form is also a duality in aspects of function because function or use arises from substance in a particular form (DL 4).

 

Chapter 3, Section 3

 

3. Trinity of Persons versus Unity of Three Aspects in One Person

 

The concept of “unity” is entirely different from the concept of nonduality. In unity dualities do not change or lose their absolute and permanent distinctiveness, but rather contribute to a new function (or use), so that the function possible when there is a union is higher or more perfect than the function possible when the two or more are single and are not united into one. In God, infinite dualities are united into one (DLW 17, 22). The Lord sees the entire human race—past, present, and future, as one Grand Human in which numberless dualities and distinctions function together in an integrated whole (HH 59). Each elements in such a union contribute something diverse and unique to the whole as is communicated mutually to every one else, thus enhancing the perfection of the whole. In contrast, a collection of homogenous elements cannot function as a unity.

 

The Writings teach a view of the Holy Spirit that is compatible with this rational idea of unity. The Lord’s management of the universe has three universal aspects—creating, preserving, and re-creating. “Creating” refers to bringing the physical and spiritual worlds into existence. “Preserving” refers to managing every event so that the whole doesn’t break down and keeps growing and being perfected. “Re-creating” refers to new creations within what’s already been created, so that the perfection of the whole can continue to eternity. In ancient times these three universal functions of God were represented by different Names given to God. For creating, the Name of Creator—in Christian tradition Jehovah, or the Father. For preserving, the Name of the Son—Jesus Christ or the Messiah, in Christian tradition. For re-creating, the Name of the Holy Spirit. In religious terms, the three functions are Creator, Savior, and Holy Spirit.

 

These three functions represent three evolutionary steps in the human race’s capacity to relate to God more and more spiritually, rather than naturally. For instance, Jehovah the Creator was revealed in the Old Testament thousands of years ago. Then, Jesus Christ the Messiah was revealed in the New Testament two thousand years ago. Then, the Divine Human, was revealed in the eighteenth century in the Writings. This last revelation shows that what was historically believed to be God in three Persons is actually God in One Person and the three Divine functions.

 

In the Divine Human, that is the Lord, the three discrete and absolutely distinct aspects are united into one. Jehovah is united to Jesus, making one Divine Person whose inmost is Jehovah and whose outmost is Jesus. The third aspect or function issues from this absolute duality in the One Lord. The Writings call this the Divine Proceeding or Holy spirit.

 

The Writings teach that the Lord creates everything by intermediaries, not by disconnected elements (HH 9, 37). The first step in creation was the spiritual Sun which is made of Divine Good, in the interior, and Divine Truth in the exterior. These Divine Substances are infinite, uncreate, and the Divine in Itself, Changeless, eternally the same. The light proceeding from this Sun, with the heat within it, was the next step. As it proceeded away and outward, it created atmospheres of increasing “density.” These atmospheres are arranged into discrete degrees of perfection from most perfect as it proceeds, to less and less perfect until it reaches the outmost reaches called matter, space, and time. This successive sequence of discrete atmospheres is retained in every element or compound down the line. The earliest atmospheres (closest to the spiritual Sun) are inmost within the constitution of every object. The later atmospheres (furthest away from the spiritual Sun) are least perfect, most gross in their quality and capacity.

 

Every object is maintained in existence by this simultaneous order, from which the Lord operates from firsts (or inmosts) to lasts (or ultimates) (DP 124[4] ). And it is this way that the Lord manages every detail in the universe. The purpose of creation is to provide a habitation for human beings (DP 324). They are first born in a physical body on some earth in the natural universe. Their mind is created out of spiritual elements, not natural like the body. When the body dies, the mind then awakens in the spiritual world and in a spiritual body to live forever. The quality of life in the spiritual world is determined by the mind’s constitution or formation. This formation is achieved during life in the body. It becomes of utmost importance therefore to form the New Church mind through active participation with the Lord’s commandments as specified in the Writings.

 

1. Spiritual Unity Is Different From Nonduality

 

From the spiritual Sun proceed love (=spiritual heat) and truth (=spiritual light) as two distinct things, but united into one. Although these two Proceed as One from the spiritual Sun, they are then divided in creation (DP 14-5). The idea of Divine Love and Wisdom United as One may appear at first as a nonduality, but they are a duality. To make a one, the composing elements must retain their permanent distinct character which makes them different (AC 9613, DLW 22). It is the unity that is one, not the composing dualities. The duality of the composing elements remains absolute and permanent. In nonduality there is no such unity of distinct elements but an amalgam that eliminates the distinctiveness of the elements. In nonduality discrete degrees become continuous, which is an impossibility in the duality of the Writings.

 

People who have turned away from thinking about the Divine when they see wonders in nature, and as a result become sense-oriented, do not consider that the sight of the eye is so crude that it sees a number of tiny insects as a single, indistinct mass, and yet that each of them is organically formed to be capable of sensation and movement, thus that they have been endowed with fibers and vessels, including little hearts, air passages, viscera and brains; that these have been woven together out of the finest elements in nature; and that these structures correspond to some activity of life, by which even the least of these are individually actuated.

 

Since the vision of the eye is so crude that a number of such creatures, each with countless components in it, looks to the sight like a small, indistinct mass, and yet people who are sense-oriented think and judge in accordance with that sight, it is apparent how obtuse their minds have become, and thus in what darkness they are regarding spiritual matters. (DLW 353)

 

The Writings discuss the history of the idea of a Trinity in the Christian Church and identifies it as the chief cause of spiritual breakdown in the Christian Church that eventually led to its vastation (TCR 177). The idea of Three Divine Persons is injurious because the mind is then logically compelled to think of three Divine Gods, but this is forbidden by Church Doctrine. And so the mind of the believer is beleaguered with an idea impossible to believe rationally. Yet this idea continues to be taught generation after generation, despite the irrationality of it, as recognized by those who yet uphold it as Church Doctrine. Here is a current version of its intellectual justification:

 

The Christian Church believes in the doctrine of the Trinity. That means the Church believes that God is three persons and yet God is one God. What does this mean, and why does it matter? Some say it is the theology of a free and democratic society. Others say it is impossible arithmetic.

(…)

So the church worships and prays to the three persons: God the Father, Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit. They are quite clearly distinct from each other, and yet they freely work together in harmony. We pray to each of these as truly divine.

 

So why not say "three Gods"?

But the church does not speak about the three gods. It speaks about the threeness of God. Why? Because they can't be separated in our minds like three human beings can. Three people may be close friends, but they still look different and have different thoughts and feelings. The three divine persons are not in different places, for God is not a being in space and time, and has no place, shape, size or color. God is equally present everywhere. The three persons are not like stories of the ancient Greek gods, who often disagreed and fought with each other. They share one purpose of love for us, and act together for that purpose. When the church says "three persons, yet one God", it means that these three persons freely choose to share one purpose.

 

Thus the Trinity is a very simple idea.

(Critical Questions about the Christian Faith: Douglas Miller “The Trinity: why does it matter?” on the Web at

vic.uca.org.au/doclit/trinity.html accessed June 2002)

 

You can see where the logic is placed in this position: “They share one purpose of love for us, and act together for that purpose.” There is an underlying conviction of the Oneness of God based on the entire Bible with the invented idea of three Divine Persons in the one Godhead. This idea does not appear in the Bible—it couldn’t since it’s not rational. It is recognized that the idea was invented by the Nicene Council of Bishops in 325 AD, for the purpose of fighting the Arian heresy that was threatening the Christian religion (TCR 137). This heresy was that Jesus was human, not Divine. The Council convened in Nicea and issued the new idea of Jesus as the “Son from Eternity” and “born in time.” Nowhere in the New Testament is such an idea to be found. Instead, the Apostles all knew and understood that Jesus was the incarnated Jehovah Himself. Current belief in the idea of Three Divine Persons is further reinforced by many passages in the New Testament that appear to agree with the idea. People are faced with passages that talk as if there were three Persons of Deity involved in the events. Here is one modern version:

 

God is a community

Now the New Testament never uses the word "Trinity", but it often speaks about the three different persons. We read that Christ prayed to the Father. We read that the Father would send the Holy Spirit to recall people to Christ. Paul often speaks of "God the Father", "the Lord Jesus Christ", and "the Holy Spirit". So the notion that we praise all three persons as God, yet as different from each other, is already there in the New Testament.

 

One example: in Mark's gospel, we read the story of Jesus' baptism (Mark 1:9-11). We read that Jesus was baptized by John in the river Jordan, and that the Spirit descending on Jesus like a dove, so that he might be strengthened for his ministry of calling people to God. We also read that the voice from above declared "You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased". So you have the three persons in the one passage: the voice of the Father speaking from above, the Spirit coming down from the Father to strengthen Jesus, and Jesus from Nazareth being declared to be the Son of God.

(Miller, ibid.)

 

Note the subtitle on top: “God is a community.” And the sentence in the prior quote: “They share one purpose of love for us, and act together for that purpose. When the church says "three persons, yet one God", it means that these three persons freely choose to share one purpose.” The nonduality in this explanation is to view God in terms that appropriate for human beings, rather than the other way round, as in dualism. The idea of “God is a community” and the related idea of “three persons freely choosing one purpose” are not rational ideas about God but natural, invented not received. In dualism we are mindful that there is a distinct and discrete difference between uncreate and create, and they cannot be commingled. God cannot be a community of persons like human beings are. God is called King, because “king” corresponds to truth in the Word. God is not actually a king—He is called King on account of the correspondences (LORD 42).

 

God cannot be a community, which is a compound concept applied to human beings. Humans can be properly said to love this or that even though the Lord is Love and Wisdom Itself. In dualism this is explained by pointing out that the love humans have does not belong to them but remains the Lord’s love in them. The Lord grants human beings to receive Love from Him into the will, and this love in them remains His (BE 5). The love in us is not the same as His Love, but it is an individual adaptation and reception. Nevertheless, the essence or inmost of this adapted love is still the Lord. At no time can we say that humans have love from themselves for love is uncreate and humans are created—the two can never be commingled. Whenever they are commingled, duality is destroyed and nonduality reigns.

 

The passages in the New Testament that refer to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can be logically explained if dualism is maintained. This is done in the Writings (TCR, chs. I-III). The dualist explanation is given in both the Old and New Testaments if one pays attention to all the relevant passages. One idea is that it is the Father Himself, or the Lord Jehovah from eternity, who was incarnated as the Divine Child (LORD 19). The second idea is that Jehovah God calls Himself repeatedly as the Only Savior and Redeemer, who by His Own Hand redeems and saves the world (TCR 81). And a third idea is that Jesus underwent a gradual change from His Birth to His Resurrection and Ascension. His change is described by alternating states between being weak--suffering, tempted and praying to the Father in Himself, and states of being Divine and One with the Father—performing miracles, glowing like the sun and speaking to spirits, passing through physical barriers, appearing in several places simultaneously, declaring Himself to be the Word or the Creator from the beginning, etc.

 

Clearly all the pieces of the puzzle are in revelation so that there is no need at all to fabricate human explanations, which invariably, will downgrade into nonduality and a mere natural idea of God. Into this idea no Divine influx is possible and a religion based on it becomes spurious and no longer serviceable for regeneration, hence salvation (DLW 285).

 

On the other hand, if we affirm the identity of Person between Father/Son are we not creating another nonduality? No, since the identity of Father/Son as Person is nothing else than the unity of substance between Love and Truth. Father as such is not a Person; Son as such is not a Person—there is no nonduality here. If Father had been a Person, and if Son had been a Person, then asserting that they are one Person would be nonduality. It is like the unity in the human being that images the unity of the Lord who is the Divine Human. A human person is achieved when three functions (or aspects) unite into a one:

 

*    the soul-spirit-mind (created as an image of the Father function)

*    the brain-body-senses (created as an image of the Son function)

*    the motor power that issues from the first two when they are united into one (created as an image of the Holy Spirit)

 

The unity of these three cannot be considered a nonduality since all the originating aspects are retained in the unity. Nonduality requires that only one part of each duality be retained while any other is dissipated. It is similar with the body that contains innumerable dualities of function (or aspect) being united into one. Care must therefore be taken that unity be not confused with nonduality. A conjugial couple is united into one (CL 158). This cannot be considered a nonduality but only a psychobiological unity of function between husband and wife—an eternal duality.

 

The Jesus/Jehovah duality, or Son/Father duality, is a real duality that does not dissolve. The Father Aspect remains a permanent reference for the Lord’s Esse (Divine Love), while the Son Aspect remains a permanent reference for the Lord’s Existere (Divine Truth). It is never the case that this permanent duality of Aspect can ever be dissolved into a nonduality of substance. The expression in the New Testament “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30) does not refer to a nonduality of substance but to a permanent duality of Aspects and a permanent unity of Person. If one may paraphrase the Lord: I, whom you see as the Son before you, and the Father whom you know but have never seen and can never see, are one and the same Person.

 

This is a Divine reaffirmation of a permanent duality between the invisible and visible Aspects of God. It may be that only a New Church mind can apprehend this clearly. But anyone on this earth can have a New Church mind who reads the Writings as the Lord in His Word of the Second Coming and makes it the exclusive source of all spiritual truths in their mind. This activity systematically rearranges all the concepts and one’s reasoning, setting everything in the mind in a rational order, so that the mind reflects the true order into which the world is set according to the new revelations of the Second Coming. Until then our mind is in disarray and contrary to the rational form of truth and reality. Whatever idea or principle that comes from any other source but the Writings comes from the unregenerate human proprium because no other method of regeneration has been provided by the Lord except through the Word (TCR 580; xx).

 

Chapter 3, Section 4

 

4. People are saved apart from their religion

 

For every nation the Lord provides a universal means of salvation. (AE 1180)

 

The idea that people are saved by religious membership is a subtle and pernicious form of nonduality in the Christian religion, but also in all religions. And there may be those that are of the New Church religion who also have this belief. But religion does not save. What saves is a life according to the Doctrine of the Word. All religions that are legitimate are based on the idea of God who commands people to obey Him, as a result of which we have our fate in heaven or in hell. A religion or belief system that doesn’t teach this is not legitimate, meaning, that it is not from God but from self and the devil (xx). Nevertheless, religion cannot determine our fate but only how we live our life in accordance with our understanding of religious doctrine. This makes sense as the following discussion will show. Further, those who do not have religion can be saved equally with those who have a legitimate religion. This is because anyone can be saved merely by obeying their conscience and leading a life consistent with it. The Lord can then unconsciously guide such an individual to Himself with a life that leads to heaven.

 

In the new age of the Second Coming, no one can be regenerated except through the Writings and the truths with humankind that henceforth will come from the Writings . Those who do not know the Writings in this life are instructed in its truths by the angels when they arrive in the afterlife (HH 512, 516).

 

It strikes people as hyperbole or dogmatism to say that one can regenerate only through the Writings when the Writings have remained a minute part of the readership on this planet even though they’ve been around and public for 231 years. Why would God choose such an ineffective method of regeneration when His purpose is to save as many as He can? And would it be fair and loving to keep the Writings from most people and then to condemn them for not habit it around? By way of answer let’s study this next passage from the True Christian Religion, the last work of the Writings that was published by Swedenborg in 1771, just a few months before his passing on to the world he had described in so much detail in these books for the last 27 years of his life in the physical body. The passage deals with how every individual on earth is regenerated by the Lord.

 

The reason why everyone can be regenerated depending on his state, is that the process is different with the simple and the learned, with those who have different pursuits, and undertake different duties; with those who research into the externals of the Word and those who research into its internals; with those whose parentage has brought them into natural good and those who have been brought into evil; with those who from childhood have plunged into the world's vanities, and those who have sooner or later distanced themselves from them. In short, there is a difference between those who make up the Lord's external church and those who make up the internal one. In this there is infinite variety, just as there is in faces and characters. But still each can be regenerated and saved depending on his state.

 

[2] The truth of this can be established from the heavens, to which all who are regenerated come, being three, highest, middle and lowest. Those come to the highest who through regeneration have acquired love to the Lord; to the middle one those who have acquired love towards the neighbour; to the lowest those who only exhibit external charity, and at the same time acknowledge the Lord as God the Redeemer and Savior. All of these are saved, but in different ways.

 

[3] The reason why all can be regenerated and so saved is that the Lord is present with His Divine good and truth with every person. This is the source of his life, and of his ability to understand and will, and of the free will he has in spiritual matters; no one is without these. Moreover the means are given. Christians have the means in the Word, non-Christians in any religion at all, if it teaches the existence of God and commandments about good and evil. From this it follows that everyone can be saved. Consequently, if a person is not saved, it is not the Lord who is to blame but the person; and he is to blame for failing to co-operate. (TCR 580)

 

Note especially this in paragraph 1: “each can be regenerated and saved depending on his state.” So this is the first thing to establish from the Writings, namely, that everyone can be regenerated. There is no condemning of the Lord to hell because someone has never heard of the Writings, or even, having heard of it and read some, have walked away from it. There are no exceptions to this Divine rule: each can be regenerated.

 

1. Everyone Can Be Regenerated

 

Next, we can note that the process of being regenerated is unique to each person’s “state” or “character.” This makes sense because reformation is the process of character modification and regeneration is the ensuing process of character rebirth and up building. Therefore the modification and up building of a regenerated character is going to depend on each unique individual and character. Note also that even those who have the Writings are regenerated according to their own state. Those who focus on the literal of the Writings, “those who research into the externals,” are regenerated differently than those who focus on the spiritual sense of the Writings, “those who research into its internals.” And the character we form for ourselves prior to reformation also influences how we are regenerated. Those who ignored the voice of their conscience, “those who from childhood have plunged into the world's vanities,” are regenerated differently than those who listened to their conscience instead of their evil desires, “those who have sooner or later distanced themselves from them.” It makes sense therefore that regeneration is accomplished by the Lord in “infinite variety, just as there is in faces and characters.”

 

All those who are regenerated by the Lord enter heaven, and since they are all of different character it must be that there is an infinite variety of heavens, though they are grouped into three main regions or lifestyles. The highest group, called the Third Heaven of the Celestial Angels, are those who have been regenerated to the highest level of their mind called the celestial. This type of regeneration is effected by one’s love for the Lord. Since we can struggle against our evil affections from many motives and goals, the outcome will also depend on what the goal or motive was. Those whose motive was their love for the Lord, and especially, as the Divine Human, are regenerated to the highest level of human existence. They are “those who have acquired love towards the Lord.”

 

But doesn’t every good person love God? Yes, but not in the same way. People who are regenerated to the level of their spiritual mind, which below the celestial, are congregated in the Second Heaven of the Spiritual Angels. They are “those who have acquired love towards the neighbour.” They love the Lord, but they love His Word and Church more. They have religion and faith, while the celestial angels do not have religion or faith but perception, which is an more direct way of relating to the Divine Truth, and they have this as a result of their love for the Lord. While the spiritual angels have understanding of the Lord, but not perception, because their affections are centered on the Writings first, and then, and the Lord. Both love the Lord and the Divine of the Writings, but not in the same way. And those who are regenerated to the natural-spiritual level make up the First Heaven of Natural Angels. They are “those who only exhibit external charity” by obedience to religious duties and therefore they only acknowledge God and the Writings as the highest authority, but do not rearrange everything in their mind according to the Writings. Internally they retain their passion for their culture, interests, and activities.

 

Note this statement in the last paragraph of the quote above (TCR 580): “The reason why all can be regenerated and so saved is that the Lord is present with His Divine good and truth with every person. This is the source of his life, and of his ability to understand and will, and of the free will he has in spiritual matters; no one is without these.” This is an affirmation of the fact that the Lord’s relationship to each individual is independent of their religion or belief system! This new idea and revelation runs smack against almost all other religions and human associations. It is generally believed that your group is closer to God than another group, and that to get close to God everybody must do what your group is doing and believing. And yet this is not true any more today and for all the future to come. With the Second Coming the Lord has completed the creation or evolution of the human race (xx).

 

And He now has revealed Himself in His Divine Rational so that our rational mind can fully understand and perceive Him. Nothing more is left to reveal on the outside, but only on the inside. Hence the Writings are the last of the threefold Word, the Crown of Churches (xx). From now on to forever the Lord is with every individual independently of religion, worship, and knowledge. “This is the source of his life, and of his ability to understand and will, and of the free will he has in spiritual matters; no one is without these.”

 

So now the only requirement for regeneration is for the individual to acknowledge the reality of the Lord’s presence in him. This acknowledgment, when sincere, then leads to the desire to reform and regenerate. This activity is the preparation for one of the many heavens. And if there is permanent unwillingness of the individual to acknowledge the Lord’s presence, there is no preparation for heaven, in which case, the individual who arrives that way in the afterlife, sinks down from the evil affections that are still present. And they take the individual to one of the varieties of hells, in accordance with the variety of their evils. There they live with others like themselves, amidst their evils.

 

The passage ends this way: “Christians have the means in the Word, non-Christians in any religion at all, if it teaches the existence of God and commandments about good and evil. From this it follows that everyone can be saved. Consequently, if a person is not saved, it is not the Lord who is to blame but the person; and he is to blame for failing to co-operate” (TCR 580). For the New Church mind “Christians” here means those who are forming a New Church mind for themselves through the Writings. “Non-Christians” refer to all others who have a religion and live according to the doctrine of their religion. All religions are animated by the Lord no matter what its content is, as long as it is legitimate. This means that they teach the existence of God and God’s commandments or rules for life in relation to heaven and hell. All others who have an illegitimate belief system contrary to the legitimate one, as just defined, cannot be regenerated. The Lord assures us that those who are born into an illegitimate belief system can still be regenerated if only they obey their conscience, which is independent of the belief system and culture, and is activated in their mind by the Lord (xx). Therefore the conclusion in the last sentence makes sense: “Consequently, if a person is not saved, it is not the Lord who is to blame but the person; and he is to blame for failing to co-operate” (TCR 580).

 

The Lord never insists that people change their childhood religion in order to be admitted to their Heaven (LJP 98). For those who are forming the New Church mind in themselves, only the Writings must be used as a source for spiritual truths. This is asserted in the Writings where it is said that only the Word can be a source of intelligence and wisdom for angels and for those on earth who are of the New Church (AR 707) (see also the Introduction to Volume 1 above).

 

At this day the spiritual sense of the Word has been revealed from the Lord, because the doctrine of genuine truth has now been revealed, which doctrine is partly contained in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, and now in the small works, which are being given to the public; and because that doctrine, and no other, agrees with the spiritual sense of the Word, therefore that sense, together with the science of correspondences, has now for the first time been disclosed. That sense is also signified by the Lord's appearing in the clouds of heaven with glory and power (Matt. 24:30, 31), in which chapter it treats of the consummation of the age, by which is meant the last time of the church. (De Verbo 7)

 

“At this day” refers to the regeneration of the New Church mind. “The Word” refers to the Writings. Thus, the regenerated New Church mind is enlightened by the Lord so that it can see the “spiritual sense” of the Writings. The spiritual sense of the Writings are called the “Doctrine of the New Jerusalem” which is given “to the public,” meaning, to all of the human race from any religion or belief system. Doctrine in the New Church mind cannot be equated with the literal of the Writings but only with the inner sense in it. Prior to our reformation, which takes place in adulthood, we believe that the Writings are the spiritual sense of the Old and New Testament. This is an inevitable impression which we get from our exclusive focus on the literal of the Writings. The Writings use natural language to describe the details of the correspondences in the Old and New Testaments. It necessarily talks about the inner sense of the Old and New Testaments. We therefore assume that what we are reading is the inner sense of the Old and New Testaments. But this is only an impression made possible by our inability to understand that natural language cannot express spiritual content (xx).

 

What in particular concerns the doctrine that now follows, is that it also is out of heaven, because it is from the spiritual sense of the Word; and the spiritual sense of the Word is identical with the doctrine which is in heaven. (NJHD 7)

 

2. Regeneration Leads To Enlightenment

 

But after reformation and when regeneration begins, the Lord gives enlightenment as we read the Writings and apply it to our daily willing in thinking. Now we can perceive new meaning in the old familiar sentences. This new meaning is the spiritual sense of the Writings. This sense is given gradually and in parts, in exact proportion to our progress in regeneration. Now for example, when we read anything in the Writings about “the Word” we can perceive that it is talking about the Writings. (See Chapter 8 Sections 3 to 5). Now we can see that the Heavenly Doctrine cannot be expressed in natural language and that the spiritual sense being discussed everywhere in the Writings is not in the literal sentences but in the understanding when enlightened.

 

The literal of the Writings are for the external rational level of thinking. This is in the unregenerate rational mind. These external rational ideas and reasoning must be then be taken into our mind, digested there, and finally understood in a spiritual sense when enlightened by the Lord. This new inner understanding is called Doctrine (TCR 245). Therefore Doctrine in our understanding is at first natural, but later, spiritual.

 

This spiritual Doctrine in the understanding must be the basis of our willing and thinking in our everyday activities and judgments. Of course, without the external literal of the Writings, this spiritual Doctrine could not exist in our mind, or anywhere else. The spiritual Doctrine in our understanding is the spiritual meaning perceivable within the letter of the Writings when enlightened, and therefore the spiritual sense can only exist in our mind and never in the literal of a natural language. It is in the interior of the understanding that we receive enlightenment from the Lord. Without this enlightenment from within, there is no spiritual Doctrine in our mind but only the literal statements of the Writings (TCR 226). Clearly, then, ideas that come to us from elsewhere than the literal of the Writings cannot be so enlightened by the Lord and cannot produce any spiritual Doctrine. This is because the Lord enlightens only that which comes from Him, and everything in the Writings comes from Him (TCR 779).

 

This mental process of regeneration shaped exclusively by the Writings applies to the generations on this planet born since the Second Coming. Prior generations or civilizations each received their own revelations from the Lord (AC 10632). But in the course of time these revelations (or the Church) are consummated by the love of self and the world (DP 328). Until at last there is not a single truth left in that Church and it is called a “dry land.” (AC 806). The Lord then raises a new Church through new revelations given through an individual. These new revelations are specifically suited and adapted to the genius of the new human civilization (or mind). Not a single spiritual truth given to an earlier Church can be transferred or used by the new Church (SPECIMEN 14, INV 5). To attempt to do so would be to commingle what is false with what is true, and this permanently destroys the rationality of the New Church mind.

 

The revelations historically retained by the many forms of Eastern nonduality may have had beneficial uses to those generations in Asia prior to the Lord’s First Coming. And it is conceivable that even today those revelations serve a useful purpose in life for those who are unable or unwilling to align their faith with the Lord’s First Coming (Historical Christians) and His Second Coming (New Church Christians). But for Christians to admit into their understanding and faith any ideas from nonduality is to commingle old and new revelations—a spiritually fatal act, as the Lord says explicitly in the New Testament (Matt. 9:17, Luke 5:39, see AE 376[28]) ) and in the Writings (DP 202, 234). Their power needs to be neutralized by identifying them in memory and withholding our approval:

 

Fourth: When man is in evil many truths may be introduced into his understanding, and these may be stored up in his memory, and yet not be profaned. This is because the understanding does not flow into the will, but the will into the understanding; and as it does not flow into the will many truths may be received by the understanding and stored up in the memory, and yet not be mingled with the evil of the will; and thus what is holy may not be profaned. Moreover, it is incumbent upon everyone to learn truths from the Word or from preaching, to lay them up in the memory and to ponder over them. For from the truths that are in the memory and that enter the thought from the memory the understanding must teach the will, that is, must teach the man what to do. This, therefore, is the principal means of reformation. When truths are only in the understanding and from it in the memory, they are not in the man, but outside of him. (DP 233:7; see also DP 234)

 

One commentator of an earlier draft of this book objected to the idea that not a single spiritual truth can be admitted in the New Church mind if its source is not the Writings: “Notice, for example, how the Lord made use of plenty of truths from the letters of Paul in the Writings. As long as we view all things in the light of the Writings, it can be used in the New Church.” My answer is that we could not do that. We could not read Paul and derive spiritual truths from it if we had not read it in the Writings. The useful ideas of Paul are taken up in the Writings and explained. They then become truths, not from Paul, but from the Writings. This is shown by the fact that we cannot go to the New Testament and extract truths from it that are not in the Writings or through concepts from the Writings. If we had been able to do so, the Second Coming would not have been essential for salvation. The Lord could have wrought regeneration in us through the New Testament.

 

Since, then, everyone in every religion knows the evils and falsities from evils that must be shunned, and having shunned them knows the goods that must be done and the truths that must be believed, it is clear that this is provided by the Lord as the universal means of salvation with every nation that has any religion.

 

[2] With Christians this means exists in all fullness; it also exists, though not in fullness, with Mohammedans and Gentiles. The remaining things, by which they are distinguished, are either ceremonials which are of little consequence, or are goods that may be done or not done, or truths that may be believed or not believed, and yet man be saved. What these things amount to man can see when evils are removed.

 

A Christian sees this from the Word, a Mohammedan from the Koran, and a Gentile from his religious principle.

 

A Christian sees from the Word that God is one, that the Lord is the Savior of the world, that all good that is good in itself, and all truth that is true in itself, is from God, and nothing of it from man; that there must be Baptism and the Holy Supper, that there is a heaven and that there is a hell, that there is a life after death, and that he who does good comes into heaven, and he who does evil into hell. These things he believes from truth and does from good when he is not in evil. Other things that are not in accord with these and with the Decalogue he may pass by.

 

A Mohammedan sees from the Koran that God is one, that the Lord is the Son of God, and that all good is from God, that there is a heaven and that there is a hell, that there is a life after death, and that the evils forbidden in the commandments of the Decalogue must be shunned. If he does these latter things he also believes the former and is saved.

 

A Gentile sees from his religious principle that there is a God, that He must be regarded as holy and be worshiped, that good is from Him, that there is a heaven and that there is a hell, that there is a life after death, that the evils forbidden in the Decalogue must be shunned. If he does these things and believes them he is saved.

 

And as many Gentiles perceive God to be Man, and as God-Man is the Lord, so after death when they are instructed by angels they acknowledge the Lord, and afterwards receive truths from the Lord that they had not before known. They are not condemned because of their not having the ordinances of Baptism and the Holy Supper; the Holy Supper and Baptism are for those only who are in possession of the Word, and to whom the Lord is known from the Word; for they are symbols of that church, and are attestations and certifications that those who believe and live according to the Lord's commandments in the Word are saved. (AE 1180)

 

Here we see again that the Lord has taken charge of all religions and of all individuals. There is something more important than religious membership, namely, shunning evils as sins against God. This formula is of the New Church mind and for everyone else. The same formula henceforth for all of humankind. Religion itself is only an introduction to the process of regeneration or salvation, and is not required for it. Religion is a set of cultural activities and affirmations in relation to God and these are not the essential things but “the remaining things, by which they are distinguished, [and] are either ceremonials which are which are of little consequence, or are goods that may be done or not done, or truths that may be believed or not believed.”

 

Chapter 3, Section 5

 

5. Mind-Body Nonduality and God-Cosmos Nonduality

 

There are concepts of nonduality in both Eastern and Western traditions since discrete degrees are unknown. A universal example is the widespread belief that spiritual forces from spirits or demons can inflow into the body and cause diseases. This is found in Hinduism and other Eastern religions as well as in Western forms of voodoo and Judaeo-Christian notions involving superstition, possession, and exorcism. In contrast, the Writings give us rational concepts of dualism to account for how diseases of the body are caused by the activity of infernal spirits:

 

It is only permitted for Hell to inflow into the cupidities and falsities pertaining to man - not into man's organs." (SD 4585)

 

Spirits can only inflow into the falsities and lusts of the mind since the mind and the spirits are in continuous degree within the spiritual world. Diseases of the body are caused by correspondence to these interactions in the mind between spirit societies and each individual on earth. Without the idea of discrete degrees, people’s thinking process must slide down into nonduality, and hence corporeal spirituality. The infernal spirits are in this state of mind.

 

Western nonduality is rooted in the traditions of religious mysticism that fosters the notion of a sensuous and direct contact with the Lord. Various specialized sensuous practices are said to facilitate this “ecstatic” state of consciousness—solitude, fasting, self-inflicted pain, vow of silence, vow of celibacy, repeating prayers over and over again, concentrating very hard while praying or reading the Bible, doing low level or denigrating jobs to punish one’s spirit for pride, abstaining from certain foods, special initiation rituals, etc. Mysticism and New Age spirituality are Western concepts of nonduality whose central goal is to achieve direct sensuous God-consciousness. This is a form nonduality because direct sensuous contact with God necessarily assumes that God and human beings are of the same discrete substance. Only within the same discrete substance can direct sensuous contact take place.

 

In contrast to this, New Church duality sets God apart from human beings into discrete degrees so that only rational or correspondential contact or communication can take place. The only way we can enjoy direct conscious communication with the Lord is through the Word, for the Word is the Lord speaking to our external rational (AC 8200). Swedenborg was a unique exception to this law and constituted the greatest miracle of all since the beginning of history:

 

The manifestation of the Lord in person, and introduction by the Lord into the spiritual world, both as to sight and as to hearing and speech, surpasses all miracles; for nowhere in history do we read that such an intercourse with angels and spirits has been granted from the creation of the world. For I am there with the angels daily, even as I am in the world with men, and now for twenty-seven years.

 

Evidences of this intercourse are the books published by me concerning Heaven and Hell, and also the memorable relations in the last work, entitled THE TRUE CHRISTIAN RELIGION; further, what has been there related concerning Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, and concerning the inhabitants of a number of kingdoms; besides the various evidences which are known in the world, and, in addition, many others which are not known. Say, who has ever before known anything concerning heaven and hell? Who has known anything concerning man's state after death? Who, anything concerning spirits and angels? etc., etc.  (INV 43)

 

There is a rational explanation why no one else can expect to duplicate Swedenborg’s unique experience. In the age of rational faith the Lord avoids sensuous communication or contact with anyone because this hurts the development of the person’s rational consciousness (AC 7809; HH 249). In the afterlife we need the interior rational consciousness to reach our celestial level from which we can then enjoy the sensuous experiences of heaven such as the surrounding beauty and the delights of conjugial love. But if we reverse this order so that we arrive in the afterlife with a sensuous consciousness of God in which there is little rational consciousness, the spirit sinks down into corporeal consciousness and existence, and this is infernal (HD 170). God cannot come to such spirits as the path outward to awareness in the spirit’s mind is blocked by the external rational. This external rational is turned outward (or downward) and believes only that which is sensuous in the external (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). In the afterlife such external beliefs of religion fall off and vanish, leaving behind a ferocious sub-human who believes only in self (TCR 69). Nonduality is nothing else than sensuous consciousness united to an external rational in which there is nothing spiritual whatsoever. For the genuine spiritual or celestial comes only from heaven through the interior rational that must be gradually opened by a life of genuine religion and regeneration.

 

For more discussion on sensuous and rational consciousness, see Chapter 5, Sections 3.

 

1. God Is Separate From Creation

 

Nonduality in the Western mind forces an identity of substance between God, the cosmos, and self. This notion is clearly evident in the popular book “A Brief History of Everything” by Ken Wilber (Shambhala Books, 1996). The incompatibility between New Age nonduality and Christian dualism is explicitly pointed out in a review of the book by Douglas Groothuis, and published on the Web by the Christian Research Institute. (Accessed on the Web April 2002: www.equip.org/free/DN267.htm). Wilber’s cosmology is lukewarm in that it commingles nondualist and dualist concepts. He rejects the nonduality of scientific monism (only matter, space, and time exist), and wants to expand it to include “subjective experience, values, or mystical awareness.” These aren’t quantifiable yet they exist and are part of reality. Wilber’s name for these human dimensions is Spirit. One can see the damage of commingling when Wilber discards the dualist idea of God as Divine Person and instantiates a non- anthropomorphic Spirit. His rational idea of matter/spirit duality is immersed in the sensuous idea of a universal force dispersed in the universe. Quoting from the review by Groothuis:

 

"Kosmos is the manner in which Spirit manifests itself through certain invariant stages. … He views the source of the Kosmos as "Emptiness," which is "unbounded and unqualifiable" (27; see also 133). Wilber takes the mystical experience of Emptiness to be the highest state of consciousness. In this state, the subject-object relationship drops out and one realizes that he or she is one with the nondual reality." … "Wilber insists that the final reality is nondual an all-encompassing and absolute oneness (see 226-32).

 

It is evident that Western concepts of nonduality are commingled with remains of duality that are implied in the Western intellectual system and cannot be easily eradicated from the mind. But without the rational protection of discrete degrees and correspondences this commingling throws the mind into corporeal spirituality which invades the mind to the core and destroys the potential for opening the interior rational mind. This is the mind that sustains high consciousness levels (or heavens) in the afterlife. The absence of the rational is clearly seen in “mystical” statements such as this one, quoted by Groothuis:

 

“You are not in the Kosmos, the Kosmos is in you, and you are purest Emptiness. The entire universe is a transparent shimmering of the purest Emptiness. The entire universe is a transparent shimmering of the Divine" (229).

 

Groothuis clearly sees the absence of rationality in these nondual notions:

 

If nonduality is the comprehensive reality, as Wilber claims, this destroys all duality ... God's creation is one universe, but it consists of a great diversity of objects, events, and relationships. Neither God nor His creation will dissolve into a faceless oneness. ... One cannot have a personal relationship with Emptiness. If all is one, there can be no relationships, for a relationship involves at least two entities. Wilber says that "the twoness of experience is the fundamental lie, the primordial untruthfulness" (233).

 

Wilbers use of personal language for the impersonal absolute is a classic case of what Francis Schaeffer called "semantic mysticism"-- terms that have no philosophical application within a world view are invoked for a deceptive emotional effect. ... The problem of good and evil also plagues Wilber. Since Spirit is nondual, it is beyond ethical categories. Meaningful moral distinctions require an objective difference between the dualities of good and evil."

 

Here we see the spiritual danger: the denial of God’s Personhood which results in ourselves being God, an idea that is hostile to character regeneration since this requires a duality of superior to lower. If I am God, my salvation is not to change from evil to good with the help of God, but to let both fall off that I may awaken as God. In the end, Western nonduality falls into the corporeal spirituality called “mysticism” and “oneness with the universe.” Quoting Groothuis once more:

 

Wilber affirms that the ultimate reality is "unqualifiable" (137, 225). If so, then no one can logically affirm anything about it. What cannot be described cannot serve as an explanation for anything. Nevertheless, Wilber does qualify the Emptiness by saying it is the ground and goal of evolution, the source of all historical manifestations, the highest state of consciousness, and so forth. This is contradictory; he should remain silent (along with Emptiness)."

 

Chapter 3, Section 6

 

6. Christian Science Nonduality

 

New Age spirituality and mystical ideas of Spirit, Universe, or God-consciousness, enter the mind through nonduality which is the denial or ignorance of discrete degrees and correspondences into which the universe is created (DLW 173-281). Nonduality in the form of secular humanism, pluralism, and religious mysticism are systems of thinking that are opposed to the fundamental dualities we take up from the Writings. In the afterlife all of these natural belief systems fall off and are dissipated since they are not part of the internal mind. What is then left behind is the denial of God and heaven. Religion occupies the highest place in the human mind and without the worship and love of God as Person all that is below is false and of no use. Nonduality in the mind is antagonistic to the worship and love of the Divine Human in whom infinite distinct things make a one. The perfection of the Lord is that distinct things are united in Him. Were we to think that the distinct things commingle and are amalgamated into an “indistinct mass” of nonduality we close the mind to understanding the Lord’s perfection (DLW 352, SE 682). As the angels said to Swedenborg “what is indistinct is confused, whence results all imperfection of form” (DP 4).

 

The nonduality of Christian Science theology is evident from the core idea that permeates all sub-ideas, as here:

 

With the inspired Word of the Scriptures as its foundation, Christian Science reveals that God is infinite Spirit, the only Mind, boundless Soul, ever present Love, perfect Life, unrivaled Truth, omnipotent Principle. … Infinite Spirit never had a visible opposite, called matter nor an invisible opposite, called an atom. Infinite Mind never had a visible opposite, called a human brain, nor an invisible opposite, called mortal mind. … Consequently, the thought that there is something unlike or besides God should be rejected with the same finality with which those turnips were rejected.

 

The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, perceived the true import of God's allness as no one else has since Christ Jesus. In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mrs. Eddy writes, "Spirit, God, has created all in and of Himself. Spirit never created matter." And she continues, "Spirit is the only substance, the invisible and indivisible infinite God." The more we understand the unqualified allness of Spirit, the more we understand the unqualified nothingness of matter.

(On the Web at mbeinstitute.org/cern2.html Accessed May 2002)

 

Clearly, the nonduality expressed here is not drawn from the Word but from the mind of Mary Baker Eddy. We know this for certain from what the Writings teach concerning discrete degrees. The Lord creates everything in three discrete degrees. The natural world (“matter”) is a real and permanent creation, that contains within it the spiritual and the celestial (DP 220). Take away one and creation collapses into chaos and dissipates.

 

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20-21)

 

Heaven is in the man; and there is a place for him in heaven according to the state of life and of faith in which he is (AC 9305)

 

It cannot be said that Christian nonduality is Christian, but only that nonduality has been infused into the ideas of many Christians who acknowledge the Bible as the Holy Word. But this acknowledgement is only in their natural mind, thus devoid of any spiritual ideas that only start above the external natural-rational, that is, in the interior rational or spiritual-rational.

 

Chapter 3, Section 7

 

7. Secular nonduality in Objectivism, Skepticism, and the Aquarian Conspiracy

 

Author-philosopher Ayn Rand continues to be a significant influence on college students today. Millions of young Americans are exposed to her ideas in high school and college classrooms and read her books along with the collateral literature of followers. Her version of nonduality relates to Nietzsche’s “superman” concept that popularized the notion that morality is to be taken from natural reality, since human reason is from nature and nothing exists but what comes from nature. Rand’s objectivism is actually a materialism by which she denies the duality of the natural body and the supernatural spirit. Human reason is not from any such spirit but from nature. Here is a current wording of objectivism on the official Web site of the Ayn Rand Institute:

 

Ayn Rand named her philosophy “Objectivism” and described it as a philosophy for living on earth. Objectivism is an integrated system of thought that defines the abstract principles by which a man must think and act if he is to live the life proper to man. Ayn Rand first portrayed her philosophy in the form of the heroes of her best-selling novels, The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957). She later expressed her philosophy in nonfiction form. The basic principles of Objectivism can be summarized as follows:

 

Metaphysics

“Reality, the external world, exists independent of man’s consciousness, independent of any observer’s knowledge, beliefs, feelings, desires or fears. This means that A is A, that facts are facts, that things are what they are — and that the task of man’s consciousness is to perceive reality, not to create or invent it.” Thus Objectivism rejects any belief in the supernatural — and any claim that individuals or groups create their own reality.

 

Human Nature

Man is a rational being. Reason, as man’s only means of knowledge, is his basic means of survival. But the exercise of reason depends on each individual’s choice. “Man is a being of volitional consciousness.” “That which you call your soul or spirit is your consciousness, and that which you call ‘free will’ is your mind’s freedom to think or not, the only will you have, your only freedom. This is the choice that controls all the choices you make and determines your life and character.” Thus Objectivism rejects any form of determinism, the belief that man is a victim of forces beyond his control (such as God, fate, upbringing, genes, or economic conditions).

 

Ethics

“Reason is man’s only proper judge of values and his only proper guide to action. The proper standard of ethics is: man’s survival qua man — i.e., that which is required by man’s nature for his survival as a rational being (not his momentary physical survival as a mindless brute). Rationality is man’s basic virtue, and his three fundamental values are: reason, purpose, self-esteem. Man — every man — is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life.” Thus Objectivism rejects any form of altruism — the claim that morality consists in living for others or for society.

(“The Ayn Rand Institute, Center for the Advancement of Objectivism.” On the Web at www.aynrand.org/objectivism/essentials.html Accessed May 2002

 

The attitude of hostility towards religion and duality is made quite apparent as part of its appeal, I think. Westerners who want to take an anti-religion stand in opposition to their upbringing, find it in a modern philosophy that justifies ridiculing religious ideas about God and self. The rationale for justifying this rejection is given as a simple minded theory that objective thinking or “Reason” is solely from nature through sensory input.

 

And the serpent was subtle, more than every wild animal of the field that Jehovah God had made. And it said to the woman, Has God indeed said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 

 

'The serpent is here used to mean man's sensory perception in which he trusts. 'Wild animal of the field' here, as previously, means every affection that belongs to the external man. 'Woman' means the proprium. 'The serpent said, Has God indeed said, You shall not eat of every tree' means that for the first time they entertained doubts. The subject is the third generation of the descendants of the Most Ancient Church, which began not to believe matters of revelation unless they could see the import of these with their eyes and apprehend them with the senses. Their first state is described in this verse and the next as being a state of doubting. (AC 194)

 

This generalized form of nonduality leads to the devastating attitude that the self is the only source of truth, morality, and happiness. Altruism, which we may call charity or love of neighbor, is an idealistic or non-objective fabrication which are rejected by realistic and strong individuals. They are the ones who are going to succeed in their productivity and happiness. “Rational self-interest” is described as the highest goal of human consciousness and reason. Acting on our own behalf is said to be morally and objectively superior to acting on behalf of someone else because our survival depends on acting on our own behalf.

 

The nonduality of Rand’s theory of “Objectivism” is intended to decimate the core dualities that are in the Western mind from heredity and culture. God is eliminated and religion is for dupes. Good and evil are united into a continuum in relation to their value for the survival of the individual. Good is doing anything that increases survival. It is taught that acts that sacrifice self to save others are evil, weak, or contrary to reason. One is urged to behave in accordance with this principle in our daily interactions with others. Society would then thrive as a healthy and vigorous enterprise because all those who act from altruistic or religious motives will not survive. The survival of the strongest is the evolution of the fittest.

 

The devastating effect this philosophy can have on one’s understanding is illustrated in the essays written by high school students and published on the Ayn Rand Institute Web site. This student decided to present her ideas on objectivism for her high school graduation commencement speech. Her teacher saw the speech and suggested some changes:

 

My old history teacher, an extreme liberal, advised me to completely remove the word “selfish” and change it to another word, like “self-reliance.” But as I saw it, changing that word meant changing the meaning of my speech. To review, “selfish,” according to the American Heritage Dictionary, means “concerned chiefly or only with oneself without regard for the well being of others.” The committee had a problem with the definition, and basically, the philosophical ideas I was implementing. I was not advocating caring only for yourself at all times—I was advocating selfishness toward one’s own goals and dreams.

(“Collected Student Writings: The Virtue of Individualism” On the Web at www.aynrand.org/ROC/individual_virtue_main.shtml Accessed May 2002).

 

In contrast to this is the revealed truth in the Writings:

 

Man is born not for the sake of himself but for the sake of others; that is, he is born not to live for himself alone but for others; otherwise there could be no cohesive society, nor any good therein. It is a common saying that every man is a neighbor to himself; but the doctrine of charity teaches how this is to be understood, namely, that everyone should provide for himself the necessaries of life, as food, clothing, a dwelling, and other things which are necessarily required in the social life in which he is, and this not only for himself, but also for his family, nor for the present alone, but also for the future.

 

For unless a man acquires for himself the necessaries of life, he is not in a condition to exercise charity, since he is in want of everything. But how every man ought to be a neighbor to himself may be seen from the following comparison: Every man ought to provide his body with food; this must be first, but the end should be that he may have a sound mind in a sound body; and every man ought to provide his mind with food, namely, with such things as pertain to intelligence and judgment; but the end should be that he may thereby be in a state to serve his fellow-citizens, society, his country, the church, and thus the Lord. He who does this provides well for himself to eternity. (TCR 406)

 

The American intellectual spectrum is divided into two factions that might be called Establishment and New Age. One is indigenous to the West, the other imported from the East. The Establishment intellectualism is constructed on the usual left-right ideology that characterizes political activity and social policy. Ayn Rand’s Objectivism is on the right and is rationalized on the basis of materialistic monism and survival of the fittest, a point of view that was elaborated into a modernity outlook by 19th Century British and German philosophers (Weber, Huxley, xx). Opposing Objectivism is the left oriented secular humanism as represented by The Aquarian Conspiracy which popularized a fully modernized personal philosophy that millions of individuals have taken on as their habitual way of thinking and reasoning about social issues, psychology, morality, and spirituality.

 

The nonduality of the left takes a different form from that on the right, though both agree in the departure cornerstone—only the material world of nature is the reality around us, and therefore good is what promotes self and its self-centered goals. There is a background assumption in all nonduality that is a blind persuasive faith in the mystery of the unknown in nature. This is the substitute for the inherited faith in God that every individual is born with (TCR 8). Objectivism on the right of the spectrum relies on an unexamined super-rational role attributed to nature in the form of its not-understood “intelligent” forces that counteract chaos. The Aquarian Conspiracy on the left relies on a mystical Wholeness that exists and exerts a beneficial influence on the parts. Some of these parts are human beings who can reason and figure out what the Wholeness is up to. This knowledge is valuable because it allows us to manage the forces of Wholeness, or to manage things around us to conform to the forces of the Wholeness. By doing this kind of management we are transformed and raised to a higher level of our being and existence. The notion of a “conspiracy” by the “Aquarian” forces shows that the mysterious activity of the Wholeness work in the background of our awareness and calling these forces “Aquarian” indicates that they are beneficial and oriented towards the evolution of human consciousness.

 

A great shuddering, irrevocable shift is overtaking us. … It is a new mind—a turnabout in consciousness in critical numbers of individuals, a network powerful enough to bring about radical change in our culture. This network—the Aquarian Conspiracy—has already enlisted the minds, hearts, and resources of some of our most advanced thinkers and steadily growing numbers from every corner of American society. Marilyn Ferguson is the publisher of Brain/Mind Bulletin, the most widely read newsletter in the areas of brain research and consciousness, and The Leading Edge, a newsletter dealing with the frontiers of social transformation. (From the book jacket.)

 

Meditation, chanting, and similar techniques increase the coherence and harmony in the brainwave patterns; they bring about greater synchrony between the hemispheres, which suggests that higher order is achieved. (p. 79)

 

Beyond the personal reunification, the inner reconnection, the re-annexing of lost portions of oneself, there is the connection to an even larger Self—the invisible continent on which we all make our home. … The separate self is an illusion. … When the self joins the Self, there is power. … This perfection, this wholeness, does not refer to superior achievement, moral rectitude, personality. It is not comparative and not even personal. Rather, it is an insight into nature…If only briefly, we recognize ourselves as children of nature, not as strangers in the world. (p. 97-100).

 

Spiritual or mystical experience is … a direct perception of nature’s unity, the inside of the mysteries of science tries valiantly to know from the outside. … Millions living today have experienced transcendent aspects of reality and have incorporated this knowledge into their lives. A mystical experience, however, brief, is validation for those attracted to the spiritual search. (p. 362)

(“The Aquarian Conspiracy” by Marilyn Ferguson. Los Angeles: Tarcher, and Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980)

 

What is called “transcendent” and “mystical” in nonduality systems is a corporeal feeling of “unity with the universe” or a sensuous vision of nothing experienced before. Both of these “spiritual self-transformations” are interpreted as occurring in one’s “consciousness” which is pictured like a sort of elevator shaft that goes from bottom self to divine. Despite the tremendous bibliographic efforts put out around this and similar “psychotechnologies,” there is not one rational duality included anywhere. The Writings describe this result and explain it as the absolute restriction of the natural mind to the natural discrete degree (see Chapter 7 Section 1). Not a single rational-spiritual idea can exist in natural systems of nonduality (DLW 185).

 

1. The “Aquarian Conspiracy”

 

The “Aquarian Conspiracy” is indeed a conspiracy, but not the one described in the book. The real conspiracy is the denial of duality. The purpose of this conspiracy is to maintain the current supremacy of self and the human intellect. This is done by systematic exclusion or filtering out of dualist concepts from the Second Coming. The dualist rational absolutist concepts of the Writings dethrone the supremacy of the self and destroy the fiery serpent living in the formula: self=divine. Prior to reformation the dethroning of the self from its divine position is experienced as death and dying. Naturally, then, the filtering process against duality will continue as it is endemic. Because of this, the Lord provides for each person a way out of self—reformation and regeneration. This is the suffering we must be willing to undergo. No other way exists. But the burden is light, says the Lord (Matt 11:30, HH 359). It is. Once reformation is achieved. Prior and during it, the burden is so heavy that few are willing to carry it. Genuine dualism brought to humankind by the Second Coming is in the mind of very few today. Those who hear of it, don’t wish to hear more. This has been my observation for many years as a professor, scientist, author, and researcher.

 

Further, those born in the New Church receive an education about the Writings, but they remain in internal disbelief or denial even if they are externally practicing New Church worship and social life (AC 1094). It’s only when they are willing to undergo reformation as an adult do they then receive internal belief and assent. From then on they are being regenerated and their mind is for the first time “reborn” and turned into a New Church mind (AC 3518). This is done to the extent that one studies the Writings daily for the purpose of taking up Celestial Doctrine for life, so that one may will and think in accordance with this Heavenly Doctrine.

 

To undergo reformation we must let go of all our nondualities stuck in the natural mind, no matter what religion we are born into. The first to go is the fundamental one that keeps all others in power: the formula self=divine. I recall when I went through that phase (see Note 3 at end). I was an avatar to myself, a god, evidence of which were my great spiritual accomplishments—my insights into all things rational, my ecstatic experiences of oneness with the universe, my emotional detachment regarding what riles everyone else around me, my absolute independence and self-reliance in internal things—these were the proof for my having reached the divine status. And then I had to give it up quickly as the Lord allowed me to plummet down quickly into anxiety, doubt, lifelessness, and dread. Thus vastated, my insane persuasion dissolved and I was able to grasp and hold on to the new found inner experience of worship and love of the Lord through loving, studying, and obeying His Word. This was higher consciousness. This is reality. This direction of movement will pay off with salvation and eternity, while the prior one with sinking deeper and deeper into the sink-hole of insanity. This may sound like an extreme view by those who do not see that it is what the Writings teach in particular and in general everywhere.

 

A popular book that has had a large following is James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy (Warner Books, New York 1994), a novel seen as a spiritual guide for the New Age. It is still a best seller in 2002. The book purports to reveal ancient truth that has been suppressed by the “established orthodoxy” now that we are on the verge of a paradigm shift in human evolution. In reality we are all truly God but the Christian Church has kept this truth from the people, along with the Bible and Western science. Since we are co-creators of the universe, we create our own reality. By rejecting all fear and doubt we raise our spiritual energy to our “higher self”  One critical reviewer asks, “Do we have a new guru with a new religious movement here?” Another reviewer summarizes the new knowledge as follows:

 

#1. Feeling restless? You're not alone: Everybody's starting to look for more meaning in life. Start paying closer attention to those seemingly "Chance Coincidences" - strange occurrences that feel like they were meant to happen. They are actually synchronistic events, and following them will start you on your path to spiritual truth.

 

#2. Observe our culture within its proper historical context. The first half of the past millennium was spent under the thumb of the church; in the second half we became preoccupied with material comfort. Now, at the end of the twentieth century, we've exhausted that preoccupation. We're ready to discover life's ultimate purpose.

 

#3. Start to get acquainted with the subtle energy that infuses all things. With practice, you can learn to see the aura around any living being and to project your own energy around it to give it strength.

 

#5. The key to overcoming conflict in the world is the mystical experience, which is available to everyone. To nurture the mystical and build your energy, allow yourself to be filled with a sense of love.

 

#7. Once cleared of traumas, you can build energy through contemplation and meditation, focus on you basic life question, and start riding a steady stream of intuitions, dreams, and synchronistic coincidences, all guiding you in the direction of your own evolution and transformation.

 

#9. Our purpose here is to evolve beyond this plane. … We can connect to God's energy in such a way that we will eventually become beings of light, and walk straight into heaven.

(The Nine Insights of the Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, summary by Alan Atkisson (Aug/1994) on the Web at www.spiritweb.org/Spirit/celestine-9-insights.html Accessed June 2002)

 

2. The “Celestine Prophecy”

 

The “Celestine Prophecy” is regarded by followers as a modern day revelation of the next step in human evolution. It has surfaced now because a “critical mass” of people are reaching a new spiritual development through insights that the higher self reveals to the lower self. Humans have “dynamic sacred energy” they can project to influence the seeming coincidences in our lives. The “mystic experience of an inner connection with divine energy within” has been known in Eastern traditions but now anyone can experience this through acquiring “personal energy and awareness of our spiritual mission.” This is revealed to the person gradually—questions, daydreams, intuition—leading to similar revelations that others experience “synchronously” and “ultimately transforming our bodies into spiritual form and uniting this dimension of existence with the after-life dimension, ending the cycle of birth and death” (from a review online).

 

All philosophic forms of nonduality are self-based formulations. In the East they take the form that the self is really God not an individual. In the West God is left out of the account and replaced by a mystical idea about a self-intelligent universe or evolutionary process. The result of all forms of nonduality is to allow people to invent their own ideas of morality and spirituality. This is the imagined victory of the human over the Divine, which in the Word is described as eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (AC 126). The tree of life is discarded. The result of this is spiritual death with no knowledge left of any spiritual truths (AC 128, 265).

 

There is also a middle of the road nonduality which might be called psychological humanism. It is the orientation that gifts the natural mind with having the ability to improve itself to an indefinite degree into the future. It creates a continuum of intelligence in the natural discrete degree spanning from animal to the highest level humans can attain. The method by which this can achieved is critical thinking. A similar notion is promoted in related philosophical systems of secular humanism, one of the widest known is the general semantics movement started by Korzybsky (xx). According to the Foundation for Critical Thinking the human mind is natural and contains various levels and functions. Thoughts and feelings are organized by either of two drives: “egocentric tendencies” or “rational capacities.” One is “unsuccessful” leading to negative emotions--anger, depression, alienation, arrogance, defensiveness, domination, submission. The other helps us attain our goals, develop our potentials, and lead a fulfilling life. The focus ought to be on “continual self-improvement while respecting the rights and needs of others.” (The Human Mind, Foundation for Critical Thinking, on the Web at www.criticalthinking.org )

 

All philosophies, psychologies, sciences, and religions that are founded on the cornerstone of nonduality are invariably stuck in the natural world and the natural mind. Rejecting the idea of dualism, they leave no exit from this world. The individual can only have a temporary existence. People have a choice as to how they’re going to spend this limited time, well or not well. What it means to live life well in the mental health profession is identified along various measures of living and achieving—

 

*    self-improvement and stagnation

*    adaptive and maladjusted

*    successful and being extinguished

*    rational and egocentric

*    clear and obscure

*    cooperative and antagonistic

*    outstanding and normal

*    self-reliant and dependant

*    and so on.

 

Each life continuum is defined by two opposites in choices that determine our lifestyle, our personality, and our destiny. This type of positive and upward mobile character image may have a certain attractiveness to the New Church mind. It’s easier to reject the objectionable self-centeredness of Objectivism and the mystical obscurity of Aquarian Wholeness. But the middle of the road version of critical rationality and emotional intelligence seems closer to us. After all, we also value continual self-improvement, rational thinking and egocentric, and socially cooperative emotions rather than anti-social. When we begin to examine these ideas more closely, we begin to realize that they cannot be imported into the New Church mind set (based on Divinely distinguished dualities) without causing great harm.

 

Every change and variation of state of the human mind makes some change and variation in the series of things present and consequently of things that follow; what, then, must it not do in the progression to eternity? (DP 202:3)

 

Evils are as it were heavy, and fall of themselves into hell; and so also falsities that are from evil (n. 8279, 8298). (HD 170)

 

For example, consider what is to be taught to school children at various levels. For instance, one Lesson on “What Will Decompose?” as designed for 2nd and 3rd Grades, explains the difference between “man-made” and “natural objects.” And then encourages discussion that can stimulate critical thinking about “categories of things” and which would decompose. This appears fine at first, and is intended to lay the logical foundation for later ideas of conservation and recycling. But upon second thought we would not want to teach our New Church children this way. We would want to lay a different foundation for the ideas of conservation and recycling. The dualities that make the foundation for all future concepts is to be laid down at each age level in a form suitable for comprehension at each age or developmental level. By the age of 7 or 8 we would connect conservation and recycling to spiritual motives from God. Conservation and recycling are not spiritual. We can be involved in recycling activities by profession, administration, or business. Or, we can be involved by moral thinking and by religious thinking. Those who are involved in recycling by other motives may also be involved by religious motives, but not necessarily—some will, some will not, you can’t really tell which very easily since they all show a similar type of involvement and performance.

 

This duality context then sets the foundation for the morality of recycling as an individual motivation and choice. The religious motive for recycling is the only spiritual one, but this only to the extent that one’s religion is spiritual-natural and not merely corporeal-sensuous natural. It would threaten the children’s ability to understand the Writings if we were too teach them the two categories of man-made and natural without at the same time embedding these categories into a more inclusive category of man-made from God and nature-made from God. This is necessary to insure that all concepts in our mind are connected to God. Because this is the reality, teaching it instills an external rational system that can receive the genuine spiritual-rational system from the Writings.

 

It should be noted note that the secular orientation of Skepticism teaches critical thinking analysis for debunking religious dogma and uncritical acceptance of various claims regarding miracles and the power of prayer. The Skeptic’s Dictionary online (skepdic.com/prayer.html ) uses this critical approach not only with the dubious claims of certain enthusiastic preachers but also those of the professional medical research literature that publishes prayer experiments with flawed designs. Clearly these critical thinking skills are valuable to build the external rational, so long as the context of duality is provided for it.

 

A General Church minister has warned of the potential harm to children in teaching them evolution theory without contextualizing it within dualism—I quote from a previous article (see Note 4 at end):

 

Mark Carlson's article on evolution theory and the limbus gives us the third illustration of the incorporation of religious concepts from Swedenborg into modern science.[14] First he cautions that atheistic evolution theory can be a "real danger" to "the simple-minded" because of its "sophisticated arguments against God" (p.259). To assume that a "random process can 'create' life" is "inherently unreasonable and illogical" (p.259). The "neo-Darwinian" views of sociobiologists (he mentions Richard Dawkins) are mere "foolishness," such as the theory that our genes "manipulate us and our world by remote control for the sake of their own survival" (p.260).

 

For additional discussion on New Church education, see Chapter 7, Section 1

 

Chapter 3, Section 8

 

8. Rudolf Steiner’s Christian Occult Science

 

The Anthroposophy Movement that Steiner founded and led until his death in 1924 survives today in a select following, small but widespread in Western countries. It is not generally known that he started the Waldorf education movement that is inspired by his occult ideas. I have made an attempt to study Steiner’s books and consulted followers who are active in anthroposophy, but I abandoned my studies after three years and a dozen books, being convinced that I will obtain nothing coherent from his obscure web of mystical ideas. I might note the hand of Providence in that I came across a single sentence in which Steiner mentions Swedenborg as an allusion to some point he was making. The name Swedenborg stuck in my mind as an author I should look up some day. A few years later while browsing in our university library I came across a shelf full of books by Swedenborg. Remembering the mental note, I checked out Warren’s Compendium and read selections to all the Writings. Since then hardly a day went by that that I did not study the Writings. In the first few hours of reading the Writings I learned more about the spiritual world and the human mind than years of reading Steiner. But especially about the Lord about whom Steiner has only fantasies of nonduality.

 

Regarding the spiritual world:

 

When the ether-body is detached from the human being after death (see Chapter III,) something that may be described as a kind of extract or quintessence of it remains for the whole of his future evolution. This extract contains the fruits of the past life. It is the bearer of the “seed” of his coming life — the seed which is developing throughout man's spiritual evolution between death and a new birth.

 

Steiner teaches reincarnation as the vehicle of evolution of an individual’s consciousness. Between births, the individual undergoes various experiences in some spiritual realm or state. The psycho-dynamic forces that drive or create these experiences are said to be mysterious inner forces of an intelligent universe. Steiner said he was able to “sense” these forces by subtle forms of “supersensible cognition,” especially just before fully awakening in the morning, while in a sort of middle state between sleep and consciousness. The more “evolved” an individual is, the more attuned to these mysterious forces called “Beings,” and the more one can understand how they run the universe.

 

While the Ego is in the spiritual worlds, man's earthly dwelling-place is changing. In one respect this change is connected with the changes that are taking place in the great Universe — changes for example, in the relative position of the Earth to the Sun. Periodic changes involving cosmic repetitions are connected with the development of new conditions on the Earth.

 

Through Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition supersensible cognition gradually reaches up into the regions of the spiritual world where it can apprehend the Beings who participate in the evolution of the World and Man. There too it can perceive and, in perceiving, find intelligible the life of man between death and a new birth.

 

It may be asked whether by meditation, contemplation and kindred methods of attaining supersensible cognition described in this book, we arrive at the general realities — say, of the life between death and rebirth, and other spiritual facts — or whether we are also enabled to perceive particular events and beings, for example an individual human soul after death. The answer is that one who has thus acquired the ability to see into the spiritual world also becomes able to perceive in detail what is going on there.

 

At one time I was hopeful that I too might meet these Beings or see what’s going on in the spiritual world—but no such luck! I could see how it would be possible for me to start imagining these things and build elaborate astrological events surrounding momentous evolutionary upheavals of ages ending and new ages beginning, and even how I had a hand in all this, being situated spiritually where I was. Etc. But all this was not to be, as Swedenborg was waiting around the next bend (in the library).

 

When we look back into olden times, we see rise up before us within the traditions of Judaism the prophetic figure of Elijah. We know what significance the prophet Elijah had for the people of the Old Testament, and therewith for all mankind; we know how he set before them the goal and destiny of their existence. And we have shown how in the course of time the being who was present in Elijah appeared again at the very most important moment of human evolution, appeared again so that Christ Jesus Himself could give him the Initiation he was to receive for the evolution of mankind. For the being of Elijah appeared again in Lazarus-John — who are in truth one and the same figure as you will have understood from my book “Christianity as Mystical Fact.” … We see how in the Sun sphere he is able to live through over again in a deep and intimate sense — in another way now than when he was on Earth as a companion of Christ Jesus — he is able to live over again what he underwent when, through the Initiation of Christ Jesus, he, Lazarus, became John.

 

In recent months we have frequently spoken, my dear friends, of the instreaming of the Michael-Power into the spiritual events of man's life on earth. … This work is: to let the Michael Power and the Michael Will penetrate the whole of life. The Michael Power and the Michael Will are none other than the Christ Will and the Christ Power, going before in order to implant in the right way into the Earth the Power of the Christ.

(“Rudolf Steiner Archive, Occult Science - An Outline, Details From the Domain of Spiritual Science, The Ether-Body of Man.” On the Web at

wn.elib.com/Steiner/Books/GA013/English/RSP1963/GA013_c07.html#N3 Accessed May 2002)

 

I met a fellow Jewish man at an Anthroposophy meeting and after awhile I had occasion to ask him how he felt about Steiner’s references to Christ. He told me that Steiner doesn’t refer to Christ but to the “Christ Impulse” or “Christ Power” and “Christ Will” but never to Christ. So he felt comfortable with the idea that Anthroposophy had nothing to do with the Christian religion. And he was correct. Steiner uses New Testament names, events, and ideas to label what Steiner needed a name for, or a peg upon which to hang one of his ideas, but never in the Christian religious sense that Christians have for their Bible.

 

For awhile, prior to my being led to the Writings, I found Rudolf Steiner an attractive figure. He was flamboyant and mystical, cultured and sophisticated, an erudite curator of Goethe’s library, a talented architect and sculptor in the style of Blake’s etchings of the muses and cruelties in hell. He was an innovative educator deeply interested in the mental and spiritual development of children, and had esoteric knowledge of non-traditional medicine, macro-biotic agriculture, and other interests besides. I was told that he ended his lectures and classes with a brief meditative session that appealed to the Beings and Forces in the spirit of the Christ Power. The Waldorf schools he created first in Germany spread to European countries and are represented in the U.S. through teachers trained in the Steinerian system. It involves an elaborate theory of mental development based on sensory training of the various modalities. Children are exposed to age-specific activities that includes growing things, dealing with animals, training with colors, music, breathing techniques, drama, and a special style of dancing and movement called “Eurhythmy.” The use of sound recordings are discouraged and computers are held off until a later age. We found out these things when we enrolled our small children in a neighborhood summer school that turned out to be a Waldorf school.

 

Anthroposophy is a giant collection of nondualities that creates one large soup of everything. It has nothing to offer to the New Church mind but a bunch of vexing obscurities.

 

Chapter 3, Section 9

 

9. Anti-semitism and Holocaust Theology

 

Anti-semitism is racial and ethnic hatred against the Jews. Many books have been written about it over the centuries and modern studies and institutes are active today. Anti-semitism in Europe has been widespread, generational, and cultural. Until the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews in World War II anti-semitism was related to religion, but the Nazis escalated it and extended it to an official government policy of ethnic eradication or genocide. My family was a victim of this historical episode. I was born in 1938 in Rumania in a Jewish Orthodox family. The war exploded all around my childhood. But worse, the anti-semitism that threatened us more than others. The adults around my life suddenly vanished, carted off on trains with soldiers in black shirts. I was seven by the time some of them started returning, uncles and aunts. Grandparents did not return. One of the cousins who returned was Elie Wiesel. He was a few years older than me but still young, and I did not recognize him. Later he got to tell his story of anti-semitism in several holocaust books that won him world fame and recognition. It wasn’t his personal suffering he presented, but the world’s. A world that stood by what the Nazis did, is a sick world. This was his message, his humanitarian warning. And a God who permitted it, is not caring enough to exercise His Omnipotence to stop it, to prevent it. God’s plans and purposes are somehow off the mark—Wiesel’s characters in the novels argue against God, put Him on trial, convict Him.

 

Wiesel has had two areas of influence intellectually: secular and religious. The influence on secular humanism has been to promote the notion that anti-semitism is a political and moral plague on society, corrupting it, turning it into sub-human levels of functioning. The only way society can escape this fate is to constitute itself into a community of hatred against anti-semitism. Extensions of this idea are seen in the formation of anti-discrimination agencies and institutes specifically focused on anti-semitism in society—the laws, the media, the image, the philosophies, and the practices of it. Wiesel’s religious influence has been felt by Christians who desire a philosophical explanation of anti-semitism in relation to the Christian Church. There seems to be a need for alleviating feelings of guilt for the role of the Christian clergy in contributing to anti-semitism over the centuries. One commentator on Wiesel writes:

 

The second part explores the theological and ethical questions involved in the journey of those who hear Wiesel. The author confronts Wiesel's assertion: "The sincere Christian knows that what died in Auschwitz was not the Jewish people but Christianity." The questions are unavoidable: Why were so many S.S. members also members of Christian churches? How could so many of the killers have been educated in the church and in Christian institutions? How could there have been killers who still went to confession? As the author indicates, the questions are Wiesel's, but Christians must make them their own. Why? The Holocaust was a betrayal of Jesus.

 (William A. Hartfelder, Jr. “Review of: Elie Wiesel: Messenger to All Humanity” by Robert McAfee Brown Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 1983. On the web at theologytoday.ptsem.edu/apr1984/v41-1-bookreview13.htm Accessed June 2002.)

 

The modern Jewish perspective on God has become influential with Christians since the Holocaust literature has become prominent in seminaries and an official ecumenical relationship has been formed between Christian Church leaders and American Jewish Rabbis. One of the best known author and critic in the holocaust literature is Elie Wiesel, a survivor of Nazi extermination camps, and honored with a Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for his humanitarian activities in relation to “remember the holocaust” which he argued was a great human failure, not merely a Jewish tragedy. Christian theologians began to argue that the holocaust requires a change in the idea that Christians have of Redemption. Here is one example that uses the holocaust as a justification for Christian political support for the survival of Israel:

 

Ellis provides an illuminating overview of what has been described as "Holocaust theology," that worldview which places Jewish destiny within the parameters of the Holocaust and the state of Israel. He argues that in their attempt to understand how a God of history could have permitted the murder of 6 million Jews, Holocaust theologians have essentially concluded there are no satisfactory answers. Thus, the rabbinic world of synagogue and prayer is no longer sufficient for them, and the religious duty of the community of faith must now include ensuring the survival of the Jewish people. Since only sovereign and powerful states can guarantee such survival, "achieving power in Israel reaches the level of sacred principle." Hence the centrality of Israel not only as the spiritual engine of Jewish life but also as the only reliable vehicle for self-preservation.

(…)

Like other writers, Ellis attributes the restraint that generally characterizes Western criticism of Israel partly to Christian guilt over not having done enough to prevent the Holocaust. But in a biting critique of the interfaith dialogue that emerged between progressive Christians and Jews following the Second Vatican Council in the mid'60s, Ellis denounces the Christian participants who welcomed "almost as a new gospel" the premises of Holocaust theology. For the unfortunate result has been an unspoken "ecumenical deal," whereby Christians avoid pressing the issue of Palestinian suffering under Israeli rule, in return for a Jewish acceptance of the sincerity of Christian repentance for its past anti-Semitism.

 

(Book Reviews: Beyond Innocence and Redemption: Confronting the Holocaust and Israeli Power. By Marc H. Ellis. Harper & Row, 1990. Reviewed by John Dirlik. December/January 1992/93 on the Web at

www.washington-report.org/backissues/1292/9212074a.html accessed June 2002)

 

1. Tenets Of Holocaust Theology

 

Some of the tenets of “holocaust theology” are expressed here:

 

Some have argued that as God granted human beings free will, the terrors of the Holocaust were manifestations of purely human evil. Others have suggested that God suffered in the death camps with his chosen people. Radical theologians, however, have contended that our understanding of God must be altered in the light of the Nazi terror.

 

Pre-eminent among such Jewish theologians is the Conservative rabbi Richard Rubenstein, who argues that it is no longer possible to believe in a supernatural deity who acts in history. Jews today, he contends, live in the time of the death of God.

 

Elie Wiesel described in his autobiographical novel, Night , the evolution of his religious doubt as he experienced the horrors of the Nazi regime. His rebellion was heightened during the high holy days when, unable to pray, he turned accuser. On the day of atonement, he refused to fast, rejecting God's silence in the face of suffering and murder.

(…)

A shift in perspective has also taken place in Christian circles. A number of Christian thinkers insist that our theological understanding has been fundamentally altered by the events of the Nazi era. In Anti-Semitism and Christian Theology , the Christian feminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether argues that the church must repudiate its traditional conviction that Christianity is the only true path to salvation.

 

The Catholic theologian John Pawlikowski says Christians should forge a new conception of the relationship between God and human beings in the light of the Holocaust. In his view, the initial act of creation constituted the liberation of humankind from its total encasement in the godhead. Christianity's role is to guide humans in how they use this power and freedom.

(…)

These and other thinkers have recast the theological approach to the problem of God's presence and human suffering. In a post-Holocaust world, traditional views of God are arguably invalid. In his article "Christians and Jews after Auschwitz", the Christian theologian Johannes Metz addresses a clear imperative to contemporary theologians. "Never again to do theology in such a way that its construction is unaffected, or could remain unaffected, by Auschwitz." In different ways, radical theologians have absorbed this message and paved the way for a new theology in a post-Holocaust age.

(Dan Cohn-Sherbok. “Where was God when evil struck?” This article first appeared in the Times Higher Educational Supplement, January 25 2002

www.lamp.ac.uk/trs/studyofjudaism/wherewasgod.html  accessed June 2002.

 

The basis of all doubts about God regarding the Jewish holocaust is the tendency of people generally and theologians in particular to apply a nonduality between historical events and God’s omnipotence. This particular tendency is a sub-set of the larger issue within which it is discussed: Why does God permit evil of any kind? The crisis of the holocaust is precipitated by the horrific number of victims in one historical event. The unprecedented evil unleashed in the 1800 days of World War II made brought on the death of 6 million Jews, 20 million Germans, 20 million Russians, and millions of Poles, British, American, Japanese, and others. These people must have had some face off when they arrived in the spiritual world, as often is the case with victims and their tormentors (SE 4493). It is significant to note that I could find not a single reference to this idea in all of my research on holocaust theology. There appears to be a total and absolute disinterest in following these victims to their fate in the afterlife. It’s as if the afterlife did not exist and was not relevant. But to the New Church mind this connection is immediately obvious and thought of.

 

2. The Victims In The Afterlife

 

Jewish and Christian nonduality are equal in prohibiting discussion of the afterlife of those 50 million people who entered the spiritual world from deaths caused by the five-year war. Almost one million people died each month during that war. Every one of these deaths meant a new beginning and a new future. It’s irrational to stop the discussion at the point of death, as if these people disappear from the human race. Nonduality wants to focus on the size of the numbers—but this remains a natural focus, not spiritual. The number of deaths has significance for a natural theology and for politics. Angels do not think in numbers about anything (AC 5291). Dualism from the Writings allow us to go deeper into the spiritual significance of any event. Not a single death from among the 50 million was caused by human evil as an impotent God looked on. Every death, and its horrific attendant details, occurred with the Lord’s Laws of Permissions. Nothing could occur without the Lord giving it power to occur. The Lord permitted every horrific event and supplied the power for its occurrence—the power of the trains carrying the victims, the intelligence of the Nazis in figuring out efficient killing methods for millions, the attitudes of the world’s leaders who did nothing and were not outraged, the last twitch of a hand in agony, the last heart beat—every single detail was powered by Divine Omnipotence through the Divine Laws of Permissions. And it doesn’t stop there!

 

Every individual needed to be awakened in the spiritual world, all 50 million of them. Each was treated personally by the best possible care: two angels of the Lord supervising with great care the operations of resuscitation. And my grandparents and uncles and cousins, and all the soldiers, and all the Nazis who died, and all the Russians, and all the Poles, and so on. They were all resuscitated within 36 hours into the caring hands of angels. And from there they carried on, freer than before, with more capacity to enjoy and discover the deepest desires and delights. There is no way of accurately telling the holocaust story without going beyond the point of death. There are two reasons: psychological and spiritual.

 

Psychologically, if we stop at the point of the dying of the millions, there is no resolution possible. The only available alternatives are pathological. There is no rational resolution possible. People then fall into two main syndromes. One is to hold on to the memory with hatred for part of the human. This perpetual reminding and vigilance become  possible mechanisms for escaping a repetition. The other is to forgive and not to want to remember, and not to want to attribute it to human nature in general. Neither approach gives satisfaction and resolution.

 

Spiritually, if we stop at the point of the dying of the millions, there is no resolution with respect to why God allowed it. There is a general acknowledgement that God sees the larger picture we do not, and therefore in God’s unfathomable Wisdom, there is a justification for it. This is not a resolution but a the creation of a mystery. It prevents the deepening of our ideas about God, a deepening that we need to advance in our regeneration. The New Church mind is formed by the Writings where the Divine Laws of Permissions have been unveiled to anyone who wants to believe them as Divine Truth. The Lord is revealing His rational universe, His loving purposes, and His gentle means of regenerating a fallen race. The Writings reveal where all evil comes from, namely the people who inhabit the hells. They are earthlings who lived a few decades in the physical body and allowed their mind to become devoid of love and caring for anyone but the self. They now subsist in hell by fantasizing their evils and delighting in their fantasies. Their lusts and cupidities are what’s being received in the human mind as the fallen race.

 

The world of spirits is not heaven, nor is it hell, but it is the intermediate place or state between the two; for it is the place that man first enters after death; and from which after a suitable time he is either raised up into heaven or cast down into hell in accord with his life in the world. (HH 421)

 

Every individual regardless of race, inheritance, religion, or health, inherits at birth a mental connection to those evil lusts and cupidities. These flow in into the will of the natural mind, and each time we carry them out in thought and action, we experience delight. We are a race delighted with evil, with lust, with cupidities, and especially can we enjoy these fallen delights when we justify them in our understanding as something good and allowable. This is called the infernal marriage and takes us straight to hell from where we cannot escape to eternity. The Lord cannot prevent these events on our own account. This is because we are so fallen that nothing would be left in our delight or animated life if the Lord prevented the evils from being done. Our delights would instantly cease and we would have no motive to move or think anything. If we had enough good things we loved, the Lord could then prevent the bad things we also love, and we would still feel alive, and in our heaven. But if there are no good loves or affections left, not a one, then the Lord goes along with the lusts and their evil acts, and gives Permission. That is, the Lord allows it to happen, doesn’t stop it, but gives the power and the knowledge for the criminal and cruel act to take place against the victim.

 

Further, the Lord governs these events so that He mitigates each detail, bending but never forcing, working in the background to make things happen as if by chance or foresight (AC 4364[2] ). The Lord is present very closely with the individual’s inner mind of which there is no conscious awareness. Regardless of the person’s religion or morality, the Lord is there close, governing and managing and healing. How good it is that He doesn’t leave things to us, for then hell would be far worse. He only lets us carry on the impression that He is absent or that we are accomplishing anything from ourselves. The holocaust is psychologically and spiritually impossible to resolve without knowing about the Divine Laws of Permissions and the Laws of Divine Providence. These have now been revealed in the Writings and we can have a perspective on anti-semitism that is rational and purposeful, not random and abandoned.

 

The New Church mind knows that the Lord only permits an event if He can turn it into some good for the victim and perpetrator alike. The Lord moderates and bends the killer’s intentions and capacities for cruelty, moment by moment, and the Lord also is with each victim, moderating the suffering and the fear.

 

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)

 

There are many like Elie Wiesel who see the holocaust as God’s failure, Christianity’s failure, humanity’s failure. These represent a continuation of the struggles for him and others. But we know from the Writings that in reality there is never a failure by the Lord. What is happening is that the Lord manages everyone’s fate and biography in accordance with His Perfect Divine Order and with a constant focus on the individual’s regeneration and preparation for spiritual life. The style by which we live in war and in peace is something we ourselves insist on, even as the Lord manages to work around it so that all things contribute to the individual’s spiritual salvation and eternal life. There has been no failure of anything, only man’s cruelty at work prior to regeneration.

 

Jewish nonduality as it is manifested in Christian thinking is exhibited in the popularity of Rabbi Harold Kushner’s bestsellers read by millions of Americans.

 

Question: This year is the 20th anniversary of your hugely best-selling book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Did the response to that book surprise you?

 

Answer: It still surprises me 20 years later that so many people, Christians, Jews and agnostics, were comforted by that book, that it is used in college courses and taught at Christian seminaries.

 

Question: What is it about us that craves significance?

Answer: Once we come to understand that we're not going to live forever, we feel the need to leave our mark on the world, so that when we are gone, people will know that we were once there. It's not mortality that frightens us, it's invisibility, the dreadful feeling that neither our living nor our dying will make a difference to the world. Religion tries to help us conquer that fear by giving us good things to do and by reassuring us that our choices matter at the highest level. We may not be famous, but we matter to the people close to us and we matter to God.

(BookPage interview with the author. Rabbi Harold Kushner Living a Life That Matters: Resolving the Conflict Between Conscience and Success (Knopf 2001) On the Web at www.bookpage.com/0109bp/rabbi_kushner.html Accessed June 2002)

 

Note the inability to consider the continuation of life as a normal part of assessing the “significance” of our life on earth. Nonduality restricts an individual’s significance to a strictly natural property—that of “leaving a mark” in the physical world. In the Eulogy at funerals Christians often take solace in affirming the rock bottom fact that the individual who died will yet continue life “in the memories” of those he or she influenced for good. This is considered equivalent to immortality. But it is not. The individual continues life in the spiritual world and has nothing to do with the memories of those left behind. Dualism grants us freedom from the oppressive ideas of nonduality.

 

I once sent a copy of this book to Oprah after she had devoted a series of shows to what is spiritual. Of course I never received an acknowledgment from the producers who open her mail. After teaching a history of psychology course focusing on Swedenborg I was delighted to read Part 1 of the students’ reports which was divided into two parts: What the book says, and What I think of it. The majority did an excellent job of representing one of the three books being considered (Heaven and Hell, Divine Love and Wisdom, Divine Providence). Their summaries were accurate and they picked up important threads which they were able to render precisely in their words.

 

But when I got to Part 2 of their report I was shaken a bit to see that they did not accept what they summarized, though they all had a favorable view of the author whom they deemed sincere in his intentions. So I learned of the futility of merely exposing others to the Writings and expecting instant acceptance. I believed this naively because that’s how it happened to me. I was a seeker of truth and meaning in life. I hated the idea of dying and disappearing. I felt it was such a colossal waste—all the effort I put into my life going poof! What’s the point? No I did not care much about living “in the memory” of others. What’s that to me? I wanted immortality. I loved it when I first read the New Testament in 1980—overcoming my long standing aversion of it, as it was forbidden for an Orthodox Jew to read it or touch it. I especially loved the parts that promised eternal life. This was my first rational duality. It was given as a gift from the Lord through His New Testament Word. From an Orthodox Jew I instantly became a Jewish Christian. But a year later the Lord gave me the rest of the gift to complete the whole that He wished to give me about Himself and from Himself. I found the books of the Writings in our university library as I was browsing for “Bible commentaries.” Then my mind was immediately changed again into full living dualism. Now I have a New Church mind and I can write this book from it.

 

I realize that it is not possible to believe Swedenborg’s accounts of the spiritual world without reading and understanding the rational explanations given for all the experiences and observations he was able to make directly. There were many illustrious readers of Swedenborg among the intelligentsia of the 18th , 19th and 20th  century (for the long list see Note 5 at end). They generally divided what he wrote into two parts: philosophy-theology and fantasy-spiritism. It’s astonishing to me that they were able to separate these two and to admire one for its enlightening rationality, but to dismiss the other for its childish and rather unimaginative inventiveness. I was puzzled.

 

3. The Spiritual Meaning Of Anti-Semitism

 

I believe that future research in theistic science based on the Writings could uncover the reasons for the history of anti-semitism. We already know that it has a spiritual cause, because all historical events on earth are effects while none of them are causes (HH 89). What are the spiritual causes of anti-semitism? There may be many, general causes and specific causes. General causes fall into the category of love of self and love of dominion by those who make use of any social or political situation to make victims. This is what they love. But there are also specific causes that relate to evils of religion by those who make use of religion to victimize others. Other specific reasons relate to the states of spiritual development, what is inherited down the line of one’s ancestors (DP 277). The Writings tells us that all historical events in the Old Testament took place as described and that only those were permitted by the Lord that could be for the benefit of the people involved in the events, and could also serve for the Word and its representations by correspondence. The inner content of the Old Testament is its spiritual content, and this content is arranged in infinite rational series which the angels marvel at (AE 112[4]; NJHD 260). The historical events were allowed to take place so that they could serve to represent and contain these heavenly truths. These truths are for the salvation of humankind, and without them, no one could be saved (TCR 318).

 

The Jewish history in the Old Testament had a Divine purpose for its every detail. This purpose was related to the evolution of the human race. This evolution is accomplished by means of the Divine Truths contained by correspondence in the historical events of the Word, in every geographic name, in every number, in every animal mentioned, in every miracle, in every poetic expression (AC 66[2] ). The Jewish people did not go through these events merely for their own sake but for the sake of the entire human race. This is the meaning of the “Chosen People of God.” They were accepted to the Divine task of being the living events of what the Lord needs to accomplish to save the world. Every detail in the Old Testament is about the Lord and His work of Redemption. It appears on the surface that every detail is about the Jewish people and their land. This is true. But much more than this, it is also the containant of the universal meaning—the latter within the former, by correspondence (DLW 221, AC 1886).

 

For instance, when we read about Abraham and the events recorded about him, we are reading in the spiritual sense, the events about the Lord when He was on earth and accomplished His work of Deliverance and Redemption. And further, these very same details about Redemption are also the details about the spiritual evolution of the race, and the spiritual development of every individual. This is the level of theistic science. At this level of thinking we read about Abraham, but we think about the Lord. We read about Esau and Jacob, but we think about our own states of regeneration. Esau represents the good of faith, Jacob the truth of faith. When we read about Jehovah telling Abraham to hearken unto Sarah, we are thinking about the external rational mind being in obedience to the internal rational mind. When we read about the prophet who was ordered to eat dung, we are reading about the profanation of good and truth in our mind:

 

In Ezekiel, the Spirit of Jehovah said to the prophet:

Take unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and put them into one vessel, and make thee bread thereof. With the ordure of man's dung shalt thou make a cake before their eyes. Thus shall the sons of Israel eat their bread unclean (Ezek. 4:9, 12-13);

where the profanation of good and truth is treated of; the "wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt" denote the kinds of good and its derivative truth; the "bread" or "cake" "made thereof with the ordure of human dung," denotes the profanation of all of them. (AC 3941)

 

Similarly in the New Testament and in the Writings because the Word is always written in this style, and without this, it would not be Holy and would not be able to conjoin heaven and earth, and thereby save the human race. The Writings were given for the entire universe, for the earths, and for the heavens. Many nations and historical figures are mentioned in it. All these are representations of spiritual things that correspond to them. These spiritual things are human states that apply universally. The Laws of Divine government have been revealed but not understood, hardly studied. But the future will be different as the human race gradually returns to its state of wholeness and pristine perfection (Coronis Summary LIII).

 

As the Writings become more widely known the issue of anti-semitism in it is inevitably going to crop up. I recall when I first read the New Testament at around age 40 I accepted it without hesitation as the continuation of the Old Testament, with which I was raised as an Orthodox Jew. But despite this, I sometimes got the feeling that it was anti-semitic in certain places where it refers to the Jews in derogatory terms. This reaction is inherent in every Jew. I started examining the exact expressions to see if it could have been written differently. For example, instead of saying “the Jews” should it not have said “certain among the Jews” or “the Jewish clergy” and so on. But later, through the Writings, I gained the perspective of the Word as the Divine Truth with its inner spiritual meaning in every expression and word. Then it is clear that the Word is universal and above sectarianism. But real historical events and people are involved in the surface literal prose of the Word. These names, places, and events are to be transcended or seen through so that they disappear altogether, and what is perceived then is the spiritual universal sense. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the people or places mentioned.

 

The nature of representatives becomes clear from the historical parts of the Word, where all the acts of those forefathers, that is to say, the acts of Abram, Isaac, and Jacob, and later on of Moses, the judges, and the kings of Judah and Israel, are nothing other than representatives. As has been stated, 'Abram' in the Word represents the Lord, and because he represents the Lord, he also represents the celestial man. 'Isaac' too represents the Lord, and from that the spiritual man, while 'Jacob' likewise represents the Lord, and from that the natural man corresponding to the spiritual.

 

[4] But the nature of representatives is such that no attention at all is paid to the character of the representative person, only to the thing which he represents For all the kings of Judah and Israel, no matter what kind of men they were, represented the Lord's Royalty, and all the priests, no matter what kind of men these were, His Priesthood. Thus bad men as well as good were able to represent the Lord, and the celestial and spiritual things of His kingdom, for, as stated and shown already, representatives were entirely separate from the person involved. So then all the historical narratives of the Word are representative, and as this is so it follows that all the words of the Word carry a spiritual meaning, that is, they mean something different in the internal sense from what they do in the sense of the letter. (AC 1409)

 

Since this nation, although of such a quality, represented the Church; and since the Word was written among them and concerning them; therefore Divine-celestial things were signified by their names, as by Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Ephraim, Joseph, and the rest. Judah, in the internal sense signifies the Lord as to celestial love, and His celestial kingdom .... The tribe of Judah and Judea signify the celestial Church .... The twelve tribes represent, and therefore signify, all things of love and faith in the aggregate, … consequently also heaven and the Church   The seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, signifies the goods and truths of the Church. (NJHD 248)

 

In the same way we can deal with many passages in the Writings that appear to be anti-semitic to the Jewish reader. The Jewish reader will not be convinced that it makes a difference that there is also an internal spiritual sense. The fact remains to their eyes that the literal says negative things about Jews and some of the ancestors they consider part of their holy worship—King David, Judah, and Jacob, for instance, and many others. The Writings speak of them as not being among the heavenly persons. Their importance is not their personal character, which could be either good or evil. Their spiritual importance is that they represented something spiritual, just as the High Priest may represent the Lord while in his robes at the altar in the temple, but when not in his robes, and in private life, he may be a wicked and unlawful man. His personal wickedness does not interfere with his priestly representation and office. So even though Jacob represents the Lord in His Divine Natural, he is described in dishonorable terms in terms of his inherited character (e.g., SE 37; NJHD 248).

 

In fact, the Writings state that the Jews are entrusted with keeping intact the Word of the Old Testament and it is through this that there is connection between heaven and earth. Without the religious motivation of Jews to safeguard the Old Testament text, the world could not survive and the entire creation would be destroyed!

 

The Lord saw to it that to prevent the Word being lost, the Jewish race, which possesses the Word of the Old Testament in its original language, should survive, and live scattered throughout much of the world. Although they deny the Lord to be the Messiah or Christ who was foretold by the Prophets, and although they are wicked at heart, still their reading of the Word creates communication with certain heavens. For correspondences open up communication, whatever sort of person the reader may be, so long as he acknowledges it as Divine. This continues today as in the past. For when they reverence as if minor deities Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, David, Elijah and many others who are named in the Word, then the heavens perceive instead the Lord, being unaware of the person in the world who is the origin of that holy element in their worship. That is how heaven is linked with people by means of the Word. (DE VERBO 16)

 

4. The Old Testament’s View Of The Chosen People

 

It’s also important to remember that the Old Testament from Moses to all the prophets is replete with passages that describe the Jews in very negative terms. Remember what God says about His chosen people:

 

the iniquity of My people is become greater than the sin of Sodom, that was overturned as in a moment (Lam. 4:5, 6). (AE 653)

 

Woe to the sinful nation, to a people laden with iniquity (Isa. 1:4). (SS 86)

 

Because this people have drawn near with their mouth, and honored Me with their lips, but their heart has been far from Me, and their fear of Me has been a commandment of men that has been taught to them.... Isa. 29: 13. (AC 2826)

 

your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hateth; therefore when ye spread forth your hands I will hide Mine eyes from you; yea, if ye make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of bloods. (Isa. 1:10-18) (Life 30)

 

I was angry with My people, I rendered My heritage unholy, and I gave them into your hand Isa. 47:5, 6, 9. (AC 1368)

 

I will hide My faces from them, I will see what is the last of them; for they are a generation of perversities, sons in whom is no truth. I would exterminate them, I would cause their memory to cease from man, were it not that I feared the indignation of the enemy. For they are a nation that perisheth in counsels, and there is no intelligence in them; for their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and their grapes are of the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are hemlock, the clusters are bitter to them. Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel head of asps. Is not this laid up in store with Me, sealed in My treasures? (Deut. 32:20, 26-34);

 

The Lord, through Moses, describes the children of Israel in highly negative terms—does that and the passages quoted above make the Old Testament anti-semitic? Does the following passage from the Writings make Swedenborg anti-semitic?

 

This tendency and proneness to evils just mentioned, which is transmitted from parents to their children and descendants, can only be broken down by a person being born anew by the Lord's help, a process called regeneration. Without this not only does the tendency remain unbroken, but it is reinforced by a succession of parents, becoming more prone to evils, and eventually to every kind of evil. That is why the Jews are still copies of their ancestor Judah, who married a Canaanite wife, and fathered three lines of descent by adultery with Tamar, his daughter-in-law. This heredity has become so amplified in the course of time that the Jews are unable to embrace the Christian religion and believe it in their hearts. I say they are unable, because the inner will in their minds resists, and it is this will which creates the impossibility. (TCR 521)

 

A spirit himself also is nothing else than his own quality; on this account everyone in that world drops his baptismal name, and the name of his family, and is named according to his quality. Hence it is that "name" in the Word does not signify name, but quality. (INV 41)

 

This is not anti-semitism but spiritual psychobiology of the unregenerate person. It is true of every individual’s inheritance regardless of ethnicity, race, or religion.

 

Anti-semitism is an evil of society because it is the hatred of others instead of love of neighbor. The negative things the Word says about the Jews is not anti-semitism because the Word is only love. The Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings say similar critical things about the Jews, as about the Christians, and still others. Everyone who is not regenerate is evil regardless of the religion one belongs to. As a Jewish boy growing up in Rumania I was raised to fear and despise Christians, to view with suspicion dark skinned races, and to believe that Jews are a superior race, superior in intelligence, superior in holiness. I was not taught to love my neighbor. I was taught all sorts of superstitious nonsense about other groups. The point is that Jews are filled with hatred for those who hate them. And this is natural. People of all religions also feel this way and act this way.

 

If Swedenborg had been anti-semitic he could not have discussed Christians in the same spiritually negative terms as he discussed the Jews, and yet this is what he has done:

 

That the Lord enters into a covenant, or conjoins Himself by charity, with Gentiles also who are outside the church, shall now be shown.

 

The man of the church supposes that all who are out of the church, and are called Gentiles, cannot be saved, because they have no knowledges of faith, and are therefore wholly ignorant of the Lord, saying that without faith and without knowledge of the Lord there is no salvation, and thus he condemns all who are out of the church. Indeed many of this sort who are in some doctrine, even if it be heresy, suppose that all outside this, that is, all who do not hold the same opinion, cannot be saved; when in fact the case is not so at all. The Lord has mercy toward the whole human race, and wills to save and draw to Himself all who are in the universe.

 

[2] The mercy of the Lord is infinite, and does not suffer itself to be limited to those few who are within the church, but extends itself to all in the whole world. Their being born out of the church and being thus in ignorance of faith, is not their fault; and no one is ever condemned for not having faith in the Lord when he is ignorant of Him.

 

Who that thinks aright will ever say that the greatest part of the human race must perish in eternal death because they were not born in Europe, where there are comparatively few? And who that thinks aright will say that the Lord suffered so great a multitude to be born to perish in eternal death? This would be contrary to the Divine, and contrary to mercy.

 

And besides, those who are out of the church, and are called Gentiles, live a much more moral life than those who are within the church, and embrace much more easily the doctrine of true faith, as is still more evident from souls in the other life. The worst of all come from the so-called Christian world, holding the neighbor in deadly hatred, and even the Lord. Above all others in the whole world they are adulterers

 

[3] It is not so with those from other parts of the world. Very many of those who have worshiped idols are of such a disposition as to abhor hatred and adultery, and to fear Christians because of their being of this character and desirous of tormenting everyone. Indeed Gentiles are so disposed as to listen readily, when taught by angels about the truths of faith, and that the Lord rules the universe, and to be easily imbued with faith and thus to reject their idols. For this reason Gentiles who have lived a moral life and in mutual charity and innocence, are regenerated in the other life.

 

While they live in the world the Lord is present with them in charity and innocence, for there is nothing of charity and innocence except from the Lord. The Lord also gives them a conscience of what is right and good according to their religion, and insinuates innocence and charity into that conscience; and when there is innocence and charity in the conscience, they easily suffer themselves to be imbued with the truth of faith from good. The Lord Himself said this, in Luke:

 

And one said unto Him, Lord, are they few that be saved? and He said unto them, Ye shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and yourselves cast forth without; and they shall come from the east and the west, and from the north and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God; and behold, there are last who shall be first, and there are first who shall be last (Luke 13:23, 28-30).

 

By "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" are here meant all who have love, as shown above.

(AC 1032) (Italics added for emphasis)

 

This passage declares the Christians to be “the worst of all” the spirits that come from this earth into the afterlife. Clearly, Swedenborg could not have been anti-semitic and pro-Christian. He merely described what he saw in the spiritual world regarding the spiritual character of people from different nations (see LJ 2-24 and other places). It’s also clear from this and other passages, that religious membership is not the basis for spiritual judgment. Rather, how one lives—morally or not, as a matter of conscience and religion, determines one’s spiritual fate in the afterlife. Anti-semitism never takes this tolerant and universal attitude.

 

Moses and the Prophets, that is, all and everything in the Word, in the internal sense, treats of Him; and that all the rites of the Jewish Church represented Him (AC 2751).

 

All the rites of the Ancient Church were representative of the Lord, as also the rites of the Jewish Church. (AC 921)

 

External rites are called "signs of a covenant" for the reason chiefly that interior things may be kept in mind by them, that is, the things signified by them. All the rites of the Jewish Church were nothing else. And for this reason they were also called "signs" that the people might be reminded by them of interior things-as for instance, the binding of the chief commandment on the hand and on the forehead, as in Moses:

 

Thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might; and these words thou shalt bind for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes (Deut. 6:5, 8; 11:13, 18).

 

All the rites of the Jewish Church were types representative of the Lord, consequently of love and charity, and of all things therefrom.

 (AC 1038)

 

The things that were represented in the Jewish Church, and in the Word, are the Lord and His kingdom, consequently the celestial things of love, and the spiritual things of faith: these are what were represented, besides many things that pertain to these, such as all things that belong to the church. (AC 1361)

 

And it was He who has represented by all the rites of the Jewish Church, and whom they worshiped. (AC 1607)

 

All things of the Word in its inmost sense treat solely of the Lord, (AC 9925)

 

In the Word "Jehovah" denotes the Lord (n. 1343, 2921, 3035, 5663, 6280, 6281, 6303, 6945, 6956, 8864).

 

Unless these things had been as if present to the angels, through the Word, and also through all the rites in the Jewish Church, the Lord would have been obliged to come into the world immediately after the fall of the Most Ancient Church … (AC 2523)

 

 

5. All Old Testament Details Represent The Lord

 

In these passages of the Writings (and many others can be brought forward), it is declared that every detail of Jewish worship and history represents something about the Lord Jesus Christ! Anti-semitism hates Jewish worship and history, while Swedenborg elevates these things to the highest sacred level possible! Readers of Swedenborg who are not in the New Church mentality may acquire a superficial impression of anti-semitism in certain passages where the Jews are treated of. But readers who have a rational and scholarly orientation will be able to see that Swedenborg describes an extremely close identification between Jews and the New Church Christians. Every state of mental and psychological development in the New Church mind is identical with the historical events in the Old Testament and the minutest detail of worship and prayer. How closer can you get to someone other than your spouse? This close relationship between the New Church mind and the Jews is the result of this:

 

All the rites of the Ancient Church were representative of the Lord, as also the rites of the Jewish Church. But the principal representative in later times was the altar, and also the burnt-offering, which being made of clean beasts and clean birds, had its representation according to their signification, clean beasts signifying the goods of charity, and clean birds the truths of faith. (AC 921)

 

Every detail of the journeys of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, represents the details of how Jesus Christ grew up among the Jews and the mental states of development He underwent to unify His Human with His Divine. Every vision of every prophet was about Him, how He pleads with the Chosen people to turn back to the Commandments of Moses. Jehovah the Lord of the Old Testament and Jesus the Lord of the New Testament are one and the same Divine Person! Of course this idea may seem irrational or untrue to Jewish readers but it proves to them that it is not logical to think of Swedenborg as anti-semitic!

 

The Writings proclaim that Jews, Muslims, and Gentiles are saved equally with Christians when they arrive in the afterlife, are instructed, and can accept spiritual truths:

 

So in regard to the Jews and Gentiles; [as for instance] concerning the Jewish children who, from the persuasion of their parents that the Lord is not the Messiah, are not instructed to believe it; yet as it is owing simply to circumstances that the children cannot believe otherwise than they do, this does not abolish with them the truth, that the Lord is the promised Messiah. And thus as to the Gentiles who are in ignorance, not knowing that the Lord rules the universe; this ignorance, being a circumstance, does not preclude their being instructed in the other life, and thus saved; besides many other things. - 1748, October 11. (SE 3537) (see also SE 5880)

 

That the Mohammedan religion is received by more nations than the Christian religion, may be a stumbling-block to those who meditate upon the Divine Providence and believe at the same time that only those who are born Christians can be saved. But the Mohammedan religion is not a stumbling-block to those who believe that all things are of the Divine Providence. (TCR 833)

 

6. The Meaning Of “Jews” In The New Church Mind

 

Further, to the New Church mind “Jews” doesn’t mean Jews but the “Jewish state of a person” which is the state we are all in before the external mind has an internal. No one is born with a spiritual mind but only with a natural mind and the potential of having a spiritual mind. This potential is there in equal measure to every human being. No one is saved by being born into this or that religion. Those who are born into the Christian Church, those born in the New Church, those born in the Jewish religion, in the Muslim faith, or none of these, are all born with numberless inherited evils. They are in an unregenerate, “Fallen” state. This means they are born without a spiritual mind, ready made, like the natural mind. A new mind must be created by the Lord in every individual through the process of regeneration. Until then religious membership is of no avail to anyone.

 

Religious rituals, religious prayers, religious sacrifices, fastings, meditations—none of it can prevail. Only what can prevail is a reformed character in daily willing and thinking for the sake of God and religion (LIFE 1). No one has the power to attain this. But anyone can turn to the Lord and ask Him to do it, for He can. And He has laid out in His Word what we must do in order for Him to regenerate us. This He does to anyone from any religion with any background universally. In heaven there are no religions, but only conscious life in accordance with the Word (AR 918).

 

The Lord has also laid out in His Word what happens to those who are not regenerated, those who are unwilling to turn to God and order their life according to His Commandments. They live out their few years on earth confirming their inherited evils, living them, becoming them. Their mind is built up through these evil loves and their falsities. There is nothing in the inmost of this mind except those evil loves. When they arrive in the afterlife they enter in total freedom within who they are, that is, they enter those evil loves. In the spiritual world those who are in evil loves see around themselves a hell—ugly rocky places, foul disgusting sickening smells, full of dangerous and poisonous animals, full of infernal humans who act like beasts and relate to each other through dominion and mutual enslavement. These things are not punishments for sins. They are the character of spiritual nature of evil loves. They are the exact opposite of good loves. Those in the spiritual world who arrive with good loves within them see a heaven around them—beautiful palaces with amazing art work, large complex fragrant gardens, filled with angelic people who act civilized and with compassion to each other, engaged in sharing their individual uniquenesses and benefiting everyone around them.

 

7. Anti-Semitism Is An Evil Love of the Unregenerate Mind

 

Anti-semitism is an evil love. It is inherited. Every individual then has a choice to make in adult life: Do I go along with this cultural norm or not? All sorts of justifications are learned from societal beliefs and practices—religious (“They are Christ killers”), socio-political (“They control the money”), psychological (“They are in-groupish”, “They are cowards”), pathological (“They are depraved”), and so on. As an adult every individual can think and reflect whether this attitude is justified or whether it is a prejudice and an injustice. Every individual can feel the delight of hatred in being anti-semitic, and then must reflect on its rightness or wrongness. Conscience will cry out in condemnation of all prejudice. Few are they who listen to conscience and are saved; many are they who kill their conscience and are in hell. For conscience is the voice of God speaking to the individual’s awareness (NJHD 139). To kill conscience, or to weaken it, is to cut off that source of communication and interaction between the individual and God. This conscious interaction on a daily basis is required for regeneration. It is not religion that saves, but regeneration (NJHD 183). And regeneration is available to anyone of any background through the Word.

 

In today’s world the Word is not known in many places but the Lord insures that every nation has some religion by which the people know the minimal facts required to be saved—to believe in God, to obey His Commandments, and to look to Him for all their daily needs. All individuals who live in this way are saved (AC 2589-2604). When they arrive in the afterlife they are instructed and enter the heaven of their religion (HH 512). Their mind can exist in good loves to eternity. But those who do not live their life by acknowledging and obeying God’s Commandments, are evolving a spiritual mind that can live in evil loves. When they arrive in the afterlife these evil loves within them reject the instruction they receive in the truths of religion. They go away on their own and pick up the falsities that agree with their evil loves. Thus, they enter a life of hell to eternity.

 

The New Church mind is greatly benefited by knowing that the fate of entering heaven or hell is not a judgment—not a reward or punishment for past misbehaviors. It has to do with spiritual psychobiology or spiritual medicine. The mind is formed not my material elements and fibers but by spiritual elements and fibers. The mind is an organ formed by spiritual fibers and arranged in spirals in accordance with the choices we make in willing and thinking in our daily life while in this world. What happens when surgeons cut out the masses of fibers in the brain that give someone a medical problem? After the mass of fibers is removed the rest can take over to some extent, but if the mass removed is beyond a certain point, the brain dies. Similarly, our mind is formed by masses of spiritual fibers. If these fibers are coiled in the wrong way, they cannot function in a heavenly sphere or environment—the individual merely falls dead. So the mind you bring with you in the afterlife is the mind you’ve got forever. Religious membership in the New Church is not a requirement for salvation and life eternal in heaven:

 

That the gentiles equally with Christians are saved, anyone can see who knows what it is that makes heaven in man; for heaven is within a man, and those who have heaven within them come into heaven. (HH 319)

 

Experiences and choices we make in the spiritual world are aligned with the mind such as it has already been formed. The direction of the spiritual coils constrain further development. There cannot be a reformation (DLW 263). This must occur prior to leaving this world. And so those who arrive with good loves, get more and more of them to eternity, while those who arrive with bad loves, get more and more of those. What about those who arrive with both kinds of loves? In fact everyone arrives in the afterlife with both kinds of loves, but with a critical difference—Which loves are inmost? Those who have their evil loves in the inmost see them drive out every single good love found in the surface of the character. They then make free choices that take them further and further into those evil loves, and permanent hell. Those who have their good loves in the inmost see them drive out all the evil loves that are still embedded in the surface of their personality. This purification process is painful but short. They then have a mind that can live in heaven.

 

Knowing this spiritual psychobiology is helpful because it strengthens the motivation for regeneration and sincerity in life. And these are possible to the extent that one avoids evil loves and fights against them by looking to the Lord for help. This process insures that the good loves will be in the inmost when we arrive in the afterlife.

 


 

Chapter 4.

New Church Nonduality

 

Man cannot discover a single Divine truth, except by approaching the Lord immediately (INV 22)

 

Chapter 4, Introduction

 

1. Introduction

 

 

All forms of nonduality in the “collateral” literature of the New Church are offshoots of this one core supposition: “The Writings of Swedenborg are divinely inspired works.” This is meant as a continuum which permits the mind to compare Swedenborg, the author, with other authors. This view admits the idea that there are other authors who are “divinely inspired,” even if Swedenborg was more so than others before him. And in this view, there might be future authors who will also be divinely inspired. But the Writings establish an absolute duality between the Word and any other book (AC 10215). There is no basis for comparison. For the formation of the individual into the New Church mind, this absolute and exclusive duality must replace the nonduality that allows comparisons on a continuum. This is the duality of “human book” vs. “Divine Book.” Human books can be “divinely inspired” but Divine Books are Divine. The Writings declare that the Lord is the Word, and therefore, whether we worhsip the Lord or the Writings, it is the same.In contrast, we would not and could not worship any book written by a human. Those who think that worshipping the Writings is to elevate Swedenborg above the mere human status, do not acknowledge the Writings as the Lord Himself in His Divine Human. When we worship the New Testament Gospels as the Lord, we do not elevate Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to divinity or sainthood. Neither do the Jews elevate Moses to divinity when they worship the Torah.

 

The New Church mind must be established on this fundamental duality: “The Writings are the Word, therefore not a human work but purely Divine” (AC 10215)The Writings are Sacred Scripture, the Crown or completion of the Threefold Word. This is a duality because no other work authored by anyone can be the Word. The Word has an internal sense of infinite proportions and is the Lord Himself as absolute Divine Truth. No other book has an infinite internal sense arranged in infinite rational series. All other books or human statements or ideas are in a human discrete degree while the Word is in a Divine discrete degree. There is no possibility of comparison. (For more discussion on how the Writings are the Word, see Chapter 8, Section 4).

 

These two ideas about the Writings oppose each other. The nonduality view of the Writings as “inspired work,” flattens its core fundamental duality, and threatens the New Church mind with all sorts of impediments to regeneration. A common New Church view tainted with nonduality, is that other authors and religions also have genuine spiritual truths to reveal through their insights and experiences. According to this view, these imported or targeted ideas and methods of spiritual development “can be relevant and useful” for the “spiritual growth” of the New Church mind. But if you admit this idea it could fight against all the discrete dualities taught in the Writings that we need to take up in our mind for regeneration, hence salvation. All dualities are unique permanent distinctions that never cease to eternity (DLW 226; CL 355). We want to be vigilant with respect to monitoring imported ideas that hide nondualities. The categorical and absolute distinction between the Word and all other books and insights, protects the New Church mind from numerous fallacies and mental traps that destroy the perfect rational coherence of the Writings.

 

One example is the formation of secular Swedenborgianism in the mind of those who are familiar with the Writings but do not acknowledge it as the Word (see the other Sections in this Chapter). This nondualist orientation sees in the Writings numerous “mistakes” or “outdated scientific facts” or “limitations due to Swedenborg’s human mind.” As a result, the entire scientific and religious foundation of the Writings loses its absolute coherence and special Divine authority as Sacred Scripture. From then on self-intelligence and individual experience take over and regeneration is completely impeded (NJHD 256).

 

The Word is not understood except by those who are enlightened. … They who read the Word from the love of truth and good, are enlightened from it, but not they who read it from the love of fame, gain, or honor, thus from the love of self  … They who are led by the Lord are enlightened, and see truths in the Word, but not they who are led by self (NJHD 256).

 

It is not surprising therefore that scholars can seriously study the Writings for years and arrive at the conclusion that they contain or advocate some form or part of nonduality. The Writings say that the Word is written in a literal style that people can use to support any idea or theory no matter how false and irrational (TCR 260). In the quotation above (see Chapter 3 Section 1) Schoonheim sees in the New Testament verses, confirmation of his belief in nonduality. Wilson Van Dusen says: “The highest revelation of Hinduism is also in Swedenborg's revelations even though the two traditions had no contact.” The inside cover of the New Church Journal Arcana says in part:

 

Hinduism, the oldest surviving religious tradition, teaches that there are three paths to self-realization: jnana, the path of knowledge; bhakti, the path of love; and karma, the path of action. Is there a Western religious tradition that combines these three paths into one, in order to teach the goal of conjunction with the Divine? To all these questions the response is yes: that tradition is to be found in the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.

 

The idea that revelations were given in Hinduism many centuries before the Second Coming that are in some sense comparable or equivalent to the revelations given to Swedenborg, is not a possibility for many reasons that are explicated in the Writings (TCR 772). Swedenborg’s revelations are the Word of the Lord’s Second Coming. He qualifies these revelations as the greatest miracle the Lord has granted since the beginning of creation (INV 43). The Writings explain that the Word is unique in style and no human writing can be compared to it. Further, the Writings detail the history and development of the human mind from the Most Ancient Church to the New Church (NJHD 247, 1-7). Each civilization or era received revelations appropriate to the times and genius of the people. Each new revelation could only start until the old was compeletely consummated and vastated, thus having no spiritual truth left. The revelations of the Writings could not have been given prior to the Last Judgment, which took place around the middle of the eighteenth century (1757, see LJ 45, TCR 115, 818). And what is true in the general must be true in the particular (xx). Therefore, not a single truth in the Writings could have been revealed or received prior to the completion of the Second Coming in 1771.

 

Clearly then a distinct duality exists between the revelations given to Swedenborg and the revelations given to Hinduism centuries or millennia before the Second Coming. Truths given to prior “religious traditions” can only be shown to be different, not similar, to the truths of the Writings. The activity of trying to show that they are similar could admit into the New Church mind opposing ideas that the Writings call an impediment to one’s regeneration (SE 2041). It’s extremely important therefore to be able to show and understand that no comparison can be made between the Writings and any other work, hence no similarity can exist between any concept in the Writings with any concept from some other work.

 

Take for instance the concept of “God.” This concept is used by disparate religions with different meanings  Even the God of traditional Christians relying on the Bible cannot be similar to the God of the Writings, there being zero overlap between them spiritually or rationally (TCR 647). The same is true for any concept you may consider—sin, hell, Satan, angel, Holy Spirit, Communion, love of neighbor, adultery, Church, creation, Adam, Noah, crucifixion, etc. etc.—none of these can be similar between the Christian Church (First Coming) and the New Church (Second Coming). And if this is true for two religions so closely tied by history and the Bible, it is even more so for Eastern religions and New Church.

 

But granted that the revelations given to Swedenborg are more “advanced” and more excellent, is it possible that “the highest revelation of Hinduism is also in Swedenborg's revelations”? (see the Van Dusen quote above). The answer is No. The Writings teach that nothing whatsoever of a higher state can appear as a revelation in a lower state (HH 269, SE 6084). The only relation there is between a higher heaven and a lower one is that of pure correspondence. For instance not a single idea of a spiritual angel of the Second Heaven can be seen or understood by a natural angel of the First Heaven (HH 209). Similarly, not a single idea of the Second Coming was perceivable by the Lord’s disciples, such as the identity of Personhood between Jesus and the Father, despite His oft repeated literal statements asserting it as He stood before them (John 10:30, AR 222). The desire to show similarities, rather than absolute differences, between ideas from the Writings and Eastern religions, is dissipated when we undergo reformation in adult life. Reformation for the New Church mind consists of reordering every concept in the mind so that only concepts from the Writings are allowed to remain. The other concepts are marked as nonduality and from then on one can only see dissimilarities between the Writings and all others. The New Church mind has only two locations—what is from heaven and what is from hell, and whatever is not from the Writings is not from heaven. This exclusive outlook and orientation about the Word is taught everywhere in the Writings (xx).

 

Chapter 4, Section 2

 

2. The Secular Spirituality of Gurdjieff

 

Gurdijeff’s system of "esoteric Christianity" includes mental exercises that are believed by adherents to develop one’s spirituality. One example is the activity of "sensing" which consists of sitting quietly and listening to the surrounds. The purpose of this exercise is to increase awareness of one's sensory environment as a means of focusing on the present and flushing out the myriad of thoughts and impressions that lurk in the mind's background all day long. It seems to help people to break away from their constant interior dialog which the conscious mind carries on during waking hours. Another exercise is to try to disengage from one's continuous stream of negative emotions (anger, dissatisfaction, jealousy, conflict, anxiety, etc.). This distancing activity appears to break their hold over us, freeing us to focus on and recognize good emotions. These in turn occasion wiser and more creative or original modes of thinking. These exercises may indeed be helpful psychologically though they are not spiritual as defined by the New Church mind. It is always the motive that creates the spirituality of an activity. Religious motives for mental disciplines are described in Volume 3.

 

No matter how advanced we get at psychological activities they can never turn into spiritual ones. This is because psychological activities or states are in the natural mind, while spiritual activities or states are in the spiritual mind. Only interior rational content can exist in the spiritual mind and this content originates from heaven by influx, not from the natural mind and the world. Whatever originates from the natural mind remains natural and cannot turn into spiritual by becoming more advanced. These include psychological exercises and forms of meditation. The natural mind and the spiritual mind are separated permanently by discrete degrees (see Chapter 5, Section 6). In the New Church mind spiritual truths come only from the Writings since only the spiritual truths in the Writings are from the Lord. Spiritual growth in the New Church mind is achieved through reformation and regeneration in accordance with the detailed procedures and methods set forth in the Writings. No other method or mechanism has been given by the Lord (NJHD 173).

 

Some people who attend “spiritual growth groups” may develop the notion that psychological methods are spiritual activities. But for the New Church mind spiritual is defined by the Writings, and the Writings teach that spiritual growth is only by reformation and regeneration. Let us say that the psychological exercises are explicitly related to studying the concepts in the Writings that are applicable to these exercises. When reformation and regeneration are made the primary thing or motive, and the psychological exercises are made secondary, to fit the primary motive, then the psychological exercises could be useful tools in regeneration. In that case the group activity is spiritual for it is required for reformation to debunk all our concepts in the light of the rational principles in the Writings.

 

The psychological exercises in themselves, are not spiritual and cannot lead to the opening of the spiritual mind. Numerous psychological, mental, or physical exercises or disciplines can be turned into “spiritual growth” tools if done for the primary purpose of cooperating with the Lord in our regeneration. Before our reformation in adult life we are in an unregenerate state, surviving in a culture of nonduality and secularism. Our relationship to the Writings is lukewarm and unenthusiastic since what we see in it is the loss of our selfhood and freedom. We are afraid that if we lose our selfhood and freedom we will never be happy and will have wasted our life. We are also filled with dissatisfaction, rage, and rebellion. Our personality is filled with contradictions and our motives are ego-oriented from inheritance.

 

In this unregenerate state we are not yet forming the New Church mind in ourselves. Our struggles in that state of life are psychological and moral, not yet spiritual. “Growth groups,” physical disciplines, meditation, performative arts, achieving professional expertise, and like activities then serve useful purposes in perfecting our moral strength and developing our natural rational mind. These activities are not yet spiritual. In this unregenerate state the New Church person should retain loyalty to the Writings as the Word of their religion. If this idea from childhood is not tampered with but left in place, the later struggle during reformation in adulthood will be so much lighter and more efficient.

 

1. Debunking Psychology Concepts

 

We need to learn how to interpret concepts whose source is not the Writings and how to relate to them in our mind. In today’s modern world of media and general information flow, New Church people cannot escape exposure to concepts not from the Writings. Initially the concepts that attract our interest appear similar and compatible to things we know from the Writings. They may even seem useful for our spiritual life, from which it would seem that the New Church mind should adopt them for the limited purpose of their usefulness, wheile leaving off the portions that are from a different context and not compatible with the Writings. For instance, Gurdijeff's "negative emotions" might seem similar to the idea of "evil spirits" entering our thoughts through the will of "our natural man." But it’s important to remember that Gurdijeff's concepts have nonduality within them. What matters in the comparison between concepts is not their outward similarity but their inward similarity or difference. When New Church people approach Gurdijeff's idea of “negative emotions” it should first be debunked before giving assent.

 

To debunk a concept is to look for what is within, that is, to identify its assumptions, premises, and presuppositions, for these are the things that are within the concept. When this is done, we can instantly see that Gurdijeff does not have compatible assumptions with the Writings. It is certain that Gurdijeff would reject the most basic dualities in the Writings. Clearly, therefore, not a single concept that Gurdijeff's mind could produce would be compatible with the Writings when viewed from within. In this case, we can talk about evil spirits in connection with our negative emotions, but if Gurdijeff were present, he would laugh at us, would he not? So it cannot be that his idea of “negative emotions” could be like our idea of evil spirits.

 

Similarly, Gurdijeff’s analogy of the mind as a house with a basement and upper floor has been related to spiritual correspondences of a house with three stories, each representing the natural, the rational, and the celestial in our mind. Once again, we are certain that Gurdijeff would reject our idea of three discrete degrees in our mind that connect only by correspondences. Therefore his analogy of the mind as a house is inwardly antagonistic to our rational idea of the mind in three discrete degrees. This points up again the utmost importance to know the fundamental dualities in the Writings since if the New Church person doesn’t know about discrete degrees, one remains exposed and vulnerable to intellectual hijacking by antagonistic systems of thought. Our reformation will then be so much more agonizing.

 

A comparison has also been made between Swedenborg and Gurdijeff’s attitude towards the Lord, namely Gurdijeff’s admonition that his system of mental development would not work at all if the practitioners are motivated by self-aggrandizement or belief in one's own powers. We have from the Writings the idea that self-intelligence and self-love lead to hell regardless of our religion or knowledge of the Word. But what can we make of Gurdijeff's idea of a “belief in one’s own power”? Gurdijeff's relation to the Lord is a distant one in comparison to New Church Christians who occupy the center of the region around the spiritual Sun (D.Love 11, LJ 58). The Writings gives us the closest relation possible to the Lord, hence it is not possible that someone who is more distant could give us a like spiritual understanding.

 

It is prudent to recognize the potential danger to the New Church mind of applying outside psychological explanations to the workings of one’s mind. The Writings present a theistic psychology and this alone should be the psychology applied to the New Church mind. Otherwise portions of the New Church mind would be formed by ideas not from the Writings. But we know from the Writings that all our willing and thinking should be from the Word, and indeed so it is for the angels and for all those who will become angels (NJHD 255). Forming the New Church mind is the preparation for becoming an angel.

 

But could there not be some overlap so that some concepts from current science and research are like some concepts from the Writings? The answer must be, No, in the light of what the Writings say. There may appear an outward similarity but there can never be an inward similarity, because the concepts from the Writings are the Word of the Lord, and therefore they have endless spiritual ideas contained in each truth (SE 2085). No concept, idea, or reasoning that is not from the Word can therefore be interiorly similar to the Word. It is clear therefore that the New Church mind must not import a single idea that is not from the Writings. The danger of importing outside concepts is that they clash on the inside with the concepts from the Writings. This is because a concept that does not have heaven within it, has hell in it—there is no in-between. And so the hell within the imported concepts battle against the heaven within the concepts from the Writings. Therefore we should strive to avoid importing them.

 

It is useful to remind ourselves many times that all things that exist are distinctly one in the eyes of the Lord, and that this principle applies as a duality. All things that are good from within constitute one Church on earth and one Grand Human in the spiritual world. All things that are not good within constitute one infernal deformed man (DP 204). The two are antagonistic and cannot co-exist. This same principle applies to all concepts and types of reasoning. In the New Church mind all concepts that are from the Writings have heaven in them; all others have hell in them. But on the surface, this is not readily apparent (SS 95). To accept a concept from another source is to trust the outward similarity, but after proper examination and critical deconstruction, it becomes clear that it would be creating a nonduality between what is from the Word and what is from elsewhere.

 

Further, the motivation for introducing explanations and practices that are not from the Writings is that they would be useful for our life. For our spiritual life? Everything useful for the spiritual life of the New Church mind must come solely from the Word, that is, from the Writings. Once we are committed to this truth as a commandment, we have completed our reformation, and not until then. Then at last we can begin our regeneration, which alone leads to our salvation. Is it possible to think that the Lord has not provided in His Second Coming what is sufficient and ample for our reformation and regeneration? Do we need to borrow outside things not provided in the Writings? The answer is, We do not and we must not. This is not a judgment on these outside concepts! It is not for us to make such a judgment since these concepts are not provided for us, and what do we know about what the Lord provides for others who are not of the Church? Therefore we can only discuss here that which the Writings say that anyone ought to do when motivated to form the New Church mind within themselves.

 

Some New Church readers of this have reacted with hesitation to what seems to them my exclusionary orientation. They see a danger in segregating oneself from all other sources of human intellect. They also see such a position to lead to conflict with other religions and philosophies. However, there is no inherent conflict between the Writings and other religions. I predict that all the current religions will continue to propser even if they adopted the Writings as Divine Truth. This is because the Writings are a new theistic science that God has given to humanity. The Lord Jesus Christ is acknowledged as the God of the universe by many non-Christians who are provided with their own heavens, side by side to the New Church Christian heavens that surround the spiritual Sun (xx). The Lord never strives to change people’s childhood religion and this does not interfere with their salvation (xx).

 

The Writings, in due course, can be and will be acknowledged universally by science, and in that case it will be taught in the schools and universities of every nation in all religions. Because the New Church is based on the Writing, it does not follow that the Writings cannot form the basis of other religions. The Writings are given to the entire humanity, while the New Church is given to a few. This is why in this book I have consistently referred to the formation of “New Church mind” rather than to the New Church, viewed as a religious evangelical organization. The New Church mind is the mind formed exclusively by the Writings, but does not require individuals to change their childhood religion. This is because the Lord Jesus Christ is the God of all religions (xx). He it is who is worshipped under various names in accordance with one’s culture and history. He is the Divine Human God who is in every soul and determines the course of every nation and city. No one has any good, any love, or any truth, except from Him. Anyone from any religion who strives to avoid being evil and strives to be good, has the Lord God Jesus Christ in the soul from which power one can be a good person, know truth, live accordingly and be saved for eternal life in heaven.

 

2. Commingling Secular Psychology With New Church Dualism

 

What about the potential usefulness of extraneous or collateral information and practices that are not spiritual?

 

Here my answer would be, Yes, it’s possible that some might be useful for regeneration. This is because physical behavior by itself is not spiritual, but it can become spiritual when we perform it from a spiritual or religious motivation. Many such practices and disciplines are described in Volume 3. I believe that some of the practices encouraged in the past by Peter Rhodes may be of this type. For instance, as was described above, he used to recommend the activity of "sensing" which consists of sitting quietly and listening to the surrounds. The purpose of this exercise is to increase awareness of one's sensory environment as a means of focusing on the present and flushing out the myriad of thoughts and impressions that lurk in the mind's background all day long. It seems to help people to break away from their constant interior dialog which the conscious mind carries on during waking hours. This is not a spiritual exercise but a mental one, below the spiritual level which begins only with the rational ideas in the Writings. Religious disciplines are an essential tool for regeneration. The activity of “sensing” and other such exercises of “meditation” are turned into religious disciplines or tools when we do them for the purpose of our regeneration. This subject is treated of in Volume 3.

 

Gurdijeff’s secular psychotherapy has a nondualist foundation. On the other hand, spiritual psychotherapy in the Writings is always religious and dualist through and through. Every mental step, from emotional slavery to regenerated freedom, is taken by the individual with the Lord's hand and face in view. In what may be called “true Swedenborgian therapy” it is not sufficient for salvation to confess the “True Christian faith” (TCR 1), and thereafter proceed with a secular psychology and a materialistic science. Every daily activity and routine must be suffused with the Lord's presence and leading in our thoughts, perceptions, and inclinations. I don't think it is the case that the New Church mind needs to borrow from other systems of mental development on the belief that Swedenborg was allegedly unable to specify life exercises in sufficient detail, or had a lack of time in his busy publications schedule, as implied by Wilson Van Dusen. (See Note 6 at end). Volume 3 gives many specific examples that show how innumerable religious disciplines can be extracted from the Writings.

 

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)

 

Participants in New Church “spiritual growth groups” sometimes seem to commingle what is secular psychology with New Church dualism. For example, a Letter to the Editor published in New Church Life (August and October issues of 1993) says regarding reading Gurdijeff’s:

 

"I find it difficult to understand what there is to be afraid of from collateral reading and experience. ... I feel I have a new understanding of what the Writings mean when I read them." Another letter defends Peter Rhodes' book: “Aim does not proselytize Gurdijeffian thinking; it gives credit to Gurdijeff’s for an effective approach to self-examination. ... Aim gives help by mapping the strategies of the hells. ... Aim has nothing to do with following Gurdijeff’s. It has everything to do with a sincere effort to follow the Lord through His Word."

 

On the same page, a letter poses the opposite view:

 

"It is difficult to understand why New Church people should be attracted to Gurdijeff’s" and several others voice strong opposition, for example: "His aims seem 100% personal and material ... [it is] blasphemy--the mixing of good and evil. Those who give any credence to his guidance are in grave risk of blasphemy too … How can we reconcile the clear, translucent and inspired works of Swedenborg with teachings [from Gurdijeff’s] such as: "Everything in the Universe is material"; "It is not God that is omnipotent but the Universal Will.”

 

Yet another contributor cites 25 passages in Swedenborg which have one clear message, namely that "the Word is the only doctrine which teaches how man must live in the world in order to be happy to eternity" (AC 8939:3e). Mr. Odhner warns against the dangers of "following the various theories of finite minds" and urges that "the Divine authority of the Writings" is an affirmation that "we must renew each generation" inasmuch as "our constitution is the Writings" (p.181).

 

Despite differences expressed in the heat of zeal for good and truth, I note a general agreement in this polemic, that Swedenborg's Writings are the Word, hence the ultimate authority on the ways and means of regeneration.

 

The Word [of the Writings] is the only doctrine which teaches how a man must live in the world in order to be happy to eternity. (AC 8939)

 

Enlightenment is the influx, perception, and instruction people receive from the Lord when they read the Word [of the Writings]. (AC 10215)

 

I believe that “growth groups” and special mental exercises, when viewed as secular studies and experience, are compatible with the Writings when these secular ideas have no authority in our mind regarding spiritual truths. The title "spiritual growth groups" and the method of "esoteric Christianity" refer to neither spiritual nor esoteric things (that is, belonging to the internal spiritual man). Perhaps if they had been called "social growth groups," there may be more tolerance or acceptance of them in the New Church community. But in my view, social growth groups should focus primarily on the theistic psychology of the Writings, and secondarily on other concepts, if at all. This would indicate a need for New Church scholars and teachers to prepare readings and instruction materials extracted from the Writings from passages that deal with psychology, development, reformation, and regeneration. For examples of such studies from my work, see the Notes at end.

 

The unregenerate natural mind is, in and of itself, composed of material ideas based on the physical senses. The highest portion of the natural mind is the external rational (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). Its constitution is natural-spiritual built up with material ideas. The course of regeneration as described in the Writings consists in opening the interior rational mind and to allow it to receive genuine spiritual ideas from the Writings. By this method, the spiritual mind is opened, and the things that come into it from heaven dispose the things in the natural mind in a corresponding order. Prior to this opening, the motives and thoughts in the natural mind are not really good or really true. After the process of regeneration has begun, a renewal occurs and life is gradually and noticeably transformed, day by day. New motives, new thoughts, and new acts now translate into renewed life, psychological growth, mental health, personal strength, individual ability and happiness. These are the outward benefits of the growing spiritual life within.

 

[This is an invitation for Peter Rhodes to add a section here that updates us on his views since the days of the “spiritual growth groups” in Bryn Athyn.]

 

 

Chapter 4, Section 3

 

3. The secular Swedenborgianism of Henry James, Sr.

 

Henry James, Sr. was a staunch defender and promoter of the Writings. The famous father of Henry and William, believed in a form of secular Swedenborgiansim that was strangely muddled with nondualities. He was known for lambasting the New Church of his day for adopting an ecclesiastic form of administration similar to the Old Christian Church that had been vastated as a result of nondualist heresies introduced by its clergy--such as the irrational idea of a “Trinity of Divine Persons in One Godhead.” Henry James, Sr. agreed that the Church “witnesses to God’s creative presence in humanity, but of course does not constitute it, as it sometimes insolently pretends to” (quoted in Ray Silverman’s review in Arcana 1996 v.2 n.4 p.56). While the Church, according to Henry James, Sr., plays a vital role in educating the human mind, it should never take upon itself the power to dictate how Scripture should be interpreted. Doctrine, he said, should be left to each individual to figure out. He called this practice “the rubbish of ritual righteousness” and “the spiritual tyranny of dogmatism” and argued that it removes individual freedom

 

His attitude towards the priesthood as an institution is difficult to understand since without the priesthood there is no Church, therefore no religion (TCR 415). The Doctrine of the Church taught by the priesthood must be based on and drawn from the Word, and the Word is thereby known to many (NJHD 315). The vehement anti-sectarianism of Henry James, Sr. could be the result of a nonduality in his mind between the priesthood of the First Coming and the New Church priesthood of the Second Coming. There is also a duality between the priest’s individual character and his ecclesiastical function. An evil priest can fulfill the sacred rituals equally with a good priest (AC 1361[4] ). The good priest is good because his internal thoughts and his external words agree; the evil priest is evil because his internal thoughts are set against what he preaches externally (CHARITY 160). In either case, the ecclesiastical function is carried out as necessary for the existence of the external Church. It is the same with the other members of the Church, some of whom are hypocrites and some sincere (TCR 381).

 

Several other forms of nonduality plague Henry James’ secular Swedenborgiansim.

 

Rev. Silverman is very generous in his assessment of William and Henry in terms of what they took from their father’s Swedenborgian outlook and carried it forward in their own work. It may be, as Rev. Silverman points out, that Henry James, Sr., would have rejoiced in whatever influence of his ideas he could see in his two erudite and famous sons. This would be consistent with his anti-sectarian orientation towards the New Church. He apparently did not share the point of view of many religious parents in the New Church who are pained when their grown children act like they’re rejecting the Writings and its ideas about the Lord, about regeneration, about heaven and hell, about conjugial love. Their belief is that the children’s salvation is at stake. Henry James Sr. vehemently rejects this orientation as sectarian and abominable. And so, he would have approved of his sons going their way and inventing for themselves their brand of philosophy and theology.

 

It is amazing to me that William James, in all his books and essays, spends no more than two or three sentences, vaguely mentioning “Swedenborgian circles,” never entering into a single idea of his father based on the Writings. And this, despite the fact that William edited his father’s last work about Swedenborg and published it posthumously. This is especially significant since William James was a prolific writer and well admired for his expertise on the human mind and on religion. Yet, not a single concept of his father from Swedenborg ever enters his writing, or the many speeches and lectures he delivered over his long academic life. It stands to reason therefore that he rejected and despised everything about the Writings, not reading any of it himself, and not taking seriously a single idea of his father in relation to Swedenborg.

 

William’s book titled Varieties of Religious Experience (1929) has been very influential in making it respectable for modern psychologists to consider religion as a legitimate area for scientific research. It is filled with content about the human mind and its relation to the Divine through various methods of mental discipline, ritual, and introspective experiences of one’s consciousness. Surely this would be an excellent opportunity to make his father’s Swedenborgian ideas part of the varieties of religious experiences! His total silence on it proves to me that he had an aversion for Swedenborg’s ideas, so great that he could not bring himself to mention it in a serious and comprehensive work on the subject.

 

The same may be said about Henry James, the Son, since his many academic biographers find nothing substantive to mention save his father’s social reputation as a defender of Swedenborg and his polemical or controversial reputation regarding that subject. Swedenborgian concepts are never let into his poems, essays, and novels that are considered incisive and greatly admired.

 

From the secular perspective it’s not crucial that Swedenborgian ideas be directly referred to in their work. It’s enough that traces can be found in their work showing the father’s influence in terms of their special focus on the mind and their recognition of deeper levels of consciousness. But from a religious perspective this is not enough because it always comes down to the bottom line: Do they acknowledge the Lord and come to Him in His Word for salvation and regeneration? It stands to reason that if they do, they’re going to write about it and even make it a central focus in their writing. And if they don’t, then they are acting like they have rejected those ideas as unworthy for their recognition.

 

The intellectual mind of Henry James Sr. was a sophisticated creation of Christian and Western philosophic and literary traditions. He was led to the Writings in midlife by a psychological crisis that left him depressed and incapable of continuing his active life of letters and as head of a prominent family. He recognized his symptoms when he read about the idea of vastations in the Writings. He reinterpreted his psychological incapacity into a spiritual evolution and he boldly went ahead reading the Writings and extirpating himself from his psychological state into a new state of animated and passionate defense of Swedenborg to his polemical friends, that included Emerson (see Chapter 4 Section 6 and Chapter 7 Section 5). He fought against the New Church establishment of his day as an abominable replication of the disastrous ecclesiasticism of the Old Christian Church. He formed the opinion that Swedenborg’s revelations were meant for the entire human race and everyone ought to be allowed to take from it whatever they wanted, for in the eyes of God, revealed in the Divine Humanity of Christ, every human being is welcomed and no one is rejected. Thus he remained outside the Church and did not take up in his mind the Doctrine of the Church. This fundamental nonduality is characteristic of secular Swedenborgianism.

 

Religious Swedenborgiansim is the acknowledgement of the Writings as the Lord in His Word and extracts from it the Doctrine of the Church. This Doctrine is spiritual from celestial origin and has nothing whatsoever from the natural mind and human self-intelligence. It is this Doctrine in our understanding that is called the Heavenly Doctrine and our regeneration is according to the our understanding of the Doctrine and in proportion to our daily willing and thinking in accordance with it (HH 473). This Doctrine is from the Writings and therefore has only dualities in it. In contrast, secular Swedenborgianism commingles dualities from the Writings with nondualities from self-intelligence in the natural mind. The result is that all dualities are invaded and destroyed by the avalanche of nondualities. Thus one remains without Doctrine for regeneration.

 

1. Nondualities In Henry James

 

It’s instructive to trace some of the numerous nondualities that emerge in the profuse intellectual reasonings that Henry James, Sr., produced in his unstoppable enthusiasm for Swedenborg’s works. First, his anti-ecclesiastical stance. Here he created a nonduality between the priesthood of the First Coming and the priesthood of the New Church. He imagined that the Church can be laid out on a continuum and measured along it from “consummated” to “alive.” He then decided that the Old Church and the New Church were both on the consummated end on account of their being sectarian. He used the word “sectarian” to designate what we would call “religious.” This is characteristic of secular Swedenborgiansim where either one throws off all priesthood, as in the case of Henry James, or one joins them all as equivalencies and in the spirit of equity, as in the case of Wilson Van Dusen (see Note xx at end). This nonduality makes no sense to religious Swedenborgianism which has exactly two categories for salvation and all spiritual growth: those who are regenerated and those who are not (TCR 574). This is not a continuum but an absolute distinction and permanent separation, as wide and permanent as heaven and hell are separated.

 

The conditions for regeneration have been laid down in the Writings in most specific terms. We must acknowledge our infernal status through and through, repent, reform, shun our evils as sins, refrain from doing them, holding them in aversion, and cooperating as-of self in our regeneration by taking up Doctrine from the Writings and willing and thinking accordingly in our daily and hourly activities. No other way is provided. One’s self-intelligence must not be consulted or the Doctrine is falsified and no regeneration is possible (TCR 48[18] ). Secular Swedenborgianism does not see all this and disputes it. Yet it is revealed that

 

Every one with whom the Church exists, is saved; but every one with whom the Church does not exist, is damned. (NJHD 245)

 

A subtle example of nonduality is the idea Henry James has of freedom. He takes up the well known and beautiful revelation from the Writings that no one is born for self, but everyone is born for others:

 

Man is born not for the sake of himself but for the sake of others; that is, he is born not to live for himself alone but for others; otherwise there could be no cohesive society, nor any good therein. (TCR 406)

 

The only freedom we have is therefore to cooperate and will in accordance with this reality of creation. He considers what kind of society would result from holding this principle in every activity and institution, and calls it “Christology.” What justifies this method of living in his mind is that it leads to a pure life of serving others, and the final outcome of this Christology is “becoming one” with God, which is the Divine Humanity Itself. This way we reach our deepest and highest reality and bliss. Clearly this entire notion is based on a nonduality between the “humanity of the individual” and the “Divine Humanity of Christ.”

 

In contrast, the Doctrine of the Church we have from the Writings illuminates our understanding to clearly see that the there is a fundamental and absolute duality between our humanity and the Lord’s Humanity. Ours is an image of His. We are so created that our celestial mind is capable of receiving the Lord’s Proprium in our regenerated will. The Lord therefore is the all in all in heaven, and we are in the Lord and the Lord is in us (John 14:20; TCR 111). Never will this mean that therefore there is fudging of distinctiveness and separation between the Lord’s Proprium or Humanity, and the celestial Will in which it dwells, or, which the Lord conjoins to Himself. Our humanity will always remain such as it is created in an image, and the Lord’s Humanity has always been and will always be uncreate. There can never be a mixing or a transference or a oneness other than a conjunction, adjunction, communication by influx, accommodation, correspondence, and appearance.

 

It is significant to note that Henry James prefers the expression “Divine Humanity” while we use “Divine Human” as in the Writings. The difference is that the New Church mind is focused entirely on the Person of the Lord as the Divine Human born on this earth, and as an historical Personage, interacted with many human beings as-if one of them. He then glorified His Natural Human conceived by Himself in the body of a designated virgin, and appears to the angels amidst the spiritual Sun through which He maintains the universe in existence and in His Order from Firsts to lasts and back. This Divine Human presented Himself one last time in the natural world at His Second Coming, which was the presentation of His Divine Rational as the Word of the Second Coming in the Writings of Swedenborg. This is the Person whom the New Church mind loves, not an abstract idea of a “Divine Humanity” within us.

 

The First Commandment is that we love Him more than anything else (TCR 291). This is possible only if God is the Divine Human for to love a “Humanity” as an abstraction is not possible. Loving the abstract or the invisible Divine is not possible  because it is indeterminate in the mind, and this cannot be loved (DL 13; HH 15). Love is the desire and intention to conjoin, and one cannot be conjoined to something abstract but only to another human being or to the Divine Human. Loving the Divine Human is possible. When we love the “Divine Humanity” within ourselves we are still secular nondualists, but when we love the Divine Human outside of ourselves we have become religious dualists (see Volume 1 throughout). This is the intellectual orientation of the New Church mind because it is the intellectual framework of the Writings, therefore of reality and the Lord.

 

Henry James describes the Coming of the Lord as a universal “message” of salvation to all humankind. If we would listen to this message, says Henry James, we would abandon all forms of sectarian affiliation and devote ourselves to love others as Christ loved us. Christ was the model of Divine Humanity that we all have in us as human beings. We can become Christ-like by loving all humanity and serving others by working for their salvation as Christ did for ours. Henry James refers to Jesus as the “most lustrous in history” of all prior models of humanity. He further says that “God is manifested in the life of Christ” while the New Church mind would think that “God is manifested as Jesus Christ.” The difference is plain. Manifestation in the “life of Christ” is abstract and natural, and fits nondualism, while manifestation “as Christ” is particular to the Person or Divine Identity. The Lord did not say that the Father is manifest through His life but through Him (John 1:18). To love the Lord means that we desire to be conjoined to Him by means of His Love and Wisdom, or Good and Truth. Therefore we love the Good and Truth that is in Him and desire to receive this within our thoughts and affections. Without this reception there cannot be conjunction.

 

The Coming of the Lord fundamentally alters the mental condition of the human race and provides a new Church through a new Word (TCR 647). The purpose of this new revelation is to teach how we need to cooperate with Him in our regeneration, for without this there is no redemption and salvation (TCR 576). To the extent that we struggle and live the Doctrine we understand from the new Word, to that extent He regenerates us. The new mind formed by the new Doctrine becomes the dwelling place or entry point for the Lord’s Proprium, and in this we have the new spiritual life that continues to eternity (AC 5354; CL 355).

 

There is much that is admirable about Henry James’ passion for many beautiful central ideas in the Writings. Nothing that I said about his ideas should diminish their interest and good intentions. Rev. Silverman’s review of this man’s Swedenborgiansim is favorable and appreciative of his noble sentiments. He shows that Henry James was against the anti-sectarian portion of organized religion and that he favored the support of all Churches and religions, seeing them together as the Lord’s Universal Church, and requiring only two conditions for acceptance of anyone into it: Acknowledging the Lord’s Divinity and shunning evils as sins. Indeed, these two conditions for salvation are taught in the Writings. (TCR 389[4] )

 

As we read about the ideas of Henry James regarding the Writings, we need to note the nondualities that crop up in his thinking. Examples were given above in this section. Another example may be given. Henry James states that “the new heavens, as Swedenborg reports them, are made up of Gentiles and Christians alike” (quoted in Silverman, ibid, p. 68). Henry James’ fervor for the nonduality in universalism is so strong that he removes from his mind the discrete degrees into which the new heavens are cast:

 

[The New Heaven] consists of Christians as well as of Gentiles, but for the most part of the children of all in the whole world, who have departed this life since the Lord's time: for these have all been received by the Lord, educated in heaven, and instructed by the angels, and afterwards preserved, so that together with the rest, they might constitute the New Heaven. (NJHD 3)

 

Those who are outside the Church, and acknowledge one God, and live according to their religion in some charity towards the neighbour, are in communion with those who are of the Church; for no one who believes in God and leads a good life, is damned. From this it is evident, that the Lord's Church is everywhere throughout the world; although specifically it is, where the Lord is acknowledged, and where the Word exists. (NJHD 244)

 

The whole Church on earth, before the Lord, is as one man, nos. 7396, 9276; in like manner heaven, because the Church is heaven, that is, the Lord's kingdom on earth, nos. 2853, 2996, 2998, 3624-3629, 3636-3643, 3741-3745, 4625. But the Church, where the Lord is known and where the Word exists, is like the heart and lungs in a man in respect to the rest of the body, which lives therefrom, as from the fountains of its life, nos. 637, 931, 2054, 2853. Hence it is, that unless there were a Church where the Word exists, and where by means of it the Lord is known, the human race would not be saved, nos. 468, 637, 931, 4545, 10452. The Church is the foundation of heaven, no. 4060. (NJHD 246)

 

If you explore these Arcana Coelestia references you will discover that there is a discrete degree of separation, thus no direct contact whatsoever, between Christians and Gentiles or other religions. In order to be in the heaven that is visibly and directly in the Lord there must be an acknowledgement that He is the only God of Heaven and earth. This is only with those who accept the teachings as they are in the Writings. The nonduality of universalism and unconditional acceptance is not the reality. Heavens differ in the degree of interiorness of loves, consequently of truths. Loves that do not have the truth of the Lord’s revealed identity are more distant and less central than loves that admit the identity of Jesus Christ as the only God. Therefore though we must be tolerant of others’ creeds here and the hereafter, and respectful of them when heavenly, yet we must not remove the discreteness and eternal permanence of their loves and ours, such as we are commanded to have in the Writings and nowhere else.

 

The highest level of achievement in the human mind according to the universal Christology of Henry James, Sr., is what he calls the “saint of the new church” who “engages in useful, selfless service to others.” This is an admirable sentiment, and I applaud it. But I do not automatically identify with it without first inquiring what it contains conceptually. I especially want to know what’s behind this:

 

The most intelligible expression for God’s own perfection is USE … which … is that which he derives … from his own frank and cordial and complete adjustment of himself to the various uses, domestic, civil, religious, which society devolves upon him. This is man’s spiritual form, and it endures to all eternity, growing evermore instinct with God’s own power…” (Henry James, quoted in Silverman, ibid, p.70)

 

I note in this train of thought the absence of the idea that regeneration as prescribed in the Writings, is the only method by which we can engage in genuine uses. Henry James acknowledges that uses are performed “with God’s own power” but he allocates something to the individual, namely, deriving the uses from one’s “own adjustment” to them. Not only is God’s power in our “saintly” performances of uses, but also in our adjustment to them, that is, our  progress in regeneration. This is not from ourselves but is also from the Lord. The focus of the New Church mind must be not so much on the good we do but on our obedience to the commandments. Then, it will follow automatically from the Lord, that our uses are good and bring goods to others. We must be vigilant in maintaining the dualities in explicit and particular terms all the time. All dualities are unique permanent distinctions that never cease to eternity (DLW 226).

 

The central thought in Henry James is, as Rev. Silverman describes it, that “ the key [to spiritual development] is “to become completely immersed in the life of society, to find oneself through losing oneself in unselfish service to others” (ibid, p. 71). The New Church mind would rather say that spiritual development (or regeneration) is immerse our mind in the life of the Writings, meaning, that we see our task as extracting Doctrine for ourselves and willing and thinking according to our understanding of it.

 

Chapter 4, Section 4

 

4. Spiritual Christianity of Charles Augustus Tulk

 

Tulk was a 19th century New Church man whose book Spiritual Christianity was published in 1846, two years prior to his passing on. He had been a prominent promulgator of the Writings though some of his ideas aroused strong criticism from New Church circles, as mentioned in Rev. Ray Silverman’s assessment of Tulk’s work (Ray Silverman, Arcana 1995 v.I n.4 51-69). The controversial issue regarded the Lord’s “dual or divided awareness” in the two states that He underwent while on earth. Rev. Silverman summarizes the issue in a sub-heading: “If Jesus is God, Why does He Pray to Himself?” The answer is given in the Writings:

 

HIS PROGRESS TOWARDS UNION WAS HIS STATE OF EXINANITION, AND THE UNION ITSELF IS HIS STATE OF GLORIFICATION. (…)

The Lord had to undergo these two states of exinanition and glorification because progress towards union is not possible by any other way, since it is in accordance with Divine order, and this is immutable. Divine order requires that a person should adjust himself to receive God, and prepare himself as a receiver and dwelling-place for God to enter into and live as in His temple. This a person must do of himself while still acknowledging that it is from God. He must make this acknowledgment, because he does not feel the presence and working of God, although it is God who by His intimate presence performs all the good of love and all the truth of faith in a person.

 

Every person must and will advance in accordance with this order, if he is to become spiritual instead of natural. The Lord advanced in the same way in order to make His natural human Divine; it was for this reason that He prayed to the Father, did His will, attributed to Him all that He did and said, and on the cross uttered the words 'My God, my God, why are you abandoning me?' For in that state God appears to be absent.

 

But after this state comes another, which is a state of being linked with God. In this state a man behaves in the same way, but then does so from God; nor does he then need, as he did previously, to attribute to God all the good which he wills and does, and all the truth which he thinks and speaks, because this acknowledgment is written on his heart, and consequently is inwardly in every action he does and every word he utters.

 

In the same way the Lord united Himself with His Father, and the Father united Himself with Him; in short, the Lord glorified His Human, that is, made it Divine, in just the same way as He regenerates a person, that is, makes him spiritual. (TCR 104-105)

 

We have here (along with continuing passages) the clear explanation of what the two states of regeneration are and why the Lord had to undergo them. It doesn’t say that the Lord “forgot” that He was God. When He was in a state of exinanition He was to Himself in the appearance that He was separate from the Father in Him. Nowhere do the Writings say that He was ever  ignorant of who He was or what His mission was. Just as we ourselves are not ignorant of the Lord’s close presence with us when we are in temptations (AC 227). We know it, we read it in the Writings, we can write it out, we can say it—and despite this, we do not feel the Lord’s Presence. We know it, but we don’t feel it. The appearance to us is that the Lord has abandoned us, even as we know that He has not. As we progress in our regeneration we recognize this appearance, we understand its mechanism, and it has less of stronghold on the feeling of abandonment. At no time have we forgotten that God exists or that the Writings are the Word or that He is managing every single detail. Therefore we can be sure that Jesus on earth did not forget the purpose of His Coming from the moment He became conscious of it as an infant (Can 30).

 

August Tulk created a nonduality in his mind that would make it impossible for him to understand the duality of state spoken of in the above Number, and elsewhere. He took the idea of God’s perfection and changelessness to mean that God cannot have dual awareness, one lower and the other higher as appears from the explanation in the Writings. This nonduality is the result of consulting his own intelligence and applying it to reinterpret the literal of the Writings. This is sure to mislead. We are commanded not to consult our own intelligence regarding the Doctrine of the Church, but that this must be drawn from the literal of the Word (TCR 229). We saw this same problem with Henry James, Sr., whose universalism led him to deny the duality of the priesthood and other things about the Church (see Chapter 4 Section 2). Tulk came up with the idea that the Jesus and the Father remained One in awareness since Divinity cannot be divided.

 

[in the Word] they are called "drunkards" who believe nothing but what they apprehend, and for this reason search into the mysteries of faith. And because this is done by means of sensuous things, either of memory or of philosophy, man being what he is, cannot but fall thereby into errors. For man's thought is merely earthly, corporeal, and material, because it is from earthly, corporeal, and material things, which cling constantly to it, and in which the ideas of his thought are based and terminated.

 

To think and reason therefore from these concerning Divine things, is to bring oneself into errors and perversions; and it is as impossible to procure faith in this way as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. The error and insanity from this source are called in the Word "drunkenness." (AC 1072)

 

That the rational would be made Divine, is signified by the "son" whom Sarah was to bear (verse 10). That the human rational truth that was with the Lord did not perceive this, and thus did not believe it, is signified by Sarah's "laughing" at the door of the tent that was behind him (verses 10-13, 15). It is confirmed that the Lord would put off this also, and would put on in its place truth Divine (verse 14). (AC 2139)

 

Man's regeneration is an image of the Lord's glorification (AC 4353)

 

Even the Lord went through states in which His “human rational” “did not believe the truth” because He could not perceive it in that state. Tulk seems to have denied the actuality of the Lord’s two states of perception. This aroused the vehement ire of New Church men in Tulk’s surround. They instantly sensed that Tulk was destroying the truth in himself by taking this position. And it seems to me they were automatically right in so far as it plainly states that the Lord underwent two states, and in one of them, He had the appearance or experience that He was separate from the Father. Not that He forgot, as discussed above. But that He was in a state of mind where this appearance of separation is what He experienced, despite his knowledge of everything about it. And this makes sense.

 

These recurrent states of exinanition were required so that the natural human he acquired from Mary, may face the hoards of hell and all the sordid depraved humanity. To face them without destroying them, which they would be if He had faced them in his other state called glorification. It was an act of Divine Mercy for the hells as well as an act of humility for the natural human that He was in the process of making One with His Divine. It’s instructive to see how Tulk made himself incapable of seeing this.

 

1. The Divine Is Accommodated

 

Tulk knew that the Divine doesn’t change in Itself. In the Lord infinite distinct things make a one that is perfect (DLW 17). To admit change into this understanding of God is to destroy the understanding. Therefore, God is changeless because infinite. But the Writings reveal that God is the life and all of each thing, and of each mind or soul (DLW 4). But because each thing is unique (DLW 226), therefore God’s indwelling of each mind is different and adapted according to appearances. Tulk took this idea and applied it to his cherished idea of nonduality of states of awareness of the Lord on earth. He came up with the notion that the Lord created the appearance of exinanition but that in reality He could not so divide His awareness. So His suffering was an appearance He gave. Also, His attributing all good to the Father not to Himself (TCR 104).

 

These elaborated notions infuriated some of the New Church men mentioned above, but Tulk defended his stance till the end. Tulk thought that the Divine could not possibly contain that which was contrary to the Divine, as Jehovah could not be thought of as being angry and vengeful; nor that the Lord could be angry or sweating blood from feeling weak in the heart as He anticipated the crucifixion. These appearances are not in the Lord but in the human beings to whom these appearances are manifested, each according to one’s unique reception. (4206). Tulk thought it was the most “extravagant” of ideas to believe that God Jehovah limited His infinite awareness in Jesus who had to gradually discover that He was Jehovah, and then vacillated back and forth, sometimes knowing who He was, sometimes not. He labeled this description as “impious fiction at which the heart sickens” (Quoted in Silverman, ibid, p.54).

 

From this position Tulk is compelled by his logic to call into question the veridicality of the literal of the Writings where this description is asserted. He saw this as equivalent to how the Writings discard the literal in the Old Testament where Jehovah is described as limited and tyrannical. The Writings also give descriptions of the Lord’s infirm Humanity while in the world, calling it His states of exinanition. Tulk would not accept these literal descriptions and saw them as referring, not to the Lord, but to the appearances of the Lord in the mind of the disciples. The Lord was not in reality going through those states since He is changeless, but the disciples were in the appearance that the Lord was vacillating between states. Similarly, the New Church mind reading the descriptions in the Writings, are also in those appearances of the letter. But, says Tulk, we must take these literal explanations in their spiritual sense, namely, that the changes attributed to the Lord are to be attributed to us, the changes we must go through in our own regeneration. This is the reason those explanations are given in the New Testament and in the Writings.

 

Tulk was very concerned that no new mystery be introduced into the New Church mind, a mystery that would destroy it like the mystery of the trinity that destroyed the former Church. He warned against a literalism of the Writings similar to the literalism that vastated the Jewish and Christian Church. But Tulk’s critics described his position as mere secular Swedenborgianism and metaphysics. Ray Silverman refers to various passages they quoted to prove Tulk wrong: that the Lord derived hereditary evils from the mother ; that He was introduced into celestial things only gradually “like any other man”; that the Lord had a “scarcity of knowledges in childhood”; that He was tempted by the hereditary evils in His external man; that as a result He suffered terribly; and that He overcame by His own power. (AC 1444, 1450, 1451, 1464, 1495, 1557, 1573, 1661). Tulk could not draw a distinction between the idea of the Lord knowing who He was and the Lord experiencing temptations. Tulk could not accept the idea that the Lord forgot who He was, and indeed no one should accept this. And if the Lord knew who He was, could He still be in a state of temptation?

 

The answer to the New Church mind must be, Yes. We are compelled to assent because the literal of the Writings assert it, and Doctrine must be drawn from the literal (SS 229). We cannot concoct an external natural idea and hold it in opposition to what the literal says. Having assented to the idea that the Lord underwent two alternating states, our mind then tries to find a rational solution to how He could know who He was and still experience suffering and temptation. This is what Tulk would not suffer himself to think through. And I believe it is due to a nonduality that he could let go, that cannot be in the Writings, and that he introduced himself by consulting his natural mind, a spiritually fatal error (SE 338).

 

Whenever we are faced with a clash between what the Writings assert and what our natural mind asserts, we must reject the natural mind’s version and affirm the version in the Writings. Then we are given the opportunity to rearrange our natural-rational so that our conscious rational becomes an image of the Writings. Silverman (ibid, p. 56) quotes Tulk from the Intellectual Repository (1845): “It is my thorough conviction that the Lord has not a twofold consciousness, the one Divine the other Human, but that from the first moment of His birth to His crucifixion, death, burial, He was God, and not an infirm Human Being.”

 

Can you see the operation of nonduality in his mind? Where the Writings give a duality—exinanition and glorification, Tulk replaces it with a nonduality (“the Lord has not a twofold consciousness”. He rejects the possibility of “fluctuations” in the Lord’s consciousness, for “this cannot be true of God.” Tulk’s nonduality requires that if the Lord realized a state of glorification, as when He was transfigured before the Peter, James, and John (TCR 574), He could thereafter be said to return to a state of the infirm human. Yet the Lord is said to have alternated between the two states until the very end upon the cross. Tulk’s logic compelled him to reject these events as actual, and reinterpreted them as appearances in the disciples. The crucifixion and death of the Lord on the cross was not something that was happening to the Lord in the Lord, but in the appearances to the witnesses. These appearances represented what was in human beings with regards to the Divine truth they hated.

 

Thus the Lord allowed Himself to represent the infirmities of the human race, rather than experiencing His own in the infirm Human. The Christ story is merely a representative of the human story. Jesus could not suffer “grievous temptations” no less than Jehovah could be angry at His people and wanting to take revenge for being rejected by them. Thus the letter of the Writings is like the letter of the Old and New Testament, mostly written in appearances, and once in awhile written in naked truth.

 

The Lord’s alternating states between limited awareness and Divine consciousness was going on even in his Childhood as it is revealed in the Writings:

 

The subject here treated of is the doctrine of faith, concerning which the Lord thought in His childhood, namely, whether it was allowable to enter into it by means of rational things, and thus form for one's self ideas concerning it. His so thinking came from His love and consideration for the human race, who are such as not to believe what they do not comprehend in a rational manner. But He perceived from the Divine that this ought not to be done; and He therefore revealed the doctrine to Himself from the Divine, and thereby at the same time all things in the universe that are subordinate, namely, all things of the rational and of the natural. (AC 2588)

 

2. The Story Of Redemption

 

Let me summarize the facts in my own words based on what I have extracted from the Writings about how the Lord accomplished His Redemption of the human race:

 

The Lord came for the purpose of creating for Himself a Divine Natural portion of Himself. This for our sake, so that we may love Him the more. Such as this love is, such is His ability to elevate us to Himself and to celestial citizenship to eternity. This was His purpose in the Incarnation.

 

The reason He allowed the people to crucify Him and to treat Him shamefully is that everything He did, every detail of His life, thoughts, and emotions during the 33 years, was foretold in the Old Testament in the language of correspondences, now unveiled for our most excellent use. He Graciously willed Himself to be the Servant and the Lamb—these representations were in the people’s mind, in their cruel and unloving heart. He enacted the dramatic correspondences of their shameful treatment of the Divine revelations that were entrusted to the human race. His crucifixion was the ultimate representative of the adulteration and falsification of this Divine Truth, thus inward hatred of Him.

 

The race sank to such a corporeal and sensual level of thinking that the Lord could not save the human race without coming in Flesh, acquiring a physical Body through a virgin in the land where the latest Word had been given, and growing up as a Divine Child whose Father was His Own Internal Man called Jehovah. His mother was the Word, that is, the Divine Truth. He split His Divine Awareness into two states so that He may accomplish the necessary tasks of creating a new mind for the human race. In His state of exinanition, He withdrew from His External Man and kept this external man in the natural state where the input was the senses of the body. He thus had to grow up, be socialized, learn Hebrew, read and memorize the Old Testament.

 

Even as a young Child of Three He was already conscious of who He was—the Messiah. While He read the OT His Internal Man Jehovah revealed it to the External Man Jesus of Nazareth. The Child Jesus knew who He was and what His mission is. For 30 of the 33 years He was on this earth in a physical Body He accomplished the great Redemption, which was to bring back order to the spiritual world that had gone into disorder due to the many generations that arrived there with falsified ideas of God. These half-truths of religion were manipulated by crafty men, or spirits, to avoid hell, and to infiltrate higher and higher into the levels of mind where the angels exist.

 

Thus they threatened the existence of the heavens, and the entire human race, past present and future, was then in danger of immediate extinction. During those 30 years, measured by earth time, the Lord accomplished His Great Works of Deliverance in alternating states of exinanition and inanition.

 

In states of exinanition, thus similar to all human beings, He was attacked by the hells and the dragons that rose to the entrance way of heaven with their half-truths of religion twisted to serve their ego, by which they were able to manipulate the minds of good spirits who were new arrivals in the afterlife, and even of angelic spirits at the foothills of heavenly country. This is the Pharisaic mind in all of us that we acquire through our religion when we are still are unregenerate. We are in this state of religion from childhood until adulthood, when we can undergo reformation, then regeneration. Only then is our mind cleaned, oriented, and ready for celestial preparation by the Lord who enters and arranges our mind through the spiritual truths we acquire from studying the Writings, which are the Word of His Second Coming.

 

The Lord created new spiritual truths in His mind that were never known and could not be invented by the rational mind of human beings. These new spiritual truths about Himself were completely adequate and effective to defeat the half-truths and the falsified truths that kept heaven beleaguered by the spiritual armies below. At the end of the 30 years the Lord completed His New Creation. The spiritual world was recreated, and therefore the human mind. Massive population migrations had to be accomplished with untold number of spirits deported from their cities and cast down into hellish territories created for them through the Laws of Permissions whereby each society of hell was allowed to keep an evil affection that particularly marked their genius. And so they too could have some enjoyment life left in their state of mind.

 

And He created New Heavens for the untold number of angels in all the heavens from all the planets, arranging them in a perfect human form called the Grand Human or Grand Man. Every society of angels contained a good affection which was particular to their genius, as the center of their good affections. Thus, every angelic society was different from every other, and in this integrated variety lies the perfection of the Grand Human, that is, of the evolving human race.

 

And He established an immutable Order by which this new universe was managed by mutual interaction of each with all. Angels supervise the Order in the hells. Angels also inflow into the spiritual world where is located our mind and thus influence our thoughts, and our conscience. Other angels inflow into the sensorimotor mind which is closest to the outward physical world coming to us from the senses, and influence our physiological functioning. All uses are thus maximally shared and no use stays merely with the individual who wills, thinks, and performs the use.

 

But the Lord told His disciples that He was not able to complete the New Creation until sometime in the future, at His Second Coming. This was because the human race was not ready to accept Him in their rational mind. People accepted His Divinity in their sensuous mind, as long as they were able to touch Him, see Him, witness His miracles, or read about Him as an historical figure. This was His Divine Natural. People were able to love and relate and believe this Divine Natural. But they rejected His Divine Rational. They could not believe it or understand it. (For further discussion on this see Chapter 5 Section 3).

 

Seventeen centuries passed during which the Lord gave spiritual truths to people through the New Testament. These truths were not sufficiently rational to allow the arrivals in the spiritual world to enter the New Heavens which were created within spiritual-rational truths. These people had to be housed in the spiritual world in cities created by the Lord and protected by Him from attacks by falsities. The Writings describe these events in the spiritual meaning of the story of Noah in the Old Testament and John’s Book of Revelations in the New Testament. The book of the Writings called The Last Judgment provides the particulars for these events, witnessed by Swedenborg and countless angels and spirits. It happened in the year 1757 relative to earth calendar (TCR 818).

 

At last the human mind evolved into the modern world of science and rationality in the eighteenth century. The Lord was able to prepare the mind of a man, from childhood onward, to acquire the disposition, love, and genius needed for serving the use of revelator of His Second Coming. This was the revelation of the Lord’s Divine Rational truths. He opened Swedenborg’s physical and spiritual capacities for dual citizenship, enabling him to be fully conscious in the natural and spiritual worlds.

 

[2] Now, since it has been granted me to be in the spiritual world and in the natural world at the same time, and thus to see each world and each sun, I am obliged by my conscience to communicate these things.  For of what use is knowledge unless it be communicated? (ISB 18)

 

He was thus able to observe and experiment with the laws and conditions of the spiritual world as well as the natural world. In this way the Lord created the New Word of His Second Coming as the Writings. In it, every word, phrase, and sentence is a form of the infinite Divine Truth.

 

When the Word is opened the Lord appears (AE 612)

 

Viewed outwardly Swedenborg’s books appear just as the books of the prophets in the Old and New Testaments. But inwardly, they were not Swedenborg’s words, but the Lord’s. The angels also read the New Word of the Second Coming that was given in an earthly form to a man to compose and write as-of self. But they do not see any of the natural words or meanings, but only the spiritual meanings that are within. Hence the way the Writings are written in heaven differs from the way we know them here. But the order of ideas and their interrelationships, is the same. By influx, angels can give us heavenly light while we read the Writings so that we can see through the letter, as if not seeing it at all, and perceiving instead the spiritual truths and their perfectly arranged series of truths. If we then love these celestial secrets, we receive through them, or within them, the celestial blessings of eternal happiness, conjugial love, love of neighbor and innocence.

 

3. The Dutch Thesis

 

One hundred years after Tulk, the Dutch Thesis was born among a few whose ideas appear in De Hemelsche Leer (through the 1930s). This idea is that the Writings are the Word and therefore everything said about the Word of the Old and New Testaments apply equally to the Writings, which they began to call the Third Testament. However, unlike Tulk’s ideas which are contaminated by nonduality and by consulting his own intelligence (see above), there is no nonduality in De Hemelsche Leer. What allowed them to escape Tulk’s errors is that they did not consult their own intelligence with respect to the Doctrine of the Church but inerrantly followed the rule laid down in the Writings, that all Doctrine must be drawn from the literal and confirmed by it (TCR 229).

 

DOCTRINE IS TO BE DRAWN FROM THE LITERAL SENSE OF THE WORD, AND PROVED BY MEANS OF IT.

This is because the Lord is present in that sense, and He teaches and enlightens us. For the Lord never performs any act except in fullness, and the Word is in its fullness in the literal sense, as was shown above. This is why doctrine is to be drawn from the literal sense.

 

The doctrine of genuine truth can even fully be drawn from the literal sense of the Word, for the Word in that sense resembles a person wearing clothes, but whose face and hands are bare. Everything needed for a person's faith and life, and so everything needed for his salvation, is there uncovered, though the remainder is clothed. In many passages where it is clothed it still shows through, like a woman's features through a thin silk veil over her face. Moreover, since the truths of the Word increase in number as they are loved and this love gives them shape, so they show through and become visible more and more clearly. (SS 229)

 

When all our Doctrine is drawn from the literal and confirmed by it, nonduality cannot creep in. (For further discussion on De Hemelsche Leer see Note 8 at end).

 

When I first tried to understand this commandment I was puzzled. How can I draw Doctrine for myself out of the literal of the Writings? What will the language of that Doctrine be—would it not be literal? Then what’s the difference between the literal and what I draw from the literal? Elsewhere the Writings explain that what we draw from the literal is the spiritual meaning. Therefore the Doctrine in my mind or understanding is a spiritual interpretation of the literal. What happens when I write it down—will this literal description of my Doctrine be the spiritual meaning of the literal of the Writings? Now I realize that it would not be. In other words, the spiritual meaning cannot be written out in natural language!

 

The literal language of the Doctrine I write out is still literal even though the meaning of it in my mind is spiritual. Doctrine in my mind is the spiritual meaning of the literal of the Writings. This is why we are commanded to confirm our Doctrine with the literal of the Writings. This confirmation process compares the literal of the Doctrine I write out with the literal of certain relevant passages from the Writings  They must agree. If they don’t, then the Doctrine in my mind is not genuine, assuming that what I wrote out is a veridical paraphrase of the Doctrine in my mind. You can see how this would prevent injurious heresies. People write and teach Doctrine they extract from the literal of the Writings. Obviously we must not accept anything taught by anybody automatically, without figuring out whether it is true or not (AR 794). How do we figure out whether the Doctrine taught by our Church teachers is genuine, not false? We do so by comparing the literal language of the Doctrine with the literal language of the Writings. If there is a clash, we reject the Doctrine no matter where or from whom it comes. This is the commandment of Nunc Licet that must be the procedure in the formation New Church mind (TCR 508).

 

Future research in theistic science (see Note xx) will explain this operation in more detail than we understand it today. It is clear now that the Writings cannot be understood without Doctrine (AE 356). The literal of the Writings contains apparent contradictions that must be resolved by contextual comparison with other parts of the literal. This is an external rational operation of exegesis. They do not as yet lead to Doctrine in our mind but are a necessary prelude or preparation for it. Once the literal is contextualized appropriately by comparisons, it is taken up in the memory from where we are aware of it, can write about it, can teach it. The second we apply it to ourselves, it becomes Doctrine! Not until then. For before then we only have the literal of the Writings in our memory and in our external rational level of thinking about truths and the Lord.

 

But any part of this knowledge that is applied to self is illumined by the Lord so that we become consciously aware of the spiritual meaning within, that cannot be written down. This is because the ultimate reference (‘designatum’) is not a sentence but a an act—of willing something, understanding some truth, and performing some act. These acts of the mind and body are seen in heavenly light from above. We can perceive what is in our willing—from hell or from heaven, and likewise what is in our thinking and acting out. We can see the existential or biographical series to which our act belongs, thus, its larger context in our regeneration and progression to a heavenly mind. We can see the sin of it, or the use of it. Thus we become wise from this perception. When we arrive in heaven these perceptions are back with us and we can now discuss them in the spiritual angelic language.

 

For additional discussion on the spiritual sense of the Writings see Volume 2.

 

Chapter 4, Section 5

 

5. Duality between good and truth

 

The idea of a nonduality of good and truth, or love and wisdom, suggests itself to the New Church mind when reading that in the Lord these make a one distinctly:

 

II. THE DIVINE LOVE AND WISDOM PROCEED FROM THE LORD AS ONE. … In the Lord infinite things are distinctly one (n. 17-22). … Love apart from union with wisdom cannot do anything (n. 401-403). … Spiritual heat and spiritual light, in proceeding from the Lord as a Sun, form one, as the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom in the Lord are one (n. 99-102). (DP 4)

 

There is a difference between saying good and truth are distinctly one and good and truth are one. The latter is nonduality, the former is duality. What makes a “one”? It is the uniting of distinct parts--either uncreate in the Lord like love and wisdom, or created, as an angelic husband and wife that make a conjugial one (CL 177). Or, an “infernal union” that is allowed by the Lord between evil and falsity make a one (DP 17). There is a principle given for how unions take place: two distinct elements that are still separate ascend in discrete degrees as they are perfected into a union of one (D.Love 5, DP 4). Note that what “ascends” (or deepens) is not the element itself involved in the union, which remains at its own discrete level. The corresponding act in a higher degree is what forms the perfection and wholesomeness of the union. It’s the perfection that ascends by a series of discrete degrees through correspondence.

 

The increasing perfection is never a nonduality but forms a duality of distinct elements united into one. The unity is maintained by both successive and simultaneous order. Should any prior or lower element vanish, the unity collapses and dissipates. A unity can only exist in a context of the action together of elements of duality (HH 56). In a context of nonduality there cannot be a unity for there is no “one” there (HH 56). A “one” is formed only by other distinct elements just like there is no “whole” without its parts held together. The Writings tell us that we can understand this better if we compare it to the way the heart and the lungs act together and neither can survive without this conjoint being and existing. The human body makes a one but it is not a nonduality since it remains structured by distinct elements. Thoughts cannot exist without affections or love and neither can love exist without thoughts. Distinct parts that are not united into a one are said to be unreal (DP 4).

 

One may get the impression from the following and similar passages, that good and truth, the building blocks of all reality, constitute a nonduality:

 

Good has no reality unless united to truth, and truth has no reality unless united to good. It appears, indeed, as if good has reality without truth, and as if truth has reality without good; but still they have not. … If you say to anyone simply "good", and not that this or that thing is good, has good any reality? It has reality when it is used of something which is perceived to be good. … From this it is clear that to will has no reality, but to will this or that has reality. (DP 11)

 

But this idea is not a nonduality as can be seen by collating distinct passages.

 

First. In the universe, and in all things in general and in particular therein which were created by the Lord, there was a marriage of good and truth. Second. After creation, this marriage was severed in man. Third. It is of the Divine Providence that what has been severed should be made one, and thus that the marriage of good and truth should be restored. (DP 9)

 

There does exist good separated from truth, and truth separated from good. (DP 14)

 

It is with difficulty that a man in this world can enter into either the one or the other conjunction or union, namely, of good and truth, or of evil and falsity; for as long as he is living in the world he continues in a state of reformation or regeneration. (DP 17)

 

If good separated from truth “exists” the two cannot be the same. We need to inquire further as to how the separation takes place and what is its use.

 

The “division” of good and truth in created things is allowed for the sake of our salvation, as explained here:

 

However, because a man, while he lives in the world, can be in good and at the same time in falsity, and also in evil and at the same time in truth, and even in evil and at the same time in good, and thus as it were a double man; and because this division destroys that image, and so destroys the man; therefore the Divine Providence of the Lord, in all its operations both in general and in particular, has in view that this division shall not be. Moreover, since it is better for a man to be in evil and at the same time in falsity than to be in good and at the same time in evil, the Lord permits this, not as if He willed it, but as if He were unable to prevent it, on account of the end in view, which is man's salvation. (DP 16)

 

1. When Good And Truth Are Disunited

 

The duality of good and truth is shown by their ability to be disunited. This would not be possible if good and truth were to be a nonduality, thus no longer distinct. This duality of distinctness is thus maintained in creation both when they form a one (as in the Lord, in angels, and in regenerating persons) and when they are divided (as in those who are in the natural state without the spiritual). To provide a means for regeneration the Lord allows that good and truth be capable of separation. This is why it is repeatedly said good and truth are distinctly one (duality), and not that they are one (nonduality). By being separated, truth in the conscience can motivate us to receive good and act from it. This would not be possible if they could not be divided.

 

The reason why a man can be in evil and at the same time in truth, and why the Lord cannot prevent this on account of the end, which is salvation, is that man's understanding can be raised up into the light of wisdom and see truths or acknowledge them when he hears them, while his love remains below. Thus he can be in heaven with his understanding but with his love in hell; and this cannot be denied to him, because the two faculties, rationality and liberty, cannot be taken from him; for by virtue of these he is a man, and is distinguished from the beasts; and only by means of these faculties can he be regenerated and consequently saved. (DP 16:2)

 

The New Church mind strives to cleave to the dual idea of good and truth as a unity on the one hand, and good and truth as a unity-to-become. The first represents the Lord in our mind, the other represents the regeneration by the Lord of our mind’s character. It is in this sense that we can rationally understand the Lord’s well known statements that He is in us and we are in Him (John 14:20). This is not a reference to nonduality. The Lord in us remains distinct from us and consists of adjunction and conjunction, not a commingling or continuity, which is impossible:

 

Every created thing, by virtue of its origin, is such in its nature that it may be a recipient of God, not by continuity, but by contiguity. By the latter and not by the former there is conjunctivity. For it is in accord, because it has been created in God by God. And having been created thus, it is an analogue, and by this conjunction is like an image of God in a mirror. (DLW 56)

 

Note from this passage that there is a distinction being made between continuity and contiguity. It is said that the Lord conjoins us to Him by contiguity or conjunctivity, but not by continuity. Why this difference? The reason is that continuity would create a nonduality between us and the Lord, as is commonly done in Eastern nonduality (see Chapter 2).

 

Neither can there be any ratio between the celestial in which the angels of the highest heaven are and the Divine of the Lord, but there can be conjunction by correspondences. (D. WIS. 12)

 

The merely human rational could not have a life in common with the Divine rational itself, either as to good or as to truth

(…)

That it cannot have a life in common, is evident from the mere fact that the Divine is Life itself, and thus has life in Itself; whereas the merely human is an organ of life, and thus has not life in itself.

(AC 2658)

 

In other words, there cannot be a sensuous contact or commingling with the Lord’s Divine substance but only through appearances that are accommodated to our substance through correspondences. The unity of the Lord and the angels (AR 55) is not a nonduality but a conjunction called reciprocal conjunction”:

 

[7] But these things can be better apprehended from the reciprocal conjunction of good and truth in the man who is being regenerated by the Lord, for as before said the Lord regenerates man as He glorified His Human (n. 10057). When the Lord is regenerating man, He insinuates the truth which is to be of faith in the man's understanding, and the good which is to be of love in his will, and therein conjoins them; and when they have been conjoined, then the truth which is of faith has its life from the good which is of love, and the good which is of love has the quality of its life from the truth which is of faith. This conjunction is reciprocally accomplished by means of good, and is called the heavenly marriage, and is heaven with man. In this heaven the Lord dwells as in His own, for all the good of love is from Him, and also all the conjunction of truth with good. The Lord cannot dwell in anything of man's own, because it is evil.

 

[8] This reciprocal conjunction is what is meant by the words of the Lord in John:

In that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you (John 14:20).

 

All thing of Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine, but I have been glorified in them. That they all may be one, as Thou Father art in Me, and I in them, and that they may be one in us (John 17:10, 21, 22).

 

Reciprocal conjunction is thus described; but still it is not meant that man conjoins himself with the Lord, but that the Lord conjoins with Himself the man who desists from evils; for to desist from evils has been left to the man's decision, and when he desists, then is effected the reciprocal conjunction of the truth which is of faith and of the good which is of love from the Lord, and not at all from man; for that from himself man can do nothing of good, and thus can receive nothing of truth in good, has been known in the church; and this also the Lord confirms in John:

 

Abide in Me, and I In you. He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing (John 15:4, 6).

(AC 10067) (see also TCR 371)

 

The Lord is the “all in all in heaven” (TCR 98) refers to how the as-of-self of each angel is actually the received Proprium of the Lord, so that angels perceive the inflow of the Proprium while simultaneously retaining the feeling of self acting in freedom according to one’s will and thought.

 

Now since everything that a man does from freedom appears to him to be his own for it is of his love, and, as was said above, to act from one's love is to act from freedom, it follows that conjunction with the Lord makes a man appear to himself to be free and consequently to be master of himself; and the nearer the conjunction with the Lord the more free he seems, and consequently the more he seems to be master of himself. He appears to himself more distinctly to be master of himself because the Divine Love is such that it wills that what is its own should belong to another, thus to a man or to an angel. Such, indeed, is all spiritual love, and pre-eminently the Divine Love. (DP 43:2)

 

The reception of the One and Unchanging Proprium is distinct and unique to each angel so that to surrounding others, the personality of the angel is familiar and delightful.

 

2. The Duality Or Distinctness Of All Things

 

The duality or distinctness of all things when united into a one applies at all levels of creation and existence:

 

The love and wisdom acting simultaneously and in harmony, form each and all things, yet in all of them, they are themselves distinct from each other. Love and wisdom are two distinct things, just as heat and light are; heat is felt, so is love: and light is seen, so is wisdom; wisdom is seen when a man is thinking, and love is felt when he is being affected. Yet, in the work of forming, they do not operate as two, but as one (D.Wis. 3).

 

Such a one is everything which is visible to the eye in the world; and such a one is everything which is not visible to the eye, whether it is in the interior parts of nature or in the spiritual world. Such a one is man, and such a one is a society of men. Such a one is the Church, and also the universal angelic heaven before the Lord; in a word, such a one is the created universe, not only in general but also in every particular. (DP 4)

 

As there are the two things, love and wisdom, effecting formation of the embryo in the womb, there are, in consequence, two receptacles, one for the love, the other for the wisdom; consequently also there are pairs everywhere in the body, which are, in a similar manner, distinct from each other, and yet united: there are two cerebral hemispheres, two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, two chambers in the heart, two hands, two feet, two kidneys, two testicles: the other viscera are in two parts also; and everywhere the part on the right side has respect to the good of love, and the part on the left to the truth of wisdom. That these two are so conjoined that they act as one mutually and reciprocally, any diligent investigator can see, if he takes the trouble (D.Wis. 3)

 

These passages teach that all things that are anything must be “distinct from each other, and yet united.” It is never the case that a nonduality can exist in anything created since anything that is a “one” is so from its distinct elements forming a union. No object or entity can be from itself but only from distinct others that are united in a one:

 

form makes one more perfectly in proportion as those things which enter into it are distinct from one another and yet are united. … A one without form does not exist, but form itself makes one (DP 4).

 

Anything that is created is distinct and retains that distinction when united to others. This fundamental duality opposes the idea of a nonduality in which the distinctness of the elements commingle, vanish, or dissipate. To admit a nonduality into the New Church mind results in obscurity and vagueness. Thus it is to be avoided. Since there is an endless number of nondualities that can sprout in the New Church mind, overcoming nonduality becomes a method or tool for regeneration. It is the rational discipline implied in the statement taken as the Motto of the Second Coming: Nunc Licet (TCR 508), “now it is permitted to enter intellectually into the mysteries of faith.” The rational analysis of the concepts we have in relation to the Writings is the labor of eliminating mystery. We cannot stand still with what we’ve already got without sliding back and losing it. The power we gain is through the opening of the interior rational mind, and the more we live deeper concepts the more we can be regenerated. Everything hangs on that.

 

At the present day the term Faith is taken to mean the mere thought that the thing is so because the church so teaches, and because it is not evident to the understanding. For we are told to believe and not to doubt and if we say that we do not comprehend, we are told that this is just the reason for believing.  So that the faith of the present day is a faith in the unknown, or blind faith . . . Real faith is nothing else than the acknowledgement that the thing is so because it is true; for one who is in real faith thinks and says, ‘This is true, and therefore, I believe it” (Doctrine of Faith 1, 2)

 

When we apply this passage to the New Church mind, we go beyond the literal meaning of the expressions. We begin to see through the literal a more specific application, which is more internal because more particular. The particular is always more interior than the general (AC 4345[4] ). With this new inward orientation, we can see that “At the present day” refers to our unregenerate state prior to reformation in adult life (AE 803; AC 8780; AC 3518). “The term Faith” refers to the level of our thinking in the pre-reformation period. Our faith then is called a “term” because it is external and natural, not yet spiritual or genuine faith. When we read the Writings our understanding is fixated to the literal level and has little depth. In that state, we believe that “the thing is so because the church so teaches” and we experience difficulty in comprehending many sentences. We fall into the illusion that the Writings deal with a difficult subject matter, somewhat specialized and scholarly. It is theology, we say to ourselves, and this was written by a Swedish gentleman born in the 17th century and originally written in Neo-Latin. Etc. etc. In this state we have no love and passion for the Writings. It is our religion book, not our favorite book. As the passage says, “it is not evident to the understanding” and we complain that “we do not comprehend.”

 

“Faith of the present day” refers to our New Church faith prior to our reformation in adult life. About this faith, the Lord says that it is “a faith in the unknown, or blind faith.” Our faith is called “blind” because our level of thinking is stuck in the external rational sentences of the literal text. At some point we hear about the idea that the Writings have an inner sense, and it is this inner sense that is spiritual and of celestial origin, but not the outer literal sense such as it is. When we hear of this our reaction is one of disbelief and rejection. This is why the Lord calls this New Church faith “blind faith.” In contrast, the New Church faith we have after reformation in adult life is called “real faith.” This new reformed faith is said to be the “acknowledgement that the thing is so because it is true.” Faith by “acknowledgement” is meant in contrast to faith that “the thing is so because the church so teaches.” One is real and genuine, the other spurious and false. To be able to acknowledge a sentence in the Writings means to figure out its external rational meaning, and then, to apply it to one’s willing and thinking in daily life. The first part is called reformation; the second part regeneration.

 

The New Church mind is born with our reformation. Reformation is a cognitive task; regeneration is an affective task. In reformation we figure out what’s what by serious and intense study of the Writings. We go through all our main concepts in our belief system and knowledge, and examine each under an analytic microscope, trying to see the nondualities, replacing them with dualities from the Writings. This stage of cognitive labor is like the labor pangs of a woman giving birth. At the end of the process there is born the New Church mind. This mind contains nothing that is not from the Writings. Everything in it is exclusively from the Writings, and its contents keep growing daily and multiplying, with our continued studies of the Writings. The growth of this New Church mind in ourselves is called regeneration. Only when regeneration begins (after reformation) can the Lord begin to enlighten us and to give us what He calls “real faith.”

 

Now our comprehension of the Writings is no longer limited to the literal. We begin to see how the literal applies to our own willing and thinking as they occur. In other words, as we go about our daily tasks we perform willing and thinking. Now as we look down from our inner rational mind to our external self performing the tasks, we can witness or monitor the stream of our willing and thinking. We can evaluate each portion of our willing, and each portion of our thinking, in the light of the Doctrine that is in our mind from daily study of the Writings. This is the very moment when the Lord gives enlightenment or the “real faith.” He elevates our understanding to the light of heaven (DP 168). We can see through our willing and thinking like we see through a window, sometimes clearly, sometimes not. Or through a cloud, sometimes thick, sometimes thin (AC 1059). This real faith is not a belief or persuasion but a seeing that the literal sentences of the Writings refer not to what they appear to say, but to a portion of my individual reality, individual and unique standpoint. This is my standpoint as an individual, what I was created to become, what my unique contribution will be to the perfecting of the Grand Human or the human race. In this actualization of uniqueness, we reach our fullness of being, as the Lord intended it from the creation of my unique soul. We are then in heaven, for heaven is within us, and more precisely, within the truths we possess from the Writings, and even more precisely, within our love of these truths.

 

Chapter 4, Section 6

 

6. Psychological Nonduality: Near Death Experiences

 

The current status of NDE can be gauged by selections from the Web sites dedicated to the work of Raymond Moody, author of the popular Life After Life book (1988).

 

Dr. Moody recorded and compared reports of several hundred persons who “died” of heart failure on the surgical table, then were successfully “resuscitated.”  His research describes the results of analyzing the verbal reports of people who came forward as having head a near-death experience. He outlines nine elements that tended to occur frequently in the independent reports of hundreds of people:

 

A strange sound. A buzzing or ringing noise, while having a sense of being dead

 

Peace and painlessness.  While people are dying, they may be in intense pain, but as soon as they leave the body the pain vanishes and they experience peace.

 

Out-of-body experience.  The dying often have the sensation of rising up and floating above their own body while surrounded by a medical team and watching it down below, feeling comfortable.  They experience the feeling of being in a spiritual body that looks like a sort of living energy field.

 

The tunnel experience.  The next experience is that of being drawn into darkness through a tunnel, at an extremely high speed, until reaching a realm of radiant golden-white light.

 

Rising rapidly into the heavens.  Instead of a tunnel, some people report rising suddenly into the heavens and seeing the earth and the celestial sphere as they would be seen by astronauts in space.

 

People of light.  Once on the other side of the tunnel, or after they have risen into the heavens, the dying meet people who glow with an inner light.  Often they find that friends and relatives who have already died are there to greet them.

 

The being of light.  After meeting the people of light, the dying often meet a powerful spiritual being whom some have called God, Jesus, or an angel.   Also, although they sometimes report feeling scared, they do not sense that they were on the way to hell or that they fell into it.

 

The life review.  The being of light presents the dying with a panoramic review of everything they have done.  In particular, they relive every act they have ever done to other people and come away feeling that love is the most important thing in life.

 

Reluctance to return.  The being of light sometimes tells the dying that they must return to life.  Other times, they are given a choice of staying or returning.  In either case, they are reluctant to return.  The people who choose to return do so only because of loved ones they do not wish to leave behind.

(“Dr. Raymond Moody’s Research” On the Web at

www.near-death.com/experiences/experts2.html Accessed May 2002)

 

Note that every item is a report about a sensuous or corporeal experience and realization. There is no rational understanding of what the visual elements are, nor an attempt to interpret them as symbols: light and dark, God, the spiritual world and how it relates to the mind, what correspondences are that actuate our thinking and sensations and make them to be correspondences of spiritual things, what dying is in relation to regeneration, and so on. Because there is no rational content in these visions and sensations, they are not spiritual, for only the rational can contain the spiritual. Visions and sensations in which there is no rational, are dead and have nothing spiritual in them (D. Wis. 2).

 

The Word is not understood except by a rational man; for to believe anything without having an idea of the subject, and without a rational view of it, is only to retain words in the memory, destitute of all the life of perception and affection, which is not believing (NJHD 256).

 

The human rational faculty cannot comprehend Divine, nor even spiritual things, unless it be enlightened by the Lord  (WH 7)

 

Knowledge of the Writings allow a more rational interpretation of these near death experiences in the following way.

 

Without familiarity with the Writings, people’s ideas of the afterlife tend to be natural involving space and time and social identity. Nevertheless because these ideas are somewhat rational, rather than merely corporeal, they constitute suitable cognitive vessels for inflowing by spirits. The correspondential effects of this inflow are the sensory details that have cropped up independently from hundreds of people in the near death (NDE ) reports. Note that this is how the sensations and visions are produced in the near death experience. There is no rational spiritual content in the meaning they have of the visions and sensations. The meanings they have of the visions is natural without any spiritual in it since the spiritual begins with the rational (HH 468). Which may mean that the spirits who inflow into such concepts are “corporeal spirits” and they themselves think at this sensuous level about the spiritual. This, despite the fact that these spirits have been in the spiritual world for a long time—which greatly amazed Swedenborg (SE 5529). When he reminded them that they are spirits in the afterlife, they acquiesced, but then quickly sank back into a state similar to their sense-based materialism on earth, which is their usual state in the hells they live in. Thus, they do not know that they are spirits and some of them foolishly deny that there is an afterlife (SE 2287-8). Hence they are called not living but dead (AC 7217), for in the spiritual world only the rational is alive. At this level of corporeal thinking these spirits may inflow into the sensations and visions of NDE experiences. Hence these experiences cannot be spiritual until they are elevated into some rational content.

 

Here is an NDE report which was quoted in an article in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin:

 

I have no doubt that there was more to my experience than I can remember, for the memory loss that resulted from my illness was severe. The memories that I do have, however, are vivid and unforgettable and they changed my life. The reality that I was in was more real, more intense, than anything in this current world of ours. It was hyper-reality.

 

I was in a place. Around me was flatness and barrenness. To talk about a sequence to the experience is to distort it. There was no time there. I now know that time is a convenient fiction for this world, but it did not exist in that one. Everything seemed to be at one moment, even when “events” seemed to occur in a sequence. … What seemed to be the sky, the land, and everything was of a pale blue-gray color. It was like being on a raft in the middle of the ocean where sky and sea merge into one monochromatic world, but I felt as though I were standing on firm land. There was only the blue-gray vastness that seemed to stretch endlessly.

 

Beside me was a Being, whom I never saw but whose presence I felt constantly. Its presence was constant, enormous and powerful.

 

With the Being beside me, exuding love and comfort to me, I re-experienced my life, and it was not what I would have expected. … It was a re-experiencing of my life, but from three different perspectives simultaneously.

 

One perspective was my version of my life as I might have recounted it to anyone patient enough to listen. However, it was not so much the reliving of overt events as it was re-experiencing the emotions, feelings, and thoughts of my life. … However, as I was re-experiencing my version of my life, I was also experiencing my life from the perspective of those with whom I was involved. I felt what they felt, I lived their emotions as they acted with and reacted to me. This was their version of my life. … And there was more. At exactly the same time I experienced a third view of my life. … It was an unbiased view, free of the subjective and self-serving rationalizations that the others and I had used to support the countless acts of selfishness and lack of true love in our lives. To me it can only be described as God’s view of my life. …

 

I did not find myself in hell, but I was suffering torment. It was horribly painful to experience the fullness of my life and I was filled with contempt for myself. How could I have been so incredibly stupid as to believe my own lies? … All of this–the three-way re-experiencing of my life and self-judgment–was simultaneous and yet separate and distinct. …And through all this the Being was at my side. I felt nothing but love and support from the Being. It exuded emotion: you are loved, you are lovable; your worst fault is that you are human. It goes with the territory. I remember the words, “Don’t worry, you are only human.” …

 

Next—if I can really talk about next, for time and sequence do not really exist—I felt that I was given an understanding of everything that is, at least everything that is really important. I felt as if all the secrets of the universe were revealed to me–not mathematical formulas, but simply how the universe operates, what is true, how things are. I now knew everything.

(Quoted in: “Intimations of Immortality: Three Case Studies” by Huston Smith. The Ingersoll Lecture for 2001-02 Harvard Divinity Bulletin on the Web at

www.hds.harvard.edu/dpa/news/bulletin/ingersoll.html (Accessed June 2002)

 

Again you can see that this description does not contain any spiritual-rational content, consequently it has no spiritual meaning since the spiritual begins with the rational. Those who are impressed by these types of NDE reports see them as showing that there is an afterlife and that death does not bring cessation of consciousness. This weak evidence is made to be more important and weighty in their mind than the entire testimony of Scripture (see quote from Huston Smith later in this Section). It is weak because it does not have rational content. Contrast this to the New Testament and the Writings. Both are filled with rational content that are spiritual. For instance, that there is God; that there is heaven and hell; that love is the chief commandment; that spiritual development depends on being reborn and gradually regenerated in character; that God is omnipotent; that the Word is Holy and contains heavenly secrets; etc. This is rational content, and it must weigh in one’s estimation as proof of the existence of the afterlife far more than a physical demonstration of a miracle or a vision, which only leads to persuasive faith, and this is no genuine faith that remains in the afterlife (DP 131).

 

For the New Church mind, only rational concepts taken up from the literal of the Writings can become the Divine Doctrine within us. This Divine Truth is accommodated to each individual’s level of understanding and love, and becomes a dwelling place for the Lord in what is His Own in us (AC 9684). No sensuous or direct experience can develop the spiritual in us because experience is natural—corporeal, sensuous, and external rational or symbolic. Explanations and theories people generate on the basis of all direct sensuous experiences are not spiritual, cannot be spiritual, and impede the spiritual in the New Church mind if they are taken as spiritual in themselves. All ideas about the spiritual that are derived from natural experiences are based on nonduality. All ideas derived from the Writings are rational dualities.

 

A number of movies and TV broadcasts have incorporated the ideas from NDE reports into dramatic episodes. Millions of people who have seen these imaginative portrayals may have admitted into themselves these natural material ideas about the afterlife. They may reason with these ideas in the understanding, and they may confirm them by various reasonings. These confirmations in the New Church mind may create a stumbling block to regeneration if it is not realized that these descriptions of the afterlife are from a corporeal origin and not spiritual. They are based on the material idea of nonduality between the natural and the spiritual. Which means that if the word spiritual is used within this nonduality framework, only a form of corporeal spirituality is understood by it. This is the way corporeal spirits in hell think about the spiritual (DLW 424[xix] ). Thus we cannot count on NDE’s to enlighten the New Church mind but to obscure its clear vision from the Writings. I’m saying this only about the New Church mind that is to be formed exclusively form the Writings.

 

Rational spirituality remains totally out of sight in NDE reports and explanatory accounts of them. Rational spirituality is the spirituality in the Writings, therefore also, of the New Church mind formed by them. Look at the Moody research list above: There are no items that refer to something rational in the mind. All items refer to something corporeal and sensuous: buzzing noise, feeling of peaceful relief from pain, sensation of floating, spiritual body like an energy field, high speed motion, light and dark, riding to heaven and seeing the earth globe below “like astronauts,” being greeted by dead relatives, seeing “God, Jesus, or an angel,” reliving important life events, reluctance “to return,” and being instructed.

 

1. The Psychomantium

 

Following his involvement with “near death experiences” Dr. Moody went to popularize mirror gazing in the dark as a method of contacting spirits. Here is an account by a current researcher in the area:

 

PSYCHOMANTIUM

by G.W. Fisler

 

The psychomantium is an ancient form of mirror gazing that has been popularized by Dr. Raymond Moody, M.D.  It has its roots in the oracles of ancient Greece.  This type of mirror gazing is used to contact spirits of departed loved ones. 

 

A comfortable, high backed chair is placed about 3' from the mirror.  The top of the backrest of the chair should be below the bottom of the mirror.  The feet of the chair should be trimmed to allow the chair to slant farther back than is normal. 

 

The person sitting in the chair should not be able to see his/her reflection in the mirror.  The area around the chair and mirror is surrounded by a black velvet curtain.  This black void should be all that is reflected in the mirror.  A lamp with a 15 watt bulb is placed behind the chair.  This is the only illumination in the room. 

 

Proper mental preparation is essential for this procedure to work.  Dr. Moody starts his participants at 10:00 AM.  They are requested to bring personal items from the deceased person that is to be contacted.  Throughout the day they discuss the deceased.  At dusk the participant enters the psychomantium.  He/she is told to stay as long as they like.  They were also told to blank their mind except for thoughts of the deceased and to gaze into the mirror.

 

I recommend Dr Moody's book "REUNIONS: Visionary Encounters with Departed Loved Ones" for a complete explanation of his findings.  I will try to hit the high points:

 

My experiments in this area are still ongoing.  As soon as I have enough data I will try to make some sense of it and will publish the findings here.

(Accessed on the Web at astralthyme.com/psychomantium.html in June 2002.)

 

There is an understandable progression from an interest with “near death experiences” to experiments with trying to contact spirits. To the New Church mind this type of activity increases involvement with direct sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world, an exploration that is harmful to the development of one’s rational consciousness:

 

It is rarely granted at the present day, however, to talk with spirits, because it is dangerous. For then the spirits know, what otherwise they do not know, that they are with man, and evil spirits are such that they hold man in deadly hatred, and desire nothing more than to destroy him both soul and body, which indeed happens with those who have so indulged themselves in fantasies as to have separated from themselves the enjoyments proper to the natural man. Some also who lead a solitary life sometimes hear spirits talking with them, and without danger; but that the spirits with them may not know that they are with man they are at intervals removed by the Lord; for most spirits are not aware that any other world than that in which they live is possible, and therefore are unaware that there are men anywhere else. This is why man on his part is not permitted to speak with them, for if he did they would know. (HH 249)

 

Man can speak with spirits and angels, and the ancients on our earth frequently spoke with them (n. 67-69, 784, 1634, 1636, 7802). But at this day it is dangerous to speak with them, unless man is in true faith, and led by the Lord (n. 784, 9438, 10751). (EU 1)

 

It is clear from this that the New Church mind is warned against trying to contact spirits, and in fact, this direct contact is forbidden and prevented by the Lord on account of the dangers of such direct communication to those still on earth. Whatever “phenomena” and “visions” are reported by experimenters must therefore be delusional encounters with spirits, not real communication with them, since this is prevented by the Lord. It is particularly harmful to Christians who know the Lord but seek to strengthen their faith through sensuous proof of the existence of the afterlife. In that case the seeker is called a “thief” and “robber:”

 

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not through the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in through the door is the shepherd of the sheep. I am the door; through Me if anyone enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and shall find pasture. The thief cometh not but to steal, and to murder, and to destroy (John 10:1-2, 9-10); (AC 5135)

 

The reference to being a thief and robber is to destroying the “remains” of good and truth that the Lord stores up in the interior mind for use in regeneration and life in heaven (AC 5135). Seeking to strengthen faith through spiritism destroys the genuine faith we have from our Christian childhood.

 

From infancy until childhood, and sometimes till early manhood, by instruction from his parents and teachers a man is imbued with goods and truths; for he then learns them with avidity, and believes them in simplicity. … The Lord insofar as possible then removes from that abode the goods and truths of early childhood, and withdrawing them toward the interiors stores them up in the interior natural for use. These goods and truths stored up in the interior natural are signified in the Word by "remains" … But if evil steals the goods and truths there, and applies them to confirm evils and falsities, especially if it does this from deceit, then it consumes these remains; for it then mingles evils with goods and falsities with truths till they cannot be separated, and then it is all over with the man. (AC 5135).

 

Another example of psychological nonduality is the debate whether Swedenborg was a “mere nutcase” or one of the greatest “visionary mystic” ever known. Kant’s official position: Swedenborg was a ridiculous seer of fantasies. Emerson final assessment on Swedenborg: possibly the greatest theological genius, but partly delusional. Modern psychiatrists: Swedenborg is an obvious case of religious schizophrenia. (see Note 9 at end for more on this.)

 

2. The Unregenerate Natural Mind Is Entirely Nondualist

 

The Writings reveal that the unregenerate natural mind is entirely nondualist from heredity and intellectual materialism (DP 324). This means that all activities that this mind defines as religious and spiritual will be in fact sensuous and corporeal, thus, with nothing spiritual in them.

 

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)

 

Everyone born in the New Church, and every adult who joins the New Church, are in an unregenerate state, just as those who are not in the New Church. Therefore the New Church mind cannot be inherited and one cannot be born into it. We must first enter a state of reformation, which occurs in adult life (AE 803; AC 8780; AC 3518:[2] ).

 

Thereafter our progress depends on reading the Writings and taking up its innumerable dualities. Gradually we destroy all the nondualities in our mind, and set in their place the dualities of the Writings. These ideas from the literal of the Writings are external rational concepts—not yet spiritual (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). But now, as we begin to will and think from these new concepts in our daily activities, the concepts act like cognitive “vessels” and they become infused by correspondence from the activity of angels inflowing. This is the first opening of the spiritual mind. Now begins our spiritual life, progressing in proportion to our regeneration. The progress of this is proportional to how we cooperate in the process (see Volume 3).

 

When approaching the Writings in a secular way, without wanting to acknowledge it as Divine, the level of thinking about its concepts sinks back to the sensuous and corporeal level (AC 6310). The genuine rationality of the Writings is totally lost when readers attempt to pick and choose what seems real to them and what seems to them Swedenborg’s fantasy or poetry. An example is the medical view on NDEs within a framework of nonduality in science:

 

I am approaching Swedenborg empirically, from this side of the divide, to see how far we can move toward believing his reports of heaven and hell without resorting to divine revelation. This requires recognizing him to have had an extraordinary talent ordinary people lack, which is where the notion of savants comes in, for that is the key denotation of the word. (…)

 

Far from being retarded, Swedenborg was one of the most remarkable men history registers. When Alfred Binet designed the Stanford-Binet intelligence test he looked for the most brilliant persons who ever lived. Swedenborg was listed among these few. (…)

 

Images that derive from sense reports of our three-dimensional macro-world map attach no more isomorphically onto the world of spirit than they do onto the micro-world of quantum mechanics or the mega-world of relativity theory. I take this to mean that we can take seriously the abstract outlines of what Swedenborg saw without assuming that the concrete images that filled in those outlines are literally true.

(“Intimations of Immortality: Three Case Studies” by Huston Smith. The Ingersoll Lecture for 2001-02 Harvard Divinity Bulletin on the Web at

www.hds.harvard.edu/dpa/news/bulletin/ingersoll.html (Accessed June 2002)

 

You can see from this that even a favorable view of Swedenborg’s genius cannot break through to the spiritual-rational truths in the Writings. Swedenborg’s “abstract outlines” are “taken seriously” but they cannot be “literally true”—according to the above author. The understanding at this level of thinking cannot accept the literal of the Writings in a spiritual way. As a result, all concepts about the content of the Writings formed at this level remain natural-rational, not spiritual-rational. What’s amazing is that people can compose summaries, reports, and abstracts of the Writings that are correct and serviceable to the New Church mind who sees in them what the author could not. I discovered this when I taught a history of psychology course focusing on Swedenborg. If you read the students’ reports without knowing what they are, you can’t readily tell that they actually believe nothing further about it than that Swedenborg was a genius (see Note 10 at end). They do not believe that his experiences were real. It’s possible for the external rational (which is natural) to textually represent or summarize passages from the Writings in a reasonably accurate way without any understanding of what is interiorly spiritual in it. In that case the mind merely dismisses the parts that “Swedenborg claims” to have seen, like the Memorable Relations and Earths in the Universe.

 

3. Increase In The Number Of NDE Reports

 

It is understandable that New Church people have a desire to reach out to the world and share the revelations about the spiritual world. But I’m wondering if this can really be achieved by relating NDEs to Swedenborg’s descriptions of resuscitation. One such example may be presented from the Web:

 

Many people report that during the near-death experience they notice others in the spirit coming to help them. Friends and relatives who had passed on before them now come to greet them and offer assistance. People report that this is a very happy time, that everyone in the spiritual world was glad to welcome them.

(…)

Swedenborg has much to say about this whole experience. "All, as soon as they come into the other life, are recognized by their friends, their relatives, and those in any way known to them: and they talk with one another.... I have often heard that those who have come from the world rejoiced at seeing their friends again, and that their friends in turn rejoiced that they had come. Very commonly husband and wife come together and congratulate each other, and continue together." In the other world, "Everyone can find their friends, parents, and children."

(Rev. Grant R. Schnarr “Swedenborg And The Near Death Experience” on the Web at www.newchurch.org/faq/indepthfaq/swedenbNearDeathExperience.html  Accessed June 2002)

 

I think the intent of this message is to share the Great News revealed in the Writings. My concern is that doing it in this way encourages the view that contact with spirits is something anyone can have while still alive on this earth. Hundreds of thousands of people have now reported that they’ve had a near death experience. The Web presents thousands of sites on this topic. Reports are multiplying and extending as NDE becomes a cultural experience. People have visions of cities, God, Beings, hellish spirits, and the future. Here is one near death experience—what are we to make of it?

 

I was floating above my body. I saw green shower caps. The people in the room all wore those stupid caps.  There were five or six caps and they were panicky. … I found myself in the right-hand corner of the room. … I felt a wonderful feeling wash over me - a sense of peace and power. I felt love and a sense of wonder as I realized that any question I could come up with would be answered.

 

There was Jesus. I was stunned and said, "I don't believe in you."  He smiled and said the etheric equivalent of tough shit, here I am.  Looking at his eyes, I asked, "You mean, you've been with me the whole time and I didn't know?"  And his reply was: "Lo, I am with thee, always, even beyond the end of the world."  Now, I wasn't into lo so I said, "Hey, man, this is the seventies and we don't say lo.   Come on."  He kind of grinned, I guess I was amusing him, and answered, "You want to be reincarnated?"  "Hey, give me a break,"  I yelled (only I made no sound).  "I just died.  Don't I get a chance to rest?"

(…)

The Light came and I was given a choice - I could remain trapped in earth, seeing and hearing everything, but unable to help anyone, not even my daughter (I was told this was limbo), or I could stay with God. I chose God. … The White Light in front of me was sorta like a white light bulb only it was so strong.

(…)

Then I was instantly zapped to a domed room with square screens up and down the walls, on the ceiling - hundreds of television screens. On each screen was a home movie of one event in my life. The good, the bad, the secret, the ugly, the special. Everything was going on at once; nothing was chronological. All was silent.

(…)

God said to me: "I gave you the precious gift of life.  What did you do with this gift?  I answered in a puny, wimpish voice, "I'm only twenty-three.  I didn't know I was supposed to do anything. I have a two-year-old daughter. I spend my time and energy on her." It wasn't a good answer, but it was the truth. I was the judge and I was satisfied. I guess that was what God wanted. But the next time this happens, I'm having a list ready.

(“Jeanie Dicus' near-death experience” on the Web at www.near-death.com/dicus.html accessed June 2002)

 

To have near death experiences has become a wide cultural phenomenon and there is no evidence that any of the developments have to do with the reality of the spiritual world. One area of expansion is the ADC (After Death Communications), which is a commercial attempt to establish contact with relatives for a fee:

 

Not all people are contacted by their deceased loved ones. We don’t know for certain why some are and some aren’t, but it seems that fear, anger, and prolonged heavy grief inhibit the possibility of having an ADC.

 

Based upon our research, we suggest the following: Ask for a sign that your relative or friend continues to exist. Pray for him or her and others who are affected by the death, including yourself. We recommend that you learn how to meditate, especially if you are currently bereaved or have unresolved grief. … These deep relaxation exercises will also allow you to unfold your inner, intuitive senses. In fact, you may have an ADC experience while you are meditating.

 

Our research indicates that after-death communications are a natural and normal part of life. Therefore, we feel ADCs deserve the same public awareness and acceptance that near-death experiences (NDEs) have already received.

(“After-Death Communication--Joyous Reunions With Deceased Loved Ones  by Bill Guggenheim & Judy Guggenheim co-authors of Hello From Heaven! published by Bantam Books. Accessed June 2002)

 

There is a tremendous increase of reports of NDEs as it is integrated more and more into the long standing interests relating spiritism, psychic forecasting, foretelling the future, and paid mediums. Can it really be the case that these activities could lead to a greater interest in Swedenborg’s Writings? I don’t think so because the sub-culture around near-death experiences operates at the level of thinking that excludes rational dualities and admits only material dualities, or nondualities. The NDE concepts and experiences are similar to dreams that one thinks were actual events. Dreams operate within material ideas, also called corporeal and sensuous. There is nothing rational in the ideas of a dream. Dreaming is done in the corporeal mind or level of thinking and consciousness. There is no awareness or consciousness of the spiritual meaning or origin of dreams and the correspondences by which all mental phenomena are produced in our mind.

 

[I invite Leon Rhodes of Bryn Athyn, founder of IANDS, to add a section here outlining his views and experience with near death expriences. See Note 24 for more details.]

 

4. NDE As A Medical Phenomenon

 

But this is not to deny that there may be a medical phenomenon to be explained by natural rational ideas, but not by spiritual-rational ideas. It is possible, I think, that drugs in the brain and total stress could facilitate near-death experiences viewed as a kind of dreaming or hallucinating. This is a medical issue that remains at the material level of explanation. Of course the New Church mind knows that dreaming is done by the mind, not the brain. The mind is natural-spiritual at the lower levels, and rational-spiritual at the upper levels. While dreaming, consciousness operates at the sensuous level of thinking and awareness. All the concepts are material or not yet rational. To elevate consciousness above the sensuous we must acquire rational concepts such as God, the spiritual world, heaven, sin, conjugial love, good and evil, and so on. If we dream of heaven it will be a sensuous heaven.

 

In contrast to this we can think of heaven as a spiritual place within the mind that is made out of spiritual truths about God and love. This is a rational idea, not sensuous. More interior truths are more rational and heaven is within rational truths. In the New Church mind heaven is purely rational, and this rational then produces by correspondence the magnificent sensuous environment of angels. The reverse process is impossible: namely, that sensuous experiences produce spiritual-rational realities (AC 10049).

 

Assuming that most people who report NDE’s actually have them, a medical question arises as to why so many people have these types of experiences. It’s possible, I think, that certain brain states react to drugs and total failure of major organs in a way that facilitates these types of dreams or visions. This is quite possible in my estimation. But as you can see, these experiences or visions are not spiritual experiences even though they are spiritually produced phenomena, as are all phenomena!. They are psychological and natural experiences, like hallucinations, dreams, and intelligence IQs, though NDEs may be a new category not yet known to the established science of psychology. I do not question the existence of NDEs and like all newly discovered phenomena in science, its real nature will take years of research to determine. And I can see that NDEs may have a medical relation to failure of vital organs and functions.

 

Let’s keep in mind that it has never been proven that people today can actually see into the spiritual world or that their visions or experiences of people and places are actual spiritual places rather than natural visions that are taken for spiritual. What motivates me to adopt this stance is the teaching of the Writings that communication with spirits is not allowed by the Lord because it would be spiritually injurious to the individual (HH 249).

 

The danger comes from the vulnerability of the individual’s mind in relation to the spirits. When we become spirits a few hours after death we go about in our spirit-body living the exciting life in world of spirits (HH 445). But some spirits arrive in a natural mentality due to their exclusive focus on corporeal and sensuous lifestyle and an aversion for acquiring rational ideas and reasoning. These spirits are called “corporeal spirits” (DLW 424[xix] ). Since the heavenly life begins with the rational, their lack of rational life causes them to sink down into the hells where they can enjoy a life of fantasy by denying that there is an afterlife convincing themselves that they are living on earth somewhere (SE 2287). These are the spirits that seek communication with people on earth (HH 257). The good spirits or angels NEVER seek such communication, and thus never engage in it today for the reason that it is injurious to people who are still in their physical body (HH 249).

 

Dr. Ian Thompson (see Acknowledgment at end) raised this possibility in an email commentary on this section of the book: Is it possible that these corporeal spirits are responsible for causing people to have the NDEs? My answer is that in general communication with spirits is possible but today on this earth it is not allowed by the Lord. The Writings say that communication with spirits is normal and general on other planets (EU 71) and was like that on this planet prior to the Flood. At that time the human brain had no fissure at the center and was made of one whole part. This corresponded to the fact that heaven and earth were united. But when that race destroyed itself by profaning their celestial nature, a new human race was created with the civilization of Noah. This race had a split brain by correspondence to the Lord’s surgical separation of the will and the understanding. This was necessitated by the fact that the will was corrupted and could not be saved. Henceforth a new will had to be created by the Lord in each individual, and this could only be done through the individual’s conscious and voluntary cooperation. Hence from then on people could only be saved by a life of reformation and regeneration.

 

From these scientific facts described in the Writings I would conclude that NDEs do not represent actual communication or contact with spirits. Recall that thousands (some estimates I’ve seen on the Web say millions) of people have reported NDEs. How could this be since the Lord does not allow them? It’s inconceivable that the Lord would allow all these people to be injured spiritually. I do not question that NDEs occur to some or most of the people who report them sincerely. To go back to Dr. Thompson’s question, it is possible that the people during an NDE experience are in correspondential contact with corporeal spirits? This is possible since all mental activity is through such contact (HH 296). But this is not a direct contact so that the experiences, visions, or content of the reports are not actual but imaginary. Otherwise the contact would be injurious.

 

Since the NDE experiences are caused by the usual unconscious and correspondential influx, their content cannot be actual or veridical. This is the reason our thoughts are our own unique thoughts even though they are caused by spirit societies through correspondential communication. As spirits influence our mental activity by correspondence they NEVER influence them by direct communication since spirits are not conscious of the identity of the people to whom they are hooked up. The Lord couples and uncouples each of us to spirit societies, moment by moment, even as our emotions and thoughts flow by. You can know that the Lord is switching spiritual societies on you when a new train of thought comes into your mind, or when you suddenly experience a different emotion (e.g., sitting in traffic and getting enraged at someone, etc.). But neither you nor the spirit societies with whom you are then coupled, are allowed to be aware of each other, each other’s identities, each other’s memories, etc. (HH 256).

 

5. Theistic Science Research Is Needed

 

Further theistic science research is needed to decide on this issue. But whatever the eventual conclusion it will have to take its departure point from the principle that such communication is not allowed and why. The disallowance by the Lord today on this earth of direct or veridical contact with spirits is related to His disallowance of miracles (TCR 501). I discuss this specifically in Chapter 5, Section 3. Direct contact with spirits or direct witnessing of miracles establishes in the mind a persuasive faith of the spiritual world and God, instead of a rational faith. The new civilization of the Lord’s Second Coming is a rational spiritual life. The New Heavens cannot be entered without a rational mental foundation while still in the physical body. The Old Heavens (prior and up to 1757, see SE 5746), were partially based on sensuous consciousness of those there. This state is not permanent and they were in danger of becoming a nonduality with the hells (SE 5742-6). The Lord had to further purify the spiritual organs of the human mind in order to make it purely rational-spiritual so that nothing from the earth’s material sensuousness was part of its formation.

 

Since the Second Coming therefore the Lord’s Divine management of the race is motivated to create the spiritual-rational level in all individuals so that they may have the physiological capacity to breath and live in the New Heavens. There cannot be any Old Heavens left and all those in the Old Heavens had to acquire this new spiritual-rational from the Writings. Those who could not, or would not, had only other choice: to choose lower regions of life, outside the Heavens. Today the New Church mind begins with reformation in adult life and the struggle we put up against all our nondualities must include strengthening our motive to avoid reliance on sensuous consciousness or direct proof of an afterlife. We do not seek miracles as proof; we do not seek direct contact with departed ones. We talk to the Lord and we pray to Him that we may be worthy of His Presence with us, but we do not ask Him to appear to our eyes. We love Him by obeying His commandments and we seek for Him in our rational-spiritual consciousness, for that is where our heaven is.

 

Consider the following experience described by Swedenborg. Viewed superficially it may sound to some like the NDE descriptions quoted above:

 

On another occasion also when I was led away from ideas formed from sensory impressions in the body a heavenly light appeared to me. That light led me even further away from those ideas, for the light of heaven holds spiritual life within it…. While I was surrounded with this light bodily and worldly interests looked to be underneath me. I was still aware of them, but it seemed as though they were more remote from me and did not belong to me.

 

At this time it seemed to me as though I was present in heaven with my head but not with my body. In this condition I was also allowed to observe the general breathing of heaven and also the nature of it. It was interior, relaxed, spontaneous, and corresponded to my own breathing in a ratio of three breaths to one. In a similar way I was also allowed to observe my heartbeats complementing those of heaven. At this point the angels told me that the beating of the heart and the breathing of the lungs in each individual being on earth sprang from those corresponding actions in heaven. They also said that the reason why one heart beats or a pair of lungs breathes at a different rate from another is that the beat of the heart and the breathing of the lungs in heaven is spread out into a kind of continuum and so into an endeavor whose nature is such that it gives rise to those varying motions in living beings, the variations in each one depending on its particular state. (AC 3885) (italics added for emphasis)

 

Note that “heavenly light” is the rational understanding that is present when we are “led away from ideas formed from sensory impressions in the body.” As discussed in this section, NDE reports remain in the “sensory impressions” and therefore lack the rational. As the passage indicates, the rational part is the spiritual and the sensory is natural or physical. This “heavenly light” acts within the rational and is inhibited by a focus on the sensuous. So we are contrasting sensuous consciousness with rational consciousness (see Chapter 5 Section 3).

 

Next not this part of the passage above: “While I was surrounded with this light bodily and worldly interests looked to be underneath me. I was still aware of them, but it seemed as though they were more remote from me and did not belong to me.” This does not refer to OBEs (out of body experiences) that often form part of the NDEs (near death experiences). OBEs are reported as physical experiences, as for instance, when the one floats upward from the operating table and looks down on the one’s body and the surrounding surgeons and equipment. OBEs are physical phenomena manifested in the mind, not rational, hence not spiritual. The light that illumines this scene is physical light, not rational-spiritual or celestial. In Swedenborg’s report it is said that what he saw was not the “light of heaven” and not earthly light. What did he see? He saw “bodily and worldly interests.” Not his body and bed, but interests or concerns that had to do with the body and everyday worldly things. This shows his report is not like that of NDEs.

 

Note also that his “presence in heaven” was through his head, which represents the rational part of a human being, while the rest of his body was on earth. Only the rational part can be in heaven. In the afterlife we leave our physical body and resuscitate in a spirit-body. This is not a physical body but appears like one to outside perception. In reality the spirit-body is an outward reflection of the mind, which is spiritual. Only those spirits can enter heaven who possess a rational mind that contains spiritual concepts (HH 468). The others sink down into corporeal spirituality, which contains no rational.

 

What did he see in heavenly light? He noticed that the breathing on earth was three times slower than that of heaven. At first this sounds like a sensory observation, not rational. But actually it is rational. Note that he refers to “the general breathing of heaven and also the nature of it.” This is very abstract, not sensuous. Swedenborg had to have a sense of what is the “general heaven.” In other places he explains that the general heaven is united into an integrated whole called the “Grand Human” or Grand Man. Numberless societies arranged in the anatomical and physiological form of the human body. The arrangement is not physical, but rational, and relates to the mental genius of the inhabitants, each distinguished by a rational taxonomy of affections (DL 10).

 

And as he perceived this rational organization of the spiritual world, what did the angels tell him about it? They discussed correspondences, which is a rational idea incorporating many complexities of discrete degrees and symbolism that Swedenborg discusses elsewhere. Further, that the breathing of the heavenly sphere “gives rise to those varying motions in living beings.” These motions, as explained elsewhere, refer to the system of rational hierarch that orders and manages the action of the organs in the body and the mind—hence complex and rational.

 

6. The Rational Nature Of Genuine Spiritual Experience

 

To show the rational nature of genuine spiritual experience, we can consider the Number prior to the passage quoted above:

 

As in the world it is quite unknown that there is a correspondence of heaven or the Grand Man with all things of man, and that man comes forth and subsists therefrom, so that what is said on the subject may seem paradoxical and incredible, I may here relate the things that experience has enabled me to know with certainty.

 

Once, when the interior heaven was opened to me, and I was conversing with the angels there, I was permitted to observe the following phenomena. Be it known that although I was in heaven, I was nevertheless not out of myself, but in the body, for heaven is within man, wherever he may be, so that when it pleases the Lord, a man may be in heaven and yet not be withdrawn from the body.

 

In this way it was given me to perceive the general workings of heaven as plainly as an object is perceived by any of the senses. Four workings or operations were then perceived by me. The first was into the brain at the left temple, and was a general operation as regards the organs of reason; for the left side of the brain corresponds to rational or intellectual things, but the right to the affections or things of the will.

 

[2] The second general operation that I perceived was into the respiration of the lungs, and it led my respiration gently, but from within, so that I had no need to draw breath or respire by any exertion of my will. The very respiration of heaven was at the time plainly perceived by me. It is internal, and for this reason is imperceptible to man; but by a wonderful correspondence it inflows into man's respiration, which is external, or of the body; and if man were deprived of this influx, he would instantly fall down dead.

 

[3] The third operation that I perceived was into the systole and diastole of the heart, which had then more of softness with me than I had ever experienced at any other time. The intervals of the pulse were regular, being about three within each period of respiration; yet such as to terminate in and thus direct the things belonging to the lungs. How at the close of each respiration the alternations of the heart insinuated themselves into those of the lungs, I was in some measure enabled to observe. The alternations of the pulse were so observable that I was able to count them; they were distinct and soft.

 

[4] The fourth general operation was into the kidneys, which also it was given me to perceive, but obscurely. From these things it was made manifest that heaven or the Grand Man has cardiac pulses, and that it has respirations; and that the cardiac pulses of heaven or the Grand Man have a correspondence with the heart and with its systolic and diastolic motions; and that the respirations of heaven or the Grand Man have a correspondence with the lungs and their respirations; but that they are both unobservable to man, being imperceptible, because internal. (AC 3884)

 

We come back to our earlier conclusion, namely, that genuine spiritual phenomena or awareness are in the rational sphere, and unless the topic is rational, it is not spiritual. Sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world is not allowed by the Lord because it is injurious, as already shown.

 

Chapter 4, Section 7

7. Shamanism And Technologies Of The Sacred

 

Stephen Larsen’s books and articles on what he calls “technologies of the sacred” illustrate what psychological forms of nonduality can seem acceptable or attractive to the New Church mind. William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience is often referred to as the book that legitimized consciousness as research area in modern psychology. The consciousness literature in psychology has been grouped by many under a new rubric called “transpersonal psychology.” Stephen Larsen reviews this trend in an article in Studia Swedenborgiana (June 1980 v.3 n.4, pp. 7-70). His book the Shaman’s Doorway was published by Harper & Row in 1966. The subtitle is: “Opening the Mythic Imagination to Contemporary Consciousness.”  The authors whose work he cites are many, but I can just mention some: Boehm, Joseph Campbell, Erickson, Foucault, Freud, Erich Fromm, Aldous Huxley, William James, C.G. Jung, Kant, Kohl berg, Maslow, Robert Ornstein, Swedenborg, Charles Tart, Van Dusen, and others.

 

The literature of transpersonal psychology is full steeped in nonduality. The use of concepts from duality such as “sacred,” “Divine,” or “angelic” etc., is strictly within nonduality. Even dualities from the literal of the Writings such as “correspondences” and “spiritual world” are flattened into nonduality. This flattening effect, however, is not recognized in that literature, and the explanations appear to be dualist. But this surface dualism is a secular Swedenborgianism (see Chapter 4 Section 2). They need therefore to be deconstructed in the light of duality lest they enter and form a foothold in the New Church mind, which must remain purely religious by interpreting all concepts within the fundamental duality (see Chapter 1).

 

The “spiritual disciplines” of the consciousness technology are many, as reviewed by Larsen; they include: “shamans, druids, wicca (“wise women”), meditation, yoga, philosophy, ecstatic states, visionary narratives, mythology, ritual, archetypal elements in dreams, healing, ESP.” Since 1980 additional popularized items that belong on such a list include: OBE (Out of Body Experiences), NDE (Near Death Experiences), psychic forecasting, prayer technologies.

 

I can cite an example from Stephen Larsen (Ibid, p. 21) to show how psychological nondualism seeks to designate Swedenborg’s status as corporeal, not rational. He compares Jacob Boehm and Swedenborg:

 

I knew and saw in myself all three worlds, the external and visible world being of a procreation or extern birth from both the internal and spiritual worlds; and I saw and knew the whole working essence…and how the fruitful bearing womb of eternity brought forth [Jacob Boehm].

 

I … lay awake but as in a vision … yet in the spirit there was an inward and sensible gladness shed over the whole body; seemed as if it were shown in a consummate manner how it all issued and ended. [My spirit] flew up … and hid itself in an infinitude, as a center. [Swedenborg, Journal of Dreams, n. 87]

 

Larsen relates these two visionary descriptions to William James’ concept of “’positive paranoia’ in which the universe becomes intensely meaningful, in a benevolent, and not baleful way” (Larsen, p. 21). You can see that there is nothing rational in either quotation. What was Boehm’s fantastic understanding? It was this: “and I saw and knew the whole working essence.” Nothing rational here. And the quote from Swedenborg’s Journal of Dreams gives nothing rational either, as far as it goes. Clearly he is describing a dream, which is an activity of the corporeal mind, well below the rational. Having one type of dream and another does not create anything spiritual in the mind. In contrast, the Writings do not present Swedenborg’s dreams since everything in the Writings is rational of spiritual origin. Dreams and visions are explained in the Writings as corporeal within which are spiritual things. These spiritual things are not in the mind of the dreamer, but in the mind of the spirits who are connected by correspondence to the sleeper (SE 779, 3181). Nothing in the mind of the sleeper can be spiritual.

 

Here is a further example of looking at Swedenborg’s experiences from a perspective of secular nonduality. Larsen says that “Swedenborg practiced some of the classical psychophysical techniques of the inward explorer, including special breathing, concentration and visualization. … Swedenborg was not simply a “mouthpiece” for divine revelation, despite his own frequent assertions this was so.” (Ibid, p.25). Note that what is written in the Writings is not considered as the Divine Word. Self-intelligence is used to assess whether what is written is true or not true—a spiritually fatal step for the religious New Church mind (AC 8941). Note also that the Writings record much detail of Swedenborg’s corporeal activities, like the ones mentioned by Larsen. But it is clear that these were not “psychophysical techniques” but body movements that were produced by spiritual events in which Swedenborg was participating. This is the exact reverse process from psychophysical techniques in which the corporeal activity is said to produce the spiritual result. This is why Larsen calls it a “technique” within a section titled “Technicians of the Sacred.” The Writings reveal that this “reverse influx” is impossible (EU 102).

 

Larsen quotes Swedenborg’s description of how he sometimes held his breath as a child when he prayed and practiced harmonizing his breath with his heart beat (SE 3320, 3464), to which Larsen says “Young Emanuel, a prodigy of the inner quest, quietly practiced yogic pranayama.” (Ibid, p. 27). Here again is the nonduality between Swedenborg’s merely natural activities with his later spiritual experiences as the appointed revelator through whom the Writings were to be given. The duality in Swedenborg’s life is that there was a “before-after” paradigm in his special Divine role. Whatever he did in the “before” phase was discretely different from anything in the “after” state. The attainment of the discrete “after” state did not come from Swedenborg’s own struggle as a seeker in the “before” phase. Nothing that he could do from himself as a seeker could bring him to the beginning of the “after” phase. There is no continuity between the two (nonduality) but a  discrete and absolute separation from the Divine (religious duality).

 

First, as to withdrawal from the body, it happens thus. Man is brought into a certain state that is midway between sleeping and waking, and when in that state he seems to himself to be wide awake; all the senses are as perfectly awake as in the completest bodily wakefulness, not only the sight and the hearing, but what is wonderful, the sense of touch also, which is then more exquisite than is ever possible when the body is awake. In this state spirits and angels have been seen to the very life, and have been heard, and what is wonderful, have been touched, with almost nothing of the body intervening. This is the state that is called being withdrawn from the body, and not knowing whether one is in the body or out of it. I have been admitted into this state only three or four times, that I might learn what it is, and might know that spirits and angels enjoy every sense, and that man does also in respect to his spirit when he is withdrawn from the body. (HH 440)

 

Larsen points out that Swedenborg’s practice since childhood with different techniques of consciousness raising “alone certainly did not occasion his spiritual breakthrough” (ibid, p. 33). He points to something “qualitatively different which began to happen to him in his middle fifties” (from 1744 onwards). Continuing: “Swedenborg was a Christian before a shaman, and insisted that his visions be consistent with his deepest belief. … He insisted that his “senior shaman” be from no lesser spirit, but the Lord himself” (p. 36). Note again the nonduality of secular Swedenborgianism: it is Swedenborg who insists on choosing the Lord as his inner guide, which is in opposition to the rational duality of the Lord choosing him and him choosing the Lord, the first being real, the other spurious or imaginary.

 

One final example will be given from psychological nonduality as it interprets the details about how Swedenborg was prepared to receive the Writings. Larsen refers to “the mysterious process of transformation by which a man may ‘give birth to himself’. (Ibid, p. 46)

 

And something like this must have been happening to Swedenborg. As he writes in the next to last paragraph in the Journal of Dreams:

 

It seemed that a rocket burst over me spreading a number of sparkles of lovely fire. Love for what is high, perhaps.

 

The comparison was to a

 

“wonderful culminating scene in which he [a person referred to] became a woman, and in the throes of giving birth. He writes:

Celestial trumpets and choirs of angels proclaimed this wonderful birth…I reached down and pulled the baby up to my face and glory of glories…it was me! But a transformed, almost spotless, perfected me.

(Larsen, ibid, p. 46)

 

These corporeal visions are equated with “higher consciousness” and even with “divine consciousness.” We see once more the general truth that all nondualities are devoid of spiritual content, because not rational. What are they? They are not ways of investigating correspondences. One cannot learn anything spiritual by going from corporeal experience to rational-spiritual insights. The Writings call this direction impossible (D.WIS 2). All spiritual insights or truths can exist only in the interior rational mind. Nothing from below, that is the natural mind, can enter into this spiritual mind. Nothing whatsoever (TCR 623[5] ). Hence, any experience of the natural mind cannot yield a single spiritual truth (SE 2299).

 

Spiritual truth can only originate in heaven, and descends into the interior rational mind, first, then by correspondence activates the conscious rational mind (which is natural). Now the conscious rational mind possess external concepts that contain within them genuine spiritual truths. This is what the Writings call being a spiritual person. The process starts with shunning corporeal nondualities and taking up rational dualities from the Writings. This literal knowledge in our mind is called the Doctrine of the Church and its quality or genuineness is proportional to our right understanding of the literal knowledge. And this understanding or Doctrine is right in proportion to our progress in regenerations. And this depends on our willing and thinking daily in accordance with the Doctrine in our understanding. No other way of regenerating and salvation is available to the New Church mind (HH 473).

 

The last example from psychological nonduality cited above shows how far a field the natural mind can whisk one away from the fundamental duality of the New Church, which is that the Writings are the Divine Word in a discretely new dispensation from anything that existed before. There is no gradual continuity between the “before” and the “after” as pointed out above. There is only a duality separated by discrete degrees that is absolute and permanent. This duality is what the Writings call the human “rational” because it is an accurate and true description of the only reality that there is, or can exist. The reason is that the Lord creates and manages the universe by means of His Divine Rational (or Divine Truth). And this is within every object or detail of the natural and spiritual worlds. Hence it is a Rational creation and all its rules and principles are rational. All spiritual truths reside in the rational mind, and there is no spiritual that is not from the rational. The interior rational mind is made of the will and the understanding, like the natural mind, but functioning at a discrete degree higher than the will and understanding in the natural mind.

 

To see this clearly is crucial for the regeneration of the New Church mind. This process begins not at birth, but as an adult (AC 3518). From the moment we reach this age, we are required to start forming the New Church mind in us. And this is accomplished through two venues: fighting nonduality in our understanding (Reformation--see Volume 1) and fighting evils in our will, that is, practicing spiritual disciplines from the religious motive (Regeneration—see Volume 3). This motive is to as-of self cooperate with the Lord in His regenerating us.

 

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)

 

This conscious cooperation day by day is the means of our salvation, for without means nothing gets accomplished (TCR 371[6] ).

 

The “technologies of the sacred” are not an option for the New Church mind. Mental experiences of consciousness can only be raised within the natural discrete degree. All phenomena of consciousness such as ecstatic states and visionary events are trapped within the natural discrete degree. They can be corporeal, or sensuous, or rational. But they cannot be spiritual. The spiritual begins one discrete degree above the natural and there is no relation possible between the highest consciousness or most ecstatic vision, on the one hand, and on the other, the lowest spiritual truth. This is because the rational based on the sensuous is called external rational and this is purely natural (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). The natural mind can only become spiritual if the interior rational is allowed to dwell within it by correspondence. The spiritual then has a natural within which to exist.

 

But the spiritual cannot dwell in the natural unless the natural mind has been rearranged into a rational order. We do this by our systematic and daily cumulative study of the Writings from the day we chose to reform to the day of eternity. When we enter heaven our mind has been arranged into a rational-spiritual order so that the Lord’s Proprium may dwell in our will. From then on we act from the Lord’s Proprium and no longer from our own self (HH 341). This is the highest bliss angels can have for they act spontaneously as-if from self, knowing it is from the Lord. They see themselves will what is good and true, and they marvel at it and are instructed by their willing.

 

Such is the spiritual mind we must form out of our New Church mind in order to prepare it for heavenly life. We take up the external rational things from the literal of the Writings and we create the Doctrine of Life in our mind. This Doctrine deepens and is more and more spiritual as we will and think from it all day long, hour by hour, and minute by minute, yea, second by second.

 

1. The New Age And The New Church

 

An article by Rev. Erik E. Sandstrom (“The New Age and the New Church” New Church Life May 2002 202-216) gives the history of the New Age culture in Christian countries since its beginning, going back to the gnostics who invented the idea that people can have salvation apart from the New Testament and the acknowledgment of the Son of God as the Savior. They replaced Jesus Christ, the Son of God, with “the Christ energy” that people can put into themselves and achieve salvation thereby. In the Middle Ages and after, the idea was carried forward by the secret brotherhoods and fraternities like the Rosicrucians and Freemasonry. In the modern era, the New Age point of view was promoted by the Age of Reason practiced in the secular scientism of Descartes, Newton, Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant and others. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century Eastern religious ideas were imported into Europe through popular beliefs in reincarnation, nonduality between self and God, and theosophy and anthroposophy (see Chapter 3, Section 7). In the twentieth century New Age nonduality took the form of transcendentalism with Emerson (Chapter 4 Section 6 and Chapter 7 Section 5) and the Gnosticism of Christian Science (see Chapter 3, Section 5).

 

Aldous Huxley is a well known “secular humanist” who contributed to the popularity among intellectuals that the universe is evolving into becoming conscious. The rate of this evolution is proportional to how many individuals are able to raise their own consciousness by comprehending the laws of nature, of which we are made. Bertrand Russell is a self-declared “atheist” known for erecting an intellectual framework that leaves God out of it. The most educated segment of the population in the United States today allies itself with secular humanism and New Age spirituality. Carl G. Jung combined the idea of an evolutionary self-awakening of the universe, with the idea of a mental unity of the human race outside the time and space of history and biography. Individuals had the capacity to access the racial “archetypes” and see them in oneself. The understanding of this relation elevates our consciousness and is therapeutic, according to Jung. You can see the nonduality in these proposals. They are all motivated to find a way around the idea of creation by a God from infinity and outside the reality of human beings. The denial of this fundamental duality between uncreate and created, is at the top echelon of these intellectual efforts.

 

Rev. Sandstrom also discusses the links between New Age Gnosticism and the New Church. New Age practitioners discovered Swedenborg’s reports about spirits and his discussions about the hidden “esoteric” meaning in the Bible which they fancied could be used to “connect” with mystical powers and energy. Traditional Christians fought the Gnostic heresies but created their own nondualities, especially the idea that Christ had a merely human part from birth and a Divine part from eternity. The nonduality lies in seeing a permanent aspect of the Lord as continuous with mere humans. This human aspect was ascribed to Christ’s Vicar on earth so that some Divine power or association was assigned to the Pope. In contrast, the New Church duality assigns an absolute separation between created humans and the Lord’s Human which was glorified and made one with the Divine. Nothing from created humans remained in the Lord after Glorification was completed (AC 2288).

 

Rev. Sandstrom summarizes the “main beliefs” of the New Age culture as having four themes. The first is that human evolution is evolving into a higher form of itself that will bring a oneness with nature or the universe. The second belief is that individual advances in consciousness towards the higher human form is possible through some disciplines like “special therapies, spiritual beliefs, yoga, medicine, reincarnation, mantra, trances and channeling.” The third belief is that spiritual transformation to a higher human form is achieved through self-empowerment. The fourth belief is that the material world of self and the spiritual world of God are really just one—which justifies the idea that “All is one. God is in me. I am god.”  All four New Age beliefs were discussed earlier in this Chapter with regard to their nondualities in contrast to the dualities of the Writings. The nonduality of this mindset is illustrated graphically by nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. He declared the death of God and described the human being as a rope stretched between animal and deity.

 

New Age nonduality was imported into America where it was mixed with spiritism and Mesmer’s notions about magnetism. This is not surprising since the spiritism that is allied to nonduality is a corporeal spirituality that would see the spirit as an energy form. As I point out elsewhere, this is a pseudo-spirituality since there is nothing rational in it (see for example Chapter 4, Section 5). Rev. Sandstrom notes that according to some historical accounts of the New Church in America, many of those who counted themselves as New Church were attracted to New Age nonduality concepts like spiritism and Gnosticism. This cultural context encouraged corporeal ideas of heaven seen in Swedenborg’s Memorable Relations.

 

Those who are raised in the New Church today hear about the Memorable Relations in early childhood. Children’s books and activities are used to foster this knowledge. Clearly, the earliest view one has of heaven is the view of children as a “place” with houses and streets and wonderful fun. But with the development of the rational as one enters the education years the idea of heaven gradually becomes less sensuous and more rational. For instance, the natural idea of “sexuality” is rejected and the rational idea of conjugial love is installed.

 

As young adults we can read or reflect on the Lord’s teaching that heaven is within you (Luke 17:21).

 

Heaven is in the man; and there is a place for him in heaven according to the state of life and of faith in which he is (AC 9305)

 

It is not a place but a state of mind. This is the introduction of a fundamental duality in the mind. Places and states are discretely different—a rational idea that connects with the idea one forms of the natural world and the spiritual “world.” New Church adults who maintain the child’s sensuous or physicalistic ideas of heaven have not progressed spiritually and have remained unregenerate. Other ideas nonduality are heard and adopted, such as the physicalistic notions about the resurrection of all the dead corpses on this earth, as portrayed in the Old Testament (Isaiah 26:19). In contrast, the New Church mind that progresses in regeneration acquires the discrete duality of natural and spiritual, so that resurrection is seen as something that occurs in the spiritual world, not the physical world. Similarly, reincarnation is rejected by the New Church mind as a nonduality between life on earth and the life after death.

 

The idea referred to by the Lord as “I in you and you in Me” (John 14:20) can be taken at the corporeal or at the rational level of thinking. The merely natural idea leads to the nonduality: “God is in me.” But the duality of discrete degrees reveals the rational idea of “God’s influx in me.” People who don’t know about influx might say instead, “God’s will in me” but never, “God in me” in the sense of “Divine Person inside me—a strange corporeal and impossible idea. Similarly, the idea of the Divine Human or God Man can be taken as a nonduality or a duality. As a nonduality it leads to the nonsensical idea that “man can be Divine.” As a duality however, “Divine Human” leads to the idea of a discrete, absolute, and permanent difference “Infinite Divine Man” and “finite created human beings.”

 

2. Communication With Spirits

 

Another idea of New Age nonduality is that direct communication with spirits, angels, or God is possible and preferable to indirect communication such as reading the Word. This is contrary to the Lord’s teaching (HH 249). The New Church duality is that communication between earthlings and spirits can only take place through correspondences—the duality barrier of discreteness cannot be crossed directly or by immediate experience such as Swedenborg had (D. Wis. 2). This is discussed further in Chapter 4, Section 5). Rev. Sandstrom points to DLW 187 where it is said that without the concept of discrete degrees the mind is lost in a sea of nonduality:

 

From all this it can be seen, that one who knows nothing about discrete degrees, that is, degrees of height, can know nothing about the state of man as regards his reformation and regeneration, which are effected through the reception of love and wisdom of the Lord, and then through the opening of the interior degrees of his mind in their order. Nor can he know anything about influx from the Lord through the heavens nor anything about the order into which he was created. For if anyone thinks about these, not from discrete degrees or degrees of height but from continuous degrees or degrees of breadth, he is not able to perceive anything about them from causes, but only from effects; and to see from effects only is to see from fallacies, from which come errors, one after another; and these may be so multiplied by inductions that at length enormous falsities are called truths. (DLW 187)

 

Rev. Sandstrom:

 

“Experiencing esoteric highs is not a sign of regeneration! Only light from the Word can uncover states of evil. Unless evil is shunned, any supernatural experience just drapes man’s interior evil with Scripture or Doctrine. Thus the claim that experiencing Swedenborg’s kind of spiritual awareness would be to our own advantage, is met by Swedenborg’s own sharp epithet: That is the direct road to insanity! (Swedenborg Epic p. 344). Swedenborg said his experience had not happened since creation (Invitation to the New Church 43, 44, 52).

 

Nonduality received intellectual support by the architects of materialistic science and positivistic philosophy. Spinoza and Hegel are influential proponents of pantheism, the view that matter and God are one substance—thus identical to Eastern nonduality (see Chapter 2). Jakob Bohme (1575-1624) played an influential role on many European architects of nonduality:

 

Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Hartmann, Bergson, Heidegger, Alfred North Whitehead, Carl G. Jung, Albert Schweitzer and Protestant mysticism.

(Preface to Stoudt, John Joseph: Sunrise to Eternity: A Study of Jacob Boehme's Life and Thought. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1957 quoted on the Web at users.aol.com/DoniBess/boehme.htm  Accessed June 2002)

 

Here is a sample of Boehme’s “dynamic theology” that has spread so extensively into American thinking today, both secular and Christian:

 

Jacob Boehme, on his mystical Aurora

>> I contemplated man's little spark, what it should be valued before God along side of this great work of heaven and earth. ...

 

I therefore became very melancholy and highly troubled. No Scripture could comfort me, though I was quite well versed in it ...

 

When in such sadness I earnestly elevated my spirit into God and locked my whole heart and mind, along with all my thoughts and will, therein, ceaselessly pressing in with God's Love and Mercy, and not to cease until he blessed me ..., then after some hard storms my spirit broke through hell's gates into the inmost birth of the Godhead, and there I was embraced with Love as a bridegroom embraces his dear bride. ...

 

What kind of spiritual triumph it was I can neither write nor speak; it can only be compared with that where life is born in the midst of death, and is like the resurrection of the dead. ...

 

In this light my spirit directly saw through all things, and knew God in and by all creatures, even in herbs and grass. ... In this light my will grew in great desire to describe the being of God ... <<

(Aurora, xix, 7-13. Stoudt, op. cit. p 58-59.)

(Quoted in “Jakob Böhme (1575-1624)” by Donivan Bessinger on the Web at users.aol.com/DoniBess/boehme.htm Accessed June 2002).

 

Swedenborg was once asked to give an opinion on Jakob Boehme’s ecstatic approach to religion. This was his answer in a letter:

 

Letter to Beyer, February 1767

My opinion concerning the writings of Boehme and L...**

 

I have never read them, and I was forbidden to read dogmatic and systematic books in theology before heaven was opened to me, and this for the reason that otherwise unfounded opinions and notions might easily have insinuated themselves, which afterwards could have been removed only with difficulty. When heaven was opened to me I had therefore first to learn the Hebrew language, and also the correspondences of which the whole Bible is composed, and this led me to read through the Word of God many times. And since the Word of God is the source from which all theology must be taken, I was thus enabled to receive instruction from the Lord, who is the Word.

** probably, William Law, 1686-1761

(Letters 7)

 

Swedenborg was the first New Church mind in history. The Lord did not allow his mind to be exposed to the conjectures of theology invented by various well known authors that were acclaimed in their generation, because their “unfounded opinions and notions might easily have insinuated themselves, which afterwards could have been removed only with difficulty.” This is the same reason we need to protect our New Church mind “before heaven was opened,” in other words, before we have completed our reformation.

 

 


 

Chapter 5.

Overcoming Intellectual Impediments to Reformation and Regeneration

 

 

The Lord cannot enlighten anyone with His light, unless He is approached immediately and acknowledged as the God of heaven. (INV 38)

 

Chapter 5, Introduction

 

1. Introduction

 

The system of ideas that make up Eastern nonduality was given ages ago to Hinduism and the other Asiatic nations. The chief form this revelation takes is to define salvation as the elimination of all dualities. Dualities are attributed to Atman (Self) which is the source of the delusions of attachment. These delusions vanish like a dream upon awakening or enlightenment, and Brahman (God) is left as the Reality, the Emptiness that is devoid of all attachments or qualities. This is described as existence or being that is above thinking and willing, above rationality and affection. Salvation consists in stepping out of the elaborate delusion of being a self or individual, and awakening as the being of God. The revelations given to the Hindu religion thousands of years ago were not intended for Westerners who were then being prepared for receiving the revelations of the Old Testament, the revelations of the New Testament, the revelations of the Koran, and the revelations of the Writings. These Western revelations were all based on absolute dualities.

 

In the course of time Westerners created their own indigenous forms of nonduality by opposing the duality that was in their heritage from revelation and the Word. When charity is no longer first in a religion, it is called the religion of Cain (AC 330) which dethrones charity as the chief thing. This change initiates nonduality in that religion and its influence gradually spreads and permeates all of it until it has invaded or corrupted every categorical duality received in the original revelations.

 

Thus a revelation that prepares people for receiving spiritual-rational truths is turned into a sensuous persuasion that looks for other ways to climb in (AC 10430)—not solely through the Word but through meditation, fasting, corporeal punishments, physical and mental regimens, anti-rational mysticism, group chanting, long prayers, self-mortification, and the like. These are forms of nonduality in the Western mind because they contain the idea that the corporeal is in continuous degree with the spiritual. This nonduality leads to the notion that the way to become spiritual is to exert maximum possible effort in doing selected physical things.

 

Chapter 5, Section 2

 

2. The Rational Is The Entry Way To The Spiritual

 

What the rational is shall be briefly told. The intellectual of the internal man is called "rational," but the intellectual of the external man is called "natural;" thus the rational is internal, and the natural is external; and they are perfectly distinct from each other.

 

But a truly rational man is no other than he who is called a celestial man, and who has perception of good, and from good perception of truth; whereas he who has not this perception, but only the knowledge that a thing is true because he is so instructed, and from this has conscience, is not truly a rational man, but is an interior natural man. Such are they who are of the Lord's spiritual church. They differ from the celestial as the light of the moon differs from the light of the sun; and therefore the Lord appears to the spiritual as a moon, but to the celestial as a sun ...

 

[2] Many in the world suppose that a rational man is one who can reason acutely about many things, and so join his reasonings together that his conclusions may appear like truth; but this is found in the very worst of men, who are able to reason skillfully and persuade that evils are goods, and that falsities are truths; and the reverse. But he who reflects can see that this is vicious fantasy, and not what is rational.

 

The rational consists in inwardly seeing and perceiving that good is good, and from this that truth is truth; for the sight and perception of such men are from heaven.

 

That they who are of the Lord's spiritual church are interiorly natural, is because they only acknowledge as truth that which they have received from their parents and masters, and afterward have confirmed in themselves; and do not see inwardly, and perceive, whether it is true from any other source than that they have confirmed it in themselves.

 

It is otherwise with the celestial; and it is from this that the latter are rational, but the former interiorly natural. The internal celestial which is represented by Joseph, is in the rational; whereas the spiritual good which is represented by Israel, is in the interior natural (AC n. 4286); for it is the spiritual who are represented by Israel, and the celestial who are represented by Joseph. (AC 6240)

 

We learn from this passage that the level of thinking and reasoning in our natural mind is not yet human. The natural mind is built up solely from concepts and rules of logic that apply only to physical existence or functioning. All animals share with “humans” the ability to think and reason at the level peculiar to each species. Some, like bees, are only capable of giving the appearance of thinking and reasoning in the way they are able to communicate the location of food to the other bees in the hive, who then are able to fly directly to the location. This appearance of intellectual ability is the result of built in physiological activity in interaction with sensory input. Other animals like the apes, known today as “primates,” and also the dolphins and whales, have been shown to possess cognitive and linguistic abilities. The natural mind in homo sapiens is far above that of the animals because our race has an upper portion called the external-rational or the natural-natural. No animals are capable reasoning at this level as they lack this upper portion.

 

This natural-rational level of thinking is what makes it possible for humans to be regenerated, that is, to be born anew and to be regenerated by the Lord. The new mind is called the spiritual mind while the old mind is called the natural mind. The early generations of the race had a celestial mind (xx) and were able to communicate directly with angels and teachers already in heaven. After this ability was removed by the Lord due to misuse and profanation, a new race was raised such as we are today, namely, that we do not possess a sensuous spiritual mind while we live on earth (xx). This means that our regeneration is made possible only by the natural-rational mind. This is effected by means of the Word which consists of revelations about the spiritual world. The natural-rational level of thinking and reasoning is capable of understanding these revelations, invent a Doctrine based on the revelations, and live life in accordance with this Doctrine. This is the only way the New Church mind can be reborn and regenerated. We must develop Doctrine for ourselves based on the Writings, then arrange our daily willing and thinking in conformity to this Doctrine. To the extent we do this, to that extent the Lord opens our spiritual mind.

 

The spiritual mind, as indicated in the passage above (AC 6240) has three levels: natural-rational (First Heaven), which is also called spiritual-natural. These various names may sound confusing at first, as it did for me at the beginning, but it is required that we learn them and distinguish them. Without this intellectual effort we are unable to create Doctrine from it, and yet it is Doctrine from it in our understanding, that we must have in order to see how it applies to our willing and thinking. So the natural mind can reach up to the spiritual level of consciousness by loving the rational concepts in the literal language of the Writings. This is the called the First Education (see Chapter 8, Section 3). When we have studied the Writings over several years of intellectual activity, we have taken up into our natural mind knowledges or “external scientifics” of the ideas expressed in the literal language, either the original Latin or some faithful translation.

 

These ideas are expressed in a natural language, and therefore it is not possible to convey directly any spiritual truths. Spiritual truths can only be transmitted directly as far as the spiritual mind. There it “terminates,” that is, provides a plane or dwelling for their existence. The natural mind far below cannot directly access by consciousness or awareness anything whatsoever of these spiritual truths residing there in the spiritual mind the Lord opens for us, to the extent we cooperate. Clearly then, the knowledge and reasoning level of the literal of the Writings must reside in the upper portion of the natural mind, which is called the natural-rational (also: the external rational). How then do we get to the spiritual truths we must have for our regeneration?

 

Spiritual truths from the literal of the Writings is by enlightenment only. The Lord Himself is the Writings, that is, in the spiritual truths therein. Therefore He alone can give us these truths, and He desires to give as many as we can take, for this is His Love. But we are not willing to take a single spiritual truth prior to undergoing reformation in adult life. This is because spiritual truths require us to rearrange everything in our mind that was there before reformation, regardless of our religion or philosophy or education. This we resist. But eventually we are ready to compel ourselves to go through with reformation. This means that we begin to examine our concepts and our loves behind them, and we begin to ask whether they are in conformity with what we have taken up from the Writings. At that moment the Lord gives enlightenment regarding the single particular issue you were struggling with.

 

This momentary enlightenment from the Lord is like a flash of lightening in which we can see and understand what we couldn’t before, or just didn’t even know about. Each spiritual truth, or seed deposited by the Lord in our spiritual mind, is one of these flashes of lightening. As we progress, we begin to have a memory of the flashes, what they were about specifically. This is the beginning of our spiritual consciousness. It is a rational consciousness, not a sensuous one. We cannot see heaven or have communication with the spiritual world, but we have the Holy Spirit in our spiritual mind. The Holy Spirit can also reside in our natural-rational mind, in which case it is called the interior-natural or natural-rational. The natural-rational or interior-natural is the level of consciousness in which the angelic spirits of the First Heaven exist.

 

1. The Genuine Human Being

 

We can progress in our regeneration all the way to the opening of the interior-rational or celestial-rational level. This is the existence of the angels of the First Heaven, and is the genuine human existence. This is the genuine human being. The passage above says that “the rational consists in inwardly seeing and perceiving that good is good, and from this that truth is truth; for the sight and perception of such men are from heaven.“ Following our reformation we are able to reason whether something is good or true merely by holding it up to the light of the literal of the Writings. To the extent we then apply this understanding to our daily willing and thinking, to that extent we enter into the spiritual meaning of these goods and truths. Prior to entering their spiritual meaning we only understand them in a natural-rational way. But applying them to willing and thinking brings the spiritual meaning out of them and we can see and understand them. When we reach the celestial state, we can perceive the truths and no longer need to reason about them whether they are true or how they are true.

 

All of this requires the reformation of the unregenerate natural mind. When our natural mind is in nonduality we make a distinction between the physical body and mental life. This is not a duality however since the mental is also seen as emerging from the physical and being located in it. This physicalistic idea of the mental is then made to be equal with the spiritual. This is a nonduality that is opposed to the duality of natural and spiritual as being in discrete degrees. In nonduality, mental and spiritual occupy a continuum on one end and the body and the physical world occupy the other end. At our reformation, this nonduality is replaced by the discrete duality of the natural world and the spiritual world. We now acknowledge three discrete levels in the human mind. They are called natural, spiritual, and celestial degrees. These three degrees are represented in the constitution of every created thing, large or small. The natural mind or degree is part of the order of the natural world and its mode of construction. It is called the spiritual-natural of the First Heaven. The spiritual mind or degree corresponds to the spiritual-rational or Second Heaven. The celestial mind or degree corresponds to the celestial-rational in the Third Heaven (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14).

 

The external rational level of thinking, although it is in the natural mind, is such as to be capable of being infilled with spiritual-natural and spiritual-rational ideas that the angels have. For example the idea of God is first learned from instruction and reading through the external rational mind. At this level of thinking “infinity” has a natural meaning. This is shown by the fact that the only infinity we can think of is that which gets bigger and bigger--like distance, numbers, size, time, energy, speed, and so on. Therefore we think of God’s omnipresence as being everywhere in space and his omnipotence as unlimited power. These are external rational ideas of God, also called material ideas of God rather than spiritual. Similarly, Heaven and hell have physicalistic properties at this level of thinking. Note that when we dream we also instantiate physicalistic scenes. The dream itself is a spiritual event or activity in the mind, but its order and construction represent the order of the natural world and our material ideas about it. There is no spiritual content to physicalistic ideas or mental visions. They are operations in the natural mind. Spiritual things only operate in the rational or spiritual mind that is a discrete degree above the natural mind.

 

How the rational faculty may be cultivated shall also be told in a few words. The genuine rational faculty consists of truths and not of falsities; whatever consists of falsities is not rational. There are three kinds of truths, civil, moral, and spiritual. Civil truths relate to matters of judgment and of government in kingdoms, and in general to what is just and equitable in them. Moral truths pertain to the matters of everyone's life which have regard to companionships and social relations, in general to what is honest and right, and in particular to virtues of every kind. But spiritual truths relate to matters of heaven and of the church, and in general to the good of love and the truth of faith.

 

[2] In every man there are three degrees of life (see above, n. 267 [in HH]). The rational faculty is opened to the first degree by civil truths, to the second degree by moral truths, and to the third degree by spiritual truths. But it must be understood that the rational faculty that consists of these truths is not formed and opened by man's knowing them, but by his living according to them; and living according to them means loving them from spiritual affection; and to love truths from spiritual affection is to love what is just and equitable because it is just and equitable, what is honest and right because it is honest and right, and what is good and true because it is good and true; while living according to them and loving them from the bodily affection is loving them for the sake of self and for the sake of one's reputation, honor or gain. Consequently, so far as man loves these truths from a bodily affection he fails to become rational, for he loves, not them, but himself; and the truths are made to serve him as servants serve their Lord; and when truths become servants they do not enter the man and open any degree of life in him, not even the first, but merely rest in the memory as knowledges under a material form, and there conjoin themselves with the love of self, which is a bodily love.

 

[3] All this shows how man becomes rational, namely, that he becomes rational to the third degree by a spiritual love of the good and truth which pertain to heaven and the church; he becomes rational to the second degree by a love of what is honest and right; and to the first degree by a love of what is just and equitable. These two latter loves also become spiritual from a spiritual love of good and truth, because that love flows into them and conjoins itself to them and forms in them as it were its own semblance. (HH 468)

 

This number teaches many important things about the rational portion of the mind. We can summarize some of these points as follows:

 

(1) The rational or spiritual portion of the mind is above the natural mind and it is developed only by spiritual-rational truths. All spiritual truths are rational. There are three degrees of truths: civil, moral, and spiritual. Therefore there are three degrees of the rational mind. The first two (civil and moral truths) originate from the natural world, from society and self, but the third (spiritual truths) originate form the spiritual world.

 

(2) There are two distinct degrees in the rational mind. The lowest or external rational is called civil and moral. The highest rational is called spiritual-rational. Note that the spiritual begins with the highest degree in the rational mind. This degree is also called the interior rational or the spiritual rational.

 

(3) The lowest or external rational develops “by a love of what is just and equitable.” Note that this is not yet spiritual. It is an external form of the rational, not yet interior. This external rational is bound up with natural ideas. Civil truths can exist in the mind of an atheist who denies God, the Church, heaven, and hell. The spiritual rational is not bound up with the natural but originates entirely from the spiritual world.

 

(4) Further, the external rational also develops “by a love of what is honest and right.” The moral truths that form this level of thinking are still external, bound up with the natural world. Atheists can think with such truths even though they deny the existence of spiritual truths such as God and heaven.

 

(5) The highest degree of the rational mind develops only by means of spiritual truths, and so it is called the spiritual mind. These truths originate solely from the spiritual world and we receive them consciously by means of the Word. It develops “by a spiritual love of the good and truth which pertain to heaven and the church.” This is the beginning of the spiritual mind and is the genuine human. Civil truths and moral truths are not yet part of the genuine human. The Lord alone is the genuine Human, hence only that which is from the Word about the Lord can be the genuine human in us.

 

(6) The Word is the only source of spiritual truths since the Word is from the Lord and is the Lord in His Divine Truth. All spiritual truth is rational because it is from the Lord alone and the Lord is the Divine Rational by which He maintains the universe. Truths that are not from the Word are not from the Lord and are not spiritual. Nothing originating from society or self-intelligence can be spiritual truth. Spiritual truth cannot be discovered by experience, intuition, or intelligence.

 

(7) Civil and moral truths from society and self, can become spiritual when they are infused with spiritual truths from the Word. For example, you can be equitable and honest from two different motives: either natural or spiritual. If you are honest because you love society or because you want to be honored by society, your level of willing and thinking is still natural. But later you can be honest from a love of the Lord and heaven; then you first become spiritual and you can think from spiritual truths.

 

(8) If you are a scientist and love to discover truths about the world, you are not yet spiritual and your level of thinking is still natural. No spiritual truths can be discovered by a scientist or a seeker in this way. No spiritual reasoning, or wisdom, is possible at this level of the external rational mind. But then you can be motivated to discover scientific truths because you understand that scientific truths correspond and represent spiritual truths. Swedenborg was such a scientist. This kind of science may be called theistic science since the scientist then acknowledges that natural truths discovered by scientific research are outward effects that represent or contain spiritual causes. These spiritual causes cannot be discovered by natural research but only by extracting them from the Word.

 

(9) If you are a seeker of truth and try to discover truths by intuition, meditation, reflection, discipline, or study of the realizations of others, you are not yet thinking spiritually, but only naturally in your external rational mind. But then you can turn to the Word, acknowledge it as the Lord, and confirm the spiritual truths from the Word as the operating cause of the truths you acquired from intuition, experience and study of the experiences of others. Then for the first time you begin to think spiritually. Note that it is not possible to reverse this process. You cannot confirm spiritual truths from the Word by means of truths obtained elsewhere. But you can confirm truths obtained anywhere by means of spiritual truths from the Word. Note that truths from the Word are to be believed because they are from the Lord. They are not to be believed because of the truths you have from somewhere else. The natural cannot lead to the spiritual, but the spiritual can illumine the natural.

 

2. The External and Internal Understanding of Spiritual Ideas

 

The spiritual therefore begins with the interior rational, which is called the spiritual-rational. And consequently, so does the human (HH 468). Everything below the interior rational is not genuinely human but only imitates the human. The human mind is so constructed as to contain within it a spiritual mind that can be activated and grown through acquiring spiritual-rational truths from the Writings, which is the Divine source for interior rational truths in the new age of the Second Coming. These are spiritual ideas from a celestial origin, because from the Lord. All ideas in the spiritual mind must be spiritual and cannot be of natural origin. That is why there is a discrete degree between the natural mind and the spiritual mind. The two interact by correspondence only, not directly. Spiritual truths from the Lord through the angels inflow into the spiritual mind, whereupon our natural mind is affected and reacts to the influx in accordance with correspondences (DLW 260-3). This reaction in the natural mind is conscious and we’re aware of it in various ways (DLW 263).

 

One way we’re aware of spiritual ideas inflowing is that the concepts into which they inflow suddenly are illuminated by heavenly light. It’s a “seeing into” experience, or insight, in the sense that we say in our conversations: “I see what you mean.” The correspondence reaction to the influx occurs into certain general ideas in the external rational mind. For instance, the concept of God that is rooted in the external rational mind is a natural idea of God, not a genuine spiritual called the spiritual-rational. When spiritual influx animates the natural concept we suddenly see it illumined with heavenly light. This means that we can see a higher (or deeper) meaning to it. This new meaning is higher, because spiritual, that is, more interiorly rational, more genuine human, and closer to the celestial. Our goal in reformation is to build up these cognitive “vessels” in the external natural concepts, as many as possible. These rational intellectual ideas or concepts are acquired by reading and studying the literal language of the Writings. The Word is always written in a natural language: Hebrew, Greek, Latin. This natural language does not allow the direct expression of spiritual ideas. Instead, the spiritual ideas are in our understanding, when it is enlightened by the Lord while we read the Writings.

 

Our understanding therefore contains two parts, external and internal. We understand the literal in our external understanding, which is called the external-rational or natural-rational level of thinking and reasoning. We understand the spiritual within the literal, in our internal understanding. When the two are simultaneous, then we experience illustration, that is, we can see the spiritual things in our internal understanding while we can see the natural things in our external understanding.

 

For instance, we can see in our external understanding that God is infinite, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. But in our internal understanding we can see that God is omnipresent not in space but apart from space (DLW 70). If the Lord were present in space, He could not be omnipresent—an idea that was incomprehensible before in the external understanding which sees only in natural light. In this light, the explanation that “God is omnipresent not in space but apart from space” sounds like poetry and is seen in obscurity. But the internal understanding sees in heavenly light, and we can clearly see the distinction between what is uncreate (love, life, truth, endeavor) and created (matter, space or ether, energy, plants, animals, human beings, heaven, hell). The uncreate is present within the created and animates it with life and purpose. The “presence within” cannot be physical, for then it would like the created. Hence the uncreate is present within the created in another dimension than space. And this other dimension is called the spiritual world where there is no space, just as in our dreams there is no space but apparent space, changing at the will and whim of the dreamer.

 

As heavenly light illumines the concepts from within, we can see new content in them which could not be seen before in natural light. The concept of infinity now is seen more clearly as that which has no beginning and no ending, whereas before “no ending” was the only focus that made sense. The idea of “no beginning” made no sense. Now we can see that natural things that are created can go on without an ending, but that does not make them infinite. For instance, there is no largest number because one can always add one more digit to it. But this does not mean that counting is infinite since it has a beginning. Life has no beginning for it exists in the Lord. Truth has no beginning for the same reason. Similarly with love which is the source of all heat and motion as well as emotions and feelings.

 

Another example is the distinction between the natural-rational idea of “self” and the spiritual-rational idea of “as-of self” (AC 47, 233, 1712, 2877, 5664, 10299; NJHD 148; DP 102, 210; CL 82; SE 5958; LJ 299; AE 864).

 

Operating with the concept of self, we cannot see the meaning of freedom in relation to omnipotence. Since God is omnipotent, therefore self would have no freedom unless God removes Himself so things can go on happening according the free choices of the selves. But when heavenly light enters our natural concept of self, we suddenly see a new thing called as-of self. “Self” = “as-of self.” Now we can see a spiritual-rational meaning to freedom and its relation to a spiritual meaning of omnipotence. The as-of self is a feeling the Lord grants us in every succeeding moment. This feeling is that we are alive and acting from our desires by means of our thinking. We do what we love and gives us delight, unless we inhibit it by some other love, by which we give consideration to the laws, our reputation, sin, altruism. We think what we please. We move our limbs or eyes as we wish. We take responsibility for our actions. All this is granted by the Lord so that we may feel freedom and be in it. This feeling is given by the Lord so that we may be happy and self-reliant.

 

But now the new meaning of “self” is that it is not acting from itself and it doesn’t have life in itself (DLW 23). The self is only a receptacle or a biological organ for the reception of life, of ideas, of feelings and intentions, of pleasures and joys. The Lord hides the influx from our awareness so that we can continue to feel free. When the natural-rational hears this, it denies it and becomes enraged. It cannot see what is within it (or above it), hence it’s nothing, or nothing of importance to it. But in the light of heaven we can see the spiritual within the concept of “self” and now we no longer call it the self but the as-of self. When we enter heaven we become capable of perceiving the influx (HH 8). The joy and bliss we experience then is immensely increased, and so also the feeling or sensation of freedom.

 

There is with those who are being led by the Lord a certain inward sight or consciousness in regard to things that are to be done, especially in the act of doing them. This sight is so clear to those who are led by the Lord, that they do not do any least thing unless it is either by the Lord's good pleasure, or by His consent, or by His permission. These are distinct from each other, and the person is also given to see them distinctly, but this fact cannot be understood by anyone except by such a one.

 

Others, no matter how well the matter is explained, along with all the circumstances, still do not believe it, because they do not understand. For example, even spirits who are quite intelligent still cannot be convinced that it is so. They who know it, and do not want to think from themselves, and are therefore in the way of truth, acquire such a sight. The main reason why others cannot believe this is that they think they would then be deprived entirely of their own free will in doing and thinking what they love, supposing they would thus be as if dead. I said to them, however, that then they are alive, because living from oneself is rather death, because there is nothing of good from what is one's own. Therefore no one should be surprised if someone says he sees what should be done; because this is truth, and it is part of faith. 1748, 20 February. (SE 891)

 

Another example is the concept of “prayer.” Prior to influx the natural-rational idea is that prayer is a method given to us by God to influence His decisions. If we pray the right way our influence on God’s decision is greater than if otherwise. Christians are taught to end important prayer requests by “in the Name of Jesus Christ we ask it” or an equivalent formula (“I ask in the name of your Son”). Allied with this concept is the concept of how Christ redeemed us by His sacrifice on the Cross. Therefore we need to “invoke” the power of this Redemption by referring to it in our prayer. This is thought to “mollify” the Father who then grants us the prayer request. But when we read the Writings we modify these apparent facts into new facts: The Lord already forgives so there is no need to mollify Him. There is no power in outside rituals or the formulaic expressions we use for prayers. There is no influencing the Lord through prayer since the Lord independently decides on all things by His Laws of the Divine Providence.

 

These are entirely new facts in the external rational. Now influx can enter these new concepts and enlighten us as to their spiritual meaning. We can see the meaning of “prayer” in heavenly light. There is no power in prayer, no effectiveness, no influence. Prayer is for ourselves, as a method we might need to turn ourselves to the Lord. When we are turned to the Lord already, there is no need for prayer—the angels do not pray in the usual sense.

 

Practical piety is to act in every work and in every duty from sincerity and right, and from justice and equity, and this because it is commanded by the Lord in the Word; for thus man in his every work looks to heaven and to the Lord, and thus is conjoined with Him. But to act sincerely and rightly, justly and equitably, solely from fear of the law, of the loss of fame or of honor and gain, and to think nothing of the Divine law, of the commandments of the Word, and of the Lord, and yet to pray devoutly in the churches, is external piety; however holy this may appear, it is not piety, but it is either hypocrisy, or something put on derived from habit, or a kind of persuasion from a false belief that Divine worship consists merely in this; for such a man does not look to heaven and to the Lord with the heart, but only with the eyes; the heart looking to self and to the world, and the mouth speaking from the habit of the body only and its memory; by this man is conjoined to the world and not to heaven, and to self and not to the Lord. (AE 325:4)

 

3. Sin And Spiritual Punishment

 

Another example is the concept of “sin” and “spiritual punishment.” We think about the “sin of Adam and Eve” and the punishment of being banished from Paradise and the end of a heavenly life on earth. There is obscurity in our thinking when we link this idea to the concept of God’s omnipotence and omniscience. We wonder: Why did God ask in the garden: Adam, where are you? Did He not know? Why did God ask Adam what He had done? Did God not know? Why did God allow Adam and Eve to eat of the tree, and then punish them for it? Why did He not prevent them through His omnipotence? And things of this nature that bring obscurity, not clarity. But when we read the Writings with understanding we can clearly see from heavenly light that this is a rational parable for the idea that God allows us to sin and disobey His commandments. The Lord in His omnipotence could withdraw His power so no act could occur—but He doesn’t for the sake of the sinner, that we might retain the feeling of freedom. For without that feeling, we could not be regenerated and prepared for heavenly life (AE 802).

 

But this shall be illustrated by examples. It is commanded in the Word that man must not commit adultery, must not steal, must not kill, must not bear false witness. It is known that man is able to do all these things of himself, also that he is able to refrain from them because they are sins; and yet he is not able to refrain from them from himself, but only from God; yet when he refrains from them from God he still thinks that he wills to refrain from them because they are sins, and thus he refrains from them as if from himself; and when this is done, then because he calls adultery a sin he lives in chastity and loves chastity, and this as if of himself (AE 802).

 

In view of these considerations, you can see that physical and mental effort as a way to become spiritual cannot possibly succeed because body and spirit (or mind) are in discrete degrees to each other with no direct contact and they only interact by correspondence (DLW 186). This means that physical effort and mental discipline no matter how much, only grows continuously and cannot break through to the higher levels of the mind where the spiritual is. Only rational content can bring our consciousness to the spiritual. The way to become spiritual is, first of all, to develop external rational powers of analysis and reasoning by studying and understanding the revelations of one’s religion. These are given to all peoples so that they may prepare rational vessels in the mind suitable for their heavenly life. This is called reformation. Second, rearranging one’s daily thoughts and intentions so that they conform to one’s understanding. This is called regeneration. These are the two essential steps given in Western religions—know the Commandments of God and live accordingly. For the New Church mind, the Commandments of God are in the Writings as the Doctrine of the Church and the Doctrine of Life.

 

Scientifics and knowledges, because they are of the external or natural man, are in the light of the world; but truths, which are become truths of love and faith, and have thus obtained life, are in the light of heaven (n. 5212). Nevertheless the truths, which have thus obtained life, are comprehended by man through natural ideas (n. 5510). Spiritual influx is through the internal man into the scientifics and knowledges which are in the external (n. 1940, 8005). Scientifics and knowledges are the receptacles and as it were the vessels of the truth and good of the internal man (n. 1469, 1496, 3068, 5489, 6004, 6023, 6052, 6071, 6077, 7770, 9922).

 

Therefore by "vessels" in the Word, in the spiritual sense, are signified scientifics and knowledges (n. 3068, 3069, 3079, 9394, 9544, 9723, 9724). Scientifics are as it were mirrors, in which the truths and goods of the internal man appear, and are perceived as in an image (n. 5201). And there they are together as in their ultimate (n. 5373, 5874, 5886, 5901, 6004, 6023, 6052, 6071, 6077). Scientifics, because they are in the light of the world, are involved and obscure respectively to those things which are in the light of heaven; thus the things which are in the external man respectively to those in the internal (n. 2831).

(NJHD 51)

 

To the extent that we take up from the Writings suitable scientifics in our external mind, to that extent the Lord opens the rational-spiritual mind from the interior, and then for the first time we become spiritual (DLW 425). The approach is therefore rational, not corporeal. The more we understand rational dualities the more we become spiritual, in proportion to our progress in thinking and willing accordingly. All dualities are unique permanent distinctions that never cease to eternity (DLW 226).The rational depends on concepts of duality to be able to develop. Dualities feed the rational because all things are created into an image of the Lord, and this image is Divine Human. The Lord creates all things through Divine Truth and truth is rational (xx). This is why all things have a rational basis. Becoming rational is therefore the only way to become spiritually sane and in alignment with reality. Without developing the rational mind we cannot become spiritual.

 

The Rational is predicated solely of the celestial and spiritual Natural (9Q2)

 

The human commences in the inmost of the rational, AC n. 2106 (AC 2666)

 

In other words, the sensuous and natural-rational cannot be spiritual since they are below the spiritual-natural. Whatever is below the spiritual-natural is not yet spiritual but merely natural. Without the spiritual-rational in the afterlife one sinks down to the corporeal level, which is the infernal level (AC 6310).

 

Evils are as it were heavy, and fall of themselves into hell; and so also falsities that are from evil (n. 8279, 8298).(HD 170)

 

Every concept of nonduality that occurs in the New Church mind must be deconstructed and analyzed to see where the fallacy lies. The more we deconstruct the concepts of our nonduality, the more rational we grow. Dualities represent discrete degrees of creation while forms of nonduality represent destroying  the idea of discrete degrees in our mind. The revelations of the Second Coming could not be given prior to the ability of the human race to understand the rationality of discrete degrees (DLW 188). Swedenborg was the first human being to be able to understand it, and thus he could serve as the revelator for humankind. This is why the revelations of the Second Coming are called the Divine Rational of the Divine Human (xx). Hence it is that the level of our mind that receives the truths of the Divine Rational is called the spiritual-rational, and is the beginning of being human (AC 2666). It is also called the interior rational and also the celestial:

 

The spiritual man is not the interior rational man, but the interior natural. The interior rational man is what is called the celestial man.

 

What the difference is between the spiritual and the celestial man has already been frequently stated. A man is made spiritual by having the truths in him conjoined with good, that is, the things of faith conjoined with those of charity, and this in his natural. Exterior truths are there first conjoined with good, and afterwards interior truths.

(...)

Interior truths are not conjoined with good in any other way than by enlightenment flowing in through the internal man into the external man. From this enlightenment Divine truths are manifest only in a general manner, comparatively as innumerable objects are seen by the eye as one obscure thing without distinction.

(...)

 

[3] That the spiritual man is relatively in obscurity see AC n. 2708, 2715, 2716, 2718, 2831, 2849, 2935, 2937, 3241, 3246, 3833. It is this spiritual man who is represented by Israel (AC n. 4286). The spiritual man is so called from the fact that the light of heaven, in which is intelligence and wisdom, flows into those things in man which are of the light of the world, and causes the things which are of the light of heaven to be represented in those which are of the light of the world, and thereby to correspond.

 

For regarded in itself the spiritual is the Divine light itself which is from the Lord, consequently it is the intelligence of truth and the wisdom thence derived. But with the spiritual man this light falls into the things which are of faith in him, and which he believes to be true; whereas with the celestial man it falls into the good of love.

 

But although these things are clear to those who are in the light of heaven, they are nevertheless obscure to those who are in the light of the world, thus to most people at this day, and possibly so obscure as to be scarcely intelligible; and yet as they are treated of in the internal sense, and are of such a nature, the opening of them is not to be dispensed with; the time is coming when there will be enlightenment. (AC 4402)

 

What a wonderful announcement by the Lord: “the time is coming when there will be enlightenment.” This is the result of Advent of the Age of Nunc Licet, that is, the new way of thinking and reasoning from rational truths revealed in the Writings of the Second Coming. The Old Testament revelations were given to the external natural mind. The New Testament revelations were given to the interior natural mind, which is called natural-spiritual. This resides in the external rational level of thinking. It makes us into spiritual persons, capable of thinking by means of truths in the New Testament. These truths, in their essence, are spiritual and Divine, revealed by the Lord Himself, by which the human race can become spiritual. But this is only a stepping stone to the final Temple, which is made of the celestial truths in the Writings, not revealed before. These Heavenly Doctrines appear natural or external rational because they are given in a natural language in which the celestial Doctrine is hidden and inaccessible to the natural mind.

 

The interior rational is the celestial, and the true human. As the passage quoted above says: “Interior truths are not conjoined with good in any other way than by enlightenment flowing in through the internal man into the external man. From this enlightenment Divine truths are manifest only in a general manner, comparatively as innumerable objects are seen by the eye as one obscure thing without distinction.” The Lord enlightens our natural mind when we read and study the truths in the literal language of the Writings. At first, this enlightenment is relatively obscure, but as our regeneration proceeds, it gets more and more interior and clear. The clarity and interiorness of the enlightenment is proportional to our love for the Writings and for the spiritual Doctrine within it.

 

Chapter 5, Section 3

 

3. Deconstructing Nonduality In Our Mind

 

In the New Church mind nonduality takes a more intellectual form, not corporeal-sensual but above that level which is called the external rational. The external rational is a natural-rational, not yet spiritual-rational. The interior rational of the New Church mind is called the genuine spiritual-rational and its content or source is from the Writings (TCR 1-3). The Writings warn that we must not confuse these two rational levels of willing and thinking, for all thinking is from willing (HH 499). In Genesis we are told that both Abraham and Isaac referred to their wife as “my sister.” This was a ruse to appease the treacherous designs of a predator king who had a reputation of being attracted to women of great beauty. (AC 1495). The meaning of calling one’s wife “sister” is that it stands as a warning to us that we must not consult our external rational ideas in matters of doctrine and faith. Instead, all things genuinely spiritual are given only through interior rational ideas which alone are spiritual and celestial from heaven.

 

[in the Word] they are called "drunkards" who believe nothing but what they apprehend, and for this reason search into the mysteries of faith. And because this is done by means of sensuous things, either of memory or of philosophy, man being what he is, cannot but fall thereby into errors. For man's thought is merely earthly, corporeal, and material, because it is from earthly, corporeal, and material things, which cling constantly to it, and in which the ideas of his thought are based and terminated.

 

To think and reason therefore from these concerning Divine things, is to bring oneself into errors and perversions; and it is as impossible to procure faith in this way as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. The error and insanity from this source are called in the Word "drunkenness.” (AC 1072)

 

When man is being instructed, there is a progression from memory-knowledges to rational truths; further, to intellectual truths; and finally, to celestial truths, which are here signified by the "wife." If the progression is made from memory knowledges and rational truths to celestial truths without intellectual truths as media, the celestial suffers violence, because there can be no connection of rational truths-which are obtained by means of memory-knowledges-with celestial truths, except by means of intellectual truths, which are the media. (AC 1495)

 

In this passage the external rational level of thinking is referred to as “a progression from memory-knowledges to rational truths.” Our “memory-knowledges” are the things we know through our physical senses. For instance, we can read the Writings and summarize what we have read, or portions thereof. These memory-knowledges are called natural ideas because they are in the natural mind from the physical senses. When we begin to reason from these memory-knowledges, the level of thinking remains at the natural level, but now it is called “rational truths” because they are from the literal of the Writings. The passage above then says that once these natural-rational truths are acquired, more advanced instruction can be given. This new and higher level of thinking uses “intellectual truths.” These truths are not of a natural origin. Their source is the illustration or enlightenment we are given progressively in proportion to our regeneration. The intellectual truths are within the natural-rational truths, and this is why they are called interior rational, in contrast to the external rational.

 

We must acquire the natural-rational ideas first. This comes from the regular study of the Writings as a scholarly activity. Note that the Writings include scientific and theological subjects. Both science and theology, when based on the Writings, serve to develop our external rational level of thinking and reasoning. With this level of thinking there is also an associated level of willing, for the two must always operate jointly to be anything. But the external rational level is not for salvation, but only a means to salvation. External rational truths are called “vessels” into which inflow the interior rational ideas when we are enlightened. These intellectual truths cannot inflow into our consciousness until we have undergone reformation in adult life (AE 803; AC 8780; AC 3518:[2]). Until then we remain natural, and our task is to build a solid foundation for our eventual interior rational illumination.

 

That it may be known how these things stand, something shall be said respecting order. The order is for the celestial to inflow into the spiritual and adapt it to itself; for the spiritual thus to inflow into the rational and adapt it to itself; and for the rational thus to inflow into the memory-knowledge and adapt it to itself. But when a man is being instructed in his earliest childhood, the order is indeed the same, but it appears otherwise, namely, that he advances from memory-knowledges to rational things, from these to spiritual things, and so at last to celestial things. The reason it so appears is that a way must thus be opened to celestial things, which are the inmost.

 

All instruction is simply an opening of the way; and as the way is opened, or what is the same, as the vessels are opened, there thus flow in, as before said, in their order, rational things that are from celestial spiritual things; into these flow the celestial spiritual things; and into these, celestial things. These celestial and spiritual things are continually presenting themselves, and are also preparing and forming for themselves the vessels which are being opened; which may also be seen from the fact that in themselves the memory-knowledge and rational are dead, and that it is from the inflowing interior life that they seem to be alive. This can become manifest to anyone from the thought, and the faculty of judgment. (AC 1495)

 

Here we see that only that is spiritual which flows in from heaven. Prior to our reformation it appears to us that we are acquiring spiritual truths when we are studying the Writings. But we are warned not to call these truths “wife” which refers to celestial truths. We must call them “sister” which refers to natural rational truths, not spiritual. Even the Lord had to discover this from interior warning because at first He thought that His study of the Old Testament as a Child was going to lead Him to spiritual truths. But He was instructed from Himself from within that this was not so, and that spiritual things are going to be revealed to Him from within. These spiritual truths could not be revealed to Him without first learning the literal of the Old Testament (AC 1495).

 

1. Acquiring Rational Truths From the Literal Language of the Writings

 

The New Church mind must likewise first acquire external rational truths from the literal of the Writings, realizing that these are not yet spiritual things. The genuine spiritual things will only be revealed later, after reformation in adult life. The basis for the arts and sciences is the influx of spiritual things into the natural concepts and techniques. But the scientists and artists are not conscious of this influx and do not even know of its existence. They just feel inspired and find inventive ideas in themselves. But scientists and artists who are undergoing regeneration experience the illumination from within into the their external ideas from the senses. (AC 1495)

 

The external rational manufactures things from the physical world as it is turned to it and fed by it through the senses of the body (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). If we take up concepts from revelation, examine them with our own intelligence to see if they be genuine truths, we will inevitably and ultimately conclude that they are not (AE 714[4]). ). For trusting self is opposite to trusting the Divine outside of the self. For instance, at the beginning of a new revelation charity is always first and faith second. In other words what makes the religion is charity in the form of faith and never faith as primary to charity. This means that salvation cannot be obtained by developing faith but only by developing charity. Faith cannot regenerate, but only charity does the regeneration through faith.

 

But in the course of time faith is made primary and charity secondary. This occurs when one’s own intelligence is consulted about whether or not the truths of revelation are genuine and to be believed.  This is the activity of our external rational from which we must desist. Instead, we must put on the affirmative for revelation in its literal sense, as it is given through a revelator. Only after the affirmative acceptance is one’s own intelligence to be consulted, not whether it is true, but how it is true. This is called confirming revelation with rational things and is an essential activity for the spiritual to be able to inflow within these rational things.

 

Some forms of nonduality in the New Church mind stem from the struggle to understand the meaning of unity within the Divine Human. How are we to understand the well known teaching that in the Lord infinite things are one distinctly? (DLW 17; DP 4, 223) How are we to understand that Love and Wisdom (or good and truth) are one in the Lord, proceed as one from the spiritual Sun, but are then separate in creation? How are we to understand that the Father and the Son are one? There is the impression one could form that nonduality exists in the Lord. But this notion is not consistent with the inherent dualities of the Writings. One can avoid nonduality by maintaining focus on the idea of “distinctly one” and not merely “oneness.” The unity of infinite things in the Lord is not an amalgam or potage nor an emptying of dualities. Each thing retains its distinctness in the unity and contributes to the perfection of unity by its unique and permanent quality (LJ 12). The idea of “oneness” is natural because it does not retain the duality of permanent distinctness and uniqueness. But the idea of an integrated unity composed of distinct elements is a spiritual idea.

 

The concept of infinity in the New Church mind is contrastive to the infinity of “emptiness” in Eastern religions and philosophies. It is also different from the infinity defined by scientists which is imagined to be a property of space or number. Among the many scientific revelations in the Writings is the truth that infinity cannot apply to space or number (AC 1382, TCR 27). The Lord’s infinity and omnipresence is not in physical space, but in the higher discrete degrees that are within physical space (TCR 31).

 

The New Church mind is surrounded by a context of nonduality in science and culture. The pressures of nonduality come from without and from within. The rational concepts we take up from the Writings are like seeds that grow into beautiful and useful gardens, unless neglected.

 

The human mind resembles the soil in which spiritual and natural truths are planted like seeds, and they can multiply without limit. (TCR 350)

 

Proper care of truths is essential for their growth given a psychological environment that is hostile to their development and maturation. Religious disciplines, discussed in Volume 3, afford proper maintenance of truths in our mind. Every truth is capable of being deepened to eternity (AC 5122, 5354). The deeper or more interior the level of understanding of a truth the more perfect is our understanding and the more the Lord can elevate our presence to Him. For closeness to the Lord comes only through truths by which we live:

 

The presence of the Lord is predicated according to the state of love toward the neighbor and of faith in which the man is. (AC 904)

 

Rational analysis of concepts is a useful tool for maintaining the care of truths that have been implanted in us. In the New Church mind the Lord implants truths solely through the Writings. Hence the importance of daily study.

 

Chapter 5, Section 4

 

4. Development From Sensuous Rational Consciousness

 

In the new dispensation of the Second Coming (the “Crown of Churches”), the idea of salvation by regeneration is far apart from nonduality—as far apart as there is distance between rational spirituality and corporeal spirituality, or between heaven and hell. When the corporeal self or consciousness looks upward, it sees nothing but darkness, despite the fact that the brilliant spiritual Sun is blazingly shining on it (TCR 691). But when the interior rational self or consciousness looks downward (or outward), it sees the sensual-corporeal self in bright light and magnified detail. The revelations of the Writings are like a bright sun that is illuminating sevenfold the reality to our rational understanding. All other writings, past, present, and future, cannot have this illumination, for what is in the Writings is the infinite Word or Divine Wisdom Itself. Such is the perspective given by the Writings on themselves in relation to all others:

 

A person who lifts up his mind towards God, and acknowledges that all the truth of wisdom comes from Him, and at the same time lives in accordance with order, resembles someone standing on a lofty tower watching a densely populated city below him and seeing what goes on in its streets. But a person who convinces himself that all the truth of wisdom comes from his own natural enlightenment, that is, from himself, resembles someone living in a cellar under that tower, watching the same city through narrow holes; he can see no more than the wall of one house in the city, and study how the bricks in it hold together.

 

Again, a person who draws wisdom from God is like a bird flying high, spying out everything in the gardens, woods and villages round about, and flying towards things that can be of service. But a person who derives what belongs to wisdom from himself, without believing that this still comes from God, is like a hornet flying close to the ground, and, when it sees a dunghill, flying up to it and taking pleasure in its stench. (TCR 69)

 

Corporeal spirituality in contemporary Western thinking is the persuasion that the physical body can serve to access absolute truth and divine consciousness. This notion is inherent in nonduality and automatically follows from the idea that there is only one real substance. According to this, consciousness does not need ultimates which are only illusions that vanish and disappear upon illumination. Nonduality cannot be otherwise since it lacks the revelations of the Second Coming which has brought to the human mind a new understanding of reality, namely, that the universe is constructed into discrete degrees that are both successive and simultaneous (DL 184). Nothing can vanish or disappear because successive discrete degrees are also in simultaneous discrete degrees, with the originating degree (called celestial) being in the inmost of the simultaneous degree. The causal degree (called spiritual) is in the middle of simultaneous degree, and the ultimate degree of effects (called natural) is in the outmost of simultaneous degree (DLW 212).

 

Clearly then nothing can vanish without destroying all and every degree must remain present forever. This is also the meaning of the principle that God rules all “from firsts to lasts” (DLW 304; TCR 63). The natural world thus has the spiritual world within it, and heaven within that. Heaven cannot survive without the natural world, which is why the human race is created on every planet in an ever expanding and never-ending physical world:

 

THE REPRODUCTION OF THE HUMAN RACE ON EARTH WILL NEVER CEASE

… the human race will continue in existence, and reproduction will not cease. (LJ 6)

 

In the New Church mind every central fiber of every concept taken in from nonduality runs in an opposing direction to this reality. The forms of discipline and initiation in corporeal spirituality show this. Westerners may benefit from vegetarianism, meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi, etc., as physical or natural (medical) practices, but not as spiritual or religious. These disciplines and practices within nonduality require that they be done as spiritual acts, which is why they are turned into corporeal spirituality when admitted into the New Church mind. Meditation as a spiritual practice based in nonduality is opposed to reflection or self-examination as spiritual practice based on the Writings. In Eastern systems of nonduality, meditation serves to gain divine consciousness and to achieve union with the divine. As Van Dusen puts it:

 

Going within means turning your attention inward and letting come what may, as in meditation. There is no tradition of danger in this realm from the twenty-six centuries in Hinduism and Buddhism. (…) Why are some Swedenborgians afraid to follow what Swedenborg and countless millions of others did? (…) [In meditation] the Lord is present and gently leads and instructs. (…) Focusing on God within is the primary way to God, enlightenment, or to regeneration the world over.”

(From an article titled “More on Looking Within” which appeared in the April 2002 issue of The Messenger (Swedenborgian Church of North America)

 

It is not accurate to describe Swedenborg’s spiritual experiences as meditation. Swedenborg refers to what he did as “It pleased the Lord to open my eyes so that I can converse with spirits” etc. (EU 1) By no means can this be equivalent to the meditation done by “countless millions” for the past twenty-six centuries. Meditation is a corporeal practice affording sensuous consciousness (see below) while Swedenborg’s enlightenment was in the realm of rational consciousness. There is no overlap between these two activities and one is as far above the other as rational consciousness (Second Coming) is above sensuous consciousness (First Coming) (see Note 11 at end). Swedenborg’s case is absolutely unique, never duplicated before and never to be duplicated again. The New Church mind is empowered with rational consciousness, but not with sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world as Swedenborg had, that he might author the Writings from direct experience. Meditation only affords corporeal sensuous consciousness, thus neither rational consciousness (which is obtainable only by studying the Writings), nor sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world such as Swedenborg had, which is not obtainable by anyone.

 

1. Rational Spirituality

 

In rational spirituality, reflection and self-examination are self-witnessing activities in the course of one’s daily performances in every small detail of choice and preference (see Note 20 at end). It is a monitoring activity of one’s motives and affections, one’s interpretations and meanings. Its purpose is to assess and evaluate one’s affections and thoughts, whether or not they are in conformity with the teachings of the Writings. Every thought and affection must originate either from heaven or from hell (TCR 115; AC 904). There is no in-between. If an affection or idea originates in hell, we are required to condemn it, and hold it in aversion. This lifelong process of choice and aversion is called regeneration. This is what can save the New Church person, not looking inward to reach cosmic consciousness. Growing closer to the Lord involves rejecting evil affections and persuasions in the course of one’s many daily acts, not the performing of physical rituals of meditation or purification.

 

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)

 

Corporeal spirituality is practiced by Christians today. These persuasions are identified in the Writings. One is the idea that the physical act of Baptism (“Holy Water”) or partaking of the Communion Bread and Wine (“Divine substances”) have and bestow spiritual power in and of themselves, rather than being a representative ceremony that rationally contains spiritual and sacred things. This corporeal idea of the Holy Supper instituted by the Lord is similar to the Hindu and Buddhist acts of spiritual “initiation” performed by Masters and “holy men.” This corporeal practice is also present among Orthodox Jews (as was the case with my mother and extended family members), who believe in the healing power of some rabbis on account of their holiness or personal merit with God. Much TV evangelism attracts Christians who want demonstrations of spiritual holiness in the form of healing, miracles, intercessionary prayer, and the excitement of mystery and mass hysteria.

 

The mystical secrets which many diviners have in vain busied themselves to trace in the Word, lie hidden solely in its spiritual sense. (AC 9280)

 

The Writings reveal that this type of interest as faith is not genuine and the Lord is not in it despite the claims or expectations. It is injurious to one’s spiritual regeneration to demand sensuous proof of God’s power . The Lord does not allow miracles because they compel faith and close down our rational (AC 7290). The rational is the beginning of the genuine human and the spirituality of the corporeal is ruled by dragons and those who turn themselves into demy-gods (AR 550). It is not a good leadership to follow! Rational consciousness is the way to go. This is what the New Church mind is filled with from the Writings. The proof of faith must be in our understanding, not sensuous apprehension. Our absolute confidence is in it, not from persuasion, not from authority or education, but from life. It is in this life of good that the Lord enters and gives us peace, assuredness, goodness of character, and profundity of vision in every intellectual issue.

 

The Writings discuss another corporeal idea among Christians. This is the very common persuasion that prayer is more “effective” when we add phrases such as “in the name of Jesus” or “in Christ’s name we ask” etc. “Such a prayer has in it nothing of life from truth and good” (AE 805). It is similar with Bible-based tele-evangelists today who claim to perform miracles and cast out devils by the power of an invocation (e.g., “Get thee behind me Satan” or “By the power of Jesus” etc., and also by the power of laying on of hands attributed to some individuals (“It is a special gift of God”). These are corporeal ideas and practices because they attribute spiritual holiness and power to sensuous rituals and objects. This reduces the spiritual to that which is material, a form of nonduality. It’s a point of view that is opposed to rational spirituality since corporeal spirituality looks downward to the body and nature, while rational spirituality looks upward to heaven. Rational spirituality sees that God cannot transfer His indivisible omnipotent power to anyone:

 

That the Divine power is infinite, or that it is omnipotence, is there clearly evident from the fact that neither the angels of heaven nor the devils of hell have any power whatever from themselves. If they had any at all heaven would fall to pieces, hell would become a chaos, and with these every man would perish. (AE 1133)

 

Jews and Christians are waiting for the Messiah to come in one case, and to come back, in the other case. But in the New Church mind there is no waiting for the Messiah because the Lord has made His promised Second Coming in the eighteenth century (TCR 772). The Second Coming was to be made in Spirit and Truth, as promised in the New Testament (John 4:23). It was to be a prelude to the Kingdom of Heaven, of which the Lord that is within us (Luke 17:21). Clearly then the Second Coming was to be effected in the mind, where alone Spirit exists. The spiritual world of heaven and hell are in the mind and nowhere else. Hence the Lord’s Second Coming refers to two sets of events that were to happen, one in the spiritual world and the other here on earth.

 

The events in the spiritual world are described by the Lord in the Gospels (Matt 24) and by John in Revelations (see all of AR). The events in the natural world are the giving of a new Word for the New Church in the form of the Writings. Therefore when Swedenborg had completed the last Work of the Writings in 1770 titled The True Christian Religion, the following remarkable event happened:

 

NOTE

After the completion of this book, the Lord called together His twelve disciples, who had followed Him in the world; and a day later He sent them all forth throughout the spiritual world to preach the Gospel, that the Lord God Jesus Christ is king, and His kingdom shall be for ever and ever, as foretold by Daniel (7:13, 14) and in Revelation (11:15):

 

Blessed are they who come to the wedding supper of the Lamb Rev. 19:9.

 

This happened on the nineteenth of June in the year 1770. This was meant by the Lord's saying:

 

He will send his angels, and they will gather together His chosen people from the bounds of the heavens on one side as far as the bounds of the heavens on the other. Matt. 24:31. (TCR 791)

 

I was forty-five years old when I first read this passage. How astounding and exhilarating it was to read this. I ran to where my wife was and read it to her. How astounded we both were could hardly be described. A deep joy entered our internal mind and rested there ever since, as a kind of foretaste of the real peace we hope to have in heaven.

 

No one can see the truth of the Second Coming whose mind is not in a state of rational consciousness, as we are prior to our reformation. Natural and rational consciousness are in discrete degrees from each other:

 

 

Man's thought is the receptacle of truth, and his will the receptacle of good; and reception is not possible unless man is conscious of it. (AE 802)

 

Facts which come from sensory evidence enter a person's consciousness or perception during his earthly life, for they are the basis of his thinking. (AC 991)

 

Temptations are conflicts with evils and falsities. When a person is victorious in them he is strengthened, for he fights from truths and for truths against falsity and evil. The person is not at the time directly conscious of fighting from truths and for truths because the truths are present on the inner levels of his mind and therefore do not plainly enter his consciousness, which belongs to the outer levels. (AC 8924:2)

 

Conscience, in its essence, is a consciousness of what is true and right, nos. 986, 8081. (NJHD 139)

 

There is with those who are being led by the Lord a certain inward sight or consciousness in regard to things that are to be done, especially in the act of doing them. This sight is so clear to those who are led by the Lord, that they do not do any least thing unless it is either by the Lord's good pleasure, or by His consent, or by His permission. These are distinct from each other, and the person is also given to see them distinctly, but this fact cannot be understood by anyone except by such a one. (SE 891)

 

What is put in front of us commands our consciousness, so when kept in the same idea, or confronted with the same object, all related thoughts cannot but come forward. (SE 1132)

 

People cannot help thinking that they are aware of their own thoughts, because our inward organs are joined with the outward ones so as to give that effect. In fact, they are joined through continuous connections. Nevertheless, they have a thinking still more subtle than they are normally aware of, and in fact, when one is an inward person, one knows there is something deeper, but knows no more than that.

 

However, there are inwardly very many things that are understood by angels. But this thinking cannot be described easily, and I would assert that it hardly exists except in those who are led by the Lord. From it, they also know and understand within themselves what must be done, such a sense being given in many matters in different ways. They know at the time that the Lord is doing this. (SE 1307)

 

Our interior sight, which we think so subtle, is yet so gross, that, as I have often said to spirits, who imagined themselves capable of thinking so acutely as to baffle all attempts to apprehend their thoughts, if they should see what was comprised in a single idea - if its interior could be fully laid open - they would perceive whole cohorts of elephants, and armies, and regiments of serpents, representatively exhibited. This, however, the spirits cannot believe, as they, like many persons on the earth, regard their most acute perceptions as having relation to the most minute things [instead of objects so large]. - 1748, March 23. (SE 1641)

 

Prior to reformation we know nothing about an interior mind from which we act but are not conscious of. This interior mind is the interior rational level of thinking, also called the rational-spiritual level. When we are still in the unregenerate state the only consciousness we have is that of the natural or sensuous. Though we hear of God, sin, and salvation, we only understand these concepts sensuously or naturally (for examples, see Chapter 5 Section 1).

 

2. To Love God We Must Understand Him Rationally

 

Prior to the day I found the Writings in our university library I was a Christian waiting for the Lord’s return and the end of this world. I was then in a state of sensuous consciousness regarding spiritual things. I did not see that the Jewish Church I was born into and the Christian Church I adopted in adulthood were in a discrete state of duality in relation to each other. In my mind the two religions seemed like a nonduality. I used to think: Jesus is the King of the Jews. He was circumcised like me. He brought Jehovah to the Gentiles, turning them into Jews. Unfortunately the Jews themselves missed the Divine boat and still do not believe. So the Christians are the inheritors of the religion of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob while the former Jews have been disinherited. Thus the Jewish religion continues with the Christians, with new religious rituals since animal sacrifices are barbaric in a gentler world. This was the sum total of my point of view until finding and reading the Writings. I was also inwardly proud that I was born a Jew, and that I was smart enough to be able to accept the winning side between the old Jews and the new Jews who call themselves Christians.

 

From hindsight I see how utterly unable I was to conceive of a discrete duality between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The two religions had in fact no overlap. Not one idea from the Christian mind could be transferred to the Jewish mind. My mind had to completely exit from the Old Testament perspective before I could be in the New Testament perspective. I was not aware of this because my understanding and awareness of what is spiritual remained, for awhile, at the level of sensuous consciousness. But in the meantime, to the extent that I was worshipping the Lord in full sincerity of heart, to that extent the Lord was opening my rational-spiritual mind as I was studying the New Testament. Purely spiritual concepts were being created in my mind that was above my clear awareness. For instance in my sensual idea of the Messiah as God’s chosen human to be our intermediary, the Lord introduced from within the rational idea of the Divine Messiah by such statements as “I and the Father are one” or “If you’ve seen Me you’ve seen the Father” or  “All power has been given unto Me” etc. I was not conscious of this opening of my rational-spiritual mind.

 

I became aware of my rational consciousness only when I started reading the Writings and found to my amazement that I agreed with everything. I could not come across a single sentence that I could not simply agree with. This was a unique and first time experience for me. And my awareness of rational consciousness became even more visible to me when I tried to tell others about the Great News of Swedenborg’s Writings. I received nothing but ridicule and denigration that can be summed up in one sentence: How can you be so naïve as to believe whatever this man said centuries ago! It was useless to explain and re-explain with great enthusiasm. I was running up against an intellectual wall of stone that would not budge even slightly. It was then that I became fully aware of the difference between sensual consciousness and rational consciousness.

 

Sensuous consciousness is perceiving naturally while rational consciousness is perceiving spiritually (HH 464[2] ). Jews cannot see anything spiritual in the New Testament, seeing the whole thing as a historical plot that has become a modern delusion. Christians take up spiritual ideas from the New Testament but only in obscure light that they call “mystery.” The New Church mind takes up spiritual ideas from the Writings in clear light. This clear spiritual light is the light of rational consciousness. God is inherently rational and creates all things by means of truth. Every physical object is constructed within from the spiritual substance of truth externalizing by degrees outward to form that unique object. Every motion, every order, every principle or law, is constructed out of the rational and has the rational in it.

 

To love God we must understand Him, and this means rationally understand. No one can love something that is not understood (TCR 7). Hence to love God, to know Him, is to understand and acquire rational concepts in the mind. Into these rational concepts or spiritual truths, God inflows with His Spirit of Love and Truth. Thereby we are conjoined to Him and can receive his greatest blessings: eternal joy in conjugial love in heaven. All those who can receive this must have rational concepts into which they can be received. This is why it is said the human begins with the rational (AR 936).

 

The human commences in the inmost of the rational, AC n. 2106 (AC 2666)

 

There may be individuals born into the New Church who have not studied the Writings in a scholarly and intense degree but are relying for their salvation on social membership and worship rituals. They remain in sensuous consciousness in which state they cannot see from themselves that the Writings are the Divine Word. Every New Church mind has to go through a series of developmental steps in attaining rational consciousness. This can be achieved only to the extent that one can take up interior rational truths from the Writings. And this capacity is proportional to the progress of one’s regeneration. This refers to the extent to which we are willing to re-align our daily thoughts and intentions to conform to the our growing understanding of the Writings.

 

Why does the Lord in His Second Advent appear only in our mind? Why couldn’t He also come to us in Person, in the sky as we look up, just as He promised?

 

Where the Lord speaks in the presence of His disciples about the ending of the age, meaning the last stage of the church, He says towards the end of the predictions of its successive changes of state:

 

Immediately after the affliction of those days the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then will the sign of the Son of Man appear in the sky, and all the tribes of the earth will wail; and they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send forth angels with a loud blast of the trumpet, and they will gather His chosen from the four winds from one end of the heavens to the other. Matt. 24:29-31. (TCR 198)

 

To sensuous consciousness the literal meaning of this promise stands in the forefront of the natural mind and one is unable to shake it off. To rational consciousness the wording of this promise stands transparent, revealing its spiritual meaning.

 

In the spiritual sense this does not mean that the sun and the moon will be darkened, stars will fall from the sky, and the Lord's sign will appear in the skies, and that they will see Him in the clouds accompanied by angels with trumpets. All the expressions here have spiritual meanings referring to the church; and they describe its state at its end. In the spiritual sense the sun, which will be darkened, means love to the Lord. The moon, which will not give its light, means faith in Him.

 

The stars which will fall from the sky, mean items of knowledge concerning truth and good. The sign of the Son of Man in the sky means the Divine truth given by Him in the Word being made visible. The tribes of the earth, who will wail, means the failure of all truth to do with faith and of all good to do with love. The coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven with power and glory means the Lord's presence and His revelation in the Word. The clouds of heaven mean the literal sense of the Word, the glory the spiritual sense of the Word. The angels with the loud blast of the trumpet mean heaven from which Divine truth comes. Gathering the chosen from the four winds from one end of the heavens to the other means the new heaven and the new church, composed of those who have faith in the Lord and live in accordance with His commandments. (TCR 198)

 

Only those can have rational consciousness and see the interior spiritual meaning of revelation who read the Writings as the Lord in His Word for the New Church mind. And this only to the extent that they are also willing to change their daily thoughts and intentions to be in alignment with one’s growing understanding of these truths. The mind from rational consciousness can clearly see why the Lord could not also come in the natural sky. First, this would block all development of rational consciousness and force people into a persuasive Christian faith from which they could not recover. Thus would their salvation fail. Sensuous consciousness facing the new spiritual ideas brought by the Lord would trap them in the corporeal mind from which they cannot rise. Those who come into the afterlife in such a mental state are unable to acquire rational spiritual concepts and therewith enter heaven (AC 5128). Heaven is a rational idea available only to rational consciousness such as the angels are in. This is the basic message of the new truths the Lord brings to our mind in the Second Coming.

 

So the Lord could not come to us in Person in the physical sky without robbing our salvation, which He could not do. Therefore He could only come in the rational mind to our rational consciousness of Him. This is what He meant when He declared to His disciples that He must depart from our sensuous consciousness in the world so that He can then come in our rational consciousness as the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 16:12). The disciples wanted to hold on to His Body. This is what was real to their consciousness. But the Lord could not agree to that for it would have meant robbing them of rational consciousness, that is, from life in heaven.

 

3. The Rational Is The Entry Point To The Spiritual

 

The natural mind does not see that the rational is the entry point to the spiritual. Because from the natural mind we can only see as far as the external rational concepts we have built up through intelligence, knowledge, and experience. But the highest possible level of thinking the external rational can attain is a discrete level below the interior rational which is called the spiritual rational (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). To know and understand the Lord we must ascend by correspondence to the spiritual-rational degree through the rational concepts we procure for ourselves from the Writings and apply them to our daily willing and thinking. That level of thinking or understanding is called rational consciousness. This phrase that does not occur in the Writings but it is a useful way of discussing what the Writings explain about truths as being in a successive sequence of discrete degrees corresponding to the three heavenly degrees (DLW 67). Celestial truths are at the inmost of spiritual truths and the two together are within external rational truths. These are then discrete degrees of consciousness for the rational mind since our level of thinking is determined by the level of influx into our mind. This in turn is determined by our progress in reformation and regeneration.

 

The more interior, or higher, the truths we understand and live as our daily willing and thinking, the higher is our rational consciousness. The higher this is the closer we are to the Lord because all truths come from Him and the truths nearer Him give us a closer understanding of Him, hence a closer presence with Him in proportion to our daily willing and thinking in accordance with our understanding. To understand the Lord our concepts must be rational since all concepts about Him that are from Him are rational. The Divine Human’s Rational is within the Divine Human’s Natural, as the spiritual-rational is within the natural in us (AC 3508). What is in the Divine Natural is only spiritual and celestial, while we are mixed and impure in our fallen natural.

 

You can now see why it is said that the spiritual is another way of saying the rational, meaning, the interior rational. Therefore also why the human in us only starts with the rational level. There is an external rational in the highest portion of the natural mind and there is an interior rational in the spiritual mind (AC 978, 4286; AE 355:14). These two types of rational are in discrete degrees. In the natural mind only the external rational is above the animal level. Everything below that in the natural mind is animal, which is made of the sensuous and corporeal.

 

This is the reason animals cannot be saved for eternal life (CL 96). The Lord did not create a plane in their natural mind for containing rational truths. This is also why they cannot acquire human language since this has a rational syntax that humans can acquire at the level of thinking called the external rational. Without this organ thinking rational truths is not possible. Eternal life in heaven exists within us within the rational ideas, not below that level of mind. The rational is the entrance point to heaven. Animals appear in heaven to angels and they are real appearances that can be touched, held, and heard. But they are created instantaneously in correspondence to the affections of the angels. As the angels proceed to other affections, the animals no longer appear.

 

4. The Spiritual Power Of Rational Concepts

 

You can see the spiritual power of rational concepts or spiritual truths. When the affections (or loves) of angels are activated, they are conscious in their understanding of the outer form of these affections. These outer forms are called truths. The affections from within, and their truths from without, conjoin into a marriage of good and truth which produces the incomparable and magnificent sensuous environment in heaven. Angels have the power to create any environment through this internal marriage within their mind. They do not call this their own power, but the Lord’s power operating within their rational truths.

 

Nonduality is opposed to duality, and since duality is part of the rational-spiritual, no concept from nonduality can rise in the New Church mind to its rational or spiritual level. This applies to the New Church mind that is composed of only concepts of dualism from the Writings. The Writings gives us only dualist concepts. It is clear then that nonduality would act in the New Church mind like extra heavy ballast inside a balloon cage—it will never rise, or if it’s already afloat, the weight will pull it downward until it hits bottom. The bottom of the mind is corporeal consciousness. Duality on the other hand has rational buoyancy and elevates consciousness by successive discrete degrees all the way to the highest point called celestial-rational consciousness. This is the understanding and power of angels.

 

Concepts of duality reveal the Lord while nonduality clouds the vision. Duality sharpens distinctions and reveals how infinite distinct things make one perfection in the Lord. Sensuous consciousness is dark or empty with respect to rationality. Rational consciousness is the light the Lord talks about in so many places (Luke 11:33-34, DP 166). The only source for this light is the Heavenly Doctrine given to humankind as the Writings of Swedenborg.

 

Even those who acclaim the Writings as Divine revelation can falter in their ideas when relying on sensuous consciousness for access to the Lord. An example is the case of Warren Felt Evans, a well known and influential Swedenborgian (1817-1889). According to a review by Jim Lawrence in The Messenger (June 2002), Evans defined for himself a new relationship with God that is based on sensuous consciousness rather than the dualities in Writings. He accepted these dualities but not, it seems, at an interior rational level. This he reserved for sensuous consciousness, as shown by his journal entries of how he attained “mystical” union with God. Evans wrote:

 

At times my soul has had a clearer sense of the Allness of God than I ever before experienced. One night on my bed my soul lost itself in the All. It seemed to me that there was nothing but God; that he was the life, the support, the substance of everything which exists … This inward consciousness of God, this living and moving in the Divine element had made all times and places alike.

(…)

I have recently enjoyed a deeper consciousness of the love of God … then I ever before reached. … My growth in the spiritual life has gone forward by new manifestations of God to my consciousness. … Long have I found God so near to me that I could not move without moving in Him. I am floating in the depths of the ocean of the Infinite Life…

(Jim Lawrence, “Warren Felt Evans and His Swedenborgian Healing Practice” The Messenger June 2002 page 91)

 

Note that the New Church mind based solely on the Writings could be not be looking for sensuous contact with the Lord. Getting closer and closer to the Lord is a gradual process of acquiring more and more interior truths from the Writings, and daily willing and thinking in accordance with them. There is no contact with the Lord apart from these interior-rational truths (AC 10199[8]). Evans went on to develop a healing science similar to Christian Science, animal magnetism, and other forms of new age spirituality, which is discussed in Chapter 3, Section 5. This only proves my point, that sensuous consciousness leads away from the spiritual when it is made to lead rather than obey the rational.

 

Heaven’s sensuous exterior is produced by interior-rational truths in the understanding of angels. One cannot attain heaven by entering from without, as if it were a natural place. The New Church mind can enter heaven only through the interior-rational truths from the Writings. Once we have these, then we can experience the sensuous closeness to the Lord of being near the spiritual Sun. This is conjunction with the Lord, not through our experience, but through the interior-truths in our understanding. The New Church mind obtains these interior truths by studying the Writings, taking up rational dualities as Doctrine of Life, and willing and thinking accordingly.

 

The only protection for the New Church mind against fallacies based on sensuous consciousness is the commandment that we all our Doctrine must be confirmed by the Writings (TCR 225). We cannot go off on our own and rely on exploration and experiencing. The Lord forbids us to do this because it leads to confirmation of self-intelligence as against the Lord, and this is perdition (AC 8869, 8941). Every single belief or attitude in the New Church mind must be confirmed by the literal of the Writings. As in the case above with Evans: his mind was filled with the idea that what he was experiencing sensuously in experience was contact with God, and so he made a doctrine of it, that led to him to further beliefs about healing power and spirituality. None of this can be confirmed by the literal of the Writings. Hence it is not from the Writings, and therefore it has no place in the New Church mind.

 

Chapter 5, Section 5

 

5. The New Church Mind And Other Religions

 

Deconstructing the connection between the Writings and all other sources is a useful intellectual exercise for strengthening the New Church mind. It guards against building bridges to other systems on the basis of superficial impressions of similarity. The desire to evangelize or share the Writings does not require the commingling of ideas. The desire for pluralism and tolerance of diversity does not require that one accommodate to the spiritual principles of others. It is not uncharitable to identify for oneself where precisely lies some incompatible idea in relation to the Writings. Ideas of religion and belief that are harmful to the New Church mind may not be harmful to others. This is not a judgment we need to make, or want to. The Writings explain that nondualities of religion that are not confirmed by an evil life do not condemn, and that people who hold them in this life can be instructed in the truths of the Writings in the afterlife:

 

Evils, which are of the will, are what condemn man and thrust him down to hell, and not so much falsities, unless they become conjoined with evils, for then the one follows the other. The truth of this statement may be seen from the case of very many of those who are in falsities, and are yet saved, which is the case with many among the Gentiles, who have lived in natural charity and in mercy, and with Christians who have believed in simplicity of heart. Their ignorance and simplicity excuse them, because in these there can be innocence. But it is otherwise with those who have confirmed themselves in falsities, and have thus contracted such a life of falsity that they refuse and reject all truth; for this life of falsity must be vastated before anything of truth and thus of good can be inseminated. It is, however, still worse with those who have confirmed themselves in falsities under the influence of their cupidities, so that the falsities and the cupidities have come to constitute one life; for these are they who plunge themselves into hell. (AC 845)

 

In like manner by this "multitude" are signified they who are of the church, but not within it, as is the case with the Gentiles who live together in obedience and mutual charity and have not genuine truths, because they have not the Word. (AC 7975)

 

Note in the above passage that the Lord considers people of all religions as being “of the Church” but only those who have the Writings can conform to the New Church mind. When believers of all religions arrive in the afterlife they are instructed in genuine spiritual truths about the Lord, heaven, and hell. The angels and angelic spirits instruct every new arrival regarding the spiritual truths of the Divine Human, which means, the spiritual truths the Lord has revealed about Himself in the Writings. When Swedenborg published the last book of the Writings in 1771 called The True Christian Religion (TCR), the Lord gathered together the twelve disciples that had followed Him in His First Coming (TCR 791). He then sent them out to the far reaches of the spiritual world, with a copy of True Christian Religion in their hand, and they went forth to preach the New Word of the Second Coming. In this way, the entire spiritual world was instructed regarding the new revelations of the Divine Human. Thus are also instructed all those who arrive in the spiritual world today.

 

1. No Continuity Between Truths And Falsities

 

The New Church mind needs to consciously figure out why the ideas from the Writings are incompatible with the ideas of nonduality, whether in Hindu, Buddhist, or Western contexts. The Writings assert that here is no continuity between truths and falsities (AC 9128[2]). There are no half-truths. When we encounter the idea of “God” or “enlightenment” in nonduality we need to see that these words are not used in the way they are in the Writings. The old Christian Church is obviously closer to the New Church than Hinduism, and yet the Writings tell us that the Old Christian Church and the New Church are discretely apart. The doctrines of the Old Christian Church, started by the Lord at His First Coming, cannot be imported into the revelations of the Lord at His Second Coming. The New Church ideas of Trinity, sin, forgiveness, regeneration, heaven, hell, and so on, are not accepted by the Old Christian doctrines (AE 805, NJHD 172, AC 3398). This rejection is provided by the Lord for their protection so that the new revelations would not be profaned by them.(see also AR 839, 618).

 

Salvation is not effected by looking to the Father, that is, by praying to Him that He may have mercy for the sake of the Son; for the Lord says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no one cometh to the Father, but by Me" (John xiv. 6) … (NJHD 310)

 

And yet all those who lead a life of conscience and do not confirm in themselves the falsities of doctrine, can be instructed in the afterlife and saved (AC 716, 2490, 2600, 2759; HH 2, 321; SE 3537).

 

It is the same with the nonduality of Eastern religions. While nonduality induces in the New Church mind a resistance to regeneration, this may not be the case for others. Nonduality may not be hurtful to their salvation as it is to ours. We can profane things that they cannot since they are not willing to acknowledge the dualism of the Writings that we acknowledge. We can certainly assume that the Lord allowed the development of nonduality among the Gentiles of Asiatic peoples because first, it does not harm them, and second, it may help them (CL 340). But these same ideas can be harmful to the New Church if incorporated and made to fit with the dualism of the Writings. It might be a good intellectual exercise for every New Church person to go through the process of proving from the Writings that not a single nondualist concept can exist in the Writings. This will be discussed further in the subsequent sections.

 

One example discussed in the Writings is the identity of Personhood between Jehovah and Jesus, this being the cornerstone of the New Church (AR 915[5]). While the Old Christian idea is “Two Divine Persons From Eternity in One Godhead,” the New Church idea is “One Divine Person From Eternity in Two Aspects”—one aspect being Father/Essence/Love and the second: Son/Existere/Truth. This oneness between Father and Son is not a nonduality but a unity of two distinct and permanent aspects belonging to the one and only Lord, eternally the same. The dividing of the Lord into two Persons is not from the Word but from the council of bishops, and taught to every generation since by Church doctrine.

 

Chapter 5, Section 6

 

6. The Nonduality Of Persuasive Faith

 

In our natural mind we can think of faith at two levels: the external rational level (upper portions) or the sensuous-corporeal level (lowest portions) (AC 6310). The ideas we have about faith at the lowest level is called “persuasive faith.” This level of thinking about faith extinguishes true faith and salvation which depend on free choices from one’s understanding. Persuasive faith takes away this internal freedom:

 

AC 2682  Persuasive light ... is of such a nature as to illuminate falsities equally as well as truths, and to induce a belief in falsity by means of truths, and a belief in truth by means of falsities, and at the same time trust in themselves.

 

AC 9368 They who are in Persuasive Faith abandon faith, if they are deprived of honors and gains, provided their reputation is not endangered; for Persuasive Faith is not within the man, but stands outside, in the memory only, out of which it is drawn while it is being taught. And therefore after death this faith vanishes, together with its truths; for then only that much of faith remains which is within the man; that is, which has been rooted in good; thus has been made of the life.

 

AE 548  By the power of hurting like scorpions is signified the persuasive [power], which is of such a nature, as to take away from the understanding the light of truth, and bring on infernal darkness.

 

AE 579  With those who conjoin the truths of the Word to the affection of the love of self, the natural mind also is closed, and only the ultimate of this mind is opened, which is called the sensual, which clings most closely to the body, and stands forth nearest to the world. Thus does man's spirit become corporeal, and then it can have no lot with the angels, who are spiritual.

 

AC 305  To be "cast out of the garden of Eden" is to be deprived of all intelligence and wisdom; and to "till the ground from which he was taken" is to become corporeal, as he was previous to regeneration.

 

AR 462  Those who have confirmed with themselves untruths of religion derived from self-intelligence … do not admit them more closely into their thought than to mere contact, and then out of an interior recess of their mind they emit as it were a fire that consumes them, the other knowing nothing of this except by the indications of the facial expression and tone in reply, if the enchanter does not control that fire, that is, the wrath of his pride, by simulation. This enchantment is practiced at the present day to prevent truths' being accepted, and, with many, to prevent their being understood.

 

TCR 759  Falsity cannot see truth, but truth can see falsity; and everyone is so made that he can see and grasp truth on hearing it. But if he has convinced himself of false doctrines, he cannot bring truth into his understanding so as to lodge there, since it finds no room; and if by chance it does get in, the crowd of falsities gathered together there throw it out as not belonging.

 

AE 1114  The worldly and corporeal man does not see God except from space, thus as the whole inmost in the universe or in nature, consequently as extended. But God must not be regarded from space, for in the spiritual world there is no space; space there is an appearance from something like it.

 

In the New Church mind nonduality in any form acts as persuasive faith because it springs from sensuous consciousness, not from rational consciousness, and only rational faith can be true and saving for the New Church mind. Therefore admitting into ourselves concepts from nonduality corrupts the rationality of the Writings in our mind. It may be argued that there can be no harm in merely reading the literature and pointing to “similarities” between Swedenborg and this or that author, or between ideas from the Writings and this or that philosophy or religion. But it is taught that there cannot be a similarity in generals when there are no similarities in specifics since the specifics (or particulars) make up and constitute the generals (AC 4345). If such similarities are perceived, they are not real but superficial due to the common use of certain words in the language.

 

1. Two Types Of Falsities

 

There are two types of falsities or apparent truths—those that have genuine truths hidden within and those that do not (AC 845; SS 95). What kind are we dealing with in regard to concepts based in nonduality? Nonduality is opposed to the dualities of the Writings in a general way, as shown above, and therefore they must be opposed also in all their specific ways. Therefore it is not possible for any concept from nonduality to be actually similar or compatible with any concept from the Writings.

 

And if they are singly incompatible, they are opposed. Holding opposing concepts in one’s mind inevitably results in the destruction of truth and order. Clearly then, nondualist concepts tend to become impediments to one’s continued regeneration. This is a very serious matter about which we ought to be very prudent. Here are clear teachings from the Writings regarding the impediments to regeneration that we must avoid:

 

NJHD 21  Care ought to be taken lest falsities of religion be confirmed; because there arises thence a persuasion of the false, which remains with man after death, nos. 845, 8780. How pernicious the persuasion of the false is, nos. 794, 806, 5096, 7686.

 

AC 794  Falsities are principles and persuasions of what is false. (…) Persuasions immensely increase when men mingle truths with cupidities, or make them favor the loves of self and of the world; for then in a thousand ways they pervert them and force them into agreement. For who that has imbibed or framed for himself a false principle does not confirm it by much that he has learned; and even from the Word? Is there any heresy that does not thus lay hold of things to confirm it? and even force, and in diverse ways explain and distort, things that are not in agreement, so that they may not disagree? 

(…)

 

AC 806  A persuasion of falsity extinguishes and as it were suffocates everything spiritual and celestial; as everyone may know from much experience, if he pays attention. They who have once conceived opinions, though most false, cling to them so obstinately that they are not even willing to hear anything that is contrary to them; so that they never suffer themselves to be informed, even if the truth be placed before their eyes. Still more is this the case when they worship the false opinion from a notion of its sanctity. Such are they who spurn every truth, and that which they admit they pervert, and thus immerse in fantasies.

 

AC 794  Nothing therefore is of more importance to a man than to know what is true. When he knows what is true, and knows it so well that it cannot be perverted, then it cannot be so much immersed in cupidities and have such deadly effect. What should a man have more at heart than his life to eternity? If in the life of the body he destroys his soul, does he not destroy it to eternity?

 

AC 5096  They who have confirmed themselves in falsity are no longer in any freedom to choose and receive truth; and they who have much confirmed themselves therein are not even in freedom to see truth, still less to acknowledge and believe it; for they are in the persuasion that falsity is truth, and truth falsity. This persuasion is such that it takes away all freedom to think anything else, and consequently holds the very thought in bonds and as it were in prison. This has become evident to me from much experience with those in the other life who have been in persuasion of falsity through confirmations in themselves.

 

How are we to know if we hear of a new concept whether it is compatible to the New Church mind? This is discussed below.

 

Chapter 5, Section 7

 

7. The Doctrine Of Discrete Degrees

 

One who knows nothing about discrete degrees, that is, degrees of height, can know nothing about the state of man as regards his reformation and regeneration, which are effected through the reception of love and wisdom of the Lord, and then through the opening of the interior degrees of his mind in their order. Nor can he know anything about influx from the Lord through the heavens nor anything about the order into which he was created. For if anyone thinks about these, not from discrete degrees or degrees of height but from continuous degrees or degrees of breadth, he is not able to perceive anything about them from causes, but only from effects; and to see from effects only is to see from fallacies, from which come errors, one after another; and these may be so multiplied by inductions that at length enormous falsities are called truths. (DLW 187)

 

The Doctrine of Degrees is the fundamental scientific explanation of how things are created in the universe. Every thing that comes into existence is formed by a prior thing. This formation process is accomplished by the mechanism of successive discrete degrees:

 

In a word, they are degrees of the formation of one thing from another; thus they are the degrees from first or highest to last or lowest, where formation subsists. Therefore things prior and posterior, also things higher and lower, are such degrees. All creation was effected through such degrees, and all production is by means of them, and likewise all composition in the nature that belongs to this world; for in analyzing anything that is composite you will see that one thing therein is from another, even to the very last, which is the general of them all. (D. Love 11)

 

The form of reality and how it is maintained in order by God cannot be understood in a rational way without making conceptual use of the Doctrine of Degrees (DLW 184-187). This is a scientific explanation of the structure or form of reality, of creation, and its Divine management. This doctrine is a revelation of the Second Coming in the Writings of Swedenborg. Nothing about the natural and spiritual worlds can be understood without a knowledge of the doctrine of discrete degrees:

 

A knowledge of degrees is like a key for opening the causes of things, and for entering into them. Without that knowledge, scarcely anything of cause can be known. For without it, the objects and subjects of both worlds appear so simple as though there were nothing in them beyond that which meets the eye, when yet the things that appear are as one to thousands, indeed, to myriads, compared with the things which lie hidden within. The interiors which do not lie open can by no means be disclosed except by a knowledge of degrees. (DLW 184)

 

The doctrine of successive and simultaneous degrees is not found anywhere in the known intellectual history of humankind (DLW 201). This knowledge could not have been understood by the human mind before it was revealed in the Writings. Nonduality is unaware of it in both Eastern and Western versions today. The Doctrine of Degrees gives a fully rational accounting of dualism, from which one can see and prove in what specific ways nonduality is opposed in a fundamental way to the truths of the Heavenly Doctrines.

 

The declarations of angels on this subject are as follows: There is nothing so infinitesimal, they say, as not to have in it degrees of both kinds. Not the least constituent in any animal, for example, not the least constituent in any plant, nor the least constituent in any mineral, and not the least constituent in the ether and air. Moreover, because the ether and air are vehicles of heat and light, there is not the least constituent of these that does not have in it degrees of both kinds; and because spiritual heat and spiritual light are vehicles of love and wisdom, there is not the least constituent of these either that does not have in it both such degrees.

 

[2] I have it from the declarations of angels also that the least element of affection, and the least element of thought-indeed, the least element of any idea in the thought-consists of degrees of both kinds, and that any least element which does not consist of these does not actually exist. For it has no form, thus no quality, neither any state which can be changed and varied and so come into being. (AC 223)

 

The Doctrine of Degrees teaches the idea that each item (or thing) that comes into existence is the effect of a prior cause acting on it through the laws of correspondence. This is called successive degrees. No one before Swedenborg has known that the “great chain of being” consists of continuous and discrete degrees (D. Love 11). Philosophers and scientists were able to think only of continuous degrees. Even in theology, the notion of a spiritual substance was thought of as similar to matter, as we can see from how hell and purgatory was portrayed by painters, poets, writers, and story tellers of the past and those in the movies and novels of the present. The existence of discrete degrees is still not recognized in science today, which remains opposed to dualism. Science remains stubbornly entrapped in materialistic monism despite the revelations in the Writings. The idea of discrete degrees is a new scientific and philosophical revelation and to understand it rationally, requires knowing about correspondences and taking them as real.

 

Only he who knows how degrees are related to Divine order can comprehend how the heavens are distinct, or even what is meant by the internal and the external man. Most men in the world have no other idea of what is interior and what is exterior, or of what is higher and what is lower, than as something continuous, or coherent by continuity, from purer to grosser. But the relation of what is interior to what is exterior is discrete, not continuous. Degrees are of two kinds, those that are continuous and those that are not. Continuous degrees are related like the degrees of the waning of a light from its bright blaze to darkness, or like the degrees of the decrease of vision from objects in the light to those in the shade, or like degrees of purity in the atmosphere from bottom to top. These degrees are determined by distance.

 

[2] On the other hand, degrees that are not continuous, but discrete, are distinguished like prior and posterior, like cause and effect, and like what produces and what is produced. Whoever looks into the matter will see that in each thing and all things in the whole world, whatever they are, there are such degrees of producing and compounding, that is, from one a second, and from that a third, and so on.

 

[3] Until one has acquired for himself a perception of these degrees he cannot possibly understand the differences between the heavens, nor between the interior and exterior faculties of man, nor the differences between the spiritual world and the natural world, nor between the spirit of man and his body. So neither can he understand the nature and source of correspondences and representations, or the nature of influx. Sensual men do not apprehend these differences, for they make increase and decrease, even according to these degrees, to be continuous, and are therefore unable to conceive of what is spiritual otherwise than as a purer natural. And in consequence they remain outside of and a great way off from intelligence.#

 

# Things interior and things exterior are not continuous but distinct and discrete according to degrees, and each degree has its bounds …

 

One thing is formed from another, and the things so formed are not continuously purer and grosser …

 

Until the difference between what is interior and what is exterior according to such degrees is perceived, neither the internal and external man nor the interior and exterior heavens can be clearly understood …

(HH 38)

 

1. Knowing About Correspondences

 

It’s possible to “know about correspondences” and even apply them to interpret passages of the Word, dreams, poetry, lyrics, art, even natural scenes and events. This way of looking at correspondences is secular and natural, not rational or intellectual. The Writings reveal that there are three levels of rational conscious thinking in humans:

 

Memory-knowledges [scientific] are of three kinds: intellectual, rational, and sensuous. … These memory-knowledges which are from things of sense come to man's sensation or perception when he lives in the body, for he thinks from them. The rest, which are interior, do not come so much to perception until man puts off the body and enters the other life.

(…)

I will make man and beast to fail; I will make the fowls of the heavens and the fishes of the sea to fail (Zeph. 1:3),

 

where the "fowls of the heavens" denote things of reason, and the "fishes of the sea" lower rational things, that is, man's thought from sensuous memory-knowledges.

(AC 991)

 

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. … Still more can those do this who have perception, as perception is more interior in the rational. What then could not the Lord do, who had Divine celestial perception, and thought from the affection of intellectual truth, which is above the rational! (AC 1914)

 

The subject here treated of is the doctrine of faith, concerning which the Lord thought in His childhood, namely, whether it was allowable to enter into it by means of rational things, and thus form for one's self ideas concerning it. His so thinking came from His love and consideration for the human race, who are such as not to believe what they do not comprehend in a rational manner. But He perceived from the Divine that this ought not to be done; and He therefore revealed the doctrine to Himself from the Divine, and thereby at the same time all things in the universe that are subordinate, namely, all things of the rational and of the natural. (AC 2588)

 

"Grapes in the wilderness" denote rational good not yet made spiritual; the "first-ripe in the fig tree" denotes natural good in like manner; "Israel" denotes the ancient spiritual church in its beginning (AC 5117)

 

There are in man derivations from the intellectual part, which is in the light of heaven, down to the sensuous, which is in the light of the world; unless this were so, the sensuous could not have any human life. The sensuous of man has no life in consequence of seeing from the light of the world, for the light of the world has no life in it; but in consequence of seeing from the light of heaven, for this light has life in it. When this light falls with man into those things which are from the light of the world, it vivifies them and causes him to see objects intellectually, thus as a man; and from this, by knowledges born from things he has seen and heard in the world, thus from things that have entered through the senses, man has intelligence and wisdom, and from these has civil, moral, and spiritual life. (AC 5114: 2)

 

From these passages one can gain an understanding of the difference between the two rational levels of thinking in human beings. This is a fundamental duality that must be recognized in psychology and physics if we are to think as scientists beyond the barrier of appearances.

 

But this is only the first part of the Doctrine of Degrees, namely the successive causation of things or events through discrete degrees, from God (or First) to the ultimates of the physical world and nature (last). The second part is even more astonishing, namely, that once brought into existence, an item or process is kept in existence by successive influx. If this should cease for a moment, the item would cease to be anything and dissipate from existence. Subsistence, that is, continued existence, is achieved through successive re-creation of the item by means of influx through successive discrete degrees that ar