Psychology 499 Independent Study
University of Hawaii
Dr. Leon James, Instructor
by Masahi Shimonao
Table of Contents
1. Rational understanding of Trinity
2. My understanding of substantive dualism
3. Change in my relationship to God by studying theistic psychology
4. The literal and scientific sense of the Sacred Scripture
5. Emotional identification with Jesus on the cross vs. Rational understanding of the meaning of the Divine Child born on earth
6. Mystical vs. rational understanding of God
7. The “levels” of the Heavens and Hells
8. Memories during life on earth
9. Rejecting the hellish loves
10. Love of the sex vs. Love of one of the sex (TP 6.8)
11. Note: TP refers to Theistic Psychology by Leon James on the Web at:
Mirror site at TheisticPsychology.org
1. Rational understanding of Trinity
Theistic psychology is the knowledge based on the Writings of Swedenborg. The scientific revelations given in the Writings are expressed and organized to fit the standard of modern science. The fundamental assumption of theistic psychology is the substantive dualism, in which every natural effect has its spiritual cause. The relationship between the natural and the spiritual is governed by the law of correspondences. Theistic psychology allows us to study the hidden underlying spiritual meanings of the Sacred Scripture by the extraction method of correspondences, which is revealed in the Writings. The method of extraction of the higher correspondences at each discrete level constitutes the knowledge of theistic psychology. The scientific study of theistic psychology gives us the rational and systematic understanding of the nature of God. The knowledge gained from this effort is very systematic and precise, which is unlike the effort of the mystical approach to God based on the literal meanings of the Sacred Scripture.
Mystical definition of Trinity
When we look at the definition of the “Holy Trinity,” which is exclusively based on the literal sense of the New Testament Sacred Scripture, there is an inevitable confusion and contradiction in our attempt to rationally understand the idea. The traditional Christian religion usually gives the following mystical definition of Trinity.
“The union of three divine persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in one divinity. All the three are one God as to substance, but three Persons as to individuality. God is three in one.”
The primary explanation is that “three is one and one is three.” It is often said that this seemingly illogical statement is beyond human rational understanding and therefore we can neither conceive with our mind nor express with words. In other words, it is the same as saying “it is okay if we cannot understand this because God has His own way.” It usually relys on blind faith or religious doctrine enforced by the authorities. There is no detailed rational explanation about the nature of God available.
In contrast, according to theistic psychology, it is God who gives us the rationality with which we can reach the elevated understanding of His nature and how He is managing the universe from the spiritual to the natural. This was made possible thanks to the revelations given in the Writings. Therefore, it was also made possible that we now can understand rationally the scientific meaning of Trinity. However, The Writings of Swedenborg are very often regarded as being heretical in view of the traditional Christian religion because of the ungrounded criticism that he denied the Trinity. In the following discussion, I will try to delve into how the rational understanding of theistic psychology can allow us to understand the true meaning of the Trinity, which is not denied but enforced by the Writings of Swedenborg. In doing so, I hope to learn a thinking register which is necessary for us to reason rationally and scientifically about God, using the knowledge gained from theistic psychology.
The Spiritual Sun
When we discuss God on the basis of scientific revelation obtained from the Writings, it is first necessary to be introduced to the Spiritual Sun, which is the mental operation of God carried out in the spiritual substances. For fully understanding the actual existence and functions of Spiritual Sun, we need to touch on theistic psychology’s fundamental assumption of the “substantive dualism.” The substantive dualism is superior to the conventional dualism which is first proclaimed by Descartes in that it specifies what mind really consists of. In substantive dualism, just as every natural object is made up of physical matters, our mind is made up of spiritual “substances.” Those substances are the real existence, called “rational ether.” The Spiritual Sun emanates the spiritual substances in the form of the spiritual light and spiritual heat, which are forming and maintaining our mental organs and bodies.
At first, it is difficult for us to conceptualize that our minds exist as the spiritual body made up of spiritual organs by those real substances. That difficulty is due to our deep-rooted materialistic misconception that regards our mental functions not as real but as the epiphenomena. However, according to the scientific revelation given in the Writings of Swedenborg, every natural effect has the spiritual cause. Every one of our thinking and feeling operations has its cause in our spiritual body and its interrelationship with the other spirits, called the vertical community. This cause and effect relationship between natural and spiritual occurrence is governed by the law of correspondences which is articulated in the Writings. Here are the lists of summarized description of the Spiritual Sun.
The Spiritual Sun is the mental operation of God carried out in the spiritual
This is an aura surrounding the visible Divine Human in the spiritual world. It
is the interface God uses to create the universe and to communicate with the
The Spiritual Sun creates substances forming rational ether, which make up our
mind (a real spiritual organ, “spiritual body”), the entire spiritual universe,
the natural sun and ultimately all natural world as well. Our minds consist of spiritual fibers and neurons
from those rational substances which permeate the entire spiritual world. Our thoughts and feelings exist in this
rational sphere. The same Spiritual Sun is in every individual’s mental world.
The Spiritual Sun is made of Divine Truth and Divine Love. It substantively
emanates Divine Love and Truth in the form of spiritual heat and spiritual
light. It is the Divine Love and the
Divine Truth that form the rational ether.
In a further description, Divine Love is contained and hidden within
Divine Love. Therefore, truth is the
outward visible manifestation of love, which itself remains invisible. This is just as the light from the physical
sun is visible but the heat is invisible but within the light.
5. The spiritual light and the spiritual heat from the Spiritual Sun enter our interior mind and activate its operation. The spiritual heat or love is received by internal sensory organ called affective organ. The spiritual light or truth is received by another internal sensory organ called cognitive organ. Without those two influxes, we cannot exist as a human being.
Scientific definition of Trinity in theistic psychology
Here is the scientific definition of Trinity given in theistic psychology.
“Trinity = Three functions of the one God in relation to human beings,” referring to different mental states of God, which we also have in our mind or need to go through in the pursuit of regeneration.
In the following discussion, I will try to categorize each description of God in theistic psychology into three sections as can be fitted to the conventional nomination of “Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit,” in the traditional mystical definition of Trinity.
(1) <Father > = Historical and religious reference
=the Divine itself=Human-Divine= Creator=Divine Human=Divine Love=spiritual heat=will=Lord of eternity=Jehovah=Divine Psychologist
a) This is the the Divine itself, which is Perfect Being and the cause for all the creation and the continuation of the universe through His infinite Love, neither perceptible nor understandable by finite human minds. The Divine itself is also called the Human-Divine, which is outside creation and thus the “Creator.” It is also called “the Divine-Human from Eternity.” The Divine Human is the expression from the Latin text of the Writings Sacred Scripture.
b) In relation to the Incarnation Event, it is also called the Divine of the “Divine Human.”
c) The Divine itself is Divine Love, which is infinite and uncreate motive that is responsible for creating the universe and its continuous existence, which is possible only when the Divine Truth is animated by the Divine Love. Divine Love is the substance emanated from the Spiritual Sun and it is called spiritual heat or love. Every human being receives Divine Love in his/her affective organ and could rationally and voluntarily return that love.
d) The reception of this Divine Love creates our infinite variety of affective mental states which we call “good” and “heavenly.” Therefore, the Divine Love is the only source of forming our will.
e) In the highest state of mind or consciousness (celestial or the Third Heaven), the Divine itself is referred to as "the Lord from Eternity." In this state, we are capable of direct sensuous perception of the Divine-Human in the Spiritual Sun. The expression “the Lord” is from the literal text of the Greek New Testament Sacred Scripture.
f) In the second highest state of mind or consciousness (spiritual or the Second Heaven), the Divine itself is referred to as “Jehovah,” which means, “To be” or “I am” from the literal text of the Hebrew Old Testament Sacred Scripture. In this state of understanding, we rely on a rational consciousness of the Divine Human.
g) In the Latin text of the Writings Sacred Scripture the expression "the Divine Human" occurs very many times.
=Divine Child=Divine Human=the Incarnation Event=Divine Truth=spiritual light=Divine Speech
= historical and religious reference to the Divine Child born in time on this earth. He first descended in the natural consciousness such as we have on earth. His task was to integrate His natural human mind and His spiritual Divine Mind within Himself. (= the Divine marriage of Good and Truth in God) Through him the new mental pathways (Interior-natural organ within the natural mind) was created, which made it possible for human beings, who had fallen into the level of sensuous consciousness, to regenerate our mind by forming a rational consciousness of God. Since we spiritual race can only be regenerated by Divine Truth, it was “the Son (=Divine Truth)” that had to come into the natural existence for our salvation.
a) Since Human Divine (outside creation) is neither perceptible nor understandable, God (=the Divine itself) had to create a Form of Himself in creation as "the Son of God,” which is the Divine Human in order to relate to finite human beings in creation. In order to create human beings and the universe, this creation was necessary. Without it, God is neither perceptible nor understandable to human beings. This is called the Incarnation Event in theistic psychology, which occurred in human history (="the birth of the Son of God"). God had to make a direct visual and verbal appearance in the conscious sensuous awareness of human beings.The Divine Human is also infinite by being omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.
b) In the Incarnation Event, it is called the Human of the Divine Human. The reason we are called "human beings" is that we are created in the "image" of God, that is, in the image of the "Human" part of the "Divine-Human."
c) The Human of the Divine-Human is Divine Truth while the Divine of the Divine-Human is Divine Love. Divine Truth is also the substance emanated from Spiritual Sun and it is called spiritual light or truth. Every human being receives Divine Trugh in his/her cognitive organ.
d) Divine Truth too is a substance emanated from the Spiritual Sun and it is called spiritual light or truth. Acknowledging the second name of the Trinity allows us to receive God’s Truth in our cognitive organ. This reception creates our infinite variety of cognitive mental states we call “rational” and “wise.” Therefore, the reception of the God’s truth is all source of our understanding (consciousness)
(Divine Speech (= the Divine Love + the Divine Truth) proceeds from the Divine Human’s Rational Mind by means of the Spiritual Sun. Divine Speech descends and exteriorize by discrete degrees that do not overlap in meaning, but they do correspond to each other.)
2. My Understanding of Substantive Dualism
Substantive dualism is the fundamental thesis of theistic psychology. This knowledge is exclusively from the Writings of Swedenborg, the scientist who became simultaneously conscious of both the spiritual and the physical world in order to fulfill God’s mission of opening for human beings the understanding of scientific revelations.
<Two distinct worlds>
First, substantive dualism acknowledges the real existence of both the physical world and the mental or spiritual world. This notion clearly contrasts with the monist and materialists’ idea that thoughts and feelings are just epiphenomena of our biological functions and thus non-real. This is the dominant thinking of the current materialistic science, which excludes God and the spiritual world from the realm of its investigation. The ultimate conclusion of this thought is that when our physical brains die, our thoughts and feelings also vanish from existence.
On the other hand, the scientific revelations in the Writings give us the objective description of the spiritual world. Out thoughts and feelings do have real existence, which is apart from our physical existence and thus continue to exist even after the death of our physical brains. Though the physical world is temporary and limited to time and space, the spiritual world is permanent and outside time and space. Those two worlds exist in a state of “discrete degrees” and there is absolutely no overlap between the two. One never touches the other
<The mental world with structure>
Substantive dualism is consistent with the rationale that everything that has function must have structure. In other words, “No function without structure.” Our mind consisting of thoughts and feelings with their function cannot float in the air without structure as the by-product of the brain chemical and electrical change. Our thoughts and feelings have structure as spiritual organs made up of the spiritual fibers and neurons in the spiritual world. Those spiritual fibers and neurons formed by the spiritual substances emanated from the Spiritual Sun, which was observed by Swedenborg in his spiritual consciousness. We may tend to think that physical matter in time and space is more real and concrete than spiritual substances. However, the opposite is true because the spiritual substances are permanent and immortal and therefore, more “substantial.”
<The relationship between the two discrete worlds>
As stated above, the physical world and the spiritual world are the two distinct worlds and there is absolutely no overlap between the two. Substantive dualism acknowledges the functional relationship between those two. It regards every physical phenomenon as the effect of its spiritual cause. Why is it possible to find the relationship between two worlds, which exist in a discrete degree without any overlap? The answer is the law of correspondences, whose mechanism is revealed in the Writings of Swedenborg. This is the method God uses in managing the cause-and-effect relationship between the spiritual and the natural world. The spiritual is always the cause and the physical is the effect. Our mind and body are also connected by the laws of correspondences. Therefore, the biological change in our brain is only the effect, which “corresponds” to the mental functioning as the cause in the spiritual world. The sequence of the cause-effect phenomenon in both worlds is “successive discrete degrees,” and the connection of them is in “simultaneous discrete degrees.”
<Human beings are born as dual citizens>
in My Relationship to God
(MP = The Making of Theistic Psychology)
According to the Writings of Swedenborg, the literal meaning of the Old Testament’s describes our relationship to God as general level (MP 5). The relationship people have with God at this level is similar to that of most secular religious beliefs or traditions of my home country Japan. People go to temples and shrines on a certain occasions to wish for their own prosperity and good luck. People go to the Buddhist or Shinto priest to cast out evils or soothes God’s wrath upon them. The ritual of paying homage to our ancestors is so important in order that those who passed away will take good care of us, or they will come back to this world as ghosts and put a curse on our family.
One striking difference between Japanese secular religious view and the Old Testament view is that Japanese religion acknowledges many gods. If we define God rationally as one omnipotent Being, acceptance of multiple gods is irrational and ultimately the same as denial of God (xxx). As a result of acknowledging multiple deities, Japanese people usually seem to have little awe against gods to whom they pray or wish while only trying to manipulate their gods as they like. In my childhood, this kind of religious belief seemed to be something wrong to me. This was one of the reasons I wanted to become a Christian. Through being a Christian, I thought I could be closer to answering the question of who is the true almighty God and who is managing our world.
Once I became a Christian at age 24, the personal relationship to God or Jesus Christ has always been emphasized in sermon at every Sunday service at church or in my reading of religious books and texts. But the reality is that I don’t really get to know how I can construct the personal relationship to God even after many years of keeping my identity as being a Christian. One reason of this could be that my understanding of God was very vague without a certain structure of knowledge. I have to admit that my faith was only dependent on my family upbringing or on my socialization with other members at church. Although I knew that reading the Bible is important or indispensable to deepen my faith in God, that knowledge did not motivate me enough to read the Bible consistently.
I was taught that our sins are all forgiven only if we acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Savior. In this teaching, since the salvation is a free gift that God gave us, we only need to accept it. I was also taught that now that we could feel relieved and be set in peace by the free gift of salvation through which we were regarded righteous under God’s eye, we were allowed to embark on the path of sanctification. The old habits and weakness were supposed to be modified and reformed not by our efforts but by God’s help. Those teachings are the ones I have been trying to stick to for years. Though all of them sound great at first, the knowledge of them has not given me the power to change my negative and old traits into positive and new ones in a fundamental way. Even though I have had belief in God, I felt something missing or powerless in my understanding of God.
When I study theistic psychology, familiar terms and events are substituted by unfamiliar terms. For example, God is referred to as the Divine Psychologist, Jesus Christ as the Divine Child, and the birth of Jesus Christ on earth as the Incarnation Event (xxx). When I first started to deal with those terms and concepts related to them, I felt that the personal and emotional relationship to Jesus Christ was being taken lightly or was discarded in the discussion of theistic psychology. In my background as a Christian, emotional aspects of our beliefs have often been emphasized. We had to be thankful and joyous toward what Jesus did for us on the cross. We should pledge allegiance to Him because of the debt we owe to Him. I tended to think that someone who emotionally declares his or her faith with tears retains greater love toward God or more personal relationship with God.
However, in my reading of theistic psychology, I don’t find those kinds of emotional aspects being emphasized. I can imagine that if those Christians encounter the terms and discussion in theistic psychology, they would criticize that this doctrine thinks lightly of the huge sacrifice Jesus paid for us and even think of it as a blasphemy against Him. Though I know this kind of criticism is very superficial and not based on rational argument, it still comes to my mind when I try to study theistic psychology.
If I can stay away from the influence of my prior narrow-minded belief in God, I can make the best use of reading and studying theistic psychology, which explains the very details of how God manages the universe and why the Divine Human needed to incarnate as a Divine Child on earth for our salvation. As I read more and more of the material of theistic psychology, I started to feel that my personal relationship to God could be made much closer, compared to when I was trying to build the relationship only through emotional tie with the vague understanding of who God is and how God maintains the universe and our minds. The mentality level of theistic psychology reveals to us the relationship to God as particular and singular, with the contrast to the New Testament describing relationship to God as personal level (MP 5). When the words “particular” or “singular” are used in theistic psychology, they are more rational, higher in consciousness, and we can apply things we learn about spiritual world and our minds to every detail of our lives (xxx). The more detailed, rational, and scientific terms regarding God help us construct the higher rational understanding of theistic psychology, which will also strengthen the personal tie to the Divine Human.
It can be said that none of the knowledge I obtained from studying theistic psychology is weakening my degree of faith in God. Rather, my relationship with God is strengthened by theistic psychology’s higher level of explanation for all the formerly ambiguous ideas I have had regarding God and spirituality. If I can be more aware of the particular or singular relationship with God through further study of theistic psychology, my relationship to God in all aspects will consequently be strengthened. I eagerly hope that I will be able to reach the higher consciousness of God, then I will know that above statements on strengthened relationship with God will continue to be true.
4. The Literal and Scientific Sense of Sacred Scripture
It’s important to understand that nothing can take away the connection people feel towards the Old and New Testaments as the source and center of their religion—Jews, Christians, and New Church Christians ("Swedenborgians"). The fact that these books of Sacred Scripture also have a scientific sense hidden within, in no way weakens their holy function as books of religion for Judaism, Christianity, and the New Church. In reality, the scientific sense within the literal only strengthens the importance of the literal. The Writings explain that the literal meaning is the "most holy" because it contains all the levels of meanings that Divine Speech embodies. (TP 5.0)
The above paragraph states that it is not necessary for religious people, including Christians, to discard the feeling of the connection to the literal religious meanings of the Sacred Scripture in order to investigate what theistic psychology reveals to us. Knowing that the Sacred Scripture contains hidden scientific meanings does not weaken the significance of the literal meaning. Rather, it strengthens the validity of the literal sense because it is only through those literal texts that God communicates deeper scientific truths to us.
The above statements are very important to me since I have maintained the wrong impressions that I will have to discard all the beliefs and personal feelings toward my religion (Christianity) in order to continue studying theistic psychology. Since I have regarded myself as a Christian for the past 26years (since I first started to go to church when I was 5 years old. I was actually baptized about 9 years ago), this initial feeling has continued to be the mental obstacle for me to keep studying theistic psychology.
The reason I have not been able to completely clear away my initial wrong impression may be that all the new revelations explained in theistic psychology and the realization I have had from reading the texts are so radically different from what I have been familiar with in my previous readings and experiences in Christian religion. However, I needed to realize this: the fact that the newly encountered knowledge is radical and seemingly totally different from the past one does not mean at all that I have to deny all my previous beliefs and feelings toward God. I am still facing the same and only one God! Though this statement sounds obvious, I realized that I needed to make this statement again and again in my mind.
As stated above, I have harbored the irrational fear that I might be turning my back against God while studying theistic psychology. The reason behind it was that I was afraid that my family, pastor and friends at Church in Japan might suspect that I started to get involved in some sort of heretic teachings. But I need to make it clear that studying theistic psychology strengthens my previously weak faith in God, which stems from the very ambiguous and contradictive understanding of the Sacred Scripture based sorely on its literal meanings. In order to enhance the rational understanding of God through studying theistic psychology, I am now required to be truly an independent thinker (of course co-managing with Divine Psychologist, who is our all source of our mental functioning) without being dependent on social relationship or past ties to church.
It is true that I do not need to dismiss all the previous beliefs and feelings about God in order to study theistic psychology. But I also had to be ready to deal with all the new knowledge, which sometimes were totally incompatible with the ideas from the blind faith and contradictive explanations of the Sacred Scripture from the current widespread Christian religion. Total reconstruction of my long held beliefs in vital issues such our character improvement, afterlife, and salvation is inevitable.
Emotional identification with Jesus on the Cross
All of this emotion and religious fervor is based on the belief that it is Jesus’ extreme suffering and sacrifice on the cross to which they owe their salvation and future life in heaven. It is thought that Jesus takes away their sins through His sacrifice for them and the whole human race. And the more they can identify and empathize with the pain Jesus endured, the more they feel that their faith strengthened and renewed. (TP 5.0.6)
Above passage describes the today’s Christians’ tendency to measure our strength of faith by the extent of our emotional identification with the Jesus’ suffering on the cross. Following this idea leads us to thinking that the more we can identify with the pain of Jesus, the more we can strengthen or confirm our faith. As a result, only the moment of the Crucifixion ends up being emphasized with respect to our salvation. The emotional debts we owe toward Jesus are likely to be most focused on, while rational argument on what His life and crucifixion meant for us tends to be taken lightly or even ignored.
On the other hand, in view of theistic psychology, the Divine Child’s entire life on earth is considered as the act of salvation for us. In His life on earth, He faced all the temptations and defeated every hellish trait until finally going to the cross. That is why we are now made possible to follow Him in our mental or spiritual development. Only because He came to earth as a human in order to create a new mental organ (interior natural organ) for all humanity, did it become possible for us to walk the path of character reformation by refusing hellish traits and choosing heavenly traits with the power and help of God who is ceaselessly and endlessly co-managing with us (xxx). His suffering on the cross was the last of the temptations He needed to endure and overcome in his natural body. This way of looking at the meaning of Jesus’ life on earth gives me much more rational, complete, and persistent understanding of His life and existence. Deepening the understanding of how this mechanism of salvation works seems to be far superior to maintaining the blind faith which only focuses on the emotional identification with His suffering on the cross.
Emphasizing only the emotional factor of our faith leads us to developing very unstable faith because our emotion is changeable and forgetful. If the emotional aspect was truly important to that great extent, we would probably have to watch movie like “Passion” everyday and consistently keep being moved by its content. Obviously, that way of sustaining and reviving our faith has its limitations. Staying at this kind of faith will not motivate us to reach deeper understanding of the Sacred Scripture. It is important to realize that this kind of faith is a blind faith and requires no deeper rational understanding. Focusing only on emotional factors of our faith will not lead us beyond the personal feeling that Jesus died for us on the cross. Ironically, as a result, most people stop thinking about the true deeper meaning of the life and death of the Divine Child on this world because they think they already know enough about the main focus of the event, which they assume gives them the instant salvation from sin. Hence, they do not find it necessary to study the Sacred Scripture. Deepening the rational understanding of God and the Divine Child’s life on earth through studying theistic psychology can lead us to the path of our character reformation. Only the rational understanding could penetrate deeper into our character and will be able to last for eternity.
Some people would criticize the argument above, saying that there is a danger of an “intellectualization” of faith. To those people, salvation based on cultivating rational understanding might sound like implying that salvation is only attainable to those who are more intelligent and more intellectually capable than others. So, they would make a criticism that emphasizing the rational study of the Sacred Scripture jeopardize or compromise the God’s generous act of salvation which is supposed to be based on our faith alone. However, it is important to notice that those who make that kind of criticism may think they themselves are intelligent and knowledgeable enough when they make that kind of criticism. That might be the reason they do not acknowledge the need to investigate the deeper meaning of the Divine Speech. It is far more important for us to admit humbly that only source of our rationality and intelligence is God and to strive to gain the deeper understanding of the Sacred Scripture.
Jesus said, “Follow me.” This commandment starts to reveal the entirely different perspective to me in light of the new understanding of His life on earth. He commanded us to follow Him only because doing so is now possible through His creation of interior mental organs in every human being. When He said, “follow me,” what He meant must have been to “follow the path of our character reformation by means of temptations.” Only when we acknowledge that He is fighting for (or co-managing with) us, we are capable of defeating the hell in our mind by rejecting hellish traits. This is the true understanding of the act of the Holy Spirit, also called the Divine Psychologist in theistic psychology. Nothing other than deepening this realization will be able to be a source of regeneration in me. I am looking forward to experiencing that change.
6. Mystical vs. Rational Understanding of God
We must know therefore that when Sacred Scripture say something that is not rationally acceptable about God, we are to look for the underlying spiritual message. In the case of anger, it is this: That God appears angry to us when we are evil. (5.0.6)
Relying only on the mystical faith based on the literal meanings of the Sacred Scripture inevitably leads to the notion that Jesus died in order to soothe the wrath of God against human beings who had gone astray and corrupted. I agree with the above statement that we need to search for the hidden spiritual meanings when Sacred Scripture appears to say something rationally unacceptable. The Old Testament Sacred Scripture is filled with descriptions of God as being angry, jealous, or even vengeful. Theistic psychology’s explanation that each Sacred Scripture was written according to the mentality level of those who had lived in each evolutionary era was very relieving and eye opening for me to know. We can fully benefit from reading the Sacred Scriptures only if we can attain the deeper spiritual meanings by applying the method of correspondences revealed in the Writings of Swedenborg. Getting to know the hidden spiritual meanings gives us the completely rational understanding of the Sacred Scriptures. This rational understanding of the Sacred Scriptures is impossible when we keep skipping all the parts we can neither literally understand nor accept, which is frequently the option when we have to rely only on the literal meaning of the text.
With regard to the statement above, “That God appears angry to us when we are evil,” I happened to have the opportunity to apply this idea to my recent experience. Not only God, but also anyone near us could appear angry to us in our imagination when we are acting or thinking in an evil tendency. I recently noticed that I was irrationally afraid that my teacher might be angry with me because I haven’t done the duty of my class assignment very well. My own feelings of guilty or of incompetence in myself were forming the unnecessary fear toward my teacher’s anger which actually might not have existed in reality. I noticed this fear was totally unproductive and could even become my emotional obstacle to keep up with the work. This experience taught me well that it was the same about God. God with perfect Love and Truth cannot have the hellish negative traits such as anger. When we cannot help thinking that God has those negative traits, it is us who cling to something evil or hellish (our own laziness, untruthfulness, or illogical thinking, etc.). This realization was very important for me because it could change my whole attitudes toward my life and God. I hope getting closer and closer to the true understanding of God will get me on the right path of my character reformation.
7. The “levels” of the Heavens and Hells
In summary, the differences between the three heavens in our mind are vast. The thoughts, insights, and feelings we have at these three levels are vastly different in excellence and power. When we love sensorimotor activities and involvements the most, we are in our First Heaven. When we love cognitive activities and involvements the most, we are in our Second Heaven. When we love affective activities and involvements the most, we are in our Third Heaven. (5.0.10)
Theistic psychology reveals that we will be conscious in either of three levels of the Heavens or three levels of Hells according to the extent of rationality acquired through our effort in character reformation during the life on earth. When I reflected on the information that there are three levels of Heavens and three levels of Hells, I found myself feeling somewhat uncomfortable. I thought of several reasons why I felt this way when I try to think about those levels of Heavens and Hells.
Accepting the existence of those three Heavens and three Hells was difficult because I had kept the idea that there should be no superior or inferior state or level once we get into Heaven. I thought that we should not be allowed to talk about “levels” in Heaven. Otherwise, I could easily fall into looking around myself and wondering who can go to what level of Heavens or end up being in one of those Hells. However, when I was thinking in the above way, I was not focusing on myself or my own task of regeneration in order to be saved but on others people’s such as my family members, friends, or some other people, which is ultimately out of my concern. By thinking about others, I could escape from focusing on my own path to regeneration.
Another concern when I think of the levels in Heavens and Hells was that the word “level” reminded me of the competition or the comparison with others. I thought that to get to the higher level of Heaven requires us of regenerating our mind better than others around us and only a few winners can be conscious in higher level of Heavens. Looking at this thought tendency, I realized that I was trying to base my criteria of salvation on my evaluation of the state of mind relative to others. That might be why I felt uncomfortable when I heard that there are different levels of Heavens and Hells. In this respect, my understanding about Heavens is still tied to natural way of thinking that we must strive to achieve higher levels of Heavens which exists apart from our minds or soul. One way to break this deep-grounded misunderstanding is to realize again that we all have those three levels of heavens in our mind though we are unconscious of them. Therefore, we are equally given the chance to be conscious of those heavens and it is the perfectly fair to everyone. This realization can help me to clear my doubts about how there can be three different levels of Heavens.
Now I know that character reformation is not at all about comparison with others to be a good person or to accumulate the good acts. No one can be saved because he/she is relatively better than others. This wrong thinking may be stem from the equity model which claims we can balance out heavenly thoughts with hellish thoughts and then make way toward the heaven. Character reformation is the task for each of us to stay focused on and there is no other person but ourselves who can strive to go for its path. So, comparing with others does not make any sense or give us any clue to how we spend our life in eternity.
I want to be able to be conscious of higher Heavens in my afterlife. However, I have to admit that my source of motivation to pursue higher heaven seems to be totally out of my own self-interest. How can the source of my motivation to pursue to go to higher Heaven be just out of being useful to other people? My current motivation to be useful to others is mainly for the love of the self, not for the love to the others.
8. Memories during life on earth
When we dwell in the consciousness of our heaven in the company of “affectional similitudes” of one another, we do not recognize or know the natural origin of any of the people there. Remember that the process of the second death quiets the natural mind so that in our heaven we have no memories of earth, therefore no memories of children and parents on earth. Swedenborg observed the plight of parents who never fully gave up the blood lust attachments. They had been parents who accepted their children’s faults because nothing their children did could be wrong in the parents’ eyes. (5.0.11)
The above statement that we have no memories of earth in our heaven is also something that I find difficult to accept. One of the reasons behind this difficulty might be that people around me often say that they are looking forward to meeting each other in heaven and I am also used to having that kind of expectation.
Another reason might be coming from a notion that it is good to have the emotional attachment toward family members or close friends, etc. This thinking may come from my Asian cultural background which places the most importance on the family ties. So, I will need to investigate further on the blood lust attachments and how they can be obstacles in our regeneration.
9. Rejecting the hellish loves
I have to admit that I have retained the hellish thoughts and enjoyments about sex such as fantasizing the illicit sex or enjoying the pornographic materials. The incurable sense of guilt always follows after engaging in those lewd thoughts or acts. But the sense of guilt only makes me aware that I am filled with the hellish traits but does not make me truly repent and change my thoughts and behaviors. Then, I have repeatedly failed to put an end to the attachment to this hellish love.
The sense of guilt without the knowledge of theistic psychology seems to have made me rather confused and misunderstand what the real problem is. When I am caught up with the sense of guilt, I can be extremely self-centered, not acknowledging the Divine Psychologist who is the all source of my thinking and feelings. Instead, I mistakenly tend to think that I am all alone in my mind and independently exist apart from God.
I was also never fully aware that those hellish loves are not only morally wrong (external) but also spiritually dangerous (Internal). As a result, though I felt some guilt after engaging in evil enjoyments, I was still not able to get out of the bad habits. I did not know or might not want to know what to do with my hellish loves. However, theistic psychology teaches me a rational necessity to fight against the hellish loves and gives me a precise method to do it.
Just as stated in the Section 5.3.3 of theistic psychology, the most common reaction or method I have adopted to deal with the evil sexual urge is to skip over those lewd things or to try not to think about them. I probably knew at the bottom of my heart that this method could not work but I did not know any other way to deal with the this hellish love. It was no wonder that this approach always ended in failure and got me in a vicious cycle of making the same mistakes over and over again though the span of the cycles were sometimes longer and sometimes shorter. The superficial and blind method is not at all helpful for me to change my hellish inclination about sex. No other ways than being regenerated through applying the knowledge I learned from theistic psychology to my daily thinking and willing can liberate me from the connection to the hells of my mind.
1. I need to know the fact that evil thoughts and enjoyments such as liking toward pornographic material or fantasizing illicit sex are inherited to us with no exception (TP 5.3.3). Those hellish thoughts are the inherited bonds we have with various hells. So, my objective is now clear. Only by refusing to go along with hellish pleasures, can I weaken the bonds to them. Acknowledging this fact is very important to me because I tend to be only ashamed of having those hellish traits. I now come to think that far more important than being ashamed is making a conscious determination to end those “inherited” connections to the hells.
2. I need to fully acknowledge that I have the responsibility to reject the connection to this inherited hellish love. Making the free choice to reject the hellish thoughts is possible only through my regeneration. I must take it very seriously that there is absolutely no way that I can live my immortal life in heaven if I am not regenerated.
3. In order to be successful in daily struggles toward my regeneration, I need to know the detailed mechanisms of my mind at the moment of my engaging in hellish thoughts. Knowing what is actually happening when I am fantasizing something hellish in my private thoughts can open my eyes and motivate me to strive to reject the hellish loves. When I engage in hellish thoughts, I am not alone, because many individual spirits in their hells are closely connected to me at the moment. Thus, I am feeling their enjoyment as my own even though I cannot be aware of it (5.7.6). All I need to do is to reject those hellish enjoyments as not my own but from hell. I can make this free choice rationally through the knowledge of theistic psychology. Since my conscience is not pure and strong enough anymore because it is so polluted with hellish traits, the only way to terminate my attachments to those hellish loves is to renew my conscience by deepening the rational understanding of theistic psychology. Without encountering theistic psychology, I would never be able to make myself move forward to heavenly state of mind.
4. Theistic psychology taught me the proper reaction when I acknowledge the hellish loves in my thoughts. It is to be shocked at myself rather than to make an effort to skip over or try not to think about them (TP 5.3.3). When I just try to ignore, skip, or forget the hellish loves that come constantly to my mind, I am not really dealing with the problem. My hellish loves will just stay as they are without being consciously rejected. In contrast, being shocked at myself when engaged in wrongful thoughts makes me clearly aware of the need to consciously reject the thoughts and gives me the opportunity to attain victory over the temptations.
5. Theistic psychology taught me the very concrete method to fight against the hellish thoughts. In an attempt to control my thoughts, I can use “self-regulatory sentences.” For example, in self-regulatory sentences, I may appeal to my conscious thoughts by saying, “Stop thinking about it. I already know the spiritual consequence of engaging in that sort of thinking.” Or “If I keep clinging to that chain of hellish thoughts, the end of it is hell.” Since those statements are based on the knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures, my subsequent choice regarding the course of my thoughts will not be caused by fear or embarrassment anymore but encouraged by rational thoughts. Then, my determination to change myself can be persistent.
6. In making the choice to reject the hellish thoughts, it is important never to forget that it is God who actually performs my regeneration and removes my connections to those hells. What I am called to do is to make as-of-self effort by making consent to cooperate with Him (TP 220.127.116.11). When I am faced with the spiritual temptation that gives me a chance to be aware of a particular hellish trait or habit, I am the one who is required to make a free choice either to stay in that hellish trait or to reject it. Eventually, however, God is the only One who removes the bad habit when I am consistently successful in rejecting the hellish loves (TP 5.7.3). As long as I think that I am the one who manage everything in my thoughts, I will not be able to change and regenerate. Making the right choices consistently throughout days is possible only through carefully self-witnessing our thoughts and behaviors. The self-witnessing can make me aware of my thoughts in detail and gives me a chance to make critical conscious choices regarding my spiritual fate.
It is amazing to know that it is possible that all of our hellish traits can be removed by our conscious effort to reject them. I have rather been taught that it is all right that we sometimes cannot change ourselves completely because we are only sinners no matter how we strive to be better. Then, all we need to do is to surrender to God who still loves us and saves us from our sins. This kind of message as well as the doctrine of the salvation by faith alone seems to have weakened my motivation to change. If I am saved whatever I do in my private thoughts, it can give me all kinds of excuses to stay as I am and to keep all the hellish tendencies.
In theistic psychology, the state of our mind in peace and sweetness after the victory over the spiritual temptation is called “Sabbath rest (5.7.3).” In Sabbath rest, we are able to feel the closer to God and “bask in the mental state of freedom from our slavishness to our obsessions.” I still cannot really imagine what it must be feeling like but now I long for it. Anticipating this state of mind really motivates me to be conscious of my hellish thoughts and to make as-of-self effort to reject them. The more I experience the victory over them, the more I will want to be willing to cooperate with the Divine Psychologist. I really hope that will become my greatest source of pleasure and comfort throughout my life.
of the Sex
It is an objective and rational fact that every sexual behavior has its origin either in hell or heaven (6.8). Being aware of this fact is very important to me because I was likely to be very inconclusive about where the line should be drawn between appropriate sexual interests and inappropriate sexual interests. This ambiguity in my mind may be stemming in part from my cultural environment in which I grew up. In my country, sex is virtually almost everywhere. For example, it is very common to see businessmen on the commuting subway trains reading newspaper or comic magazines with sexually explicit photos, pictures, or articles. There are many advertisements in the train with explicit sexual expressions or pictures of barely attired female models in a provocative pauses.
It is thought to be natural for men (and women) to be interested in nonexclusive sex and we usually do not draw the line between “heavenly love of sex” and “hellish love of sex” as we do in theistic psychology. As a result, some people come to think that sex as a whole is inevitably obscene and bad or others come to think that any kind of sexual desires are natural and should be condoned as long as they do not bring the visible or physical harm to oneself or others. This kind of mentality contributes to keeping me in the gutter of enjoying the pornographic material or fantasizing the illicit sex. So, it is now critically important for me to consciously aware that the love of the sex, which is not the love of one of the sex, is hellish and nothing else.
Before, I was blindly trying to skip over and just eliminate the occurrence of the thoughts coming from the love of the sex. I tried to think that the corporeal love of the sex did not exist in me, which of course did not work. But now, I came to be aware through studying theistic psychology that the corporeal mind is the lowest part of my mind and it is the mental organ which operates the love of the indiscriminate, nonexclusive, and promiscuous sex. Therefore, just as it is impossible to eliminate the corporeal mind as a part of our mind, I cannot eliminate the mental operation deriving from it only by the fear to violate the moral doctrine or dogma to refrain from hellish sexual desires. The proper reaction to the occurrence of the evil thoughts is to be very careful to reject them one by one through my rational determinations.
I tended to blame or only be ashamed of the occurrence of the hellish desire toward the sex. However, as revealed in the theistic psychology, we need to focus on the rejection of the hellish thoughts, not on the effort to stop the occurrence of them. All I have to do is to prevent it from continuing to be my ruling love by rejecting the hellish bonds to the hell by making the full use of rationality nurtured through the study of theistic psychology. Otherwise, I cannot regenerate and prepare myself for spending the life of eternity in heaven.
If my mind is occupied with the love of the sex rather the love of one of the sex, I am selfish and my sexual experience stays at a natural-sensuous level. This kind of sexuality cannot be personal with my wife. The unity model of marriage brings us into a spiritual-sensual sexuality which is modeled after the celestial marriage (6.8). This is the only possible sexuality in heaven in eternity. The characteristics of the spiritual-sensual sexuality are contrary to those of the natural-sensuous sexuality. They are exclusive, monogamous, and eternal. If my consciousness stays in the corporeal level, the love of one of the sex cannot function in my mind because it can only be operated at the spiritual and celestial levels. This spiritual sexuality can be achieved only through elevating one's rational consciousness through studying Sacred Scripture. Therefore, it is crucially important for me to study theistic psychology to nurture spiritually healthy sexuality only that I can bring to the life in eternity.
The enjoyment in pornographic material keeps me in a corporeal love or animalistic love towards my wife. I am instantly out of the heaven if I maintain that kind of natural love as one of my ruling loves. But if I can consistently reject those hellish loves as inappropriate and dangerous, I will then be liberated and be allowed to be getting closer to enjoying the far greater pleasures of conjugial sex. This is something I am called to strive for with my wife. Even though nonexclusive and sensuous love toward the sex seems delightful and irresistibly attractive, it is just like the deadly poisoned food which tastes delicious (6.8).
And if you have a conjugial spouse that preceded you, he or she now appears to you, being reunited with heavenly joy and blessedness. The two of you then walk a little further on the streets until you come to a house that you both recognize as yours. No one else has been able to see the house or enter into it. You enter, and you begin your life in eternity as an angel couple, living in bliss with other angel couples, protected from every single possible negative feeling, thought, or emotion. (6.8)
It is amazing to know the above observatory description of the spiritual marriage in heaven. That will be our marriage’s source of motivation to reject the hellish love of the sex and walk on the path toward the love of one of the sex. My wife and I agree that it is what we want to strive for. No other issue could be considered more important than this in deepening our marriage and elevating it to the higher level of mentality.