Percent of Americans who believe in the existence of:
God as a Man
God as having no gender
Considering these percentages it is obvious that the non-theistic psychology of today is totally out of step with what people believe to be reality. B.F. Skinner stated that people's beliefs in God and the power of prayer is nothing but "superstitious behavior." There is no scientific justification for making such a statement and to most people it merely reflects Skinner's bias against dualism and the reality of God. Theistic psychology is more in line with the reality people accept. I'm still looking for statistics for scientists, but for now, I predict that the majority of scientists fall in the general pattern shown above, which is based on a general population sample, and therefore includes scientists.
Please email me if you find statistics for the religious views of scientists ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) I found an article by an atheist organization that reports similar survey findings, though the tone is less neutral--see here: Religion Profiled By Global Millennium Survey "God" Important, Not Primary For Many. Web Posted: December 17, 1999 www.atheists.org/flash.line/church16.htm
The question remains: is it possible for psychology to become "theistic" and still remain a science? If the answer is yes, then such a new psychology will be more in line with the reality people recognize. To teach non-theistic psychology to millions of high school and college students may not be to their benefit since it contradicts their view of reality. Theistic psychology shows that reality is based on God and therefore a belief in God is realistic. It may be harmful to flatly contradict reality because of a negative bias in science.
Until now it has been the general view, for both scientists and religious people, that to bring God into science will hurt both religion and science, and therefore they should be kept separate. But this view of thinking may no longer be correct. In this book we are exploring the theistic psychology found in the Writings of Swedenborg (1688-1772) and examining the claim that this approach is rational, scientific, universal, objective, empirical, and applied. If indeed this is a correct assessment, then theistic psychology can be fully as scientific as non-theistic psychology has been, and more so in fact since it includes a larger view of reality, of the human mind, and the methods by which God governs the universe.
It is important to recognize that "Creationism" is based on a literal reading of the Bible story in Genesis of how God created the world. This passage in Genesis is not a scientific revelation about how God created the universe. Instead, as Swedenborg demonstrates, it is written allegorically in a style similar to the other visions and prophecies in the Bible (see Section xx). The Creation story in Genesis was decoded by Swedenborg using the method of correspondences. This is fully documented and proven so that anyone assessing his proof can understand it rationally. Once understood, we can use this method to read anywhere in Sacred Scripture and extract its universal meaning (see Section xx). It turns out that the actual content of the Creation story is the regeneration of the human mind. Swedenborg discovered that Moses had copied the first eleven Chapters of Genesis from an ancient version of Sacred Scripture that was still known by some people, like the people of Midian with whom Moses lived for twenty years.
The Ancient Word, as it was called, was written by means of spiritual correspondences still known to the people at that time. When they were writing about the human mind and its anatomy and function, they used natural correspondences to express the spiritual meanings. They were dualists and they knew that the causes of events on earth were spiritual events in the spiritual world. When these spiritual meanings are thought of by people in the afterlife, there appears around them natural visions or scenes and actual appearances of things that are found on earth. When you awaken in the world of spirits a few hours after death, you discover that your thoughts produce these natural appearances around you. Others who are present can also see them. Two people talking about theistic psychology in the world of spirits produce appearances around them that shows to the bystanders what the two are talking about. Topics become natural things. As soon as the topic changes these things disappear. But, amazingly, while they are around you can touch them, feel them, hear them, smell them, play with them, or eat them! So the appearances are real, but they come and go instantaneously by correspondence to the topics mentioned or thought of.
In the Creation story, the ancients are discussing theistic psychology. For instance, the a "day" of creation refers to the creation of a new state of mind. There are seven "days" or phases of spiritual development as our mind is being regenerated, which means that our spiritual mind is being created. These steps are universal so they apply to every human being as well as to the evolution of the human race. The reason animals are mentioned is because each animal species corresponds to a specific mental state. Similarly, gardens, lands, oceans, and stars are mentioned because they each correspond to specific mental state or phase of development as we regenerate.
This is what the Creation story is actually about. To take it literally, and to claim that it is a scientific account, is a misconception due to not knowing the special style in which all Sacred Scripture is written (see Section xx). This was not known by anyone until the Writings of Swedenborg were published in the 18th century. Nor is it known by many people today because the Writings of Swedenborg have been kept away from knowledge by the negative bias in science and education.
But the theory of how the universe came into existence, which is given by non-theistic science taught in schools, cannot be considered scientific either. Neither creationism nor evolution theory nor the Big Bang theory can be considered rational and scientific. They are hypothetical guesses based on many false premises. But if we examine the scientific revelations in the Writings of Swedenborg with a positive bias, as in this book, then the superiority of theistic science becomes evident.
Quoting from Swedenborg regarding the language in which Sacred Scripture is written (the numbers in parentheses refer to numbered paragraphs in the same book):
For in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth and the sea. That this signifies the regeneration and vivification of those things which are in the internal and in the external man, is evident from the signification of "six days," as being states of combat (of which just above, n. 8888), and when predicated of Jehovah, that is, the Divine-Human, they signify His labor with man before he is regenerated (n. 8510); and from the signification of "heaven and earth," as being the church or kingdom of the Divine-Human in man, "heaven" in the internal man, and "earth" in the external man (n. 82, 1411, 1733, 1850, 2117, 2118, 3355, 4535), thus the regenerate man, that is, one who has found the new life and has thus been made alive; and from the signification of "the sea," as being the sensuous of man adhering to the corporeal (n. 8872).
 In this verse the subject treated of is the hallowing of the seventh day, or the institution of the Sabbath, and it is described by the words, "In six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested in the seventh day; wherefore Jehovah blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it." They who do not think beyond the sense of the letter cannot believe otherwise than that the creation which is described in the first and second chapters of Genesis, is the creation of the universe, and that there were six days within which were created the heaven, the earth, the sea and all things which are therein, and finally man in the likeness of God.
But who that takes into consideration the particulars of the description cannot see that the creation of the universe is not there meant; for such things are there described as may be known from common sense not to have been so; as that there were days before the sun and the moon, as well as light and darkness, and that herbage and trees sprang up; and yet that the light was furnished by these luminaries, and a distinction was made between the light and the darkness, and thus days were made.
 In what follows in the history there are also like things, which are hardly acknowledged to be possible by anyone who thinks interiorly, as that the woman was built from the rib of the man; also that two trees were set in paradise, of the fruit of one of which it was forbidden to eat; and that a serpent from one of them spoke with the wife of the man who had been the wisest of mortal creatures, and by his speech, which was from the mouth of the serpent, deceived them both; and that the whole human race, composed of so many millions, was in consequence condemned to hell.
The moment that these and other such things in that history are thought of, they must needs appear paradoxical to those who entertain any doubt concerning the holiness of the Word, and must afterward lead them to deny the Divine therein. Nevertheless be it known that each and all things in that history, down to the smallest iota, are Divine, and contain within them arcana which before the angels in the heavens are plain as in clear day.
The reason of this is that the angels do not see the sense of the Word according to the letter, but according to what is within, namely, what is spiritual and celestial, and within these, things Divine. When the first chapter of Genesis is read, the angels do not perceive any other creation than the new creation of man, which is called regeneration. This regeneration is described in that history; by paradise the wisdom of the man who has been created anew; by the two trees in the midst thereof, the two faculties of that man, namely, the will of good by the tree of life, and the understanding of truth by the tree of knowledge. And that it was forbidden to eat of this latter tree, was because the man who is regenerated, or created anew, must no longer be led by the understanding of truth, but by the will of good, and if otherwise, the new life within him perishes (...)
 From all this it is evident that the historic narrative of the creation and the first man, and of paradise, is a history so framed as to contain within it heavenly and Divine things, and this according to the received method in the Ancient Churches. This method of writing extended thence also to many who were outside of that Church, who in like manner devised histories and wrapped up arcana within them, as is plain from the writers of the most ancient times. For in the Ancient Churches it was known what such things as are in the world signified in heaven, nor to those people were events of so much importance as to be described; but the things which were of heaven. These latter things occupied their minds, for the reason that they thought more interiorly than men at this day, and thus had communication with angels, and therefore it was delightful to them to connect such things together. But they were led by the Divine-Human to those things which should be held sacred in the churches, consequently such things were composed as were in full correspondence.
 From all this it can be seen what is meant by "heaven and earth" in the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis, namely, the church internal and external. That these are signified by "heaven and earth" is evident also from passages in the prophets, where mention is made of "a new heaven and a new earth," by which a new church is meant (...)
From all this it is now plain that by, "In six days Jehovah made heaven and earth and the sea," is signified the regeneration and vivification of those things which are in the internal and in the external man. (AC 8891)
What is called here "regeneration and vivification of those things which are in the internal and in the external man" refers to the psychological principles of character reformation. The "external man" refers to the lower levels of the natural mind (corporeal and sensuous levels), while the "internal man" refers to the upper level of the natural mind which is called the natural-rational mind (see Section xx). The creation story in the Book of Genesis has two separate meanings, one literal, the other correspondential. The literal meaning serves for religion while the correspondential meaning serves for science. For instance, the religious meaning is that God created the universe and that it was a good creation until human beings disobeyed God's commandments, the results of which was to introduce evil and suffering into life. This level of meaning serves the purposes and needs of religion, as long as one takes it to be a general statement about God, and not a scientific description of how the physical world came into existence. But the correspondential meaning is about the scientific facts regarding the human mind and how it can be "regenerated" or "created anew" given that it has lost its original state of spiritual well being.
The six days of creation discuss the six phases of mental development by which we can heal our inherited character through character reformation efforts. In other words, the correspondential meaning of Sacred Scripture constitutes scientific revelations that allow us to reverse the inherited process of character degeneration.
The cruelty and suffering of people in the world indicates that character regeneration is indeed needed. Without these revelations no one would know how to be regenerated or even that we need to be regenerated. When we arrive in the world of spirits at death without having been regenerated, we sink down into the lowest form of human life which is called hell. But with regeneration we are able to be raised to the highest form of human life called heaven. Hence you can see how important it was for God to give these revelations. But they could not be presented literally as science because no one would have been able to understand it, hence accept it as the Word of God. It was necessary therefore that Divine revelation be given at two levels simultaneously, one religious, which could be understood by everyone, and the other correspondential or scientific, which could only be understood much later, when the age of modern science makes it possible for people to understand the scientific level. Throughout all the intervening centuries the "heavenly secrets" lay hidden in Sacred Scripture. Now they have been revealed so that the modern mind can accept them rationally.
A new evolutionary phase of human rationality now begins in theistic psychology. It is called the "celestial consciousness." Not every individual will ascend to this level, but every individual has the potential to do so. The more theistic psychology becomes public knowledge and education, the more people will have the opportunity to make a free choice as to whether they want to make this celestial consciousness their own through regeneration.
Sacred Scripture is therefore not merely revelations for religion but also for science, though not in its literal sense, but in its decoded "correspondential" sense (see Section xx). If the literal sense of the Bible is used for science, as in Creationism, then one obtains no scientific theory or facts about the physical world since it is only an allegory written in the symbolism of correspondences. Swedenborg demonstrates that all parts of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are written in this correspondential style, unbeknownst to the authors themselves who wrote the histories and visions. Scientific revelations are given in this secret way and they are unveiled when the human mind is prepared to understand it rationally. Until the coded scientific revelations are unveiled the literal sense serves for religion. The literal sense is therefore written for religion while the hidden underlying universal sense is written for science. This was not known until Swedenborg's Writings (1688-1772) were published by him in Latin and later translated into many languages. Now more scientists like myself are beginning to look at them seriously as works of science (see Readings and References).
See also Section 1.8.9. Theistic Science: The Scientific Alternative to Creationism and Intelligent Design
See also this article: A NEW CHURCH RATIONALE FOR EVOLUTION Rev. Dr. Reuben P. Bell available here: http://highermeaning.org/Authors/RPB/Evoluiton.shtml
See also the articles by Swedenborgian nuclear physicist, Dr. Ian Thompson, founder of TheisticScience.org:
Thompson, Ian J. (1988). Swedenborg and Modern Science. Network Newsletter of The Scientific and Medical Network, 36 (1988) 3-8. Available online: www.ph.surrey.ac.uk/~phs1it/papers/smn3.html
Thompson, Ian J. (2002) Foundations of the Theory of Spirit, Mind and Nature from Theism. Available online: www.TheisticScience.org
Thompson, Ian J. (2004). Metaphysics. Various
articles. Available at:
In history of psychology textbooks, dualism is always discussed in relation to the "body-mind issue," which has been debated by every generation of philosophers and psychologists since Aristotle and Plato. Ordinarily it is Descartes who is identified with the body-mind dualism, since he argued that mental phenomena are not physical and belonging to the brain, but spiritual belonging to the soul which was immortal, unlike the body which was temporary. This outlook was traditional for European philosophers who were almost always of Christian upbringing and schooling (including Newton, Darwin, Locke, Hume, Wundt, Emerson, William James, Herbert Mead, Jung, Carl Rogers, etc.). Although they were all dualists by culture and education, in their scientific writings they were very careful not to admit dualism, but to keep it away from their science. This is why an non-theistic science and an non-theistic psychology literature has developed. Since we teach from this literature there has been a strong and unified tradition in every generation to exclude dualism from courses, journals, books, and grant proposals. The effort has been very intense to eradicate the concepts of God and the afterlife from science.
What I'm doing in this book is therefore pertinent as an entry in the history of psychology records since I am a normal scientist teaching at a public state university in a psychology department that is behaviorally oriented. Of course I'm not claiming that my colleagues would agree with me, but I think this is because they are not in a position to examine all the evidence, namely the 30 volumes called the Writings of Swedenborg. But even if they examined just one volume in full, I would predict that it would be sufficient to realize that theistic psychology is a serious scientific proposal. On the surface it sounds outlandish in the science of psychology to speak about God, heaven, hell, the spiritual world, the science of correspondences in the Bible, Divine scientific revelations, and so on. But this surface impression is only because psychology has become thoroughly non-theistic and materialistic. There is no proof for atheism, or for materialism, hence this dedication to atheism and monism is a traditional prejudice that resists the future growth of psychology into the highly beneficial knowledge of regeneration and rational spirituality.
Theism in psychology is an approach that has valid rational proof in the Writings of Swedenborg. My purpose in this book is to examine some of this evidence with a view to showing their validity and breadth of understanding. It would be extremely beneficial for public schools to teach theistic psychology throughout the school grades in all countries of the educated world where science is understood. One of the applied theistic psychology research projects I look forward to is to create theistic science concepts for children all grade levels. For instance, the concept of "God" has to be introduced differently at each grade level so that students can think of the next step in their rational consciousness of God. The more children grow in rationality the better they can understand the infinitely complex idea of God. The more we understand the idea of God the more we can love Him and the more we can receive from Him--the ability to change character, immortality, unlimited conjugial happiness, all the virtues, unlimited intelligence and knowledge.
Any scientist or educated person can read the Writings of Swedenborg and look at this evidence since it is presented rationally by a superb scientist. To reject this offhand, without examining it, is a negative bias that is transmitted by non-theistic science taught in schools and normalized in a secular press. Hence many college students react to the idea of bringing God into science, as being a bad idea or an impossible one. The majority of students believe in the actual real existence of God running people's lives and the world. But they have been exposed to non-theistic science since kindergarten where teachers are reluctant to mention God given the legal issue of separation of Church and State. It is not uncommon for teachers to interpret this official separation to mean that they are not allowed to mention God in class. And of course the textbooks they use do not mention God either. But this is a profound misunderstanding that teachers carry from their own education and upbringing. The fact is that theistic science is not Church or religion. God is neither religion nor church. To connect them is only from this misunderstanding propagated by non-theistic science.
I've had students tell me that importing God into science is a bad idea because they have been abused by a priest as children. Others have said that they refuse to believe in God since religion is so corrupt. Others have said that you are not allowed to bring God into education. All these types of objections are based on the common misunderstanding that religion and God are the same. This idea has been promoted by non-theistic science. But in theistic psychology it is clearly seen that God and religion are different concepts that must be distinguished. Religion cannot be scientific, but God is. Sacred Scripture in the literal historical sense is religion, but the underlying correspondential sense is universal science (see answer to prior Question). Theistic psychology gives people the freedom and knowledge to separate their problematic religious experiences from the scientific concept of God.
Theistic psychology is science--universal, empirical, rational, objective, applied. Religion and Church on the other hand, are historical-cultural-institutional entities, and therefore political. But theistic psychology is not political but rational and panhuman. By rational definition there can be only one God, since God is infinite, and to talk of two infinites is illogical. Hence there can be only one infinite God. God's relationship and interaction is with each individual, not with a cultural form of this or that religion. Further, God's relationship and interaction with atheists is not less than the interaction with people of religion and faith. Hence the way God manages and influences each person's thoughts and feelings is universal, not religious or cultural. This is what makes science theistic. To deny God in science is a disservice to humankind and a belittling of the usefulness of science. To deny religion in science is an appropriate thing to do, just as we deny politics in science (e.g. facts by Democrats vs. facts by Republicans--there is only one kind of fact recognized in science).
Perhaps there ought to be a relaxing of the veto power against the use of God in psychology. Instead of being dead set against it, why not see where it leads? Especially since the proposal is made by a regular professional scientist like myself, along with dozens of others like myself who are active scientists (see Reading List).
The concept of "substantive dualism" is far more advanced than the dualism of Descartes which was hardly different from St. Augustine's theology centuries earlier, who had based his idea on the scientific revelations contained in the New Testament. The scientific revelations on dualism contained in the Writings of Swedenborg are completely objective and empirical. Swedenborg was given the special and unique ability of "dual citizenship," which means he was able to be conscious in both the physical body and the spiritual body. For 27 years on a daily basis he kept notes of his extraordinary observations in the spiritual world. No one in the history of science has had such a direct access to the spiritual world and its inhabitants.
Swedenborg kept track of his interviews with thousands of people who arrived into the spiritual world within 30 hours after the death of the physical body (see "resuscitation" section in Chapter 1). He carried out many experiments with the help of those there who had the power and knowledge to assist him. And much other evidence besides this on hundreds of topics and areas of human behavior--the anatomy of the mind, ethnic differences, psychotherapy, education, marriage, child development, religion, resuscitation of the dead, physics, chemistry, physiology, anatomy, synergy, love, truth, conscience, consciousness, meaning, language, and much more.
You can see from these considerations that Swedenborg's substantive dualism is far more advanced than that of Descartes or anyone else before or since. It makes sense since no scientist of reputation has had direct observational access to the spiritual world and the process of the resuscitation of the dead. Descartes and others may have had the idea that God exists, that God created the soul, and the soul is immortal. But since they had no access to the spiritual world they wrongly assumed that our immortal life will take place in this world after its destruction and re-creation by God. Upon that re-creation, all the souls that have been deprived of a body will then be re-embodied into new physical bodies that will last forever. But all this is a fantasy. They had no empirical evidence no observation platform. But with Swedenborg's special introduction into dual citizenship it became immediately evident by observation that everyone whose physical body dies is immediately resuscitated and reappears in a spiritual body in the spiritual world.
So the essence and basis of substantive dualism is the direct evidence from Swedenborg that there is a spiritual world and that our mind or spiritual body is born there and stays there. The physical body and the spiritual body, or mind, develop together and mature together. But whereas the physical body gets old and deteriorates to death, the spiritual body remains as a young adult, and forever so. When the physical body is dead, the conscious mind switches during resuscitation into the spiritual body and from then on our sensory input is solely from the events in our spiritual (or mental) environment. This life then continues to eternity outside time and place.
You can see therefore that theistic science, theistic psychology, and substantive dualism are all connected and based in the Writings of Swedenborg. Remove these scientific revelations and we fall back into Cartesian dualism or some of its modern versions in neuroscience. This is purely speculative since the brain contains no clues about the mind, but only about its own electrical and chemical firings, which belong to the brain, not the mind. The mind is a spiritual organ containing parts and sub-parts, just like the brain and body. In the Writings of Swedenborg we find a complete anatomy and spiritual physiology of this organ.
Further definitions and descriptions of substantive dualism are given in the Reading List, including theistic science, spiritual geography, spiritual psychobiology, spiritual psychology, spiritual psycholinguistics, and others.
See also previous Section and Readings there.
The goal in applied theistic psychology is to enhance the life of individuals and society by teaching people how to think rationally about themselves and their projects. To think rationally is defined in accordance with the content of theistic psychology. In other words, reality is constructed by God on a rational basis. When thinking rationally people modify their thoughts and feelings as they proceed with daily activities and involvements. This systematic self-modification process is called the "regeneration of character."
A rational or spiritual character is of great benefit to every individual. Remember that "rational" is not what the individual defines it is, or some philosophy or belief system that someone invented or read about. In theistic psychology rational is defined on the basis of scientific revelations in the Writings of Swedenborg. These revelations are unique and cannot occur again for reasons of evolution explained in the Writings. This can be explored by searching the Writings at: www.theheavenlydoctrines.org Therefore, theistic psychology must obtain all its data and knowledge from these scientific revelations. This makes sense if these are unique revelations and if they are scientific, as argued in this book.
Assuming for now that this new knowledge is valid, you can see that every individual would greatly benefit by rearranging their belief system about God, the afterlife and eternity, to be in accordance with the scientific revelations. This is obvious and logical as long as the premises of theistic psychology are valid. In this book we are examining the issue of validity by adopting a positive bias. This means that we are allowing for the possibility that the premises of theistic psychology might be valid. The negative bias would be that we are denying the possibility that the premises of theistic psychology could be valid. If we adopt the negative bias we are quite limited in the kind of assessment we can make of the evidence. For example, we can read the Writings in order to find passages with which we disagree. After examining all the passages with which we disagree, we can come to the conclusion that the premises of theistic psychology are not valid.
But this is a bogus assessment, not an objective one, not a rational one, not a fair one. And that's because right from the start and before the evidence was examined, the conclusion was already reached. In a court of law this would be rejected and prohibited. In science this assessment of validity would be rejected also because the data was not properly evaluated. If you look at the history of psychology you will find examples where one school of thought (e.g., behaviorism) examines the data published by those who are of another school of thought (e.g., Gestalt psychology). The psychologists in the opposing "schools of thought" were unable to agree on the validity of the data, nor on the proofs in the experiments. The behaviorists rejected the data gathered by the Gestaltists and vice versa. This and other historical cases shows that the negative bias disallows data from the other side.
But if we allow the possibility of theistic psychology as a valid scientific field, then the data brought forth in the Writings of Swedenborg can be fairly and rationally assessed.
Applied theistic psychology depends therefore on theistic psychology being valid. The process of "regeneration of character" is a primary goal of applied theistic psychology. The evidence brought forth in the Writings indicates that the psychological traits that constitute human character are inherited. In other words selfishness, cruelty, resentment, rebellion against moral imperatives, insensitivity, laziness, carelessness, and other negative character traits, are inherited tendencies that do not need to be learned. In the absence of learning these habits, they still develop from internal compulsion or motivation. It is a biological mechanism that is part of the property of human minds. It is well known that physical traits are inherited such as color of skin, eyes, and hair, as well as body build and biochemical characteristics like sensitivities or allergies. The mechanisms of how these physical traits are transmitted to offspring is fairly well known in modern science. However, less than nothing is known about the transmission of affective traits and tendencies, and these are the traits of character.
The reason less than little is known about the transmission of character traits is that little is known about the mind that is valid. This is because modern psychology has opposed dualism so that the mind is defined as an operation of the brain. In other words, according to this materialistic or monistic view, sensations are the electrical and chemical firings of nerve cells; cognitions or thoughts are the pattern of these electro-chemical operations; and feelings are the location and pattern of the firings. But none of this has been proven and it is utterly hypothetical and fantastic. Therefore nothing of valid substance is known about the mind in modern non-theistic psychology or medicine.
In the scientific revelations of the Writings it becomes clear what is the substance and what is the anatomy of the mind. The mind is a spiritual organ constructed out of the substances of the Spiritual Sun just as the brain is an organ constructed out of the materials of earth's natural sun. These "earthly" materials and constructions are temporary -- in time and space. but the spiritual substances of the mind are from the spiritual world and in the spiritual world. They are permanent and immortal constructions. The mind is an immortal, indestructible organ because its physiological fibers and nerve cells are made of immortal spiritual substances.
You can see therefore, assuming this is correct, that your memories, thoughts, feelings, emotional reactions -- are actually spiritual fibers coiled in certain ways, like the cells of the brain and its neuronal networks. In fact, the brain acquires its form and structure from the form and structure of the mind. The two are tied together functionally by the laws of correspondences and they must reflect each other in form and structure. When a child is conceived from the father's sperm cells there is transmission not only of the physical mechanisms but spiritual as well because the two cannot be separated, one dependent on the other for life and growth. In fact when we are born we have two bodies, one physical in the natural world, and one spiritual in the spiritual world. The two are functionally and uniquely tied to each other. As the spiritual body grows, so does the physical, the two growing together. When the brain in the physical body fires in reaction to sensory input, the mind in the spiritual body reacts by correspondence, producing sensations that are specific to the sensory input into the brain. The process is automatic and irreversible so that it appears to us psychologically that the sensations we are experiencing is in the physical body. But we know that this is impossible because sensations are operations of the spiritual body (or mind) and cannot exist as electrical activity. The same is true about thoughts and feelings.
Given this physiology we can see that the semen contains both physical matter and spiritual substance that is within it at the spiritual degree. This is the case with every physical object, for unless an object has a spiritual substance within it, or tied to it correspondentially, it cannot come into existence nor continue in existence or subsist. The brain therefore has a spiritual substance within it and it is this spiritual substance that produces sensations, thoughts, and feelings. The affective traits of the father are contained in the semen like a spiritual DNA package and they become active as the infant grows into adulthood. It should be observed that both bad and good spiritual tendencies are inherited in this way. Hence it is that teaching the principles of theistic psychology can help individuals in separating from their inherited character those affective traits that are injurious to self and society.
Regeneration is the most important area of concern for every individual given that every human being born today inherits many negative affective traits. As stated earlier, affective traits are spiritual, and therefore permanent. When the physical body "dies" and is separated from the mind (or spiritual body), conscious awareness is then originating with the spiritual body. The spiritual body is surrounded by a spiritual environment and every individual continues life in that state forever. Growth of the mind never stops to eternity, a characteristic that insures never-ending improvement and the contentment and happiness that are thereby engendered. This is called the "heavenly" state of mind. Heavenly life is fundamentally or inherently opposed to the opposite state of mind called "hellish." These two destroy each other like matter and anti-matter. Therefore there must develop a new state in which the bad and good traits in our affective character are separated. They both cannot survive together in one person in the spiritual world because that world is segregated into heavenly and hellish states of mind or life.
While our conscious awareness is tied to the physical body there is tolerance for both good and bad affective habits. For example, we can feel anger and resentment in one moment, and a little later we can feel compassion and peace, and still later we may be depressed, and later happy again, and so on. The same person can be nice at the office then get in the car and drive like an abusive maniac. A policeman who enforces the law may yet be himself a thief. A person can be fair in one business transaction but cheat in another. An honest official can break down and take a bribe, then turn around and be honest again. Sometimes we work diligently and do our best while at other times we make mistakes or loaf on the job. In other words we are mixed good and bad. But once we lose our physical body our mind loses the ability to contain active elements that are affective opposites.
This uni-valenced aspect of the spiritual world and the spiritual body (or mind), makes it crucially important to build up good affective traits because we will no longer be able to depend on our ambi-valenced comfort that we have while still attached to the physical body. Having lost the ability to be ambi-valent -- good and bad, we are then propelled either into our heavenly state of mind or into our hellish state of mind. If we are propelled into the heavenly state of mind we will grow in those good traits we have, and this endlessly to eternity. But if we are propelled into the hellish state of mind we will grow in those evil traits, endlessly to eternity. Swedenborg observed and described the life of both these human states under the title "heaven" and "hell."
Applied theistic psychology can therefore be of great usefulness to every individual in preparing for that crucial separation of our heavenly and hellish states of mind. Each contains affective traits that we have inherited -- cruelty and compassion, laziness and industriousness, selfishness and altruism, deceptiveness and honesty, treachery and patriotism, rebellion and obedience, etc. These are pan-human character traits sometimes classified as "vices" and "virtues." Everyone is familiar with them. What they don't know is why they should work hard to eliminate the "vices" and increase the "virtues." This is not known because non-theistic psychology is compelled to take an "amoral" position that excludes the idea of "evil traits" or "bad traits" and attempts to justify healthy personality traits by natural goals such as better performance or better adaptation to situations. But this is a relatively weak motivator compared to the reality of heaven and hell in eternity.
Every person who is taught theistic psychology and understands it in a rational way, will be super-motivated to undergo the process of character regeneration, insuring for themselves a heavenly eternity. The self-modification process involves the threefold self -- affective traits, cognitive reasonings, and sensorimotor operations. Many of the current ills that plague society would thus be eliminated for the most part -- criminal activity, violence, abuse, fraud, deception, and conflict. Health behavior will improve since the affective compulsions that lead to being overweight will be less dominant and resistant to control. The cognitive level of operation will rise in society with more people thinking at the rational level because heavenly motives produce rational ideas and principles while hellish motives produce irrational ideas and principles.
Parenting will improve as the balance of distribution of traits shifts from hellish to heavenly. Children inherit these positive tendencies acquired by the parents as a result of their character regeneration efforts. In this way there is a gradual shift towards heavenly human traits in the population. Marriage will improve as couples shift from the dominant and equity models of marriage to the unity model (see Section xx).
It is important to distinguish the science of theistic psychology from other endeavors that fall outside of rational science. An effective way of distinguishing rational spirituality from mysticism and spiritism is to determine whether the spiritual information being provided is based on direct sensory input from the spiritual world or God. If yes, then it cannot be scientific. This is because, theistic psychology is based exclusively on the Writings of Swedenborg which is the only original source of scientific information on the spiritual world. Swedenborg's ability to engage in direct communication with the inhabitants of the spiritual world was a unique doorway specially opened for the one individual who is to be the participant-observer of scientific revelations about the spiritual world. The Writings give a coherent and complete account of human development and when this is understood rationally it is clear that no direct communication is possible across the two worlds simply because such communication would be harmful to the individual in a modern world. Scientific revelations were given through one person for the benefit of everyone else.
Consider what would happen if one rejected the idea that the Writings of Swedenborg are the only source of scientific information about the spiritual world. Complete chaos ensues and theistic psychology becomes null and void as a science. All coherence and integration would be lost. Theistic psychology would become a hodge podge of different theories and claims, one more weird than another, about what people claim they saw or felt about the spiritual world, spirits, demons, God, etc. Direct sensuous consciousness of the spiritual world is not possible for anyone today because it would go in the opposite direction of our evolution. The human race has been given scientific revelations in Sacred Scripture for thousands of years in order to allow the gradual elevation of the human mind to rational consciousness.
Sensuous consciousness, or direct communication with spirits and God, was the original state of mind of the earliest generations on earth (see Section xx). By the time the New Testament was given two thousand years ago, all sensuous consciousness of spirits and God ceased. The Incarnate Divine-Human was the last step in this evolutionary progression. A new evolutionary era was begun which took the human race into the phase of rational spirituality. The Writings say that the heavens were reconstructed and new heavens came into existence out of the old. In other words, the upper regions of the human mind were changed into rational heavens. Henceforth anyone who is to be elevated to the heaven in their mind must do so by means of the elevator of rationality, that is, by means of the understanding of rational truths about God and the spiritual world.
The human race has been set on a rational course to reach the rational heavens. Clearly then, people claiming to talk to spirits, or have visions of the spiritual world as in the olden days of the prophets, are claiming something that is contrary to the evolutionary course in which we are set. There may be all sorts of reasons why people claim to have a sensuous consciousness of God or the spiritual world. But the point is that it doesn't matter what their reasons are, even if they themselves sincerely believe their own claims. Neither is it a valid argument to say that if Swedenborg talked to spirits than others can also. Swedenborg was commissioned by God to be the revelator of the Final Testament of the Threefold Word. This is a unique event just as the giving of the Old and New Testaments were unique events, each marking a new evolutionary phase for the human race.
Note also that Swedenborg's ability given to him for this mission was not at all like what others are claiming when they say they have psychic powers or can talk to the dead. Swedenborg could not foretell future events, for God gives no one that ability (see Section xx). Swedenborg did not go into a trance to be taken over by spirits, like a medium or shaman. Swedenborg was fully awake and conscious in both worlds simultaneously for 27 years non-stop. Swedenborg's basis of all that he reports is Sacred Scripture. He is not bringing us snippets of this or that, but a comprehensive integrated scientific account.
Spiritism is harmful because it inhibits the development of rational spirituality in an individual. Swedenborg observed that individuals who first awaken in the spiritual world ("novitiate spirits") are unable to continue believing anything they do not understand. Their own science and religion are rejected except that which has been understood by them while still on earth. This is because the spiritual world is a rational world, being the world of the mind, the world of understanding and feeling, the world of goodness and truth, as well as their opposites. The light that proceeds from the Spiritual Sun is rationality itself (called Divine Truth), and the heat within it, is Divine Love. In substantive dualism, rationality is a substance, while in non-theistic materialism rationality is nothing except some way of thinking about topics, and thinking is nothing but the result of brain activity of a certain kind. But in theistic psychology thinking is an operation of the spiritual organ called the mind (or "spirit") which is permanently constructed out of spiritual heat and light and formed into a shape and structure that can enter human states of feeling and thinking.
From these and similar considerations explained in the Writings, one can understand why direct communication with the spiritual world is made impossible today when rational scientific revelations have been given as the source of information about the spiritual world -- the only source. The impossibility of spiritism, psychic phenomena, mysticism, magic, faith healing, mediumship, shamanism, etc., rests on this rational explanation given in the scientific revelations presented in the Writings of Swedenborg. This impossibility is not a negative bias because of the rational explanation of why it is not possible. It is different with the negative bias against Swedenborg's Writings because those who adopt this bias are not able to prove rationally that Swedenborg's reports are invalid. That's because they are valid and you cannot prove that something valid is not rational.
Direct communication with the spiritual world would be possible if our consciousness was able to be elevated into the interior mind which is called the spiritual or celestial mind. The celestial mind is in the spiritual world and therefore can communicate with the inhabitants there, those who have "died" and now live in their spiritual body. But we do not have consciousness of the operations of the interior mind while we are still tied to the physical body. This is what makes "communication with the dead" impossible. It is the same with psychic powers that depend on sensing directly the spiritual world or phenomena. It is the same with mystical experiences of God or "oneness with All" which depend on direct sensory input from the spiritual world, that is, from the interior mind, of which we are unconscious and cannot sense anything. No one would have known this without the revelations in the Writings. Thanks to them, we can be free of these false and distracting ideas and theories. That's another great benefit of knowing theistic psychology.
The only source of scientific information about the spiritual world today lies in the Divine scientific revelations of the Writings of Swedenborg. Those who reject these revelations are cutting themselves off from the only source of valid information about the spiritual world. They are then exposed to all sorts false ideas and made up information that has no validity in reality, hence they are misleading. This is quite dangerous since all our future in eternity depends on our character regeneration by means of rational truths that can prepare our mind for immortal life in the rational heavens of eternity.
Starting in 1737 Swedenborg worked on several writing projects on the human mind, one of them titled Rational Psychology. This was several years prior to his ability to be conscious in both the spiritual and natural worlds simultaneously. Swedenborg's psychology antedates Wundt by more than a century. Later, when Swedenborg began his life as a dual citizen, he was able to expand and deepen his psychology. In his 12-volume work called Arcana Coelestia (or "Heavenly Secrets"), published between 1745-1749, his direct observations of the spiritual world provide a new basis for understanding how the human mind works.
Recall that the spiritual world is the same as the world of the mind, which is the mental world of feelings, thoughts, and sensations, organized into a unique personality. It would be similar in the field of dream analysis if you can imagine that they find a technique for putting you into someone's dreams. I saw a movie once with that imaginative theme. Once inside the dream of this dangerous madman, the woman investigator was able to see the mind of the patient, the things he was afraid of, the things he imagined himself to be, and so on. She was able to discover these things about his mind because she had gotten inside his his daydreams and fantasies.
Although that was a fantasy, what happened to Swedenborg was reality. His consciousness was opened all the way into the interior mind called the celestial mind. We all have this portion of the mind but we cannot be conscious of it until death. If we gained consciousness of it, we would be able like Swedenborg to see and interact with all those who had been born on this earth and have passed into the spiritual world. Swedenborg discovered that the most ancient people on this planet had their consciousness opened all the way to the celestial mind, and thus were able to communicate with their parents and ancestors in the spiritual world. But in later generations this ability was closed off by evolutionary changes that affected the brain and the mind. These historical events are revealed in the hidden correspondential meaning of the Old Testament, which can be extracted through the method of correspondences described in the Writings. Swedenborg goes through a verse by verse and word by word analysis of the Books of Genesis and Exodus in the Old Testament. This is done in the 12-volume Arcana Coelestia.
Modern psychology traces its short scientific history to the German psychologists who first built a laboratory of psychology, especially Wilhelm Wundt (1879). Scientific psychology has progressed in the area of external behavior but not so much in the area of internal behavior called the mind, the behavior of feeing this or that, or the behavior of thinking this or that. The restricted development is due to the unavailability of direct observational access to the feelings and thoughts. The closest modern psychology has come to feelings and thoughts has been the GSR and the cat scan. In other words nothing but chemical and electrical physiology of the physical body. Nothing at all abut the mental body or the mind. At worst, psychology has tried to fudge the line between the mind and the brain. Many psychologists have written and taught that thoughts and feelings are nothing else than these chemical and electrical operations inside the brain and body. As a result, nothing is known today in psychology about the anatomy, structure, and function of the real mind which is a spiritual organ constructed out of spiritual substances from the Spiritual Sun.
But now theistic psychology has access to the direct observations, reports, and experiments to be found in the Writings of Swedenborg. The essential issue is whether a psychologist wishes to remain in the negative bias, or to adopt the positive bias in order to make the relevant data available for inspection and rational analysis (see Chapter 1).
Spiritual psychology is an area within theistic psychology. It may also be called rational psychology. Swedenborg is able to describe the anatomy of the mind because it is the same as the geography of the spiritual world. For example, by "traveling" throughout the spiritual world Swedenborg discovered that there are three "heavens" that were connected to each other in a sequence relative to the Spiritual Sun. The closest heaven is called the Third Heaven and refers to cities in which lived people whose mind was opened to the celestial degree. In other words when the consciousness of an individual rises to the uppermost regions of the mind, the experience of life is that of a heavenly conjugial paradise where only good and truth exist in endless abundance. Everyone who is in this state of consciousness experiences themselves to live with others like themselves in an eternal conjugial heaven. Clearly, what makes the Third Heaven that Swedenborg visited is nothing else than the celestial mind. The two completely overlap in existence.
Those who had their mind opened to the second level, called the spiritual degree, appeared to themselves to live in cities with others similar to themselves, but the content of their thoughts and feelings was entirely different from the thoughts and feelings of those in the Third Heaven. Those in the First Heaven were still further away from the Spiritual Sun and the inhabitants had thoughts and feelings at the natural level of rational consciousness. The three heavens are actual mental planes that exist in every human being's mind. At the spiritual level all human minds are in the same location called the spiritual world. The only reason we can't see this is because we are tied to the physical body and our spiritual mind is not in a conscious state. But as soon as the physical body dies and the mind is resuscitated, we become conscious of all the people who are also there in their mind called the world of spirits.
There are people who are conscious in their natural mind--us here on earth. We see all those who are also conscious at this level of the mind (natural mind). Those who are conscious in the spiritual mind (after resuscitation) see everyone who is also in that state of mind. If you elevate your mind to the celestial degree, you become conscious of all the people who have elevated their consciousness to that level and abide there to eternity.
The human mind is therefore a spiritual organ having three major portions or sub-organs -- natural, spiritual, and celestial. The operations inside each sub-organ are radically different so that they have nothing in common. Nevertheless the three parts are integrated into one functioning unit by means of the laws of correspondences. First, influx streams into the celestial mind at the top producing the syntax and basis of rationality and intelligence. This influx is conscious for those in the Third Heaven but not for those below or more distant from the Spiritual Sun. This influx is processed by the celestial mind through "celestial-rational correspondences" of Sacred Scripture (see Section xx). There is a correspondential or functional reaction in the spiritual mind which thinks by means of spiritual-rational correspondences of Sacred Scripture. Swedenborg observed how some particular ideas thought about in the Third Heaven were received in the Second Heaven and he was able to confirm what the differences were. Celestial thoughts and feelings are about the origin of all things from love and affection. Spiritual thoughts and feelings are about the causes of things by means of truth. Natural thoughts and feelings are about the effects played out in natural things of spiritual causes and celestial sources or origins.
Spiritual psychology is the study of how our mind develops and grows. We begin conscious life at birth when physical sensorimotor input and activity gets organized by the spiritual or rational mind. Unless the rational mind ordered the sensory input into a rational arrangement or meaning, there would not be a development of human consciousness. We would remain at the level of consciousness of animals, which lacks rationality and is based on instinct or built in mental reactions to particular physical stimuli. But because human beings have an interior rational or spiritual mind, we are able to arrange the natural sensory input into a rational order that makes sense and corresponds to actual reality.
It is the same with learning to talk. The child is exposed to the language of the parents but this would be as useless as for the cats and horses we interact with and talk to. Children can learn to talk like the parents only because their rational mind organizes the streams of sounds they hear and associate with what's happening around them. This built in cognitive syntax has been called by modern linguists the innate language acquisition device (LAD), and it has been shown to be rational in current research by linguists (see especially the work of Noam Chomsky).
We are capable of learning knowledge and culture only because we have a spiritual mind that is completely rational and organizes the events we experience in the natural world around us. The outside natural world comes into our senses and is organized by the rational mind. In this way we grow up to be intelligent adults able to think rationally, to plan our goals, and to modify our character to be more and more civilized, human, and angelic.
Swedenborg observed that our thoughts and feelings are influenced by those who are in communication with our spiritual body that houses our thoughts and feelings. The character of the influence was determined by the character of the individuals or "spirits" who were in communication with our spiritual body (see "vertical community" Chapter xx). Swedenborg also realized that there is a purpose and mechanism involved in these spiritual interactions. The purpose had to do with regeneration or character reformation. Every individual is put into the position of undergoing regeneration since this is necessary for ascending to the celestial regions of life. Our level of thinking and feeling is at first natural. Then, as we undergo regeneration of character, our thinking and feeling becomes spiritual. Thus our consciousness is raised form natural to spiritual. As we continue character regeneration we are raised in our consciousness to the celestial level, along with the thoughts and feelings proper to that state of life.
This process of character regeneration involves the necessity of making free choices out of love for what we choose. At first we love evil things which are animalistic rather than human, such as selfishness, cruelty, savagery, violence, deception, vanity, resentment, anger, and so on. These types of thoughts and feelings or motives need to be freely rejected, which is not easy because we experience positive reinforcement and pleasure out of them. We love to be egotistical and dominate others for our benefit, convenience, or pleasure. It's hard to give them up freely. Therefore we are given special opportunities to give them up. These are called temptations. During a temptation our spiritual body is interacting with both evil and good "spirits." Our thoughts and feelings reflect this ambivalent influence, one moment wanting to resist, another moment wanting to give in, then fighting again, and so on. We have many different temptations as we grow more rational and celestial and they are each made available to us by the specific individual spirits who are permitted to interact with our spiritual body.
You can explore these spiritual mechanisms further through the Reading List.
The basic tenet of theistic psychology can be seen when you consider this definitional and methodological formula:
mental = rational = spiritual = immortal and eternal
I start with "mental" because this is something we are very familiar with. Mental refers to the operation of the mind. In familiar psychological terms we can say that mental, or mind, refers to the affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor behavior of every individual. In other words, our feelings or motives, our thoughts or understandings, and our sensations and motor impulses. Another way is to say that "mental" is our self or ego. We can also talk about the "mental world," referring to the content of our mind -- our thoughts and feelings and sensations and perceptions. The mental world is very familiar to each of us and we can also call it our conscious awareness, the "I" in what we speak (e.g., "I want one of those.").
The first part of the spiritual psychology formula says that the mental world is the same as the rational world. In other words our thoughts and feelings do not operate or exist in a vacuum or in nothing, which would be impossible. Feelings, thoughts, and sensations operate in a rational atmosphere or "ether" which is called spiritual ether or atmosphere -- the third part of the basic formula. In other words, if we put the three parts together, we can say that the mental world with which we are so familiar, is actually a spiritual world in which we operate as individuals, and in which other individuals operate through their rational atmosphere or ether.
By seeing the identity between the mental world and the spiritual world we enter the age of dualism, or substantive dualism. In other words, we begin to recognize and understand that we are dual citizens, members of two worlds, the natural world and the mental world, which is not natural, but spiritual. The word "super-natural" has also been used by some people to refer to the spiritual world. But the people who use the word "supernatural" may not realize that it means mental or rational.
It may be surprising to hear that first, that there is a spiritual world, and second, that we are so familiar with it since it is nothing else than the mental world. We might even have a tendency to think that this is not a big revelation since it doesn't seem so real. We have been educated in a monist intellectual climate so that "mental" sounds less real than "physical" or "concrete." In psychology especially we have been trained to think of mental as "behavioral" and behavioral as "overt" and "concrete." There is therefore a negative bias against the idea that "mental" = "spiritual" = immortal and eternal. In our every day life we have the experience that thoughts and feelings come and go and that when we are thinking of a million we don't have, it is not the same thing as having the million in the bank. We say, that's just a fantasy, just empty thoughts. So we can acquire the bias that the physical world is more real than the mental world. But the opposite is the actuality or reality.
The rational ether in which the mental world exists is actually an atmosphere, a substance, in the same way that physical space fields make up the framework for the stars, planets, and atoms or cells. The first amazing idea that hits us is that there is only one mental world since there is only one spiritual world and only one rational world. It follows, amazingly, that your mental world is the same as my mental world, and the same as the mental world of every human being that has ever existed. And amazingly, it also follows, that the mental world is immortal and eternal, since the spiritual world is eternal and the two overlap or are an identity having the same laws and the same substance.
In other words all of the human race is together in one mental world called the spiritual world. Since thoughts and feelings are spiritual, they are immortal and eternal. Unlike rocks, and wood, and the physical body and brain, the mind is immortal, the individual conscious self is immortal because it is constructed of an immortal substance called rationality ether.
Although these definitions have not yet been proven to be true in what I have presented above, it is clear that they are rational, which is an essential requirement for them to be part of science. If you do not reject the data Swedenborg has collected through his observations of the spiritual world, then they constitute scientific proof for these definitions that are also rational. I have analyzed and studied Swedenborg's data for a number of years now and I experience no conflict as a scientist and psychologist in accepting it as valid. Further, it enriches the knowledge and application of psychology to such an extent that it ushers in a new bright phase for science, society, and humankind.
Swedenborg's ability to be conscious in both worlds simultaneously is not so far fetched when you consider the basic formula of spiritual psychology presented above. When we are conscious of our thoughts, or when we daydream or imagine something, we are actually "traveling" like Swedenborg throughout the spiritual world. What we see in our thoughts or imaginations are actual scenes being observed by the spiritual mind. Similarly, when we dream we are actually observing scenes in the spiritual world and others who are present with us can also see these scenes all around them--something that Swedenborg has verified and observed many times. This confirms that dreams are not mere nonexistent figments of nothing but actual appearances in the spiritual world--as long as you're not going to reject Swedenborg's reports out of hand as something impossible or unbelievable, which is the negative bias (see Chapter 1).
With Swedenborg there was conscious presence in the spiritual world so that he could not only see the appearances and events, but have conversations with the people there. This we cannot do while we are attached to the physical body because it is harmful to our spirit, throwing us back into sensuous consciousness and removing all higher forms of rationality. Swedenborg was protected from injury on account of his special Divinely commissioned assignment of authoring the Writings and its scientific revelations. Once we get to the world of spirits after resuscitation, we are able to fully confirm ourselves all that Swedenborg has reported.
But to make sure the proposal is rational, let's look at the basic formula again:
mental = rational = spiritual = immortal and eternal
In what way are our thoughts and feelings immortal or eternal? Recall that the Spiritual Sun is the source of all substances in the mind just as the physical sun is the source of all matter on this planet and in our brain. Physical objects constructed out of this matter are temporary and sooner or later disintegrate back into the elements. Even the planet has a limited lifespan of a few billion years. Why are things in the natural world temporary in existence? It's because the materials or elements out of which they are constructed are temporary in existence. Think of what happens when a flower is constructed out of substances from the Spiritual Sun. This flower is timeless and has an endless existence--as long as the human emotion or thought that created that flower retains its connection of love or use with that flower. It is the love or use of the flower that creates it and maintains it in existence. This fact Swedenborg has witnessed numerous time, and so shall we, when we get there.
It is different here on earth where flowers are made of matter. Try to wish a flower into existence and you will fail. This is because matter is inert and does not respond directly to human wishes and purposes. All matter ultimately exists because it is useful to humans in some way since everything God has created was for the sole purpose that it serve some human use. This is true of the entire universe as a whole and of every detail or part that makes up the universe. Clearly, the universe is a human universe, serving human purposes, the chief of which is that people be born on one of the numerous earths, develop a heavenly character, then pass on to heaven where they are to live in conjugial bliss to eternity. This is the purpose God had in creating the universe, as revealed in the Writings.
Once we move on to the spiritual world we are truly in our human element. Not so much on earth, because this is merely a controlled training ground for our spirit or mind. Here, our awesome power to create by emotion and thought, is limited to indirect effects on inert matter. We can build machines and houses, bridges and satellites. We force our human will upon the inert matter, turning it into our purposes or uses. Look how much effort it takes to chop some wood for the fire, or to learn how to run the four-minute mile. But once we are in our rational ether in the spiritual world our awesome human powers are instantly visible, and we create the surrounding environment by our wishes and needs--palaces, art, food, clothes, animals, fountains--anything you want, instantly created for you by the Divine-Human. This is heaven. This is the purpose for which the Divine-Human created the world. It is an act of Infinite Love and Wisdom.
You might think that this sounds more like a wonderful fairy tale than science. The purpose of theistic psychology is to give you the opportunity to examine this apparent fairy tale and to see that it is the actuality. And you can only see this rationally, by your own understanding. If your understanding cannot clearly see it after examining the evidence, it will remain a fairy tale in your memory. When you get to the world of spirits, you will remember the fairy tale and will be surprised, very surprised, to see that it is the reality. Either way you will see this reality, whether later when you are resuscitated, or now, when you study theistic psychology. As you will see from future chapters, there are powerful reasons why we are far far better off seeing this now than later.
Even when we adopt the positive bias in science regarding dualism and God, there still remains some doubt about the feasibility of such an approach. How can theistic psychology be scientific if you cannot do research on the spiritual world or on God? Many students are initially bothered by the fact that they have to believe all this solely on the word or experience of one man. But actually you don't have to believe anything. It would be useless to find the Writings of Swedenborg in the library one day, as I have, and to believe this author because he says so. An old acquaintance to whom I was telling about Swedenborg, kept replying to every detail, "But why do you believe this strange man from another century?" From his point of view it was "believing" but from my point of view it was "understanding" and "seeing." This is what's really wonderful about the Writings of Swedenborg, that there is nothing to believe but only to understand.
It's important therefore to go further with the details of the dualist approach to see how God and the spiritual world can be incorporated in valid research.
Actually the task is not as difficult as one might at first think as soon as we consider that the spiritual world overlaps completely with the mental world, and that God reveals many facts about the spiritual world and about how the world is managed through the universal laws of rational correspondences. Theistic psychology cannot be seen as a reasonable and valid approach if one does not allow the dualist concept of "scientific revelations" by God. The scientific revelations God has given in the Writings of Swedenborg give us the details about how God intervenes in phenomena and manages them according to strict laws of rational order.
The idea of "scientific revelations" at first strikes us as preposterous. This is because we begin with the negative bias, with the unproven assumption that the physical world runs itself through natural laws. Also, we hold on to the unproven assumption that science is a human enterprise involving human intelligence struggling to understand a complex universe. These two ideas are unproven. The physical world does not run by itself -- that's the positive bias, which is also unproven to begin with. The enterprise of science is not run by human intelligence acting on its own from self, but God intervenes in its course--this too is the positive bias and unproven as yet.
There is no other choice: One must be willing to let go of the negative bias and to adopt the positive bias in order to investigate rationally the concept of "scientific revelations."
The negative bias says: No need to investigate this, no need to adopt the positive bias, just remain in the negative bias.
The positive bias says: There is a need to investigate this, one must let go of the negative bias to do it.
There is no other choice! You must choose between one or the other.
(See also the section on the positive bias above.)
The concept of scientific revelations makes rational sense in the positive bias mode of thinking. Most people, scientists including, already believe in God. What is it they believe about God? The dictionary defines God as "the supreme or ultimate reality; the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshiped as creator and ruler of the universe." There are three main elements in the definition of God:
(1) God is the ultimate reality;
(2) God is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good;
(3) God is worshiped as the ruler of the universe.
God is worshiped by the majority of scientists as the omnipotent ruler of the universe and the ultimate reality. Does it make sense then to deny God in science? No. Remember that as scientists we are trained to follow an intellectual tradition, which is the negative bias in science. Some scientists voice the belief that this is justified because you can't do research on God, or because you don't need to do research on God since God leaves nature to run itself by means of the natural laws that God created at the beginning of creation.
This assumption is shattered when you read the Writings of Swedenborg. Here for the first time, a scientist of renown has been given the ability to be conscious in a part of the mind that we are ordinarily not conscious of until we become "spirits" in the afterlife. Swedenborg was able to observe thousands of individuals undergoing the 30-hour process of resuscitation when the heart stops and the brain is dead. Upon completion of the process we seem to ourselves to be awakened and we now continue as immortal "spirits" a life in the spiritual world, also called "eternity" because there is no sense of time or aging.
Further, what Swedenborg saw and heard, every individual sees and hears when our conscious awareness switches venue from the natural mind to the spiritual mind. The natural mind contains the experiences built up through our physical body interacting with the natural world. The natural mind and the brain are closely tied functionally by the laws and mechanisms of correspondences. But the spiritual mind receives input from the spiritual world. though we are unconscious of its operation. The spiritual mind has a strong influence on the rational mind, which is intermediate between the natural mind and the spiritual mind. The rational mind is capable of assimilating information from both the natural mind (and world) and the spiritual mind (and world). When fully developed, the rational mind has two components, outer and inner. The outer component is called the natural-rational mind while the inner component is called the spiritual-rational mind.
Because the rational mind can operate with both physical and spiritual information, it becomes the basis for theistic psychology. Swedenborg wrote a book titled Rational Psychology in 1742 but starting in 1743 he found himself suddenly capable of being conscious of his spiritual mind as well as his natural mind. While this took some getting used to, he quickly adapted to his new dual citizenship and for the next 27 years he recorded his daily observations and experiments in the spiritual world. He wrote enough to fill nearly 30 volumes in English translation. This amazing record is totally unique in the history of science. No other scientist has been given this special ability while still tied to the physical body. No other source of scientific information is available about God and the spiritual world. Swedenborg also gives an integrated rational scientific theory or explanation of all of his reports. Nothing is left out of this comprehensive account.
In the past 200 years many people known in literature have referred to Swedenborg (see list below). There are three types of reactions that I noticed in the literature -- religious, psychiatric, and scientific. The religion based on the Writings is called the "New Church" or the "New Christian Church" and is well established today with several branches worldwide, though quite small and little known. The psychiatric reaction varies from "he was totally delusional" to "he was a mystic genius." The scientific reaction is only now being felt through a few forerunners in science like myself. I have coined the phrase "scientific revelations" to designate the content of the Writings of Swedenborg when looked at from a scientist point of view in the positive bias.
My point is simple and logical: Since God is the ultimate reality and ruler of the universe (see definition above) it's not logical for science to ban the concept of God from the study and description of reality.
Other attempts to link "religion and science" -- like Creationism or Christian Science -- are not serviceable to science because they are based on a subjective interpretation and perspective, or are contrary to the basic methods of science. Similarly, what is known as the literature on "the psychology of religion" does not study God and the spiritual world but people's religious practices and beliefs (see Volume 4). Swedenborg's Writings is the only empirical source of information about God and the spiritual world, and they contain the only explanatory accounts that are rational and universally serviceable to science. This is not an assertion you have to believe, since this would be useless in science. It is an assertion you can confirm rationally by evaluating the evidence.
Consider that we are more familiar with the spiritual world and God than with the neighborhood we live in or even our own kitchen or car. What is the most familiar thing you know, the most common and repeated experience in your life? It is not eating or walking or talking. It is feeling, thinking, and sensing. These are the things we do constantly even as we do other things like eating, walking, or talking. The constant in our daily living is the mental world we experience, see, and know from within.
In other words we are more familiar with the spiritual world (or mental world) than we are with the physical or natural world.
Now consider how familiar you are with God. Human beings in all cultures know that God is infinite, which means omnipotent (all power is God's power), omniscience (knows and is aware of everything), omnipresent (is present everywhere). Although this is known about God by most people, it doesn't mean they understand it rationally. For instance, consider omnipotence. People might have the idea that the power they have to move, eat, or think has been given to them by God, but now that they are living creatures, they have this power themselves, even if it originates from God. But this way of thinking is not fully rational. If God gives away some power to living creatures then God is no longer omnipotent since something else than God has power after God gives the power away.
So it's not possible for God to give some power away as long as God is omnipotent. This is a rational conclusion as part of the definition of omnipotence.
The implications are staggering. It means an individual human being has no actual power to eat, walk, talk, think, remember, or choose a preference. That would mean that we are actually biological and spiritual robots activated by the one power there is. But this would not be a perfect world, would it? You would not want to be a spiritual robot or a natural one, for we would then lose our humanity and no longer be human beings. Therefore God had to create a method or mechanism by which human beings could actually be human even though they have no power of their own.
In the Writings of Swedenborg God reveals this method. It is called the "as-of self." In other words we do not actually have a self that has its own power, but we do have an as-of self, which is the real feeling that we act freely, from our own will, and not from God.
To understand this more clearly, think of an analogy where a similar situation arises. When you are taking care of a toddler at home, or the beach, or in a park, your way of interacting is an analogy with the way God interacts with us. The toddler doesn't like to be constricted and wants to roam at will, exploring, moving around, looking, sticking the fingers here or there, laughing, and so on. The toddler is most happy when having the feeling of being completely free. It doesn't like you to stand in front of the fire place to prevent it from touching the fire. It doesn't like you to prevent it from sticking its finger in the electric plug. But you are around, sometimes blocking the way, sometimes hiding something from view, sometimes pushing slightly to change the child's direction of motion, or redirecting the child's focus by sticking something before its face. And so on. In other words you exercise all power to keep the child from getting hurt. The child can accept this as long as it feels like it retains control and freedom. Meanwhile you also provide shelter and food and clothes and insurance and a college fund for that child, arranging the child's life in particular ways. None of this care and arrangement and control comes to the awareness of the child.
In a similar way God provides and intervenes at all levels of action and environment. No detail whatsoever is possible without God's immediate control. This is true of the motion of an electron, the flight of a bird, the rolling of a stone, or what an individual remembers or forgets moment by moment. To remember something takes power and to hold something in memory takes power. To plan your next hour takes power, and to perform your plan takes power. You can see from this that since God is the only power, and since God cannot give away power, therefore God is the most intimate partner we can ever have, far more intimate than any friend or family member.
This amazing intimate relationship with God does not change or diminish whether the individual acknowledges God's partnership or not. An atheist claims not to believe in God's existence or in scientific revelations from God and laughs at those who know of God's existence and role. Viewed from the perspective of dualism, an atheist has the illusion of possessing power from self or from nature, but all along, God must be present participating in the atheist's thought processes and attitudes, because it takes power to have an attitude and to live according to it, and all power is God's power.
This raises an enormous puzzle that authors have discussed for millennia. It is the question of why, if God is omnipotent, does God provide power to the atheist to deny God? Or, why does God provide power and intelligence and skill to the terrorist who kills innocent people? Why does God create a natural disaster that kills many people? Why does God permit wars, crime, rape, abuse, children as sex slaves, deception, lies, depression, sickness? Why does the omnipotent God allow these evil injurious events to take place? -- especially since God is defined as pure Love and pure Truth.
Many people have used the presence of evil, the suffering of the innocent, and the success of dishonest people, as a rationale for disbelieving God or dethroning God in their mind. People have attempted various solutions to this basic puzzle but real progress could not be made until God provided scientific revelations to explain how the world is managed and run. The "as-of self" is absolutely essential for our happiness as human beings and for eternal life in heaven. Through the "as-of self" we can take responsibility for what happens because God cooperates in maintaining that sense of as-of self freedom.
Rationally and logically we know that God is pulling the strings of events and sequences, but experientially we feel completely free, moving and thinking from our desire or motivation.
Consider how a minute amount of power from your finger can move ten mighty men aside. The athletes are pulling on a rope, two teams against each other, and they are perfectly matched. You know they are perfectly matched because the rope is not moving in any direction, stuck in the balance of power. Now you come along and you pull the rope with two fingers. What happens? The ten strong athletes come tumbling down, losing the perfect balance of power with which the two teams matched each other.
You can see from this kind of idea how we can make decisions without any power of our own, and yet be responsible for those choices. The scientific revelations describe our thinking process as a mental operation in which other people participate, in a similar way that the two teams of athletes were pulling the rope in opposite direction. God retains power over what happens by influencing the steps of our thinking, moment by moment, all day long. This influencing process is not direct and immediate, like pulling a rope, but indirect or mediately through others with whom we are brought into communication by God (see "vertical community" in Chapter xx).
Our train of thought is influenced by the spirits, or people in the spiritual world, who are allowed to communicate with our spiritual body in the spiritual world. It's almost like a debating society with a winner and a loser. One team of spirits have disposition or desire X while another team of spirits are brought near who have disposition and desire Y. Whatever thoughts come into our awareness are through the influence of the character of the spirits then in communication with us.
We are aware of the effect of their approach but not the actual influx or influence. We are aware for instance of a particular thought or memory that we recognize as part of our past experience, and we are aware of a sequence of thoughts that come to us about an issue or plan, but we are not conscious of where these thoughts come from or why these thoughts now enter our mind instead of some other thoughts. Yet the sequence of thoughts is governed by God by means of a continuous switching around of what spirits are in communication with our mind moment by moment.
If we were aware of the spirits and their influence on our thinking we would not be pleased. We would not feel free, ever, and no longer be actually human, since the foundation of being human is to act rationally to carry out desired goals. To act from freedom according to reason is the hallmark of the human being. This is one of the reasons why God does not allow a mystical or sensory awareness of other spirits or of God until we are no longer tied to the physical body and live our life in a rational universe called the spiritual world.
But then are we free or not?
Yes we are. God maintains the perfect balance of power in every feeling, thinking, sensing and moving. We do these things without our own power and yet because of the balance of power we can act without power as long as God cooperates and participates in every detail at every moment from conception to eternity. As a result of this we can continue to develop our as-of self character and always feel that it is us in freedom that creates it. At the same time God warns us in scientific revelations that we must not attribute this freedom and power to ourselves but only to God. In this way God can develop our mind and character to its full human potential. But when we deny that God is the participant-operator of all our life and experience, we fall into unreal and injurious states of mind called "hell" and our character becomes enamored of illusions and delusions that eventually lead us to a hellish life from which we are unwilling to escape to eternity. So much is at stake whether we accept reality as it is revealed by God, or whether we reject rational revelation and construct our own world of unreality, illusion, and suffering.
Because God and the spiritual world are so intimate, close, and familiar to us in daily living, it is possible to research God and the spiritual world using the methods of theistic psychology. I should note that some people have formulated some type of research about God that cannot work, so that the inevitable conclusion will always be, "there is no valid proof." For instance suppose you set up a research study in which you randomly assign subjects to two conditions, the "prayer group" and the "no prayer group." The prayer group is instructed to pray every day morning and evening for what they need or want at that moment, while the no-prayer group is instructed to read a novel at that time. The researchers keep track of the individuals for one year and add up the successes of each group. Will they find a significant difference? No, they will not.
But this is not a valid experiment about prayer and God. It is only a test of people's idea of prayer. People do believe that praying for X often brings X to them, and they thank God for it. There is no harm in proceeding in this way for it validates the reality that we are dependent on God moment by moment to continue life. But from the scientific research point of view this kind of experiment cannot be used to study God's ways, but only people's belief systems. Hence it belongs to the non-theistic psychology of religion, not to theistic psychology.
The only method by which God can be studied scientifically and rationally is through the scientific revelations God has given to humanity. Through the Writings of Swedenborg God reveals that events are not produced by human intervention because that would mean that God is not omnipotent and fully in charge. If praying could influence events directly, what would happen in a football game where each team prays for victory? Or in a war, or in a lottery, or when someone is sick. God obviously cannot give over any power to someone praying. It is still God who has to make the decision as to what is going to happen, regardless of the prayer. This is shown by the fact that many successful and happy people never pray, and many people who pray keep praying and not getting what they pray for. Prayer is good because it is speech with God. But prayers cannot direct God's decisions (see Section xx). Hence any research on the "effectiveness" of praying does not belong to theistic psychology.
God encourages human beings to pray, but not because their input is needed in the management of events. It is God who gives an individual the power to pray in the first place, as well as what to say and think, and so praying cannot have an effect of God similar to what happens when you beg someone to do this or that for you. The begging may change their mind and agree to do it, but the praying to God cannot change God's mind for this is impossible. And yet when you read the Old and New Testaments in the literal sense you are told to pray and ask God for what we need, and that if we do this, God will grant it to us. Hence it is a religious Divine Commandment that we should pray, as taught in the plain words of Sacred Scripture.
In theistic psychology we do not contradict this Commandment. But we go deeper into it. In the Writings it is explained why God gives us the Commandment to pray--not in order to influence Him, but in order to arouse our love for Him and our conscious awareness of His presence with us as a co-Participant in every detail of thought or deed. Through this love of God we enter a mental state in which we can receive a higher understanding of the truths in Sacred Scripture. Through this higher understanding of Divine reality we are able to face deeper temptations and to effect the regeneration of our feelings and thoughts all the way to the celestial level of mental operations. In this way God works to insure our ability to acquire a heavenly mind. This is why He has commanded us to pray. You can see that this rational explanation is far more detailed and scientific than the religious view that prayer influences God.
Therefore other methods will need to be developed in theistic psychology in order to study God and how the mind and the world is managed by Him (see Section xx).
Swedenborg's book Rational Psychology (1742) marks the historical beginning of theistic psychology. It was followed by the 12 volume series called Arcana Coelestia (or Heavenly Secrets) which was the first time in the history of science that a scientist reported his empirical observations and experiments in the spiritual world. There followed two dozen books until 1772 when Swedenborg ended his life in the physical body. The collection of some 30 books are known today as the Writings of Swedenborg (see Reading List below). Swedenborg is well known as a literary figure of influence (see list below), but totally unknown in science and psychology. Not even the history of psychology textbooks mention him even though they mention other major figures as well as many very minor names no one has ever heard of. Why this omission?
As discussed in other places, the negative bias in science and psychology is so powerful an orientation, so persuasive and compelling, so politically strong and historically established, that the name of Swedenborg cannot gain entry into established circles in education and research (see Chapter 1). Mine is the first modern attempt by a professional scientist in a public institution of higher learning to make a concerted effort to spell out in detail the case for the positive bias regarding the Writings of Swedenborg (see Web site at: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy/instructor/swedenborg.html ).
In Rational Psychology Swedenborg had attained the ultimate scientific level of thinking possible for him using only the scientific data available in his time in anatomy, physiology, neurology, philosophy, and psychology. It is only after he completed writing Rational Psychology that he suddenly developed the ability to be conscious in his spiritual mind. It is therefore interesting to see how far psychology can go without using the data on the mind and the spiritual world that Swedenborg records in the Writings. One of the outlines found in his notes shows the following table of contents:
1. The Body in General
2. The Soul in General
3. The Animal Spirit ("animal" is used in the sense of "physiological")
2. The Blood
5. Sensation and Motion [Action]
6. Imagination and Memory
7. The Rational Mind
8. The Soul
9. Concordance of Systems
10. Death and Immortality
11. The Soul After Death
13. Divine Providence, Predestination, [etc.]
12. Appendix. Passions of the Animus
(based on Alfred Acton, Preface to Rational Psychology (1742) Swedenborg Scientific Association, Philadelphia, PA 1950)
Note that Swedenborg had already discovered on his own that the soul lives after death, that the spiritual mind is rational, that our immortality starts right after death, that there is a heaven, that God intervenes in all details, that the body reacts to the mind or soul. Elsewhere he deduces the existence of the Spiritual Sun from the Bible and his own rational premises about God. When Swedenborg suddenly developed his dual consciousness at age 57, he was able to confirm by direct observation what he had rationally deduced earlier. In addition, he was now able to add many details he had no way of figuring out ahead of time.
Swedenborg had several volumes in mind under the series title of Psychological Transactions. A listing of Swedenborg's works with dates are given here: www.glencairnmuseum.org/jkwh.html Access to the Writings online is available here: www.theheavenlydoctrines.org
The Table of Contents of Rational Psychology (1742) covers many of the topics in contemporary psychology textbooks:
I. Sensation or the Passion of the Body
VII. Perception, Imagination, Memory, and their Ideas
VIII. The Pure Intellect
IX. The Human Intellect: Intellection, Thought, Reasoning, and Judgment
X. The Commerce [Interaction] of Soul and Body
XI. Harmonies and the Affections Arising Therefrom. Desires in General
XII. The Animus and Its Affections
XIII. The Animus and the Rational Mind
XIV. The Formation and Affections of the Rational Mind
XV. The Loves and Affections of the Mind
XVI. Conclusion as to What the Animus Is, What the Spiritual Mind and What the Rational Mind
XVII. Free Decision, or the Choice of Moral Good and Evil
XVIII. The Will and Its Liberty, and What the Intellect is in Relation Thereto
XX. Human Prudence
XXI. Simulation and Dissimulation
XXII. Cunning and Malice
XXIV. Justice and Equity
XXV. Science, Intelligence, Wisdom
XXVI. The Causes Which Change the State of the Intellect and Rational Mind, that is, Prevent or Perfect It
XXVII. Loves of the Soul or Spiritual Loves
XXVIII. The Derivation of Corporeal Loves from Spiritual, and their Concentration in the Rational Mind
XXIX. Pure or Divine Love Regarded in Itself
XXX. The Influx of Animus and Its Affections into the body, and of the Body Into the Animus
XXXI. The Influx of the Rational Mind Into the Animus, and by the Animus Into the Body; And the Influx of the Animus Into the Rational Mind
XXXII. The Influx of the Spiritual Mind or Soul, and the Animus Into the Spiritual Mind
XXXIII. The Influx of the Spiritual Loves of the Soul Into the Rational Mind, and the Reverse
XXXIV. Inherited Characteristics
XXXVI. The Immortality of the Soul
XXXVII. The State of the Soul After the Death of the Body
XXXVIII. Heaven or the Society of Happy Souls
XXXIX. Hell, or the Society of Unhappy Souls
XL. Divine Providence
XLI. Fate, Fortune, Predestination, Human Prudence
XLII. A Universal Mathesis
It is quite amazing to see Swedenborg's grasp of psychology long before Wundt, Freud, , the Gestaltists, Hebb, and Skinner. His focus covers what today is divided in several sub-fields of psychology-- physiological psychology, social psychology, educational psychology, general psychology, psycholinguistics, Gestalt psychology, dynamic psychology, and clinical psychology. It is a good definition of what will become modern theistic psychology. It is truly remarkable that he achieved this foundation solely by means of the data available in science at this time (middle of the 18th century in Western Europe), plus the Bible. Swedenborg included God and Divine revelation in all his major scientific works. The Bible is written in an ancient style yet it reveals many facts about God, the human mind, death, and the spiritual world. Swedenborg was able to understand and to extract these facts from the Bible through his amazing rational intellect. Shortly after he wrote Rational Psychology he found himself suddenly conscious of his spiritual mind, giving him unprecedented access to the spiritual world.
The Bible records the spiritual visions of dozens of prophets and apostles, yet not one of these visions was equivalent to what Swedenborg experienced, namely, full fledged conscious awareness in the spiritual world, uninterruptedly for 27 years
Let's examine what Swedenborg said about death before he was able to be conscious in the spiritual world. He therefore used the same data as any scientist had access to then (1742) or today (2004). In Rational Psychology Swedenborg uses the term "soul" to refer to what later he calls the "spirit." He identifies both terms with "the mind" which is a term still active today. I call Swedenborg's approach "substantive dualism" because he specifies that the body and the mind (spirit, soul) are of different substances belonging to different worlds. The body is made of chemicals on the planet from the sun. The mind is made of a "spiritual form" by which he meant structure or anatomy.
Swedenborg formulated the rational principle that I can summarize as: No function without structure. By this I mean that if you define the mind as capable of some operation (e.g., thinking, remembering, analyzing) then the mind must have a structure or organic anatomy that can perform these operations.
The dualists that are mentioned in history of psychology textbooks, like Descartes, have not proposed what the substance might be that forms the mind or spirit. Swedenborg began an entirely new idea about dualism by making it substantive. This is what makes theistic psychology possible in modern science. Swedenborg always specified the mechanisms by which God operates the world from top down through intermediary substances and forms, atmospheres and correspondences. Swedenborg specified several anatomical and functional levels of the operations of the mind. These were rationally derived from research published by others on the human body in physiology and anatomy. A couple of years later, when he suddenly acquired the ability of being conscious in the spiritual mind, he was able to empirically confirm by direct observation of the mind's anatomy, which is visible in the spiritual world in which he suddenly became conscious on a permanent basis.
Swedenborg was able to conclude that the mind is immortal on the basis of his rational understanding of the functions of the mind and the anatomical discoveries of the 17th and 18th centuries. Later he was able to confirm his conclusions directly by observation, watching thousands of people enter the spiritual world at the death of their body. What he did not know ahead of time is that the people would appear in their normal physical appearance -- same body, same clothes, same memory and identify.
Still later he figured out that these were only appearances, similar to the bodies that appear in a dream. In other words, the mind or spirit, upon arrival in the world of spirits, projects its feelings and memories upon the environment. The laws of the spiritual world dictate that minds that are different do not meet or are not aware of one another, while minds that are similar in memory and motivation automatically find themselves congregating together. This means that the memories and motivations projected by minds that are together are able to socialize within their common mental projections. This is similar to people appearing in your dream. The difference is that the dream ends and the characters are fictitious and forgotten. But in the spiritual world the projections do not end but are maintained in place as long as the motivations and memories are constant. The result is that many new arrivals called "novitiate spirits" are able to continue city life as they know it, in company with those who share the same memories and lifestyles from earth.
At first this may sound disappointing in that our eternity in the afterlife is just a dream. But this is a wrong interpretation. As we know, dreams can be and often are more powerful than waking experiences. We can experience pleasure or terror far more intense than in waking life. The intensity of sensation is determined not by the physical body but by the mind. The mind experiences pleasure or fear when the body is stimulated in particular ways. The sensations are not in the brain because the neural activity is electrical and chemical, not sensory. All sensations are located in the mind, not the body. This is why we can experience intense pleasure or pain while dreaming, even though the body is inert. When the mind (or spirit) is cut off from the physical body upon death, the mind is freed from bondage or constriction, and now appears in the spiritual world ready to interact and take up a new life and a new lifestyle.
We cannot be born in the spiritual world but only in the natural world on a planet. This is because an empty mind cannot live and the mind is filled by experiences of the body. Once the mind is ready, the body can be separated, and the conscious mind is now in the spiritual world. The body that we have in the spiritual world is called the spiritual body. This is the same spiritual body we had right from birth, and it grew along with the physical body since the mind must have a body to exist, even in dreams. But we do not have conscious awareness of this spiritual body until we drop the physical body, and from consciousness in the natural mind, we now gain consciousness in the spiritual mind. The spiritual body is immortal and stays with the mind forever.
Swedenborg figured out many of these details which he was able to confirm later by 27 years of direct observation in the spiritual world.
As regards the pure intellectory to which belongs the pure natural mind, this indeed seems also to die or be dissolved, but only after delaying for a long time; for it is a celestial form, and there are no forms at hand which can destroy it; but as to the length of the delay, this is not for us to determine. Thus the mind or animus survives long after death, but is not able to operate, in that its common or external form is dissolved, and it cannot as yet acquire for itself a new form. But let us dismiss these matters as among things wholly unknown; to wit, whether the human animus is to survive the life of its body until the Last Judgment...But into these arcana, let us not penetrate. (Rational Psychology 495)
Only three years later Swedenborg published the first Volume of the Arcana Coelestia (Heavenly Secrets). He had suddenly found himself capable of staring into the afterlife. For the next 27 years he kept daily records and explanations publishing the results in nearly 30 volumes that have become influential in American and European thinking in theology, art, and literature. Now the time has come to extend this amazing treasure into the science of psychology.
Consider how Swedenborg was able to reason in a direction that landed him on the truth, as empirically confirmed a little later. The central feature that impresses me as a modern psychologist is that he was completely loyal to the principle, stated above: No function without structure. By consistently following this rational scientific principle, he was led to fill in the details on the basis of only a little data. To paraphrase his reasoning: No function without structure. The mind has well known functions and operations such as thinking, reasoning, perceiving, sensing, imagining. Also, feeling, needing, willing, loving, intending. The mind must therefore have an organic structure, which means it is an organ, like the brain. But the operations of the mind like sensations and thoughts cannot possibly be in the physical world because thoughts and feelings are immaterial. He was very familiar with the Bible and the scientific revelations in the Old Testament and the New Testament provided him with data on the spiritual world and life after death, about heaven and hell, and the resuscitation of the mind or spirit, immediately after death.
Putting these scientific revelations together with his up to date knowledge of the human sciences, Swedenborg was able to predict that the organ of the mind consists of spiritual fibers coiled in a harmonious direction which he inferred would be vortical, spiral, round, angular, counter-clockwise networks of fibers -- somewhat like what we know today the brain looks like underneath its surface. He called this harmonious network of fibers "the heavenly form." He further inferred that there must also be a "hellish form" which has fibers that run in the opposite direction. When we pass on at death the mind arrives such as it had been built up over the individual's biography. A mind that has a well developed hellish "bent" feels tortured when entering the heavenly sphere, and vice versa. Therefore every individual must undergo a second death sometime after arriving in the world of spirits at the "first" death. Swedenborg did not find a way of predicting how long this would last. When he was introduced into the spiritual world by suddenly becoming conscious of his spiritual mind, he was able to observe that this intervening period ranged from hours to months, with an average of about two months. Then the "second" death occurred.
It is the general opinion that after the death of the body, the soul [mind or spirit] is at once separated and, flying away, abandons its carcass. But when we consider that the universal form of the body is from [spiritual] substance alone, being the soul [mind or spirit], that is, from the soul; there being nothing which is not from the simple fiber, and the simple fiber being from the simple cortex, and so on; and consider that the soul, being a real essence and substance, from which comes the universal organic form of the body, is the all in every part thereof; and also that it resides inmostly therein and in the centers, as it were all parts thereof, and in the blood itself, whose principal essence is the soul which is within it; it follows that the whole soul does not fly from the body at the moment the life of the body is extinct, but that remains for some time until the several parts wherein it is, are dissolved. (Rational Psychology 512)
Here you can see how Swedenborg reasons regarding what he later called the "resuscitation" process, which he was able to observe in detail (see Section xx). He was able to observe that it lasts approximately 30 hours and described the particular sequence of steps in which an individual is awakened for consciousness in the spiritual body.
In Rational Psychology Swedenborg's theory of personality is presented in detail. Where did he get his data at that time? Very little was known, if anything, about emotions and personality beyond what Aristotle wrote centuries earlier. Swedenborg had not yet entered his dual consciousness status so the only source available to him was his own self-witnessing of himself (see Section xx). His ability to discover principles of personality from self-observation was remarkable, and then to extend the observations to others, finally to formulate a rational account that consistently explains the whole data. Here he is discussing "avarice" as a personality disorder:
How great a sickness, insanity, and irrationality of mind, avarice is, and how utterly sordid, can be sufficiently apparent from its effects; for the more deeply enrooted it is, the more are all other loves dulled and extinguished. When perpetually occupied by this idea, the mind is suffocated, as it were, and is immersed, not in the body, but in the earth; thus it is not possible that it can be elevated toward things superior, or that the spiritual can flow into so gross a natural. (...) All love of society is wholly rejected from the mind of a miser, and so likewise friendship, and also the love of those who are his own, which yet is an utterly natural love. (...) thus what rules him is the supreme love of self. (...) (Rational Psychology 235)
Later when he got to his spiritual observation post Swedenborg was able to confirm that an individual comes into the spiritual world with a mind that is ordered according to its "affections" or "loves," what we would call today "motives" and "intentions." Selfish motives oppose altruistic motives and fight against them until they are paralyzed and tucked away in the mind, rendered non-operational. then only pure selfish loves rule the mind and its behavior. Therefore it is necessary to battle against selfish motives before they take over the mind and become dominant. People can show altruistic behavior for selfish reasons, in which case they only appear altruistic, and as soon as the personal gain is removed from the altruistic behavior, it ceases, leaving only the selfish behavior to show.
Survival of society depends on altruism overcoming selfishness. For example patriotism and sacrifice in war is not possible if selfishness rules our mind. Decency, compassion, and honesty are ways of behaving that a selfish person can only simulate when convenient or of benefit to self. A selfish person hates being honest, decent, or fair and tries to avoid behaving in this way whenever possible or safe. Friendship and love between couples are not present when one or both partners are selfish. Selfishness is the motive to love oneself above others in all situations. Altruism is the motive to love others above self in all situations. We remain with mixed motives until we grow in the spiritual aspects of our personality, but we gradually incline more towards one or the other, so that we end up being thoroughly selfish in most situations or completely committed to becoming wholly altruistic.
Character self-modification is achieved by a higher motive compelling or restricting the field of action of a lower motive. If we are strongly committed to becoming altruistic we constantly look for opportunities to change our normal reaction from selfish first, to altruistic first. A decent person is one who always puts the other's rights ahead of one's own desire to violate it. A loving husband is one who always puts his wife's desires and requests ahead of his own preference or habit. Honest employees never cheat or loaf, and if they do, they feel guilty about it and try not to do it as a habit. But a selfish person will try to get away with as much loafing as is safe, not caring for either the employer's rights or society's interests.
Our ability to reason is located in the portion of the mind called "pure intellect" which is the understanding -- "pure" in the sense of rational rather than sensory. In modern terms we would call this the cognitive domain of behavior. Swedenborg reasoned that there is a mechanical connection between the individual brain cell and the "pure intellect" so that what the mind thinks and what the brain does correspond to each other perfectly. One cannot go on without the other without producing breakdown. Each cell in the cortex of the brain operates like a mini-brain so that the human brain is actually billions of brains acting together -- an image similar to what we would call today "distributed computing" where thousands of computers are interconnected to increase their capacity for a very large operation.
Swedenborg formulated this universal principle: The smaller an organ or object gets, the more perfect must be its internal structure and function. Hence the mini-brains inside each cortical cell is more perfect than the brain itself, and on to smaller units which at last are spiritual rather than natural. Spiritual substances are far superior to natural matter in the sense that they are the source of natural properties and qualities, which in themselves are only effects produced by the spiritual substances in their interior structure.
Later Swedenborg was able to specify three non-overlapping degrees of existence: The natural, the spiritual, and the celestial. The human rational mind is capable of operating at each of these three levels and the properties of the operation become more perfect as one goes from natural, to spiritual, to celestial. The highest type of operation in the human mind is called heavenly (altruism and its consequences), while the lowest is called hellish (selfishness and its consequences). We determine by our character or personality habits whether we spend immortality in happy rational states of mind, or the opposite, since the mixed state is no longer possible once the mind enters the afterlife as a "spirit."
In Rational Psychology Swedenborg refers to Plato's self-witnessing as reported in Aristotle:
Often when my soul, leaving the body, has been in contemplation, I seemed to enjoy the highest good, and this with incredible pleasure. Therefore, I was in a manner struck with astonishment, perceiving that I was a part of a superior world, and feeling myself to be endowed with immortality under the highs degree of light. (Plato in Aristotle).
Later when Swedenborg enjoyed dual consciousness, he was able to stay in the spiritual world for as long or as often as he focused on it. Unlike Plato and more modern mystics who discuss meditation as a way of higher perception, Swedenborg's perception into the spiritual world did not depend on mediation but on direct experience of all his senses, so that he could see, hear, touch, discuss, and move around in the spiritual world, whereas those who reach for mystical experiences are unable to do this. The reason is that entering spiritual consciousness in this life cannot be done by direct sensing, as in meditation or forms of ecstasy, but only through rational thinking and understanding of Sacred Scripture and its scientific revelations. Swedenborg's rational psychology and theistic science always strove to keep all explanations harmonious with scientific revelations in the Old and New Testaments.
But keep in mind what has been stated in previous sections about Creationism and about mysticism (see Section xx). Swedenborg did not rely on merely the literal stories of the Bible. When he began his conscious observations of the spiritual world he had to learn the laws of that world so that he could move around and interpret correctly what he saw and heard around him. In this way he came to know in detail the laws of correspondences between the natural and the spiritual. He was able to study them empirically since what the mind feels and thinks is observable in the spiritual world with one's senses. It's as if you were able to enter in my dreams so that I could see you and you could see what I'm dreaming about. You would be able to see my thoughts and feelings projected into the dream scenes and their emotional quality. For instance when the mind is despondent, the surrounding area in the spiritual world turns dark with dark menacing looking clouds appearing. When someone burns with hate against you there is a fiery flame visible in the midst of their head or other part of the spiritual body. When two people discuss something about truth, horses appear. When a man and a woman look at each other with love, suddenly gardens appear around them with fragrant odors that anyone present can see and smell.
And many such examples that Swedenborg describes. Once he learned the laws by which natural appearances are produced by the mind's activity, he was able to read the Old and New Testaments in a new way, by going from the literal meaning of some historical event or behavior, to the spiritual correspondence in terms of the mind.
You can read and search the English text of the Writings online at this Web address: www.theheavenlydoctrines.org
When I first found the Writings in Hamilton Library in 1981 I started reading Warren's extra thick Compendium Volume, which gave large chunks of text from each of the "theological" Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). It's been traditional to divide Swedenborg's overall literary work into two collections or periods of his life-- his "Pre-Theological Scientific Works" (about 20 volumes) and his "Theological Works" which are called "the Writings of Swedenborg" (about 30 volumes). However, in theistic psychology the "Theological Works" are called "Scientific Revelations.
Since the Writings are given to humankind as a rational revelation from the Divine, their content is universal. I appear to be the first Swedenborg scholar to see the Writings as scientific revelations, and the first scientific psychologist to attempt to present the Writings as part of the science of modern psychology. However, scientists from other fields have occasionally referred to Swedenborg's Writings as containing information of interest to science, see especially the articles on the Web site of physicist Dr. Ian Thompson at: TheisticScience.org
When I completed reading the Compendium, I was so amazed and delighted that I continued to read the entire text of each volume, 27 in all. When I had finished, I started reading several of the volumes again and again. I was making plenty of notes in the margins of the books each time I read from them. This helped me keep track and formulate contact points between psychology and the Writings as these amazing scientific revelations came to my awareness for the first time. This was in 1981.
In subsequent years I was able to continue my studies and my attempts to come up with formulations that were possible for the modern field of psychology, given its sensitivity, even defensiveness, about being "scientific." I have worked, performed, and thrived in this intellectual environment since 1962, thus 42 years today (2004). I am well qualified to attempt this integration between psychology and the Writings of Swedenborg. This book represents my first attempt to make a global and explicit formulation. It comes after 22 years of serious study and research on the Writings ( see my intervening articles in the Reading List).
You will see various quotes from Swedenborg throughout this presentation. I provide several quotes in which Swedenborg affirms that what he is writing is a collection of books which "have been commanded by God" and that he only wrote down what the Divine-Human intended for him to write down. On some occasions he stops in the middle of a subject and writes that he "is not allowed" to go further with that subject. Sometimes he writes in the margin: This was dictated by the Divine-Human whom he often called "the Lord." Swedenborg was raised as a Christian and he had a lifelong love for the Bible. At age 57 Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him he had been prepared for a Divine mission, and now it was ready to start. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE -- his task as a scientist was to write a collection of books, and to publish them, regarding what he sees and hears in the spiritual world or the world of the afterlife, and furthermore, to write them as a scientific work that will reveal to humankind all the secrets hitherto unknown about God, the afterlife, and our necessary preparation for it.
Actually, it only appears as a mission impossible, but in reality, Swedenborg could not fail because this was a Divine Mission which had been foretold precisely in the Book of Revelation, the last work that makes up the New Testament. It is known among Christian scholars that the subject matter of these visions is the Second Coming of Christ. It was written by John, the author also of the Fourth Gospel in the New Testament. He was Jesus' closest disciple. Jesus had announced that He must "come again." For more than two thousand years every generation of Christians have been waiting for the Second Coming, since this marked in their expectations, the beginning of paradise on earth--the final destination of all the faithful.
Imagine how impossible a task Swedenborg was given. His consciousness in the spiritual mind was suddenly opened so that he became a double person. In his natural mind, he was in his physical body carrying out his complex duties and responsibilities every day. In his spiritual mind, he was exploring the spiritual world accompanied by many other people from there with whom he carried out a constant stream of conversation. He interviewed them, he visited their cities, houses, or caves, and he was given the power to create experimental conditions for investigating the thinking process of those who were there. Meanwhile he was also taking care of business on earth. He was a government engineer with administrative responsibilities for the development of the Swedish mining industry. He was a publisher of scientific journals and wrote many of them himself--articles that were acclaimed by other scientists as original, inventive, and brilliant.
But now at age 57, as he had to divide his attention in two, he thought it best to resign his official duties and lived on his pension. He was traveling frequently to Amsterdam and London to publish each book as he finished them--27 in all from age 57 to 82. He was active all the way to the end, publishing his last book in 1771. A few months later, having accomplished his mission impossible, his physical body was removed, and his dual consciousness ceased. Now he is lost somewhere in the ocean of people in the heavens. He wrote that people after their "second death," which is when we enter either heaven or hell, lay aside their external memories of earth and are no longer conscious of their earthly life. I suppose that today he is reading the Writings that he wrote, not knowing that he wrote them!
This is especially the case because he wrote the Writings in a natural language, which was Neo-Latin--the common language in which European authors published their scientific works in the 17th and 18th centuries. The language and script in heaven are entirely different, as described in the Writings, and so are the sentences and words, though their meanings correspond to each other (see Section xx).
The Writings explain that scientific revelations are given by God to humankind by means of Divine Speech which is given in correspondences so that human beings could understand it. Divine Speech enters the highest portion of the human mind called "heaven." When we are at that level of consciousness we think by means of celestial-rational correspondences. So Divine Speech enters the human mind by means of celestial-correspondences. These cannot be understood by those who are at a lower level of thinking and rational consciousness. They understand Divine Speech by thinking with spiritual-rational correspondences. But hose who are in a still lower level of thinking, understand Divine Speech by means of spiritual-natural correspondences. Finally, when we still think in terms of materialistic concepts from nature we think in sensuous or natural-rational correspondences. This is the level of thinking in which the literal sentences of Sacred Scripture were dictated or inspired to the prophets and revelators.
Divine Speech is from the Divine Rational Mind of the Divine-Human, which is infinite (see Section xx). Therefore it cannot be understood in itself by finite human beings. But the Divine-Human provides a mechanism of transformation for Divine Speech by which it is translated into rational correspondences that the human mind can understand. The human mind operates at four major levels of rational consciousness. Therefore God had to create four levels of correspondences for Divine Speech so that its message could be understood by those who are at each of these levels. In this way Divine Speech enters the full range of the human mind and can be understood by every human being.
Note however that what people understand when they read Sacred Scripture varies with the level of their thinking and rationality. The literal meaning is written in terms of sensuous and natural-rational correspondences of the Divine Speech. When it is brought down to this level of thinking, what God says seems to be addressed to a particular ethnic group at a specific historical time. From this level of correspondences, religion is formed, and therefore religions are tied to local, ethnic, historical groups who then sometimes try to spread their religion to wider regions. But as soon as you go one level of thinking higher, into spiritual-natural correspondences, everything ethnic, historical, and sensuous disappears from view, and instead only spiritual topics are understood. Instead "Abraham" Divine Speech actually says the Divine-Human, and instead of "Jerusalem" Divine Speech actually says "doctrine" or "principle of behavior" (see Section xx). The higher the level of correspondences in which we think, the higher is our understanding of Divine Speech. The Writings show that we are able to think with progressively higher correspondences as we regenerate our character from hellish to heavenly (see Section xx).
Theistic psychology is based on the scientific revelations of Divine Speech, and therefore one's understanding of theistic psychology is proportional to the level of thinking one performs when studying it.
Divine Speech is available to us in the written form in which the prophet took the dictation or described a vision. This written form is called Sacred Scripture. The Writings say that Sacred Scripture was provided for every civilization since the beginning of writing, and even before that, in an oral form that every generation passed on to the next. The Writings also say that the content of Sacred Scripture has changed with every subsequent civilization or era. This is because the human mind is being evolved by God to higher rational consciousness or "heaven in eternity." Every time a new Sacred Scripture was given to some ethnic group or limited region, new and higher rational ideas were provided at the lowest literal level. As a result, the level of thinking of that civilization was raised a notch on the ladder of rational consciousness.
Theistic psychology is based on three sets of Sacred Scripture given at three different historical epochs in Western tradition--Europe and Middle East. The first is called the Old Testament. The second is called the New Testament. And the third is called the Writings of Swedenborg.
The Writings were not dictated like the sayings and visions of the prophets in the Old Testament. Mental and spiritual dictation from the Divine was acceptable to people's understanding in those days. But today in the age of modern science, a dictation from God would have no effect except a negative one such as casting doubt on the validity of the "dictation.". Strange as it may seem, even if God appeared at an international conference in New York and was videotaped and shown on the news around the world, even then science today would not be much influenced. The Writings are a Divine revelation for the modern scientific age. This statement makes no serious sense in the negative bias of scientific reasoning. But in the positive bias it arouses immediate intense interest. In theistic psychology we get to know God as a scientific subject of study. This will feel like a sense of relief to many people who are bothered by the fact that their science and education is God-less.
In order for Swedenborg to accomplish his mission impossible, he had to be given the external freedom to write like a scientist, author, and publisher. His intellect had been developed at the level of genius and he had been prepared for 57 years in a science profession as mining engineer, inventor, writer, and publisher. Swedenborg had to write in a way that other scientists wrote, but about a vastly different subject and from a dualist perspective. Every sentence of the Writings was carefully crafted by Swedenborg, mindful that he was writing Sacred Scripture in which Divine Speech was hidden at four different layers of correspondences. He wrote nothing without Divine permission and God arranged for him to have the right kind of spiritual experience or observation at just the right time, so he could write about it in just the right way, word for word.
The Divine-Human is present with every person, guiding thoughts, and arranging experiences (see Section xx). So there was nothing extraordinary or special about what happened to Swedenborg. But what was special and unique, was Swedenborg's spiritual experiences--his ability to be conscious in both worlds simultaneously. This too is special only because he was still alive in this world, but not special in the sense that all of us will be able to verify his reports when we are resuscitated shortly after the death of our physical body.
Swedenborg wrote the sentence "Nunc Licet" (Latin for "now it is permitted") in his last work published in 1771. This phrase has been taken up as a slogan by the community in Bryn Athyn, PA that has formed a religion and school system around the Writings (if interested in details, type "New Church" in any search engine). But Nunc Licet is also a phrase appropriate for theistic psychology in the positive bias. In other words, now that these Divine scientific revelations have been given to humankind in the modern science format, every interested individual can inquire into the former mysteries of religion, theology, philosophy, psychology, and literature. This scientific inquiry into the former mysteries of religion is now allowed, that is, it has now been made possible by the scientific revelations in the Writings of Swedenborg.
These revelations could not have been made prior to the 18th century when scientific knowledge was entering its modern phase. In order for Swedenborg to comprehend what he observed in the spiritual world for 27 years he had to have a rational understanding of science and a knowledge of anatomy, physiology, chemistry, metallurgy, astronomy, physiology, psychology, theology, philosophy -- along with the new scientific instruments and measurement techniques. Much of this had been unavailable to prior generations. Swedenborg's scientific inventiveness is recognized by all his biographers and there is some current interest in his neuroanatomical theories and in his theories of astronomy. However, remember that Swedenborg's considerable scientific knowledge of the age was completely powerless by itself to give him a single solid piece of information about the spiritual world and how it is related to the human mind and the natural world. He only had theories he deduced from the Bible, but no proof or solid data and experiment.
He strove to make up formal hypotheses and universal principles about the unknown and invisible spiritual world and how it determines the events of the natural world. Much of this information he obtained not from science, but from the Bible, such as, there is God, God creates and manages the universe, there is a spiritual world for souls and natural world for bodies, God intervenes in history and individual lives, the Bible is written in a historical style that contains spiritual principles or universal laws. He then wove together this information about the spiritual world with what he learned from science about the natural world. Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) was therefore the first theistic scientist, substantive dualist, and theistic psychologist.
He admitted in several of his earlier scientific books (written prior to age 57), that his argument or scientific account was theoretical and inductive, not observational and experimental. Hence only the most general statements could be made scientifically about God and the spiritual world. But when he started being able to be conscious in both worlds, this all changed. Now he had the observation post and the laboratory to confirm these general principles empirically, and to fill in the details which could not be accessed before.
The style of the Writings reflects Swedenborg's rational mind trained and steeped in Western philosophy, theology, history, literature, and science. He was a well respected individual in Sweden and abroad where he frequently traveled. His contemporaries admired him for his tremendous ability to take data and observations made by others, like experts and scientists, and to weave them together into a new and inventive way that was impeccably rational, complete, polished, and comprehensible. He had the amazing ability of explaining in a simple way, highly abstract and complex ideas about the Infinite Divine and the spiritual laws by which God governs all natural and mental phenomena.
In the Writings Swedenborg used no diagrams and charts, or technical explanations that required more than a high school education level of thinking. He numbered paragraphs consecutively within each book so that he could refer back to topics he had already discussed. Most topics are discussed several times in different places within a book and across the books. When a topic is introduced he cites the prior Numbers that discuss that topic, briefly summarizes the main points already made, then adds the new material to that topic. In this way readers can keep track of topic development within and across books. When he summarizes a topic discussed earlier there is a feeling of recognition and familiarity, yet there is also something new in the summary that highlights and deepens particular features of a topic. There is an amazing consistency throughout the Writings in how a topic is handled and how the topics interrelate with each other to present a complete whole. When one learns this complete whole, one is able to apply, justify, and teach these topics, as I am doing here in this book
Remarkably, every time I reread Numbers over the years, or compare Numbers for research, I see something new in the old familiar paragraphs. Clearly there is a functional relationship between the mental process of the reader and the content of the topics. Swedenborg was able to confirm that when someone on earth is reading scientific revelations, and acknowledge them as Divine, there is a connection established between the natural mind of the reader and the spiritual mind of the inhabitants of heaven. This connection is different when one reads something that is not Divine scientific revelation. A special relationship is established between "heaven" and "earth" when someone reads Sacred Scripture as Divine Speech.
Swedenborg was able to show this connection experimentally by reading the Old Testament in his house in Sweden, verse by verse, and simultaneously observing who was around and connecting with his spiritual mind in the spiritual world. Amazingly, he discovered that every sentence of the Old and New Testaments connected with a different celestial "society" of inhabitants that came around him when he read a verse. The overall heaven is vast expanse in the shape of the human body, and contains large populations of people in every region or "organ." These celestial populations live in cities and conglomerations of cities called "heavenly societies." Each society is connected to a different verse in the Old and New Testaments. By learning which society connected with which verse Swedenborg was able to communicate with them by visual presence and verbal interaction in the universal language that is innate in all "spirits" or inhabitants of the immortal afterlife.
Swedenborg observed that each religion has its own heaven because many people in the afterlife bring their religious ideas with them and are unwilling to give them up. People have therefore a choice between entering heaven at the religious level of thinking, or entering heaven at the level of theistic psychology. At this level they give up their religious views in favor of theistic psychology which is more universal and includes all religions. The heavens of those who are still in religious ideas are segregated from each other since religions tend to disagree with each other.
In the 12-volume Arcana Coelestia ("Heavenly Secrets"), Swedenborg goes through the first two books of the Old Testament -- Genesis and Exodus, verse by verse, phrase by phrase, and word by word. It may sound like this is boring or difficult reading, but the opposite is the case on every page. Throughout his presentation he proves his points by quoting many other verses throughout the books of the Bible to show the consistency of the code of correspondences in which all Sacred Scripture is written as Divine Speech. The Divinely inspired authors of these visions, prophecies, and histories were completely unaware that what they were seeing and hearing, and writing down, had two meanings, one visible, the other, hidden. The visible meaning, called "the literal sense," was such that anyone could understand and paraphrase, though it didn't necessarily make sense. In many places the Old and New Testament verses appear figurative, poetic, or just strange images heaped upon one another and making no sense.
All this strangeness is due to the fact that it is written in a secret "heavenly" code and the inner invisible meaning of the sentence dictates what the outer literal expressions are going to be. Half of the time the outer literal meaning makes sense and is useful for religious teachings and worship. The Writings reveal that the literal meaning of the historical parts of the Bible is accurate in every possible detail. . But the other half of the time the literal meaning of Sacred Scripture appears meaningless, impossible to decipher, and easy to speculate almost anything about its message. Readers who acknowledge the Bible as Divine revelation don't know what to make of the parts that are strange and incomprehensible. Some people are unimpressed by the Bible because they see these meaningless passages, sometimes contradicting each other. They wonder how a Divine book could contain so much meaninglessness, so many contradictions, so much blood and gore, so much prejudice and racism, in addition to the positive, universal, and reassuring parts which it also contains. It is this mixture that is responsible for many people doubting that the Sacred Scripture is Divine Speech.
Because Sacred Scripture is written in this style, a number of religions and denominations have derived dogmas based on the parts that were not clearly comprehensible and logical. As a result different and contradictory dogmas arose, all of them based on Sacred Scripture. These differences led to conflict among religions and splinter-groups, and even cruelty, war, and savagery, as they tried to destroy one another. All of this was done not in the name of true religion but in the context of irrational dogmas derived from the passages that could not clearly be understood at the time. These contradictory dogmas would not have resulted in conflict were it not for the fact that the people were evil and were using Sacred Scripture to pursue their evil even further. Hence the failure of religion has prompted some people to give up God altogether.
Now the Writings have put a final end to religious dogmas since they present, for the first time, a rational account of all the mysterious passages in other Sacred Scripture that could not be understood before. Now it is permitted ("Nunc Licet") that everyone read these new scientific revelations and understand those obscure passages in Sacred Scripture that made them doubt or be puzzled. But in addition to this, Swedenborg recorded numerous facts he gathered from the spiritual world and its connection to the mind, and to prior Divine revelations such as the Old and New Testaments, and the Sacred Scriptures of earlier civilizations called the Most Ancient Church and the Ancient Church.
It is legitimate to view Swedenborg's Writings as theology and a new religion. It is also legitimate to view the Writings as scientific revelations. The two are not opposed to each other but complement each other.
When we view the Writings as science, then science becomes theistic. It can never be non-theistic again. Theistic psychology is universal and describes all cultures and all human minds. In the literal historical sense, Sacred Scripture is marked by time, culture, and religion. This is also true of the Writings. Its focus on Judaeo-Christian revelations in the Bible and the historical figure of "Jesus Christ as the One God of Heaven and Earth," may at first be puzzling to people with non-Western cultural and religious background such as Hinduism and Buddhism. How can this form a universal science that all can work within?
The resolution to this apparent difficulty is however not difficult. As shown in the Writings, all Divine revelation is given to people on earth and to people in the celestial heavens. This presents the necessity to write Divine revelation in a spiritual code. People on earth understand and relate to the historical and scientific details in the text of Sacred Scripture, while people in the heavens understand and relate to the spiritual and celestial details visible when higher-order correspondences are known (as discussed above).
This code of correspondences is called "heavenly secrets" because it is the normal innate way we think when we are in heaven. For instance when we read about the culture-bound details of a Jewish person called Jacob in Genesis, those in heaven think, not of "Jacob" but of "the natural mind." And when we read about "Isaac" they see, not Isaac, but details about "the rational mind." Or, as another example, when we read that the Jewish people wandered aimlessly in the desert for 40 years, the celestial inhabitants see the details of "temptations" which we encounter when we are regenerating our character as a way of preparing for heavenly life. These temptations come to us in a definite developmental series, first natural, then spiritual, then celestial, and those passages in Genesis are describing this mental development (see Section xx).
Similarly with the cultural historical figure of Jesus Christ, who in the Writings is called the "Divine-Human." Swedenborg studied what happens to people from different religions who arrive into the world of spirits at the death of their body. He observed that people from the same religion congregate together on account of the compatibility of their ideas an their life style preferences. Everyone is thus further instructed in thinking about their religion in such a way that the universal ideas of theistic psychology can illuminate them within their own religion.
The Writings declare that God does not pressure or require anyone to change their religion in the other life.
But in fact religion becomes less and less a focus as the mind grows to its heavenly potential. In the highest heavenly regions of the human mind there is no longer a religion but a direct and individual rational consciousness of God through God's Divine Truth. Even science is of no significance in that state of mind because we receive instant enlightenment from God on any subject we wonder about. This enlightenment is from within, while knowledge from science is from without. Think of the wonderful state we can look forward to--instant knowledge about anything we wonder about and want to know or understand rationally!
Swedenborg rediscovered the universal code of correspondences in which Divine Speech is given to humankind. This Divine code was known to the earliest civilization on earth. They knew of it because they had direct perception into the spiritual world, as Swedenborg had. Subsequently this capacity died out and with it, the knowledge of the code of correspondences. This code specified how spiritual causes determine natural events. By applying the code of correspondences to verses of Sacred Scripture one can extract the inner senses by reconstructing the levels of correspondences contained within it (as discussed above).
What does the inner secret sense of Sacred Scripture talk about?
Not so surprisingly--theistic psychology.
The Bible has been familiar to generations for thousands of years. Bible exegesis or interpretation is one of the largest topics one can find in libraries. And yet not one author or commentator in all these centuries suspected the existence of the code of correspondences in which it is written.
The literal sentences of Sacred Scripture are limited to a number of paragraphs, chapters, or books. The Writings of Swedenborg are also limited in size, less than 30 volumes. If Sacred Scripture were the only source for theistic psychology from now until the everlasting future, there would remain little new information after a few generations of research. But since the inner sense of Sacred Scripture is Divine Speech, which is infinite, there is no limit to the number of topics and facts that can be extracted to the endless future. Sacred Scripture is therefore the method God provides to the modern age for discovering the scientific knowledge it needs to progress and evolve towards the celestial mind. There is no limit to the amount of knowledge that can be extracted from Sacred Scripture if one uses the methods of extraction prescribed in Sacred Scripture.
Theistic psychology would be destroyed if it admitted any concept or principle from some other source than Sacred Scripture.
You can see why this is true, if you are in the positive bias towards Sacred Scripture. If you maintain this law of exclusivity you avoid introducing merely human ideas from human experience. This is what lead psychology to its current composition of several contradictory theories and approaches. Everyone was allowed, and encouraged, to make up any contradictory theory they wished, as long as they followed the prescribed rules of methodology. In fact, psychologists often state that the science progresses by contradictory theories shooting each other down and being replaced by still others, endlessly. This is seen as the legitimate mechanism for scientific progress.
In theistic psychology we do not have this kind of self-promulgated intelligence wars between researchers. All theory and explanation in theistic psychology is deductive, that is, extractive from Divine Speech using extraction methods that are Divinely prescribed in Sacred Scripture. This makes perfect sense since it would be chaos if everyone were allowed to invent their own methodology for interpreting Divine Speech. God insures that theistic psychology remains pure and valid by prescribing (a) the text from which it is to be extracted (Divine Speech), and (b) the method by which the extraction process must be made (revealed correspondences).
It is important to understand that Swedenborg did not invent the code of correspondences just as no one invented the DNA code in genetics. It was discovered by analyzing data on cells. The DNA code is a natural law. Similarly, the code of correspondences is a spiritual law that specifies which spiritual events cause a particular natural event. Swedenborg discovered this code, or spiritual law, by observation of the appearances in the spiritual world that were correlated with or coincidental with, spiritual or mental events. By repeated observation and experiment Swedenborg put together a rational description of the code of correspondences and applied it to decoding Sacred Scripture.
It is not surprising that Divine scientific revelations, or Sacred Scripture, are written in the same code as that which governs the interrelation between natural events and their spiritual causes or source. Recall that spiritual=mental, and therefore physical events in the body are caused by spiritual events in the mind.
For instance every animal species and every characteristic of each individual animal are natural expressions of human emotions. Wild, dangerous, ferocious, or poisonous species correspond to savage emotions in humans like rage, hatred, deception, abuse, etc. Every harmful or "animalistic" emotion that exists in the human race, creates a species of animals whose characteristics and behavior pattern represent this emotion. The same is true of chemicals that are harmful to life, as well as natural disasters like earthquake, hurricanes, forest fires, famines, disease, etc. The opposite relationship holds in the case of beautiful pleasing things like flowers and butterflies, or like juicy fruit and chocolate beans -- each corresponds to a human emotion that is "heavenly" or good -- altruism, self-sacrifice, industriousness, decency, obedience, love of truth, love of children, love of innocence, love of marriage, love of God, etc.
In other words everything that can be found in the natural world has been created by God to represent or correspond to emotions in the human race. This is true theistic humanism!
During the earliest generations on earth, natural disasters, dangerous animals, and noxious chemicals did not exist because there were no negative and hellish emotions in those generations. But as they began to decline in spirituality and rationality, they increased in materialism and atheism, in selfism and machiavellism, which are "evil" spiritual human emotions that correspond to the hellish things on earth. Swedenborg reports that in the world of spirits this connection is immediate rather than delayed since animals and weather are produced there instantaneously by the emotions of the people present. It doesn't take long evolutionary eras, as on earth, to produce a new species. By the same token these rational ether body animals in the world of spirits disappear instantly as soon as the mood or topic changes. Their existence does not continue as on earth.
From a student report:
During my investigation on the web, I came across a number of attempts at the integration of science/religion, or God and psychology. One interesting web site I found was at www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/psych.htm . In this site there is a discussion of whether psychology can be considered a science or a religion. It first discusses the idea of psychology as a science. This site, organized by a Christian group, considers psychology to be a mess, which is far from science. However, when the site discusses psychology it is mostly just discussing psychotherapy. Its objections to psychotherapy are not valid to other fields of psychology such as cognitive, behavioral neuroscience, etc. The field of psychotherapy is considered a pseudoscience. It is filled with contradictory theories and techniques, all of which communicate confusion rather than anything approximating scientific order. To the creators of this site, psychology, most specifically psychotherapy, is not a science.
In this site psychology is seen as dealing with the exact same issues as religion. It is focused on behavior, attitudes, moral issues, character development, basically, how to live life. According to Christianity, or followers of the Bible, the Sacred Scriptures are what we need to refer to for these problems. Psychology and science, however, look toward scientific substantiation.
According to the developers of this site, psychology has slowly been replacing the role of religion. The site states, the cure of souls, which once was a vital ministry of the Church, has now in this century been displaced by a cure of minds called psychotherapy. True Biblical counseling has waned until presently it is almost nonexistent. Psychology, in its essence, is just a religion gone astray. It is the investigation for how to live and develop one's life, both behaviorally and mentally. The problem with psychology [they say] is that it regards anything that involves God and religion as mythical and irrational. When in fact, revelations are the most helpful source for how to live life.
Throughout the rest of the site there is a discussion of how the Bible tells us to live our life. The site stresses that the Bible should be used as our true psychology, because psychology is merely a pseudoscience without any real validity.
I feel that this site is quite interesting and informative. I believe that the creators of the site are correct that psychology has gone astray. Most of its theories are not very valid. They are just theories that have given the false name of science. Psychology, in its essence, attempts to perform the same use as religion. The problem is that it tries to remain entirely natural, and at the same time it is dealing with something spiritual.
This site does a great job describing how psychology, specifically psychotherapy, is in great need for religious incorporation. However, the site's main flaw is not in its theory, it is in its content. Its discussion of how the Bible tells us to live is not synchronous at all with what psychology tells us. In order to adapt the Christian psychology discussed, there needs to be a complete abandonment of psychology [they say].
Theistic psychology is under a similar motive as that discussed in this web site. It is an attempt to incorporate God and spirituality into science and psychology. Whereas the Christian Psychology site does not deal with incorporation of religion into science. It is the abandonment of science for religion [that they propose]. Theistic science is different. It gives us specific means for understanding the spiritual (God and religion) and natural (psychology and science) relationship through tools such as the science of correspondences. The Christian Psychology discussed on that site does not give us an idea of how observations of body and brain are related to spiritual matters. Theistic science tells us how the two are related through correspondence. This is true incorporation. This does not jeopardize science the way the Christian Psychology does on that site.
(From a student report: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/459s2004/cooper/home.htm )
I agree with this student's comments and evaluation. Christian Psychology is often based on the idea that the literal meaning of the Bible gives us enough science of psychology to replace the current practice of psychotherapy in non-theistic psychology. But this is impossible because the authors of the Books of the Bible lived in a prior era and civilization. Since then modern science has happened to the human race. It has completely altered the rational basis of how human beings think on this planet. We cannot go back to an earlier form of science and thinking. It is the same with Christian Creationism, which is based on the idea that we are given Divine Science in the Creation Story in the first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis in the Bible. But as fully shown and proven by Swedenborg, these eleven Chapters were copied by Moses from the Ancient Word which was written in an earlier civilization whose style of writing was by correspondences of natural appearances to spiritual realities (see Section xx).
No modern science can be based on the literal meaning of Sacred Scripture. But we can find modern science in Sacred Scripture--in its scientific meaning. The Writings of Swedenborg are written in a modern scientific context but I don't think this context will remain unchanged. How will people read the Writings of Swedenborg several centuries or millennia from now? I cannot predict in detail, but in general I would expect that they will rely more on the correspondential meaning of the sentences than on the literal. Today it is still highly relevant to rely on the literal of the Writings. Doing so makes us more rational and intelligent. So there is less pressure or motivation today to dig into the underlying meanings within the sentences of the Writings, but this may change in the near future as more researchers become involved in theistic psychology. To review what research has been done so far on this front, consult volume 2 of my book A Man of the Filed, available on the Web at: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/volume2-nonduality.html
Swedenborg demonstrates how we can extract many scientific revelations from the hidden inner sense of the Old Testament. In fact, all Divine Speech is given through natural correspondences when it reaches the script of a natural language on earth. The Writings of Swedenborg are Sacred Scripture ushering in the new age of the Second Coming, as discussed above (see also Chapter xx). As Swedenborg shows, the Second Coming could not occur in the natural world because it refers to a new evolutionary phase for the human race, an evolution of the human rational mind. This is where the Second Coming must take place, not in the physical world, as it took place in the First Coming or Incarnation (see Section xx).
The Second Coming is the completion of the creation of the human mind. This is achieved by the Divine Truths that are revealed in the form of scientific revelations of endless proportions for the new age of theistic science, that is, science turned theistic. This book is an early example of it for the field of psychology.
Many scientific secrets are revealed in the Old Testament about God's methodology for creating new mental pathways for the regeneration of the human race. Regeneration refers to the formation of a new heaven within our rational mind. This is the heaven that contains our eternal life. Anyone entering this heaven in their mind becomes an immortal angel living in conjugial bliss to eternity. This rational revolution did not exist prior to their creation by the Divine Incarnation.
Christians realize that this new creation of the Divine-Human constitutes the salvation of the human race, but they do not yet know the scientific explanation of how it constitutes salvation. This has been revealed by God in the Divine Speech that He created through the minds of selected prophets and revelators. But not in the natural historical meaning that constitutes the content of Sacred Scripture. This natural history serves for religion, which is a cultural phenomenon that God uses to teach about Himself, worship, commandments of living, heaven, and hell. The scientific part had to remain hidden until the human race was ready to understand it and accept it in a rational way, based on one's understanding and perception. This hidden science of the mind has now been revealed in the Writings of Swedenborg, which constitute the rational revolution. Now anyone can develop ordinary rational skills through cultural and scientific literacy. This was not possible before. With this modern scientific rational mind we can comprehend the Rational Mind of the Divine-Human that was created through the Incarnation.
Seventeen centuries passed before the Second Coming could be created as a rational revolution in the mind of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) who was the first human to enjoy dual consciousness since the Fall of the race (see discussions above). The Writings now give us a knowledge of the long lost Science of Correspondences, which contains the functional interconnections between the actual spiritual cause of an event in the natural world. The natural and spiritual worlds are tied by complete determination, event by event, one on one. Divine Speech is expressed in a Divine Rational language, which descends by the laws of correspondence, to the human mind, first in the celestial regions, then in the spiritual regions, and finally in the natural regions, where we are conscious of it as natural language and Sacred Scripture.
Swedenborg Online is available here with a search engine for topic lookup: www.theheavenlydoctrines.org
As well, consult the Reading List in
As well, consult the Reading List in Volume 18.
from Kurt Simons, editor, Swedenborg and His Revelation: An Anthology (2005)
Table of Contents
Part I. General Overview
Dreams, Vision and Sleep:
II. The Dreams and Visions of the Most Ancients
III. Old and New Testament Dreams
IV. Visions of the Old and New Testaments
V. The Use of Dreams and Visions in Preparing for the Lord's Second Coming
Part II. The Insanity Question (from a special issue of The New Philosophy 1998;101: (whole number))
Editorial Remarks: The Madness Hypothesis (Kurt Simons, Ph.D.)
Henry Maudsley on Swedenborg's Messianic Psychosis (John Johnson, M.D., reprinted from The British Journal of Psychiatry 1994; 165: 690)
Swedenborg's Alleged Insanity (Brian M. Talbot, B.A., Dip. Ed.)
"Henry Maudsley on Swedenborg's Messianic Psychosis": Some Comments (Kurt Simons, Ph.D.)
Swedenborg's Contemporary Insanity Accusers; Also Reflections on the Underlying Cause of Insanity Charges (Rev. Erik Sandström, Sr.)
Emanuel Swedenborg (Elizabeth Foote-Smith, Ph.D. and Timothy J. Smith, Ph.D., reprinted from Epilepsia 1996;37: 211-218)
Diagnosing Emanuel Swedenborg (James L. Pendleton, M.D.)
Emanuel Swedenborg, Prophet or Paranoid? (Thomas W. Keiser, Ph.D.)
"Emanuel Swedenborg": Some Comments (Kurt Simons, Ph.D.)
This would put an end to the currently endless debate about whether or not there is a God. Besides this, God could open a permanent office in some neutral country where scientists can come to interview Him and check out His answers. Very soon after this happens God will be part of science, especially if God cooperates to the extent that He participates in experiments they set up to verify that He indeed is causing it all to happen.
Why doesn't God do this?
The surprising answer, revealed in the Writings of Swedenborg, is that God did do just that!
Swedenborg interviewed some of the people who had lived on earth during the first few generations of human beings on this planet. Swedenborg referred to them as "the Most Ancient Church" or civilization. Our earliest ancestors on this planet now live in segregated heavens reserved for their pristine mentality. Swedenborg visited with them on several occasions. He describes them as having a "celestial mind" which was undivided in the will and the understanding. In other words, they could not think one way and act another. Deception was impossible. They communicated with each other by a lip language, moving tiny muscles which our race of voice talkers no longer possesses in the lips. To reflect their undivided mind, they were born with a whole brain, not divided into right-left hemispheres like our is.
That original human race had a mind similar to ours, with one deep difference. Our spiritual mind is unconscious while we live in a body on earth. Once the body dies, we are resuscitated in our mental body and become fully conscious in our spiritual mind. We can then see and talk to anyone already in the afterlife of their immortality. But the original celestial human race on this earth had the spiritual mind conscious since birth. They did not have to wait like we do until the body is dead. They had direct communication and visual contact with all their deceased family and their ancestors were their teachers and instructors in all things pertaining to preparation for life in heaven. Since they were conscious in the spiritual world they could see the Spiritual Sun but they could not see the Divine Human until the Incarnation, long after they had arrived in the spiritual world.
Quoting from the Writings Sacred Scripture:
8118. I have been told by the angels that the most ancient people on this earth dwelt in like manner, that is, distinguished into nations, families and houses; that they were all content with their own goods; and that to grow rich from the goods of others, and to exercise dominion, were then quite unknown. On this account, the ancient times, and especially the most ancient, were more acceptable to the Lord than the succeeding ones; and such being the state, innocence also then reigned, and with innocence, wisdom. Everyone then did what is good from good, and what is just from justice. They did not know what it is to do what is good and just with a view to self-honor, or for the sake of profit. They did not then speak anything but the truth; and this not so much from truth, as from good; that is, not from the understanding separate, but from the will conjoined. Such were the ancient times, and therefore angels could then have interaction with men, and lead their minds home to heaven in a state almost separated from bodily things, and could take them round, and show them the magnificent and happy things there, and likewise communicate to them their own happinesses and delights. Moreover those times were known to ancient writers, and were called by them the Golden and also the Saturnian Age.
 Those times were of this nature, because, as before said, they lived distinguished into nations, and the nations into families, and the families into houses, and each house dwelt by itself; and because it never then came into anyone's mind to attack the inheritance of another, and thereby get for himself wealth and dominion. Far removed then were the love of self and the love of the world, and everyone rejoiced at heart by reason of his own good, and not less by reason of another's.
 But in the succeeding time this scene was changed and turned into the opposite, when the lust of dominion and of possessing the goods of others invaded the mind. Then for the sake of self-defense, the human race gathered into kingdoms and empires. And as the laws of charity and conscience, which had been written on hearts, ceased to operate, it became necessary to enact laws to restrain acts of violence; in which laws, honors, and riches were the rewards, and the deprivation of these were the penalties. When the state was thus changed, heaven removed itself from man, and this more and more, even to the present age, when it is no longer known whether there is a heaven, and consequently whether there is a hell, and when it is even denied that these exist. These things have been stated, in order that by the parallelism there may be illustrated the quality of the state of those who are on the earth Jupiter, and whence comes their good disposition, and also their wisdom, of which more will be said in what follows. (AC 8118)
The celestial race lost the ability to be conscious in the spiritual mind while still living in the body on earth. This happened because there began among them various occult practices intended to gain control over nature by using the Science of Correspondences which they had developed through their dual consciousness in both the natural mind and in the spiritual mind. This practice was a mental sickness that only a few started, but once it took hold in a few, it was transmitted by heredity. Eventually the entire civilization was plunged into a culture of magic and superstitious practices.
When these people got into the afterlife they continued their anti-theistic practices, developing the art of magic into wicked and powerful instruments by which they could capture and captivate the minds of others who were follish enough to fall into their seductive traps. They had to be separated in the afterlife of eternity and placed into cut off areas in the spiritual world called the "hells." Swedenborg visited these hells and his detailed descriptions show how atrocious they are -- disturbing and frightening. These hells took hold of the minds of all the new generations born on earth. It was no longer possible for the new generations to free themselves from hellish control so that freedom of choice was taken away from all humans born on this earth.
Clearly, God had to intervene to provide a way for the human race to be free of these awful hells. God's purpose for creating the human race was to get every individual born on earth to join eternal happiness in heaven. But the only way to have a heaven in the mind of our immortality is to become a celestial mind while still on earth. This celestial mind is rational and good, acknowledging the Divine Human as the source of all their power, love, and rationality. Now that the human race was "Fallen" spiritually, a new way had to initiated for raising up human minds into the celestial state.
This new method was the creation of the new spiritual race. That's us. Our brain is split, so I refer to us as the "split-brain" race. The old celestial race had died out and a new biological race came into being and populated the earth. Every individual of this new spiritual race was corrupted at birth. This is known in some religious discussions as "original sin." Swedenborg explains that this expression has a scientific meaning when considered in its hidden higher-order correspondences (see Section xx). It refers to an inherited character that has spiritual ties to those who are in the immortality of their hells. God interconnects the entire human race in given lawful patterns that are conducive to the good of all concerned (see "vertical community" in Section xx). Every individual of the new spiritual race was born with a natural mind connected to the hells.
But unlike the earlier celestial race, we have a divided mind, as reflected by a split brain. The right hemisphere corresponds to the affective organ of the mind called the "will," while the left hemisphere corresponds to the cognitive organ of the mind called the "understanding." Swedenborg was the first of the modern scientists to propose this type of right-brain specialization in function. To have a divided mind means that we receive influx into the natural mind that is divided into two independent organs. Spiritual heat from the Spiritual Sun enters the mind and is received in the affective organ. Spiritual light, entering at the same time, is received by the cognitive organ. These two appear to act independently, unlike how it was with the celestial race.
This independent functionality between our thoughts (cognitive) and feelings (affective) means that we have the capacity to simulate. For instance, we may feel like taking away your toy, but we don't because we know we'll get punished. In other words, we have a conscience.
The celestial race did not have a conscience to tell them what's good and bad for the will to intend. Instead they had direct perception of heavenly things, and from that, what was not heavenly, which they immediately rejected with horror. But the spiritual race does not have celestial perception or sensuous consciousness of heaven and hell. Our spiritual mind is completely unconscious, and only our natural mind is conscious while we are still in a body on earth. As a result, we are able to be modify our inherited character by undergoing spiritual temptations. These are crises of conscience we experience when wanting to do something that we know is bad. We then must freely choose to give up what we want and to choose what we know is right. The instant we make this choice, God removes the hells that are associated with that particular area of our inherited loves. In other words, we are no longer attracted to that specific form of evil, like we were before.
This choice making process has to be kept up daily for many years since there are many areas of our loves to modify, one by one. The entire process is called "regeneration" of character.
So God provided the new race with an effective procedure for regeneration. Every individual who is regenerated prior to entering the spiritual world, is "saved," which means that the person can start immortal life in heaven.
Clearly the, God could not do anything major to interfere with this new effective process for protecting people's ability to prepare themselves for a heavenly life. It would be cruel, hence impossible, for God to interfere with this process. And yet, this is what would happen if God suddenly made Himself visible and provable to people on earth.
If I can see God face to face in some office building or on TV, I could not deny His existence. I could not deny the Laws and Commandments God gives to every human being. The I can have two types of choices. On the one hand, I can follow the Commandments because I feel compelled by the physical proof. On the other hand, I can rebel and see how far I can push God and test His limits of justice, compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. In both cases I would be in deep spiritual trouble.
Whether I am compelled to follow God's rules and order by physical proof and punishment, or whether I rebel against them, has similar consequences for my life immortality.
Swedenborg saw what happens to those who arrive in the afterlife with either of these two attitudes towards God. They tend to resist instruction about the Divine Human and end up denying God's existence altogether. This is because the external physical proof of God's existence does not build up in any way the internal rational understanding and love of God. This effect is well known in non-theistic psychology as well regarding the development of morality. Forced compliance to rules without internal rational support for them, leads to conditional obedience habits. Individuals in that mode will obey rules as long as they believe they are being under surveillance. but as soon as they believe they are no longer under active surveillance, they cannot make themselves obey the rules. They break them. But individuals who internalize moral rules do not depend on external surveillance for compliance.
A similar mental dynamic is going on with obedience and acceptance of God and God's rules of order and rationality. As children we learn about God as an omniscient Being who sees everything we do. We still disobey rules but we tend to feel guilty or afraid of God's punishment. But if we continue to internalize the rules rationally as the right thing to do for a good person, then even if if later we convince ourselves that there is no God's punishment to be feared, we still obey the moral rules we internalized. If God should appear visibly and give physical proof of His existence and power, He would be incorporated into science, and people would learn about God externally, like we learn about the stars, rocks, trees, and life in a fish tank. God would be an external agent in our environment we must adjust to, like snow in the winter or computer viruses in our email. God would not exist in our mind except as a concept of the outside world. And when this is the relationship people have with God, they cannot love Him, they cannot give up their flawed ego life for the sake of the perfect heavenly life from the Divine Human.
This is why God does not appear at the annual conference of the American Psychological Association. Only by developing in our mind a rational proof of His existence can we benefit from heavenly existence in our life of immortality.
Theistic psychology gives you a rational proof of God's existence. In addition, it presents a physical proof through the witness of Swedenborg, the reputed scientist who was given access to consciousness in the spiritual mind while still living in the body on earth. This physical proof of God and the afterlife through Swedenborg's reports does not harm the development of our rational consciousness of God, but helps it and nourishes it with facts and rational explanations of how they fit together. One is free to reject Swedenborg's reports, whereas one is compelled by the physical appearance of God on earth. Once we establish a rational consciousness and understanding of God through the scientific study of Sacred Scripture, we make ourselves ready for the sensuous consciousness of God. When we are resuscitated we awaken in the spiritual mind and in that state we can see the Spiritual Sun, and the Divine Human in the midst of it. Swedenborg was told by those who inhabit the highest heaven that the Divine Human sometimes appears to them outside the Spiritual Sun as well, and they can talk to Him face to face, as it were. Such is there actual experience. This sensuous perception and direct communication with the Divine Human is possible for them because they have reached the highest rational level in the human mind.
A definitive and well respected biography of Swedenborg is:
Sigstedt, Cyriel (1952) The Swedenborg Epic. The Life and Works of Emanuel Swedenborg (New York: Bookman Associates, 1952) Available online: www.swedenborgdigitallibrary.org/ES/epicfor.htm
The Reading List identifies basic collateral works on the Writings by Swedenborg scholars.
This is the End of Volume 2